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So Tell Me About Kent Armstrong Pickups


Know-dem-scales
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Planning on putting a loaded pickguard that has these in it.  They sounded good on YouTube.  Anyone play these?   If not these, what is a good SSS setup for my SX Strat that will not sound like my American Professional Strat?  Maybe a little bit more punch and less twang.  Extra blues crunch.  Something like that.

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a loaded question...Kent Armstrongs are fine, not a problem, but if you really want to optimize the sounds, you would be better off mixing and matching, like a DiMarzio SDS, and Seymour Duncan JB, a Bill Lawrence Blade...the list goes on and on...there is no one right combination, and these p-ups I mentioned are certainly not the only choices, just the more typical. Plus, there are no rules, so depending on the body rout, you could put full sized humbuckers, P90s, minibuckers, Filter-trons, etc...somewhere someone has done all these things before...😎

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I like Kent's pickups. I have 2 - 1 Korean made floating humbucker and 1 Kent Armstrong made 7-string humbucker - both neck pickups on jazz boxes. Both sound great. The Korean is a bit quieter because it is in a metal case that provides shielding but it's not noticeable; he makes his custom pickups by encasing them in epoxy.

As for strat pickups, there's  wealth of choices. I went with a set of Mojotone 50s Custom Wounds for neck and middle with a SD Lil 59 in the bridge. The Mojo's are fabulous and sound every bit as good or better than the best vintage Fenders. There's a choice of raised or flat pole-pieces and since I don't use a wound G-string the flat version avoids string-to-string imbalances endemic to a raised G pole-piece with unwound strings (raising the pole-piece was to compensate for the wound G strings prevalent in the vintage era).

The Lil 59 split is a bit hotter than the Mojotone bridge so I put it on a separate volume control which gives out all the vintage strat tones plus a vintage sounding PAF humbucker tone when the situation calls for it.

Edited by Verne Andru
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16 hours ago, Know-dem-scales said:

good enough for a Mexican Fender...so it should sound a lot better than the original SX p-ups. But, it is going to sound pretty close to your Stratocaster, which you were trying to avoid.

However, if you want to wheel and deal, get that and sell the bridge p-up and replace it with something with more bite.

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I used the Kent Armstrong Korean made ones in my Eastman, and wasn't that impressed. Decent enough pickups, but just wasn't the right pickup, if you know what I mean. I replaced them with a set of Stew-Mac Parson A2, and feel in love with the guitar all over again.

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6 hours ago, Know-dem-scales said:

I have been watching a few videos.  Maybe I won’t need a loaded pickguard.  How difficult would it be to wire the three single coils of my choice?  Pots might be a different story I bet?

get CTS 250K ohm pots [seriously, the cost difference isn't that much, and it is worth it]...but make sure you know and like the taper of the pots you order. Most guitars use audio taper for volume, which have a volume 'hump' [nothing, nothing something oh, oh my, wow, whoah,], as opposed to a linear taper which will increase volume based on the 'dial' on the knob. Linears are more commonly used for tone pots. But there are no rules. Same with bleed caps, different people hear things differently., and cap selection is an entirely separate 'art'.

Shielding is another piece of the puzzle...how much is enough? What's the minimum I could do and not get RF interference? What is the best shielding material? [OFHC Copper tape according to a number of sources, but that stuff is XPENSIV]

Three-way or five-way switch? Most modern versions of Strats use the 5 position version, and the typical wiring is 1-bridge, 2-bridge+mid,3-mid, 4-mid+neck, 5 neck, but there is nothing that says you have to do it that way. I've done some very 'odd' wirings requested by clients over the years.

Is one of the p-ups 'reverse wound'? that would give you hum cancellation when used in combination, so there are a myriad of possibilities. There are many[and I mean MANY] available wiring diagrams for strat-style wiring, a quick search will get you pages of sites.

all these can be found discussed and demo'd [ad nauseum] on youtube, btw...

You are about to embark on a journey that could seem [and likely will be ] like a rabbit hole of should I...? Wait, what If...? How about...?

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On 3/23/2020 at 2:50 PM, Know-dem-scales said:

Those are nice but a little out of budget.  I am modding the SX Strat for the wife.  I traded an acoustic for the SX.  So, I have very little in it.  Trying to keep it as a decent budget guitar mod. Maybe something in the 90-130 dollar range.

Thanks for any input.

I hear what you're saying. The neat thing about strats is you can build a custom pickguard and move it between guitars so I see it as a long-term tone investment.

My strat is a parts-caster that wouldn't get much on resale but sounds killer. I keep upgrading the parts so it not only gets better, but it's custom configured.

I always get my stuff on sale so I think my pickups actually cost under $150 when the dust settles.

Soldering isn't that hard - look at youtube as there should be basic tutorials there.

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2 hours ago, Know-dem-scales said:

The soldering part is what I am wondering about.

well, okay, if you are not good at it, practice...

I suggest you invest in a good quality, thermal controlled soldering station, at least 35-40 watts, they are not 'cheap' [$50 and up], but they are worth it if you plan on doing a lot of soldering...also invest in a 'solder sucker'[~$10]...trust me, you will need it while you hone your skills.

And solder is not lead anymore, now it is silver based and pricey [I have a stockpile of lead solder]

I was a NASA-certified Soldering Specialist when I was 20...I have an ancient Weller that my company 'retired' in 1982, and I salvaged it and parts from about half a dozen identical units, and built mine with the least worn parts...I recently used it to re-wire our entire two-story, 5 room, two Iso-chambers, 32-track recording studio, still cookin' :thu:

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