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Thread: Strat with Preamp Circuit?

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Strat with Preamp Circuit?

    Anyone here build up a Strat with the Clapton type boost preamp circuit.
    I have no experience with strats with preamps.
    Was wondering if the pickups can be played in passive mode or if the preamp would be active all the time?
    Thinking of messing with one.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=sche...w=1366&bih=583
    Feel free to discuss that guitar, and any other Strat 3 Single Coil gain setup?
    I've built up tons of regular strat pickup guitars, but want to experiment with something else.
    Here's a clapton model for reference.
    https://p4.zdassets.com/hc/theme_ass...Aupg1_SISD.pdf
    Thanks in advance.
    T

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    I installed EC Booster once and it had an ON/OFF switch. But the first transistor in the circuit was always active so you could call it "half-active" .
    Here is the switch.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	ECBooster.jpg 
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ID:	47088

    I may have some more photos covering the installation process (if you need).

    Mark

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    Years ago I toured with an artist that used the Clapton strat for the whole show. I'll try to recall what I can about it for you here.

    The preamp was always on. It was a master volume, TBX tone control, and the mid boost. Noiseless pickups if I recall correctly. He would play with the boost control at zero for a base tone, using his volume pot for a clean sound, volume on full for more crunch, and a couple pedals for flavour. Very common stuff as I'm sure you know. With the boost control rolled off it sounded like any other strat you've heard at a rock show. But when it came time for a solo and he rolled in that 25db mid boost we knew all about it! Nothing subtle about it!! It sounded great, but I suggest using an amp that has some headroom and can take a large input signal. I can recall issues with hitting some smaller preamps with this guitar and it would compress to hell when he cranked up that boost.

    The only mod I made on that guitar was replacing the TBX with a standard tone control. And I would be cautious about using standard strat pickups in a guitar like this. With 25db boost on tap I can imagine that noise floor would go through the roof!

    Hope some of this is useful

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    In the late 70's, I had a homemade maple-body Tele with Ibanez LP neck, and a variety of pickups (including WR-HB at the bridge and Tele neck at one point). I installed a preamp, built from a Guitar Player project article, that had apparently been designed by a guy who had done the electronics for John McLaughlin's Rex Bogue doubleneck. So the circuit had some pedigree.

    Preamp worked fine, and pushed the amp hard. Years later, I pulled the preamp, sold the guitar and installed the preamp in another guitar. Then I built myself a Tube Screamer to TS-808 specs. I could not for the life of me see what all the fuss was about. Sounded horrible. Then I removed the preamp, and all of a sudden the lights came on and the TS sounded terrific.

    What's the punchline, here? If every last little drop of your overdrive is going to come from your amp and your guitar goes straight into it, onboard preamps are terrific. If you have intentions to have anything in between the guitar and amp - especially if some of that is intended to provide mild overdrive/coloration - I would either avoid onboard preamps entirely, or at least keep their gain low, and a complete bypass available, so that your guitar signal can be more representative of a guitar signal.

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the info!
    I may build one up when I get time.
    I would probably go with a GFS Hard tail body. Lic. strat neck.
    Route in the PCB, and route in a rear hole for a battery clip holder or box.
    Probably start with the standard Clapton boost kit.
    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/acces...oost-kit-25-db
    It would be for my GS, a blues and rock player.
    He has lots of guitars, and this would be one put in rotation.
    He now plays a stock fender strat 65 RI, a gibson Blues Hawk, and a Parts caster I built for him.
    I make my own pickups, so maybe I could wind them on the low side, for preamp use.
    Would have to experiment with pickups, noise, and shielding.
    Thanks,
    T

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    Last edited by big_teee; 02-26-2018 at 07:43 PM.
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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    A close friend has the EC Strat.
    KILLER sound but he is a dyed in the wool Blues Player (in fact he´s personal friend with EC, who always calls him in advance on South American tours and meets him in Brazil, so they tour Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile together).
    He plugs his *straight* into his SF Twin or his Mesa Boogie Mark III .

    Pedals? What are you talking about? Not even a Wah!!!

    He´s on the right using his silver 25 anniversary Strat (I think it´s what that model´s called) into his trusty SF Twin (with a couple of my speakers, he has long ago blown the originals, a common problem if you play them full blast all the time).
    The player on the left is using a regular Strat into one of my "Soldanish" 50W 1x12" amps, SS preamp and 2 x 6L6 power.

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    Juan Manuel Fahey

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J M Fahey View Post
    A close friend has the EC Strat.
    He sure is a wiz at making the "lead guitarist face!" Looks like he's tryin' to shit a brick...

    I'll trust you on his talent. You posted another guy a while back, with a youtube clip, he was pretty dam' good!

    *Like* the extension cab in monitor position. Whack those ears from in front & in back.

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    I'm gathering parts.
    WD Music has a good buy on the boost kit.
    Looking at page 2 of the fender diagram?
    https://p13.zdassets.com/hc/theme_as...Aupg1_SISD.pdf
    If you used a regular tone circuit, and installed a DPDT switch?
    It would be easy to switch the boost board and gain pot, in and out of the circuit.
    With the boost bypassed, you would just have a master volume, master tone.
    With boost in the circuit, you would have all three, MV, MT, and Boost.
    Experimenting with different values, maybe I can come up with best of both worlds.
    My Son and GS, are both paranoid about having a dead battery in the middle of a show.
    The bypass would appease that fear. lol
    I will post pictures of what I come up with when I get to building on it!
    T

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    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James Welsh View Post
    Years ago I toured with an artist that used the Clapton strat for the whole show. I'll try to recall what I can about it for you here.

    The preamp was always on. It was a master volume, TBX tone control, and the mid boost. Noiseless pickups if I recall correctly. He would play with the boost control at zero for a base tone, using his volume pot for a clean sound, volume on full for more crunch, and a couple pedals for flavour. Very common stuff as I'm sure you know. With the boost control rolled off it sounded like any other strat you've heard at a rock show. But when it came time for a solo and he rolled in that 25db mid boost we knew all about it! Nothing subtle about it!! It sounded great, but I suggest using an amp that has some headroom and can take a large input signal. I can recall issues with hitting some smaller preamps with this guitar and it would compress to hell when he cranked up that boost.

    The only mod I made on that guitar was replacing the TBX with a standard tone control. And I would be cautious about using standard strat pickups in a guitar like this. With 25db boost on tap I can imagine that noise floor would go through the roof!

    Hope some of this is useful
    Can you elaborate, & share more info on using the standard tone vs the TBX.
    What did you gain or lose with the conventional tone circuit?
    Also what value pots, for Vol, tone and Gain, did you use?
    Thanks,
    T

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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    Can you elaborate, & share more info on using the standard tone vs the TBX.
    What did you gain or lose with the conventional tone circuit?
    Also what value pots, for Vol, tone and Gain, did you use?
    Thanks,
    T
    No problem!

    First, for those unfamiliar with the TBX control, it's a pot with a centre dent that acts as a zero point. When you roll the pot down from here it acts like a standard tone control, cutting your treble. When you go up from the centre dent it does the opposite, cutting your low end. Clever idea, but one problem is you essentially get the entire throw of a standard pot in that half pot distance. In this case, the player never used the bass cut side and was having trouble quickly dialing in what he wanted with the treble cut because it was so sensitive. The simple solution was to replace it with a standard tone control since that's all he was doing anyway.

    Funny that you posted that diagram of the Clapton strat parts list because now I remember looking that up when I changed the pot! if you look at item 14 it lists a dual 250K pot as the TBX control, so I would have used a standard 250K pot for the mod, as you would any strat anyway. I also recall just using the capacitor off the TBX control in the new pot. As for the other two pots I didn't touch them, so they would stay stock. According to the diagram you posted it's a 50K audio taper for the volume and a 250K (linear??) for the mid boost.

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    I know you mentioned using a hard tail strat body, but just incase part of the reason was the battery location here's a link to some pictures of where they put it on the clapton strat

    https://www.google.ca/search?q=clapt...w=1280&bih=712

    Easy to get at by taking the back cover off. Or if you always leave that off you can cover the battery with some gaff tape.

    As for dead battery issues I always stick a piece of tape on the battery cover with the date I installed it as a reminder to at least throw a meter on it every so often.

    Having the preamp on a switch might be nice, but I do hope you'll try leaving the circuit on and just rolling the boost in and out to see how that works for you. I'd be concerned about a loud popping every time you flip the switch. As far as I know the preamp is only for this mid boost and not a full active circuit like a bass preamp or whatever.

    Also, Maybe i missed something, but what does "GS" stand for?

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  12. #12
    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    GS, is Grandson!
    GFS, is Guitar Fetish.
    https://www.guitarfetish.com/XGP-Pro...-_p_26799.html
    A hardtail strat, should have better sustain, like a tele.
    Also a hardtail is cheaper, and simpler to build, and less tuning issues than a tremelo guitar, and I've always wanted to try one.
    T

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    Last edited by big_teee; 03-02-2018 at 07:06 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    My Son and GS, are both paranoid about having a dead battery in the middle of a show.
    For such guys I have a very simple solution - a microprocessor-based little PC board, like this:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	BatteryMonitor_01.jpg 
Views:	37 
Size:	95.6 KB 
ID:	47380
    The current consumption of the board is in a range of 20 uA. When the user plugs in the Jack, it measures the battery voltage. When it's greater than 7.5V it just switches of (and does nothing else). With the battery voltage between 7V and 7.5V it beeps ones (and again switches of). With the battery voltage between 6.5V and 7V it beeps twice, and so on. The sound is quiet but I'm sure the guitar player can hear it. There is no way to start with dead battery and the user is also notified what it the voltage of the battery. And the user is notified only when the battery voltage is below a certain threshold. The threshold may be changed in software.
    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    I will post pictures of what I come up with when I get to building on it!
    T
    You didn't ask about it, but here are my photos:

    Eric Clapton Mid Booster - Eagle AudioEagle Audio

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  14. #14
    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Very nice, clean installation!
    Thanks much, for the pictures!
    I had something in mind like that.
    T

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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    GS, is Grandson!
    GFS, is Guitar Fetish.
    https://www.guitarfetish.com/XGP-Pro...-_p_26799.html
    A hardtail strat, should have better sustain, like a tele.
    Also a hardtail is cheaper, and simpler to build, and less tuning issues than a tremelo guitar, and I've always wanted to try one.
    T
    Ahhh.... ok. I wasn't sure if GS was some kind of forum code for a customer or type of customer or something.

    Somewhere down the line I'd like to do another strat build and do a hard tail as well. I can't say I'm a big trem user anyway so might as well get rid of it

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkusBass View Post
    For such guys I have a very simple solution - a microprocessor-based little PC board, like this:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	BatteryMonitor_01.jpg 
Views:	37 
Size:	95.6 KB 
ID:	47380
    The current consumption of the board is in a range of 20 uA. When the user plugs in the Jack, it measures the battery voltage. When it's greater than 7.5V it just switches of (and does nothing else). With the battery voltage between 7V and 7.5V it beeps ones (and again switches of). With the battery voltage between 6.5V and 7V it beeps twice, and so on. The sound is quiet but I'm sure the guitar player can hear it. There is no way to start with dead battery and the user is also notified what it the voltage of the battery. And the user is notified only when the battery voltage is below a certain threshold. The threshold may be changed in software.

    You didn't ask about it, but here are my photos:

    Eric Clapton Mid Booster - Eagle AudioEagle Audio
    This is a neat idea but for me it's overkill for a battery in a guitar. I've never found it takes very long to do a quick check with a meter every now and then, or just replace it if you don't know. And I can't recall ever seeing a guitar completely shut down because of a battery so I wouldn't sweat it if I didn't check for a while.

    Having said that I remember years ago a friend installing an LED in his guitar that would either come on when the power was on, or only when the battery was low, or something like that. Anyway, he thought it was the greatest thing ever so there are no doubt others out there that love these kinds of things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by James Welsh View Post
    This is a neat idea but for me it's overkill for a battery in a guitar.
    Thanks for the feedback. It seems to me that you think that I'm using something big like ATMega328 but it's not the case. The processor that I use is 2.5x1.5mm. You would have a problem trying to distinguish it from a transistor .
    The main advantage of the circuit is that it has an extremely low power consumption and the user does not have to do anything to check the battery.
    Quote Originally Posted by James Welsh View Post
    I've never found it takes very long to do a quick check with a meter every now and then, or just replace it if you don't know. And I can't recall ever seeing a guitar completely shut down because of a battery so I wouldn't sweat it if I didn't check for a while.
    Do you say that guitar players in Canada and in the States usually have a meter and they check the battery voltage before a gig? In Poland maybe one of a hundred guitarist has a meter and they usually use it when something is not working (after the problem has occured, not before) .
    Quote Originally Posted by James Welsh View Post
    Having said that I remember years ago a friend installing an LED in his guitar that would either come on when the power was on, or only when the battery was low, or something like that.
    The circuits with LEDs have one drawback - you have to drill a hole in the guitar for the LED. And most guitarists don't want to do it.
    My circuit does not require any changes in the guitar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkusBass View Post
    For such guys I have a very simple solution - a microprocessor-based little PC board, like this:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	BatteryMonitor_01.jpg 
Views:	37 
Size:	95.6 KB 
ID:	47380
    The current consumption of the board is in a range of 20 uA. When the user plugs in the Jack, it measures the battery voltage. When it's greater than 7.5V it just switches of (and does nothing else). With the battery voltage between 7V and 7.5V it beeps ones (and again switches of). With the battery voltage between 6.5V and 7V it beeps twice, and so on. The sound is quiet but I'm sure the guitar player can hear it. There is no way to start with dead battery and the user is also notified what it the voltage of the battery. And the user is notified only when the battery voltage is below a certain threshold. The threshold may be changed in software.
    Quite brilliant, great idea

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkusBass View Post
    For such guys I have a very simple solution - a microprocessor-based little PC board, like this:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	BatteryMonitor_01.jpg 
Views:	37 
Size:	95.6 KB 
ID:	47380
    The current consumption of the board is in a range of 20 uA. When the user plugs in the Jack, it measures the battery voltage. When it's greater than 7.5V it just switches of (and does nothing else). With the battery voltage between 7V and 7.5V it beeps ones (and again switches of). With the battery voltage between 6.5V and 7V it beeps twice, and so on. The sound is quiet but I'm sure the guitar player can hear it. There is no way to start with dead battery and the user is also notified what it the voltage of the battery. And the user is notified only when the battery voltage is below a certain threshold. The threshold may be changed in software.
    Hey Markus, did I tell you before that you are very clever?

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    Juan Manuel Fahey

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkusBass View Post
    Thanks for the feedback. It seems to me that you think that I'm using something big like ATMega328 but it's not the case. The processor that I use is 2.5x1.5mm. You would have a problem trying to distinguish it from a transistor .
    The main advantage of the circuit is that it has an extremely low power consumption and the user does not have to do anything to check the battery.
    Do you say that guitar players in Canada and in the States usually have a meter and they check the battery voltage before a gig? In Poland maybe one of a hundred guitarist has a meter and they usually use it when something is not working (after the problem has occured, not before) .
    The circuits with LEDs have one drawback - you have to drill a hole in the guitar for the LED. And most guitarists don't want to do it.
    My circuit does not require any changes in the guitar.

    I do see how small it is. In fact your picture has a Canadian coin for reference so I know exactly what the size is.
    Don't get me wrong, I do think it's a clever circuit and something people would find useful if they worry about their battery life. That's just not me. I don't find it too difficult to keep a mental note of how much or little I've been playing lately, and check the battery during a string change. I always put a simple note on the cover to remind me when I installed the battery, like this:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	batdate.JPG 
Views:	24 
Size:	772.2 KB 
ID:	47392

    And I can assure you that players here are just as unprepared as players in Poland When it comes to batteries the most common thing I see is people just assume because they changed it a month or a few months ago that it's probably time to put a new one in. So they just replace it, even though it might still have plenty of life left.

    I agree 100% about the LED. I would never do it. But that guy was the type that loved to mod things, and loved to make sure it was obvious. We rarely agreed on what was good or cool hahahaha!

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    Thanks guys. I'm not that smart. If I were smart, I'd be a top specialist in electronics in my country (as Juan is in Argentina). But it's not the case.
    Quote Originally Posted by James Welsh View Post
    I So they just replace it, even though it might still have plenty of life left.
    This is exactly the problem that my circuit solves. You don't need to remember when you changed the battery and you don't need to remember how long have you played using the battery. You are just notified exactly when it's needed. And musicians can focus on the music instead of old battery .
    I think the circuit is helpful but there are other ways to stay on the safe side.

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