How do you check a pickup to see if it sounds OK?  A test guitar is required, and we finally have one!

If you will recall, I saw a very, very cool test guitar at a guitar show in The Netherlands.  The test guitar I saw had a solid body and a real Strat neck -- and about 1/2 of the lower bout routed out!   The theory is that a pickup builder could test a pickup in a guitar without having to remove the strings.  I thought it was a great idea, and set out to find an appropriate instrument.

I searched the online jungle for an inexpensive (really inexpensive) Strat-like guitar for my experiments.  I finally settled on a Rogue Strat from Musicians Friend.   The best $69 guitar you can buy, I believe.  I opted for the ST-4 because it had a humbucker installed.  Dude!

The guitar arrived in about a week, and it was surprisingly cool.   It really sounded pretty good through my POD.  I had to do some work on the frets -- there was some overhang over the side of the neck -- and a new set of strings made it happening.  Safety Tip -- check the guitar thoroughly before you run your hand up and down the neck -- OUCH! On a side note, 10 years ago you couldn't buy a guitar that would play this good for under $250.  Also, you cannot buy the hardware to build a playable electric guitar for $69 from anywhere today.


Quick -- which one came from California and which one came from Indonesia?

While they look kind of the same, these are some very, very different instruments.  The Rogue Strat is thinner, lighter, and much less substantial than the Fender.  Isn't it amazing what an extra $1500 will get you?   Hey -- the Rogue has a humbucker, so it has to sound better, right?

By the way -- the Rogue Strat cost less than the Fender's case!

Stratocasters, I presume...


A view with the pickguard removed.   I would call this a "universal route", but I'm no luthier.  This was a special treat because it would limit the amount of routing I would have to do.

By the way -- there must be a lot of plywood trees in Indonesia.


Doctor, we have a problem....

I mounted a volume knob on a piece of Plexiglas, and hooked it up with two alligator clips on the pickup side, and a connection to the guitar's original jack on the output side.

For the pickup, I used another piece of Plexiglas and made a Van Halen-approved pickup ring.  I super glued Velcro on the bottom to set the height of the pickup, and used one of my wife's ponytail holders (no, it is not mine!) to hold the pickup in the ring.

I can mount the pickup in the ring, slide it in from the lower bout, and connect it up in about two minutes.  No need to solder or change/loosen the strings.


It's alive!  It's alive!  It's aliiiiivvvve!

Here is a photo of a Gibson PAF mounted in the ring.   As you can see, it is a universal mount.  The best sounding pickup I've tried so far is the Gibson Mini-Humbucker.  I'm not sure why, but it probably has a lot to do with the wood and mass (or lack of it) in this guitar.  This guitar clearly shows how important the wood and construction of a guitar is to its sound. 

Another milestone into pickup self-sufficiency has been achieved.   Bottom Line: the Rogue is a good choice if you're looking for this capability.


I dropped a PAF in my Rogue -- sounds great!

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