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Mick’s Vlog – Blue Strat Saddle Changes In The Rabbit Hole Of Tone Chasing

Published on Apr 23, 2019


Mick here – hello – and this is a vlog in a series about mods that are happening to my favourite guitar, ‘Blue’, a common-or-garden American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster from around 2000.

I replaced the bridge with a Callaham unit a few months back – – and have since realised that while I love the vibrato action and stability, also the increased presence and direct nature of the tone, it might have gone a step or two too far and be a little //too// forthright – maybe even brittle – for my personal tastes. (Remember that every Strat is different and everyone’s tastes are different as are our playing styles.)

So like the fervent ferret chasing down the hole for the rabbit that has probably long since scarpered, I’m off down there asking if one set of bent steel saddles could possibly sound different from the next set. Well guess what: they do!

Admission: this isn’t really a 42-minute video about saddles at all.

Look at the lights on the G2 switcher: if two lights are illuminated next to the switch, the pedal is on.
• KingTone The Duellist
• Klon Centaur
• Analog Man ARDX20 Delay
• Two-Rock Classic Reverb Signature 100/50
• Two-Rock Bloomfield Drive 40/20
• Two-Rock 212 cabinets with TR 1265B speakers

With the greatest of respect and heartfelt thanks for ALL your comments, I’ll answer some probable topics arising below, to save having to do it multiple times in the comments.

Q: Have you tried //insert saddle name here//? I really love them and they work great on my Strat!
A: Probably, but the only ones I’ve ever truly liked are the bent steel ones.

Q: Have you every tried a Suhr/Anderson/Danocaster/SVL etc? They’re great!
A: All of them. I spent almost 20 years as a journalist on probably the world’s best guitar magazines. But at this point in my life, the aesthetic, historical, musical and cultural value of a genuine Fender Stratocaster is more important to me. Which is why I’m saving up for an old one. ALL guitars are individual and if I pick up The Magic Guitar one day, it might not matter what it says on the peghead. Maybe.

Q: But surely the frikkin saddles can’t make //that// much difference? Just play the damn guitar!
A: You’re right in any sort of sensible context. However this isn’t sensible and everything does make a difference; everything matters physically… moreover, psychologically. And if you have actual control over your brain, you’re doing better than about 98 per cent of the rest of the human race.

Q: Can’t you just turn the treble and presence up or down?
A: Sure. But it’s more than that. The guitar’s hardware makes a fundamental difference to how it resonates; it’s not purely about EQ. I wish I had better means to describe it. It’s a physical connection as much as a tonal response.

Q: No audience will ever discern this you idiot.
A: Yeah, I know. But they know when you give an inspired performance and that is related directly to being truly connected with your sound. No middle man.

Q: Your depression revelation is alarming. Please don’t talk about this crap in guitar videos.
A: Watch the regular show. We try to keep that about guitar stuff, mostly. But these are our vlogs and sometimes we’ll talk if we want to. It might actually be necessary for our wellbeing. ps. It’s my vlog.

Q: What about the pickup change?! Come on man!
A: Hopefully by the end of May. I need some days to get it done!

Key timings:
- Intro, what I’m doing and why: 0:00
- It’s too bright: 2:55
- New saddles: 4:50
- Philosophy: the middle man is your enemy: 5:58
- Why A/B comparisons and blind tests put the middle man in charge: 7:45
- These saddles ARE NOT ‘better’ than those ones: 10:03
- The saddle change process begins: 11:35
- Comparing new saddles with old, physically: 13:05
- Mick’s current existential/musical crisis: 17:30
- Depression? 19:20
- The acoustic sound of the guitar comparison: 23:40
- Clean sound comparison: 24:30 (25:00)
- Slightly less clean, but still kinda’ clean comparison: 28:45 (29:30)
- With a bit of KingTone Duellist: 31:17 (31:42)
- Thoughts and conclusions so far: 35:20
- A bit more playing… 37:38

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