"So Trashed, what is going to get me a killer tone out of my strat for $50? That is less than the price of a shitty pickup!"
"Fasten your seat-belt bros, here we go!"
What is it? Here ya go! the" Pre-Amp Mid Boost Kit." There are two main components in the kit. the TBX control, and the variable knob controlled 25db mid boost. You may be familiar with this setup if you have tried a Eric Clapton Strat, as it comes that way directly from Fender.
This installation was on a Mexican Std. Strat (MIM) from around 1995. As you likely may know, the pickups are far from ideal. I picked up the strat for $175 a few years ago. Its actually one of my favorite Strats as far as feel and the neck go (I have owned a shit-ton of them). However the tone was lacking.
The TBX allows you to cut both treble and bass, and there is a stop in the middle of the control at the neutral location. Alone it works wonders. If you only have ~$15 this will make a nice difference as well (it is stock on some USA Strats if I recall correctly). It is great at taming the bridge pickup and making it usable.
The bread and butter of this though is the boost. It goes from normal on the minimum setting to a searing boost all the way which WILL cause some good breakup on a tube amp. This control RARELY need to be up all the way for MY purposes. In other words, its got some cojones to it.
The setup I use most often is a cut off of the treble and the boost up half way with the volume knob on the neck pickup. Its dark and has bite and is really smooth and liquid. The bridge pickup is usuable for once too!!!
"Whoa! Trashed that sounds really cool!"
To that I reply "You bet you're ass it is!"
Now lets move on. The only thing was that the installation was a bitch. I have done a lot of tech work and that is rare for me to say to be honest. The two wiring diagrams that Fender included are shit. Absolutely useless. I had to do a lot of searching to find something that was better laid out and I found one after a few minutes**. If you are not experienced with electronics, and haven't done anything like this before, I would send it to a tech. It would still be well worth it IMO if you are unable to. However, if you can solder and have time, I see no reason that I would not attempt it.
Fitting the 9V battery in the Strat and the PC board was relatively easy just with a little bit of messing around. You must keep in mind though that Fender routes a lot of their Strats differently. Incidentally mine was one of the smallest routes and I still got it it in, so nothing to worry about. The only PITA factor is that you have to take the pickguard off to replace the battery. Some people have mounted the battery in the trem cavity with results, but I need all five springs on my tremolo. That could be an option too though. The battery should last a while, just remember to unplug the guitar when not in use (check out my previous blog- http://trashedengineering.blogspot.com/2016/11/2016-11-27-9-volt-batteries-are-from.html)
I am telling you that it will change your life. Go out and get one! I will likely be posting a video demo here. So look for it!
**If you do this and want the link, shoot me an email and i will link you to it, no problem. The reason that i did not include it here is because it was not made by me and I do notwant to take credit for somebody else's work**.