If you’re in possession of probably the world’s most recognizable guitar model, there’s a chance you might’ve asked yourself: why are Strats so twangy? If that sounds all too relatable, then we’ve got something interesting to show you. In other words, today we’ll consider the issue of Strats being twangy and why that’s so.
Okay, so what does it mean for a guitar to sound twangy? Beginners reading this mightn’t know. Here at Music Gear Heads, we like to approach the subject in a thorough manner. Therefore, we’ll try to tackle some basic issues surrounding our main topic before we dive into the dish of the day. Stay tuned!
Most pickups you’ll find on the market have a bit of twang, but Fender Strats seem to have more twang than your average model because of the way they’re designed and crafted. The thing is: they’ve got pickups that have magnets in the pole pieces, meaning they’re closer to your guitar’s strings. That’s the main reason why folks find Strats to be twangy.
Oh, don’t think you can get away with simply reading just the preview. Needless to say, there’s a whole lot more from where that came from!
Table of Contents
What is guitar twang?
As we’ve already mentioned, we’ll first cover some basic info concerning our main topic. That being said, it’s only natural to pose this question: okay, so what exactly is guitar twang?
First of all, you’ll want to know that the so-called twang is an onomatopoeia, meaning that the word was formed after a certain sound. That certain sound is the particularly sharp vibrating sound associated with some electric guitars (including the model we’ll be talking about today, of course). Now that we know this, it’s time for some historical (and some less-historical) trivia!
Country music and twang relationship
That’s right, the so-called twang sound is most closely associated with a music genre called country music. Basically, it defined the classic country guitar sound from the 1950s all the way up to the 70s. Once the 80s stepped into the game, we could’ve noticed a slow, gradual shift that started to appear in the way country guitars sounded. During the next two decades (and well into the 2000s), country music lost its classic twang sound and shifted toward a more rock-oriented tone. That combo brought us the genre of country rock.
So, yeah, you could say that the whole talk about twang is closely related to country music. Let’s see if there’s something else we’d like to mention in this intro section.
Why does my guitar sound so twangy?
If your guitar began sounding too twangy (and it ain’t a Stratocaster), there’s a good chance that you’ll want to point your finger somewhere in the direction of your trusty guitar pickup. So, what’s the deal here?
The thing is: some guitar pickups are designed to produce a twangier (can we say that?) tone. The cheaper the model, the better are chances that your guitar will produce a twangier sound. Also, single-coil pickups are well-known to produce a thinner tone, humbuckers are better (and here’s how you’ll brighten a muddy one). If you’re wondering how to know if your guitar’s pickup is to blame, simply take your instrument to any guitar store and plug it into one of their amps. If the sound that’s coming out of your instrument still sounds a bit twangy and you’re not using fresh, brand-new strings, that could very well mean it’s the pickups you want to blame.
Now, if your guitar sounds a bit twangy thanks to the pickups, it’s completely safe to say that you’ve got two options on your hands:
- Buy a different guitar.
- Buy different pickups and replace your old ones.
Alright, now that we’ve covered this basic info surrounding guitar twanginess (another non-existent word, probably), let’s discuss the main issue of today’s article: why are Strats so twangy?
Why are Strats so twangy?
Let’s begin this one by saying that if your Strat sounds twangy, there’s probably nothing wrong with your instrument. That’s just how way things are, and some even go that far to say that no matter how you modify it, it’ll still sound the same. So, is that the complete truth? Let’s take a closer look!
Here’s the thing: all pickups you’ll find on the market have a bit of twang, but Fender pickups seem to have more twang than others thanks to the way they’re designed and crafted. Fender pickups possess magnets in the pole pieces, so they’re closer to the strings of your trusty instrument. On the other hand, pickups produced by Gibson got magnets deep in the pickups and the pole pieces serve to expand the magnetic field. That’s also why Gibson guitars seem to have less twang.
To give you an example, let’s compare two guitar pickup models: Gibson P90 and the Fender’s P90-styled pickup. You don’t have to be a sound engineer to notice that even though they look absolutely the same, they sound totally different thanks to differences in design we’ve mentioned upstairs. Maybe your way out of this situation is in buying a Gibson pickup. However, keep in mind that you’ll have to change the electronic in your Strat, too, because if you don’t – you’ll get a sound that’s a lot darker than expected.
Speaking of Strats, here’s why Squier Strats have two string trees.
Can you make Strats less twangy?
Now that we’ve realized that being twangy is something Strats are well-known for, we might want to see if there’s a way to make this guitar model less twangy. Here are a couple of answers we’ve gathered from experienced guitar players.
The first thing you’ll want to try is to pick your strings near the base of your guitar neck. The thing is the farther from your guitar’s bridge that you can pick, the less twang you’ll notice. Here’s our suggestion:
- Try to pick your strings in the narrow region between your guitar’s neck and the neck pickup. There’s a good chance that you’ll get a very fine sound with minimal twang (or twanginess, just for the sake of the new word).
Also, you can try this one! You might want to pull the pick guard and switch the middle and bridge without, of course, re-wiring anything. That way, you’ll arrange that your middle pickup position on the switch is the bridge pickup on your guitar, and the middle knob for the tone know will be your bridge pickup. All of this you can handle with a single time: a screwdriver. If, of course, you don’t like the sound of what you’ve done, simply switch everything back to default.
Bonus round: How to maintain your Strat?
To reward your patience we’re quite thankful for, we’ll show you a bonus round on how to clean and maintain your dear Strat! Here are some things you can do to prolong the life of your favorite instrument! Also, if you’re wondering can you put a locking nut on a Strat, click here.
#1 Dust & polish
You’ll want to use a dry cloth to keep your instrument free from dust and various debris. With it, you’ll want to use a specially-designed fretboard polish or oil to keep your guitar’s fretboard smooth and clean as a whistle. Oh, and if you’re wondering whether one should use WD-40 to clean a guitar, simply follow that link.
#2 Don’t forget to clean the pickups, also
Needless to say, it’s not only your fretboard that needs to be clean. It’s your pickups that deserve some attention, too. The thing is: dust can easily accumulate there and negatively influence the way your guitar will sound (unless you’re in an experimental rock/noise band). For more details on how to clean your guitar’s pickups and what to do if rust appears where it shouldn’t click here to see our article about whether rusty pickups affect tone.
#3 Steer clear of moisture
It goes without mentioning that you want to keep your instrument away from moisture at all times. It, of course, doesn’t simply signalize you shouldn’t spill drinks on it or something, it means that you don’t attempt to clean your guitar with water, or with any suspicions not-specifically-designed-for-that-purposes products. Also, never leave your guitar by an open window, or out in the rain (duh!).
#4 Proper guitar storage
Okay, so this is more of a continuation of the previous paragraph. Anyway, you’ll want to store your precious instrument somewhere safe. In other words: someplace where there’s no chance of something falling on it. Also, the storage room shouldn’t be humid and the temperature should be something you’d call reasonably consistent.
#5 Treat yourself with a top-quality guitar case
The last thing on our little list here is concerned with obtaining a top-quality guitar case. Hardcases are somewhat ideal, but they can be rather expensive. Also, they usually don’t allow you to wear them on your back and put most people off. Find yourself a padded, durable, soft case.
Okay, folks, so that was our take on the why-are-Strats-so-twangy issue! Hopefully, you’ve liked the info we’ve shared with you today. If you’re on the lookout for more guitar-related tips and other useful info, please click right here.