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New Strat Pickups


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I have a 1994 Fender Strat Plus with gold lace sensors in it. I'd like to make it an HSS. With all the different pickup manufacturers out there I'm not sure which one to go with or which particular pickups to use within a certain manufacturer. I don't do much lead playing and like the sound of the middle/bridge combination for a clean sound. But I also want something with some balls for the dirty sound in the bridge. I guess I need to split the humbucker to get the clean sound. I also don't know if I should just put a humbucker in the back or replace the middle and neck single coils as well. And, is it worth getting one of the pre-wired setups with the pickguard, pickups, volume and tone knobs, and selector switch all ready to be installed? Let me know what anyone thinks.

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Unless you find a great deal because it's a 'combo' deal, I wouldn't get a pre-wired one. It sounds like you have some relatively complicated (nothing you couldn't handle with the help of some drawings and forum members) wiring needs, and you'll get more flexibility doing it yourself.

You have all kinds of options-- if you're already happy with your two single-coils, I don't see the need to replace them 'just because' you already have your guitar apart. Put your money into a humbucker that meets your needs.

Recommending a pickup is like recommending a car-- since each has its distinct personality, it's hard to recommend them, and besides that we each have our own experiences and biases.

That said... why not just get a classic PAF-style? Sure, it's not an overdrive monster, but it'll produce more output than the single-coil you're already using, but will be more useful for clean applications. Most companies makes a 'classic PAF' humbucker, so just get one with 4 wires rather than the equally classic 'braid', and you'll be able to do coil-splitting if that's what you want.

As for the coil split... a single coil from a humbucker won't really replace a true single-coil pickup sound, but since it's the 'in-between' sound you like anyhow, you should be able to get a fair approximation. I would add a push-pull pot to split your humbucker, which will require the least amount of modification and no cosmetic changes.

If I can dig it up, I can also post the coil-split modification I've done on my tele (with a Little 59), which doesn't even require you to swap into a new pot. It's a fairly elegant solution, but has its drawbacks-- it's a humbucker with tone control up until about '8/9' on the tone knob, and then when you hit '9/10' (I say 9 because it occurs before you're at the very end) the coil is split. That means your tone control isn't useful in single-coil mode, and a bit of the range is taken out of the humbucker, but it's a pretty nifty mod.



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Have you considered something like the Lil' 59 or Lil' Screamon Demon? They are humbuckers in a single coil size. I have the 59 in the middle and the Lil Demon in the neck position on my Black Limba guitar (see the works in progress section) and the full sized Demon in the bridge. I also used a preamp onboard and it sounds incredible. There are other HB's that come in a single coil size but these are the only ones that I have experience with and have heard.

Those pickups aren't cheap but if sound quality is what you are after, check them out. I get a great ballsy, bluesy sound in positions 2,3,4 and can get a metal sound in the bridge position. It's very versatile and having the onboard preamp with adjustable gain helps make it even more versatile.

Just a thought.

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