Mark got the Signature Strat about 2003 so he can't have talked about it in the 90ies And he never talked about the TS pickups in any interview in the 90ies either. Yes, it always sounds great due to his great playing but still all of these guitars sound different when he played Sultans or whatever on them (of course the effects and amps were also different here) Early on was the 70ies, 1977-79. When people wonder what kind of pickups he had in his Strats then they obviously do not realize that back then there were hardly any pickups available at all. Fender had ONE (!) model - called Stratocaster pickup . DiMarzio offered high-output pickups for the Strat (in fact Mark had one of these in one of his guitars then), Schecter and Mighty Mite offered some different sounding pickups, and that is all there was. The first vintage replica pickup I remember was the Seymour Duncan SSL1 that was available here in Germany in the early 80ies,I think a bit earlier in the US. These were the pickups that Mark put in one of his red Schecters in 1981 by the way. The harsh sound that some people tend to attribute to the TS pickups in the MK sign Strat is more likely a result of the other hardware. It is all rather trebly (ash body, steel block, nitro finish, Indian rswd,..) The MK sign Strat is not a copy of his old red Strats (the one with the rosewood fingerboard has an alder body, not ash, and no TS pickups of course). I guess Fender offered some choices, like ash or alder body, 57/62 or TS pickups, this or that, and Mark tried out and compared options and decided on this or that, what sounds and looks nice to him, and what seems to be a cool guitar he would give his name for, and would play on stage himself.