I don’t want to do it…but I’m going to!

jwag

Strat-O-Master
Aug 9, 2015
596
Saint Louis
I’ve repeatedly said I (and still do) love the way these stock Classic Series 60’s Strat’s of mine play and sound. That said…I just can’t help to think they would both be even better with a pickup upgrade. The clean tones are very good IMO, I really don’t have any complaints there. Using dirt they are both ever so slightly dark, nothing I couldn’t live with by any means. The pickup height is perfect IMO, leaving me to believe it’s inherent in the pickups.

My other Strat with SSL-1’s retains it’s clarity noticeably better with dirt, which leads me to believe the other’s would as well with higher quality pickups.

I’ve been struggling with this for several weeks now as both these guitars are very good as is. I like them so much I’m building another one with a black body, and already purchased Pure Vintage 59’s for it.

I’ve got a set of Pure Vintage 65’s and 57/62’s in my cart right now for these guitars and have been hesitating completing the purchase. I haven’t played either of those sets, but have high expectations for them both clean and dirty.

Here’s to hoping they make the slight difference I’m hoping they will, as I’m nitpicking the stock sets that are currently in these guitars.


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Sparque

Seriously-Stratified
Nov 20, 2019
671
Harvest, AL
I wouldn't do it.

What do your band-mates say about it?
Do they feel that your Strats sound anemic?

Have audience members complained that they can't hear your guitar cut thru the mix?

I would leave them bone-stock.
But that's just me.
I love my Strats all-original, and I can get dirt and tone via the amps and pedals.

:(
 

Colnago1

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 2, 2014
1,435
Where am I?
I’m a pickup changing freak so you know what I’m going to say. I haven’t tried the ‘65s yet.
I’ve tried almost everything thing else from Fender and they really know how to make a good sounding pickup.
 

jwag

Strat-O-Master
Aug 9, 2015
596
Saint Louis
I wouldn't do it.

What do your band-mates say about it?
Do they feel that your Strats sound anemic?

Have audience members complained that they can't hear your guitar cut thru the mix?

I would leave them bone-stock.
But that's just me.
I love my Strats all-original, and I can get dirt and tone via the amps and pedals.

:(
My band mates seem to love the tones I’m getting, unless they’re fibbing! Seriously, both these guitars sound great, which is why I’ve struggled with changing anything at all.

I’ve received no complaints, just the opposite. As far as cutting through the mix, they do perfectly fine.

As mentioned previously the cleans are very nice. When I kick on an overdrive pedal I’m losing a little transparency in the form of a slightly darkish tone which to some may be a good thing, to me…I want it to retain definition and be articulate. My SSL1 equipped Strat does this in spades, and I’d like the same benefit in the others.

I’m honestly nitpicking these two guitars, many probably wouldn’t even be considering changing anything.
 

jwag

Strat-O-Master
Aug 9, 2015
596
Saint Louis
I’m a pickup changing freak so you know what I’m going to say. I haven’t tried the ‘65s yet.
I’ve tried almost everything thing else from Fender and they really know how to make a good sounding pickup.
No question, I didn’t even look at any other manufacturers.
 

Tone Deaf

Stratosaurus Magnificus
Platinum Supporting Member
Feb 12, 2009
8,867
New Jersey, USA
Maybe just swap out one set on one guitar and audition the change with your bandmates.
If it’s good for you and them, then do the other one.

Can you record the before and after soundbytes and share with us mere mortals?
 

jwag

Strat-O-Master
Aug 9, 2015
596
Saint Louis
Maybe just swap out one set on one guitar and audition the change with your bandmates.
If it’s good for you and them, then do the other one.

Can you record the before and after soundbytes and share with us mere mortals?
I had planned on swapping out one set at a time to compare for any discernible difference. My band mates don’t think I should change a thing, they think I’m crazy.

I could definitely make a few audio clips, it’ll have to be on my iPad. I don’t have anything else at the moment.
 

Guy Incognito

Senior Stratmaster
May 14, 2019
3,315
Here
My band mates seem to love the tones I’m getting, unless they’re fibbing! Seriously, both these guitars sound great, which is why I’ve struggled with changing anything at all.

I’ve received no complaints, just the opposite. As far as cutting through the mix, they do perfectly fine.

As mentioned previously the cleans are very nice. When I kick on an overdrive pedal I’m losing a little transparency in the form of a slightly darkish tone which to some may be a good thing, to me…I want it to retain definition and be articulate. My SSL1 equipped Strat does this in spades, and I’d like the same benefit in the others.

I’m honestly nitpicking these two guitars, many probably wouldn’t even be considering changing anything.
IMO a lot of this stuff is just in our heads. All these little things seem big when we're playing by ourselves but once you put an electric guitar in a band mix all the subtle changes are lost.

On the other hand I feel I do better when I'm putting my best for forward so even if it's a placebo effect it works for me.

At this point in the thread I'm sure you've pulled the trigger on the mentioned sets.

I've not tried all the Strat pickups in the world but I've owned a lot of guitars and the best Strat pickups I've come across so far are Klein 54's. I acquired my set in a trade so I've not got a lot in them. Even though they're pricey, they're with every penny.

https://www.kleinpickups.com/p-326-1954-epic-series-stratocaster-pickups.aspx

Other sets I'm running right now are.
Texas Specials,
Custom 69's,
Gold Lace Sensors,
Hot Rails,
98 American Standard's.
 
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jwag

Strat-O-Master
Aug 9, 2015
596
Saint Louis
IMO a lot of this stuff is just in our heads. All these little things seem big when we're playing by ourselves but once you put an electric guitar in a band mix all the subtle changes are lost.

On the other hand I feel I do better when I'm putting my best for forward so even if it's a placebo effect it works for me.

At this point in the thread I'm sure you've pulled the trigger on the mentioned sets.

I've not tried all the Strat pickups in the world but I've owned a lot of guitars and the best Strat pickups I've come across so far are Klein 54's. I acquired my set in a trade so I've not got a lot in them. Even though they're pricey, they're with every penny.

https://www.kleinpickups.com/p-326-1954-epic-series-stratocaster-pickups.aspx

Other sets I'm running right now are.
Texas Specials,
Custom 69's,
Gold Lace Sensors,
Hot Rails,
98 American Standard's.
I agree with your assessment in your opening comments, I’m probably putting too much thought into something that in all honesty isn’t a huge deal. That said, I feel like I could squeeze a little more tone out of these guitars.

The main thing I’ve been wrestling with is are the gains I get gonna be worth the $350-$400 investment. If I had a Strat in need of pickups and had a spare set of the stock pickups that are in my guitars now, I’d install them without hesitation.

The answers to the questions I keep asking myself can only be answered one way, and that’s to try it. Best case I love the new pickups even more, and have a couple spare sets that I know I like that can be installed in another future project.
 

Chipss36

Strat-O-Master
Oct 1, 2018
839
Texas
I don’t own a guitar with stock pickups.

not one.

because better sounding pickups existed, they found a permanent home.

I think every guitar is different, and brand whatever is not always the best for that guitar…


do it.
 

Jimbo99

Senior Stratmaster
Jun 5, 2021
1,806
Palm Coast, FL
I have the stock Squier Bullet & Affinity ceramic 3.7K single coils in my 2 Strats. I know they aren't the best sounding pickups, but one guitar is a 2005, the other a 2016 and they measure DCR & sound the same as they did 2.5 years ago when I bought the guitars. They won't die, so I refuse to replace them. Solid & reliable.
 

Baelzebub

Dr. Stratster
Nov 1, 2019
13,968
State of Disbelief
My band mates seem to love the tones I’m getting, unless they’re fibbing! Seriously, both these guitars sound great, which is why I’ve struggled with changing anything at all.

I’ve received no complaints, just the opposite. As far as cutting through the mix, they do perfectly fine.

As mentioned previously the cleans are very nice. When I kick on an overdrive pedal I’m losing a little transparency in the form of a slightly darkish tone which to some may be a good thing, to me…I want it to retain definition and be articulate. My SSL1 equipped Strat does this in spades, and I’d like the same benefit in the others.

I’m honestly nitpicking these two guitars, many probably wouldn’t even be considering changing anything.


I second leaving them alone. Why not build a partscaster so that when these kinds of urges strike you, you have something to swap pickups into and out of. If something really strikes you as better than what's in your current guitars you can A/B them real time and see if they'd really be an improvement.

You could also demo the A/B with your bandmates and get their input.

Just my 2¢
 

Dreamdancer

Senior Stratmaster
May 1, 2014
2,362
Greece
A quality pickup set that you love the sound of,can never betray you....the strats can change but that set can hop from guitar to guitar always giving you what you want...
 

jwag

Strat-O-Master
Aug 9, 2015
596
Saint Louis
I second leaving them alone. Why not build a partscaster so that when these kinds of urges strike you, you have something to swap pickups into and out of. If something really strikes you as better than what's in your current guitars you can A/B them real time and see if they'd really be an improvement.

You could also demo the A/B with your bandmates and get their input.

Just my 2¢
I’m building another Classic Series 60’s Strat right now that’ll be equipped with Pure Vintage 59’s, just have to gather a few more things and get it assembled.

Honestly, the 57/62’s and Pure Vintage 65’s have me gassing to try them more than anything. I guess I’ll build two more and use those pickups.

I like your suggestion to be able to A/B them in real time, definitely will help finding any differences.
 


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