Now that I’ve successfully replaced my stock MIM Strat pickups I’m already researching what I should try next. I should just put all these tools in a corner of the garage and never look at them again.
I agree with the above so much ; if you're going to make an adjustment, have a target. I've been guilty of just swapping out parts because, hey, better parts. But if I tweaked what I had and played it seriously, then tweaked some more and really tweezed out every last bit, bet that I would have been most of the way there. This does not apply to noiseless pickups or putting a humbucker in a bridge posish that used to be a single coil, etc.Try to isolate what it is you like and don't like about your current load out and address it in steps with mods and adjustments before going to new pickups right away. Maybe a tone control on the bridge pickup. Maybe a series/parallel switch. Maybe they're too high or low. That kind of thing.
great post +1The Strat was the hardest for me. I've posted this here before, but I hope it will help you get where you're going.
Normal Strat pickups come in 3 basic types:
50s -- maybe 54-57 or 58 or so -- lower wind, some had A3 pickups but quickly moved to A5, sweet, glassy sounding -- Duncan SSL1s are the reference tone here. Also Fender 54s, Fralin Vintage Hots, etc. I use BKP Apaches and love them.
Early-to-mid 60s -- basically 59 or 60 to 65 or 66 or so. Like the later 50s pickups with A5s, but hotter winds. More midrange. More thump. More low end. Texas Specials, Fralin Blues Specials, Antiquity Surfers, etc.
Late 60s -- super low winds and scooped to hell and gone. Hendrix. Mayer. Fender 69s are probably the reference tone here. Duncan's Psychadelic Strat set is good too.
Most people like 50s winds as a good all-rounder. They aren't as hot as the early-to-mid 60s, nor as scooped as the late 60s. They just sort of sit "right" with most folks. If you know you want hotter, the early to mid 60s winds are great. If you know you want that super-scooped John Mayer or Hendrix tone, late 60s are also great.
They all sound good. They're all in the same ballpark. If you get the 60s winds nobody is going to say "that doesn't really sound like a Strat." everyone will know what it is. But in terms of preference, the above is sort of the generic ballparks you'll be playing in. If you kind of have an idea which one of those three basic groups you want to land in, it makes the search easier.
I bought a set from Bill & Becky 20 years ago to replace the pups on a Lonestar Strat - what a difference! And I was so fortunate to speak with them on the phone. Highly recommend the product.Don't put those tools away.....just yet.
If you've never owned a set of Bill Lawrence pups you owe it to yourself to read up on them. There's no charge for learnin' about new stuff. It's totally free. Besides....Bill's story is very interesting and he was a major influence in music industry.
If you've never played a set of Bill Lawrence pups you owe it to yourself to try them. Bill Lawrence pups are some of the best on the market. They are also some of the least expensive.
Do NOT mistake BillLawrenceUSA pups for Bill Lawrence pups. They are NOT the same. Genuine BL pups are only available from his website.
( I have no affiliation with either company)