Hey everyone,

So I received a MIM strat about 5 years ago. It was essentially (long story) my first guitar. I put a JB in the bridge and added locking tuners but after awhile stopped playing. Now that I am playing significantly (4+ hours a day) again I want to further upgrade this guitar. I am thinking of coil splitting the JB (unless anyone has any better ideas for the bridge pickup, if so make sure it will sound good when split). So what I am looking for are a middle and neck pickup to replace the tex-mex's which I find wayyy too muddy.

Guitar is an alder MIM Fat strat.
Genres/Bands: Blues Rock, Hard Rock, Blues, Funk, Modern Rock, some Metal. Favorite guitarist include John Frusciante, Slash, SRV, Mark Knopfler, Dave Matthews, Metallica guys, Dave Grohl, etc.

Basically I am looking for a way to maintain the single coil sound but without the muddiness. I was thinking some sort of vintage pickup?
Goal is to have a really versatile guitar (almost* two guitars in one).

Amp(s): Orange 12w Crush and Peavey Valveking. Not really in the market for a new amp for a variety of reasons.
I've been through a few sets of SSS pups in my strat-slutness. If you want clarity and punch, then undoubtedly the Samarium Cobalt Noiseless pups are the best. I have them in my Paisely strat, and the clarity is unmatched. If you don't have $180 to drop on a set of single coils, however, the V3 Noiseless will also sound very nice.

Lastly, if you're looking budget, the Texas Specials will get the job done.
The Tex-Mex pickups are pretty much the warmest and thickest-sounding Singles that Fender make, so getting a clearer-sounding pickup than them is really easy. So easy in fact that it's a bit overwhelming. Texas Special are the first thing my mind goes to - they're like the Tex Mex pickups but without the pumped mids, so they're clearer while retaining the same sort of output. Really good for any kind of rock and alright for blues and metal.

The Fender Vintage Noiseless may be worth a look too. I use the Telecaster bridge version for damn near every style of music you can name. Prince uses them and it's easy to see the range of tones he gets out of them. Jeff Beck uses the 'Hot' version, which aren't quite as versatile but are similar enough that it'd still be worth you checking out some of his recent playing with them, see if you like the vibe. Both types of Noiseless pickup have just a tiny bit less treble than a classic single coil and are of course hum-cancelling, so they're really good for just about anything you need. Their only fault is they are perhaps a bit too middle-of-the-road.

If a really vintage single coil tone is what you're after then the SD SSL-1 or 2 would be good. They're as classic-sounding as you can get, albeit a touch boring. My favourite set up for a classic Strat tone with some versatility is a Fender Vintage Noiseless in the neck, an SD SSL-2 in the middle and a SD Hot Stack in the bridge; there's damn near no tone that set won't do and it's noise-cancelling in four out of five positions. The Fender pickups are made in opposite polarity to the SDs though, so you need to flip that. Not hard, just means paying a little more attention when you wire them in.

As for the JB, split JBs don't sound that great. The output will be unusually low for a Strat's bridge position and generally it'll sound a bit flat. If you want to stick with a humbucker that can split nicely, look at the SD P-Rail or Stag Mag. If you'd go back to an SSS pickguard and use a normal Strat-size pickup, but still wanted humbucker tone with a split switch, I'd suggest a Hot Rails with a series/parallel switch instead.
Yes, I know everything. No, I can't play worth a damn.
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Alright I listened to some of the pickups online (I know its not the same, but samples in guitars similar to mine may be as good as I can get).
I really dig the texas specials, but the issue is I am using money I have on a guitar center account and it seems like they only come in sets with a bridge pickup - which I don't need. Same goes for the vintage noiseless, with these I liked the high output one's more but I couldn't find any single pickups.
I checked the SD SSL-1 and 2 and I really enjoyed those pickups. When I went on seymour duncan's tone wizard (whatever that's worth) it suggested a SSL-2 in the middle position and an antiquity pickup in the neck. I can't find any video's with a similar guitar using the pickups. Does anyone know anything about the antiquity line?
I once borrowed a Strat with a full set of Antiquity single coils. Bear in mind my experience with them lasted merely one night, so don't take my opinion as the absolutely unbridled truth, but I thought they were a bit underwhelming. They're as vintage-correct and vintage-correct can be, but to actually play, through a decent valve amp live, I can't say I noticed them providing any better response or clarity than any other classic-style single coil. For my money I'd just use the SSL-1 and 2, considering they're much cheaper and to my ears sound the same.
Then again, some people do swear by the Antiquitys and won't use anything less. The Antiquity humbuckers are very nice and noticably better than the regular SD Seth Lovers and 59 models, but I just don't hear the improvement in the single coils.
Yes, I know everything. No, I can't play worth a damn.
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Alright, one last question. I still probably don't have enough info to make a choice but I just saw that Fender sells a 57/62 stratocaster pickup for about $50. Is this a complete rip-off? I understand that just because something is labeled vintage it can still be crap. The only quality video I can find is of it on an American alder strat which probably has significant differences but in that shot I enjoyed the sound.

Edit: I just heard the APS Alnico-II in a similar strat's neck position. I really dig the sound, its warm and clear. Could I put a SSL-2 in the middle (for a strat-y, quacky, vintage sound) and the APS in the neck (for a warmer single coil sound that is clearer than the tex mex)?
Last edited by Mem101 at Mar 31, 2012,