I am gonna be upgrading my new project guitar. I got a ESP LTD ST-203 rosewood necked strat clone. Paid 180$ for it used off of craigslist.

Here's what i like about it. The neck. It absolutely shreds, very fast and comfortable. My only other guitar is a les paul with PAF's. I wanted something different in sound as my second guitar. But also different in playability. The LP has a chunky neck with tight string tension. The Ltd is wide and thin and the strings feel very elastic due to it's bridge. So i have a guitar that has outstanding playability for the first time. Now i am gonna work on the sound of it and also the look of it.

The finish of the guitar does not look good.
The distressed finish is cheap because it is not a true distressed guitar it is just a spray on image of a distressed guitar. Not a quality nitro cellulose paint either. It looks very aesteically synthetic. I am sanding the entire body down and refinishing it with Tung oil and replacing the pickguard with a wood one. I know i am in the minority here but i feel to much plastic covering a guitar is a tone dampener besides being butt ugly. Has anyone here had good experiences with wood pickguards and natural resin and oil finishes?

Lastly the pickups. I am not to experienced with single coils. I've always played humbuckers but am open to having some variety now. I have one pickup in mind that sounds good to me it is the seymour duncan Hot rails, this would be for the bridge. I liked the sound of it from the demo's i hear of it and i admit i like that it has been a go to pickup on Dave Murray 's strat. I love iron maidens sound.

As for the neck and middle i have no clear candidates so i'm floating around idea's. Shoot me your favorite strat pickup and what you like about it.

As for my likes, i like versatility. From playing the guitar so far i think i like each pickup by itself not in the combination position on the selector switch. So looking at it that way i could have three different pickups each with their own character for a versatile guitar.

I liked seymour duncan antiquity humbuckers. However i heard a side by side of the strat texas hot antiquity on youtube and thought it sounded worse then the fender pup it was compared to . I wanted to like it but am uncertain after hearing it on youtube. I want to have at least one cool vintagey sounding Pickup.

I checked out dimarzio. The Dimarzio line is huge, and they have no sound samples on their website so it feels like a gamble to me going off of their descriptions. Probably some good, great, and not so great ones there.

I am open to suggestions. If anyone has a favorite pickup that they swear by i'd like to hear it.

Also. The stock esp pickups in this guitar pretty much suck. Not that they are to muddy or to bright. They just sound sorta cheap almost a "fake" sound. Not very true and pure. I once owned a MIM strat and the stock pickups sounded much better than this. The neck on the LTD absolutely blows the fender out of the water though. I am just hoping i can capture a great tone with new pickups.

My budget is about 200$ for new pickups.
i have played lollars but never owned them. I have fralins in mine and i love them, they are the best ones I've ever played, but i don't think they are what you are looking for. it sounds like you are going in a more modern direction for tone which is why you are looking into the SDs, fralins and a lot of other strat pickups from custom shops can have a more vintage tone to them. (i know jack about the winding and the output levels, to me it's useless info, if they sound right to you then that's good enough)

check out the dimarzio strat pickups as well, dimarzios are really popular and they sound great for their very reasonable price, i am getting a set of the billy corgan pickups in one of my strats soon. they might be harder to come by but check out lace sensors, they have a really section of their website that you can see what pickup works best for the sound you want and then you can mix n match them to the others, so if you want your bridge pickup to be good for metal, and your neck pickup to be a lot more smooth and warm then they can pair them.
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Quote by CaptainAmerican
I would recommend the marshal MG100

Very versatile and quality sound. It should treat you well
i'll second Lace Sensors. the Red,Silver,Blue set seems to be what you want. retains a fair amount of the strat sound but has more umph and almost no noise.
If you want the old vintage Fender Strat sound, perhaps a Fender single coil? I'm 99% sure this is what came in my Strat, and I love it. Of course you could probably find a single over a 3-pack.
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duncan surfers look interesting. I am considering SD or dimarzio because they are reasonably priced more so than a small production semi boutique brand like lollar or fralin.