So, here is my AXL Badwater SRO. I bought it for around $200 last year with the intention of upgrading in the future. I have replaced the strap locks, control knobs and the tuners. You can see I was working toward changing all the hardware to be black, but recently changed my mind.

I recently upgraded the pups in my ESP ec400vf Tabacco Sunburst Eclipse from chrome covered Duncan 59'/JB combo to Gibson zebra 496R/500T. Originally I intended on removing the chrome covers and installing black ones to match the all black theme. But now that I am about to begin the project, I'm thinking that I should stick with chrome for all the hardware.

The stock AXL has EMG "designed" alnico 5 pups in an S-S-H configuration, and custom "distressed" brass hardware to match the body. The pickups have a decent amount of output with a nice clean strat sound, but zero clarity on a gain channel, so they've gotta go. The hardware looks cool, but is basically crap... as expected for $200.

So here are all the changes I'm thinking...
1. Duncan 59' at the neck (full sized, chrome cover)
2. Duncan Duckbucker in the middle position (bridge model SDBR1-b)
3. Duncan JB at the bridge (full sized, chrom cover)
4. All hardware replaced with Chrome (strap locks, neck bolt cover, string trees)
5. Jin-Ho 19:1 chrome locking tuners
6. New neck from Warmoth, Warhead style headstock, unfinished maple, custom radius design, dark rosewood fretboard, Stainless Steel frets, thick round profile

Now for the things I haven't really figured out yet... Suggestions Welcome...

Replacing the pickguard with one from Terrapin Guitars (Red tortoise)

--- Replace the strat-style trem with a chrome fixed bridge, but what style...
I was thinking about a TOM-style with string thru body to give it a very unique style... I have heard a lot of Strat lovers say they hate it, but I kinda like the look, but requires much more work than just getting a strat-style fixed bridge...

Pickup Switching Configuration - 1
--- Replace 5-way switch with three 3-way switches, one for each pickup. Down - Off; Middle - single coil mode; Up - humbucker mode.
--- Replace volume and tone 250k pots with a500k pots. Vol - Tone (neck/mid) - Tone (bridge)

Pickup Switching Configuration -2
--- Replace master volume with a500K, and replace two tone pots with push-pull a500K pots.
--- Split the coils of the 59' and the JB on the tone pots, and install a 3-way switch for the duckbucker, with a 2-way kill switch so I can still isolate the mid pickup and still quickly switch from neck to bridge...

Any ideas? comments? Like it , hate it?
Personally, unless you like it the way it is, I would sand down the body and re-finish it. In a finish you like, of course.
This post may contain my opinion and/or inaccurate information.

Current Rig:
2006 PRS CE-24
Mesa/Boogie Mark V
Voltage S212 w/ V30's
Strymon Timeline
CMATMods Signa Drive
TC Electronics Corona & Hall of Fame
Quote by AWACS
Personally, unless you like it the way it is, I would sand down the body and re-finish it. In a finish you like, of course.

I do love the distressed look of the body, part of the reason I bought it in the first place. The only other Strat-stlye I have really liked in a while was Fender's Silverburst...
Progress has been made...

Here is a stock photo of the way it originally looked...

Here is what I have done so far... still not done, but I did not want to invest a lot of money into changes if I absolutely hated it's look and/or sound...

So I put in a GFS Over-wound Liverpool model for the neck position which I really like a lot. Middle is the Duckbucker (bridge model), and bridge position has the JB as planned. The JB sounds better in this guitar than it did in my EC400vf. Sounds more full on the bottom end. I'm not sure about the Duckbucker, but it does provide a bit of dynamics in the tone.

I am still not done with the wiring... and in fact I realize now that wiring is not very easy... I found a schematic (with pictures ) from Seymour Duncan and still go something wrong somewhere because my Volume pot (500k push/pull for coil split) doesn't control volume for anything, and the tone controls are completely messed up.. BUT, The 5-way switch and coil split works correctly for all of the pickups. I wired some of the ground lines to different locations figuring that it wouldn't matter because they were all connected in some way or another... oops, I forgot how circuits work.. no big deal, I just wanted to make sure I liked the overall sound before I invested any more money...

Guess I'll take another shot at the wiring when I have to change the strings again...