So I've been playing guitar for about four years now and want to really start fine-tuning my sound. I have a Fender MIM Strat HSS, (don't laugh) a Line 6 Spyder 15W, and a Harbinger 60W PA. I've been countless times to guitar centers and local music stores searching for a guitar that feels better than my Strat, but I just love the feel of mine. So I'm thinking of either adding some high-quality pickups, upgrading my amp, or building a pedalboard. I'm more of a rhythm guitarist and my ideal guitar sound is somewhere close to Johnny Buckland's from Coldplay, but I play everything from Yellowcard to Silversun Pickups to John Mayer to Panic! At the Disco so...

Here are my questions:

Best pickups for punk/alt. rock/blues rock? I need a humbucker and two single coils. Right now I'm thinking SD SH-6 for my humbucker, but I'm not sure about singles. I want my singles to be a little more mellow for when I play in my church band...

Basic pedalboard setup (distortion/overdrive, volume, compressor, reverb) for that same sound? A couple pedals I'm looking at are ProCo Turbo Rat and Ibanez TS9. I've also used the Boss ME-70 and like that a lot if I was going to go for a multi-effects.

ANY opinions/information/knowledge is welcome. Thanks!
Honestly, don't do anything until you have a better amp. The difference in a pickup swap would be marginal in comparison.
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I could spend up to $400 as of now. I don't need a lot of wattage since I don't play gigs outside of my church band (which mics our amps and has a pa system with mixer and everything). 15W is more than enough for my use when I plug it into my PA system. But if there was something that was all-tube and in that volume range I definitely would look into it. I'd prefer to find something used too so I could get more bang for my buck - as long as it works I don't really care how it looks. I guess the only reason I was looking to pickup changes or a pedalboard before a decent amp was for when I play at church where there's a sound system.
Last edited by drambo316 at Jul 15, 2013,
yep amp is the thing

tubescreamer and rat are nice pedals, good calls there.

i suspect the sh6 (distortion, right?) will be way too hot. one of the customs is normally the thing if you want to stick to duncan. ssl1s are hard to beat for easily available mass-produced single coils if you're after more laid-back, vintage tones.
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I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

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Et tu, br00tz?
You need a new amp. You should scout the used stores around and come back to this site with a list of all the tube amps you see.

Make sure they are tube amps.
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Im thinking either an AC15 or Fender Blue Jr with a nice OD would suit your needs. You certainly need to look for used ones though.
-Carvin CS6
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I know there's an Epiphone Socal and a Fender Super Champ XD available at guitar center near me. We have like one local music store (which has a bad rep as far as used gear goes) besides guitar center so my options are kind of limited. There's also a vintage 70's Fender Champ with modded speakers. That's about it unfortunately.

I will be stopping by Austin (Finally a music town!) within a few weeks so if there are some amps you guys recommend I can search the music stores there.
Last edited by drambo316 at Jul 15, 2013,
Occasionally a DSL401 goes around $400, so I'd look for that first.

Get a Dimarzio Super Distortion if you decide to go with pickups after. The the SH-6 is a bit bright in strats IMO.
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Loop1=Crybaby from hell, Boss PS-5, Seymour Duncan 805 or Green Rhino, EQD Hoof or Earthbound Audio Super Collider. Loop 1 into ISP Decimator II.
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If you had to choose between those three, I'd take the old champ. I've heard really good things about them and it's got a cool vintage vibe to it. Probably sounds amazing.