#1
I apologize in advance but this is could get pretty long, but I need to adequately explain my dilemma. So if you can bear with me, thank you

So I currently own a lower mid priced MIM Strat, a Fender Blacktop HH (well $500, however you'd gauge it), not some total cheapo guitar though. I've seen a lot of posts around the internet about whether to replace crappy pickups in $200 guitars or get a new one...

I have pretty good pickups for the price I paid (I think I really got my money's worth with this guitar), they're average sounding, but they could be better. I've been looking at dimarzio pickups and I really like Joe Satriani's pickups. I love the PAF Pro in the neck especially but all his pickups sound great in any position. I also really like the tone zone in the bridge.

I am also looking to possibly get a new tremolo. The fender trem doesn't have much range and can go out of tune and I was considering either a super vee blade runner (or anything similar where you don't need to carve up your Strat like a jack o lantern to fit in a good tremolo) or an actual floyd rose. As many say I've heard floyd roses are a pain to install deal with and change strings with. I've never actually attempted to modify my guitar in any way either...

The kind of tone I'm looking to get is a throaty neck pickup tone that is chunkier than a neck single coil but one that maintains clarity and definition. A bit jazzier sounding perhaps. I want to avoid mud as much as possible (this is why I'm not crazy about my current neck humbucker). I've been looking at p90s as well as I've heard you can get this kind of tone with them. For the bridge I want a lot of sustain so my harmonics will last (natural harmonics die very quickly with my current pickup (it's not my strings), and I want to be able to get those Satchesque squeals).

I don't have a ton of money either, I wouldn't be able to afford a 3000 dollar instrument. I've had my current guitar for about a year, an upgrade from my squier, and I've been playing for almost five years. I understand that if the price to modify a guitar is worth as much or more than the guitar it might not be worth it. The super vee is insanely expensive too and with nice new pickups that's a lot of dough.

If I were to get a new axe I was looking at the JS1000, I love how it sounds, it has a floyd rose trem, it's versatile and coil tapped, it has a rounder neck (I'm not used to the super flat ibanez necks), and I hear an all around very comfortable playable and great sounding instrument, but it's really expensive.

OH, and I currently have a fender mustang II as my amp. Knowing this isn't quite as good as a Marshall plexi, might this be affecting my tone significantly? Would it make getting new pickups not worth it?


So finally, here's the question: should I get new pickups AND a new trem or a new guitar altogether? Or maybe choose between new pickups or a trem? Even a new amp if necessary? Any help would be very much appreciated!! Thanks for reading


Phew, that was long...

PS: if you have any pickup or trem (or amp) suggestions feel free to share!!
#2
Amp. Definitely new amp. What genre are you looking to play?


For everything you described, changing would only adjust the tone slightly. Even between those two guitars, you're limited by your amplifier. A new amp would go miles for what you seem to want to achieve.
Last edited by JustRooster at Dec 9, 2013,
#3
Yeah. Pickups do make a difference. But the difference an amp makes is a lot bigger. Changing pickups is more like fine tuning the sound.

Also, if your guitar goes out of tune when you use the whammy, you just need to set it up properly. In this video he is using a standard MIM Strat:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iy-F7iSIopA

I wouldn't install a Floyd on your guitar. It would need some routing. If you want a Floyd, buy a new guitar with a Floyd in it. Because you could just end up screwing up your guitar.
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#4
This:
Quote by JustRooster
Amp. Definitely new amp.


+

This:
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Yeah. Pickups do make a difference. But the difference an amp makes is a lot bigger. Changing pickups is more like fine tuning the sound.

(edit)

I wouldn't install a Floyd on your guitar. It would need some routing. If you want a Floyd, buy a new guitar with a Floyd in it. Because you could just end up screwing up your guitar.


=

Exactly
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#5
Quote by JustRooster
Amp. Definitely new amp. What genre are you looking to play?


For everything you described, changing would only adjust the tone slightly. Even between those two guitars, you're limited by your amplifier. A new amp would go miles for what you seem to want to achieve.


Still I'm not sure that my neck pickup would have much more definition and throatiness that I'm looking for.

I'm really into instrumental rock, kinda shred I guess but I love melody and musicality with it (I know, sounds ironic haha, but it's the culmination of all of this that I enjoy). Sometimes I like to go nuts and shred my ass off but then I like to slow it down, maybe play clean, and ill do blues any day. Eddie Van Halen Satch Vai and Guthrie Govan are probably my biggest influences (I don't actually play jazz at all, but Guthrie totally inspires me). I like a bit of diversity.

So essentially, something that gets all that high gain overdriven awesomeness but has a nice clean sound as well. I like dynamics too. So basically, something I can't afford 0___0
#6
Have you tried turning the volume knob on your guitar down a little bit? You'll be surprised the tonal wonders that'll do for you. It's my best kept secret.
#7
Sorry to go back to this a week later, been pretty busy.... But yes, I have tried turning down my volume knob. Doesn't make much of a difference. Still not getting that throatiness and definition I'm looking for in a neck pickup (although turning down the volume shouldn't add clarity generally with humbuckers lol).
#8
Yes I think new amp. Nether of your guitars are terrible and between them you should have a lot of versatility. No combination of pickups and guitar are going to make a fender mustang sound like Steve Vai.

And do not bother chucking a new bridge in. Will cost so much more than it is worth on a guitar like yours.
#9
I'm usually the first to jump in and say new amp above everything, however that's because for the most part people only seem to want new pikcups because everone else says they need them. They don't really know why they want new pickups, they've just heard it's something they should do - they don't really know what they're going to achieve by swapping.

You do seem to have a pretty good idea of what you want though, I can tell you're picturing a sound in your head that you haven't been able to nail yet. I do actually reckon its worth your while shelling out for a neck pickup, you clearly want something with a more vocal quality. Now there's other ways to achieve that, an EQ pedal will get you that tone with a bit of experimentation, as will a half-cocked wah although that can be a bit extreme.

A cheap EQ pedal would be cheaper than a pickup, but if you can afford a pickup then it would makes sense to stick a Paf Joe, Paf Pro or Fred in there - they'll all give you that vocal, midrangey honk that you're looking for in slightly differing ways. The one caveat is that you may not notice it as much through the Mustang than you would through a more responsive tube amp. It's worth looking to pick up a used pickup on ebay, if you'll pardon the pun - you'll save a bit but it's not like pickups wear out or anything like that, a used one is just as good as a brand new one in terms of functionality.
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