#1
I have an Ibanez RG470 in what I believe was called "New Penny" or something similar. Made sometime in the early 00's. Other than the volume and tone knobs, which I switched to gold knobs instead of those god awful metal knobs, this thing is all stock. It has some love marks on it, mainly around the horns, which are not really visible when I'm on stage and since this is a player, not an investment piece, I'm completely fine with that. I forget which trem system it has, and it doesn't really matter to me because it's blocked off. I've never really used a trem in my playing, but I got this at a great price from a friend and do enjoy the tuning stability of the locking nut.

All in all, it's a fine playing guitar and for the better part of two years it was my main instrument. I recorded all of my band's first EP with it. However, I was bitten by the Stratocaster bug after I won one in a local guitar competition and have since acquired another. For the last year and a half I've used Strats (S/S/S) exclusively.

I put this thing up for sale/trade locally a few times and didn't get any enticing offers. So, I'm thinking of making a few simple changes to the guitar to make it more suitable to my tastes and keeping it around since it does play very nicely. More specifically:

1) Pickups. The guitar has a much darker tone than my Strats, and the stock V8/V7 pickups don't seem to help matters much. I find them kind of dull and uninspired on the top end, and too bassy and inarticulate on the low. They're probably a bit higher output than what I really need, too. I'd like something with moderate output, sweet highs, and a defined low end. The guitar is H/S/H, but I'm not really concerned with the single. The stock is fine, and if I want a position 2 or 4 sound, I'm turning to one of my Strats anyhow. (Genre-wise, a play a variety of "rock", from more straightforward and alternative, to progressive and fusion).

2) Costmetics. Including pickups (cased? color? zebra?), I'd like to make some cosmetic changes to the guitar. Maybe new pickup rings? Maybe add a pickguard? Looking for some ideas on what might look good on this guitar.

Please keep in mind I'd like to do this on a budget. At best, this will still be a backup guitar that I go to for a change of pace, or because it fits a tonal niche that I can't quite nail with one of my Strats. That being said, I'd have no problem buying GFS or other wallet-friendly-yet-quality brand. I'm kind of interested in the Mean 90's. I played them in a friends SX Tele and thought they sounded nice. I'm not sure how they'd sound in the RG, but it's a thought I've had.

Here's a link with few in-action pictures of the guitar for reference. Derpy guitar faces included!
http://imgur.com/a/EBiFH

Thanks for reading/commenting!
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#2
You might consider the Carvin C22's. In particular their bridge pickup is outstanding (not too hot, not too mild).

Rather than the GFS 90's, I'd suggest ponying up for a Seymour Duncan P-Rail (they come in three degrees of hotness, including one they think is a neck pickup and two they consider bridge pickups, but that I think are outstanding neck pickups). You'll always get cleaner neck tones (less mud, anyway) if the pickup covers a smaller area of the string. This includes single coils and single-coil size humbuckers, as well as mini-hums. The P-Rail is unique in that it consists of a real P90 coil and a real rail coil single coil in a standard humbucker package. You will want to add switching, because there are actually four separate modes available: P90 coil, single rail coil, both coils together in serial mode (this makes for a standard humbucker, believe it or not, that's actually quite good) and both coils in parallel mode (still a humbucker mode, but a bit thinner sounding). You can add mini-switches OR you can look at SD's "Triple Shot" pickup ring, which has built-in switching. My personal favorite would be miniswitches (fast, positive, easy to see where you're set and you don't change any rotary settings) followed by the triple shot, followed WAY down the line by anything that involves push-pulls.

BTW, you may want to add a mini switch anyway -- an any standard HSH guitar there are several options available with a five-way that you're missing out on. One option for a single miniswitch is a "bridge pickup add-in" switch that will add the bridge pickup to the neck-only position on the five-way, and to the neck+middle position. When both pickups are in (serial) humbucker mode, you get the "both pickups selected" LP middle position sound, and if they're in split mode, you have yet another combination.

Or you can take a look at the switching for the *original* Gibson MIII (their superstrat offering back when...early '90's?). This was a 25.5" 24-fret HSH guitar that had a five way and a miniswitch. In one position, the five way operated exactly as if the guitar were a strat: single coil modes on the HB, and brige only/bridge plus middle/middle/neck plus middle/neck only selections. Flip the mini switch and you got LesPaul -- the first three positions were bridge HB, bridge plus neck, and neck HB only. The fourth position was, as I recall, an "enhanced" bridge plus neck that brought an inductor or capacitor into play to cut back the neck pickup's bass response slightly (all kinds of options, including an out-of-phase version, I suppose), and, in the full-forward position, off. A kill switch, for when you wanted to take a break.
#3
A black pickguard may look cool. It would compliment the black hardware.
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