#1
I'm looking to replace the pickups on my Stratocaster because the stock ones are a bit bland. It needs to be able to handle overdrive really well for Stevie Ray Vaughan and Kenny Wayne Shepherd but still be smooth and jangly for Jimi Hendrix and John Mayer, if I had to name artists. I tend to get the sound I'm looking for out of the standard pickups by cranking up the volume and tone on my drive pedal and tweaking the clean channel on my amp. Theres just so many different kinds of pickups and I can't compare them all to each other so I'm trying to get some ideas on what would work for me. Ideas?

- Fralin Blues Specials
- Callaham H/SRV Specials
- Fender CS 69s
- Fender Pure Vintage 59s
- Klien 1959s

My rig:
- Egnater Rebel 30
- EHX East River Drive
#2
you have an MIM standard, right? i'm guessing most name brand (or smaller boutique manufacturer) stuff in the vintage hot category would probably be better than what you already have, at least. even stuff like tonerider (which i haven't tried) would likely be an improvement so you might not even have to spend big. there are some better value handwinders too like bg pickups etc. (I'm assuming you're in the USA). Again, I haven't tried those.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
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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#3
Are we talking SSS or HSS?
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#4
This might be too obvious, but I'm pretty sure all the names you mentioned primarily play(ed) '60s Strats, so Fender's reproductions of late '50s and early '60s pickups will probably be the most faithful option
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#5
I'm curious as to why you are distorting a clean channel with a drive pedal through a full tube amplifier?

^waste of amplifier^ and would explain "bland tone"

Before you swap anything, why not try slightly boosting your drvie channel with your drive pedal?

If you actually get the tubes "cookin" i think that would really open your eyes (ears) to what your current gear is actually capable of.

But for a good pickup suggestion, why not a good set of Texas specials?
#6
Yeah Texas Specials are definitely a great set. Maybe not quite as jangly as something like a 69 but still great clean or dirty
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#7
Quote by Dick Savage
But for a good pickup suggestion, why not a good set of Texas specials?

Just my 2 cents, but I don't feel like they're really the way to any of these tones. I know they're meant to be effectively Stevie's signature pups, but their whole thing is being overwound and to the best of my knowledge neither Stevie, Hendrix, nor any of Hendrix's other musical progeny used overwound pickups. They are great pickups in their own right, though.
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#8
Quote by Dick Savage
I'm curious as to why you are distorting a clean channel with a drive pedal through a full tube amplifier?

^waste of amplifier^ and would explain "bland tone"

Before you swap anything, why not try slightly boosting your drvie channel with your drive pedal?

If you actually get the tubes "cookin" i think that would really open your eyes (ears) to what your current gear is actually capable of.

But for a good pickup suggestion, why not a good set of Texas specials?

It's not a waste at all. Plenty of guitarists get their tone like that including John Mayer and SRV. Most of those guitarists the TS mentioned used standard late 50s or early 60s pickups which are considerably lower output than Texas Specials. I would look into Lollar Vintage Tweeds. I would also recommend upgrading the pots and caps if you're changing the pickups. And stay away from the Fender pickups. They're not bad but they're not as good as the others that you're looking at.
#9
Quote by Dick Savage
I'm curious as to why you are distorting a clean channel with a drive pedal through a full tube amplifier?

^waste of amplifier^ and would explain "bland tone"

Before you swap anything, why not try slightly boosting your drvie channel with your drive pedal?

If you actually get the tubes "cookin" i think that would really open your eyes (ears) to what your current gear is actually capable of.

But for a good pickup suggestion, why not a good set of Texas specials?


The SRV and similar overdriving Fender tones come from a tubescreamer pedal into the clean channel. You basically bring the amp to the point of breaking up. Don't worry about the drive channel though, it gets plenty of use with my PRS SE Custom 22 and I love the tone I can get through that.

I've looked into Texas Specials and I've heard that they're really hot and bright by default which might not give me the clean tone I'm looking for and might be too much when I add dirt to them.
#10
Quote by K33nbl4d3
This might be too obvious, but I'm pretty sure all the names you mentioned primarily play(ed) '60s Strats, so Fender's reproductions of late '50s and early '60s pickups will probably be the most faithful option


Alright thanks for that advice
#11
Quote by natadams149
The SRV and similar overdriving Fender tones come from a tubescreamer pedal into the clean channel. You basically bring the amp to the point of breaking up. Don't worry about the drive channel though, it gets plenty of use with my PRS SE Custom 22 and I love the tone I can get through that.

I've looked into Texas Specials and I've heard that they're really hot and bright by default which might not give me the clean tone I'm looking for and might be too much when I add dirt to them.



My mistake, i thought you were just using the pedal for ALL of your gain. I didn't realize you were actually "driving" the amp as alot of "noobs" do.

And as far as the high/low output problem, i can see where you would want to stay as close to the output of the originals as possible....so yea i would say the tex specials may be too hot....


A set of Duncan antiquity 2 surfers should do pretty nicely....they are fairly low output.

And if you have hotter pups just roll the gain off a touch and it should out you back into "low output" territory.
#12
Quote by Dick Savage
And if you have hotter pups just roll the gain off a touch and it should out you back into "low output" territory.

For what it's worth, some of SD's hotter singlecoils can be had with coil taps that will basically reduce the number of winds at the press of a button, but I feel like in this case just getting a lower output pickup would be the most appropriate option.

If you want to be a bit more oddball, a neat alternative would be Seymour Duncan's lipstick tubes, a reproduction of the Danelectro ones like SRV had on his "Charley" Strat. They're lower output than even vintage singlecoils, but the cleans are jangly as you like and when you put them through a Tubescreamer that translates to a sound I find is best described as "clanky". Might not be your thing, but it's an option:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIeHeUCtM2Q
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#13
I'm loving the sound of the Seymour Duncan antiquity 2 surfers, based off their sound demos. It sounds nice when clean and holds up under gain to still give a clear sound
#14
Put some David Allen Tru 62's in my Strat. Never had a more "Stevie" tone before, they're phenomenal.

The 57'/62' set from Fender is always a solid option for that classic Strat sound. Heavy blues could be a Quarter Pounder with an SSL2 Set from SD. The Antiquities are nice, but get too grainy for my taste when really pushed.
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#15
Quote by K33nbl4d3

If you want to be a bit more oddball, a neat alternative would be Seymour Duncan's lipstick tubes, a reproduction of the Danelectro ones like SRV had on his "Charley" Strat. They're lower output than even vintage singlecoils, but the cleans are jangly as you like and when you put them through a Tubescreamer that translates to a sound I find is best described as "clanky".

Godin put those in the middle & neck positions of the Belmont. Nice pickups, IMHO.

Here's a demo of THAT guitar so you can hear the pickups in iso without all the other stuff in SRV's performance.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAI0JUbO6Uo&sns=em
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#16
Another unusual suggestion would be Charlie Christians. They're made by SD, Vintage Vibe, Lollar and others, in a variety of sizes. Here's a guy demoing his neck position Lollar CC:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgYsugjmITc&sns=em

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mkw7BOMtG6o&sns=em

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Vl1mrbr-1s&sns=em
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#17
IMO, I think most of the pickups with the SRV/Texas/Blues labels to them will get you in the ballpark of what you want, so I think you'll have to go off the reservation to make a choice you'll hate.

I have an American Special Strat that came stock with Texas Specials, and I really like those pickups. The bridge has been replaced with a lil'JB, but the neck and middle pickups are still the Specials and they work perfectly with the JB.

As far as the pickups you listed, I've played the Fralin Blues Specials and I think you'd like them too. I don't they're quite as versatile as the Texas Specials for more modern tones, they're decidedly more vintage, but if that's not something you're worried about you should have no qualms with these.

The Fender CS 69's are very nice too. I've played those in an MIM and they sound great for clean and dirty. They're different than the Texas Specials, a little darker and perhaps a little more bottom end too, which I like.

The SD Texas Hots are something I'd look into as well. I've never played them, but they seem like they might even be a bit hotter than the Texas Specials, which is something that appeals to me personally, especially in the bridge position.
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#18
honestly it's way more about the amp and fx with all the guys you mentioned. John Meyer does use custom pickups that aren't available outside of buying his sig strat. for SRV and Hendrix a big part of their tone was achieved by shear volume which isn't practical for most of us.

for jimi the 69s would be closest. for SRV you are looking at the 59s and as i said meyer has custom pups although i know a couple of boutique pup makers do sets that are supposed to sound the same. the amps are very different though and that is where the sound really is at.
#19
Quote by sjones
IMO, I think most of the pickups with the SRV/Texas/Blues labels to them will get you in the ballpark of what you want, so I think you'll have to go off the reservation to make a choice you'll hate.


yeah that's what i was thinking
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
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.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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Et tu, br00tz?
#20
Quote by Dave_Mc
yeah that's what i was thinking



I feel like i made this recommendation at some point?
#24
Quote by Dick Savage
I feel like i made this recommendation at some point?


no i didn't mean specifically texas specials, i just meant in general you'd probably have to try pretty hard to get something totally unsuitable, or at least less suitable than his current pickups.

also i kind of made that point as the first reply in this thread, if we're keeping score I was just clarifying that that's kind of what I was trying to get at (his point), except he probably put it a bit more eloquently
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
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.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?