I fell in love with this Stratocaster more than a year ago when I listened to hard rock and wanted to play for myself. But lately I've found myself head over heels in love with heavy metal; more specifically, power metal bands like Sabaton and Falconer.

I bought an EC-401QM and it hits metal rhythm like it's no one's business. But I kinda wanna turn this beauty of a Strat into something that can do metal leads and solos. It came with a passive bridge humbucking pickup but it sounds... So ancient. It feels so clunky to fret each strong when playing fast. I love this instrument, and it has deep sentimental value, so I don't wanna leave it to collect dust while I go waste money on a brand new Jackson or something.

Assuming I had an infinite budget, what could I do to make this thing into a hot metal superstar: lower the action, get an active bridge pickup, get one of those fancy bridges Ibanez uses? What's your advice? I've heard from a reliable source that I have a top notch luthier in town who may just be able to get me a discount.

Please be merciful, I'm painfully stupid when it comes to guitar jargon.

Thanks! \m/

PS: I tried to post a picture of my instrument but couldn't upload it. If you want some reference of what I've got, look up HSS Stratocaster and you'll get an idea of what I've got.
Last edited by An_Than at Apr 10, 2017,
if you had an infinite budget then buy a guitar better suited to metal. with out a budget it's pretty pointless to answer your post.  a bigger issue may be what amp you are using so what is it? 
Well I kinda want to do something special with this guitar. It's my first electric and it means a lot to me, so I'm partially motivated just to make this one my own. I also have space concerns. I can't just go out and buy new guitars on a whim at the moment and I'd hate to get rid of the ones I've got. I'm just looking to modify this Strat, as I've seen many awesome metal bands like Sabaton and Axel Rudi Pell using strats.

My amplifier is a 100 watt blackstar (not sure what model) I am very satisfied with the way it handles when playing with my EC on rhythmic stuff. hope that helps. But if you have any other suggestions on what I can do, in regards to modifying the guitar itself, that'd be excellent. I'd love to get a more modern sound out of it but I don't know if that's a pickup issue or a body issue.

If I had to set a budget, I'd maybe put it around $300-$500. Since I don't want to buy a new guitar, I'd hate to pay a new guitar's price.
Thanks for the help!
Last edited by An_Than at Apr 10, 2017,
well i think that the issue isn't the guitar but rather your ability to get a good lead sound from your amp. a good rhythm setting doesn't always make for  good lead setting. i kick on an overdrive for my lead sounds which gives you more gain and the abilty to make eq adjustments more fitting to a lead sound (see profile for link to examples. 
So I can get a better, more modern lead sound by investing in an overdrive? I think you may be right about the EQ issues because the amp always sounds better on rhythm regardless of how I try to fine tune it.

You've been a lot of help. Thanks for helping my dumb ass figure out what I'm doing with my equipment. Rock on.
Quote by An_Than
So I can get a better, more modern lead sound by investing in an overdrive? I think you may be right about the EQ issues because the amp always sounds better on rhythm regardless of how I try to fine tune it.

You've been a lot of help. Thanks for helping my dumb ass figure out what I'm doing with my equipment. Rock on.

 an overdive and some delay will likely help with your lead sound. would rather have you put your money where it will do you the most good. pickups are a small piece of the puzzle and not really the place to start. 
yeah an od is a good idea

what strat is it? if it already has a humbucker it should be good to go, unless there's something wrong with it or it's a really poor example of a humbucker...
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First off, you don't need active pickups to get metal tone, nor do you even need a high output pickup of any kind. The pickups' EQ plus the amp and pedals you're using all factor in to the end result, so if you're using a high gain amp, for instance, you don't necessarily need a high output pickup to drive the amp further.

Next, it sounds like your guitar could use a nice, professionally done setup. This involves setting the action/string tension, intonation, adjusting pickups, etc. Most decent music shops have a tech who can do this kind of thing in their sleep (or at least they should).

As far as a bridge or tremolo system, there's a couple things to consider. First, unless you either (a) want to be able to perform trem-shenanigans like divebombs or (b) the bridge you currently have is broken in some way (i.e. sharp edges causing string breaks, rusted to hell parts, etc), then I'd leave that alone. You also need to consider putting a different style of bridge in a guitar can sometimes mean re-routing the body, which is probably a more major operation than you'd want to invest in.
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1)  do not change the bridge - the Strat Bridge is better than what you'll find on most low and medium tier metal guitars - the tremolo can actually do a lot ( see Jeff beck) and stay in tune if it's properly setup.  

2) The only possible modification that would make sense is to swap the bridge Humbucker for a more aggressive pickup - the problem with that mod though is that it won't necessarily blend well with the single coils.   You could get a single coil sized humbucker for the neck pickup and a hotter Bridge Humbucker, that combo might work well. 

3) Simply putting a "metal" pickup in a Strat doesn't turn it into a Les Paul - so expect some tone differences.  

4) I agree with the above comments of trying an overdrive and delay for lead sounds first - that may provide what you're looking for. 
OD, delay and a new bridge pickup is what I would advise.

I have never been a fan of Fender humbuckers, other than the shawbuckers. which you likely don't have.
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If you want to metal up your strat with actives then check out these pick guards - http://www.emgpickups.com/guitar/pro-series.html.  The KH20 or KH21 should suit you.  

Note that for this kind of money you can buy a used Made in Japan (MIJ) Jackson Dinky DKMGT (hard tail) or DKMG (Jackson Floyd).  Some years come with active EMG 81/85, other years were passive EMGHZ.  

Also, pay a good tech to setup your guitar or learn how.  The proper tools are essential IMO and make the job so much easier.  StewMac or Philadelphia Luthier can get you going with awesome setup tools - 18" straight edge, feeler gauges, truss rod wrenches, fret rockers, radius gauges, etc.  
Jackson Kelly KE3 - MIJ (Distortion/Jazz)
Jackson DKMGT Dinky (EMG 81/85)
ESP E-II Eclipse Custom (JB/'59)
ESP LTD EC-1001FR (EMG 81/60)
Fender MIM Strat

Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster 212
Laney IronHeart IRT-Studio
Peavey Vypyr 30
Peavey ReValver Amp Sims
TOOOO many T.C. Electronic Pedals. . .