#1
I never thought I should hear myself say this "I need sound, that dosn't sound like a cola can, wich has committed suicide with a cats tail"

The solution should be easy, but unfortunately I can't efford booth pickups and a new amp. I've got a B&B GA-10 Amp and two no-name strats, one single coil and one with Humbuger. Even "Smoke on the water" sounds like "blaaaah"  

The question is would a new amp make it, just a little better, or should I get some pickups that aren't no-name? I know it's hard to tell, but I trust your experience outthere  
Make love, not war
#2
Amp. New pick ups can fine tune a sound but if the amp doesn't cut it it doesn't matter. Having said that even the best amp can only do so much with really cheap guitars
#3
Amp.

Desired tone?
Budget?
New/used?
Online/local?
General location? (Affects prices & availability.)
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!
#4
I'm assuming you're in the middle of a wasteland with no guitar store for hundreds of miles.

Otherwise, I'd have suggested that you haul your guitar into the nearest available and plug into some good amps.

If you ARE in the middle of said wasteland, have someone send you an old used Pod XT and a set of really good headphones (something in the over-the-ear $100 studio standard range that do NOT have emphasized bass response) so that you can poke at the amp/cabinet options and see how things sound.

You'll be able to sell off the Pod XT for what you paid for it (they're not depreciating further at this point). But it will let you know if your guitar is to blame and it will help guide you toward the kind of amp/cabinet you might want to look for. It'll also do the same for FX (or you can just keep the XT and use it for that). OR you can just keep the Pod and run it into some good powered studio monitors until you're ready to go on tour with your bad self.

And you'll be using those headphones for when you record your first EP.
#5
A new amp will make a bigger difference to your tone than new pickups.

This post will make the "What you need is a new amp" folks happy!
"A well-wound coil is a well-wound coil regardless if it's wound with professional equipment, or if somebody's great-grandmother winds it to an old French recipe with Napoleon's modified coffee grinder and chops off the wire after a mile with an antique guillotine!"
- Bill Lawrence

Come and be with me
Live my twisted dream
Pro devoted pledge
Time for primal concrete sledge

#6
Amp.  You can get a decent modeler for whatever your style of music is for the price of a good set of pickups. . . . Lighter stuff look at the Fender Mustang and whatever VOX calls theirs.  Heavier music look at Peavey VIP and Roland Cube.  They all have a ton of crossover and any would be a step in the right direction.  
Guitars:
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

Amps:
Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster 212
Laney IronHeart IRT-Studio
Peavey Vypyr 30
Peavey ReValver Amp Sims
TOOOO many T.C. Electronic Pedals. . .
#9
Quote by monwobobbo
Amp. New pick ups can fine tune a sound but if the amp doesn't cut it it doesn't matter. Having said that even the best amp can only do so much with really cheap guitars

That was a clear answer
Quote by dannyalcatraz
Amp.

Desired tone?
Budget?
New/used?
Online/local?
General location? (Affects prices & availability.)

I'm suffering from a perment hearing loss, so I don't get all the "finest" details in the sound. The best description I can make is that I like the sound in this H7jy5xF2IYM;

I prefere playing fingerstyle without any pedals, the cleaner the sound is the better it works for me. 

Hopefully it makes sense.
Make love, not war
#10
H7jy5xF2IYM


Something went wrong there...
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!
#11
If you set your mind to it, you'd be hard put to find a crapper amp than the  GA-10. No matter how bad the guitars are, they'll sound better through a decent amp. The amp is the voice of your guitar, and even a top quality guitar with the greatest pickups will sound horrible through a cheap amp. 

Additionally, putting new pups in a cheap guitar is rarely an improvement and never cost effective. Better pickups might sound a tiny bit better (or not) but the cost of pickups that are a true upgrade will cost more than the guitar is worth. 

Whether you need better guitars or pickups is open for debate.  The fact is that you NEED a better amp before trying anything else. I promise you that no matter how bad your guitars are, they will sound far better through a quality amp. 
#12
tommymc 

I agree with you about the amp, but I'm not so sure about the pickup argument. As I've written many times, I see the guitar as a lump of wood with pickups, and the wood doesn't signify much provided it is within my narrow aesthetic limits and the neck works OK. I recently sold a guitar in which the bridge pickup was worth about twice the rest of the guitar. I told the buyer he was buying piece of kindling with decent pickups, and he seemed happy enough with the idea.
#13
dannyalcatraz Hm...as far as I can read, he's using a  Line 6 Studio UX2, DR 9's, but that dosn't help me much. I just googled it :/
Make love, not war
#14
BlueGoat

All I got was a search regarding "Smoke On The Water".
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!
#15
Tony Done  There certainly are circumstances where a pickup will improve the tone of a guitar. I just think it's highly overstated. It leaves beginners with the impression that their cheap guitars can be magically transformed into their expensive counterparts by swapping the pickups. In the case of the OP, he's got a  couple of Strat-clones that were probably $100 new. To get a set of pickups that are significantly better, he'll spend more than the value of the guitar and still have a cheap clone. No amount of money will convert it into an American Strat. The guitars will still play like what they are, even if they sound a little better.  New pickups are just lipstick on a pig, so to speak. 

There are legitimate reasons for changing pickups. Experienced players  make informed choices to upgrade or change their pickups to achieve a particular tone. Typically the changes are subtle, and the average beginner doesn't have the technical skill to make the difference apparent.  All too often, we see inexperienced players being sold a bill of goods.  They read that their budget guitar has "crappy" or "cheap" pickups, and assume that swapping them out is the only intelligent answer.  I think we both agree that the pickups are only 5%-10% of a guitar's tone, so in most cases upgrading the amp makes more monetary sense. Frankly, if I had a cheap guitar, the only way I would buy new pickups is if they were attached to a nicer guitar. 

Actually, I take that back. Back in the late 70's, I was playing a Mosrite.  I swapped out the original P-90 style Mosrite pups for a set of Gibson PAF's because I was getting too much hum on stage. Didn't improve the guitar any, but certainly quieted it down. 
#16
tommymc 

Yes, you certainly have to know what you are looking for when choosing new pickups. A beginner asks "should I upgrade my pickups?" the response should be "what exactly is wrong with the ones you have?" But  the other side of the coin is equatiing an expensive piece of wood with good performance, which I mostly strongly disagree with, at least in electric guitars. Eg, I have a Gibson LP Special (I would not be seen out with anything fancier), but I never play it because it is too heavy; my favourite electric cost Oz$65, and all it needed was a set up. The caveat is that if buying cheap you have to know what to look for - it is paradoxical that cheap beginner guitars are better suited to experienced modders than they are to beginners.
#17
Quote by Tony Done

 A beginner asks "should I upgrade my pickups?" the response should be "what exactly is wrong with the ones you have?" 

Exactly! 
Quote by Tony Done


But  the other side of the coin is equating an expensive piece of wood with good performance, which I mostly strongly disagree with, at least in electric guitars. 

Well, I see your point, but an expensive guitar is more than just a fancy piece of wood. In addition to better hardware, there's the fit and finish...attention to detail that cheap guitars don't get. I will say that since the advent of CNC machines, the quality of cheap guitar bodies has vastly improved. It does make it easier for players with a few luthier skills to sweeten up cheap guitars. Still, different wood and body construction does have an effect on tone. Maybe it's subtle if you're comparing  alder vs basswood Strats, but but consider the tonal difference between hollow and solid body electrics  It's not just the pickups. People also argue that denser woods give better sustain.  I suspect there is some truth to this, but of course there are a lot of other factors.