alright so i am still in the market for a pretty decent guitar. i friend of mine has a few for sale. one of the guitars in my price range happens to be a black with maple fretboard california fat strat. i looked up some info and apparently they are pretty much mia but painted in mexico or something. what do you think of them?

also i am looking to put a little money into the guitar i buy. primarily new pups and pickguard (to make it my own). any recommendations for passive pups that would help it get a good clean sound and a great distorted sound for hard rock/metal would be great!
There are pretty many ways to get the sounds you asked for, I'd prefer doing it this way:

All of these pickups are Duncans:
1. JB in the bridge
2. SSL-1 in middle and neck position

It's a pretty traditional sounding setup except for the JB which is quite hot and sounds a little compressed. Great for hard rock and metal. I find it suits lighter guitars like strats and teles especially well. If that's still not hot enough for you, an SH-5 is a tad hotter, though I find that the JB's output is high enough for any metal with a strat, because the guitar's naturally good attack and clarity will make it sound very agressive with pretty much any humbucker.

However, if you choose a high output humbucker and rather traditional singlecoils like the SSL-1, there'll be a noticable drop in volume when switching from the single coils to the humbucker. I don't think it's a big deal, but if it is for you, either go for higher output single coils (which will give you a hotter and 'fatter' signal) or choose a lower output humbucker.

Another possibility is turning the strat into an HSH guitar:
1. JB in the bridge
2. SSL-1 in the middle
3. Cool Rails in the neck

The cool rails is a medium-output humbucker in the size of a single coil. It won't give you the quality concerning clean sounds that regular single coils have, but it'll work nicely for overdriven lead sounds. If that's still not hot enough, you can try a hot rails instead which will give you an ultra fat lead sound, but will sound absolutely poor clean. Only choose the hot rails if that's EXACTLY what you want, it certainly does not work for everyone.

As said before, this setup sacrifices the single coil sound in the neck position, but the popular 'in-between' sounds with one coil of one of the humbuckers used parallel to the single coil are still there.
Another benefit is the possibility of choosing a switching that allows you to use both humbuckers in parallel in pickup switch position 3 instead of using the middle single coil, which will move the sound somewhat into Les Paul territory.

Just my two cents. There's a bazillion possible ways here. I highly recommend going to some stores and trying out guitars with name-brand pups in them to see which ones you like.
Last edited by TheQuailman at Oct 16, 2008,
A california strat? As in Squier California? That is just a Squier affinity with different pickups, I do not reccomend putting $300 worth of pickups into a $150 guitar.
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