Pickup upgrade recomendations please


I have a 2002 am del fat strat and I love the way it plays but the bridge humbucker is really horrible for an 80s heavy metal rhythm tone.

Has anyone upgraded this pickup and if so what did you use and what is your opinion


For 80s heavy metal in an ash or alder guitar, I’d start with maybe a Duncan JB for more of an oldschool thrash or shred sort of sound. A Duncan distortion or Dimarzio Super Distortion might be worth a look too.

What IS the bodywood?


Tone Zone if you like Dimarzio, JB if you like Duncan, maybe a Custom, Custom 5, Custom Custom, Custom Custom Custom Spam and Custom, etc. Distortion if you want to go more thrashy.

Holy Diver or VHII if you want to go Bare Knuckle

edit: What amp/amps are you using? The JB can sometimes be a bit honky.


I think the body is swamp ash?
Ill try to post a pick because I really don’t remember .

What I do know is I have an old jackson performer and really like the bridge pickup sound from it.
So something along those lines.


As far as amp goes.
Please don’t laugh

Vox mini beetle with mxr full bore metal pedal.

It sounds kind of kooky to change the pickup in the strat to make it sound more like the jackson. but for me the whole idea of that strat was flexibility and the bridge pickup always sounds poor in contrast no matter what amp I have ran.

Ill check out some clips of the jb because it sounds like it might be interesting


First, pretty strat!

Second, that’s probably a Pearly Gates in the bridge, since that seems to be Fender’s go-to in the bridge position. It’s a take on a PAF, and maybe not especially hot-rodded, but should at least be able to hang for Maiden-y stuff. I suspect the real issue here is the amp - for metal, you’re going to want something with more headroom than that, and a dedicated high gain preamp. Maybe grab your Strat and go down to a guitar store and check out a few other high gain amps with at least a 1x12 speaker cab?


That’s pretty sound advice, the more I think about all my old amps they were all fender or very fender like.


I mean, I swear by Mesa myself, and their circuits owe their fundamental genesis to modded Fender designs, so if you want something a little more metal that’s still lower wattage one of the mini Marks (probably more thrashy) or Rectos (more contemporary) could work, but you can find full-sized Marks and Dual Rectos for fairly decent prices on the used market.

If not, then some kind of a Fender tube combo with at least a single 1x12 would probably work well - they tend to be fairly “deep” sounding on their clean channels. Your current distortion pedal (which I’m not familiar with) may work well there.

A PAF-style bridge humbucker is probably going to be more open-sounding than the pickup in your Jackson, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing - that can translate into great clarity and transparency in a not-exceptionally-saturated distortion sound.


The problem for me is that my main sound is clean with a bit of overdrive so I tend to go for really clean amps.

In fairness I’ve never really experimented with the high gain amps because metal is such a small part of what I do. (in my bedroom)

I’m not opposed to them as long as they have a nice clean.

Im in a music store every week with my guitar so Ill start trying out what they have on the floor


Ahh - in that case then it might not be worth the effort, you’re right. I certainly like having a versatile amp (and my Mark V is almost stupidly versatile) but really when I’m looking at amps I’ve got two to three basic sounds I want to hear (clean capable of being pushed into a little bit of breakup, clear heavy rhythm, and soaring, vocal, midrange-y, smooth saturated lead), and while I wouldn’t mind having some other stuff on tap, if I can do those then I’m happy and anything else is candy.

If your main rig handles your “core” tones flawlessly, then that’s far and away the most important part.


At the risk of rekindling a divisive religious war that has waged fiercly all over the internet, I’ll humbly suggest that people tend to overestimate how much effect the body wood has on the signal that travels out the instrument cable from a solid body electric guitar. My suggestion is not to let the body wood be a significant factor in your choice of pickup.


Lol, that was a bloody war.
The fact that my old cheapo jackson
Sounds so good relative to my strat tells me its more about the pickup.
Im not prepared to say it doesn’t matter but I probably don’t have a good enough ear to make a distinction.