Changing Three Pickups in Five Minutes
(and What It Sounds Like)

This is my kind of pickup change: the easy kind!

I got my hands on the new Seymour Duncan Everything Axe pickguard, which comes with three pre-installed Strat-format humbuckers (JB Jr., Duckbucker, and Little ’59). I’ve always avoided humbuckerized Strats because they remind of really bad ’80s bands. But I love the JB and ’59, so I figured, why not confront my prejudices?

I slapped the pickguard onto your basic Mexican Strat, and voilà! Instant coolness.

Here’s a little demo featuring all five pickup combinations. As the product name implies, this particular pickup trio yields many high-contrast colors. But I’m struck most by how much Strat flavor remains—there’s certainly no lack of shimmer and twang. I favored clean tones in the demo, just to deep-six my outdated stereotypes about harsh, compressed, over-distorted Strat humbucker sounds.

And it really did take about five minutes.

18 comments to Changing Three Pickups in Five Minutes
(and What It Sounds Like)

  • Sounds amazing! Every guitar player needs a Black Strat.

  • didnt Wayne Kramer play a strat with buckers? I think they were minis. well, fender just came with a WK model a bit ago and that’s what it was sporting. the demo i heard actually sounds pretty killer.

  • xtrajerry

    wow sounds sweet.. very impressed.. have been thinking about doing the same with the DiMarzio Billy Corgan Prewired Pickguard..

  • DFung

    Interesting, although position 2 is the only one that sounds Strat-like to me (of course, maybe that’s the point of changing the pickups!). The contrast of tones in this setup is impressive.

    So, what’s the story with the output jack plate? It looks like you reversed it from stock. Long ago, I messed up a number of jacks from stepping on the cord too hard, so I flipped the mounting plate over and used a Switchcraft deep panel jack instead. That was not as good a solution as going wireless.

    If I had limitless dollars, I’d probably seek your amp head. Sweet!

    • joe

      The jack cover? Eh, just stuck it in that way, knowing I was going to take it apart again in a few for (another upcoming) experiment. I always used to do Strat jack covers “inside out” as well.

      That Tremoverb head wasn’t real expensive, even here in San Francisco, where everything is expensive. I don’t remember the exact price, but way under a grand. That’s because a) the original covering has been removed, and b) so much of that pricing stuff is strictly about cosmetics. Same with an awesome Magnatone 280 combo I have (that’s the classic stereo Maggie). Someone remounted it into what looks like maritime hardware. The guts are all original, but it was only a few hundred bucks.

  • julian

    hello i have a question .. i recently bought a fender strat and i want to change the bridge and neck pickup.. on the bridge position i want to install a hot rails.. but i don`t know which one should be in the neck position… in the neck position i want to put a model that would look like a single coil and, more or less, have the characteristics of a single coil and also have enough output to combine well with the hot rails .. i think the ones that would do the trick are: Hot Stack Plus STK-S9b, Hot for Strat SSL-3, Quarter Pound Flat™ SSL-4, Custom Flat SSL-6, Custom Staggered SSL-5 or the YJM Fury STK-S10.. any suggestions?

    • Hi Julian,

      I work here at Seymour Duncan in Sales & Customer Service / Tech Support, so I hope you don’t mind me chiming in.

      A really great neck pickup that fits what you’re looking for is the STK-S6, Custom Stack Plus. The voicing of the pickup is very similar to an SSL-5 but since it is stacked you won’t have to worry about that pesky 60 cycle hum.

      Your guitar will sound outstanding with this combination!

      If you or anyone else has any tone or tech questions, I can always be reached at

  • julian

    sorry to bother you on your blog and also now… again haha .. yes… it would be much better to give you a call .. the thing is that i´m from argentina and the phone call would cost the same as one pickup haha… well thank you for the tip .. one last question why not the SSL-4?? i know it is not stack but reading the description i think its more metal oriented (and thats the kind of music i play) also there´s something i forgot to say.. and that i use the neck pickup mostly for shredding… what do you think??? i´ve tried to send this to your mail and failed so i´m sending it through here… hope you don´t get mad thank you again for your time!!!

  • Eric

    After listening to this demo I bet this set would thrive with a bass roll off knob in place of one of the tone knobs. 

    • joe

      LOL — I’m so stoked about the bass roll-off know that I think EVERYTHING would sound better with a bass roll-off. Even mandolins and ukes. 😉

  • Oinkus

    TBX pot is a fun alternative just have to figure out what caps give you the sound you really want. Lots of internet info just look around some.

  • joe

    Yeah, I want to explore that soon. Do you have it on any of your guitars? Any observations/words of wisdom?

  • Sam Geese

    TBX,  Isn’t that the cable channel that shows old movies?

  • Oinkus

     Bought one when I was doing some random mods. It ended up in a Stellacaster of a friends because he didn’t like(or it was broken?) how a 250k pot sounded in the strat/tele mod. Pretty sure it has the Duncan  everything axe set in it. It is basically the Jimmy Page setup with 3 pups and 2 push pulls on a Tele . I really think it just adds to your ability to shape your tone just like the varitone does but to a much lesser extent and for 15 bucks.

  • Nitrotim

    When you installed these pickups, did you adjust the height of any of the pickups or did you leave them straight across.. Thanks

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