The short answer to that is of course, whichever one you want. If you are a little unsure however, and find our range of Strat sets bewildering, please do not hesitate to drop us an email telling us about the sound you’re looking for and Radioshop’s Paul Best will be more than happy to help you get to the set which will suit you best. The biggest factor that influences sound choice really is which pickup wire is to be used. Our Strat sets use Heavy Formvar Wire or Black Plain Enamel wire so it’s worth starting there to whittle down your choice. Heavy Formvar delivers that classic 60s style bell like tone which is beloved of so many Strat players. Formvar wire gives a rounded bottom end, forthright mids and bell like highs. Perfect for nailing the 60s tones of Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, Eric Clapton, Hank Marvin and many more, this type of wire in the modern era is now also synonymous with John Frusciante and John Mayer too. In short, a versatile, classic sounding wire that nails a huge variety of tones.
The Black Plain Enamel wire sets give more of a 70s/Classic Hard Rock Tone. The wire’s inherent characteristics are a punchy bass response, scooped mids and brittle yet sweet highs. If you already have several sets of pickups with us or at least one Strat set already with Formvar, going for a Black Plain Enamel wire set can really help to give a very different Strat sound so that you have Strats which cover different bases tonally. We hope this is helping! Here is a slight oversimplification of what each Strat set does but we think it helps with whittling down the options:
Heavy Formvar Wire sets:
Vintage 63s - our first ever set. Heavy Formvar wire and Alnico V magnets. Many sets are a spin off of this set with little tweaks. A no nonsense, straight down the line, classic Strat sound which will nail a number of styles. Period correct for 60s Strat projects.
ID:Chris Buck - like the Vintage 63s but with reduced wax potting for more playing dynamics and a little more presence. Still the same ball park tone as the 63s but with a baseplate added for more oomph at the bridge. A great all round set.
The Black One - this set was designed in at the request of our customers to give the most authentic ‘Inspired by John Mayer’ tone. It’s a Vintage 63 set with a slight underwind for more sweetness and a stagger matched to JM’s Black One guitar.
Vintage 57s - another of our early sets and another set which nails classic era tones. With its Alnico III magnets it’s a little darker sounding and more mellow than the 63s to offset the brightness of a maple neck. Actually sounds insanely sweet in a Rosewood too though to confuse matters!
ID:Chris Buck 57s - very much the same set as the ID:Chris Buck original set but with Alnico III magnets and voiced to suit maple ‘board Strats for the more period correct guitar fan. The ID:CBS original set actually sounds great in both Maple and Rosewood but here’s where to go if you prefer that softer attack, smoky bar room blues feel of Alnico III pickups.
Case Study 63s - this is basically the same set as the Vintage 63s but is an EXACT study of a given set. We were very fortunate to be able to remove an actual set of 63s from an original pre CBS Strat to measure and study and this set has the same output, magnet height and diameter, bobbin height and much more - every detail recreated from that ‘Case Study’ set. The Vintage 63s will give you that classic 60s Strat tone in spades but the CS 63s reflects us really going to town and gives just a little more nuanced detail. Think of this as a very specialist, replica set.
The ID:63GTs - this set is in some ways a slightly hotter version of the ID:Chris Buck set but with none of the inherent tone darkening of ‘hotter’ sets due to it having a slight boost in its magnetic response. It’s the Chris Buck Set but with a selectable radius to suit your board and the magnets are staggered through the bottom of the pickup as well as the top so that each string has a polepiece of identical size for a more even string to string response. This is the set for you if you’d like to try a radius specific set for your guitar.
The Black Strat - technically this belongs on both lists as it features a mix of wires across the three pickups. This is an exact recreation of a famous set and is inspired by, you guessed it, one David Gilmour. A popular customer request over the years, was finally added to our line-up due to popular demand.
Black Plain Enamel Wire Sets:
The Montereys - another of our oldest sets. Its name reveals the genesis of its inspiration and this set is perfect for nailing later era Hendrix tones aswell as a myriad of 70s Classic Rock tones. A really sweet set that cries out for a large headstock, ha!
The ID:Evolution - this set is one of our proudest recreations. A slightly enlarged magnet set which gives Humbucker output from a Strat design but with none of the usual tone darkening of ‘hot’ pickups. All the normal Stratty-ness is retained but with increased output. Perfect for someone going between Strats and Humbucking guitars who doesn’t want the associated volume changes and also perfect for mixing with a Humbucker in a HSS setup.