I have a ’90 or ’91 second-hand Japanese Fender Strat. I love the guitar, but its sound is starting to wear on me. I’ve tried different amplifiers, pedals and everything, but it’s impossible to escape those thin, glassy, Clapton / Hendrix / Cobain wannabe tones. I want to sound like me. I don’t want a new guitar, but do want the fatter tone that comes from a humbucker. Should I buy some stacked humbuckers designed to fit my guitar? I don’t want to cause any irreversible damage.
I function under the philosophy that if a guitar feels great and sounds great acoustically but sounds bad when you plug it in, it’s time to change the pickups. The acoustic tonal qualities should be enhanced and complimented by pickups and amplification—not disfigured.
I recently faced a problem similar to yours with a not-real-sexy-sounding guitar with single-coil pickups. I picked up a set of old Bill Lawrence single-coil-sized stacked humbuckers that fit my guitar, and whoa! Big difference. I would never go back to the originals at this point. I totally recommend going for stacked humbuckers in your situation, since you love your guitar so much and there are so many great choices out there. The new pickups should drop right into your guitar without problems and without causing any irreversible damage. Good luck!