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I loved this guitar when I first bought it in 2012 but over time and after playing some other American Strats I noticed it didn't have a very "traditional" Strat sound. By that I mean it just sounded too hot. So last year I swapped the stock Texas Special pickups for a set of Fender Custom Shop '69 pickups -man, now she really SINGS!!! The CS '69's are the mildest hand wound pickups you can get (even slightly milder than the CS '54's) and that means that more of the guitar's "natural" sound comes through. These are the same pickups used in all strats between 1968 and 1971...from Ritchie Blackmore's '68 black strat used on Deep Purple's - "Machine Head" to Hendrix's Black 1968 strat and his famous white '69 strat. Great pickups anyway!!! So now my American Special is PERFECT to my ears! :-)