Even though I'm trying to be very conservative with my money these days, I'm still heavily considering putting different pickups in my starter guitar because I've been using it quite a bit lately (LTD M-50, still completely stock after 15 years). So I was wondering... nowadays, we have access to really high gain amps (or VSTs of those, of course), right? Back in the 80s, people tried their hardest to push a JCM800 to have enough gain to sound br00tal, with overdrives in front, EMGs, tighter strings that chugged harder, and whatnot. But now we have all sorts of really high gain amps, be it your 5150s, Rectos, Mark IVs/Vs, ENGLs, Diezels, and so on. Do we really need high output pickups to play metal with those? I don't know for sure, since all my guitars DO have high output pickups. And when metal guitarists talk pickups, they always talk about high output ones : your Duncan JBs, Distortions, Black Winters, EMGs, D-Activators, you catch my drift. I started looking around on YouTube, and didn't find any good videos discussing the subject, debunking myths or anything (although, granted, I didn't search for hours, either). BUT. I came across this rather interesting video : So in this video, they use the same amp and settings for each riff, but with different guitars that have different pickups in them. And of course, each guitar sounds different in an absolute sense, but the differences are seriously negligible IMO (except for the Strat, which has singlecoils, or maybe noise-cancelling stacked humbuckers, but no humbuckers in a traditional sense). Now, sadly, this video doesn't really answer to my original question of "do you really need high output pickups to play metal through a high gain amp/VST?", but it raises another question : how much do pickups really matter? Because in that video, it definitely sounds like tweaking the amp's EQ a tiny bit each time would have resulted in ultimate Ola Englund (for the laymen : "he makes everything sound the same"). I don't really know the output of the PRS pickups; knowing PRS as a company aren't really making guitars exclusively for the metal crowd, it could totally be the case that those pickups are lower output than all the others (besides the Strat, again). So, uh, let's discuss things. I know metal is broad, and some genres use completely different setups from what I'm thinking of right now. Sorry for the doom/drone/sludge/stoner peeps in here, but what interests me primarily is a "tight" metal riffer tone for things like thrash, death metal, black metal. I use my M-50 primarily as a thrash riffer in standard E these days. What do you guys think : tight thrash sound, achievable with moderate/lower output humbuckers, yay or nay? Advantages, inconvenients? Anyone got sound clips? By the way, just as a quick disclaimer : I totally know that I CAN just put a high output pickup in my guitar, and it'll do what I want fine. I'm not trying to question the true and tested methods that have worked for decades. But I'm curious to see what else can be done. Thanks for your input.