Basically, I want to be able to go from clean-as-a-bell to SRV-with-vicious-dirt to Tommy-Iommi-Lord-of-Darkness to Hammer-Smashed-Face/Gushers-Of-Ear-Blood all in a matter of seconds. Or even blend them somehow.
I got to try an ash-bodied guitar a bit ago, on clean setting, and it made my eyes water. I also really dug the light weight. I dunno what it is... basses are bigger but apparently they're better balanced than a typical guitar so they sit easier... whereas I get my first Strat (alder) and I was like "urrrgh!!! Hey, what the?!?!" I also like the look... a transparent blue finish on a finely figured ash body... that's what's in my mind's eye.
I prefer the HSS configuration. I've always been under the impression that if you put a high gain super-hot humbucker (i.e. something with ceramic rails... or something wound super duper hot with ceramic magnets, something along those lines) in an alder or ash guitar that it... won't work so well? That you need... a mahogany body?
I should qualify that I use super-fat 13-gauge strings and usually tune down to C#. This isn't because I play a lot of chunky extreme/nu metal chords or anything... I just like having the added range and I use it in solo work... as in, I'll be up at the 12th fret stretching towards the 20th and then, out of nowhere and without warning, "HWOOOOOOOONG" hit them with the open C#. And when I'm doing up-and-down-the-neck progressions, I like to go stomach-kick low. (It's the bassist in me.)
For what I'm after, is it better to put hefty middle-of-the-road pickups in an HSS ash or alder body and rely on effects and the amp for when brutality is desired? "Hefty" and "Middle-of-the-Road" as in, not all sweet and clean and jazzy... but not the whole guttural death metal "Jabba the Hutt's Lower Intestinal Tract" super flaming nuclear reactor hot side either... somewhere between the two extremes. So in this case, when it comes time to make their ears bleed and their teeth rattle... just stomp a pedal or flick a switch or something?
I know I've asked similar questions five million different ways... but this one involves which pickups can and can't-so-much go with certain tone woods, in this case ash, and then alder after it.