Great posts on J’s sound, etc. Just thought I’d add a couple of things that have struck me over the years regarding J’s sound (Guitargeek.com does cover all the bases, though, as someone already pointed out…)
As we all know, J loves to state his opinions (especially when it comes to gear/sound) very bluntly and emphatically, as if to stir up things and get a reaction from the interviewer. I remember reading a Guitar World interview in which J professed his hatred of two things in particular: Japanese effects pedals and humbucking pickups. That’s why you’ll notice he sports an army of Electro-Harmonix "tanks" (you won’t see an Ibanez Tube Screamer or any Boss product, for instance) and vintage pedals "re-gutted" by Roger Mayer. And although he does play Gibson Les Pauls on record, he plays the older ones with P-90 pickups (like the one on the inside cover of Green Mind), not the ones with humbuckers.
According to this interview, he also mentioned he never uses the Gibsons for lead work because he tends to play too fast on them and fears sounding too much like Dickey Betts (I believe that was who he mentioned…). So if you’re going for J’s lead tone, first of all, good luck…chances are you’ll never come close unless you’ve got about 25K to drop on equipment. But as we all know, he’s found of pre-1970 Jazzmasters (customized with Gibson bridges, among other things) and Teles, and of course, his bread n’ butter has always been the trusty Big Muff.
I happen to have a mid-90s American Strat Plus, which I like MUCH better than the Jazzmaster reissue I played before I just couldn’t deal with the crappy bridge. For what it’s worth, I’ve been happy with it. Good luck on your tone-quest.