Why do my low-output pickups growl?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Mistercharlie, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

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    I have CS69 pickups in my Strat. They’re pretty low output, but they also break up and growl.

    Why is this? It’s not that they’re overpowering any pedals or amps, so why are they dirty?

    (I’m not complaining. I love their sound).
     
  2. qblue

    qblue Tele-Afflicted

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    I have a 1970 Strat with the original pickups, very similar to CS69's. They are what they are, and they tend to be snarling and easily overdriven. That quality worked for Jimi Hendrix.

    But the way they made them would include CBS/Fender's lack of attention to details such as poor or partial wax potting. They just wanted to sell more guitars after taking control in 1965. They considered stopping production of the Stratocaster due to poor sales, until Hendrix's use of the guitar in 1967 and his ascent to stardom, which increased sales. They actually have a sweet sound on clean channels, but tend to whine and feedback on use of gain. One of my pickups is microphonic, specifically the bridge pickup, and if I use it, it tends to wail loudly. I'll use the neck and middle pickups without fear. But the bridge without a tone control is obnoxious and dirty.

    They are supposed to be the same. Mine has outputs measuring 5.8 kHz, each. So they are of low output type of pickups. The difference in tone is in the positioning of the pickups. But the inconsistencies in wax potting could make the pickup more noisy and easily overdriven. I hope for your sake these custom shop '69's are built the same way.
     
  3. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

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    Ah, so the pickups themselves are getting overdriven?
     
  4. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    This is an amp issue. What amp do you have?
     
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  5. Mistercharlie

    Mistercharlie Tele-Holic

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    Princeton. But it’s nothing to do with that. I’m talking about the dirty breakup of the pickups, even on a clean amp. Same straight into the desk via DI.
     
  6. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    Can you give us a sound sample?
     
  7. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Maybe adjusted too close?

    Apparently, coil shorts present in most production pickups can cause some 'distortions' according to Bill Lawrence, maybe that's what you're hearing.
     
  8. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    There is no evidence of any such shorts in the general population of modern pickups. The insulating coatings currently in use are very robust and wouldn't short out unless grievously abused. It would manifest itself only as a drop in the resonant peak, which is not observed in a wide sampling of actual pickup measurements. The possibility of a short causing a non-linearity in a coil has no credible explanation in physics at the small signal levels that are found in a pickup.

    Maybe there is a cold solder joint in your guitar that is vibrating when you play. That's the only technical explanation that I can think of. If you like it, then you will probably never be able to reproduce the effect in another one, so savour that guitar and don't talk to it the wrong way. Don't even open it. :)

    If your purpose in asking is to duplicate it, you should post a sound clip to help us.
     
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  9. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    When you say 'low output' are you going on DC resistance? DC resistance is just one factor. Gauss or magnetic strength is another.

    Gretsch pickups are low DC resistance, at 4kohm in series. But they have magnets twice as thick as a PAF to retain output.

    The alnico rods being close to the strings and being quite strong magnets make for strong output. Then there's Henries or inductance of the materials. That all affects it's output.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  10. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I am not disagreeing with you, but this is what Bill has posted on his 'Pickupology' page

    http://www.billlawrence.com/Pages/Pickupology/windings.htm
     
  11. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    They are too close to the strings.
    Back them off.
     
  12. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm aware of that text, but it is about eddy currents. The effects of eddy currents just wouldn't match the OP's description of the sound. I agree that the pickup height is a likely cause.

    The common use of "break up" is the onset of non-linear distortion. That has nothing to do with the effects caused by magnet pull. "Growl" often does, but it's sometimes used to describe pickups that don't have enough magnetic pull for that. That's why I asked twice for a sound sample.
     
  13. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    It sounds to me like maybe the action is low and/or the pickups are set high, causing the strings to collide with the pickups or the fret board when you pluck them.
     
  14. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    I don't think "distortions" is the best adjective, because it is very broad, while the effects of a short, if they even exist, are easy to predict: a slight high end attenuation, and an equally slight loss of output.
     
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