Auditioning pickups - speaker/listener position

Wallaby

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Question for all you degenerate pickup swappers :) Maybe this is also an amp-related question. I can learn from both camps.

Do you tilt your amp and position yourself directly in line with your amp speakers?

I've started doing this, and BOYOBOY are things a little... crispy sounding!

It's making me rethink some things, including the usefulness of that knob on my guitar. And that maybe all my notes and logged information I have about pickups I've tried aren't that useful.


Sign me ... curious!
 

BB

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As a reformed pickup (and wiring mod) junkie, I have finally learned; "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

I can't tell you how many times I've had the near perfect tone (for me) and screwed it up by trying the next great, incredible (bridge/neck) pickup.

I truly believe if yo go down this rabbit hole, the only way out is to understand you can make wonderful music with whatever pickups happen to be in your guitar.

I've had vintage pickups that killed, vintage pickups that sucked, (or so I thought at the time) cheap pickups that were simply amazing and cheap pickups that were not so great. Same thing with boteek. Some amazing, some not so amazing...for the way I play and tones I like.

If you have something you like, but not quite sure, adjust the pickups. I guarantee you can probably find what you're looking for. Of course, that takes the fun and expense out of things!

As far as amps.....don't get me started! I've had many wonderful tube amps over the years and many wonderful solid state amps. They put knobs on an amp for a reason. Not just to set them at noon, (although that works many times) but tweak to your tone hearts delight.
 

Wallaby

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BB you said a lot!

Do you have any thoughts about your listening position in relation to your speaker(s) ?
 

JL_LI

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As a reformed pickup (and wiring mod) junkie, I have finally learned; "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

I truly believe if yo go down this rabbit hole, the only way out is to understand you can make wonderful music with whatever pickups happen to be in your guitar.
Yes, but…

There are some things that only a change of pickups can fix. Hum, for one. The right noiseless pickups are wonderful. The wrong ones will grate on your nerves more than the hum. I love the Gen 4 Noiseless pickups in my Telecaster and the Ultra pickups in one of my Strats. VN pickups in the same Strat were lifeless.

Subtle differences can be made up for with careful height and poke piece adjustments. More pronounced differences can be minimized by using an equalizer.

That said, I only replaced pickups on two guitars with identifiable problems and it took two passes on both of them to get it right. I did a simple switching mod to one of my Strats to get the neck and bridge combined. I’ve never modified a guitar without good reason and good reason to believe I was making an improvement.
 

kbold

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Speaker off the floor will sound 'crisper', and more 'actual'. This counts for both playing and pickup audition/adjusting.

For auditioning/adjusting pickups I prefer all tone controls flat (amp tone pots set midway; guitar tone at around 70%) to give the most neutral reference. Also speakers on the ears (aka headphones, if your amp accommodates) will negate room acoustics.

If the pickups sound good with neutral settings, IMO this is a good sign.
If not sounding so good, they may still sound better when 'coloured' with tone, but (again IMO) perhaps you can find something more suited to your preferences.

I would always start with adjustments or minor mod's (pickup and pole heights, pickup angle, volume pot value, tone cap value) before venturing into pickup replacement. Even a change of strings (new for old, gauge, type, manufacturer) may do wonders.
 

Jay Jernigan

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The true test is at a gig. If you can't get it dialed in there it's time to change things up. Adjusting pickup height and tone controls (all of them) should be your first line of defense and if that doesn't work out, well, you know what you have to do.
 

naveed211

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As a reformed pickup (and wiring mod) junkie, I have finally learned; "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

I can't tell you how many times I've had the near perfect tone (for me) and screwed it up by trying the next great, incredible (bridge/neck) pickup.

I truly believe if yo go down this rabbit hole, the only way out is to understand you can make wonderful music with whatever pickups happen to be in your guitar.

I've had vintage pickups that killed, vintage pickups that sucked, (or so I thought at the time) cheap pickups that were simply amazing and cheap pickups that were not so great. Same thing with boteek. Some amazing, some not so amazing...for the way I play and tones I like.

If you have something you like, but not quite sure, adjust the pickups. I guarantee you can probably find what you're looking for. Of course, that takes the fun and expense out of things!

As far as amps.....don't get me started! I've had many wonderful tube amps over the years and many wonderful solid state amps. They put knobs on an amp for a reason. Not just to set them at noon, (although that works many times) but tweak to your tone hearts delight.

I am totally in this camp nowadays, having also been down the rabbit hole.

I will say, the journey was valuable because now I have a few pickups I KNOW I’ll like.

So I always try to make it work with stock pickups and give it a fair chance, but I also have some go-to options if everything else is great but the pickups aren’t quite what I want.

But stock is the best if possible, no desire to just mess around for the sake of it anymore. If they sound good, they are good.
 
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Quexoz

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For me, I go by "feel" more than sound so precise listening position is not important really, but I know what you mean. Guitar amps are friggin' beam weapons. You get right in front of and level to the speaker and it is a totally different sound. Like to the point of moving an inch and it changes. IE: what overtones does it give and do I have to work at it to get them? The actual sound of the pickup is not a big deal to me, unless it's just really bad, like muddy, icepick'y and/or sterile sounding.

The only time I've ever owned an expensive pickup it was some high output Gibson bridge pickup I paid ~$100 for back around 1990. That thing sounded terrible. So ever since I just grab a ~$40 set that has the correct specs I want and usually have no problem at all with them.

I am convinced the pickup mojo is all just marketing BS like the $100+ audio cables with "gold plated ends!!!1" that sound exactly the same as a $4.99 cable.
 
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yegbert

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I can’t aim my cabinet and everyone’s playback systems’ speakers at everyone. I like my cab off the floor with its speakers aimed at me in all circumstances, and miked into a sound system when performing.
 

Wallaby

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Just so you know - these aren't expensive pickups, these are pickups I'm winding and assembling myself for my own guitars.

I'm very familiar with wiring, potentiometers, capacitors, pickup heights, etc., it's all good advice!

It just really opened my eyes when I found myself with my head right in line with the speaker...
 

kingvox

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For A/B'ing stuff, I use a dynamic mic front and center on the amp speaker, and a large diaphragm condenser as a room mic. In general I pan the condenser 80% right, and the dynamic 28% left. For solo guitar, it gets a great sound, and blending in the condenser room mic really makes the amp sound pretty much exactly like I hear it in person.

Short of recording, I don't mess around with anything. No need for me personally. When evaluating pickups I've made, I find the most helpful test is comprehensive: inductance, capacitance, resonant frequency, and an A/B audio test using the aforementioned setup, plus Direct-In recording to establish yet another standard of comparison.
 




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