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Bridge pickup - full, open, sparkle but no ice pick - does it exist?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by don, Nov 28, 2020.

  1. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Friend of Leo's

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    I did the reverse-angle experiment years ago with a Gibson Melody Maker and a Strat pickup, and it worked very well. That was a mids-heavy guitar as I received it, with a hacked-in Gibson humbucker. It already had a big ugly rout and a hacked-up pickguard, so I didn’t have much to lose. I liked the twangier low notes/warmer high notes a lot.

    Unfortunately the skinny little neck was pretty cramped for my bratwurst-looking fingers on the first few frets. But it did sound great.
     
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  2. beanluc

    beanluc Tele-Holic

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    I've seen it explained as follows: "Icepick" is a specific frequency band which irritates the human ear when it's (perceived as) out of proportion to the other frequencies in a signal.

    The specific frequency band of the icepick sound is said to be centered around 3KHz, but spread from 2KHz to 5KHz.

    "Sparkle", "sweet" and "airy" character is said to be in progressively higher bands above the icepick sound.

    From a webpage on the subject of "Microcoil Coloration" (discussing Bill Lawrence's Microcoil pickups):

    "Here's are some general descriptors for sounds or uses of different frequency ranges on guitar.

    10 kHz = air
    6+ kHz = sweet highs
    4.2-4.5 kHz = sparkle, classic bell tone
    3-4 kHz = bright, harsh, "icepick"
    2.3-2.6 kHz = warm
    1.8-2.1 kHz = aggressive, power ++ on bridge
    1.4-1.6 kHz = darker, "jazzy"
    1.0-1.2 kHz = distortion"

    It's possible to notch out the icepick band without losing those higher bands.

    One can play with a many-bands or parametric EQ, in software or hardware, to see if one agrees with the above, as well as to see where one personally finds the most piercing, least agreeable band to be.

    And correct it.

    A normal tone control can diminish the icepick, but it also diminishes those higher-highs even more.

    Since an always-on active EQ isn't necessarily something I want forever, I'm experimenting with inductors to create a notch-filter type of passive tone control with the notch attenuating right where the icepick is, leaving tones below and above these frequencies.

    B.B. King's Varitone control on the 2nd setting seems to do this: There's a lot of body and a lot of very high highs, giving that sort-of-squeaky or pinched tone he gets from Lucille, while having none of the icepick. Sometimes the Varitone effect is described as "mid scooped" but it's so much more notched it's not even in the same ballpark as "scooping mids."

    And (speaking of Bill Lawrence) the Q-Filter/L-Filter is an inductor component he sold for wiring in to a variety of RLC passive tone-shaping plans, including Varitone-type notch-filter configurations.

    So I think you can see that there are tone-shaping possibilities - including passive options - for eliminating the icepick without choking off the sparkle, air and sweet highs.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2020
  3. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I've had good results changing the load resistance on the pickups, which affects how much of a high frequency peak the response has. (This is a common suggestion I've seen elsewhere but didn't notice it in this thread.) You can do this either by changing to a lower resistance volume pot, or by adding a shunt resistor. Experiment to find what works best.
    See more here:
    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/500k-volume-pot-for-my-bullet-tele.1053115/#post-10221379
     
  4. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes, either a "routed for left hand" but on a right hand tele body, or you can have a full humbucker "pool" underneath so you can attach pickups either way. You might have a too large routing underneath, almost "chambered" but it will fit, I've done so. However, I think you must special order the steel parts, like the whole mounting plate in steel that must be routed left hand but with right hand bridges, and of course saddles, but those ones you can always change out in the end.

    People do forget that much of the ice-pick is where the "node" for the pole piece reside along the string. And that is exacerbated by the amount of steel surrounding the pickup. High upper harmonics are always more pronounced. That's why it's so easy to do pinched harmonics on a Tele.

    By and large if you want to retain clarity you should not go for overwound pickups, but have medium to low output pickups. Since you had a budget limit I think SD 5-2 may be a tad over your budget, but not as steep as their Zephyr pickups, where you really do have that sparkling quality, without any ice pick, thanks to silver wire, but I've tried them, and as fast as you crank them a little into distortion, you hear that they got really, too much treble, and it can't be bucked by turning the tone ctrl down.

    But take any stock bridge tele pickup and reverse slant it, and you do get rid of the most of ice pick tone especially when playing the high strings above 12th fret. It isn't subtle. The low strings remains basically the same. If you like the tone of the original pickups or whatever, try that one first. You'd be surprised. Don't try to play Roy Buchanan tunes/styles on it though... ;)

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Trick and tip:

    If your nut can take all of the gauges of strings, like you can test with the high strings only and REVERSE STRING a regular right hand Telecaster first, for left handed, you will get the reverse pickup slant for the high strings. The G,B and E strings CAN reside temporarily in the nut slot for the thicker E,A,D strings but not the other way around. So string it up with three only, ending up on the top of the guitar. Now, you don't need to play left handed or flip the guitar over, but you can gauge and hear what they are doing with the pickup a little more into the strings length.

    The staggered pole pieces may line up a but askew but I think the only thing you have to do is alter the height of the bridge pickup. And then if you like what you hear, carry on with your endeavor, or reverse it back again, no mods done. Put the strings back. If you have Kluson tuners it's no problem re-using the strings. Taking them on and off as much as you like.

    If you dare to waste a couple of high E and B strings, you can very well string up the guitar with E B G string all the way, and just test them for ice pick shrill highs, then you can do a direct comparison A/B on the spot. Or really just replace the low E string with a high e-string and do the comparison with the high e-string already in its place.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2020
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  5. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I fully agree with your point that the tone can and should be managed by the player.
    Too many great recordings have been made over the decades, using Tele bridge pickups that many modern players insist have ice pick tone.
    I think playing skills may be getting overlooked in favor of the easier route of guitar modding!

    However, I've been guitar modding and skills developing for 41 years and there is an end to mods!

    Having explored all the electronic solutions for tone management, I conclude that any eq tweak either in the pickup or after the pickup, removes treble from both the high E and all the other strings.

    I want to keep all the lively harmonics present in the lower strings!
    The only solutions are IME, play the high E differently, or move the pickup under the high E, further from the bridge saddles.
    Hotter warmer pickups lost bass clarity and harmonics.
    Screw that!
    I love my bass harmonic content!
     
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  6. gkterry

    gkterry Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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  7. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    Is that a Strazzquire?
     
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  8. suave eddie

    suave eddie Friend of Leo's

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    Have you ever played a G&L ASAT with the large MFDs?
    Could be a fit for you. Different than a P90.
     
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  9. paulblackford

    paulblackford Tele-Holic

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    I had a Gemini Suprocaster bridge pickup in my Esquire, and I truly didn't wish for another pickup. Due to the lack of business in the current downturn, I'm having to part with most of my gear, so I moved the pickup to my main Tele. It is now paired with a Bootstrap '54 Strat pickup in the neck, and together they are amazing. If I weren't parting-out, and selling the Esquire, I would have just kept the Suprocaster in it. It can stand alone better than any Tele Bridge pickup I've had.
     
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  10. don

    don Tele-Meister

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    Wow so much good info here! Lots of things to explore! When I used the term ice pick I used it to define shrill or brittle or very high. I’ve never thought of sparkle in terms of just treble but more of a slight edge to the tone of all the notes in an open chord that keeps it from being dull.
     
  11. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Hahahahah yeah!
    Can I quote you on that?
    Good name and it has none as yet.
     
  12. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Afflicted

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    I've got one too and it's amazing for sure.
    Sorry you have to part with most of your gear buddy, I hope it will end up turning into an opportunity to renew your collection.
     
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  13. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    Have you tried using springs to mount the pickup ?
     
  14. John_B

    John_B Tele-Meister

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    "Brass saddles and an SD Broadcaster are getting there for me. Cutting without icepick."

    What Blues Twanger said! I did exactly this in the butterscotch Tele. I got sparkle and tone... with a light to medium attack. I got sparkle and tone and growl ...with a heavy attack. This is my favorite (hot) A5 so far.

    I love the tone of the SD Jerry Donahue in the SD audio (clean clip). Awesome sounding A2 pup. I hear sparkle and I really like it.

    I am waiting for my Bootstrap custom A2 pup that should have been here today but was not in the mail. This is wound kinda hot and close to the SD Jerry Donahue.
     
  15. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    I commit Strazzquire to the public domain for free use, if it's basically Fender. Strazzquier, if it's basically Squier.
     
  16. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Friend of Leo's

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    Wow, went back and took a closer look. That is killer!

    I didn’t know I had a thing for one-pickup Strat-shaped hardtails until a friend gave me a scratch-n-dent Squier Bullet Special. I love that thing. If I were going to recreate a custom version of it, I would be pinning a blowup of your Strazzquire over my bench as inspiration.
     
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  17. cdwillis

    cdwillis Tele-Meister

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    A bunch of people have already said it, but Rob at Cavalier pickups will get you set up. I have one of his Nocaster bridge pickups, I think he's calling it the Nocaster Holy Grail now. It's pretty much the sound I think of when I think of a tele bridge sound. Has some girth, but it's still twangy without being shrill.
     
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  18. That Cal Webway

    That Cal Webway Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Yep.
    Reverse slant routing. ✓™


    I had the SD 5-2 pups in a Strat:
    Great pups!

    .
     
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  19. Wulf

    Wulf Tele-Afflicted

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    any pup will do..best to run your amp hot and ride your sound on guitars controls...thats how they used to do it
    you will get bright ..but with warmth and clarity
     
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  20. adjason

    adjason Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    the Fender 62 reissue is about the only one that I ever turn up the tone all the way and it still sounds good- compared to 64, 52, nocaster and American standard pickups
     
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