Educate me on pickups

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by marklcfc, Feb 23, 2020.

  1. marklcfc

    marklcfc TDPRI Member

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    I'm not very knowledgable on this but I've read alot about upgrading pickups in the past. Currently I have a player series telecaster, if I upgrade the pickups is this going to make a big difference or would this affect more expensive guitars more?

    For instance I'd read someone I watch on youtube uses Seymour Duncan Antiquity pickups, what would the process be if I wanted to do that? I looked into those pickups and there is so much selection and cost a fair bit too, how do I know what to get and is it even worthwhile for this guitar.
     
  2. ieatlions

    ieatlions Tele-Meister

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    Depends on how fine tuned your ear is. I’ve been playing many years and I can hear the difference between pickups.

    Changing pickups will certainly make a difference but whether or not you’d be able appreciate the difference is completely subjective.

    Other factors come into consideration, namely your amp and pedal set up.

    If you can afford to swap them out, give it a go, all part of the learning experience.
     
  3. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    It’s 90% in the mind. Unless you go for quite a radically different specification, most pickup changes can be emulated with some amp adjustments or subtle use of clean boost pedal. There is no reason a pricer guitar would be different.

    You certainly don't need to pay a fortune to experiment. The same recipes give the same results. Tonerider are good value.

    What effect are you looking for?
     
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  4. marklcfc

    marklcfc TDPRI Member

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    Nothing fancy, just a nice warm telecaster tone. I just always read stuff like swap out the pickups etc but every guitar I've had I've just kept it how it came, but its come to the point where I'd like to improve things, maybe partly because everytime I record something I'm not happy with how it sounds, particularly dull
     
  5. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Have you ever played around with the heights of what you have there ?

    As far as suggesting ( tough to answer) anything, give us something more to go on. "Warm" is a good start, but that's realy more humbucker-ish than single coil.



    What type of music do you play ? Rock, country, ect.,. ??? Do you gig, or just play at home ?

    Do you mostly play clean.

    In your mind, you say "upgrade" and "improve", so what is it about the pups you have you don't like ? What tone are you searching for ?


    >I just always read stuff like swap out the pickups<

    Ha ha, there are some that never stop doing that............the grass is always greener, and some new model or mfc. pops up and, oh man gotta try them ?? :lol:

    I always say; YOUR geetar, YOUR ears.

    So as in another post here, tone-pickups............VERY subjective.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
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  6. marklcfc

    marklcfc TDPRI Member

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    Tone wise well I don't play metal, I play more a finger pick style but I do play chord based stuff too I will try to explain further with videos



    This is the guy with the Antiquity pickups, I pretty much like all he does.




    This is my kind of finger pick style, and especially that tone!
     
  7. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Poster Extraordinaire

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    My advice is to play your tele "as is" for awhile, and see how you like it. Your Player Series Tele has alnico 5 pickups onboard, which are not too shabby!

    I would also advise you to pick up a copy of Dan Erlewine's The Guitar Player Repair Guide, for about $25. Swapping out p'ups is a walk in the park, but ya gotta know what - and how - to get it done RIGHT!
     
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  8. LowCaster

    LowCaster Tele-Afflicted

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    I haven’t played these pickups (new player series Alico V pickups?) but from the specs I’d consider them to be really interesting pickups.

    Reasons to swap pickups like this are:

    1 - there is a problem (broken pickups , weak magnets and so on).

    2 - you want a really different tone (go for a humbucker, hot blades, hot noiseless)

    3 - you want to try and see by yourself and spend money for fun. Nothing wrong with that.

    Duncan Antiquity are primarily meant as replacement for real vintage pickups, you pay for the relic work and extra care to details to make them look like old pickups. And some little tweak to make them sound like old pickups too. They are certainly good pickups, but you may be disappointed by the lower output compared to your « player » pickups.

    If you want to swap pickups in the future, I advise you to learn to set height of your pickups now as @sjtalon said. You can change the output volume, and tone of the pickups, and balance between highs and lows.

    For your recording problem you should work on your guitar volume an tone settings, amp settings, and recording technique.

    What’s your amp? Playing technique and the amp you play through are much more important than the pickups (though they come in third position).
     
  9. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    There are subtle differences between pickups, but there is no reason to spend money replacing them if they are not a problem.
     
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  10. marklcfc

    marklcfc TDPRI Member

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    What do you mean by lower output? As I mentioned in my other topic on here I had been looking at a Vintera guitar as a upgrade/another option to my current guitar, and noticed that they had for the pickups
    • bridge pickup: Custom Shop vintage-style single-coil Tele
    • neck pickup: Custom Shop Twisted single-coil Tele
    Which again, doesn't mean much to me. Would these be similar to Antiquity being vintage style?

    I don't have the best setup, just a fender blues jr. I'd been considering trying recording direct as an alternative to recording the amp itself.

    Oh and regarding heights, that's just gone over my head :(
     
  11. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    If you've been playing a while and don't like your recorded sound but are pretty sure it's not a player issue, I'd say new pickups are in order.

    But if you say your recorded tone is "particularly dull" them naybe seeking Tele pickups we would call "warm" is the wrong tree to bark up. What you need to sound less dull is brighter clearer pickups, not warmer pickups.

    Again though the dull tone could be the amp, the speaker, the mic, or another facet of your process.

    The thing about aftermarket pickups is that the pop mentality today is we all need hotter fatter darker pickups.
    Complaints of ice pick bridge tone drive this viewpoint, but you may not actually like a hot over wound bridge pickup.
    A clearer neck pickup is suitable for a lot of layers though, where some of us just prefer a darker than vintage bridge pickup.

    More money spent on a boutique pickup with specs that don't suit your needs will be a waste.
    Fender makes any pickup spec you need at fair prices.
    Duncan Antiquity doesn't guarantee better tone.
     
  12. LowCaster

    LowCaster Tele-Afflicted

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    Usually « vintage » means lower output, clean tone, clarity. The signal sent by the pickup is weaker, so it doesn’t drive the amp too hard and stays clean. Sometimes it seems harsh, but it should not, depends on the pickup and how you use it.

    On more « modern » pickups the output is boosted by more winds on the coil or a more powerful magnet (ceramic instead of alnico). Results are more power to push the amp into overdrive, and a different tone. It often sounds fatter, with more bass, but the increase of highs can be very harsh too.

    I have a BJ too, not a bad amp. It can deliver various tones from clean to crunch. I used to engage the « fat » switch all the time, but realized that it makes the tone quite muddy. I would keep trying to mic it untill you find the right way to do it.
     
  13. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    >Oh and regarding heights, that's just gone over my head :(<

    Sorry, here ya go:

    The height of the pickup off the pickguard or distance from the strings you could say. That in itself, can make or break ANY pickup.

    Press the strings down at the last fret, then measure ( I use drill bits) the clearance between the top of the pickup cover or poles, to the string.

    Standard Single-Coil 5/64" (2 mm) TO 4/64" (1.6 mm)

    A half hour, a screw driver and YOUR ears is time well spent.

    Height spec is OK for a START point, but from there, I spin each screw, ONE turn at a time, up a ways, and down a ways, noting on a piece of paper the turn counts from a start point. Then you can go back to the SWEET spot you find, tone wise.

    Don't be afraid to LOWER a pickup way down either...........you are not really cheating yourself out of power, that is what an amp is for.

    You may find to get the darker tone you seek by going low with them, as well as tilting the BASS side (E-A- string end) up 1/16"-1/8" higher than the treble side. There is no law written that a pup has to be LEVEL.

    The screws are not just there to hold the pickup in place, and you basically can't hurt anything, they are made to be adjustable.

    And don't forget to use the knobs on your amp, they have purpose (too often overlooked) as well.

    EXPERIMENT !!
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
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  14. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    under da hood, your bridge pickup has the tubing underneath on the screws as well, they act as/like tension springs:
     

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  15. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Curiosity will take you down a long and winding rabbit hole.

    These are the steps if you have a guitar you want to change the tone:

    -Raise/lower the pickup heights, including any screw poles the pickup may have (generally humbuckers have screw poles, or P90s)
    -Swap pots & caps. Pots have a 20% tolerance range and it matters end to end, just like people swap 250k vs 500k pots for single or humbucker guitars darker or brighter. Matters even when 'dimed'.
    -Swap pickups.

    First mod above is free, second is under $20 to experiment, last is $200 to experiment. They are a system so don't try multiple $100 pickup rounds to find something that matches better with a $5 volume pot. Once I figured out how much the first two steps can push a guitar tone around, I really only swap pickups now if I want a style change like humbucker to P90 or lipstick and such.
    Some popular aftermarket brands are excessively "muddy" and I avoid those, others find them "warm" and will promote them on every thread at every chance.

    If you just want to try a lot of pickups to educate yourself what they are all about, go on ebay and buy a bunch of the under $15/set humbuckers and single coils and have an adventure. Then once you get that figured out .. start trying the $50-$100 sets. And you can return knowing those and what the pickup heights and pots and caps can do for you for under $20...

    A last suggestion: If you anticipate a lot of experimenting then pull the existing wiring harness and pickups out in as much of one piece as possible then buy all new parts for your experiments. Then when you are satisfied you have exhausted all your curiosity has ridden you for, you can put back the factory stuff easily. You'll appreciate that most if you try to sell the guitar or you miss that original tone of the guitar. Both cases happen more frequently than you think.

    And then you jump down the rabbit hole of pedals.

    .
     
  16. stratoman1

    stratoman1 Friend of Leo's

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    I wouldn't necessarily go to a pickup swap first. Pickup height and/or cap change can do amazing things
     
  17. marklcfc

    marklcfc TDPRI Member

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    Wouldn't know how, I'd probably have to pay someone to do it. But even then I wouldn't know what is classed as an upgrade, I don't even know what I have now by default
     
  18. Si G X

    Si G X Tele-Holic

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    My advice would be, don't think of it as an 'upgrade' it's a just a change... and don't change pickups unless you know why you are changing them and what you are looking for in the new ones. Swapping out stock pickups for random expensive ones isn't the way to get the sound you want from a guitar.... and lastly a high price does not equal a sound you like/want/prefer.

    I have two guitars, one with a £120 pickup and one with a £28 pickup, both sound great, both work equally well for me. I might even prefer the £28 pickup a little more.

    Again, it's not an upgrade... it's just a way to alter the tonal character of the guitar to suit your tastes.
     
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  19. Hoodster

    Hoodster Friend of Leo's

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    I've been fiddling with every aspect of my signal chain for over 20 years and I can say unequivocally for my case anyway the two biggest things that change tone are the pickups in your guitar and the speaker in your amplifier. The good news is you don't have to spend a bunch of money on pickups. The regular line of Seymour Duncan, DiMarzio, Fender, etc. are all upgrades to most stock pickups.

    Pop a set of Fender Nocasters or Duncan 5/2's in there and you'll see.

    My personal fave is the Duncan Jerry Donahue bridge, and I'm about to put a 5/2 Strat Pickup in the neck....
     
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  20. marklcfc

    marklcfc TDPRI Member

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    I've contacted a local luthier to do some work on the guitar, that includes a general setup and putting new pickups into the guitar if I bought some. He also suggested new pots when replacing pickups. Should I do that or not? If so, what would I go for?

    He also mentioned the Switch, jack socket, and capacitors. Which of these if any are recommended to replace/upgrade, as obviously I don't want to do anything that isn't necessary and considering I bought the guitar new last year.
     
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