Hot pups sound better than high amp gain?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by DugT, Nov 6, 2018.

  1. DugT

    DugT Tele-Holic

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    I've been trying to get good rock distortion out of my SD Alnico II Pro Flat Vintage pickups and they sound pretty good but not as good as my more rock oriented guitars with 15K ohm pups. I've tried lots of amp variations with the equalizer controls and the gain but I haven't gotten close to the tones I like out of my rock guitars. But, I'm new at this so I thought I'd ask here, should I give up trying to get great rock distortion out of my low output pups?

    In case your interested, my favorite sounding rock guitar is a B.C. Rich Warlock. It is a good guitar but the lower wing really gets in the way when I play sitting. The guitar with the vintage pups is an Ibanez Talman which is like a Nashville. It is very comfortable but rather than switch to hot pups I think I will keep it stock. I'm considering getting and Ibanez RG guitar for wildman distortion.

    Thanks!
     
  2. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Good question for some around here. Most guys here offer the low wind/clean suggestions. I'd like to see what some of the harder rock guys suggest.

    I'd venture to say the 1/4 Pounder, Texas Specials, & a few more (Baja?) i'm spacing on at the moment are gonna be the more obvious.

    ...& a 4 way switch for good measure.
     
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  3. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Just play your rock-oriented guitars when you need more distortion. Isn't that why we have more than one guitar?
     
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  4. Guran

    Guran Friend of Leo's

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    Humbuckers and singlecoils won't sound the same. There's more to it than just output though. Even low output humbuckers will have a fatter/rounder character than almost all singlecoils.
     
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  5. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

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    Not in my opinion. I much prefer pedal and amp gain and distortion from that of a too-hot pickup. I really dislike the one-note nature of high-output pickups. I play plenty of scorching, massive lines, but I long ago retired my JBs and Super Distortions and their descendants. I have no idea why a player would want to start out at the very front end of their signal chain with a hot, compressed signal.
     
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  6. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I prefer more single coil voiced pickups for high gain. I never found I needed something that was 'high output.' A high gain amp designed for those heavier tones should have no problem getting enough distortion on its own. The 'twang' and articulation from single coils sounds really good through a thick distortion, IMO. I also tend to use amps that don't scoop the midrange out, which I feel works better with these pickup setups. (It keeps the sound thick, with the midrange content, but the highs remain articulate.) I find a lot of humbuckers get a bit too mushy for heavy chording, but they nice for thicker leads.

    IMO, it's such an overstated myth that singles or 'low output' pickups can't get 'heavy' tones or do 'heavy' styles well. If you know how to dial things in, they are fantastic. I'd say the biggest potential issue is hum on the true single coils, but my microcoils, which are 1.4Henries (That's roughly half the inductance of a vintage strat pickup) they are very quiet as far as the noise floor, and even though they have a wide bandwidth and low output, they do heavy tones just fine.


    Pretty sure these are stock Fender singles in the vid..



    Texas Specials..
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  7. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

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    Not in my opinion. I much prefer pedal and amp gain and distortion from that of a too-hot pickup. I really dislike the one-note nature of high-output pickups. I play plenty of scorching, massive lines, but I long ago retired my JBs and Super Distortions and their descendants. I have no idea why a player would want to start out at the very front end of their signal chain with a hot, compressed signal.
     
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  8. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    @DugT - hot pickups might sound better to you and with your technique for high gain than lower output pickups with a high gain pedal/amp. Nothing wrong with that.

    Very hot pickups might come across as a bit dull, dark and "flat" (lacking dynamics) to others.

    There are usually trade-offs in any rig. A lower resonant peak is (usually) the "cost" of a hot pickup wind (compare to a vintage wind of the same basic construction, which will have more highs available and "center" on a higher frequency).
     
  9. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think I suffered a seizure during that first vid. Well, I woke up on the floor.

    That second vid is a great example.

    This kind of discussion gets overlooked or glossed over on this forum, IMO. Not a lot of heavy gain & distortion being bandied about within tdpri.
     
  10. Fearnot

    Fearnot Friend of Leo's

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    I really dislike overwound pickups. They're one-trick ponies and anything over 9 or 10k sounds overly compressed to me, losing all picking sensitivity. I much prefer using a pedal to push an amp into distortion because you can turn it off. You can't add clean.
     
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  11. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I think that depends partly on the pickup and construction. I had a Duncan Antiquities for Tele bridge wound to 13k. Super dynamic. Tons of high end, just missing that top "icepick". Pushed an amp nicely.
     
  12. TangerineDog

    TangerineDog TDPRI Member

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    Now @Antigua Tele has once beautifully explained why it appears that higher output pickups compress more than lower output ones. Something to do with the resonant peak iirc.
    That, and forgive my amateurish attempts to say this, results in far more of the signal being cut off initially. A lot of string vibration just isn't amplified from the pluck on, which means that for a longer time than with a low wind count/ output pickup, the signal we hear stays seemingly the same and shares some of the characteristics of the cut-off an overdriven amp might provide.

    I notice in my own playing that for rock tones, I prefer high output HBs myself. You get more saturation, a tad more sustain on your crunch and a gnarlier tone overall.
     
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  13. darren7

    darren7 Tele-Holic

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    I prefer moderate-gain pickups and to add gain stages with pedals and/or amp gain stages. I find super-hot pickups are too compressed, and tend to "garble" the clarity of the strings. If you have a hot and compressed signal coming out of the guitar, there's little you can do after the fact to improve clarity. It just makes more sense to me to "hear" the strings as clearly as possible, then add gain further down the signal chain.
     
  14. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    No mention of the amp here at all?

    If you have a Mesa Boogie or an Orange or something the situation is wildly different than if you have a Twin Reverb.

    I've had hot pickups in my Telecaster and currently have vintage low output ones and it totally doesn't matter with my Orange amp.. there is so much gain up at the upper end of the gain range it just doesn't matter. The hot pickups you lose some of your ability to play clean and lose your dynamics somewhat but when the amp has more than enough gain the extra gain of the hot pickups doesn't really matter. The hot pickups make "edge of breakup" start quite a bit lower on the gain dial and seem to reduce the useable range for clean/breakup but barely make any difference in the sound in the upper ends of the gain ranges.

    e.x. vintage low output style pickups.. Randy Rhodes/Van Halen sounds at 3 o'clock on the gain dial.

    10k+ hot pickups you get that same sound 3/4 of the way from 2 o'clock to 3 o'clock on the gain dial.

    Either way you still have a bunch more gain available.

    "Garble" the clarity sounds about right from my experience.. though I am sure there are high gain pickups better than the ones I had.
     
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  15. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yngwie Malmsteen had some of the best tone ever on his early albums. He was very particular about using clean, low-output pickups, then using a distortion pedal to drive it later in the chain. His point was that if you have a loud, distorted signal coming right out of the guitar, it will never sound good.
     
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  16. DugT

    DugT Tele-Holic

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    Thanks for the reply. The second video by Nick van Oorschot (which will be the name of my next cat) had surprisingly good distortion. An interesting if not amusing and coincidental side note is that in his other videos he plays different Ibanez metal guitars.
     
  17. DugT

    DugT Tele-Holic

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    Is the gain from pedals much different from the gain of the amp? My amp is a Katana Artist and it has lots of different pedal effects and types of distortion. With it I was hoping I wouldn't need any pedals. I don't play in a band so I don't need the quickness of a pedal but it would be nice to not have to change guitars.
     
  18. DugT

    DugT Tele-Holic

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    I love the tones that Steve Vai gets out of his Ibanez Jem guitars and they have a resistance of about 15k ohms. The notes he plays on the edge sound perfectly clear to me. I've been playing on the edge mostly and with my vintage pups, the notes and cords I play up the neck sound to shrill to me. I turn the tone down a lot and I can't find a sweet spot between shrill and dull. The sweet spot is easy to find on my Warlock and on my Ibanez Artist AR720.
     
  19. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    I'd expect a Katana since it's a modeler to have at least one model that's super high gain.

    I have a Yamaha THR5 and even though it's not the "Hi Gain" THR it still has at least 2 models (One is a marshall emulation and one is a Mesa emulation) that are incredibly high gain and will go absolutely crazy no matter how low output the pickups are.
     
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  20. DugT

    DugT Tele-Holic

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    I can get more gain out of my amp but then I loose the sweet spot of the edge. With my HH guitars I can get both. I will play with it some more.

    By the way, Katana's don't have amp model emulations, instead they have effects pedals emulations.
     
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