Humbuckers for a really dark sounding guitar?

Redleg37

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I have two guitars. A MIJ Fender Telecaster that sounds fantastic, and a ESP ES-1000 with evertune that plays fantastic.

My ESP feels amazing in the hands and is very easy to play, but the Seymour Duncan pickups are really dark. I'm playing through a Helix LT and I haven't really been able to overcome how dark it sounds. The telecaster will do ice pick bright, and then you roll off the tone and it's perfect.

The pickups in the ESP are Seymour Duncan HB/Jazz set, which I've read are supposed to be pretty bright for humbuckers. I've fiddled with their spacing and even removed the pole pieces to help lighten them up a bit, but it hasn't really been enough. A more experienced guitar player I play with mentioned they sounded a bit dark to him as well. I know the EC-1000 will never be as bright as the telecaster, but I'd like it to be closer than it is now.

I've thought about new humbuckers. Not sure where to begin looking. If the JB/Jazz set is a brighter set of pickups, then I think I may need to find something ridiculously bright, like maybe a Dimarzio Humbucker from Hell.

I can't find anywhere online what the tone pot value is. I'd be surprised if it isn't a 500k, but stranger things have happened.

Any recommendations?

When I play live its at a large church using a Helix LT direct into the sound system. I need something brighter, and I'd prefer relatively low output since I can add whatever gain I need through the Helix. (and the sound people take care of volume). I'd prefer a great clean sound that I can thicken up as needed.

Thanks in advance.
 

SbS

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I'm having relatively bright / low powered neck humbucker in a dark guitar, DiMarzio PAF Master.

But the brightest DiMarzio humbuckers I know (specs only) are EJ Customs:



Haven't played these though.
 
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TinkerSolderTry

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a humbucker compared to a single coil can sound very muddy!
the JB is a high output bucker and has a lot of upper mids but not so much true highs.

first thing i do is disconnect the tone pot, that should brighten things up and is easily redone.

2nd: check the pot values.

3rd:
put your jazz Neck PU in the Bridge spot. if that isn’t bright enough, you can skip the whole humbucker thing and use them split or partial split or in parallel.

bright duncans are:
pearly gates
jazz set
screamin demon
 

schmee

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I have two guitars. A MIJ Fender Telecaster that sounds fantastic, and a ESP ES-1000 with evertune that plays fantastic.

My ESP feels amazing in the hands and is very easy to play, but the Seymour Duncan pickups are really dark. I'm playing through a Helix LT and I haven't really been able to overcome how dark it sounds. The telecaster will do ice pick bright, and then you roll off the tone and it's perfect.

The pickups in the ESP are Seymour Duncan HB/Jazz set, which I've read are supposed to be pretty bright for humbuckers. I've fiddled with their spacing and even removed the pole pieces to help lighten them up a bit, but it hasn't really been enough. A more experienced guitar player I play with mentioned they sounded a bit dark to him as well. I know the EC-1000 will never be as bright as the telecaster, but I'd like it to be closer than it is now.

I've thought about new humbuckers. Not sure where to begin looking. If the JB/Jazz set is a brighter set of pickups, then I think I may need to find something ridiculously bright, like maybe a Dimarzio Humbucker from Hell.

I can't find anywhere online what the tone pot value is. I'd be surprised if it isn't a 500k, but stranger things have happened.

Any recommendations?

When I play live its at a large church using a Helix LT direct into the sound system. I need something brighter, and I'd prefer relatively low output since I can add whatever gain I need through the Helix. (and the sound people take care of volume). I'd prefer a great clean sound that I can thicken up as needed.

Thanks in advance.
I would try low resistance vintage style HB's. But I must caution you, changing pickups (unless you have some extreme type) can result in very little actual change. I have done it at least a dozen times. HB's are warmish and muddy on the lows/ low mids often, and if that is your problem, not sure you will get a big change. You may end up making the highs too bright.
I have a jazzbox with HB's and it's basically a warm sounding guitar. 3 pickup changes have not changed that a lot... the controls are very good, smooth with no jumps, so reluctant to change that stuff, but have considered bypassing the tone control temporarily with a switch to see if much changes. It's clean on the highs, but mids and lows are warm sounding.
 

ndcaster

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isn't a Firebird a humbucker? it's nice and bright, two rails side-by-side I think. the shape also suits a Tele better than a fullsize bucker imo

stacked coils are nice, but a different geometry

I like my DiMarzio HfHell a lot

I like my HS Filtertrons, too

really hot humbuckers were designed to slap the front of an amp hard

today there's less of a need for that because we have all kinds of options for signal processing dirt

a high-pass filter is very useful
 

Rich_S

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Sweetwater says the EC-1000 has a JB/‘59 set. The ‘59 neck pickup is fatter and less clear than the Jazz. The JB is the sound of ‘80s metal but that was usually in 25.5” scale, maple-necked guitars.

There’s only so much brightness you’re going to get out of a mahogany Gibson-scale guitar. As others have said, you probably want a set of vintage-wound PAF-style pickups. Alnico 5 will be brightest. Maybe just replace the JB with a ‘59 bridge. Get the 4-wire version so you have the option to tap it.

The other option would be a set of HB-format P90s. On the cheap, Guitar Fetish makes decent ones. Upscale, there’s Lollar and others.
 

brookdalebill

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If you consider changing the pickups, TV Jones makes many clear sounding, dead quiet (hum cancelling) options.
I am a devotee, and they reside in my busiest guitars.
Their Powertron is their most PAF-like pickup.
I prefer the Supertron for neck position, and a Classic+ for bridge.
Supertrons also sound great in the bridge position.
You might consider EMGs, or the DiMarzio Humbucker From Hell.
In spite of the name, the HFH is a very clear sounding pickup.
There’s always P94 types, too.
 

jvin248

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It's not a dark guitar ... It's dark pots n caps.

1. Adjust pickup heights, screw poles, and bass/treble tip.
2. Measure and swap pots n caps. Pots have a 20% tolerance range. use a series cap on muddy pickups (0.047uF).
3. Last is swap pickups.

I used to swap pickups until I figured out steps one and two.

.
 

cometazzi

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I was going to say it'd be cheaper to measure and replace the pots. Go from 500K to 1M and try it out. If that doesn't do it you're out $20 instead $400.

I have an EC-1000 Koa* and I'll agree it's darker than a Telecaster, but I wouldn't call it 'muddy'. As @Rich_S said, a mahogany guitar at this scale length will tend towards 'thick' sounding vs. 'twangy'.

*That said, I think the Koa version has different pickups than a regular EC-1000 or ES-1000.
 

BFcaster

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It's not a dark guitar ... It's dark pots n caps.

1. Adjust pickup heights, screw poles, and bass/treble tip.
2. Measure and swap pots n caps. Pots have a 20% tolerance range. use a series cap on muddy pickups (0.047uF).
3. Last is swap pickups.

I used to swap pickups until I figured out steps one and two.

.
+1 all of this. Pickup and pole piece height is key, but pot value should be measured on a multimeter. I bought 3 500k pots a few years ago and 1 was 490, one 514 and third was 535. Remember, Gibson at one time was using 300k pots in Les Paul's.
 

Wound_Up

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It's not a dark guitar ... It's dark pots n caps.

1. Adjust pickup heights, screw poles, and bass/treble tip.
2. Measure and swap pots n caps. Pots have a 20% tolerance range. use a series cap on muddy pickups (0.047uF).
3. Last is swap pickups.

I used to swap pickups until I figured out steps one and two.

.
Most standard pots, CTS for example, have a 40% tolerance range. That's a range of ±20%. So 400-600k(±20%) is the tolerance range for
most standard 500k pots

20% tolerance range would be ±10% or 450k to 550k, which is usually found on the "stricter tolerance" pots that you find for sale at most places.
 

Redleg37

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I recently had the dumbest epiphany ever regarding dark guitars - get an eq pedal.

:oops:
Sweetwater says the EC-1000 has a JB/‘59 set. The ‘59 neck pickup is fatter and less clear than the Jazz. The JB is the sound of ‘80s metal but that was usually in 25.5” scale, maple-necked guitars.

There’s only so much brightness you’re going to get out of a mahogany Gibson-scale guitar. As others have said, you probably want a set of vintage-wound PAF-style pickups. Alnico 5 will be brightest. Maybe just replace the JB with a ‘59 bridge. Get the 4-wire version so you have the option to tap it.

The other option would be a set of HB-format P90s. On the cheap, Guitar Fetish makes decent ones. Upscale, there’s Lollar and others.
The EC-1000 has come in numerous pickup configurations. Mine is the evertune version with the JB/Jazz set. I’ve lowered them and even removed the pole pieces completely. I use it tapped a lot, it doesn’t really get brighter but it gets less tame? More character I guess?
 




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