Note to self, regarding picking pickups…

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by LGOberean, Oct 22, 2019.

  1. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Holic

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    Very good advice indeed. The only way I can choose a pickup wisely is first by choosing a maker, then by reading the descriptions or listening to the demos of his pickups.
    I find you can compare pickups from the same maker since he/she describes and demos them relatively to each other. You can pick amongst different outputs and EQ balance.
    But as soon as you are willing to compare pickups from different winders, you have to try them for real because there are just too much subjectivity in the way they are described and demoed online.
     
  2. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    You can get premium grade Tele sets for ~$50 now. If it comes down to a choice between spending $50 outright, or +$200 with the promise that someone will listen to me talk on the phone for an hour, I'll just go for the set that costs literally a fraction. 50/50 chance the guy on the phone is going to recommend some other pickup set that he says will suit my needs a lot better, the set with 100 more turns of wire, and now you're probably out another $200.
     
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  3. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    I have tinnitus, and so I don’t like headphones or ear buds (or even talking on the phone that much). I listen to clips/watch videos on my desktop most of the time, but I’ve got a Bose speaker system hooked up to it. I also watch videos on my big screen TV with a good sound bar, so I don’t think what I’m hearing is too limited by crappy speakers.
     
  4. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    I have 3 different brands of pickups in my teles, and the Twang Kings are my favorites. I’ve opted for TKs in 2 of my 5 teles. So whenever I’m considering pickups for a swap or a build, I always check the DiMarzio website to see what they have to offer.

    And I too prefer lower/vintage output pickups.
     
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  5. ping-ping-clicka

    ping-ping-clicka Tele-Holic

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    I'm so reactionary anything with the word vintage causes me to run for the closest fire exit.
    I have one of those Evolution pickups originally designed for Steve Vai in the bridge of a guitar, an old Ibanez AX AIO that I use for mondo distorted slide power chords et al
     
  6. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    It IS a confusing crapshoot. But I find resistance readings to be reliable and telling. Personally, I don't think you can change the basic character of a guitar with pickups, or certainly not with like style of pickups that have subtle differences. But if you change from a HB to Single Coil you might make a bit larger difference.
     
  7. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    The concept of working with a pickup maker and saying I tried your offering A, but I need it to be more xyz is a good idea.

    However, imagine if all pickup makers provided a frequency response chart like the speaker manufacturers do as in my earlier post.

    So, you own pickup A, and you go on line and print out the frequency chart for it. You also happen to own a 7 or 10 band EQ pedal. Those EQ pedals, by
    the way, actually mark the individual sliders to show you what frequency ranges they cut or boost-- as in this photo:

    upload_2019-10-23_9-37-22.png


    So you take your handy EQ pedal and you start adjusting the EQ sliders up and down until you get a sound more to your liking. You look
    down at the pedal and realize you need a little boost around 3.2k Hz and a little less signal around 800Hz. So then you compare the output graphs
    from your current brand with other brand pickups and look for an output curve that matches better to what you want. This is how you could
    take those graphs and "make them audible" so you could use them to figure out what you really want to buy as a replacement.

    You could do the exact same thing for speakers, by the way.

    And all of this begs the question as to why you couldn't just leave a GE-7 as the first pedal in your signal chain and never change pickups
    or speakers again....total heresy, I know....
     
  8. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

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    Come up to Ft Worth, and you can play my #1 Tele with its Bootstrap Palo Duro's, and when I get it back from being set-up, (Friday?) my new one has Bootstrap Pretzels.
    I can't effectively assess pickups from the technical data. I have to listen to them, preferably with my choice of amp and strings, and piddling around with pickup heights. That said....I'm not so particular that I can't generally get an acceptable sound out of most brands.
     
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  9. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    “Come up to Ft Worth,” he says. Like that’s just a short hop from Corpus Christi. :eek::rolleyes:

    :twisted:

    Kidding. I appreciate the invite. Actually, we’ll be doing one of our RV trailer trips in November to our family farm, about 35 miles or so southwest of Ft Worth.

    It will be the weekend before Thanksgiving, but it’s when we can get away. I’m not sure yet how many days we’ll be up there, and the purpose of our trip is a family visit, so I don’t know how much time I’ll have. Maybe we can talk about it more closer to the time.
     
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  10. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Too much is made of all of this. Sorry, but it is. If you have any decent quality set of pickups in a given "style" (vintage, hot, whatever) by any reputable company, raise and lower them, tilt them, change pot values. Any other reputable brand by of the same general type is going to sound very similar.

    The music of the heroes of most of the people on this site, near as I can tell, was by-and-large NOT made by people who obsessed over what pickup was in their guitar. When they did - general reaction is that their sound got worse over time as the tweaked and tinkered.

    How you touch the instrument, what gear you are running through and to. How loud you turn up the amp. That matters a lot. Hint - most of the Mt. Rushmore types turned up big amps. That's why they sounded great on record. A decision to change your pick to something markedly different is more likely to impact sound - and much more predictably - than a decision on which pickup brand, of the same general type, to buy.

    Back to food metaphors - it's a lot like agonizing over different brands of 5 ingredient vanilla ice cream.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2019
    nojazzhere and tamer_of_banthas like this.
  11. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I have been very lucky with pick-up selections. All of my stock ones have been replaced. I don't look at it as a "crapshoot" but more like a "shotgun blast". Select your resistance, magnet material and style from basic TDPRI thread, YouTube and any additional information. You will get close enough to what you want with some addditional tweaking of height, pots and EQ. After that, it is over thinking.

    Vendors like @Rob DiStefano of Cavelier Pickups will be able to narrow the selection process quickly for those who don't like the crapshoot or not into research ... and most likely make a better choice than my shotgun blast method.:rolleyes:
     
  12. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    Just get toneriders... mild, medium or hot.

    You are just employing a weasel word marketing dept. paying the extra to get the same sound otherwise.
     
  13. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Well, as I said, I find the technical data confusing in its complexity (to me, anyway :oops:) and its inconsistency (of information shared), so I can’t really assess pickups that way, either.

    I agree to a point with the contention stated about different reputable brands offering the same general type of pickup (Tele, Strat, P-90, et al.) sounding similar. That has been my experience with the 3 different brands of vintage style single coils in my teles.

    That said, they’re different. Call the degree of differences between them “nuances” if you want to, but I can hear it. I rather suspect that most all of us here can, since we live with our guitars, playing them in different settings and situations, with the music we want to play, through our amps , etc. And while I’d like to think that I too can get an acceptable sound out of most reputable brands, I don’t want to have to settle for “acceptable.” I want “nailed it” when it comes to my tone.

    Example: My first “Firecaster” has a set of Bill Lawrence Keystone tele pickups in it, and his 5-way wiring scheme. I had heard about them here on TDPRI repeatedly, and heard them in YouTube videos, and wanted to try them.

    But when I got the guitar with those pickups, I didn’t like them, initially, at least. I’ve learned how to get what I’m listening for out of them, to some degree. But even now, they’re not my favorites. They are touted for their transparency, but through my amps with my playing style/capabilities that transparency = colorless.

    I’ve had that guitar going on 7 years, and I’ve just lived with the Keystones. I’ve learned how to coax the color/tone I’m looking for out of them, but I have to work for it. And I’ve pretty much given up on the bridge pickup; I never play through the bridge pickup alone.

    So for future builds/swaps, I could play it safe and go with my current favorite brand (DiMarzio), or experiment/take a chance and try a new brand. Which way I’m leaning kind of depends on the day.
     
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  14. cyclopean

    cyclopean Friend of Leo's

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    how is the quality of that sound file you're listening to?

    i've never listened to youtube over a really great stereo system or studio monitors, but i'd imagine youtube compression would be pretty apparent under those conditions.
     
  15. cyclopean

    cyclopean Friend of Leo's

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    also the thing about clips is that even if you play those pickups in person, if it's not through a guitar very similar to yours and a rig very similar to yours, it's going to sound different. heck, even not getting to turn that **** up to gigging volume is going to make a difference. with all the factors in play, i'll bet you there are pickups you're going to love at bedroom volume that are going to do something you don't want at gig volume, and vice versa. think about how much better scooped mids tend to sound all by yourself then they do in the context of a loud band. or how more low end sounds great without a bassist but can get weird when you need to share that frequency range.
     
  16. Chicago Matt

    Chicago Matt Friend of Leo's

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    Great post, IMO. That EQ pedal has been the most useful piece of gear I've ever had. It's been a constant for me for 35 years or so, in many applications. However, I still have never figured out what a pickup or speaker is going to sound like with my guitar and amp until I've tried - in my guitar and amp. I've never found sound clips to be the least bit helpful either - too many other more important variables going on. I'm not smart enough to distill the thing that's being demoed from all the other factors. So I've accepted the fact that I'm always going to have a shelf full of speakers and a drawer full of pickups. :cool:
     
  17. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    I think the reason EQ pedals are not a more common to a common problem is because guitarists are sound engineers, and it's easier to mess things up when you have that many options. Amp makers could build graphic EQ's right into the amps easily (a few have) but the vast majority are three bands or less, less stuff for a guitarist to screw up. And it seems that a lot of the gear that gets a bum rap is also the gear that has lots of options. Marshall or Fender add more knobs, opinions of the amp go down. Mod a Tube Screamer and add more knobs, reviews go down. I think nine times out of ten what is happening is operator error is being blamed on the gear.
     
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  18. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm going to take a spoonful of my own medicine and put my GE-7 back on my board as the first pedal. I should be able to use it to compensate
    for the thin-ness of my Strats and Teles as compared to my PAF-ish guitars.
     
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  19. Lonn

    Lonn Friend of Leo's

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    "I just listen to them, and form my opinions afterwards."

    Is there any other way?
     
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  20. rigatele

    rigatele Tele-Afflicted

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    There is another way. You can just rent pickups until you find one that you like... :)
    pickup_rental.png
    If only...
     
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