Pickup advice

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by gavquinn, Aug 14, 2019.

  1. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    Once again I am wondering what amp you are using (?)

    Also, do you play with a heavy hand or do you have the ability to play dynamically, i.e., can lighten up your picking in order to adjust the amount of attack when plucking the string, therefore controlling the treble response?

    In my experience, playing with finesse is 99% of anyone’s tone - assuming one is using quality equipment to begin with of course (and I have to believe your Road Worn meets or exceeds that minimum threshold of quality).

    Furthermore, do you ever back off on the volume control when, say, playing full chords, and then perhaps bring the volume back up for solos?

    All this is necessary info in order to troubleshoot the root of your problem - mainly due to one simple fact: I can easily make all of my guitars sound shrill if I really wanted to...


     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
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  2. DrPepper

    DrPepper Tele-Afflicted

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    Easiest solution... turn up the bass on the amp. Or, if it is a master volume amp, turn up the master and regulate the volume with the amps volume control. Make sure your guitar volume is max.

    Could be..the neck and body don't play nice with each other, new body? New neck? No guarantees...

    Good luck...
     
  3. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    I ve found some bad sounding guitars can be improved by either matching the sound w similar sounding p-ups or exactly opposite sounding p-ups ; but there's some that will just sound like crap no matter what. Get a different neck if it's standard. A good neck on a bad body will sound ok , but not a bad neck on a good one.
     
  4. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    I own a 1981 Carvin DC200 (my first “real” guitar) and it has always sounded bright, no matter what I did to it. Tried several pickup changes, heavier strings... always bright!

    Not trying to start a tonewood debate, but it is made entirely of maple (long touted as a being a bright tonewood on acoustic guitars).

    I’m not saying it sounds horrible, just that it has consistently lived up to that perception...



     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
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  5. gavquinn

    gavquinn TDPRI Member

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    Of course I can vary the attack, but my Strat is much warmer with a heavier hand, much rounder top end. It’s definitely the guitar that’s bright.

    So I’ve a deluxe reissue, with the treble down less than half way, it sounds kind of ok, but it’s still coming through.

    Then I’ve a Blackstar head and cab with the Royal Overdrive which is darker than most in the high end, this guitar still pierced through.

    I wonder is it the pots or the pickups? They pickups are new Alnico 5, both, the neck must be Bass4, Mid4, Treble9 it that’s a basic EQ. They’re pretty bright: the bridge is ok really it’s mostly the neck that I find bright.
     
  6. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    The main thing I’m hearing is that you’re comparing this guitar to some other guitar, which I don’t think is particularly helpful (especially if you’re sincerely attempting to appreciate this guitar based on its own merits). I feel it’s best that you put the other guitars aside for the time being and start from the beginning...

    I assume you bought your Road Worn Tele new and from the very start it sounded thin and shrill?

    Then you replaced all the electronics, including the original Tex Mex pickups, and it still sounds thin and shrill?

    So, what exactly does it have in it now?

    Also, do you normally play clean or with overdrive?

    When you play, are your amps sufficiently cranked to reach their potential "sweet spots" or do you have their volumes turned down to “bedroom” levels?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The reason I'm asking these questions is not to be insulting or condescending @gavquinn, but to establish where you're at (since I have absolutely no idea what you know or don't know).

    At this point I'll assume you know how to play the guitar, as well as know what a great guitar is suppose to sound like, but I must also assume you don't necessarily know how to get a great sound, otherwise you wouldn't be asking for advice.

    First thing I suggest is to NOT waste any more time or money replacing pickups or other electronic components. In fact, I highly suggest putting things back to the way they originally were.

    Since I feel the Road Worn Telecasters are reasonably well made and it seems that you already have some good amps, I would start by trying to find the best balance between the stuff you've already got.

    A quick side note: I have found that some guitar cables can have a capacitance drag that can suck some of the life out of your tone, so keep that in mind going forward as well.

    Anyway, in my experience, a tube amp that is not pushed will sound weak and uninspiring and you can twist the EQ knobs all you want but it will still sound like crap. That's why I use my 5-watt tube amps at home, so I can get them in their super saturated power zone. That doesn't mean I'm going for some sort of massive distortion sound, since even a clean tone needs to be pushed to sound alive!

    Once the tubes get saturated, even a fairly weak vintage voiced single coil can sound bold and powerful! But there's much more to it than that; The tone gets fatter and rounder and feels more three-dimensional and "glows". So if your sound seems weak and drab, perhaps you're not in the right zone for that particular guitar.

    I've also found that a lighter touch may be required when play through such a pushed amp when going for cleaner tones. I figure; "Why not let the amp do all the work - it is an electric guitar after all"!

    There are also times when I use a booster pedal (an Xotic EP-Booster) to push the front end of my low powered tube amps when playing at lower levels - NOT for distortion mind you (although you can use it that way) - but to help kick my tone into that awesome sweet zone better!

    Anyway, that's what I would try first if I were you... and if that doesn't work, then sell the guitar and get something that better suits your needs...



     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
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  7. sothoth

    sothoth Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

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    Do you normally play a tele? Just wondering because I know lots of people who say they hate teles because they sound thin and shrill. Everyone’s ears are different.

    Anyway, yes adjust your pickups before anything else. And depending on your amp be prepared to mess with the EQ and see if you can’t find a better tone.
     
  8. gavquinn

    gavquinn TDPRI Member

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    Hi thanks for the replies, yes, playing teles since I started playing, so a couple of decades now.

    The 'new' pickups are a good bit brighter than the tex mex pickups that came with it, for sure. A lot brighter. I didn't like those stock pickups for that reason.

    The neck pickup that's in it was custom made by Q pickups, it's a 59 strat style in a tele format, so it's mega bright. It seems that the pickup is good for giving cut to a warmer, rosewood slab board tele, my tele is not that at all! :)

    I think I just need a warmer pickup in the neck to be honest.

    I appreciate the commentary about amps, etc, and the cable idea is one I'll think of, I've considered good quality cables for some time, I'm sure that the length of the cables will matter too, it's maybe time I'm thinking of that.
     
  9. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    My 52 RI is sort of like the guitar you describe. The AlNiCo 3 Neck goes w it really well. It doesn't add/bring out bass so much as really enhance the sweetness of the treble rich tone. So that would be a recommendation for taking what you have and making it the best it can be. For treble taming, if you don't mind spending $, a Twisted tell might be helpful. Also a close second IME is the Fatboy from GFS. Cheap, but good. Both have a little darkness and a hollow sound. The Twisted has a little better 3 D sound stage, but the Fatboy is pretty good as well. Fatboy is a little darker.
     
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  10. LunarSlingShot

    LunarSlingShot Tele-Meister

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    Put it back the way it was stock and sell it.

    If you didn't like the sound of it to begin with, and you still don't like the sound of it after you have replaced a bunch of parts and sunk money into it, more than likely you are just not bonding with that particular instrument. If you can sell it for a good used price you can buy something else and you still have all of the parts you upgraded it with in case you want to put them into the next one. If you are at the point to where you are wondering if the wood body itself is the reason you don't like the tone, then IMHO this guitar is just not for you.
     
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  11. notmyusualuserid

    notmyusualuserid Friend of Leo's

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    Bare Knuckle 55s

    Or that.
     
  12. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Friend of Leo's

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    Reach out to Rob at Cavalier, Tim at Sunday Handwound or Ryan at Bootstrap. All great guys who wind great pickups at a reasonable price. Good luck.
     
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  13. PARCO

    PARCO Tele-Meister

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    This is a quote from Don Mare:
    My LIFETIME GOAL, was to actually make a bridge pickup identical in every way to Roy Buchanan's 53 Tele he nicknamed Nancy,
    The pickup in his Nancy never would give up a ohm reading.. This baffled us for years and years... But it’s not uncommon for a pickup to fail, and suddenly lose its entire bass... I used to get calls about pickups doing that in the field and we would offer replacements.. The common complaint was this: "all the bass is gone and now it sounds treble-y ~ and now I can’t get any ohm readings ~ yet it’s still working, but it’s a total treble bomb"

    What I believe is happening here is that for whatever reason some of the insulation on the winding in the pickup breaks down and some (just a few) wires are now in contact with each other. This shorts out the pickup so that you can't get an OHM reading but there is still enough wire that is not shorted that you get some sound out of it but very little bass. Hope this helps
     
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  14. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    It's not shorted, it's open. Hook any p-up s hot lead only and you ll get that. An accidental low wind should be rich in bass w a weak signal.
     
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