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Pickup Quests for Home Builds - how long? how many?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by El Tele Lobo, Mar 2, 2021.

  1. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Poster Extraordinaire

    Oct 21, 2014
    How many sets of pickups do you typically try in a new build before you settle on a set for that guitar (or, for Esquires, how many individual pickups)?

    I typically change pickups 2 to 3 times before I find what I'm looking for for an individual guitar. One tele I just gave away is on its third set (Keystones, Porters and now Sunday Handwound). My Granville tele was built with OC Duff pickups, then had Cavaliers and now has Bootstraps. My reverse Esquire Jazzbo guitar is about to get its third pickup (already had a Lollar El Rayo and currently a TV Jones T90 in it).

    I think I love the quest for tone as much as the building or the playing.

    Is it just me?
    Zepfan and BB like this.
  2. Ziggy587

    Ziggy587 Tele-Meister

    Feb 10, 2019
    I use to swap pickups out constantly, but I got sick of doing it. I don't know if I just don't have the ambition anymore, or if I just got sick of how tedious I find it to be. I love soldering stuff, I love putting together parts guitars, but I dislike swapping pickups for some reason. The next guitar I parts together, I'm going to spend a long time thinking about what pickups to put in it because I want to get it right on the first shot. I will only swap them out if I am truly dissatisfied, otherwise I plan on leaving them in even if they aren't 100% what I was looking for. For guitar purchases, I use to have a "you can always swap the pickups out" attitude. But going forward I really want to make sure I like everything about the guitar, including the pickups, before purchasing it.
    BB likes this.
  3. teleman1

    teleman1 Friend of Leo's

    May 16, 2003
    It is not me.
  4. RiversQC

    RiversQC Tele-Meister

    Nov 9, 2018
    I often build guitars around a pickup concept, like something I have on hand or want to try. For the most part, there are a few good bang-for-the-buck pickups that I know I like that I will stock up on (like Fleor Alnico P90s). I'll take a flier on good quality mid-range humbuckers or used 'name' pickups that other people are swapping out, but honestly, I have *zero* inclination to pay sticker price on most pickups, let alone multiple times! I'd rather move on to the next build -- I think confirming that the woodworking is my favourite aspect of any build. ;)
  5. Mike Simpson

    Mike Simpson Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 19, 2006
    Gilbert, AZ (PHX)
    I very rarely change the pickups after the guitar is built.
  6. Gris

    Gris Tele-Meister

    Jul 18, 2008
    Cumming GA
    Easy breezy and no reason not to do in neck of a Tele. Bridge a PITA.

    Strats not too hard unless your neck overhangs the PG.

    Once you try a few, then you kinda know what to look for.
  7. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's

    May 21, 2006
    I usually have a good idea of what I want in terms of tone/function (switching options, etc.), then I research from there. Once a pickup's in place I work with it every which way (height, pots/caps on the controls, etc.) before deciding it's "not right".

    I'm not sure to what extent my research is great, to what extent my needs/desires are flexible or to what extent a pickup is a pickup, but I've only twice changed a pickup because what was there wasn't working for me (not counting times I've changed out a stock pickup).
  8. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    No 2 guitars will sound the same with the same hardware, pickups, electronics and same pickup height because of: wood and metal.

    Wood being an organic material has many variables in it's structure.

    Metal being a mix of minerals and sometimes alloys will have differences in tonal accents.

    Pickups can be tailored to have tonal aspects, but they still convert string vibrations AND those vibrations through the parts and materials that make up that guitar through microphonics into electronic signal.

    I used a set of cheap ceramic pickups in 4 guitars before I found the right guitar for them. Sometimes I put a new pickup set in a guitar and they're great right away, sometimes not so much.

    3 pickups I haven't had trouble with finding a good home yet are PAF's, A2 Firebirds and neck Strat pickups.
  9. scooteraz

    scooteraz Friend of Leo's

    Apr 17, 2007
    Peoria, AZ
    Hmmmm, on two parts casters I have, I have changed out pickups because I’m curious. However, as much as I comtemplate changing out pickup, I haven’t done much recently. Years ago I did get rid of Telecaster SCNs in an American Deluxe I have, and change them out for Duncan 5-2’s, a great pickup. And I changed out the bridge in my 52 Hotrod for the BG1400. Not comtemplating changing those again.
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