Proposal to cut through the muck of pickup descriptions towards a universal set of criteria

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by mountainhick, Jul 29, 2021.

  1. Telekarster

    Telekarster Friend of Leo's

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    Oh goodie! I got my popcorn in hand! Let the games begin :twisted::cool::D
     
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  2. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    If you have a DAW, the EQ plugin will usually show you what’s going on. Frequency on the X and amplitude on the Y. And time is just, well, you look at it if you don’t have a way of mapping, but if you try to play it as consistently the same as possible, it should be about the same.

    I think it’s just something you have to figure out for yourself. manufacturer’s or people’s descriptors are usually meaningless. But I’m also in the camp that you know, a PAF of the same size and winds generally sounds the same. In the same way a dish made with the same ingredients is different every time subtly, but you know, the general idea is perceived the same. I don’t think one less mcg of salt is going to mess with that.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2021
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  3. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    Words fail sound.
     
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  4. BerkshireDuncan

    BerkshireDuncan Tele-Meister

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    Pickups, schmickups! The only forum topic that generates more BS than tonewoods.

    Essentially, there are two kinds:

    Ones that you like
    Ones you don't like
     
  5. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Friend of Leo's

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    Yeah. Lame attempt at a physics burn. Because it’s the reciprocal of the unit we use. But it’s to the point that we can’t really agree on how to measure “preference”. And the electric properties we can measure from a pickup aren’t linear to descriptive audio terms. It all comes down to “I like it better” which is at best a moving target.

    Edited to say thanks for not calling me out on my typo!
     
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  6. mountainhick

    mountainhick Tele-Meister

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    Set the stage on fire! Thank you and good night! :D
     
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  7. JL_LI

    JL_LI Poster Extraordinaire

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    A spectrogram is useful to people who can read it and understand what they’re looking at. This is a community of guitarists, not engineers, even though a few of us are both. The problem is that all of us define sound and everything that produces it by auditory criteria, not math.

    For me, I either like a pickup or other device or I don’t. Most of us have a good idea what to expect by type. Single coil and humbucker are different and we usually want one or the other. Filter/Tron pickups are humbuckers, but really a subtype. P-90’s are a special kind of single coil. Again, we know what to expect. The problems are in using verbal descriptions in place of mathematical values that few of us understand. All 95% of us have are words.

    And words let us down. Vintage means thin sounding and bright to most of us. Maybe too thin for the bedroom and maybe too bright and cutting at stage volume for some genres. I think we’re forced to categorize pickups based on our personal needs and use cases. That spectrogram will look way different through a Twin with lots of headroom and a Dual Rectifier with insane gain.
     
  8. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    i disagree, anyone should be able to read this. it's just something you need to know if you make music on any instrument with anything involving electricity.

    [​IMG]

    if some stoner teenager in their mom's basement making EDM can, i don't understand why it's beyond people. ^ = louder, -> = higher.
     
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  9. Drew617

    Drew617 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I notice the same problem more when talking speakers, but that's probably just a matter of my interests/where I prefer to tinker. IMO, all the imprecise language is a symptom of a larger problem upstream: We're talking about individual components in a complex and interactive system as though we've really isolated them, and we usually haven't.

    Say you have two Strats that are magically physically identical, but have distinct sets of pickups in them. Plugged into one amplifier, we'll perceive some distinctions between the two sets of pickups. Plugged into a different amplifier, with different settings, we'll probably hear a different set of distinctions.

    Nevermind we don't usually hear about stuff like: Were pots, any wiring, or jacks changed when you put your new pickups in? Were pickups installed with a lazy splice that added feet of wire? Are you comparing speakers at 80db in the living room, or at stage volume?

    I take any of this stuff as vague impressions at the absolute best, and don't really think it's imprecise because of language.
     
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  10. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's

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    I think two things can be pretty reliable when choosing between pickups, outside of specs (construction, output etc.), specs being the only objective verbal/written communication there can be about pickups (but also woefully insufficient on their own).

    1) Demos using pretty common/well-known and -understood gear, like your archetypal Strats, Les Pauls, Twins, JCM's... stuff lots of people own and practically everyone has heard. So don't put aftermarket Strat-style single coils in a headless Steinberger or a Les Paul, or super hot metal-style humbuckers in an otherwise vintage-style Tele. Not that you can't use aftermarket pickups this way; the point is just to put the new/variable thing in a well-known, consistent context. You and I will disagree about how X pickup sounds, but I know how various Tele pickups sound in a Tele going through a Twin, so putting X pickups in a similar context gives me a point of reference and I can make my decisions from there.

    2) The chance to compare various such demos using different pickups. It'd probably be hard-to-impossible to make this an "industry standard", but it can at least be done with various pickups made by the same company. I find the demo videos on the Cavalier site very helpful; there's a ton of them (including multiple ones for each pickup), almost all by the same player, through unsurprising gear (the Tele pickups are in Tele's plugged into pedals and amps commonly used with Tele's), with lots of different kinds of playing at different volume levels and in all pickup positions. Him playing the Fat Lion in his Tele through his set-up won't be the same as mine playing the Fat Lion through mine, but hearing the Fat Lion and Nashville and Bakersfield and everything else in similar contexts has gone a long way toward. helping me decide which pickup I want to try out for whatever I'm going for.
     
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  11. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    but also that psychoacoustically and physically we all hear differently from each other. hopefully specs from a trial between two things will have the system as similar as possible, but it's not a guarantee on anything. if it's not my own guitar or system, then i'd rather just see a plot between two different things, with as many variables eliminated.

    data is good as a reference, essentially just signifiers, but it's up to you to take the reference/signifiers and create your own mental/auditory schema. if A and B plot like this on their system, or value of A and value of B are these measurements, then it follows that all things being equal in my system, i can expect to have X general change.

    but even still, will i like that change or find it too much high freq, low freq, signal level, etc.? someone else's opinion or subjective descriptors will never tell you what's enough or too little. people just want other people to tell them what's "gooderer."
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2021
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  12. Telekarster

    Telekarster Friend of Leo's

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    "If it sounds good, it is good" - Buddy Holly... mic drop ;)
     
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  13. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    As much of the problem lies with those asking questions about the sound of pickups.

    First off, a pickup has no sound.

    Second, pickup A is invariably brighter than B and darker than Y.

    Third, if you haven't tried A B or Y, you need to do some research and determine that you have an actual question, before asking questions like: "What's the best Tele pickup?" or "What Tele pickup is best for Rock?".

    Post what you have and how it fails to satisfy, plus what you want more of.
    Then we who have that pickup can suggest other pickups that have more and less of the things you mention.

    Last, a inexperienced player cannot make a great pickup sound good.
    "Experienced player" means more than "strummed for years".
    Creating tones with your hands is another subject.
     
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  14. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    42 years swapping pickups I know what I like but not what YOU like!
    Reading descriptions has had zero value, but if I know some specs that gets me close enough to buy & try which is the real test. Any pickup will sound better in one guitar than another.

    425549D0-7F62-4A33-B543-E52CF888BFB5.jpeg
     
  15. dougstrum

    dougstrum Friend of Leo's

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    Hot ~ Medium ~ Mild ?
    Wire, wind, magnets, and Q probably give the best information.

    Too many descriptive/flowery words that mean different things to different people.
    Sound recordings are often a joke. Almost never clean and not through a signal chain
    I would use.
     
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  16. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Don’t overthink it. Enjoy your personal sonic adventure with the fun, follies and successes that will come.
     
  17. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Even aside from the rest of the demo gear snd FX, plus YouTube EQ and compression, a player creates their own tone and compensates with technique if the pickup is too dark or bright.
     
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  18. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Friend of Leo's

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    I like my pickup.
    It sounds crunchy, and has a distinct woman tone. It really cuts with a brown sound but can also be bright. Did I mention it is also throaty?
     
  19. Telekarster

    Telekarster Friend of Leo's

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    Oh man!!! Look at all them goodies! :D
     
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  20. dougstrum

    dougstrum Friend of Leo's

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    I think it's inevitable that if we are at all picky about our sound,
    we'll end up with a shelf or drawer like @telemnemonics
     
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