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Reconciling volume differences between pickups?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by rsilverst, Dec 1, 2020.

  1. rsilverst

    rsilverst TDPRI Member

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    Hey there --

    A friend and I were doing a shootout of guitar tones this evening (wearing masks!), and we stumbled upon a bizarre difference that we can't really explain. Wondering if anyone has thoughts on it.

    Comparing our 2 Stratocasters, his was *dramatically* louder than mine (i.e. his with volume knob at 6 or 7 was about the same as mine at full volume). The perception was that it seemed almost twice as loud, and therefore much livelier. We started looking at all the settings and specs to try to reconcile it but I'm not sure I have an answer. I expected string height to be the culprit, but as you'll see below, that was not the case. Here are the details:

    His:
    USA Stratocaster
    Fender Custom Shop Fat 50s (Bridge: 6.2k)
    0.011-0.054 strings
    Pickup heights ~3/32"
    Tuning: Half step down

    Mine:
    USA Stratocaster
    Seymour Duncan Vintage Flat - SSL-2 (Bridge: 6.5k)
    0.011-0.049 strings
    Pickup heights ~3/32"
    Tuning: Standard

    Based on the resistance, there should not be much difference between them. The only possible explanation could be the higher string gauge and possibly the lowered tuning causing more output. We measured the voltage coming out the cable and it was like 160mV versus 120mV when strumming firmly with a pick.

    Any thoughts on whether the strings and tuning alone could account for the difference? Or is there something else that I am not considering here?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    EsquireBoy likes this.
  3. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    DCR is only a small part of the equation when it comes to pickups. The Fat 50s are a hotter pickup than the SDs. That's why they're called Fat 50s, not Vintage 50s.
    And, yes, fatter strings tuned lower will sound beefier too.
     
    sjtalon and rsilverst like this.
  4. rsilverst

    rsilverst TDPRI Member

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    Got it -- makes sense. I didn't realize the Fat 50s were Fat... How could I have known?! Maybe something about the name... ;)
     
  5. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    One of the following is the correct answer:

    a) Different guitars, different pickups. No surprise.

    b) Everything sounds different with the mask on.
     
  6. Billy3

    Billy3 Tele-Meister

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    Like the above said. If you have different pickups they will sound,well, different. The fat pups are definitely going to not sound like vintage pups. You also need to consider pots,caps,saddles,etc... Maybe try tuning the guitars to the same pitch. Probably a good start. So much to consider. Keep on pickin!!
     
  7. dougstrum

    dougstrum Tele-Afflicted

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    Are they the same loudness with pots on 10?
    I'd suspect the difference in volume between the guitars has to do with the taper of the pots.
     
  8. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    I'm imagining just where on your head that mask must be! :D
     
  9. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    I'm not wearing the mask, the OP was.

    I knew I would be pushing it to offer a multiple choice answer here, which is why I decided against offering a third answer. It would have been too much for your overworked imagination to cope with.
     
  10. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Wire, or DCr, can not be related to horsepower.

    It is only part of the sum. The problem is we can go to Walmart and buy a meter for 15 bucks and measure DCr, without being able to measure other things, so it becomes a
    comparison gauge and that spreads the misconception.
     
  11. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    trying to use DCR as a metric is like assuming the number of cylinders equates to specific horse power..

    BMW routinely produces a tiny 4 banger that puts out 1600 hp... that does not mean that if id ya bookit down to your local Bimmer dealer and sign the paper for a 330i you get 1600 hp.. even though it has the same technology under the hood, 'scuse me, under the bonnet... One actually has to get physical.. using tools, design and the like to squeeze anymore than the stock 220 hp out of the little booger...

    same with the pickups... the DCR is ONLY a very rudimentary number having little more to do with the output in useable volume than does the color of the enamel on the wire the dcr was used to measure..

    any knowledgable pup maker can wind a pickup with low DCR that puts out earsplitting volume. Problem is, few would find the overall voice acceptable..

    Now if you guys would start spreading the above around, instead of asking ill-informed questions citing DCR as a reference, perhaps we can put this to rest..

    r
     
  12. somebodyelseuk

    somebodyelseuk Tele-Meister

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    They're different guitars being played by different people.
    Even if they were specced identically, I wouldn't have been surprised.
    I'm sure it's been said, and if it hasn't, itshould have been by now, DC resistance is not a measure of pickup output.
    On top of that, there's no guarantee the pots in the two guitars measure the same, even if they are the same manufacturer and rating.
     
  13. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic

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    I've experienced what you describe. Ron's right in saying that there's more to a pickup than DCR. I'm not a winder, but I do know magnet strength and type would make a difference. I'd assume the wire gauge between the same between those two and the size of the polepieces are the same.

    Pots & wiring make a difference. I have a pass-through (some call it a blower switch) on my elite HSS that makes my humbucker sound almost twice as loud when it bypasses the volume and tone controls.
     
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