single pickup guitar: pickup location !

ultrasun

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Hi there,
I've had my Silvertone 1448 for 10 years now. Though it's not my #1, I'm still enjoying it's very specific tone, a tone I believe cannot be achieved with any other guitar.
I've always been intrigued by the pickup location here: I think you would say it's a neck pickup, but it sits further away from the neck than your usual neck pickup. It strikes me as a smart move for a single pickup guitar. It gives it a specific grit, as you have less bottom end compared to a traditional neck pickup, and a bit more bite, quite reminiscent of a strat middle pickup. But it's not exactly in the middle position either. Quite unusual. It sounds amazing with overdrive.

question #1: does this location have a proper name? Do luthiers have a term for that, like "lower neck pup" or something?
question #2: It has me wondering how pickups other than the lipstick would behave when placed like this, especially a P90? I'm thinking about a partscaster with a P90 in that position. A mix of neck and middle position, to avoid a potential ice-pick in the bridge and too dark in the neck.
Did some of you try that before? Or do you have in mind other guitars I wouldn't be aware of, that are built like that?
Is there a reason why such a placement would "kill" a P90? (something like "the best thing about a P90 is ___, so you can't benefit from that in that lower neck position", etc...)

I think this pickup position is worth discussing!
Thanks for your feedback/thoughts.

IMG_0367.jpg
 

Peegoo

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There's no name for that. Gibson did similarly with a single P90 in a hollowbody in the 50s.

Pickup location matters, but like everything associated with guitars, it's extremely subjective. Here's a comparison:

guitar-pickups-and-harmonics-1.jpg


Several makers have marketed instruments with moveable pickups (as opposed to swappable pickups which have also been tried) but these are quirky and never really catch on enough to remain in production. One of the more clever designs was this Westone bass. All the electronics (pickup, volume/tone controls, and jack) were contained in that center module that slides on rails:

The-Rail-Westone.jpg
 

loopfinding

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the jazzmaster neck pickup is almost in that position. the pole pieces are sort of around where the 26th? 27th? fret would be. by trying to butt the pickup up against the neck like on a tele or strat, it just automatically places the pole pieces that far down.

everyone always has this impression of the jazzmasters being "beefy" because of the pickup coil size, but it's actually the opposite - the pole pieces that far down the string give it almost a more middle but not quite middle sound, negating any effect of the pickup construction.

it holds up with distortion pretty well and playing by the bridge can get you through for trebly sounds.
 

57joonya

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Hi there,
I've had my Silvertone 1448 for 10 years now. Though it's not my #1, I'm still enjoying it's very specific tone, a tone I believe cannot be achieved with any other guitar.
I've always been intrigued by the pickup location here: I think you would say it's a neck pickup, but it sits further away from the neck than your usual neck pickup. It strikes me as a smart move for a single pickup guitar. It gives it a specific grit, as you have less bottom end compared to a traditional neck pickup, and a bit more bite, quite reminiscent of a strat middle pickup. But it's not exactly in the middle position either. Quite unusual. It sounds amazing with overdrive.

question #1: does this location have a proper name? Do luthiers have a term for that, like "lower neck pup" or something?
question #2: It has me wondering how pickups other than the lipstick would behave when placed like this, especially a P90? I'm thinking about a partscaster with a P90 in that position. A mix of neck and middle position, to avoid a potential ice-pick in the bridge and too dark in the neck.
Did some of you try that before? Or do you have in mind other guitars I wouldn't be aware of, that are built like that?
Is there a reason why such a placement would "kill" a P90? (something like "the best thing about a P90 is ___, so you can't benefit from that in that lower neck position", etc...)

I think this pickup position is worth discussing!
Thanks for your feedback/thoughts.

View attachment 1055647
Sweet guitar . I would still consider that a neck pickup , though I see how it’s not quite all the way up at the neck . I had a Danelectro a lot like that different body shape , but a single pickup in a similar location.
Sounded great . Should not have let it go , that’s for sure
 

ultrasun

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the jazzmaster neck pickup is almost in that position. the pole pieces are sort of around where the 26th? 27th? fret would be. by trying to butt the pickup up against the neck like on a tele or strat, it just automatically places the pole pieces that far down.

everyone always has this impression of the jazzmasters being "beefy" because of the pickup coil size, but it's actually the opposite - the pole pieces that far down the string give it almost a more middle but not quite middle sound, negating any effect of the pickup construction.

it holds up with distortion pretty well and playing by the bridge can get you through for trebly sounds.

Perhaps it's the angle, but that looks about normal to me too - it's the neck being a fret or two short that makes it look further from the neck. Isn't it roughly where the 24th fret would be, like on a Tele?
Interesting thoughts. Indeed, if the neck had 21 frets, the pickup would totally be in the right place...
However: I also have a JD Tele, and the neck pickup is slightly further away from the neck, compared to most Teles. That design is there to help get some Strat tones out of the Tele. So?
Placing a pickup according to string length rather than distance from the neck makes more sense, I agree. But you can still alter the sound of a pup by slightly modifying its location nonetheless...
So the Silvertone’s grit would mainly come from lipstick + hollow body? It doesn’t really sound like a classic neck pickup, but maybe my eyes are influencing me! I don’t have other lipstick equipped guitars to compare.
If any of you has done that with a partscaster please chime in!
 

bgmacaw

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Is there a reason why such a placement would "kill" a P90? (something like "the best thing about a P90 is ___, so you can't benefit from that in that lower neck position", etc...)

A P90 works great in that middle-ish position. I have this Global/Harmony H-801 that has a P90 in it. The original pickup was too corroded to use so I shaved down a P90's bobbin enough to fit inside the original enclosure.

global-harmony-h801.jpg


Here's what it sounds like...

 

ultrasun

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A P90 works great in that middle-ish position. I have this Global/Harmony H-801 that has a P90 in it. The original pickup was too corroded to use so I shaved down a P90's bobbin enough to fit inside the original enclosure.

View attachment 1055666

Here's what it sounds like...


That’s a great sound indeed! And great slide chops by the way.
That guitar does have 21 frets; pickup location looks like between neck and middle... it looks a bit different from a Gibson 330 with a single pickup (middle).
 

Festofish

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Every time I see a single pickup guitar I think…why. At the same time I wonder if I’m missing something. Yours sounds intriguing.
 

mexicanyella

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@Festofish , for me the “why” is that I’m more comfortable with less controls to manipulate as I play, which helps me stay more focused on what I am playing and what my hands are doing (where and how hard I pick, etc.)

I also just really like the visual simplicity of one-pickup guitars.

I have to like the guitar’s one-pickup sound though, as a baseline. My current single HB Squier Bullet is a cheapo that happens s to sound just right to me, but some past experiments trying to get that good baseline have been disappointing...chief among these was a mid 60s Melody Maker (someone else chopped it before me) that I tried a single Rick Hi-Gain pickup in, in the middle. I chose the middle because that’s where the pole pieces lined up best. It didn’t sound “bad,” but it seemed kind of diffuse sounding, and not as cool as it looked. I ended up much happier with the weirder-looking configuration of a strat pickup back-slanted near the bridge, which sounded great.
 
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arlum

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Wow. I owned the same model Silvertone with amp in case but mine happened to be my very first electric guitar and was purchased in either '63 or '64.
 

mexicanyella

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I would like to try the “neck/middle” position as seen on @ultrasun ’s and @bgmacaw ’s guitars though.

Bgmacaw sounds like some Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers might have been in his listening history. I’m impressed at how I am hearing HDT ripped-speaker Silvertone amp sounds and then reading that it came from Hotone Binary units—cool!
 
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HaWE

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I once made an "esquire"- experiment with my partscaster Strat - I only installed a middle pickup.I could not get satisfiying sounds out of that setup.
(For me it had not the bite of the bridge pu and not the warm sound of the neck and using the tone knob did not make it better in that position).
Maybe I should have installed " only bridge pu" like on a Tele Esquire.
 

loopfinding

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Every time I see a single pickup guitar I think…why. At the same time I wonder if I’m missing something. Yours sounds intriguing.

tbh i mostly only play the neck pickup. i've often re-voiced dirt pedals so they aren't too muddy with neck (one of my guitars is a neck only archtop). sometimes i switch to middle and bridge for things, but it's pretty rare that i do.

for me it's nice if a guitar comes with two pickups, but if it only has a neck pickup that's usually fine by me. if it's only a bridge pickup (esquire or jr style), or only a middle pickup (like some gibson thinlines) it's a dealbreaker.

it's also cheaper to pickup swap with just one pickup. i might spend up to 150 on a single pickup (like a kinman), but feeling obligated to go the full 300 for a set makes me bail on it.
 
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schmee

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If I was going to a single pickup guitar, that would be close to where I would try it. CLose enough to the neck to get enough of those neck tones I like, but a bit further back for a cleaner low E.

Yeah those lipsitk pickups have a unique tone, a bit of grit in them.... or something like that. I've thought I should be using a guitar with that for the Duo I play in, get some minimal grit at low volume.
 

ultrasun

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If I was going to a single pickup guitar, that would be close to where I would try it. CLose enough to the neck to get enough of those neck tones I like, but a bit further back for a cleaner low E.

Yeah those lipsitk pickups have a unique tone, a bit of grit in them.... or something like that. I've thought I should be using a guitar with that for the Duo I play in, get some minimal grit at low volume.
Though I’ve never played a lipstick in a solid body, that “grit” probably also has something to do with the guitar being a hollow body. Like Thinlines, it brings snap and air to the sound.
 




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