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Why change pickups?..........

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by J. Hayes, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. Big tuna

    Big tuna Tele-Holic

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    I personally am glad people change them.I have bought a lot and keep them for the heck of it well its a good hobby collecting fender tele pickups.plus there usable.i think I will get on ebay and look right now.
     
  2. gwjensen

    gwjensen Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    :p
     

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  3. brenn

    brenn Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm not sure I get the logic of: "James Burton's '69 Telecaster sounded great with its original 1969 Fender pickups, so you shouldn't change your 2013 Mexican standard pickups."

    If you want a different sound from your pickups, change them. The fact that one set of stock pickups sound great doesn't mean that the other 100 different kinds do too. When all the people the OP mentioned were making those recordings (A) there were no after-market pickups to buy, for most of them and (B) they were using the top of the line, not some cheap-o imported pickups from Mexico or Japan or China.
     
  4. Swampash&Tweed

    Swampash&Tweed Friend of Leo's

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    My JB gatton Tele set makes me sound and play just like Danny Gatton that's why......
     
  5. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I do think it is funnah when someone posts they're really psyched that a new guitar is being shipped their way and oh, what should they swap the pickups with?!

    C'mon, at least play that thing first!
     
  6. flyswatter

    flyswatter Friend of Leo's

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    From the Wikipedia article on Rory Gallagher, Re: '61 Strat:

    "The guitar was extensively modified by Gallagher. The tuning pegs are odd (5 Sperzel pegs and one Gotoh), and all of these have been found to be replacements. Second, it is thought[citation needed] that the nut has been replaced and interchanged a number of times. Third, the scratchplate was changed during Gallagher's time with Taste.
    The pick-ups —none of which are original— were also changed. The final modification was that of the wiring: Gallagher disconnected the bottom tone pot and rewired it so he had just a master tone control along with the master volume control. He also installed a 5-way selector switch in place of the vintage 3-way one."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rory_Gallagher#Gallagher.27s_Stratocaster

    From the Wikipedia article on Keith Richards, Re: '53 Tele/ Micawber:

    1953 Fender Telecaster – Richards acquired this butterscotch Telecaster in 1971. Nicknamed "Micawber", after a character in Charles Dickens's novel David Copperfield, it is set up for five-string open-G tuning (-GDGBD), and has only five bridge saddles. The neck pick-up has been replaced by a Gibson PAF humbucking pick-up, and the bridge pick-up has been replaced by a Fender lap steel pick-up (similar to a Fender Broadcaster pick-up). "Micawber" is one of Richards's main stage guitars, and is often used to play "Brown Sugar", "Before They Make Me Run", and "Honky Tonk Women".[121]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Richards#Guitars
     
  7. StormJH1

    StormJH1 Tele-Holic

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    The answer to the original question "why" is because it's a hobby, like anything else. I've often wondered why people are into home brewing beer. I really like to DRINK beer, and I'm also very impatient, so the idea of buying a bunch of equipment and waiting 2 weeks for something that will probably suck doesn't appeal to me.

    ...Except that the more investment you have in something, the more potential there is for payoff. I'm only in my early 30's now, but I took a 19-year-old Squier Strat with good "bones" that sat in my basement unused for 10 years, and turned it into one of my best playing and sounding instruments with some Fender Tex Mex pickups, new wiring, and other upgrades (nut, tuners, etc.). Knowing that I put that thing together with limited knowledge and made something that sounds better and stays in tune better than it did when it was brand new...well, that's pretty friggin' cool.

    As other people have mentioned, the aftermarket options are what have really made the "hobby" interesting and accessible. It's really two different hobbies - the "gear" hobby and the "guitar playing" hobby. If the latter ever ceased to be interesting, the former would die off. But instead of collecting stamps, I collect inexpensive pedals. Instead of carving things out of wood, I take a cheap instrument and try to make it work and sound better. And the pickup options out there can be so mismatched and unique that it's really fun to see things from concept to realization.

    At the same time, I understand what the original poster was getting at. Any instrument over $200, and I don't touch anything on it unless it's broken. So, my "real" Gibson or even my Jackson DR6, no, I don't make fundamental changes to guitars that were nice enough to begin with. But an instrument is an instrument...I grab $120 Squiers in guitar stores all the time and can't believe how great they sound (with no mods whatsoever).
     
  8. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

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    in the 70's I remember guys getting pickups rewound... if you went to red rhodes shop, everybody was tinkering... in the late 70's I remember going to Dimarzio's shop in NY and everyone was rewinding, swapping magnets all kind of stuff...

    Semie Moseley was doing mods way back... I'd bet a lot of guys had stuff done back then.
     
  9. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I have one really good reason for changing pickups.

    Because I sometimes realize that I'm not getting all I could be getting out of a particular guitar. I won't argue the virtues of wood types here because there are so many opinions about that. What I will say is, every guitar has it's own potential to sound it's very best even if "that sound" is not the one you're chasing.

    I don't "chase tone." I try instead to reveal what a particular guitar may have to offer sonically.

    In my approach to getting the best sound from a particular guitar my most successful method is to try and balance the sound contribution of the wood with that of the pickups. Hot pickups in a guitar can start to have more "pickup sound" than wood sound. I feel this is one of the reasons a Les Paul with hot pickups often doesn't sound like a Les Paul any more. High output pickups, to my ear, seem to negate the contribution made by the wood and construction of a guitar.

    I'm not a big Slash fan but I gotta tell ya, he gets one of the nicest traditional Les Paul sounds I've heard in recent years and I attribute a lot of that to his low/medium output AlNiCo II pickups. Great sound!

    Many hot pickups overwhelm the contribution made by the wood and the resulting sound is more "pickup" and less organic. When the combination is right, that Les Paul tone is unlike any other guitar made and immediately identifiable. No doubt.

    This holds true, in my opinion, for most all models of guitars.
     
  10. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    Problem is, your guitar thru a small amp in your room or a small gig isn't going to sound like all those great recordings you've heard due to all the equipment and mix. So different pups will get you closer along with other stuff and your improving skill/talent.
     
  11. prebend

    prebend Tele-Holic

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    I've sort of given up with pickup swapping because I've been playing tele's for so long that I can make them all sound pretty much the same when I play them. And I've tried a variety of pickups: Duff Buckaroo's, Klein Esquire, Fender Nocaster, Loller Big T, cheapee GFS, and lots of Fender stock pickups. But my guitars are partscasters so I have to choose something for them.

    But I do stay away from hot pickups with IMO too much midrange (though it does help cut through a mix). I find it impossible to dial it out even on blackface amps. I definitely agree with an early post that hot pickups overpower the tone coming from the guitars wood, etc. So I've settled on the 57-thru-63 type pickups and there is no more need to swap. Maybe.
     
  12. jimash

    jimash Friend of Leo's

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    Usually the pickups are a major part of why I buy a guitar, so I don't change them too often.
    Sometimes they stop working and then I change them.
     
  13. nomadh

    nomadh Tele-Afflicted

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    My only question is , is Bry 80% correct or 99.5% correct? Changing pups does change the sound but still not as much as the pot ohms or tone caps then of course there is all those knobs on the guitar and amp to twiddle. Then add in your graphic equalizer pedal then all your other pedals if used.
    Most Of my guitars sound different from each other. None sound bad. Some more usable others more specialized. My very bright strat is great for reggae. I don't play much reggae but when I do there it is.
    The best is when people drop in $200 pickups and then also do all new different ohm pots and caps then rave how the pups transformed their guitar. Couldn't be the $20 in pots, right? :)
     
  14. nomadh

    nomadh Tele-Afflicted

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    repeat
     
  15. rockinstephen

    rockinstephen Tele-Meister

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    If you can tell the difference in pickups then you might as well use those that meet your needs. For the volume and skill level at which I play, I doubt I'd notice any difference if I changed. I've done it before and probably wasted my $$$...
     
  16. akukulich

    akukulich Tele-Meister

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    I'm not sure I agree with your premise. James Burton experimented a lot with strings to get the tone he was after. How many Tele's were hacked up in the 60s and 70s to add a humbucker in the neck position? I've got a friend who's father bought a '52 Goldtop Les Paul new in the early 50's. He inherited the guitar when his father passed away. He told me that when his father was actively playing, he was constanly swapping out pickups and hardware. Fortunately he held on to the original pickups which are back in there now, though the trapeze tailpiece is long gone. The moral of the story is that this has been going on since the electric guitars came to prominence. It's just a lot easier to do it now.
     
  17. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I have changed pups (mostly Strats) before and have been disappoint a few times. I try to do a lot of research before I pull the trigger. I had stock Squier pups in a test bed I bought for the purpose of experimenting. There nowhere but up to go on that guitar. Being new to tele's I wasn't even sure what I was going to prefer. Turns out, I tend to like the slightly hotter and mid rangier Broadcaster sound. From there I settled on the SD Broadcaster for a while. Now, I just describe what i'm looking for to Rob DiStephano and I get it. It's been an incremental journey, but, it's made huge difference. This is where my tone quest will stop until my music or taste radically change. Like when I went from a 30 year strat player to be tele afflicted. I like what I have now, beyond this would be like "sawing BB's", I just want to play now. Changing pups worked out for me.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2014
  18. twangking

    twangking Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm chasing that 50s tone that not a lot of modern guitars have. Fender makes a lot of modern pickups that don't do it for me. It works for others, fine. That's why there are different car brands too. People like different things.
     
  19. telerocker1988

    telerocker1988 Tele-Afflicted

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    I have 30 or so guitars in my collection and only one has stock pickups. I just really don't care for them. I am a strong believer in tone is in the gear and I like using what suits me best. I also use upgraded electronics, boutique gear, etc. I just prefer what I prefer. I normally have Duncan, DiMarzio, and some boutiques on hand for any new guitar. I just know what I like and I like modding things to get what I want out of them. Most stock pickups sound lame to me. I love my 57/08s in my PRS though - they smoke. That's literally the only guitar that I haven't changed anything on.
     
  20. Danomo

    Danomo Tele-Holic

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    Pickups I have changed:
    BT Tele stock (muddy) to '80's Dimarzio SD modded to Dual-sound-neck(because it's been laying in my parts bin for decades), and Duncan PG bridge model (found installed on a $79 Epi LP jr at Music-go-round). The BT with these and solid steel saddles is now a beast that can still produce a Tele twang. Absolutely worth it.

    BT Strat stock (pups not as bad as the Tele, but "lacking" a real Strat sound). Pickguard replaced with an ebay'd Fender guard with Fender Alnico V's and a Toneshaper in it. Better, but now missing some HB sound. Installed a Duncan 'lil '59 in the bridge, and moved the bridge pup (with metal plate) to the neck position, added a S/P switch for the bridge. Wasn't really sure what I was going to get when I started, and I've skipped detailing few options that were lackluster, but it's how it's going to stay now.

    Squier '51: Bridge pup replaced with an '80's Dimarzio Dual sound that matched the hotness of the stock neck pup much better. swapped volume with a concentric volume/tone control, and added a S/P switch for the Dimarzio. This was my main guitar until I finished the Strat, and has since been sold (though I have not been able to duplicate it's Neck+Parallel bridge sound on the Strat :( ).

    Pup's I have NOT changed:
    '51 neck pup, it was near perfect.
    Bullet Tele HS, only needed height adjustments, both very good pups for a cheapo (though I did install a split coil switch for the bridge which sounds surprisingly good split)
    Fender JP 90 bass (well, not until the J pup went microphonic after 20 years).

    I've had many other guitars over the years, but these above were the ones that have (or had) the most power over me. If I like something enough to mod it, there's something inherent in it to keep my interest. My bass (and Yamaha acoustic) have been the only out of the box instruments that were perfect for me (excluding a couple from back in the day that were just bone headed of me to sell or trade).
    There is just something about a Tele (maybe just Fender's in general). I've had Epi's, Gibsons, Dano's, ESP/LTD's, Ibanez', Cort's and Peavey's... None of them even made it a year. None of them had enough for me to blend with to even want to mod or keep them.
    I like to be able to evoke that classic sound, and it's a great foundation... But I have to make it mine.
     
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