Why I tend to dislike neck pickups

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by TG, Sep 28, 2021.

  1. TG

    TG Doctor of Teleocity

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    Just realised something. You know how sometimes you need a flash of insight or awareness to understand something?
    Well, all my guitar playing years I've never felt comfortable using a neck pickup on its own, although I also tend not to stay solely on the bridge pickup either, although I have happily gigged a single P90 Junior many times since you can use the volume, tone and pick attack to get usable 'mellow' tones, but with a 2 pickup guitar I lean towards the middle switch position much of the time.

    So what I've realised is that the sound of a bridge pickup is generally 'electric guitar' in my mind....but I associate the character and timbre of the neck pickup and both-on sounds with a human voice.
    The both pickups /middle settings kind of have the same type of EQ and character of a singer with a nice voice. Singers I like hearing, or at least don't dislike.
    But I've realised that the character of pretty well all neck pickups reminds me a type of voice I really don't like.

    Cher.
    It's bloody Cher.
    That sort of honky sound she has.
    Neck pickups have something of that character and it just isn't right for me. I couldn't quite understand why until now. I don't want to sound like that.

    The singer in M People has the same sort of sound...and I don't like her voice either.
    It's even worse, imo.

    I hope I haven't ruined anybody's day by giving them a bad association.
     
  2. Alex_C

    Alex_C Tele-Holic

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    I'm not sure I hear what you hear, but I can say my preference is a single coil when it comes to the neck and a HB when it comes to the bridge.
     
  3. johnnylaw

    johnnylaw Tele-Afflicted

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    Sounds like you need to try one of those Plastic Yoko neck pickups. You’ll be running back to Cher with open arms.
     
  4. Tarkus60

    Tarkus60 Tele-Holic

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    I love the neck pickup....so there....
     
  5. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    A good neck pickup to be absolutely indispensable.
    The neck pickup is great for jazzier rhythm playing, and soloing.
    Both bridge and neck pickups (middle position on switch) are perfect for strumming rhythm.
    However, I never solo in that position.
    The bridge pickup is best for rockin’ and twangin’.
    Admittedly, I play clean (without overdrive of any kind) most of the time.
     
  6. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Friend of Leo's

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    Capture.JPG
     
  7. whoanelly15

    whoanelly15 Tele-Afflicted

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    Haha. I don’t agree at all, but I love this kind of stuff. We all hear things differently. Glad you’ve found what works (and what doesn’t) for you.
     
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  8. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Yup I agree. I have a guitar with an HB in the bridge, which can be split, and a P90 in the neck. I love it to death. The P90 neck is a great rhythm sound, no mud there, and nice bite.
     
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  9. runstendt

    runstendt Tele-Meister

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    It’s early yet, but this will probably be the best description I hear all day. Also, I love the comparison.
     
  10. Si G X

    Si G X Tele-Afflicted

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    All the sounds I like come from a bridge pickup. I've never really considered it much further than that. ... why? I just do.
     
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  11. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'd be lost without a neck pickup on my main gigging electrics- a Strat, a Dano, and an SG ( sorry TDPRI, my Tele is really heavy anymore, and just staying home)

    I play a lot of music variety,
    including swingy '50's style blues ( either clean or w/pretty distorted 'tweedy' OD), and 'fake jazz'
    ( that's when I try to pretend I'm a jazz player, playing cool chords, and Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell octaves), and the neck pickup is just indispensable, either on it's own, and in contrast to other pickup selections. ( I play lead and rhythm with all PU positions, any guitar- just take advantage of a guitar's options.

    It may be just me, but I have a Fender Fat '50's in my Strat, and I think my neck PU is one of the best I've ever heard. Even with strong OD it is still detailed, melodic, open.
     
  12. Chester P Squier

    Chester P Squier Tele-Afflicted

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    I really like the sound of a Stratocaster neck pickup. It sings. But I suppose I see what you mean about it sounding like someone's voice.
     
  13. Bruxist

    Bruxist Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    I find I like the neck pickup more and more as I age.

    But almost never for rhythm, just lead. Middle or bridge for rhythm. Guess I am backwards. I also don't play out so I don't have to worry about disappearing in the mix.

    Was impressed with how good the neck pickup on a newly acquired CV50's sounded.
     
  14. LesQuire

    LesQuire Tele-Meister

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    Somebody once told me that a neck pickup with OD/Distortion sounds like a vacuum cleaner, I can't unhear it haha! I gravitate towards the bridge like 95% of the time but some cover songs calls for a clean neck pup sound.
     
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  15. G3Hanz

    G3Hanz TDPRI Member

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    @TG: Respectfully disagree but thanks for putting a smile on my face! I love neck pickups and middle positions, but in a lot of cases a bridge pickup on it's own sounds screamy and harsh to me, like... Billy Corgan?
     
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  16. esseff

    esseff Tele-Afflicted

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    Same here, I like a warm sound when I'm going for a solo. I never use positions 2 or 4 of single coil p/u five-way selectors. I prefer humbuckers on the whole.
     
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  17. DrBGood

    DrBGood Tele-Holic

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    Well ... there are single coil neck pickups à la Strat and Tele. These are usually pretty well articulated and give a good tone.

    Then there are P90 and humbuckers, which people tend to associate with mud or as OP explained bad tone voices. Most of the time, if not every time someone experience that disliked tone, it is because the pickup is set too high. I don't know why, but using a screwdriver on those two height adjusting screws seem to be heresy to many players.

    First thing I almost automatically do to any new P90 or humbucker guitar, is lower the neck pup as low as it will go. For P90 that means removing any foam on its base blocking that descent. On humbuckers, they end up lower than the plastic rim. THAT is where magic starts to happen. That is when you fully discover that a neck pickup can be very articulated and clear sounding and that middle position can be very different than neck alone.

    Get your screwdrivers out and experiment.

    2004 G400 pickups height.jpg

    hauteur P90.jpg
     
  18. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

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    Years ago, I used the neck PU, exclusively on my Tele; it was/is a Joe Barden original design.

    Somewhere along the line, I switched to the bridge for most of what I do in a band format.

    I believe that I learned how to use the tone pot to eliminate any shrillness so I could get the "punch" of a good bridge PU (also Joe Barden original design).

    And, I rarely ever use/d both PU's together.

    I'm probably missing something, but there's only so much time...

    I still use the neck PU (Barden) for some Tradition Blues numbers on the Tele ('76), though.

    (On my Strat, I mostly use the neck PU, ala Tony Joe White style.)
     
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  19. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    I love neck pickups…and bridge pickups…and middle pickups…

    Ok, I like electric guitars…

    But I tend to play a lot more neck pickup than bridge, even when solo-ing…of course, that depends partially on the song and the guitar and the pickup.
     
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  20. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    In 40 odd years of playing electrics I've always played the neck pickup more than anything. Ain't saying I've been doing it right, maybe if it would've been the other way round I'd be rich and famous now.
     
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