PDA

View Full Version : How much do pickups really matter?


jw289
05-30-2013, 05:57 AM
I'm looking to change the stock humbuckers in my epiphone les paul standard, but through research and the help of Seymour Duncan's Tone Wizard and DiMarzio's Pickup Finder, I have no idea what I want.

So my personal question is: What do you guys think would be the best pups for a guy who plays worship, rock, and bluesy jazz?

My open question is: How much do pickups really matter? How much do they open or limit tonal capability, and how different are they, really?

I'd love for anyone to help my with my personal question, but I'd really just love to hear the discussion between players that have been through different pickups and have experience with their different sounds.

P.S. I have a serious bias to humbuckers. Just sayin.

clothwiring
05-30-2013, 06:12 AM
Depending on the pickup it's huge. You can really shape the tone based on pickups (not to mention the pots and caps). I have an Ibanez Ghostrider

I don't know enough about Worship tones to know what you'd need from that perspective. As far as rock and bluesy jazz, you have a million options. I'm currently exploring SD offerings including the JB/59 setup. I have a Tele with a Antiquity Humbucker in the neck.

I'd feel that you might want to try some guitars with a JB/59 setup to see how those pickups feel to you.

crambone
05-30-2013, 06:15 AM
They matter. A lot.

I have a PRS Santana SE (cheaper guitar) but swapped out the bridge pickup for a Dimarzio and it was amazing the difference it made. I have a Seymour JH-2 for the neck that I am waiting to get put in.

Cgkindler
05-30-2013, 06:29 AM
Well, I just ordered a set of CiMarzio Area 61 pickups for strat (single coils)


All the YouTube vids (HD) give some very noticeable difference!!


I'll try to do a comparo vid for ya to illustrate!!

Preacherofrock
05-30-2013, 06:34 AM
They do make a big difference and can really help with your clarity and your ability to be present in the mix (especially if your stock humbuckers are somewhat muddy). My question is what other instruments are in your mix when you are doing worship stuff, and what amp are you playing through? What sound are you going for. All of that matters.

chervokas
05-30-2013, 06:35 AM
So my personal question is: What do you guys think would be the best pups for a guy who plays worship, rock, and bluesy jazz?

The answer to this question is so personal -- what sounds good to you -- and so dependent on system match -- what guitar, what strings, what amp and gain settings, etc. -- that you really just need to familiarize yourself with the typical sounds associated with all sorts of guitars and all sorts of pickups and then going through a process of trial and error.

My open question is: How much do pickups really matter? How much do they open or limit tonal capability, and how different are they, really?

They matter enormously -- they're the principal tone generating component of a solid body electric -- but the differences between two substantially similar pickups -- say two alnico II PAF style pickups, unpotted, wound to 7K ohm DCR and 3.75H inductance with #42 enamel wire, with the same covers -- will tend to be pretty subtle.

OotMagroot
05-30-2013, 06:48 AM
For P&W, classic rock, or bluesy stuff, I would focus on getting a decent set of PAFs. But THEN you have to contend with all of the different types of magnets and whatnot (not to mention all of the different manufacturer's construction methods and claims that their PAFs sound the best or most authentic to something that was made in 1959).

In my mind, it's hard to go wrong with a nice set of Duncan '59s or the Dimarzio 36th Anniversary PAFs (I have Dimarzio PAF Classics in my Les Paul which are supposedly similar to the 36th Annys).

If you want something a little hotter I do tend to like the Duncan JB in the bridge position of mahogany guitars, so the previous post advising to try a JB/59 set might be a good idea. I had a JB/Jazz set in my Schecter C-1 Classic. It had a PRS-like 5-way switching scheme that produced lovely clean sounds as well as nice full-on humbucker tones.

RyanM
05-30-2013, 06:51 AM
Only for the player. No one else hears a difference, and if they did they wouldn't give a shit (same goes for every other aspect of gear). Chasing tone can be a fun hobby in it's own right, but don't let it get in the way of learning to play.

JesterR
05-30-2013, 06:51 AM
They really matter. Especially, if you change stock pickups from budget guitar like epiphone or squier. I think, that any classic PAF-style humbacker would works.

k tone
05-30-2013, 06:55 AM
Epi pickups are horrible. Put a Burstbucker 2 & 3 in there and you will see a vast improvement.

sonofspy
05-30-2013, 08:08 AM
Electric Guitar Wood Myth Busted?
After two months of testing, a La Trobe University researcher finds that electric guitar sound is unaffected by the body of the instrument.
Matthew Angove, a La Trobe University Bachelor of Science honours student, conducted the research by trying out electrics of various shapes and builds.
Being in the field of musical acoustics, Matthew found it unsatisfactory that very little research is done in the field of electric guitar. Compared to classical guitar musicians who tend to tinker with their instruments, it seems that most of the electric guitar research is done by manufacturers.
Guitarists are familiar with the various tonewoods and shapes that are used on electric guitars. Manufacturers and guitar players suggest that using a particular shape, or a specific wood material - be it alder, poplar, ash, basswood etc - will produce significant and specific tone variations.
Matthew was quoted saying: "Iím a player myself and I grew up believing the hype around different sounds and tones that can be created by using different woods such as mahogany or maple. Iím now testing that assumption."
According to Matthew, the idea behind the research is that the "common" knowledge being spread by companies that market guitars go against the physics of how the electric guitar works. He wanted to find out why manufacturers and sellers are charging more for guitars made of "rare" woods. He wants to determine if material used and body shape affects the electric guitar's amplified tone and he wants to find out why and how it affects it.
The test was straightforward, Angove placed identical strings and pickups in guitars of varying shapes and sizes and he then compared the resulting audio signals. A local music shop called J's Music City lent him several guitars and a number of pickups. He recorded every note individually on each guitar with the pickups carefully placed in exactly the same spot with the same distance beneath the strings. Matthew then listened to the recordings and looked at the harmonic content of each note, comparing each guitar shape and material against each other.
Quoting Mr. Angove's verdict: "I've only been looking at the results for two weeks and it really looks like all of them are pretty much identical. I was surprised at just how identical they were because the guitars were very different in shape. As I was listening to them, I showed other guitar players and they were surprised as well, they were convinced they all came from the same guitar Ö I'm beginning to think we should be making guitars out of something more rigid than wood, such as carbon fibre (http://www.guitarsite.com/carbon-fiber-guitar/)."
This research validates the opinion that the string setup, pickup type and pickup placement is what causes the various tonal differences that we hear between electric guitar models and brands. This reminds me of a video by Scott Grove that claims the same thing: the pickups, string vibrations and your guitar's bridge and saddles are the parts that really matter.
Check out Scott Grove's video: "Does Wood Type, Finish, Mass Matter On Electric Guitar", right here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEAjPaxpVOw&feature=player_embedded)file:///C:\DOCUME~1\98894\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01\cl ip_image002.gif
The research is still not complete, but the data, according to Mr. Angove, is pointing to the idea that there is simply no significant difference. The research is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and more data will be available by then.
:cool::cool::cool:

10strings
05-30-2013, 08:15 AM
Maybe like 80%

Humcycle
05-30-2013, 08:17 AM
I used to ignore all discussion about replacement pickups. I thought my Ordinary Person Ears can't tell a difference anyway. Then that before-and-after double blind thread appeared and now I'm all riddled with anxiety.

Heady Jam Fan
05-30-2013, 08:18 AM
There are some really cheap pickups out there and a good set (ie, Seymour Duncan) will be a noticeable improvement. However, going from SD PAF's (59's) as well as Schaller Golden 50's PAFs (which 59's are a clone of) to Lollar Imperials, I thought the difference was more consistency rather than tone.

The neck and bridge pickups were more balanced on the Lollars so flipping between them sounded and felt more natural and my gear responded more naturally - ie, there was a tonal change, but not so much change in volume.

Also, I found the coil-tap setting on the Lollars, similar to neck vs bridge, to be more consistent from the humbucking setting. There was a change in volume as well as tone, but it felt more natural.

In the end, the Lollar felt more natural and consistent - I was better able to predict the sound change in the (many) various settings on my guitar. Even going from one extreme to the other (neck bucker to bridge single), while I sometimes felt surprised (and my rig sometimes reacted 'surprised') when I did that with cheaper pups. I'm not sure that was a huge tonal difference - certainly not a sound quality difference for 2x the price, but IMO consistency of tone is ever more important. I thought it was worth it.

AParrotLooksAt4O
05-30-2013, 08:18 AM
Electric Guitar Wood Myth Busted?
After two months of testing, a La Trobe University researcher finds that electric guitar sound is unaffected by the body of the instrument.
Matthew Angove, a La Trobe University Bachelor of Science honours student, conducted the research by trying out electrics of various shapes and builds.
Being in the field of musical acoustics, Matthew found it unsatisfactory that very little research is done in the field of electric guitar. Compared to classical guitar musicians who tend to tinker with their instruments, it seems that most of the electric guitar research is done by manufacturers.
Guitarists are familiar with the various tonewoods and shapes that are used on electric guitars. Manufacturers and guitar players suggest that using a particular shape, or a specific wood material - be it alder, poplar, ash, basswood etc - will produce significant and specific tone variations.
Matthew was quoted saying: "Iím a player myself and I grew up believing the hype around different sounds and tones that can be created by using different woods such as mahogany or maple. Iím now testing that assumption."
According to Matthew, the idea behind the research is that the "common" knowledge being spread by companies that market guitars go against the physics of how the electric guitar works. He wanted to find out why manufacturers and sellers are charging more for guitars made of "rare" woods. He wants to determine if material used and body shape affects the electric guitar's amplified tone and he wants to find out why and how it affects it.
The test was straightforward, Angove placed identical strings and pickups in guitars of varying shapes and sizes and he then compared the resulting audio signals. A local music shop called J's Music City lent him several guitars and a number of pickups. He recorded every note individually on each guitar with the pickups carefully placed in exactly the same spot with the same distance beneath the strings. Matthew then listened to the recordings and looked at the harmonic content of each note, comparing each guitar shape and material against each other.
Quoting Mr. Angove's verdict: "I've only been looking at the results for two weeks and it really looks like all of them are pretty much identical. I was surprised at just how identical they were because the guitars were very different in shape. As I was listening to them, I showed other guitar players and they were surprised as well, they were convinced they all came from the same guitar Ö I'm beginning to think we should be making guitars out of something more rigid than wood, such as carbon fibre (http://www.guitarsite.com/carbon-fiber-guitar/)."
This research validates the opinion that the string setup, pickup type and pickup placement is what causes the various tonal differences that we hear between electric guitar models and brands. This reminds me of a video by Scott Grove that claims the same thing: the pickups, string vibrations and your guitar's bridge and saddles are the parts that really matter.
Check out Scott Grove's video: "Does Wood Type, Finish, Mass Matter On Electric Guitar", right here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEAjPaxpVOw&feature=player_embedded)file:///C:\DOCUME~1\98894\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01\cl ip_image002.gif
The research is still not complete, but the data, according to Mr. Angove, is pointing to the idea that there is simply no significant difference. The research is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and more data will be available by then.
:cool::cool::cool:

Interesting.

So why then would an SG sound so different than a Les Paul if they essentially have the same electronics/hardware? I'm doubting the scale of the instruments is the only factor making them sound different. I know the tone/wood argument is cloudy, but SD Antiquities DO NOT sound the same in an Ash Strat as they do in a Maple capped Mahogany Les Paul.

:munch

Matt Ivaliotes
05-30-2013, 08:19 AM
Only for the player. No one else hears a difference, and if they did they wouldn't give a shit (same goes for every other aspect of gear). Chasing tone can be a fun hobby in it's own right, but don't let it get in the way of learning to play.

You can have a guitar gear hobby, you can play guitar, you can do both, or you can do neither. But they're not the same thing. So yeah, be judicious in deciding how much of your energy you're going to put into the gear.

semi-hollowbody
05-30-2013, 08:32 AM
my epiphone les paul std and G400 had horrible stock pups (these are 2004-2006) they are better now, but the swapping the stock pups made a HUGE HUGE difference

I put seymour duncan SH-4 JB for the bridge and SH-2n jazz neck in my les paul...g400 got the pearly gates in the bridge and the sh-2n jazz for the neck

Ive a/b'd them with stock gibson counterparts and for what I DO AND PLAY, they held their own...pickups imo are the best upgrade you can do in an already playable guitar...huge difference

JonnyQ
05-30-2013, 08:35 AM
Interesting.

So why then would an SG sound so different than a Les Paul if they essentially have the same electronics/hardware? I'm doubting the scale of the instruments is the only factor making them sound different. I know the tone/wood argument is cloudy, but SD Antiquities DO NOT sound the same in an Ash Strat as they do in a Maple capped Mahogany Les Paul.

:munch

:agree

Not to dismiss the whole two weeks of research by an honor student at a university that I've never heard of, but years of playing and listening to guitars of many different shapes, sizes and body/neck/fingerboard woods tells me this student has more research to do.

As far pickups, the are easily the most significant change one to make to his guitar to affect tone. I'd guy with the vintage PAF styles many here have mentioned. Good luck.

zztomato
05-30-2013, 08:48 AM
Interesting.

So why then would an SG sound so different than a Les Paul if they essentially have the same electronics/hardware? I'm doubting the scale of the instruments is the only factor making them sound different. I know the tone/wood argument is cloudy, but SD Antiquities DO NOT sound the same in an Ash Strat as they do in a Maple capped Mahogany Les Paul.

:munch

They may however look identical if you just looked at it on a frequency spectrum analyser.

slap_back05
05-30-2013, 09:18 AM
Pups are important, and Epi humbuckers tend to be on the muddy side of things. Try a set of Gibson '57 Classics, or some Porter Anthem PAF's. I put Gibsons in my Epi Gold top; night and day difference. Had some Porters in another Epi LP I had at one point, sounded pretty dang good too.

SirGilmour
05-30-2013, 09:19 AM
They matter. A lot.

.

Yep

rufedges
05-30-2013, 09:26 AM
Pickups are over 70% of the tone of an instrument IMHO, pickups are huger. Personally, I prefer DiMarzio's and their way of "rating" their pickups better than the way Seymour Duncan does their system.

Humbuckers for your music choices, I highly recommend the DiMarzio Eric Johnson DP211/212 set..........much more like a single coil sound than typical humbuckers, great treble, low output=clear voice, but will handle all the power/distortion and noise you want to put on it, but will still retain a very clear/articulate voice. I love this set, perfect for your music choices as well. If you decide on something else, I would stay away from the really hot/high gain pickups for your musical choices.

I'm looking to change the stock humbuckers in my epiphone les paul standard, but through research and the help of Seymour Duncan's Tone Wizard and DiMarzio's Pickup Finder, I have no idea what I want.

So my personal question is: What do you guys think would be the best pups for a guy who plays worship, rock, and bluesy jazz?

My open question is: How much do pickups really matter? How much do they open or limit tonal capability, and how different are they, really?

I'd love for anyone to help my with my personal question, but I'd really just love to hear the discussion between players that have been through different pickups and have experience with their different sounds.

P.S. I have a serious bias to humbuckers. Just sayin.

whaiyun
05-30-2013, 09:32 AM
Pickups are the most important part of the guitar. It's equivalent to the needle of a record player. All the input from the vibrations of the strings go through the pick ups to the amp.

A-Bone
05-30-2013, 09:38 AM
:agree

Not to dismiss the whole two weeks of research by an honor student at a university that I've never heard of, but years of playing and listening to guitars of many different shapes, sizes and body/neck/fingerboard woods tells me this student has more research to do.

As far pickups, the are easily the most significant change one to make to his guitar to affect tone. I'd guy with the vintage PAF styles many here have mentioned. Good luck.

They may however look identical if you just looked at it on a frequency spectrum analyser.

Indeed. A core fallacy in the "study" conducted by this student is the notion that how things sound to a listener is the same as how those sounds look on a frequency spectrum analyzer. The perception of sound is considerably more subjective than that.

Maybe Terry McInturff will post in the thread. I can hardly do this justice, but his basic notion (which I think is accurate) is that the pick-ups are like a microphone -- meaning they can only reproduce, enhance, or fail to capture what is there in the basic instrument. This is why putting outstanding pick-ups in a crappy dog of a dead piece of wood guitar does not magically transform that instrument into a tone monster.

DivineTones
05-30-2013, 09:42 AM
Electric Guitar Wood Myth Busted?
After two months of testing, a La Trobe University researcher finds that electric guitar sound is unaffected by the body of the instrument.
Matthew Angove, a La Trobe University Bachelor of Science honours student, conducted the research by trying out electrics of various shapes and builds.
Being in the field of musical acoustics, Matthew found it unsatisfactory that very little research is done in the field of electric guitar. Compared to classical guitar musicians who tend to tinker with their instruments, it seems that most of the electric guitar research is done by manufacturers.
Guitarists are familiar with the various tonewoods and shapes that are used on electric guitars. Manufacturers and guitar players suggest that using a particular shape, or a specific wood material - be it alder, poplar, ash, basswood etc - will produce significant and specific tone variations.
Matthew was quoted saying: "Iím a player myself and I grew up believing the hype around different sounds and tones that can be created by using different woods such as mahogany or maple. Iím now testing that assumption."
According to Matthew, the idea behind the research is that the "common" knowledge being spread by companies that market guitars go against the physics of how the electric guitar works. He wanted to find out why manufacturers and sellers are charging more for guitars made of "rare" woods. He wants to determine if material used and body shape affects the electric guitar's amplified tone and he wants to find out why and how it affects it.
The test was straightforward, Angove placed identical strings and pickups in guitars of varying shapes and sizes and he then compared the resulting audio signals. A local music shop called J's Music City lent him several guitars and a number of pickups. He recorded every note individually on each guitar with the pickups carefully placed in exactly the same spot with the same distance beneath the strings. Matthew then listened to the recordings and looked at the harmonic content of each note, comparing each guitar shape and material against each other.
Quoting Mr. Angove's verdict: "I've only been looking at the results for two weeks and it really looks like all of them are pretty much identical. I was surprised at just how identical they were because the guitars were very different in shape. As I was listening to them, I showed other guitar players and they were surprised as well, they were convinced they all came from the same guitar Ö I'm beginning to think we should be making guitars out of something more rigid than wood, such as carbon fibre (http://www.guitarsite.com/carbon-fiber-guitar/)."
This research validates the opinion that the string setup, pickup type and pickup placement is what causes the various tonal differences that we hear between electric guitar models and brands. This reminds me of a video by Scott Grove that claims the same thing: the pickups, string vibrations and your guitar's bridge and saddles are the parts that really matter.
Check out Scott Grove's video: "Does Wood Type, Finish, Mass Matter On Electric Guitar", right here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEAjPaxpVOw&feature=player_embedded)file:///C:\DOCUME~1\98894\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01\cl ip_image002.gif
The research is still not complete, but the data, according to Mr. Angove, is pointing to the idea that there is simply no significant difference. The research is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and more data will be available by then.
:cool::cool::cool:

That research is bs. I can say this for two reasons: 1) I've been a grad student twice (once at a very prestigious institution), and we used to joke about how if people "out there" really knew the level of competency and research standards that went into many masters students projects, they'd be quite surprised, and 2) having been both a classical and electric player who has worked closely with a world class luthier on the construction of two guitars I can say that while the characteristics and quality of wood probably matter a great deal more in a classical guitar, they are not insignificant in an electric. When I purchased my RG there were two "identical" copies of that model. The one I ended up purchasing had noticeably better sustain and fuller tone than the other. Barring some fault in the pickups or electronics of the inferior instrument it sure seemed to me that the quality of wood in the one was what made the difference.

B-Nads
05-30-2013, 09:50 AM
There's also the difference in feel and resonance to the player that effects what they heal - comparable to how the sound of a golf driver impacts the player's perceived feel of the club's impact.

Pickups are HUGE - remove the player and I'd say the pickups and the amp are the two main components of the tone. If you're using pedals a lot, I tend to prefer lower output pickups ... they seem to let the nature of the pedal come through more.

djd35de
05-30-2013, 10:08 AM
For budget pups i perfer Dimarzio over Seymour Duncan every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I really hate SD pups, 59s sounded dull, shrill boomy and bassy.

a good set for a Epi LP would be the Dimarzio 36th anniversy. Steller pups for the price can't be beat in a LP.

Just make sure you upgrade the pots , 500k CTS would be a good starting point, and go with some PIO caps, like russian caps are very cost effective and sound great. Or go with Vintage Vitamin Q caps .015 for the neck and .022 for the bridge.

Or if you want to go for the Gusto, Get some lindy Fralin Pure PAF or his 8k,9k pafs.

Your ears will thank you! And you'll turn your Epi into a reall tone monster!!!

Good luck
David

AParrotLooksAt4O
05-30-2013, 10:42 AM
For budget pups i perfer Dimarzio over Seymour Duncan every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I really hate SD pups, 59s sounded dull, shrill boomy and bassy.

I'd even recommend '57 Classics from Gibson. The best PAFs from my experience, at least in terms of medium output vintage.

Is it possible to sound "dull, shrill, boomy and bassy" all at the same time?

crambone
05-30-2013, 01:01 PM
They really matter. Especially, if you change stock pickups from budget guitar like epiphone or squier.

Yep. That's exactly why I got new pups for my PRS SE.

Theroyalconsort
05-30-2013, 01:22 PM
when it comes to the quality of your tone pickups are the 2nd most important thing after your amp. for worship stuff something like a SD 59 or JB would probably be a good bet.

jay42
05-30-2013, 01:25 PM
I don't know about modern Gibson products, but they used to put relatively identical pickups in both positions. You ended up in the situation where you could adjust your amp for either pickup, but you really couldn't use all three positions properly without mud at the neck or too shrill at the bridge. I think this is the starting point for the OP...are they well balanced or not? If not, have a fun voyage....

I have a '59/JB set in my hb guitar. It's decent imo.

guitarz1972
05-30-2013, 01:32 PM
Only for the player. No one else hears a difference, and if they did they wouldn't give a shit (same goes for every other aspect of gear).

I respectfully disagree. I get what you're saying, and I concur with the sentiment that it needs to be "play the guitar" first, and "chase after gear" second (if not further down the list). But in the case of pickups, I think a case could be made that the difference between stock Epi pickups and most higher-end upgrades WOULD result in a discernable sonic difference to an audience, all else being the same. It's not as peripheral as comparing, say, a $150 OD pedal to a $400 OD pedal; with pickups, we're talking about a very real part of the guitar's output.

neosoulchild
05-30-2013, 01:34 PM
I wonder about this too, as far as changing pups.. I have an epi es335 pro that plays great, comes with Alcinos. I think they actually sound better than the 490s in my Gibson SG. I was considering swapping the Alcinos in the 335 for some Classic 57s, but currently I don't have a huge issue with the stocks. It did take some time to find settings I liked, maybe better pups would be much easier to dial in.

Suicide666Loop
05-30-2013, 01:53 PM
sorry to sound like a broken record, but the answer to this question is always...

Lace pickups.

http://www.lacemusic.com/

spentron
05-30-2013, 07:56 PM
I've generally been disappointed when changing pickups. Different pickups have a different "tuning" and this can make a big difference. You can even get different tunings out of one pickup by wiring it differently. But tuning style equal, I don't see much difference between a $100 pickup and one that comes in a $100 guitar. It's just a magnet with wire wrapped around it. There may be exceptions, but the improvement is overrated for most mass-market pickups.

Specifically:
Hondo II bass pickup->Dimarzio, about 1978. Slight improvement.
Bradley pickup->Seymourizer II. This out of production SD is not great.
Ibanez V1->Multibucker. The V1 sounded great but hummed in my house. No problem with my cheap Fender Squier's humbucker. The MB was cool in that it had humbucking single-coil modes but was kind of muddy overall.
Jackson->SD P-rail. Again I rewired my guitar for coil options, which was great, but I think it would have been almost as good with the original pickup. Better, before I turned the P-rail around the opposite of what SD intended (rail side towards the bridge).

The Epiphone pups are often considered muddy and I'd have to agree. If that's your impression too, definitely change them. I'm just trying to balance the other replies which I think overreach.

P.S. also need to consider loading from the choice of pots, for example if getting a too dark sound.

Ancient Rocker
05-30-2013, 08:22 PM
I play worship music exclusively these days. You'll need a tone that will cut with delay. My first thought would be for you to sell the LP and pick up a Tele. MUCH more versatility in all the genres you mentioned IMO. The best pups I had in any Les Paul which gave me the clearest, sweetest tone were the Duncan Seth Lovers. You should be able to pick up a set used for pretty cheap. They're unpotted and have tons of "air".
Good luck!

DivineTones
05-30-2013, 10:37 PM
Didn't have time to post it earlier today with my initial comments, but I'd agree with everyone who says pickups have a huge influence on tone. There is a lot that goes into your sound, such as note separation, balance, articulation nuances, as well as actual tonal "EQ" type properties. I have decent stock pickups in my RG, but had been wanting something a little hotter. Been looking at BKP Holy Divers. A guitar from the UK came to our local GC with BKPs "Vintage Hot 2" pups. Even though they were not as hot as the HDs, playing them made such a huge difference to, well, just about everything. Sweep picking became more clearly defined, and therefore easier to play; notes song out longer, and attack made much more of an impact on the "tone". So even in a pup about as hot as the ones in my RG, the differences in all those areas just made such a huge change in sound and playing technique. Hope to put some BKPs in by summer's end. Changing out pickups on a guitar will now be the same for me as changing out tubes on an amp - unless they come loaded with something seriously good to begin with, it will be the first thing swapped out for better.

Bartimaeus
05-30-2013, 10:41 PM
Pickups are more important to tone and to creating different tones than the guitar itself imho.

spentron
05-31-2013, 08:34 PM
Electric Guitar Wood Myth Busted?
After two months of testing, a La Trobe University researcher finds that electric guitar sound is unaffected by the body of the instrument.
[...]
This research validates the opinion that the string setup, pickup type and pickup placement is what causes the various tonal differences that we hear between electric guitar models and brands.

I thought about this one a bit more.

Pickups can change the spectrum by many dB's. That woods and shape have a much smaller measured effect does not prove that they are unimportant. Of course they have a smaller measured effect than something huge.

On the other hand, different pickups can be EQ'd to sound much more like one another. Examples include the Variax, RP series HB>SC etc. functions, and one a less extreme scale regular EQs and differences of guitar electronics. Some differences might require a different string pickup pattern, but still different pickups with the same pattern can be made to match. The differences that remain, "mojo" and the like, are certainly at least as small in measurable terms as things like body wood.

Improbable Joe
05-31-2013, 09:20 PM
Pickups have a huge influence on tone, but choosing new pickups needs to be based at least in part on the natural resonance of your guitar, and also based in an understanding of how your current pickups shape your tone. Figure out what pickups you have, what their frequency response is, and figure out what you like and don't like about your current tone.

When I replaced the Burstbucker Pros in my Les Paul, I thought really hard about what I liked and didn't like about the pickups. I was pretty comfortable with the treble and mids, but when I had those dialed in right the guitar was super boomy/bassy on the low strings. I looked around for about 2-3 months for something more balanced, and the Duncan Slash pickups seemed like the best bang for the buck. After a year and a bit, and some new pedals on the board, I think I'd like something a little less cutting in the bridge... so I'll be looking for pickups with similar mids and bass levels, but that are a little less treble-heavy.

It should be like seasoning your food, where you try to balance the flavors and make sure no one flavor is too strong.

crazyneddie
05-31-2013, 09:36 PM
Pups make a huge difference. But they are very subjective, and it's hit or miss how you will like a swap. Now, compared to stock Epi pups, pretty much any set of off the shelf Dimarzio's or SD's will be an improvement. It's when you go pickup chasing that you can be disappointed. I worked in a big guitar store many years ago, and I tried just about every pup available in my favorite guitar at the time, a US made Schecter mercury with 2 humbuckers. My findings were this, if you play hard rock, it's tough to beat a Dimarzio Super Distortion. For everything else, a Duncan JB or a Custom paired with a 59 or a Seth Lover is tough to beat. I also really like the matched SD 59 set, but the neck pup seems to really overpower the bridge in that setup. For what you want, I think a set of Dimarzio 36th anniversary pups would be my choice. Stay away from hot pups and you'll be ok. Also the Dimarzio Air Norton would be good in the bridge and a PAF pro in the neck would be good if you want a brighter neck pup.

Blueser13
05-31-2013, 09:49 PM
I'm looking to change the stock humbuckers in my epiphone les paul standard, but through research and the help of Seymour Duncan's Tone Wizard and DiMarzio's Pickup Finder, I have no idea what I want.

So my personal question is: What do you guys think would be the best pups for a guy who plays worship, rock, and bluesy jazz?

My open question is: How much do pickups really matter? How much do they open or limit tonal capability, and how different are they, really?

I'd love for anyone to help my with my personal question, but I'd really just love to hear the discussion between players that have been through different pickups and have experience with their different sounds.

P.S. I have a serious bias to humbuckers. Just sayin.

I put the Dimarzio air classic in my epi LP and Dimarzio PAF 36th anniversary in my SG both are really good classic rock/Blues pickups for a great price! You may want to also look into the Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates

stratguy23
06-01-2013, 01:31 PM
Electric Guitar Wood Myth Busted?
After two months of testing, a La Trobe University researcher finds that electric guitar sound is unaffected by the body of the instrument.
Matthew Angove, a La Trobe University Bachelor of Science honours student, conducted the research by trying out electrics of various shapes and builds.
Being in the field of musical acoustics, Matthew found it unsatisfactory that very little research is done in the field of electric guitar. Compared to classical guitar musicians who tend to tinker with their instruments, it seems that most of the electric guitar research is done by manufacturers.
Guitarists are familiar with the various tonewoods and shapes that are used on electric guitars. Manufacturers and guitar players suggest that using a particular shape, or a specific wood material - be it alder, poplar, ash, basswood etc - will produce significant and specific tone variations.
Matthew was quoted saying: "Iím a player myself and I grew up believing the hype around different sounds and tones that can be created by using different woods such as mahogany or maple. Iím now testing that assumption."
According to Matthew, the idea behind the research is that the "common" knowledge being spread by companies that market guitars go against the physics of how the electric guitar works. He wanted to find out why manufacturers and sellers are charging more for guitars made of "rare" woods. He wants to determine if material used and body shape affects the electric guitar's amplified tone and he wants to find out why and how it affects it.
The test was straightforward, Angove placed identical strings and pickups in guitars of varying shapes and sizes and he then compared the resulting audio signals. A local music shop called J's Music City lent him several guitars and a number of pickups. He recorded every note individually on each guitar with the pickups carefully placed in exactly the same spot with the same distance beneath the strings. Matthew then listened to the recordings and looked at the harmonic content of each note, comparing each guitar shape and material against each other.
Quoting Mr. Angove's verdict: "I've only been looking at the results for two weeks and it really looks like all of them are pretty much identical. I was surprised at just how identical they were because the guitars were very different in shape. As I was listening to them, I showed other guitar players and they were surprised as well, they were convinced they all came from the same guitar Ö I'm beginning to think we should be making guitars out of something more rigid than wood, such as carbon fibre (http://www.guitarsite.com/carbon-fiber-guitar/)."
This research validates the opinion that the string setup, pickup type and pickup placement is what causes the various tonal differences that we hear between electric guitar models and brands. This reminds me of a video by Scott Grove that claims the same thing: the pickups, string vibrations and your guitar's bridge and saddles are the parts that really matter.
Check out Scott Grove's video: "Does Wood Type, Finish, Mass Matter On Electric Guitar", right here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEAjPaxpVOw&feature=player_embedded)file:///C:\DOCUME~1\98894\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01\cl ip_image002.gif
The research is still not complete, but the data, according to Mr. Angove, is pointing to the idea that there is simply no significant difference. The research is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and more data will be available by then.
:cool::cool::cool:

I swapped pickups between 2 of my Strats. One was an HSS alder Strat the other was SSS ash Strat. The ash Strat was too bright, so that's why I put the humbucker in the bridge (which was a little too dark in the alder Strat). Guess what, the bright Strat made the humbucker sound brighter (just what I wanted), and the alder Strat made the single coils sound great rather than too bright. Pickups definitely matter, but so does the wood from the guitar as I can say from experience.

DwightX
06-01-2013, 02:05 PM
That research is bs. I can say this for two reasons: 1) I've been a grad student twice (once at a very prestigious institution), and we used to joke about how if people "out there" really knew the level of competency and research standards that went into many masters students projects, they'd be quite surprised.

This couldn't be more true!

I've got a grad student from a world class institution working with my company right now. He is 5 years through a 6 year program in the sciences, super Einstein smart, and has a good amount of common sense to boot.

He has to do a "research project" to meet his program requirements. Although he has all this book/theoretical training, his level of practical experience and knowledge are those of a beginner.

So although his project may end up getting published in some egghead journal...the oversights in his project are humorous. I'm guessing this is the case here as well.

slopeshoulder
06-01-2013, 02:13 PM
Pickups are ESSENTIAL.

However, bear in mind that the differences between good and bad pickups can be obscured by bad cable, bad amp, bad guitar (wood, finish, fit, hardware, pots, caps), bad pedals, bad ears and bad technique. But if all that is in place, great pickups will sound great.

halcyon
06-01-2013, 02:54 PM
A lot.

I don't mean to be flip, but I've noticed a significant difference in every pickup swap that I've ever done.

Lucidology
06-01-2013, 07:03 PM
The pickups matter mega-ly ....:-)

doublee
06-01-2013, 07:23 PM
5-10% difference tops on all the tele Pu's I have tried, 10% may be overstating...

lefort_1
06-01-2013, 07:38 PM
a) pickups matter, perhaps more than ony other element of the guitar (unless you toss in sh!te bridges).

b) the students study, as described, is fataly flawed if for no other reason that he is looking at the output in the frequency domain only. There is no mention of time domain whatsoever. If 'attack, sustain, decay' are not being looked at then you may as well not look at all.