How Did you Pick Your Pickups?

What was the most important factor in selecting your pickups?

  • Watching Videos

    Votes: 96 19.0%
  • Reading Reviews/Forums

    Votes: 153 30.3%
  • Trial and Error

    Votes: 198 39.2%
  • Hearing Friends/Colleagues and asking them

    Votes: 27 5.3%
  • Looking up what my guitar hero might have used

    Votes: 31 6.1%

  • Total voters
    505
I'm plotting out a strat partscaster build and I am just absolutely stuck on making a decision on the pickups.

A big issue for me is that there's not a real uniform way to listen to multiple different kinds of pickups (putting aside all the unavoidable variables like listening setup even if there were some uniform source or Youtube channel that had wide ranging pickup demonstrations).

At this point, I'm 90% sure I'm just going to go with some Fender Fat 50s, but it's been a lot of back and forth.

So - for folks who have replaced pickups or build a partscaster: how'd you decide on the pickups you ended up with?
 
I wanted some inexpensive pickups for my Strat

I ended up buying some Alexander Pribora handwound pickups from Russia, I think I paid about $60 usd for a set of three on ebay.

I have to say they are really excellent pickups, imho they are much better to my ears than the Duncans SSL-1's in had in there before.

edit: In hindsight I guess it was trial and error and the second set was the Charm
 
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I have one Strat that came with Lace Sensors. They offer a wide variety of sounds, but I reached a point where I wanted the Strat to sound like a Strat, plain and simple. I researched using the internet and selected Duncan SSLs.

the main point I would offer is that you will have to make a selection and buy and install your selection. Only when you plug in and power up will you know, so “trial and error” is almost always gonna be part of the process.
 
Mostly trial and error for me. Some of that was swapping pickups in my own guitars, but a lot of it was just trying out different guitars over the years and looking up or asking what pickups were in them. Guitars I didn't like the sound of, I typically avoided whatever pickups were in them...and I remembered what pickups were in the guitars I did like.
 
My guitar teacher once told me this is the way to pick pickups:

1) Make a list of pickups that have the general characteristics of what you want.
2) Put them in a hat.
3) Pick one out of the hat and buy it.

His point, and I agree, is that as long as you get in the general ballpark, you have a lot of control downstream to fine tune.
 
I call David Plummer of Zhangbucker and he nails it every time. 2 LP’s, a 2 hum Korina Tele and my 2 humbucker black Limba Slide guitar.. (my 2 PRS’s I leave alone. Perfect pickups as is)
He (Zhangbucker) also winds his pickups scatterwound, unbalanced coils and unpotted, which I’m a big fan of …pickups that have all these physical traits lead to more airy and multi dimensional tones, imho
 
That's interesting. Can you talk more about an example here?
Absolutely. I’m going to use my Les Paul as an example. It has very fat mids unplugged. Lots of natural honk. The lows are more woody/looser and it has a sweeter high end. Good bite but not overly bright. Lots of sustain - you can hear it without being plugged in.

The stock pickups were not clear and a little muddy. So given what I was hearing unplugged, I chose some pickups that were a little flatter/slightly scooped in the center mids, tighter on the low end, brighter top end/more high mids for a little more cut. It worked out perfectly. For reference the pickups I installed were Wizz Premium Clone PAFs (stock were Burstbuckers).

Now, I have another LP that is very bright acoustically, not as much midrange. Tighter sounding. I probably would not put the Wizz pickups in that one, because it would be overkill on the brightness and may end up being a little harsh.

Hope that helps!
 
Absolutely. I’m going to use my Les Paul as an example. It has very fat mids unplugged. Lots of natural honk. The lows are more woody/looser and it has a sweeter high end. Good bite but not overly bright. Lots of sustain - you can hear it without being plugged in.

The stock pickups were not clear and a little muddy. So given what I was hearing unplugged, I chose some pickups that were a little flatter/slightly scooped in the center mids, tighter on the low end, brighter top end/more high mids for a little more cut. It worked out perfectly. For reference the pickups I installed were Wizz Premium Clone PAFs (stock were Burstbuckers).

Now, I have another LP that is very bright acoustically, not as much midrange. Tighter sounding. I probably would not put the Wizz pickups in that one, because it would be overkill on the brightness and may end up being a little harsh.

Hope that helps!

this is how I ended up with a set of Wizz in one of my guitars as well.

in my main player, I wanted something a bit different. I had another stratocaster with Mark Foley pickups in it and I LOVE the way that guitar sounds, so I figured "how bad could this other guitar sound if I put Mark Foley pickups in it?" and it worked out for me.

I will admit I also try to choose stuff I think I could move if I didn't love it. You never know until it's in the guitar, and we have so many choices, there's bound to be something that's both good and reasonably popular.

I think it's just so, so hard to pick something like pickups out online. So rather than lose sleep over minute differences, I tend to just pick something. Frankly, I think most of the bigger name winders make universally good pickups, you just have to choose a set that matches your instrument. This is a bit down to luck, really.
 




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