humbucker quandry

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by davidp158, Jun 23, 2006.


  1. davidp158

    davidp158 Member

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    I have a R7 Les Paul and replaced the stock pickups (Classic 57s) with WRC Darkburst pickups and the deluxe wiring kit from RS Guitarworks. Initially, I noticed it was a big improvement overall; wider range of tones, more open sounding and dynamic and thought I'd be happy. After playing it for a while, I'm finding some issues that I'd like to address.

    The balance between the bridge and neck pickup is hard to dial in. The neck pickup is a bit muddy and the bridge is a bit harsh and thin. If I dial in more bass on my amp to fatten up the bridge, the neck pickup is outright boomy. Running my amps (TwoRock 1x12 combo or Dr. Z MAZ Jr 2x10 combo) a bit bright and rolling off the tone knob on the neck pickup gives a usable tone, but the bridge pickup suffers. Cutting bass on my amps makes the bridge pickup shrill. Rolling off treble on the bridge pickup makes it rather dull and constricted, but I usually have the tone knob around 4.

    I want to change a pickup or two and looking for suggestions. I still have the '57 Classic pickups and might try the combinations with the WRC Darkbursts, but I am not sure they will compliment each other. Of the two Darkburst pickups, I seem to have better luck with the neck pickup, so replacing the bridge pickup may be the first thing to try. The problem is that I have to radically change my amp settings for a good neck pickup tone, and when I switch to single coil guitars, I need to do a lot of knob twiddling to make them work. I'd like to have humbuckers that are well balanced, not high output and only require a little treble/bright boost on my amp when switching from single coils to humbuckers.

    Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated. I've researched this a bit, but there are sooooo many pickups out there, that I get rather baffled. I thought if I described what I have for pickups and what I hope to achieve, someone may have some recommendations.

    BTW, I play a mix of roots rock, blues rock, pop, alt-country/Americana stuff. Nothing really heavy or need for high gain distortion. I dig humbucker tones by players like Robben Ford (his clean humbucker tones are great, but I think he may split the coils on his Burstbuckers), Larry Carlton, Warren Hayes, Gary Moore (for blues rock), David Grissom (for country rock), and Stephen Bruton.

    Any thoughts/comments would be most appreciated.

    Dave
     
  2. exhaust_49

    exhaust_49 Member

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    Before you spend any money on more pups try adjusting you pickup hight and after that the indivdual screws to balence the strings. Any pickup will sound boomy or harsh/thin if it's not adjusted properly.

    That should fix your problem.
     
  3. Mark Robinson

    Mark Robinson Member

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    Get a Junior!:BEER Solves all of those problems. I have the exact problem on pretty much every guitar I own.

    Like the previous poster said, pickup adjustment is really helpful. Drop the neck pickup way down, then raise the pole screws above the flat work a little bit, most of the screw head.

    Also, if the pickups have four conductors, you could try a push-pull, series/parallel wiring scheme for the neck pickup. That brightens and drops volume quite a bit.
     
  4. davidp158

    davidp158 Member

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    Yep, I've spent some time with pickup adjustments, starting with recommended settings from repair/set up books, to more radical tweaks. It helps to a degree, but I feel that this is an inherent issue with humbucker pickups and to some degree Les Pauls. Thinner solid body guitars with humbuckers seem to have better balance. Of course, so much of this comes down to personal taste. I have to admit that I play single coils more than humbuckers, so my ears are biased.

    thanks for your reply,
    Dave

     
  5. sanhozay

    sanhozay klon free since 2009 Silver Supporting Member

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    My suggestion:

    Buy a Durham Sex Drive.

    It will make your humbuckers come alive and sparkle, especially the neck pickup. You'll keep it on all the time!
     
  6. davidp158

    davidp158 Member

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    Mark,

    What do you mean by "Get a Junior!:BEER"? A Fender Blues Jr. amp? Drink more beer? I don't think those are the solutions for me.

    The WRC Darkbursts don't have 4 leads, so the wiring options are limited. I generally don't care for humbuckers when split, and typically parallel wiring just fattens things up further.

     
  7. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    Actually just the opposite. Parallel is slightly lowered output with more clarity. Would be the cure, but without 4-cond. wires, not practical in without major surgery (removing cover, if any; replacing braided wire with 4 or 3-cond. cable.) Try lowering the neck pickup first.

    If you want a suggestion for a neck PU that will blend well with a Darkburst bridge it would be WCR's Crossroads. I've use cthat combo B4 with great results.
     
  8. Mickey Shane

    Mickey Shane Supporting Member

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    I think he was referring to a Les Paul Jr., which having a single p-90 pickup, would solve your problems with pickup balance.
     
  9. davidp158

    davidp158 Member

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    Aha! Yeah, LP Juniors with P90s are a ton of fun. I think of P90s as being the best of both single coil and humbucker worlds. Someday I'll own another P90 equiped guitar, but right now I wanna iron out my humbucker delima.

    thanks for your post,
    Dave

     
  10. davidp158

    davidp158 Member

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    I have a Fender 4 way switch on my Nocaster, and the parallel position is louder and darker, which is why I thought the same would apply with humbuckers.

    I dropped the neck pickup a lot, raised the pole piece screws and its passable, but still dark compared to the bridge pickup. Overall, I like the neck pickup, and think the bridge will have to be replaced. Jim Wagner suggested the Goodwood for the bridge. Any thoughts on how the Crossroads and Goodwood bridge position pickups compare?

    thanks for your post,
    Dave

     
  11. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    Dave,

    If you have a 4-way on your Nocaster you're probably referring to a series wired position with both pickups. This is how 4-ways are usually wired. Wiring 2 coils, whether 2 single coil pickups, or 2 coils of a humbucker, in series is always fatter and higher output than parallel wiring (assuming that they're not out of phase with each other). ;)
     
  12. mainsale

    mainsale Member

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    I just dropped a set of Fralin P-92's into my Les Paul and Whoa Baby! When people hear it.....jaws drop! Give 'em a try. You won't be sorry!
     
  13. Red Bull

    Red Bull Member

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    Necks too dark? Bridge too bright? How bout swapping positions on the PUPs. Just a thought. BTW beer has never done anything to help me with
    Balance issues
     

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