Is lowering guitar volume equal to reducing pickup output?

Trem-o-dust

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Questions as in title : Is lowering guitar volume equal to reducing pickup output?

I've been thinking of changing pickups on my PRS custom 24 for something much less powerful, in the end though, doesn't lowering guitar volume have the same exact effect?

Thanks for your input!
 
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I didn't like the mid push or the high output from the Vintage Bass & HFS pickups in my Custom 24. I swapped them for Dimarzio PAFs. They're lower output with a more even response. And then I lower the guitar's volume for even more cleanup.
 

sleep

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Questions as in title : Is lowering guitar volume equal to reducing pickup output?

I've been thinking of changing pickups on my PRS custom 24 for something much less powerful, in the end though, doesn't lowering guitar volume have the same exact effect?

Thanks for your input!

No, one process is mechanical and the other is electrical; consider the phenomenon known as 'stratitis' where the height of the pickup causes an audible pitch warble due to its pull upon the string.

You're changing the string's position in the electromagnetic field when you lower the pickup, which affects how the string moves.
 

Papanate

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And as Sleep noted - the lower the pickup output the less affect on the strings (the
'pitch' warble).However another aspect - not discussed too often - the lower the output
of the pickup the more the strings will vibrate freely - and in turn the decay will be
longer (or sustain better).

Using the Volume Potentiometer while using high output pickups will not affect the
decay - so while you will have less voltage hitting the front end of the amp - you won't
get the benefits of the low to medium output pickups.
 

Ron Kirn

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there are an almost unlimited number of variables in either situation, which are just a couple of the many other variables that make each guitar unique..

Simple fact is, make either change and you may like the results better, or worse than the previous arrangement, but, one way to be certain of disappointment is to make a change based on metrics assumed to produce specific results...

I know that doesn't help other than to share that we cannot simply read the promoted characteristics of any change, and with any degree of certainty expect exactly those results from a guitar when it's incorporated.

an example of how this seemingly simple change can get "complicated"..

Generally... move the pup away from the strings... the "highs" improve... this, at the expense of the "bottom end" . . but the output (volume) drops... since the human ear detects "highs" with less acuity as volume drops...this is a function of Psycho-acoustics, so as the highs are improving, our ability to hear 'em is diminishing... so.. ya go turn the treble up... creating a completely new sonic signature...

However as volume drops, the bottom end seem to be more dominant... this is because of the longer waveform of those frequencies, .. so to get back to "balanced" ya crank the bass back.... But... this is all relative to the player standing a few feet from the amp.... as those sound waves radiate from the speaker into the audience.... a whole litany of other factors come into play altering the way the sound's character is heard..

That's why ya often see the guitarist on stage trying to get the audio setup, working with the sound engineer, whose control board is often stationed out in the audience.. or worse, or better, depending on the room... in the back of the room, and they are arguing about how the rig sounds... this is because they are hearing different sonic signatures...

Life is so complicated....:confused: so get ya a 24 band Equalizer and learn to live with it's limitations...

Ron Kirn
 

icr

Member
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3,002
Questions as in title : Is lowering guitar volume equal to reducing pickup output?

I've been thinking of changing pickups on my PRS custom 24 for something much less powerful, in the end though, doesn't lowering guitar volume have the same exact effect?

Thanks for your input!
Good question, but no. The resistor in series with the pickup acts also as a low-pass filter. So your tone changes. You might try lowering the pickup to reduce the output.
 

Jarick

Silver Supporting Member
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10,211
No. With traditional wiring, you lose treble frequencies when you roll off the volume. Lower wound pickups, all other things equal, the resonant frequency of the pickup shifts upward, making it brighter but in a different way. Lowering the pickups a bit would probably be a little closer, but again not quite the same.
 

DRS

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Lower the pickups and decide if you like it. Takes a philips screw driver and 10 seconds.
 

CubanB

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2,152
Generally as you reduce the volume, the tone becomes a bit duller. Where as low output pickups have a purity to them, in terms of bright/clean/clarity etc. If you do something similar to Satriani's idea on his signature guitars.. where you have a treble bleed wired to a push pull.. you can reduce the volume and kick in the treble bleed circuit for more highs. It's not the same thing as having a lower output pickup, but it's still a pretty cool tone.
 

David Garner

Platinum Supporting Member
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7,613
No. With traditional wiring, you lose treble frequencies when you roll off the volume. Lower wound pickups, all other things equal, the resonant frequency of the pickup shifts upward, making it brighter but in a different way. Lowering the pickups a bit would probably be a little closer, but again not quite the same.

This is my experience as well. I had the 490r/498t set in my Les Paul. Switched to 50s wiring, switched the magnets, both of which helped. But the biggest change came when I put in 57 Classics, then later Wolfetone Dr. Vintage pickups. When I did, I immediately got the tone I was after.

Turning down the 490r/498t set helped, but it wouldn't approach that tone. It did approximate the output, but the complexity of the tone was totally different.
 

EADGBE

Member
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12,337
And as Sleep noted - the lower the pickup output the less affect on the strings (the
'pitch' warble).However another aspect - not discussed too often - the lower the output
of the pickup the more the strings will vibrate freely - and in turn the decay will be
longer (or sustain better).
It's not the high output of the pickup that causes stratitis. It's the string pull of certain powerful magnets. Magnets such as alnico 5. Ceramic magnets are less likely to cause stratitis. For example a PAF style pickup will have more string pull than a DiMarzio super distortion.
 

Papanate

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19,820
It's not the high output of the pickup that causes stratitis. It's the string pull of certain powerful magnets. Magnets such as alnico 5. Ceramic magnets are less likely to cause stratitis. For example a PAF style pickup will have more string pull than a DiMarzio super distortion.


Okay. I thought that more powerful magnets were associated with higher output.
 

Ron Kirn

Vendor
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8,677
I thought that . . .

in the design of the pup a number of factors can be incorporated to increase or decrease output... weaker magnets with more wire can produce a higher output than stronger magnets with a different coil density.. it is here a tangental consideration, that of the DCR, comes into play a higher DCR does not necessarily mean higher output... for instance, some of the higher output pups, the Bardens, display what many would think of as an unusually low DCR...

"Stratius" A Chris Kinman contribution to the guitarist's lexicon, is more typical of single coil types with individual magnets as the pole piece. That does not preclude any other type pickup from also suffering from the anomaly.

It is most often encountered when "guys" will, in an attempt to boost output, crank the pups as high as they can. It's the same defective mentality displayed by the "kids" that flip their wheels around on their "rice burners" to increase the width of the stance to make 'em handle "better".. illustrating a complete ignorance of automotive suspension engineering and geometry... or, in the case of the guitar, anything about the pups and inductance..

rk
 

Chandyland

Silver Supporting Member
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2,607
Good question, but no. The resistor in series with the pickup acts also as a low-pass filter. So your tone changes. You might try lowering the pickup to reduce the output.

Uh, what? I may be wrong as a simple mechanical engineering student, but I was under the impression you need more than just a resistor for a LPF. My understanding is that the tone knob on a guitar is a variable capacitance LPF, but the volume knob is just a variable voltage divider. I'm sure it has an effect on the EQ curve of the guitar signal, but my understanding is that the volume knob is not technically a LPF.
 

icr

Member
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3,002
Uh, what? I may be wrong as a simple mechanical engineering student, but I was under the impression you need more than just a resistor for a LPF.
The empiric findings in guitar tone can sometimes be difficult to characterize with simple electrical circuits. One can make a simple case for the pickup as a capacitor and inductor:
tweede-orde-RrLC-filt-met-load.jpg
 

Chandyland

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,607
The empiric findings in guitar tone can sometimes be difficult to characterize with simple electrical circuits. One can make a simple case for the pickup as a capacitor and inductor:
tweede-orde-RrLC-filt-met-load.jpg

Thanks for the correction. I didn't realize that the various flux losses would result in a LPF sort of effect. Makes sense, though!
 




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