Maybe I’m just not a humbucker guy.

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Mike R., Dec 6, 2017.


  1. vmjoe

    vmjoe Member

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    There is good advice here. This is my 2 cents.

    I will not go into detail about things that already mentioned, I’ll just reiterate it. Magnet swaps will help. A3, A4 & A5 magnets should help with what you want, but maybe not as much as you desire. If this is the case, there are certain winders who at least have offerings that will probably help more than a magnet swap with your current pickups. One more inexpensive (magnets are also cheap compared to new pickups) to try before switching pickups. Find tighter tolerance 500k pots. Even the pots in Reissue LP’s May have pots with considerably slacker tolerances. When I think of great recorded humbucker tones, especially from the ‘60s & ‘70s, I hear less compression and more open tones. More in common with single coils than many humbuckers. Most agree a good comparison is the Allman Brothers at Filmore East. Gary Moore and many others also come to my mind.

    Humbucker size P90’s are another choice as was stated. I did this with an LP Standard I once owned and the tone was very good. Those pickups were Gibson. SD Antiquities came in my PRS McCarty 594 Singlecut Soapbar. They sound very good, but weren’t hugely different from many humbuckers in the respect they weren’t as edgy or bright as how I hear in many great recordings. Think Santana’s first 2 albums or Leslie West. I changed pots and caps and the tone opened up some, but not dramatically. I then installed a set of Tyson Tone P90’s and that did it. I also replaced the pickups in my PRS McCarty 594 Singlecut with Throbak SLE-101 MXV humbuckers. This had the same sort of tonal affect as the Tyson Tone P90’s did on the other guitar.

    I also own a Fender Telecaster Professional. I didn’t feel the need to change anything. Tele’s can have somewhat similar tones as humbucker guitars to my ear. There are less mids and they sound more percussive to me. Another note about single coil Tele’s. The bridge pickup is angled to shorten the location relevant to the low E string and the angle progressively lengthens each pole location until it is at its longest at the high E string. This has to be partially to brighten the low strings and beef up the high strings.
     
  2. ant_riv

    ant_riv Supporting Member

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    I don't have much to offer other than trying a set of Lollar Imperials.
    They are "bright, articulate with great pick definition."
    I have them in an LP, set low into the body so the tops are almost even with the pup rings, and when playing clean, they are wonderful for strat-like tones. Not single-coil tones, but very bright and jangly.
     
  3. shawnerie

    shawnerie Supporting Member

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    I love my Zhangbuckers. He winds it with assymetrical coils so that the highs are still present - which is important. Ideally you want something a bit fatter than a single coil but still have the presence of the treble frequencies. A humbucker could sound really wonderful - full bodied with a wide frequency spectrum, if done right. But if it's too middly you get only the kids without much openness.
     
  4. Scary Uncle G.

    Scary Uncle G. Member

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    Are you playing the Les Paul with the same amp settings as your Telecaster? If so, that could be part of your problem. If you were to plug your Telecaster into my rig, you likely wouldn’t like it either. My amp is tuned to sound great with humbuckers. Plug in a Strat or Tele, and it’s “ice pick in the eardrums.”
     
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  5. JamCave Studio

    JamCave Studio Member

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    I'm opposite I'm a humbucker guy. I mean I like my Tele single coils, have an HSS Strat but normally live on the Suhr Pete Thorn Thornbucker Plus humbucker and for even more gain I'll pull out my Les Paul Traditional Honey Burst with the 57 pickups.

    I don't own a P90 guitar but I'd like to give one a try at some point. Kicking around getting a Heritage 535 semi hollow with P90's. This combo doesn't exist at Gibson.
     
  6. e???

    e??? Member

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    I come from fender land too, and don't like humbuckers much. P90's were the answer, and got me into Gibsons. Solid, semi, and hollow body styles.
     
  7. Mike R.

    Mike R. Supporting Member

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    Wow! Lots of good advice, thanks all.

    To provide more information:

    1. I play the amp (Princeton Reverb) at different settings with each guitar. I lower the bass on the Princeton down to 2 and am still personally feeling too much there.
    2. I'm not a high gain player. I like low gain, edge of breakup and am 99% blues based, no hard rock or metal.
    3. The Duncan Antiquities aren't as 'sweet' as I had expected which was a disappointment.

    A good friend of mine just picked up a Collings 290 single cut with P-90s and that tone is amazing which is what got me re-evaluating what I was getting.

    I did a 'reset' last night. Lowered each pickup to the rings and set the pole pieces all flat.

    Tonight I will set the pole pieces to match the board radius and readjust each height to see if I can dial in something I like. These are good pickups so there must be something I can dial in. There must be.

    Otherwise I'll probably start looking at the humbucker sized P90 offerings out there.
     
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  8. teleluvver

    teleluvver Member

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    Same situation here. But, I would really like to find the right Les Paul because there are just certain sounds that a LP does better than a Tele (and vice-versa). For example, I love the Eagles, and Walsh and Felder interchanged Les Pauls, Strats and Teles on a regular basis. Granted they're rock stars, but they were also players who loved both instruments equally. So there's gotta be some options. Could a lower rated capacitor maybe help?
     
  9. Drewski

    Drewski Supporting Member

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    Before you do anything, what value pots are in that guitar? If theyre 300k, swap that first. That will make a 'bucker lifeless.


    I thought I didnt like humbuckers for many years, I just didnt know how to adjust them to my liking. Now, I love them. Spend some time with a screwdriver and google.
     
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  10. Mike R.

    Mike R. Supporting Member

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    I replaced the stock kit with an RS Vintage wired kit with 500k pots.
     
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  11. Bob T.

    Bob T. Member

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    I recently came to the conclusion that I am not a humbucker guy myself. Single coils of many varieties are my cup of tea. Here are some thoughts on where you could go with your Les Paul:

    BG Pups Pure90: real P90's in humbucker housing. Great sound, great price.
    GFS :hide I recently put some humbucker sized single coils in my Les Paul, and I have been very impressed so far. They give me the dynamics and clarity that was missing from my previous humbuckers. I have the Mean 90 and Gold Foil Alnico Single Coil (humbucker size housing). The gold foil may not be up your alley; that thing is low output, clear, jangly, and greasy-sounding with some dirt.

    Harmonic Design Z90: Great pickups, simple as that.

    Best of luck to you!
     
  12. bobeau

    bobeau Member

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    I had z-90s for many years in a 2005 R7 - truly amazing tone. Super big and bold with oodles of top end and harmonic complexity, very tight in the low end. Eventually I went back to a vintage voiced humbucker in the bridge to reign in some of the top end there.

    Not quite like a p90 though... not really vintage sounding at all, they sound exquisitely modern -- imagine taking a p90 and going "hmm... where can I go from here?" and then spending several years tweaking it. I swear the neck tone in that guitar vies for the best neck tone I've ever heard, right up there with a good hendrixy strat neck.
     
  13. bigolsparky

    bigolsparky Supporting Member

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    I am the opposite. I have branched out and have learned to use tone controls. My objection to singles is that they typically reside in pickguards, which I do not like at all.
     
  14. EtaCarinae

    EtaCarinae Member

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    I would consider some Seymour Duncan P-rails. It's essentially a P-90 and a single coil in one housing. I have one, and it has convincing P-90 sounds and even pulls off a very strat-like tone with the rail single coil. They are most fun when you combine them with a good switching system - the triple shot mounting ring switches let you switching to either coil, both coils in series, or both coils in parallel. Both coils in parallel is a very bright sound as well that might suit your tastes if you are a tele guy.
    [​IMG]
     
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  15. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    It might be the scale you don't like.
     
  16. itstooloudMike

    itstooloudMike Member

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    I've also grown away from humbuckers. They never sound "right" to me anymore. I mostly play my Strat or my Jaguar. But I do like P-90s, especially in a hollow-body. The other single coil guitar that has become a favorite is my Ric 360 with Hi-Gain pickups. Those are pretty awesome. Different types of guitars are a great thing, aren't they! It's nice to have choices.
     
  17. westmike

    westmike Member

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    I'm an unabashed single coil lover. My current favorite pickup is usually some form of a Tele-bridge pickup. So, I was pleasantly surprised by a pair of RC '63 Firebird mini-hums that I placed in my last build. Not dull at all... and through my Lil' Dawg D-Lux? Hot damn, what a nice sound.
     
  18. Ben Furman

    Ben Furman Member

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    There are tons of options. Rather than tell you my favorite, I’ll just say that there is probably a pickup out there that is just right, if you otherwise enjoy the guitar.

    Your gut is that a P-90 type is closer to what you want sonically, so start with each pickup maker’s descriptions aimed toward that. There are noiseless options available. Covers, no covers... too many choices.

    Just don’t assume that what you want is necessarily expensive. TGP members often have fancy tastes.
     
  19. disconnector

    disconnector Supporting Member

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    Dude - I totally get it. I went on a pilgrimage to find a Gibson Les Paul that fit my Strat loving' ears. I spent months looking for a Les Paul that I loved and never found one that was under $6.5K. What I found out is that I really really like some shimmer and snap in any guitar that I own - and every Les Paul that I picked up that wasn't ludicrously priced didn't have it. I'm sure that they exist - I just never found one. Either the neck pickup was mud to my ears or the bridge sounded like a swarm of angry bees. Or the guitar was acoustically dead. Or all of the balls were missing. There were a couple of finish and setup issues found as well that boggle my mind at this level of pricing. Like I said - I'm sure that I played guitars that a normal Les Paul guy would have LOVED - but I'm just not that guy I think. I'm also sure that if I lived in a town like Nashville or near Wildwood were I could "run the racks" with dozens of good Les Pauls I would have found what I wanted eventually - but that would just be the luck of the draw. As an ADHD/OCD/TGP reader inconsistency is incredibly annoying to me

    Just not my style at all . . . so I looked at other guitars that were similar but not quite a Les Paul. Here's the thread with my trip to the "no Les Paul boutique dealer" - https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/bought-a-collings-city-limits-today.1888954/

    I ended up with a Collings City Limits with ThroBak ER MVXs. It has a slightly longer scale length (24 3/4 versus 24 7/8) and some sort of voodoo magic that pops out the shimmer but keeps the balls and thump of a real Les Paul. I'm a happy man - try one out and see what it does for your ears.
     
  20. Mike R.

    Mike R. Supporting Member

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    I'm also wondering if the Princeton Reverb might not be the best amp for a Les Paul.

    Perhaps that is part of the problem.
     

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