Pickup option anxiety...HELP!



Hi guys...I'm looking to upgrade the pickups in my SG from the 490 set to something nicer. I'd like a nice thick sounding bridge pickup that's articulate without being too bright. As for the neck, I'm trying to avoid the usual bassy sound. I'm playing a Rockerverb head and 2x12. Basically I need something that will stay nice and tight with a good amount of gain but not too much that is will dirty up my clean channel...if that makes sense. I like what I hear about the WCR stuff. I like the look of covers on an SG, but I've had problems in the past with squealing at higher gain levels. I guess darker and tighter would be the two operative words in my search. The 490's have a shrill I just cannot live with. Can you help me...please!


Thanks...I'm familiar with their products...I have a custom shop hand made/hand signed Seth Lover and a Custom Shop '59, both in double creme in my Les Paul at the moment. I'm looking for something a little more hi-fi I guess...:)
www.lollarguitars.com His pickups are unequalled IMO. I have them in several guitars now and they are outshining everything buy a long long way. I have them in Soloway Swans, Gustavssons, GVCG 1953 Tele etc...and just bought 2 more Tele
staggered pole sets, 1 Strat Staggered pole set, 1 Tele flatpole
set and 1 more Humbucker Set(the Imperial).


I'm familliar with Jason's stuff too...I've had a set of his P-90s in my LP special for several years now...;)
I've had great success with my customers who describe the same problem as yours by using Bartolini's. A nice ZBS 70 or 75 in the neck with an 80 in the bridge position will give superlative cleans and the ability to do anything else. Contact ron@starspickups.com.


Silver Supporting Member
I have some of Jim's Crossroads in my 2003 SG Standard. I also rewired with 500 K pots to 50s spec, so my experience of his stuff is not with standard Gibson pots. That being said, I would recommend WCR above anything I've heard, including Fralin and Duncan. They have plenty of high end, but it is not shrill or harsh...just chimey. If you want less highs (say for heavier OD tones with nice thick mids) I find that my Crosroads bridge has a "sweet spot" at about 7 on the tone knob. Nice snappy and tight bass, great vocal midrange and highs that can be varied to taste to provide as much clarity as you like. The Crossroads are not dark by any means though, so you might want to to go with something a little beefier in the output department for the Bridge. For the neck, though, I think a Crossroads would suit you well if you want a good amount of clarity without a typical (mud city) HB tone. The CR neck can be nice and "smokey" with a great hollow character, but it is not dark. Good luck.


It "sounds" as if you want something a tad bit different from a typical PAF-style, without going much over that benchmark in terms of output. While WCR, Lollar, et al, might be great for those who want fully realized PAF tones, you seem familiar with that route and want something thick, tight, not too bright on the bridge, not too muddy on the neck, and with an overall "hi fi/articulate" character.

Two thoughts come to mind. One is Harmonic Design. Scott's philosophy is based on non-traditional designs, rather than on taking "standards" and doing them *right*. I would think that on your SG, the HD bridge 'bucker would give you that tightness you seek without overpowering your amp, and I also believe you could "fine tune" the degree of darkness through pot/cap selection. I can also speak for Scott's talent at building neck and bridge pickups that balance like almost no others. His neck pickups are not just underwound bridge units -- they are entirely different so as to be optimized for the different character of string vibrations at that position (i.e., greater amplitude, less upper harmonics).

The downside to HD is that you usually have to wait a month or two or more to get a new set. Scott's a pleasure to deal with, but for whatever reason he doesn't just crank out pickups like most other well-known builders. They're also not cheap, but they are in line with what other names on this thread offer.

If you don't mind a lack of boutique mojo, you might also look into Dimarzio. The Dimarzio models that feature mismatched coils (VPAF, FRED, Norton, Tone Zone, Airbuckers, etc.) might nail the sound you seek. They definitely seem to have greater articulation than a standard PAF-type, and allow for full bass/mids as well as bite -- an elusive combination. Some of these have higher outputs (e.g., Air Zone), but some don't. The VPAFs really are exceptional pickups that get that familiar sound with a little greater fidelity. Steve Blucher and the support team at Dimarzio are terrific at offering suggestions for what would work in your application, and I think they still offer an exchange policy (like Duncan) that lets you swap for another model if your first choice doesn't work out. Also, you can't beat the price/quality ratio, IMO.

Happy hunting.

- DB


Thanks DB...I'm planning on scrapping everything and building a custom wiring harness when I change out the pickups...I bought six humbuckers to try so far...we'll see what happens ;)

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