Pickups too hot - distorting?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Trick, Dec 20, 2009.


  1. Trick

    Trick Member

    Messages:
    108
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    I have a ESP mh-100 which I use as my practice guitar. When the volume is at about 80 - 100% I can hear the guitar distorting. I know it is the guitar, just not sure if it's the pickups the pots, etc? Is there an easy way that I can lower the output (add a resistor or something). I already lowered the pickups way down and that did not help. It sounds like a blown speaker especially when I jam on a barre chord and it breaks up bad, sounds terrible.

    Thanks for the help,
    Sean
     
  2. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

    Messages:
    8,680
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Location:
    The Twilight Zone
    Turn down the gain on your amp .
    Hot pickups don't distort in themselves but they push your amp in to early break up so you need a gain on your clean channel as well to get them clean.
     
  3. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

    Messages:
    16,946
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2006
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    What pickups? If they are those EMG HZ's...I thought they sounded pretty bad no matter how hot they were.
     
  4. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,607
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2002
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, Marin, Chico, CA
    How close are the pickups to the strings?

    Try adjusting them down a bit - say 1/8" or a bit more from the top of the pole piece and the bottom of the string on both the low and high "E" strings.

    If that and these other suggestions don't work, you have to look at your cables, pots, etc. Eagle's right - hot pickups do not distort inherently, they just have higher output.

    Thanks, Dana O.
     
  5. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

    Messages:
    8,680
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Location:
    The Twilight Zone
    They can sound quite good in the right applications.
     
  6. Trick

    Trick Member

    Messages:
    108
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    I'm not sure on what pickups are in there. It is whatever came stock with this model. I think the output is so hot that the regular gain stage input on an amp will always distort. I guess I'll remember to try plugging into the active input on the amp to see what happens. I plugged it into a mixer and it was clean. The pickups are very low and about 1/4" away on the neck and 3/8" on the bridge. thanks for the replies
     
  7. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    32,354
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    i don't suppose there is a battery inside that guitar that needs replacing?
     
  8. Jef Bardsley

    Jef Bardsley Member

    Messages:
    2,959
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Location:
    Middle Massachusetts
    Usually the way to deal with a pickup that's too hot is to turn the volume on the guitar down. Since you've indicated this works, I'm not sure why you want more resistors.

    BTW, if there's room in your guitar for regular CTS pots, they'd definitely be worth installing. 250K pots would give a little less output, but they'd also cost you some treble. In fact, anything you do resistively to reduce the volume will cost some treble.

    I suspect the real problem is you're using an amp that has an "active" input. If you can't replace the amp, maybe a clean boost pedal with the output turned down would help.
     
  9. Trick

    Trick Member

    Messages:
    108
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    yeah, there's no battery. I could turn the guitar down and this works, but it's a pain to find that spot and this is what I usually do. I don't mind replacing the pots because this is just a practice guitar, so thank you for your suggestion Jef.

    Also, as a side note. Whenever I plug this guitar into my computer direct or any other guitar it sounds like an over amplified scratchy pot when I turn the volume or tone knobs or switch. When I plug the guitar into an amp and rotate the pot there is no noise that I can hear, maybe slightly but not louder then a plucked note on the guitar. It's so loud when i rotate the volume knobs, it's frustrating. I am using guitar rig software, but also noticed it happening in a recording program too. Could it be the sound card. Guitar sounds fine when not touching the controls. Anyone ever have this problem?
     
  10. Jef Bardsley

    Jef Bardsley Member

    Messages:
    2,959
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Location:
    Middle Massachusetts
    I would definitely suspect the sound card. Very few computer sound cards have more than marginal input ADCs. Those that do cost big bucks. Sound cards focus on output, so games sound better. If you're going to be using your computer, I'd suggest a Tascam US-122. It has a jack matched to guitars, and studio quality ADCs, as well as two decent mike preamps with phantom power. It uses a USB connection to bypass your soundcard altogether.

    If you still want to permanently lower the output of your guitar, put a 100K or 200K resistor between the lug where the pickup is connected and the pickup lead. That is, connect the lead to the resistor, and the resistor to the pot.
     
  11. Trick

    Trick Member

    Messages:
    108
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    Jef thanks for the help. I actually own the Tascam US 144 and haven't tried that out yet. My computer currently has a sound blaster audigy with a breakout box that I plug into. I'm really suprised that I have no latency with it since it is about seven years old and it sounds good when I run the guitar through it, so I didn't think it would be the sound card, but didn't keep in mind about the converters. I'll report back when I get the chance to hook up the tascam.

    Thanks for letting me know the resistor values, that will be a big help if I want to test that out. Awesome.
     

Share This Page