PRS, Lollar, Gibson and Fender observations

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by shallbe, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    Some of you may remember my earlier threads on a PRS CU 22 Artist I have had for a few years. It plays great, looks great, but I've struggled with it (hence the earlier threads looking for advice). It came with a defective trem, I changed out the 5-way for McCarty wiring, took the bright cap out. After all that, and endlessly tweaking the pickups, it still sounded lackluster----but acoustically and resonance-wise it was happening. I finally gave up on the Dragon II 's and began my pickup search. I ended up with a pair of Lollar Imperials with gold covers, 4 conductor, lightly potted.

    WOW! Really. What fabulous pickups. I looked at other brands but quite frankly found many of the choices and descriptions confusing (WCR, High Order, etc.). Jason makes one HB pickup--the Imperial, and it was highly recommended. Now I know why. The bridge is gutsy but clear without icepick or harshness. The neck is full but so clear it sounds like a great humbucker with a little Strat neck pickup mixed in. They are equally as good clean or dirty, where the PRS pickups had a poor clean tone. Both on now sound so good, when the Dragons were hollow and clanky when mixed. So I say simplify your search---buy some Imperials and you'll be happy!

    As a side note, the Dragon II's were left in my car in the Lollar box after I picked up the guitar (a buddy did the wiring). They were full of so much wax that melted and ran everywhere I can no longer open the box without breaking it! The box is clear plastic, and you can see a tremendous amount of wax glueing the pickups to both the top and bottom. No wonder they sounded dull and the polepieces were so hard to turn. Paul makes a great guitar, but does not make great pickups, in my experience.

    So this whole thing was about me trying to get this PRS as cool and vibey as my 1998 '58 LP Reissue. That guitar sounds so good live, and I constantly have people ask me what pickups are in it. It is bone stock---not one mod.

    So that got me to thinking----Aren't people just as likely to mod one brand of guitar as another? Les Pauls get a bad rap because everyone thinks you HAVE to switch out the pickups. Not so in my case. However, I know a bunch of people that have changed their PRS pickups like I did. And I have never had a Fender that I did not put Harmonic Design pickups in. Both of my TA Cobras have HD P-90's in them now.

    So my Andersons, custom shop Fenders and PRS all have (boutiquey) replacement pickups, while my Historics are all stock. It just goes to show how different our ears, experiences and needs can be.
     
  2. Bluedawg

    Bluedawg Member

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    Spend some time with the hardcore PRS guys at Birds and Moons and you'll find that for many of them the PRS pups get wripped out as soon as they can get around to it when they get a new PRS. More than a few of them hate the PRS pickups, even more than LP guys hate Burstbuckers.

    And Fenders are the ultimate guitar for tinkerfreaks.

    :)
     
  3. paintguy

    paintguy Long Hair Hippy Freak Silver Supporting Member

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    This is great to hear.:AOK I have tried a few Wcr's and 2 sets Highorders and found them very, very nice, but not exactly what I'm looking for.

    I have already talked with Jason and I am ordering a set anyday now. I'm going with a hotter wind bridge and a stock neck. I only hope I am as happy as you are.

    Jason told me he has 3 winds of the Imperial, but the differneces are very slight and that he only winds what he feels sounds good.

    I'll let you know. My fingers are crossed. I have gone through about 8 pup changes in 5 years on a custom guitar I have. Honestly, I was happy with the Duncan set that had been in there for the last 4 years. I keep telling my tech "this is going to be the last change":jo

    I'm really hoping the Lollars are the last!!!!

    Larry

    Btw, I think it was Ron Thorn that suggested I try the Lollars 6 changes ago.:jo
     
  4. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    Larry,

    My search is over, and the guitar is now a keeper. Thankfully I made a good choice, but I've been onthe pickup swap merry go round before with other guitars. When I discovered Harmonic Design it simplified things for me--all his P90 and single coils have been great. I was going to try his set of humbuckers (like jason he has one model) but it was going to take 2 months at least. Anyway, I called Jason and he had a set right there. A great, humble guy that really knows what he's doing.

    I was playing the guitar last night through my Constellation and an ol Demeter TGA 3 to hear a broad range of tones. These pickups have improved the amplified tone immmeasurably. Plus, if you play lightly, they reward you with detail, if you play aggressively, they growl in the best way.
     
  5. paintguy

    paintguy Long Hair Hippy Freak Silver Supporting Member

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    Too cool. I can't wait!!!
     
  6. big mike

    big mike Moderator - EL34 Emeritas Staff Member

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    Cool man! Glad you found a set that works for you. I'm one that does like the PRS pickups in *MY* custom 22, but all guitars and ears are different for sure.

    Congrats!
     
  7. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm glad we are both happy! The Dragon II pickups are not bad---they are just not good, IMO. I would have settled for good. The Lollars are not good, they are exceptional. You can just look at the construction of the Lollars and be amazed at the detail and tooling. The PRS pickup construction looks cheap by comparison (of course the Lollars are more expensive than the PRS pickups). The amount of wax in the Dragon II's is a crime and yet another prime example of Paul's main emphasis on high gain tones.
     
  8. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm not a HB guy, generally, but the Fralin Unbuckers I installed in my Jerrycaster exceed my every expectation. They are a great choice.
     
  9. Rich

    Rich Member

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    PRS builds some of the best guitars on the planet.

    And some of the worst pickups.
     
  10. big mike

    big mike Moderator - EL34 Emeritas Staff Member

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    I'll agree if it means I can have everyone send me their standard treble and standard bass pickups circa 86-90 :D
     

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