Rock Guitar, Mud Tone, and the Neck Pickup

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by gtrfinder, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. gtrfinder

    gtrfinder Supporting Member

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    I'm actually a bit confounded as to where to post this, but I believe the Amp and Cab section is the most appropriate.

    First off watch this Youtube and take a listen to Rich's guitar
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=C7gIRovO0pQ
    Pretty killer rock guitar tone.

    As I've grown a bit older and my tastes in guitar tone have become more refined I have found myself preferring the sound of a cranked amp with as little in front of it as possible (more like the clip above). This has led me away from the ton of effects that I used to use into a few indespensible ones (a fuzz pedal, a boost, a delay, and a tremolo). That is pretty much it.

    As such I now rely on my amps to give me all of the distortion and gain that I use. Since I don't play stadiums I need to rely on lower powered amps to give me what I need at manageable volumes.

    Now I find that in most of the situations where I play the amp cranked I can really only use the bridge pickup on a guitar. Anybody else find this true for them? I get the amp cooking and dial it in just right, but it really only works for the bridge pickup. If I select the neck pickup it turns into mud.

    My question is pretty simple. Who uses the neck pickup in straight up rock music? Is it even necessary? I can't imagine having tone like Rich( in the above clip) and playing on the neck pickup. Is this the way most rock guys do it? Find a killer sounding guitar in the bridge position and just control everything with the volume and tone controls?

    Just curious. Any insight would be appreciated.

    Thanks
     
  2. semi-hollowbody

    semi-hollowbody Member

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    that was true when I had stock pups in my epiphones...but now with seymore duncans the neck pup is very usable...its funny on a les paul dot or sg it is called rhythm setting, but I use the middle position more for rhythm play and the treble for lead...the rhythm setting is more of a jazzy tone
     
  3. BBQLS1

    BBQLS1 Member

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    My guess is that your amp is just set up for the bridge pup. I generally play as low powered an amp as I can get away with because I don't need squeaky cleans and love a good lead tone, but I play 80% of the time on my neck pup. With the right combo of pickups, settings and use of your guitars knobs, you can get to where both provide great tones.

    I use the bridge for really rocking numbers and the neck for more bluesy numbers and I may use either depending on the lead tone I want.
     
  4. gtrfinder

    gtrfinder Supporting Member

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    I like a good lead tone as much as anyone, but lately I just want a killer rhythm sound. Something between Pete Townsend's live stuff in the 70's and Malcolm Young's more distorted playing. Leads are fun and all, but sometimes when I get a great lead tone it doesn't exactly work out for great rhythms.
    I read in the Brad Whitford thread that he uses the bridge pickup 90% of the time, perhaps that is what Rich does as well.
     
  5. indravayu

    indravayu Senior Member

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    I used to suffer from that problem with my humbucker-based guitars - but, like the others, once I began replacing the stock pickups in my guitars with hand wired boutiques (combined with TonePros bridge/tailpiece upgrades), the problem went away.

    - Chris
     
  6. localmotion411

    localmotion411 Supporting Member

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    Had the same problem for a long time, just stuck on the bridge PU (humbucker) on all my two-humbucker guitars. I felt that if I wasn't playing on the bridge PU that my sound didn't cut and just felt like mud. But after playing around with both pickups in a band context, I found that there are times when each has its place. If you stay on one pickup the entire gig, you tend to only have one range of sounds, whereas switching pickups allows much more.

    When we are playing softer songs or passages where the singer/rhythm player (I'm lead guitar) isn't playing but just singing, I can sweeten up the entire song/passage by playing on the neck pickup with the volume/gain turned down. Then in the pre-choruses and choruses, when he is playing rhythm, I can switch to the bridge PU while he typically plays on the neck PU and it immediately sets me apart from his tone and fills out the sound very nicely.

    There is a distinct art to blending rhythm and lead guitars, using the correct pickup and settings at any given time to fit into the context of the song and mesh with the other guitar, while not sounding muddy and/or disappearing into the sound. This takes a lot of listening, rehearsing and practice.

    Oh, and a good set of WCR's or Wolfetones would help!
     
  7. gtrfinder

    gtrfinder Supporting Member

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    I think I fiddle with the controls and settings too much on my amp and guitars. I need to just find something that works well and leave it there.
    Sometimes I focus too much on my "tone" and miss the point of what I'm there for (particularly in a band context).
    I still think Rich's tone is pretty great in the Youtube clip, though...

    Oh, and localmotion411, if you ever want to sell that Mojo Slant cab in your sig let me know.
     
  8. semi-hollowbody

    semi-hollowbody Member

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    something I found was to set up your amp and effects to sound good with the neck neck pup, then switch to the bridge and adjust the bridge tone knob a bit to cut some of the highs and you should be good to go,,,
     
  9. AintNoEddie

    AintNoEddie Member

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    I've got exactly the same problem. Such a shame that I can (mostly) use only one pickup, sooo limiting. For power chords I like to play in the middle position, though, to 'fatten' up the sound.

    I have a stock 490 Gibson pickup in the neck and an older 80's Duncan '59 in the bridge. It cuts nicely and sounds aggressive, which can be tamed by rolling down the tone knob.

    I suspect that the 490 simply puts out mud in my axe (a LP Special with humbuckers). A humbucker-sized P90 always seemed intriguing to me, I guess it would produce a much clearer sound?
     
  10. richey88

    richey88 Member

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    +1 on that!! Slash and Jimmy Page (although Pagey uses everything) use the neck p/u to great results :AOK
     
  11. gtrfinder

    gtrfinder Supporting Member

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    How much do you generally roll off on the bridge pickup when selecting that one?
     
  12. bynt

    bynt Member

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    I use my neck pickup a great deal for straight rock but I've also got a bright sounding Les Paul and a Duncan 59 wich sounds really bright in that guitar. The Dimarzio Humbucker from Hell in the neck was SUPER bright; too much so.

    I will say without a doubt though, that before I switched out pickups the neck was MUD!!!! Just me though.
     
  13. Rotten

    Rotten Silver Supporting Member

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    I like to use my neck pickup for leads and my bridge pickup for rhythm. If you leave your electronics stock on a Les Paul, the highs cut down when you roll the volume down. With my bridge pickup and 7 or 8, I get a nice volume for rhthym. With the amp set to the neck pickup on 10, I don't need to adjust the tone knob much, if at all on the bridge pickup.
     
  14. rooster

    rooster Member

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    I went to Bill Lawrence pickups, and with an L-500C in the neck, I don't have that problem at all.

    rooster.
     
  15. sinasl1

    sinasl1 Member

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    Get an RS kit and good true 500K pots... put the cap/resistor on the neck pickup- you can turn it down to 1 or 2 and not get any mud. Sounds like a giant strat or something. Then hit the bridge for burn... this is what I do to all my LP's.
     
  16. tennisplayer

    tennisplayer Senior Member

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    I'm on the bridge like 95% of the time. Same situation as you.
     
  17. paulg

    paulg Supporting Member

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    I think the neck pickup works better for lead when you play up the neck, say above the twelfth fret. In the lower register I prefer the bridge pup (with tone rolled back).
     
  18. GearHeadFred

    GearHeadFred Member

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    Plenty of good ideas in this thread.. For 12 years I played a Marshall JCM900 and Les Paul. Good rock tone but rhythm PUP was muddy.. Mix PUPs was OK. The last few years I have switched to a Fender Super Reverb.. Now the rhythm PUP sounds awesome... but the bridge alone can be too thin.

    It's a touchy recipe!
     
  19. GAT

    GAT Gold Supporting Member

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    I use a Boss/Sniper EQ to "thin" out the neck humbuckers. That way I can keep the amp thick and fat for the bridge tones and have the ideal neck humbucker tone.
     
  20. mbetter

    mbetter Member

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    I think you guys all need to play Telecasters :)
     

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