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Tight Pickups for Low Tunings

pieman8pie

Member
Messages
56
Hey guys,

I got a Schecter Blackjack Baritone EX 6-string from a buddy of mine (one of the old models with the sweet blackjack inlay) and after spending some time with the guitar, I'm starting to not like the JB/59 combo. The guitar's standard tuning is B Standard, and I (of course) use it primarily for heavy metal. The pickups sound too muddy, and there's virtually no note definition. Single notes are fine, but when I start playing chords it just sounds like a muddied mess and nothing can really be made out. Maybe I just need to spend some more time EQing my rig, but I'm in love with the tone and setup I have now, it's just the muddiness that is driving me crazy.

Any suggestions for what pickups are great for this type of stuff? I've been thinking about getting Jake Bowen's signature pickups, since in all the interviews of the Periphery guys they talk about getting gear that is tight, since there is three guitar players in the band. I was also considering one of Ryan Bruce's signature pickups from Fastback, but I don't know much about them.

Thanks everyone that helps!

-Jonathan
 

analogsystem

Member
Messages
1,095
Try the Bill Lawrence 500XL or something similar (dimebucker). They are very articulate and flat pickups with a wide, "hi-fi" sound. They work well for drop tuning and heavy distortion.

Also check out the Bareknuckle options. They make great pickups and seem to have lots of good options for metal heads of all ilks.
 

DNW

Member
Messages
466
Hey guys,

I got a Schecter Blackjack Baritone EX 6-string from a buddy of mine (one of the old models with the sweet blackjack inlay) and after spending some time with the guitar, I'm starting to not like the JB/59 combo. The guitar's standard tuning is B Standard, and I (of course) use it primarily for heavy metal. The pickups sound too muddy, and there's virtually no note definition. Single notes are fine, but when I start playing chords it just sounds like a muddied mess and nothing can really be made out. Maybe I just need to spend some more time EQing my rig, but I'm in love with the tone and setup I have now, it's just the muddiness that is driving me crazy.

Any suggestions for what pickups are great for this type of stuff? I've been thinking about getting Jake Bowen's signature pickups, since in all the interviews of the Periphery guys they talk about getting gear that is tight, since there is three guitar players in the band. I was also considering one of Ryan Bruce's signature pickups from Fastback, but I don't know much about them.

Thanks everyone that helps!

-Jonathan
How does the guitar sound unplugged? I'm mostly a Dimarzio guy, but a JB/59 combo being too muddy seems a bit odd to me. But then, I suppose I never tried 'em with lower tunings. Also, what is the rest of your rig?

If that Periphery/djent kinda thing is what you're after, you might want to play around with boosting. It all basically started with Meshuggah, who (at least used to, I dunno what they do now) would smash the front end with a clean boost that cut a lot of low end out. Less lower frequency distortion should help clear up and tighten up the sound.

If you're dead set on changing pickups, Dimarzio have humbuckers specifically aimed at downtuning, I'm guessing SD do too, and then there's of course BKP, who're fairly popular among the metal folk.
 
Messages
1,364
Spot on.

How does the guitar sound unplugged? I'm mostly a Dimarzio guy, but a JB/59 combo being too muddy seems a bit odd to me. But then, I suppose I never tried 'em with lower tunings. Also, what is the rest of your rig?

If that Periphery/djent kinda thing is what you're after, you might want to play around with boosting. It all basically started with Meshuggah, who (at least used to, I dunno what they do now) would smash the front end with a clean boost that cut a lot of low end out. Less lower frequency distortion should help clear up and tighten up the sound.

If you're dead set on changing pickups, Dimarzio have humbuckers specifically aimed at downtuning, I'm guessing SD do too, and then there's of course BKP, who're fairly popular among the metal folk.
 

pieman8pie

Member
Messages
56
How does the guitar sound unplugged? I'm mostly a Dimarzio guy, but a JB/59 combo being too muddy seems a bit odd to me. But then, I suppose I never tried 'em with lower tunings. Also, what is the rest of your rig?

If that Periphery/djent kinda thing is what you're after, you might want to play around with boosting. It all basically started with Meshuggah, who (at least used to, I dunno what they do now) would smash the front end with a clean boost that cut a lot of low end out. Less lower frequency distortion should help clear up and tighten up the sound.

If you're dead set on changing pickups, Dimarzio have humbuckers specifically aimed at downtuning, I'm guessing SD do too, and then there's of course BKP, who're fairly popular among the metal folk.
Unplugged, the note definition is great. I'm assuming you're talking about the strings buzzing, or one string ringing louder than the rest- doesn't happen when it's unplugged, so it's nothing like that. I'm using a Peavy 6505+ Combo 112, an ISP Decimator II, and an MXR 6-band EQ (not ridiculously EQed either, rather subtle changes) amongst other pedals, but these are the things that affect my tone the most. Also, I'm not using the same settings that I use for my guitars in standard tuning; I have specific settings for each guitar I own, and get the best sound I can.

The boosting thing sounds interesting, I haven't heard of that method before. I'll definitely give that a go.

The only pups I have experience with are EMGs, Duncans, and DiMarzio, but for an old bass of mine. I don't know much about BKPs, though- in fact, I haven't even heard about them until a month ago. I've read a lot of mixed things about them, some people like them, some people think they're the spawn of Satan.
 

DNW

Member
Messages
466
Unplugged, the note definition is great. I'm assuming you're talking about the strings buzzing, or one string ringing louder than the rest- doesn't happen when it's unplugged, so it's nothing like that. I'm using a Peavy 6505+ Combo 112, an ISP Decimator II, and an MXR 6-band EQ (not ridiculously EQed either, rather subtle changes) amongst other pedals, but these are the things that affect my tone the most. Also, I'm not using the same settings that I use for my guitars in standard tuning; I have specific settings for each guitar I own, and get the best sound I can.

The boosting thing sounds interesting, I haven't heard of that method before. I'll definitely give that a go.

The only pups I have experience with are EMGs, Duncans, and DiMarzio, but for an old bass of mine. I don't know much about BKPs, though- in fact, I haven't even heard about them until a month ago. I've read a lot of mixed things about them, some people like them, some people think they're the spawn of Satan.
I was referring more to the sound of the guitar unplugged, i.e. while it's muddy plugged in, does it sound like that when it's unplugged too? Does it sound a bit dead, or lacking in clarity?

My first RGA121 sounded fairly horrible plugged in, but acoustically it had a nice full sound with a great clear top end. To me it was pretty clear there was a great sound in the guitar being horribly crippled by the awful Ibanez stock pickups. The 2nd one I bought (the one I have now) I picked up used, and the previous owner whacked Dimarzio Evos on it. I dunno what they were thinking, but it was almost like having a treble booster on permanently. :messedup

Definitely look at the boosting thing. Assuming you don't have a bunch of overdrives and whatever lying around to try out, maybe before you go buy anything just whack that 6-band EQ out front of the amp and play with that. Try a flat volume boost and see what that does to the sound and feel of the amp, then see what happens when you cut some of the low end, cut some of the mid-range, etc. If you're going to hit the front of the amp with more volume of course, you might want to back down on the amp's gain a bit to suit.
 

pieman8pie

Member
Messages
56
I was referring more to the sound of the guitar unplugged, i.e. while it's muddy plugged in, does it sound like that when it's unplugged too? Does it sound a bit dead, or lacking in clarity?

My first RGA121 sounded fairly horrible plugged in, but acoustically it had a nice full sound with a great clear top end. To me it was pretty clear there was a great sound in the guitar being horribly crippled by the awful Ibanez stock pickups. The 2nd one I bought (the one I have now) I picked up used, and the previous owner whacked Dimarzio Evos on it. I dunno what they were thinking, but it was almost like having a treble booster on permanently. :messedup

Definitely look at the boosting thing. Assuming you don't have a bunch of overdrives and whatever lying around to try out, maybe before you go buy anything just whack that 6-band EQ out front of the amp and play with that. Try a flat volume boost and see what that does to the sound and feel of the amp, then see what happens when you cut some of the low end, cut some of the mid-range, etc. If you're going to hit the front of the amp with more volume of course, you might want to back down on the amp's gain a bit to suit.

Nope, unplugged the guitar is clear as day.

I know where you're coming from with the stock Ibanez pickups. I borrowed a friend's to try it out, and the pickups turned me off almost instantly. Though, I don't remember the exact model.

I'll try the boosting thing as soon as I can. Thanks for your help! I'll be sure to post my results.
 

mikef09

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
529
I went through the exact same thing you're looking for. I ended up with Bare Knuckle Juggernauts in my old partscaster that I sold, but the DiMarzio Titans are just as good IMHO.
 

spentron

Member
Messages
1,749
:facepalm

I'm confused ... if you don't want sludge turn off the distortion or tune it like a guitar. If you want sludge tune for sludge. Now I know there's a difference between sludge with attack (love it sometimes) and without (awful) but I'm not sure if you need new pickups (probably not), different electronics, or a miracle....
 
Last edited:

pieman8pie

Member
Messages
56
:facepalm

I'm confused ... if you don't want sludge turn off the distortion or tune it like a guitar. If you want sludge tune for sludge. Now I know there's a difference between sludge with attack (love it sometimes) and without (awful) but I'm not sure if you need new pickups (probably not), different electronics, or a miracle....
I need the distortion for the style of music play, but I don't use it excessively- I keep it at or below 5 depending on the situation. The guitar has an extended range and is designed for low tunings, so tuning it like a standard guitar isn't much of an option. I never go below B Standard, and will occasionally go up based on my needs.

As far as the electronics thing goes, I have heard that swapping out the 500k volume pot for a 250k one could do the trick, but that is unfamiliar territory for me.
 

spentron

Member
Messages
1,749
Crap, I didn't see "Baritone" ... which isn't necessarily heavy metal, but I saw that.... I have one friend that plays sludgy yet clear, not downtuned just all pick hand/muting, prefers a metal pedal. Have to admit it works for him.

Lots of people use JB's to be clear but the "metal" pickups have even more mid, the peak being at a slightly lower frequency but even higher quantity, sometimes some coil tone mismatching tricks. Most people playing metal use other methods of fighting mud, such the tube screamer in front of the Rectifier trick, no matter what pickups or tuning they use.

I far prefer 500K for clarity, but again opinions differ.
 

Sensates

Member
Messages
830
Nope, going 250k volume will make it muddier. I tried using a JB for downtuned stuff, didn't like it at all. Like you said, it was very muddy in the low end. JB is far better for hard rock, classic metal stuff.

You should give the Dimarzio Titans a try, I quite like them. It is very tight in the bottom, and clear enough not to be overbearing for a hot pickup. I was surprised at how versatile they are.
 

mikef09

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
529
I should clarify.....I didn't see baritone either. My friend has an Ibanez Mike Mushok Baritone with DiMarzio Titans, sounds huge. I'd def say go with the Titans!
 

pieman8pie

Member
Messages
56
Thanks for everyone's suggestions! I'll definitely check everything out.

If I do end up going with the Titans, or any pickup really, is it worth getting the whole set, or just one to replace the most problematic pickup?
 

WhoJamFan

Member
Messages
2,555
+1 on the RailHammers. The combination of blades and huge poles makes them great for retaining definition in lower tunings, while still sounding great clean in standard.
 

Sensates

Member
Messages
830
Thanks for everyone's suggestions! I'll definitely check everything out.

If I do end up going with the Titans, or any pickup really, is it worth getting the whole set, or just one to replace the most problematic pickup?
I don't think the neck Titan is essential, but I don't shred. OTOH I like the '59 neck in all kinds of guitars.
 




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