Who has swapped pickups in their G&L Legacy?

Presc

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Question for G&L Legacy owners who have swapped pickups, particularly those who have put in vintage-oriented single coils - how would you describe the sound with the stock G&L pickups relative to the new pickups?

To me the G&L is very much in the Strat family but does have a more modern, slightly hi-fi aspect to it. I think it sounds great, but it is not the most traditional sounding Strat-style.

I'm curious whether this is a pickup thing, or something that is related to the physical build of G&L guitars (for instance, the unique G&L bridge design, or other factors). For instance, if you put in a set of Lollar Blackfaces (as an example), would the guitar sound much more traditional, or still retain its more modern edge?
 

NatStrat79

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229
I think some of it has to do with the build of the legacy. The current legacy pickups are "vintage-oriented" from what I've heard and the pickups in the early legacy guitars are Seymour Duncans. My 93 legacy came stock with Seymour Duncan SSL-2's which by the description are also "vintage-oriented". One thing I did to my legacy was install a set of vintage style fender stamped steel bridge saddles. The stock ones were chrome plated brass. G&L is now installing steel saddles and blocks on some of their 2010 guitars and eventually they have said they will be selling the saddles and blocks separately as an upgrade.

This is from G&L's website

New for 2010! The DFS Vibrato System makes its debut on the 30th Anniversary F-100 and Legacy models and is optional on other USA G&L guitars.

This upgraded version of the DF Vibrato System brings an even higher level of performance to Leo Fender's design. Careful R&D revealed that improvements could be achieved with subtle design changes and materials selection. The result is a more focused attack, enhanced harmonic complexity and improved sustain.

Bridge Block – The bridge block (on the underside of the bridge plate) is now CNC machined from solid 1018 cold-rolled steel. This block is the primary contributor to the the DFS Vibrato System's improved sustain and well as fostering greater harmonic content of both individual notes and chords. The material upgrade is capitalized on by modification to the string retention holes to allow more length of the string to be captured by the block, allowing more string energy to be harnessed and transferred into the body through the pivot posts and back to the strings through the saddles.

Bridge Saddles – The DFS Tremolo System utilizes a new bridge saddle that is based on Leo Fender’s original design. The string’s “contact point” on the saddle has been refined to improve intonation, reduce string wear, and enhance attack. CNC machined from 303 non-magnetic stainless steel billet material, these saddles enhance string energy transfer to the bridge block and back again to the strings.

The result of these upgrades is a more resonant instrument where all the design elements (neck wood, body wood, pickups and the DFS Vibrato System) work more harmoniously to bring even more life and vitality to the guitar.
 

Presc

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1,277
I think some of it has to do with the build of the legacy. The current legacy pickups are "vintage-oriented" from what I've heard and the pickups in the early legacy guitars are Seymour Duncans. My 93 legacy came stock with Seymour Duncan SSL-2's which by the description are also "vintage-oriented".
So your guitar is equipped with the SSL-2s, do you feel how I am describing the Legacy tone applies to those your guitar with those pickups as well? Your post seems to imply you do but I'd love to hear your thoughts in more detail.

I've seen the G&L alnicos referenced as "vintage" type. They certainly are compared to the MFDs, but again, I wouldn't exactly call my Legacy dead on vintage sounding. At the same time, they seem to be fairly low output (my ears, not an electronic measurement).

That's the first I'd seen about the new bridge. Can't say I actually understand what they are talking about, but assuming it sounds even better, cool! :D
 

Sprinter

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227
I have a Lollar, Blackface pickup in the bridge of my Legacy. The neck & middle pickups are Fender, Texas Specials. My next upgrade will be Fender style steel bridge saddles and RS Guitarworks electronics. I believe the biggest reason the Legacy doesn't sound like a Strat is G&L's PTB electronics. The Lollar & Fender pickups did help it sound closer to a Stratocaster.




Sprinter
 

lamenlovinit

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3,820
I have a Lollar, Blackface pickup in the bridge of my Legacy. The neck & middle pickups are Fender, Texas Specials. My next upgrade will be Fender style steel bridge saddles and RS Guitarworks electronics. I believe the biggest reason the Legacy doesn't sound like a Strat is G&L's PTB electronics. The Lollar & Fender pickups did help it sound closer to a Stratocaster.




Sprinter
That's a lot of it. The bridge also contributes. If you play an American Standard side by side with a legacy, the legacy seems to have a bit more sustain, and body to its tone. Not a huge amount. But then again, what do I know. Most of my G&Ls have been Ash boat anchors:D Great tone, but Oy! My back!
 

Presc

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1,277
Interesting - so you think even running the PTB wide open (everything on 10) it affects the sound substantially (versus a regular tone setup dimed)? Certainly there's more shaping available which is going to change the tone, but I never thought of that as something that would materially affect the sound.

I've always felt like the PTB is a functionally better setup than the regular Strat controls.
 
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I love the PTB. It makes the instrument that much more versatile. It was one of the many reasons I went with G&L. My legacy doesn't sound exactly like a strat, but being a Les Paul player, it gets me close enough. The pickups aren't necessarily vintage, but much closer than an S-500. I hate to sound like a jerk here, but why didn't you buy a strat if that's the precise sound you were looking for?

Stormin'
 

ARch

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805
I also love the PTB, but on my S-500 (MFD higher output singles rather than the "traditional" Legacy pups) I have to dial down the bass and treble as well as volume to get it into any kind of vintage territory. Bass goes to 5, treble to 7.5, and volume to 7.5 for a start.
 

phsyconoodler

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4,315
I have just acquired a USA legacy. HSS. The neck pickup is too dark and lacks that strat sweetness. I tried all the tone settings. Don't like it at all and that's primarily what I use in strats. Disappointed. The second position is nice and sparkly and spanky. Nice. Middle position dull and lifeless again. 4th position is yuck. Humbucker is a semper Duncan and also lifeless. I tried all the tone settings and while it does help a bit the single coil positions are flat and lifeless compared to any other strat. I may remove the ptb and wire it normally and see if the pickups come back to life before pitching them in the trash can
 

fitz

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I tried all the tone settings and while it does help a bit the single coil positions are flat and lifeless compared to any other strat
Hmm. The G&L (new) Strat pickups are vintage based, but wound a little hotter in the bridge (7.15K) & less in the neck (6.2K). So they are somewhat calibrated. The Duncan SSL's from 1994-1996 were around 6.5K in each. I had both and while the new G&L's are somewhat fatter sounding they are still in the vintage category.

As far as fat and lifeless, I wouldn't say that about either G&L. However, my 1995 Legacy with the SSL's are probably only 85% of the output of any Strat I play. The difference between my Legacy and my 57 AVRI is noticeable. I attribute this to the G&L PTB system as this has been a constant against all other Strats I play. But I do not feel they are lifeless. I just adjust the volume on my amp a notch or two.
 
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dansworld

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I have a 1999 Legacy that I switched out the pickups for Lindy Fralin Blues Specials. I did not like the originals because, as the OP suggested, they sounded too modern. To clarify, I found them rather generic and lacking in the chime found in more vintage style pickups.

I got exactly that with the Fralins with no change in electronics. Perhaps the bridge affects the sound somewhat but, for the most part, it has a much more vintage Stratty sound.
 

lamenlovinit

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3,820
I think you'll find that no matter what "vintage" sounding pickups you put in it, the PTB will make it "a legacy". The stock pickups are already in that late 50's early 60's range. I wouldn't futz with it. I'd consider buying a used "loaded" pickguard on a forum or on ebay with traditional strat controls and putting them on a legacy pickguard, but just changing pickups to a similar type and leaving the rest untouched? Nah.

I like mine as is. But I discovered something odd the other day. I had accidentally turned the bass down to 0. When I stepped on my germanium fuzz pedal, there was no fuzz. Only boost. Took me a few minutes to figure out the pedal wasn't dead. Turned the bass up and in came the fuzz. The point to that little story is that the PTB is quite "influential" on the sound of the legacy.
 

lamenlovinit

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3,820
That's a lot of it. The bridge also contributes. If you play an American Standard side by side with a legacy, the legacy seems to have a bit more sustain, and body to its tone. Not a huge amount. But then again, what do I know. Most of my G&Ls have been Ash boat anchors:D Great tone, but Oy! My back!
I agree. Not just american standards either. It's beefier acoustically than most floating trems. I'll go as far as to say beefier than every other true floating system I've tried.
 

phsyconoodler

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4,315
Well even the humbucker is dull sounding with no chime to it. Really a dull sounds overall. Funny how the second position from the neck is chimey and lovely but none of the others. I'm pulling it apart tonight and wiring it up traditional strat style to see what the heck is going on. I love the look and feel of the guitar but my parts caster with 2010 standard strat pickups kills it tone wise.
 
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phsyconoodler

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4,315
Well even the humbucker is dull sounding with no chime to it. Really a dull sounds overall. Funny how the second position from the neck is chimey and lovely but none of the others. I'm pulling it apart tonight and wiring it up traditional strat style to see what the heck is going on. I love the look and feel of the guitar but my parts caster with 2010 standard strat pickups kills it tone wise.
OK I wired it up like a normal fender strat HSS and it sounds great now. No more muffled single coils sounds and it freed up the humbucker to sound normal.
I didn't change the tone pots so the bridge is still the reverse audio 1meg but it's easy to use and sounds world's better. Totally not a fan of the ptb system as it was neutering the pickups true character.
They aren't earth shattering now but wwwaaaayyyy better sounding without having to go through capacitors first.
The guitar is a joy to play now.
To make it earth shattering all I would have to do is pop in a pair of Lollar or Fender hot noiseless and I'd be in Jeff Beck heaven. Well worth the effort.
PTB? NOT FOR THIS COWBOY!
 

phsyconoodler

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4,315
My '93 came with Duncans, wouldn't change them at gunpoint.
I'm not sure what year mine is. It has an SD humbucker and two singles labeled G&L . Flat pole pieces. Not the best single coil tone I've heard but now the PTB is out they came to life. The original wiring was sll intact and I checked the old caps I removed with my capacitance meter and the we're ok.
If that's the way G&Ls sound then I can't figure out why anyone would like them. I would never use that PTB system again. Ran into the same thing on another start I had with the TBX control. Yuck!
 

RayBarbeeMusic

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I've used all kinds of things in them, mostly atm DiMarzio areas (various) with some kind of humbucker in the bridge.

I do not use the PTB in guitars with regular single coils, because those pickups don't have enough content in the lower frequency range to make it worth it. On a Legacy Special (rail humbuckers) or Comanche it's great, but on a legacy, I don't find it useful.

All that said, I don't find they sound any different than a strat other than that no 2 guitars with the same pickups will sound the same. You have to match the pickups to the guitar to get the best sound out of it, and the pickups that match best are peculiar to the individual guitar, not the make/model.
 

phsyconoodler

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4,315
The PTB system definitely affected the tone of all three pickups and never let the pickups show their true tone. I find them to be very good now but still different enough from Fender to make them unique. Never heard any sound exactly like the ones I've tried in strats.
The concept of the passive controls is a good one however there were no settings that allowed the unloaded pickup to shine through which is unfortunate.
I tried every combination of settings searching for that to no avail. Now wired like a strat its very nice and there is lots of control with the tone knobs still.
Now I want to keep the guitar because it's far superior construction and materials to an American Standard strat. The playability is awesome and the intonation is wonderful all down the neck. Plus it looks awesome in candy apple red with matching headstock. Love the floating tremolo too.
Just couldn't get what I wanted from the PTB
 

Kelsey

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2,250
I have a recent Legacy and 3 CS Strats. Although the Legacy has a more modern sound, it still sounds like a Strat, but with greater tonal range. I love the PTB set up, but since the treble pot is 500K, you have to roll it back to 5-7 to match a traditional Strat 250K tone. Otherwise it can sound hi fi.
What the Legacy does better than a traditional Strat is preserve volume as you roll off treble. In fact, my Legacy gets a wonderful woman tone or cocked wah tone with the treble rolled completely down. I'm not sure whether different pickups would do that as well.
The treble and bass pots are always in the circuit, so you have to figure overall parallel resistance to come up with a load similar to traditional Strat wiring. The neck/middle position of a traditional Strat scheme also has loading from two pots, although heavier with traditional 250K pots.
 




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