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Why can't guitar pickups be plug and play?

Daytona57

Member
Messages
2,930
Manufacturers put different pickups in different models, to encourage consumer demand and upgrading purchases.

I have changed pickups and swapped loaded pickguards, which are much easier to install, just loosen the strings, remove old pickguard and a few solder joints, install pickguard screws and retune. You have the option to change the strings.

I always try adjusting the pickup heights and string balance, first, before changing pickups. After swapping, I will adjust the pickup heights and string balance.

YMMV
 

stevieboy

Clouds yell at me
Gold Supporting Member
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38,491
Standardization is a factor I think, but how about just Fender? While they offer a variety of pickup types, their two main guitars take pickups designed by Fender, and made by Fender, for Fender guitars. Why would they need standardization with Gibson, if they wanted to implement such a system in Strats and Teles? Or care if other makers that copy Fender designs go along with them? They don't need anyone else's agreement to create their own system, put it into all their guitars and have it adaptable to the other pickup types that they use.which they mostly make themselves anyway. Someone that wanted to sell aftermarket pickups to Fender owners would have to accommodate Fender's design and offer compatible pickups, one way or another.

But Fender doesn't. Not nearly enough demand, when it comes down to it. They wouldn't sell any more guitars, when it comes down to it. Expensive endeavor, with no reward. Most people don't want to change pickups. Those that do want to can easily enough. The few of us that might want to switch back and forth easily, be nice but there just aren't that many, and we can figure out something. The tail doesn't wag the dog.
 
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Too much of a trend in this direction.

I think. When you make wholesale changes too easy, and the different "voices" the guitar produces don't come from the player's hands, you're IMO asking for trouble. The mystery vanishes.
 
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1,450
Certain Gibson models have (had?) quick connect. I installed a Seymour Duncan in my faded SG which had that system. I picked up a wiring harness from Ebay for like $15. I didn't want to take apart and rewire the whole guitar to install a new pickup. Worked great. I think you can find the Molex connectors, but this was even easier. You could select the manufacturer, and the wire colors matched. It was a nice product.
 

EndGame00

Member
Messages
418
There is an advantage of having a PCB board in newer Les Paul, as you can swap pickups without soldering.. Both of my les pauls have pcb boards, and I just purchase quick connect adapters sold on ebay... I can just swap pickups without ruining the connecting wires...
 

xmd5a

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Messages
2,769
lRJXfRCXt7ic24eLtGbpz8S5ZhimUG9lrBysuZzAJyneH-3knzvghhltZKMBHlBjBFPC_5Nb_Gtb6fgNkppbc8eC3Gd8E0796ufM3PWwIier9NvRtr_GEf-8KolKDwG8ML1Q1IPXPqzCaN6LRy2DHfn9PEHmIXB6txGu4941jvQgYV-C18iH6Sy791dIhTq1K7WM

Too much of a trend in this direction.

I think. When you make wholesale changes too easy, and the different "voices" the guitar produces don't come from the player's hands, you're IMO asking for trouble. The mystery vanishes.

I think some de-mystification is badly needed. More access to more choices makes the lack of magic more obvious. But when you're fondly recalling something you played ten years ago, or even an hour ago, and you have to rely on your memory alone to A/B sound test, objectivity is out and bias is in.
 

markmann

Member
Messages
1,385
Interesting idea. If I had one guitar that I wanted to swap the pickup on a regular basis I would rig up a quick change connection of some sort to save opening up the guitar all the time. That MSA Superslide is brilliant. I'm actually a bit surprised that the aftermarket PU companies haven't come up with a way to make it easier to swap for those that are electronically challenged. Pickups are already standardized regarding size and mounting but not the wiring part.
 

specialidiot

most likely to seceede
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,879
This is such a terrible answer, No soldering isn't hard, but that doesn't mean a new system that is even easier to switch out and make changes take about the same time as changing strings with locking tuners why wouldn't we want to encourage that?

that mentality of "soldering isn't hard" equates to we should never improve anything.

That is terrible thinking.

Especially with creative type people such as musicians.
that was terrible, just terrible of you to say.

terrible.

a new system that is consistent across manufacturers just isn't coming, so buy a cheap iron and get on with it. IT ISN'T HARD.
 

madhermit

Member
Messages
1,154
The GFS system is great. You can also buy little plugs (male or female) to solder on to your existing pickups to adapt them to the system.
I have a Hagstrom Ultra Swede that I use to experiment with pickups. Currently has some Mean 90s in it. Has had all sorts of others too. If they are dual coil, the mini toggle splits them.
Whenever I am in the US, I get cheaper pickups to try out. Fairly quick to swap. Loosen strings, remove pickup, plugin new pickup, retune guitar. Easy.

And yes, I can solder. I have a workbench with a good setup. It’s so much easier this way.

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MrTAteMyBalls

Member
Messages
4,451
The same thing happened when I changed the harness in my LP, it came to life because of the pot value change to 500k from 300k, and it never had connectors in the first place. Really made the Shaws come to life.

But Gibson's connector scheme got a lot more stick, more likely for the pot values chosen than the blamed circuit board.


Ok that makes sense. I did not check the pot values but it's the only thing I could think of that would make such a difference. Who designed that garbage setup??? Very poor choice.
 

madhermit

Member
Messages
1,154
.

Corrosion at the connections will cause them to fail fast.

Connectors are expensive. You'd expect they should be cheap but they are not.

.

This is absolutely not my experience with any of my music, studio, or audio equipment with 1/4”, 1/8”, RCA, XLR, BNC, et al connectors.

Fail fast? Hyperbole.
 

Jimmy MAck

Member
Messages
828
If I read another post about Gibson's use of low resistance pots !!!!!!!
My Gibson LP Custom 57 RI had pots valued at 300, 290 and 190 K ohms, and 2 of them broke!
My L5 CES is now having a new control harness made - to free up the tone! Pots measured 190 K !
Gibson used the shi%tiest.
So why not go with connectors? Pete Biltoft recommended not using them to me.
Reading this thread I can see why. There are downsides. But when someone really needs to experiment to make their axe the best it can be, I wish I had a connector. Especially in semi-hollow guitars with NO access panel in the back.

Guitars can be weird contraptions.
 

xmd5a

Member
Messages
2,769
One thing that's telling about how guitarists perceive pickups is that 90% of the time the talk is not about "I want something different", it's "I want something better". In a sense they're one and the same, but if you want something different, you don't necessarily need a new pickup, there are lots of passive wiring mods that alter the output tone in dramatic ways, for under $10 in most cases. And if you still want different, there are lots of pickups in the sub $100 price range that are of the highest quality that is possible for a vintage design guitar pickup. But that's not how it usually plays out, the demand is "I want something better", and a better pickup must be a more expensive pickup, so the criteria for choosing a pickups becomes 'it must be boutique', or 'it must cost at least $200 per pickup'. But there is no better, there is only different. >$200 pickups should be the last ones people try, not the first.
 

Mangy71

Member
Messages
4,467
EMG has been doing it for a long time. It's cheaper to not use them. I am surprised a Fender or Gibson hasn't gone to it just to pump up their aftermarket pickup segment.

I recently replaced an EMG 81 with an EMG Retro Active Super 77. Quickest, easiest pickup swap I have ever done!! Totally plug and play.
 

xmd5a

Member
Messages
2,769
I recently replaced an EMG 81 with an EMG Retro Active Super 77. Quickest, easiest pickup swap I have ever done!! Totally plug and play.

It is pretty great. The shortcoming, IMO, is that the selector switch and the pots have to have the same hookups. They come for free when you buy EMGs, but it would seriously limit options for non-standard control schemes and guitars. There are a lot of choices if you can solder; no-load pots, push pull pots, long shaft, center detent pots, dual gang pots, concentric pots, etc.
 




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