Why vintage pickups are generally (considered) better?

xmd5a

Member
Messages
2,412
I never said they did. They ALLOW it tho, and thats the point. When you slam an amps input thats not exactly good for getting a sound that is very dynamic, and the hotter the pickup the more that becomes an issue if u r looking for a very dynamic sound.
But you're just talking about the the virtue of a low output pickup in this case. Conflating vintage with low output is only going to cause further confusion. Some vintage pickups, such as P-90's have always had a high inductance.

You missed a very important word...."more". I did not say they have a flat EQ curve ! They are just less colored than high output pickups IN GENERAL. You really have to read posts more carefully because a single word can completely change whats being said from what your read when you don't read every word. I'm guilty of that sometimes too so i get it. But seriously, neither point you made was accurate to what i actually said.
The word you used was "natural". Maybe you think you're using layman's terms, but it just doesn't make sense. There are and were pickups with flatter output curves than any vintage or modern pickup that is typical of Gibsons or Fenders in any era, such as the Gretsch Filter'tron, vintage or modern.
 
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dazco

Member
Messages
14,630
But you're just talking about the the virtue of a low output pickup in this case. Conflating vintage with low output is only going to cause further confusion. Some vintage pickups, such as P-90's have always had a high inductance.
Well, i thought it was pertinent in the context of what i was trying to say which was that basically low output pickups whether vintage or new do the same thing and that it's the guitar itself that people hear when they find that magic old guitar


The word you used was "natural". Maybe you think you're using layman's terms, but it just doesn't make sense. There are and were pickups with flatter output curves than any vintage or modern pickup that is typical of Gibsons or Fenders in any era, such as the Gretsch Filter'tron, vintage or modern.
Thats semantics and subjective. When describing tone are you really going after me because you don't like a term i do ? Come on man....at least i didn't mention haunting mids. When TGP adopts a glossery of terms which must be followed when describing tone, then i'll adhere. Till then i'll use what terms sound appropriate to me and while some like yourself won't agree, understand that no term used to describe tone is going to mean the same thing to everyone with a few exceptions like bright or dark. And even there i can think of how some might take those terms differently.
 

Alanko

Member
Messages
320
In the old times pickups on Gibson or Fender factories were manufactured by cheap workers, who could go smoke outside in the middle of the winding process and those pickups were all over the place in terms of specs. Manufacturers chose components trying to make it as cheap as possible. And yet we hunt for those old pickups. Or there are companies like Throbak who sell their recreations of vintage pickups not for cheap at all.
Pickups are really basic devices, with only a handful of components or variables between them all. All the great classic rock records were recorded using guitars with what we now consider vintage pickups. It is easier to believe that there is some magic in '60s pickups that meant that a 21 year old guitarist could do in 1971 what you, a 51 year old guitarist, can't do in 2021.

A maple spacer or sand-cast magnet isn't what separates most guitarists from greatness, but it is nice to pretend.
 

easyed

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,564
the inconsistency of old PAF's is only part of the equation,
The Legendary Pearly Gates pickup is just an overwound PAF. Reverend Billy liked it enough to name it.

I have a set of hand-wound single coil Strat pickups, done in true vintage style with cotton string wrapping, etc. They just sounded dull to me.

IMO, current production pickups are as good or better than vintage stuff. I don't mind folks emptying their wallets on genuine vintage PAF's, for me it's all like collecting antiques. they don't do anything better than the modern equivalents, but until the economy crashes again, they will be more valuable.
 

IAE

Member
Messages
1,380
I don’t believe any vintage guitar part is objectively better than the modern made counterpart.

I know some people believe a lot of crazy things.

Vintage designs, I like; but it need not be made decades ago to sound good.
 

IAE

Member
Messages
1,380
Pickups are really basic devices, with only a handful of components or variables between them all. All the great classic rock records were recorded using guitars with what we now consider vintage pickups. It is easier to believe that there is some magic in '60s pickups that meant that a 21 year old guitarist could do in 1971 what you, a 51 year old guitarist, can't do in 2021.

A maple spacer or sand-cast magnet isn't what separates most guitarists from greatness, but it is nice to pretend.
What’s the difference between a successful rockstar and an old guy who didn’t make it? A maple spacer!

hahaha
 

gillman royce

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,387
It's got to be the ' right ' match between pick up and guitar; guitar and amp; amp & tubes; amp, tubes & speaker. Sometimes you just get lucky and you pick up a guitar, plug it into an amp and magic. Take the same guitar and plug it into a second amp and dullsville.
 

korus

Member
Messages
1,280
Vintage guitars is just the different name for factory stock original guitars made pre mid '60s.

1. Vintage pickups are being used for decades in modern guitars. NONE of these guitars sound like vintage guitars. They sound exactly like all other modern guitars.

2. Modern pickups that replicate vintage pickups are being used in otherwise stock vintage guitars for decades. NONE of these guitars sound like modern replicas. They still sound exactly like all other similar vintage guitars.

Pickups do not define tone. Because pickups do not generate tone. They sound like a guitar they are in. You know what Strat/Tele pickups in Les Paul or Les Paul pickups in a Strat or a Tele sound like. Mechanical resonance of strings with metal and wood is tone. Pickups only reproduce that tone, that resonance.

So what does define tone? Specs of guitar define tone. Replicate ALL the specs and you will replicate the tone. None of modern guitars have a tone of originals, therefore - we do not know all the specs of originals and that is why we do not reproduce ALL the specs of originals and that is why we do not get tone of originals on modern 'replicas' of them. So, the logical question is:

Which specs we do not know?

Do not rush to reply. Look at any vintage guitar. There are the same parts on every vintage guitar whose specs we cannot tell. No one can. Cause we do not know specs of these parts 50+ years already. We only know color. Then we assume the pickups have that tone and make that tone. So we never bothered to find out these specs. Cause "it's electric, pickups make tone" for electric guitars. It almost seems the moment we put pickups in the guitar - physics change, pretty much like what fairies do in fairy tales for children. Except reality is not a fairy tale. Physics of objective reality cannot change, it is our grasp of it that varies, which is an understatement for lack of our ability to grasp it.

Now, look at guitars and tell me do you see parts on a guitar we cannot reproduce because we have no idea what their specs are? Let me give you a hint - it is not wood. Wood used has been replicated for decades already.

I am not trying to explain basic physics to anyone. I am not teaching anyone about mechanical resonance. While mechanical resonance is simple, explaining it has proven fruitless each and every time. This is a guitar forum, not a physics course. And actually you do not need to understand exactly what happens. It is enough to be able to hear factory stock originals sound differently - fatter, fuller, richer, louder and more human voice like - obviously unlike modern ones.

I am telling you what you have already heard many times and what you know already:

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, stated by Sherlock Holmes

If we replicate specs we do not know, we will have that tone. In the meantime guitar industry will do what it exists for - to exploit our ignorance / incompetence for profit - to do the same it has been doing for last 50+ years - while we comfort ourselves calling it fun, tone quest, journey, learning experience, whatever.

You read it many times that "they do not make them like they used to" ... Surely they don't cause they can't. They just do not know all the specs. And we ALL are not aware of these tone defining specs, while looking at all the factory stock original guitars that has that same tone since the day they were assembled to this very day. Looking at them for 50+ years and not seeing the obvious. Eyes are fine. It is a mind who is blind to see simple facts in plain sight.

The Question is simple - which specs we do not know? Get the specs and you get the tone. Just the way those simple people did with these simple specs some 70 years ago at both Fender and Gibson to get that tone. Dead simple.

Simple people, simple specs, simple physics, simple question, simple answer, simple facts. If for nothing else, anyone reading this post will remember the word simple.
 

hank57

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
8,503
I’m cool with all the amazing builders making my new killer pickups.
Thou the oldest pickups i have are Velvet Hammers for a strat.
 

andare

Member
Messages
102
Vintage guitars is just the different name for factory stock original guitars made pre mid '60s.

1. Vintage pickups are being used for decades in modern guitars. NONE of these guitars sound like vintage guitars. They sound exactly like all other modern guitars.

2. Modern pickups that replicate vintage pickups are being used in otherwise stock vintage guitars for decades. NONE of these guitars sound like modern replicas. They still sound exactly like all other similar vintage guitars.

Pickups do not define tone. Because pickups do not generate tone. They sound like a guitar they are in. You know what Strat/Tele pickups in Les Paul or Les Paul pickups in a Strat or a Tele sound like. Mechanical resonance of strings with metal and wood is tone. Pickups only reproduce that tone, that resonance.

So what does define tone? Specs of guitar define tone. Replicate ALL the specs and you will replicate the tone. None of modern guitars have a tone of originals, therefore - we do not know all the specs of originals and that is why we do not reproduce ALL the specs of originals and that is why we do not get tone of originals on modern 'replicas' of them. So, the logical question is:

Which specs we do not know?

Do not rush to reply. Look at any vintage guitar. There are the same parts on every vintage guitar whose specs we cannot tell. No one can. Cause we do not know specs of these parts 50+ years already. We only know color. Then we assume the pickups have that tone and make that tone. So we never bothered to find out these specs. Cause "it's electric, pickups make tone" for electric guitars. It almost seems the moment we put pickups in the guitar - physics change, pretty much like what fairies do in fairy tales for children. Except reality is not a fairy tale. Physics of objective reality cannot change, it is our grasp of it that varies, which is an understatement for lack of our ability to grasp it.

Now, look at guitars and tell me do you see parts on a guitar we cannot reproduce because we have no idea what their specs are? Let me give you a hint - it is not wood. Wood used has been replicated for decades already.

I am not trying to explain basic physics to anyone. I am not teaching anyone about mechanical resonance. While mechanical resonance is simple, explaining it has proven fruitless each and every time. This is a guitar forum, not a physics course. And actually you do not need to understand exactly what happens. It is enough to be able to hear factory stock originals sound differently - fatter, fuller, richer, louder and more human voice like - obviously unlike modern ones.

I am telling you what you have already heard many times and what you know already:

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, stated by Sherlock Holmes

If we replicate specs we do not know, we will have that tone. In the meantime guitar industry will do what it exists for - to exploit our ignorance / incompetence for profit - to do the same it has been doing for last 50+ years - while we comfort ourselves calling it fun, tone quest, journey, learning experience, whatever.

You read it many times that "they do not make them like they used to" ... Surely they don't cause they can't. They just do not know all the specs. And we ALL are not aware of these tone defining specs, while looking at all the factory stock original guitars that has that same tone since the day they were assembled to this very day. Looking at them for 50+ years and not seeing the obvious. Eyes are fine. It is a mind who is blind to see simple facts in plain sight.

The Question is simple - which specs we do not know? Get the specs and you get the tone. Just the way those simple people did with these simple specs some 70 years ago at both Fender and Gibson to get that tone. Dead simple.

Simple people, simple specs, simple physics, simple question, simple answer, simple facts. If for nothing else, anyone reading this post will remember the word simple.
Pickups don't define tone? Then why do two different pickups sound different in the same guitarm
 

Dirty Tony

Member
Messages
2,955
Maybe there is the same topic somewhere, but I couldn't find it.

In the old times pickups on Gibson or Fender factories were manufactured by cheap workers, who could go smoke outside in the middle of the winding process and those pickups were all over the place in terms of specs. Manufacturers chose components trying to make it as cheap as possible. And yet we hunt for those old pickups. Or there are companies like Throbak who sell their recreations of vintage pickups not for cheap at all.

So why then today only boutique winders can recreate those pickups like PAFs, P90s and others, when factories today have access to more consistent components like magnets, wire and all this stuff and also have quality control?

Probably I'm wrong, but this is the impression I have on this question.
answer is simple: because at same level of sound "clarity" and tone a vintage one is a bit thicker... most of the time I read "rounded top end" or such but I prefer mine, they are not middy like many claim on forums but they are clear, detailed and thick at the same.time. No modern equivalent exist better save money.

...that said I agree with many here that difference is very minimal, I gave up on vintage after having some for years, now I play modern (no boutique, no clones) and I work out vintage tones rolling off a bit of volume and rarely a little bit of tone control (tone ref.: les paul custom into crunching plexi into 4x12).
 

JZG

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,323
Greg Koch summarized it pretty well in this video. There's time stamps of 19:15 and 27:00 where he talks about pickups. I'm guessing you'll find his explanation in one of those two spots. Something about Greek dressing...

 

Gray Ghost

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
74
Vintage pickups while a key part of the equation are just a part. I’m not a Fender guy, but as a long time Les Paul player who has played original bursts, I feel they are a sum of their parts and just not one part. One big part besides the pickups is the old 50’s-60’s Centralab pots and there is more to it then just the taper.

Putting original PAF’s in a 2019 Gibson R9 will get you close to replicating an original burst but you still would be missing other key ingredients.
 

Zulujos

Member
Messages
18
Not that this is in the realm of "vintage", but I too have been questioning why some pickups are priced so high when at the end of the day we are talking about wire wound a magnet. I've had SD Antiquities, Fralin Tele Repros, Wolftone just to name a few. And yet I was just as happy with the Rose and Toneriders. In a reply I received from a YT video, he said all his guitars sound the same and I presume he's saying it's because he plays them. In other words it's the old adage, tone is in your hands. So now I'm crunching numbers on a cheap single cut project that I want to install high output pups. In my effort to hold down cost the way to go was with Irongear. But then I started looking at Artec which are even cheaper than the afore mentioned. That brings my long winded post back to the subject at hand; are the cheap pickups that much worse than the boutique, or as the original poster asked, the "vintage" repros?
 

Rog

Member
Messages
307
I had a 61 SG Les Paul Custom. It had been butchered and had 2 x PAFs and 1 x Narrow pole Byrdland pickup. The Byrdland pickup did not suit it at all. I removed the PAFs and put 3 x Classic 57s in there. They were tonally as good as I could have expected. Today I have Gibson’s with Classic 57’s, Burstbuckers, Custombuckers. They keep changing the recipe to add a bit of spice but I’m not convinced they have got any more accurate as a reproduction. In my experience having changed a few pickups I have concluded that the base guitar is what it is and no amount of pickup changes actually makes that much difference unless they are drastically different designs.
 

Cgiff

Member
Messages
18
Maybe there is the same topic somewhere, but I couldn't find it.

In the old times pickups on Gibson or Fender factories were manufactured by cheap workers, who could go smoke outside in the middle of the winding process and those pickups were all over the place in terms of specs. Manufacturers chose components trying to make it as cheap as possible. And yet we hunt for those old pickups. Or there are companies like Throbak who sell their recreations of vintage pickups not for cheap at all.

So why then today only boutique winders can recreate those pickups like PAFs, P90s and others, when factories today have access to more consistent components like magnets, wire and all this stuff and also have quality control?

Probably I'm wrong, but this is the impression I have on this question.
Just smoke and mirrors, a/b same guitar same amp definitely hear a difference maybe better or worse, just cork sniffing. With all the sound processing options these days as long as you can get a signal from a guitar then the world is your oyster regardless of pickup pedigree IMHO.
 

db9091

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,320
Because they used variable material, and QC was generally weak, there are such a variety of sounds even from the pickups on the same guitar (ie if switched) that it begs the question "which vintage pickup" b/c it was so pickup specific, hence the Frankenstein guitars of famous 60s players. Add to that aging magnets and it's anyones guess. To most, it's not the sound of the guitar with vintage pickups, it's the recording made using that line of guitars from particular years and that has so much to do with the artist and engineer as to make the type of guitar/pickup/amp only an ingredient. I mean, you hear Sweet Home Alabama, and that guitarist said he sold that early 70s Strat b/c it sounded bad to him, and yet it's sound is iconic. Because of how he played it.

In the end, it's how you play it. While there is a ton of differences, and todays pickups are QC-wise so much more uniform, when you add pedals, mixing plugins, no one can say what the actual pickup itself really sounded like anyways.

It's a fools quest IMO, done by people with too much time, too much money, as a hobby, not b/c it makes sense. Unless you're restoring a vintage guitar.
 




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