Pickups your view?

Are there just too many brands of pickups?

  • You can pay $50 or $500 for a PAF style because more expensive has to be better.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    56

stratamania

Senior member
Messages
9,227
I was just looking at the Pickup Brand Central (list of pickups) which is a great thread by the way link below.

https://www.unofficialwarmoth.com/index.php?topic=27243.0

In the guitar world there are some who will just buy a guitar and get on and play it. At the other end of the spectrum are tone chasers or even cork sniffer levels of seeking out minutiae and refinement.

Back in the day you really could not get replacement pickups like you can today. The first I remember were DiMarzio, EMGs and Seymour Duncan. And the options for traditional or noiseless pickups are a great option to have.

If we look at guitars folks describe the main guitar types you might need as a Strat, Les Paul, Tele and 335 and certainly with those four stock you are likely to get most classic tones. Perhaps add a Super Strat with a Floyd and EMGs in an HSS config and then you are most likely there.

Add in tuning your guitar, good technique, amp and effects and really how much difference are we going to get between variants of certain styles of pickups?

Clearly a single coil strat type pickup is different to a Humbucker such as a PAF or PAF style. But if you take just strat pickups as an example the numerous variety of brands and overwound, underwound, vintage, unicorn wax dipped under a waxing moon where does it end?

So the poll above is just a bit of fun, but I am interested in what your view is. Have pickups just reached a level of market saturation for wire wrapped round a magnet and a law of diminishing returns have arrived or tone nirvana may be in the next pickup?





 

Logrinn

Senior member
Messages
3,589
stratamania said:
... and overwound, underwound, vintage, unicorn wax dipped under a waxing moon ...

:icon_biggrin:

But seriously - this is an excellent post. It’ll be interesting to see what result this poll will show.

 
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swarfrat

Guest
2 - yes the market is crowded right now. Anyone can get pickup stuff and make their own. This isn't a statement of shouldn't be this many, but of likely not many will survive.

1- that said, there's absolutely nothing wrong with tossing your hat in the ring. Let the market prove your ideas and work.

3-i don't believe in spending more than you need to get what you want, and the point of diminishing returns is modest. The more you spend incrementally, the less you're getting. Plus we're 70 years into this rock n roll thing. The classics are well defined and readily available.
 

Heavy Rock

Active member
Messages
42
That's a good valid question and so difficult to answer at the same time. Pickups are such an important part of the guitar sound and there are so many guitar players in the world that each one will find something they want in any of those brands in the list. And the different possibilities for different tones are infinite as infinite is the number of frequencies in the audio band.

After my 20 year trip down the rabbit hole that started back in 2001 (cursed time! :p), I realised that yes there are different nuances in every pickup that you can tell if you listen closely, but in the end, how many of these you actually pick up when you're focused on playing music in the studio, live or your bedroom?

I came to the conclusion that for me personally being a superstrat, HSS/HH, Floyd Rose type guy, the most important thing that I enjoy when I play actual music on my guitar is the crunch and the compression in the guitar sound. I like a rough sound with an intense crunch. I go by this rule and works for me perfectly. So for me the very first aftermarket pickup the DiMarzio Super Distortion, would have been enough, even if it was the only pickup that was ever made and then nothing had appeared after it. But the thing is that I can say all this after my huge research over many different pickups, so..... :icon_scratch:

I consider myself lucky to have come down to a conclusion after my research because I know how you can get lost in it. If I hadn't I would need a straightjacket by now.  :icon_jokercolor:

To answer the poll, I agree with swarfrat on the first three choices. And I do believe the price makes a difference in quality but up to a modest point.
 
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swarfrat

Guest
I think I'd rather have another guitar or two than $500 worth of pickups in one. Another way to get the nuances if you feel like chasing your tail, and more likely to bring a fresh outlook than spending it on pickups For one thing, you can more easily swap when you're messing around - and truth be told - 99.9999% of the time, this chasing tone thing is really about resetting your frame of mind - you might get equal inspiration from grabbing a cup of coffee or Mt Dew, a snack, going for a walk, petting the dog for 10 minutes.  You're more likely to get your money back when you're done with it buying another used guitar than chasing holy grail pickups. Also, I've come to the realization that pickups and microphones are a lot alike. Yes, there are color differences between them, you might find one more flattering to a given sound source than another, but neither will fix a bad source sound.
 

ragamuffin

Senior member
Messages
918
While the market is pretty saturated, I'll admit that I love variety and like to work with small winders who I can chat with about what I'm looking for and which pickups in their product line best suit me. I like how many options there are and many (not all) offer something unique, even if it's a single quirky pickup model.

I am however baffled by how much some of these winders manage to charge, particularly in the reproduction P.A.F camp when you can get a great sounding pickup like a SD Seth Lover or something from Vineham or certain other small winders for so much less...

 

PhilHill

Senior member
Messages
1,654
I voted #1. If someone wants to make pups and can survive and profit, more power to them. Most of the time I go for basic single coil or humbucker. Most of the pickups made are intended to recreate a particular instrument or artist's sound. This, in many ways is an endless search. The only one who was able to sound like EVH was EVH. You can buy 2.5 million worth of equipment and your still going to sound like yourself. The only guitar that's going to sound like Clapton's Blackie is, well you know.
Before all this started, there were guitar players who had unique sounds. Those sounds came from the combination of the equipment and the artist. No matter how much of the equipment you buy, your not going to sound like the artist cause your still missing part of the equation.
That said, there are reasons to have different types of pickups. Meaning that if you want a Tele sound, get the pickups they put in Teles. If you wants the Gretsch sound, get filtertrons. ETC. Just remember though, your not going to end up sounding like Danny Gatton or Chet Atkins. But you can use that particular type of pup to achieve your own sound. I have been able, through careful choices, to achieve my own unique sound, it's kind of a cross between really bad and maximum suckage. It's not easy and has taken me years to develop, but I can achieve this sound on any guitar so I feel this proves that it's the player, not the pickup.............. :headbang:
 

zebra

Senior member
Messages
498
I went with option 3, but agree with 1 and 2 for the same reasons stated above. 

IMO, it seems a lot of pickup builders are doing the following two things:  1) reproducing each other's designs, and 2) designing pickups intended to replicate a particular guitarists' sound. 

Re. the former - so much out there is just more of the same - once you identify a few basic design choices (SC vs. HB, if SC then hum-canceling/noiseless, active vs passive, alnico (and type) vs ceramic, poles vs bars, lower wind vs higher wind) you realize the whole thing needn't be...what it's become. 

Re. the latter - yes, it's a marketing ploy, but a useful one in terms of getting a sense of what to expect from a given pickup.  Just don't think those pickups will make you sound like <insert guitar hero here>!

More unsolicted opinions:

* Lots of great pickups can be had for cheap - I think boutique is silly.

* Painstaking reproductions of vintage models seems silly.  It seems more effective both in terms of cost and tone to get the sound using everything that's been learned about pickup design over the last 40 years than to source NOS supplies and such.  That being said, it's what the market demands.  Guitarists can be pretty conservative and nostaligic - if it doesn't sound like what they grew up hearing, it's probably garbage.  I think that's a shame - it gets in the way of innovation. 

* There are some really terrible pickups out there - and they're often the OEM ones.  Swapping out a bad OEM pickup for something that works with the guitar and the rest of your rig is a great thing.  It can really make a huge difference. 

* Once you've figured out your general pickup preferences, dialing-in your preferred layouts (SSS, HSS, HH, HSH) and wiring options (series, parallel, splitting, phase, pot and cap values, etc) is a lot more appealing (and potentially gratifying) then constantly swapping new pickups. 

* I'd like to see pickup makers rely less on worn-out marketing terms that fail to differentiate pickups (from either their own other offerings, or those of other makers) and provide more useful descriptors - both quantitative (specs) and qualitative (tone talk).  Some companies do this pretty well, others not so much. 


 
 

NedRyerson

Senior member
Messages
416
I'm a boxed wine drinker. :)

Just like how I distinguish wine varieties, I know they have differing characteristics, but I'm nowhere near expert enough to identify them with any degree of confidence.  Put up three different models of SDs or EMGs back to back in a blind listen test and I wouldn't be able to identify which is which.  Give me three glasses of different varieties of reds without the label and I probably can't identify which is which (although after three glasses, I won't care!).

I have models from SD, DiMarzio, Gibson, and Dragonfire (which are probably Artecs).  I can tell there are some subtle differences between them but I certainly can't effectively explain what they are.  I'll get more tonal variation that I can detect while playing with the settings on my pedals and amps.

So I've gone for the cheaper pickups without the name-brand recognition because I'm just not expert enough to tell.  And I'm not gigging or recording to where they have much chance of upsetting me during playing.  The distinction for me and my growing arsenal of guitars is different tuning and storage location.


 

Street Avenger

Senior member
Messages
2,134
Obviously, there are lots of pickup manufacturers that make great pickups, and each individual player has their idea of what sounds good. I get everything I want from Dimarzio and Seymour Duncan, so there's no need or desire for me to try the hundreds of other brands.
 

BroccoliRob

Senior member
Messages
881
somebody somewhere has gotta buying those duncan zeyphr pickups. Why? I dunno. that's the ultimate "more $$ must be more better"
 

rauchman

Senior member
Messages
771
I voted # 1.  When I first started playing in the early/mid 80's, there was Dimarzio and Seymour Duncan.  I'm sure there were others, but either of these were just about in every player's guitar that I followed, and the only ones I ever heard about.  So, more is good

Having said that, I especially notice how overwhelming it is picking a pickup, when I build a partscaster.  Prior to building my 1st partscaster a couple of years ago, I hadn't bought a pickup in about 15 years (and that pickup I had purchased at that time, I wasn't "wowed" by...SD Custom). 

I don't believe that a $500 pickup (I'm not even aware of such an expensive pickup) will be affording me that extra ounce of tone mojo, when I sometimes struggle to hear the differences between similar $100 pickups.  I live in a pickup cost range of up to $120 or so, but hunt for something less and in reality would not spend upwards of that range. I'd rather put that extra $400 to other gear or lessons.

I'm sure there are tone junkies out there that can appreciate what an expensive pickup brings.  I do like what I consider a "good" one, but I'm not one of those people.
 

BroccoliRob

Senior member
Messages
881
rauchman said:
I don't believe that a $500 pickup (I'm not even aware of such an expensive pickup)

that's the Duncan Zephyrs bro. chronicles of ridiculous. i just watched some vids on them (youtube) but with youtube's mp3-equivalent encoding how are you supposed to really hear what they want u to hear? for that kinda money, send me a isolated FLAC file of Yngwie playing Perpetual Burn
 
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swarfrat

Guest
BroccoliRob said:
, send me a isolated FLAC file of Yngwie playing Perpetual Burn

You just accidentally hit one of my pet peeves. Pickup videos with crazy amounts of gain. Yeah it might be a shredder pickup and please do play it that way but at least play 30 seconds of clean. Massive gain just washes out subtle nuances. Can't tell a jb from an invader from a paf given enough distortion
 

stratamania

Senior member
Messages
9,227
swarfrat said:
BroccoliRob said:
, send me a isolated FLAC file of Yngwie playing Perpetual Burn

You just accidentally hit one of my pet peeves. Pickup videos with crazy amounts of gain. Yeah it might be a shredder pickup and please do play it that way but at least play 30 seconds of clean. Massive gain just washes out subtle nuances. Can't tell a jb from an invader from a paf given enough distortion

Given that Perpetual Burn is a track by Jason Becker and Perpetual Flame is an Yngwie album that FLAC may be unobtanium which has to be at least $500 or more to get...

But there is a good point. Add a lot of any kind of processing, be it distortion or something else. Compress it in a recording or playback chain of some type and we are back to some of the points of the thread. How much difference do all of these pickups contribute to a final result?
 

BroccoliRob

Senior member
Messages
881
stratamania said:
Given that Perpetual Burn is a track by Jason Becker and Perpetual Flame is an Yngwie album that FLAC may be unobtanium which has to be at least $500 or more to get...

Oops, u right. mixed up my Perps. Okay, i just gave both a listen and im not super lovin either them at this point in my human life. Used to love em, but now its like drinking a fine wine that's been in a freezer for 30 years.
 
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