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

Sean6247

Active member
Messages
33
I am a Seymour Duncan guy through and through. My LP has Duncan '59s, my strat SSL1 & 5. my Tele the '54 tele pickups. They are top quality and at a reasonable price. With all the processing we have available to us today, I see no reason to stray away from Seymour.

That being said... I am putting a set of Fishman Fluence pickups in my next build (HSS). The concept is too intriguing to pass up.
 

ChrisMC

Senior member
Messages
150
I just now bumped into this post. I voted #1, but maybe not for the “face value” reason.

Yes there’s tons of pickups...but there isn’t “too many”. A parallel can be drawn between that and effects pedals. There are WAY more effects pedals than there are pickup choices, and yet there are not “too many”.

Why/how is that? That’s a great question. There isn’t too many pickups because all the “go-to” pickups are readily available (except for the years 2020 and 2021, and I don’t own a time machine so I can only attest for past and present), ie Duncan JB/59, Fender 57/62, Dimarzio Tone Zone/Air Norton, EMG 81/85, Gibson 57 Classics, etc and so on. ...all the pickups that everybody knows and loves are readily available from a dozen different retailers.

The boutique pickups are exactly that...typically small batch pickups that you might have to wait a little while for, and that you’re probably ordering because a friend had them or you saw someone playing live that used them and their tone was phenomenal (but hopefully you took into account the rest of their signal chain, ie amp, what speakers were in the cabinet, how the amp settings were, what mic was being used, what mic preamp, and let’s not forget playing technique as well), so they’re ordered with that expectation.

I have my go-to’s, and there’s a LOT of really great choices out there. Some people steer clear of “the usual suspects” because they don’t want the same thing that everyone else already has, and some go outside the typical box because of first hand experience, but either way, I think choices are a good thing, and each pickup (in each guitar) does have subtle nuances from one to the next, and there’s nothing wrong with having choices.

The only downside to so many options, is paralyzation by analyzation, especially with newer players (or seasoned players just getting into modding). I have to admit, I don’t envy that. I’m experiencing that exact thing with one aspect of my current build, just not the pickup choice, but yes, it can be excruciatingly overwhelming to someone new to this, and that’s really the only downside.

...but there are a lot of fantastic sounding, mass produced pickups out there. Take the Duncan JB/59 combo that comes as OEM in quite a few guitars. On the one hand, some will say they are “stock pickups”, and tear them out right away to put something else in. On the other hand, there’s a reason why so many choose to have them as the stock pickup set from the factory.

In any event, if everything that was sold as a PAF sounded the same (which by the way...real, original PAF’s didn’t even all sound alike, in fact they varied wildly from each other because they didn’t have digital winding machines to count the winds, for one thing), then there wouldn’t be a market for so many choices...but there is, and the larger builders will sell to tens of thousands, the small builder with the start up business will sell to dozens, and everybody in between, and we’re all happy...(except for the guy who is trying to decide on his first pickups for his first build or swap, but hang in there...you’ll land on the  right ones eventually and it’ll be worth it when you do!).
 

elstoof

Active member
Messages
85
BroccoliRob said:
somebody somewhere has gotta buying those duncan zeyphr pickups. Why? I dunno. that's the ultimate "more $$ must be more better"

Presumably the same person who buys a £400 gold HDMI cable for a “cleaner” digital signal. The speaker cable world is even more insane, someone will sell you £50,000 worth if you let them
 

Wesquire

New member
Messages
22
Saw a blog post talk about it, but it IS pretty funny to me that we are now multiple generations removed from most people ever hearing an actual 1950s PAF. Yet you'll still get hoards of people willing to pay $500 for a replica made in someone's garage.

Not saying that to disparage those small producers.
 

ejm

Active member
Messages
25
To add to what swarfrat said..............

Ahem.......noiseless pickups.
Let me rephrase that for you shredders in your Mommy's basement with your new video camera hoping this will be the video where you get discovered: NOISE less pickups.

What is one of the main, if not the main, features of these pickups?
They are NOISE LESS.

At some point in your way too long video to impress your Mommy or your audition to be discovered or whatever, please kindly STFU and show us how NOISE LESS they are.
If you still don't get it and don't understand, see the end of Paul's Guitar World review of the Dimarzio Area pickups.

(Ok, calm down, take a deep breath, step away from the keyboard......)
 

BroccoliRob

Senior member
Messages
881
ejm said:
To add to what swarfrat said..............

Ahem.......noiseless pickups.
Let me rephrase that for you shredders in your Mommy's basement with your new video camera hoping this will be the video where you get discovered: NOISE less pickups.

What is one of the main, if not the main, features of these pickups?
They are NOISE LESS.

At some point in your way too long video to impress your Mommy or your audition to be discovered or whatever, please kindly STFU and show us how NOISE LESS they are.
If you still don't get it and don't understand, see the end of Paul's Guitar World review of the Dimarzio Area pickups.

(Ok, calm down, take a deep breath, step away from the keyboard......)

dang, homey, we should start calling u Judy cause you be judgemental af lol
 

Sadie-f

Senior member
Messages
427
Answered 1

My go to axe is my Martin OM, and the things I want most from a set of strings and wound magnets include ..

Ability to dial in tone, occasionally use some amp effects

I've only heard one acoustic guitar that had a low E string that felt matched to the other strings (a 1941 Martin D45), this is easy to fatten in an electric

Big sounds from light strings, I've got arthritis in my left thumb, I don't mind the post practice ache, but I do enjoy the lighter touch I can use fretting an electric.


I nearly always play on a clean amp setting and I am super impressed with the Lollar pickups I've now been able to play in my new build. All 3 do clarity that my HHS Fender can't touch in any setting.

I've also put a set of Ghost piezo-acoustic saddles in the bridge, I'm super looking forward to hearing how those sound when I can get their preamp wired up :)

A contrasting question, once this instrument is complete, I will take her in to the guitar shop I like and see how she sounds played through a tube amp. So far I've never felt motivated to invest in that, and as distortion isn't my usual groove, it's not been a priority.

TBD

p.s. This thread got me thinking about why nobody is using rare earth magnets in pickups, alinco magnet technology goes back to I think the 30s?

From what I can see the q-tuner neodymium pickups might be the thing I'll put in my next build. At first blush I'm really impressed and pumping up the magnet seems like a far better way to get more sound out of the string than the silver windings in the SD zephyr.
 

BroccoliRob

Senior member
Messages
881
I think rare earth mags (short for magnet) would be unnecessarily strong and expensive for guiat pickups. probably cause all sort of problems with string pull unless the mags were realllly small or very far from the p'ups. but u don't have to listen to me. i'm over here tryna decide if my new song should be called Avocado Apocalypse, or Avocadalypse
 

ragamuffin

Senior member
Messages
918
BroccoliRob said:
I think rare earth mags (short for magnet) would be unnecessarily strong and expensive for guiat pickups. probably cause all sort of problems with string pull unless the mags were realllly small or very far from the p'ups. but u don't have to listen to me. i'm over here tryna decide if my new song should be called Avocado Apocalypse, or Avocadalypse

Definitely "Avocadolypse"!  :party07:
 

Sadie-f

Senior member
Messages
427
BroccoliRob said:
I think rare earth mags (short for magnet) would be unnecessarily strong and expensive for guiat pickups. probably cause all sort of problems with string pull unless the mags were realllly small or very far from the p'ups. but u don't have to listen to me. i'm over here tryna decide if my new song should be called Avocado Apocalypse, or Avocadalypse

Sounds like a worthy decision to me ;-).

Neodymium magnets aren't that steep, maybe double the cost of alinco so at retail neo might cost $12, where alinco 8 would be $6. It's samarium cobalt magnets that run super expensive (they can run up to 650 deg(F), one of those sized for a pickup would be more like $100 (and offer no benefits unless you're playing guitar in hell).

Q Tuners go for similar prices as Lollars, so not cheap, but also nothing like the zephyrs. Their looks are pretty rad also.
 

SeaGroomer

Senior member
Messages
206
Sadie-f said:
I've also put a set of Ghost piezo-acoustic saddles in the bridge, I'm super looking forward to hearing how those sound when I can get their preamp wired up :)

Have it wired-up yet? How do they sound?
 

Sadie-f

Senior member
Messages
427
SeaGroomer said:
Sadie-f said:
I've also put a set of Ghost piezo-acoustic saddles in the bridge, I'm super looking forward to hearing how those sound when I can get their preamp wired up :)

Have it wired-up yet? How do they sound?

I haven't, the only thing I have done is hook them up to an oscilloscope and get a sense of what they do electrically. My main reason for not hooking them up right now is entirely prosaic, when I ordered the guitar body, warmoth was out of stock and battery boxes.

Right now I'm playing the guitar and tweaking pickup heights. The ghost preamp suggested wiring is also a bit weird,

I hope to get it hooked up soon, there's a fair bit of wiring to be done first though.
 

SeaGroomer

Senior member
Messages
206
Cool, sounds good! I take my guitars to t pro to do all the electronics - he's cheap and he does a way better job than I would. I enjoy being able to pay people to do work they enjoy.

I am in absolute love with the Fralin Pure P.A.F.s I put in my mooncaster build. I got them in the lowest output they make and they start out crystal clear and very smooth, but still crunch really hard when you distort them. They have really impressed me. I haven't played a million different pickups but the Fralins are definitely the best I've played. Would also like to try some Lollars.
 

stratamania

Senior member
Messages
9,227
Just a point a pickup of any type produces a signal (hopefully dynamically based on how soft or hard in response to how you pluck or pick) based on a strings vibration -  it is then sent to whatever signal processing, effects, amplification which can then produce a clean, crunch or distorted tone but the pickup itself does not distort or crunch.

Overwound pickups were used originally to send a hotter signal into an amps preamp so it may in turn more easily crunch or distort.
 

SeaGroomer

Senior member
Messages
206
For sure. My issue is that the one guitar that has higher-output pickups will always break up too early unless I lower the volumes down since it comes in so much hotter than my strat or p-90 semi-hollow. It's a Dean Icon Special Select, so they aren't great pickups either haha.
 

stratamania

Senior member
Messages
9,227
SeaGroomer said:
For sure. My issue is that the one guitar that has higher-output pickups will always break up too early unless I lower the volumes down since it comes in so much hotter than my strat or p-90 semi-hollow. It's a Dean Icon Special Select, so they aren't great pickups either haha.

There is a potential project, swap them out.
 

Sadie-f

Senior member
Messages
427
Now that I've dialed in the p/u heights and pole piece screw settings in my new build, I sat down yesterday and recorded and my strat (EOB). Bridge and middle positions are SD JB junior and Li'l screamin' demon HBs respectively, the EOB neck p/u of course is a single coil Fernandez sustainer.

The fresh built W-strat is all Lollar, with an El-Rayo splittable HB, Novel Foil, and Senn #1 in the B, M, & N positions. I recorded to a Tascam plugged into my orange 20 W practice amp, only playing individual pickups, no combinations. I evaluated listening with studio headphones. Here's what I found:

The strat shows a lot more high end in both it's HBs, and sounded surprisingly weak on the bass strings. The walnut / mahogany chambered Warmoth body probably had something to do with rounding a little off the treble register. The Senn #1 in the middle position far outperforms the Fernandez, but that's no surprise, the sustainer pickup is ok, not great.

The main thing I heard across the board is my Warmoth build & Lollars offered absolutely glassy tones. The strat sounds fine, however it suffers just a hint of buzz, where the Lollars have an impressive clean sound. I should probably hook both axes up to an oscilloscope to try to see what I'm hearing.

To my ears the differences are far larger than I've heard in comparisons of different body woods, I don't care to dismantle the strat to try swapping its pickups into the new guitar, and there's no room of course to go the other way.

Conclusion: all three Lollars are delivering well on the tones shown off on their website, which are what sold me on them for this build. They weren't cheap, however I sure felt they're worth what I paid :)


 

stratamania

Senior member
Messages
9,227
That probably in the end is the most important thing, did the pickups meet or exceed expectations, do you like the sound and response of them and regardless of the amount paid (within possibly certain parameters of affordability) do they represent value for money for you...

 
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