Are hi-gain pickup demos really useful?

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by Álvaro QB, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. Álvaro QB

    Álvaro QB SS.org Regular

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    Hi! I really like listening to gear demos and I have always enjoyed watching pickup demos from youtube etc. but somehow I feel that most times, while they are cool for enterntainment (or marketing for the brands), they are not that useful if you want to have an idea of how the pickup is...

    These videos are cool, guys play awesome and the guitars sounds killer. But since in modern metal riffing things like amp settings and mic placement (or modeller settings) counts for the most part of the sound, many times you don't get any info about a pickup demo if you have not any other one to compare with as a control. Basically the info you get is "this pickup can do metal well". I've seen a few demos of the new BKP Ragnarok and I could totally believe if someone tell me they've been recorded with a Duncan Distortion or any other like these, even if the pickups may have differences than feel like night and day while playing.

    I just want to share this thought, nothing against these videos (I love them most times!). On the other side it's really useful when they are comparisons instead, I'm just talking about "one pickup" demos!

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
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  2. Lemonbaby

    Lemonbaby SS.org Regular

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    I fully agree that cabs and mic placement have significant impact on the tone (probably even more than the PUs themselves). However, that's due to the laws of physics and nothing that was invented when "modern metal" came up. Elvis had the same issues...
     
  3. MASS DEFECT

    MASS DEFECT SS.ORG Infiltrator

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    It's a good thing some of the more trusted youtube demo guys provide DIs of their recordings.
     
  4. Álvaro QB

    Álvaro QB SS.org Regular

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    Agree!
     
  5. Zado

    Zado SS.org Regular

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    Thus people gets hyped and buy stuff. Makes them VERY useful for the producer.
     
  6. TheWarAgainstTime

    TheWarAgainstTime "TWAT" for short

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    I don't lean too heavily on demos like that to decide whether a pickup will be exactly what I need, but they can help to narrow down my choices a bit. Years ago, I bought a Duncan Distortion for my 7620 based on all the demos and clips by Keith Merrow and Ola, but when I had it in my guitar/rig I ended up actually kinda hating it :2c:

    I prefer when a demo has multiple pickups in it with direct comparisons, that way if one of those pickups is one I've used or am familiar with, it's easier to identify major differences in tone.
     
  7. kindsage

    kindsage SS.org Regular

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    Slightly off topic but, what did you hate about it and what do you use now?
     
  8. TheWarAgainstTime

    TheWarAgainstTime "TWAT" for short

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    It seemed comparatively scooped and harsh in the extreme high end to other pickups I like such as the Custom and Warpig. I was also playing through a Triple Rectifier at the time, which has plenty of potential to be scooped and go nuts on the presence. Maybe I'd feel differently about it now, but I'm pretty happy with all my current pickups anyway
     
  9. nistley

    nistley SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, thats why a comparison, a baseline, is pretty much necessary to understand what the difference is.
     
  10. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I always do demos as A/B comparisons, with the guitar/amp/settings/mic/etc all held constant. I think that it's hard to really hone in on what a particular pickup is adding to the tone in isolation, vs what's coming from the amp, the guitar, etc. However, I think it's a lot easier to pick up differences between pickups, so even if you don't know how the mic is coloring the tone or the amp is coloring the tone, you can hear how the change in pickups is impacting the tone.

    So, done right, I think they can be useful as a way to make relative comparisons between pickups. But a clip of a pickup alone, even if there's a DI to run it through your own amp, doesn't tell you much, because the amp (sometimes), player, guitar, etc still are huge variables.
     
  11. MASS DEFECT

    MASS DEFECT SS.ORG Infiltrator

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    Yeah, I hope when they do pickup demos, they always include a baseline everyone is familiar with. If they are doing actives, they should always start with an 81 demo. Passive hot rod? Start with a JB. PAF style pups, start with a 57.
     
  12. Humbuck

    Humbuck SS.org Regular

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    I don't put a lot of faith in pickup demo clips, but I do often listen to/watch them and I especially enjoy the comparison ones as well.

    Let the buyer beware!
     
  13. Science_Penguin

    Science_Penguin SS.org Regular

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    Yup!
    That's why I liked Kieth Merrow's Seymour Duncan marathons. Real high-gain, but I was able to tell the pickups apart, so I could still guess at what effect they would have on my tone.
     
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  14. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire tinkerer/aspiring builder/8 string hoarder

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    Yeah for my big 8 string shootout I've been doing I try to keep everything as constant as possible (same riffs, guitar, amp/settings/cab). I try to post a lot of different styles of riffs too so that people get a feel for how the pickup works in a certain setting.
     
  15. Petar Bogdanov

    Petar Bogdanov SS.org Regular

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    One doesn't simply buy one pickup...
     
  16. KailM

    KailM SS.org Regular

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    IMO they don't help much. Even Merrow's videos, which were quite well-done, were not that helpful to me because it was VERY hard to hear a big difference. Let's face it-- pickups DON'T make a huge difference in tone unless they are drastically different from each other. The other thing is, we all dial our amps differently in response to what the pickups are doing. I usually can't find any demos in which the demo-er is using a tone even remotely like mine. When I play the same pickups, they sound nothing like the demos, because I dial-in my rig quite differently, probably have a different rig entirely, and most importantly, have different hands and a different brain.
    Finally, I think every pickup has a "sweet spot" for the player; amp settings that are the best that pickup can do for a particular player. If you're not the one tuning the rig, you can't know what that particular pickup's best settings for you are. Pickups really need to be demo'd in person to get a true representation of whether you'll like them or not. And even then, it takes time to play around with pickup height, pole height, and obviously amp EQ settings.

    The best we can do is engage in conversations like we do here, and see if we even agree on what the same pickups sound like. Then, if person A likes the same things about a pickup as person B, they can talk about other pickups and compare them to a known variable.

    Of course though, I do enjoy watching pickup demos and would encourage people to keep doing them -- but ultimately they don't really help me much when buying new pickups.
     
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  17. Whammy

    Whammy SS.org Regular

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    Exactly. Pickup demos are not solely a demo of the pickup. They also demo the guitar, amp, speakers, mics, engineering/mixing skills, playing ability etc. All of these things combined completely wash away any influence the pickup may have.

    The only way a pickup demo is beneficial is when multiple pickups are used while every other variable is the same. Doing so allows the viewer to attribute any tonal differences to the pickups.
    Not ideal because the setup may favor certain pickups, but it at least gives you a basic idea.

    Long story short, pickup demos that are highly polished exist simply to hype and sell the product. After all, the skill of the player, ability to get good tones, good amps and guitars and good mixing skills attribute to (in my opinion) well over 90% of the sound.
     
  18. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    imo no.

    And thats why I suggested in the Ragnarok thread that I believe pickup companies should provide D.I tracks so we can re-amp and see what the pickups would sound like through our own setup.

    Ive gotten to the point now where I know there is so much post EQ wizardry that you can almost get away with anything pickup/tone wise if you have something high end.
    I went EMG to save money and through my Kemper, almost any tone in a mix will sound great with post production work.

    But it would be nice to know what to expect from pickups before buying them.
     
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  19. Screamingdaisy

    Screamingdaisy SS.org Regular

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    The problem I have with demos is that I can't feel how the pickup or amp responds.
     
  20. MerlinTKD

    MerlinTKD ERG Drummer! Contributor

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    I like them, but the more isolated the particular track is, the more useful it is to me. It also helps immensely to know what the specs are: guitar, amp, settings, effects if any. And then, of course, having something to compare to.

    A single demo would never sway me, but taking the average of a number of them together can be quite useful.
     

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