To change pickups or not to, that is the question!

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by Edika, Dec 7, 2018.

  1. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    I guess this should go the first world problems thread but it is starting to creep in my head a bit more these days.

    I recently got a Gibson Les Paul that is non weight relieved and really like it. It is quite different from what I'm used to in terms of neck profile and playability but it has a certain mojo to it which I dig a lot. What I didn't expect was the really bright sound I'm getting from this instrument which was unexpected for a Les Paul guitar, at least to what I had in mind in terms of sound. It was the Burstbucker pro pickups and they have positives and negatives in terms of sound.

    The positives are that they are clear sounding, being lower output and sound surprisingly well with distortion. They do nail the rock sounds quite well. I've seen that with higher output pickups lower gain sounds sounded non convincing, like when trying to play classic rock, rock and maybe a bit of GnR and stuff like that. Cranking the gain can get it to Thrash territory with lots of clarity. Slight break up sounds are quite convincing and relatively warm.

    Now to the negatives of these pickups, they sound really thin and bright. The cleans are only bearable on the neck pickup and still they sound thin. High gain sounds, while retain clarity, they are also thin and bright sounding. Increasing the gain on the amp more fills them up a bit and more low end comes forth but so do the high frequencies.

    So I'm in a dilemma as I want in one hand to keep the guitar stock and have that classic hard rock sound, as i have other guitars that I have for metal, but I saw a set of Seymour Duncan Black Winters and something in my mind is saying that this guitar is going to sound brutal AF with that set. I know there are a lot of proponents of the Black Winters in this forum and I ave been curious about them but I don't have another guitar I'm planning to change pickups for the time being.
     
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  2. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Gonna just throw the HetSet out there.

    I've had about two dozen sets of pickups in two different LPs and the HetSet keeps going back in. It's flexible, can give classic hot PAF LP tones, but can keep it together for heavier stuff. Just a really great all around pickup set. Even if you're not a fan of the more traditional EMG sets (81/85 or 81/60) it's worth a go.

    :2c:
     
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  3. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    That sounds like how the bb pros sound like in any guitar. I’d change those.
     
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  4. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire hardtail crusader

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    I find black winters work better in darker sounding guitars. They can work in brighter ones but the high end needs to be controlled via amp eq/different capacitors/rolling off your tone knob, etc. I fought with the black winter bridge in my dc600 for ages. I loved the aggressiveness it could get but it just wasn't a good fit for that particular guitar since it was inherently a very bright guitar. They're great pickups, but you have to account for how they interact with the guitar/your rig. No pickup will play nice with all rigs/guitars.
     
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  5. JustinRhoads1980

    JustinRhoads1980 SS.org Regular

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    Maybe try the fishman classic set or the willie adler set? Just a thought. I think that the het set is also a good option as I have one in my jackson and the cleans are really nice. Distortion, that can be a subjective thing since I actually really do not like it as much as other pickups.
     
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  6. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    Have you messed with pickup height or string gauge?
     
  7. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    Thank you for the suggestions guys and I'll think about the options. The guitar does sound bright acoustically so maybe the Black Winters won't be the best fit according to @KnightBrolaire. I thought they might as I've read from a lot of people that they have a thick low end so I was hoping they'll do a better job but be somewhat versatile.

    I'm not against EMG's and I do like their more classic pickups but also liked quite a bit the 57/66 set. I've been curious about the Hetset so it might be a good opportunity to give it a go.

    Fluence pickups I'm not considering at the moment but with the 4 knobs the LP has it might use all of the voices and bells and whistles these offer.

    @budda I did play with the pickup height and haven't seen much of an improvement in the thinness. I haven't tried other strings yet, as I'm using the 9-46 for E standard that came with the guitar but I'm not going to go lower than 11-49. I've found I don't enjoy the sound of thicker strings in Standard tuning so I'm trying to get away with as light a gauge as I can.
     
  8. JustinRhoads1980

    JustinRhoads1980 SS.org Regular

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    That is why I recommended the fluences. With 4 pots you can really have a versatile setup. If you are aiming for versatility, get the devin townsend set. That is what I am getting in my single cut.
     
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  9. gnoll

    gnoll SS.org Regular

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    If they're bright and thin why not just add some bass after gain, like with the amps eq? That should give you tighter bass than if you were getting it pre-gain, like if you had bassier pickups. That's why I think bright and thin pickups are good for metal. But Idk what kind of tones you're into of course.
     
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  10. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire hardtail crusader

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    i love when ppl who haven't even used a pickup recommend them:rolleyes:
     
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  11. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    Try a set of 10-52's, you may be happily surprised. I was!

    Re: height adjustment - did you notice any tonal changes?

    My S2 always sounded bright and I went with it (fit in the mix well). Since getting it into tour retirement, I noticed the bass side of the bridge pickup was pretty low. Adjusted it and now it sounds full. I was amazed that my hss strat sounded thicker, stock :lol:.

    Im also a big fan of sd 59's in singlecuts.
     
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  12. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    Honestly I'm into more balanced tones with some bite. I will try and give it a go with pumping up the bass frequencies, it's just they seem to have a bit of a scratchy nature that kind of rub me the wrong way some times. I'll see however how it works out.

    I guess trying the 11-52 strings would be the cheapest way to see if I can improve the sound and thicken up the tone lol!

    I actually have the pickups quite high on both sides with the bass side a bit more pronounced to accommodate for the more ear piercing frequencies I get from the higher strings. The sound did fill out more that's for sure but when I don't think I can get them higher without the pickups start pulling on the strings. I'll check my drawer and see what sets I have available and maybe order a set.
     
  13. gnoll

    gnoll SS.org Regular

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    Aha, yeah, in that case maybe a pickup swap is the right call. Or if you tried to eq that scratchiness out somehow, but that might be more trouble than it's worth.
     
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  14. PunkBillCarson

    PunkBillCarson SS.org Regular

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    Black Winters in a thick slab of wood like a Les Paul are the tits. They maintain saturation while being mean as all hell. I'll never stop recommending them for thrash, black, and death metal. You won't find a better pickup for those genres, "taste" be damned. Also they clean up quite nicely on the neck pickup, so you won't have to worry about their cleans that much, unless you're just looking for absolutely pristine Fender cleans. Someone else should be coming along today or tomorrow to say almost exactly what I've said.
     
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  15. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    That's good to know. Not necessarily pristine cleans but a fuller sound without much breakup when playing on the clean channel of my Laney.
     
  16. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    What about the EMG retroactive FAT55? Does anyone have any experience with those?
     
  17. KailM

    KailM SS.org Regular

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    :agreed:

    I'll take it a step further and say I do get pristine cleans out of my BW sets. My go-to clean tone is actually with both the neck and bridge selected at the same time. I like the extra brightness of the bridge in there, combined with the depth of the neck version. I also wired mine to a push/pull tone pot for split tones.

    TS, you mentioned also playing with lighter gain aka hard rock and classic rock. I've found that by rolling off the volume knob to around 8/10 the BW bridge becomes smoother and less bright and sounds amazing for those sort of sounds. I did a cover of "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey last year and got all sorts of compliments on my tone -- nailed it. Little did the audience know that I normally play brutal shit. :) Running the volume all the way up, it's a gnarly pickup that tears shit up. I don't find it to be overly bright, but I've always had it in heavy mahogany guitars. If you click on the song in my sig, "A Dying Breed," that's a pretty good example of all the ground the BW set can cover, including cleans.
     
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  18. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    Well my impatience, GAS and positive comments for the Black Winters got the better of me and ordered a set. It'll be here mid week :D.
     
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  19. PunkBillCarson

    PunkBillCarson SS.org Regular

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    I promise you, give it the first five minutes and you'll be going around to every single pickup thread repeating exactly what KailM and I have said... unless they're looking durr-jent pickups and then in that case, we just move on to the next pickup thread or amp thread that brings up brutal amps.
     
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  20. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    On one side I'm super excited and can't wait to get them and pit them on the guitar. On the other side I want to remain level headed and not expect too much as I have KnightBrolaire's post in mind about them not playing nicely with bright guitars and he has gone through so many pickups and has a good idea of what those pickups sound like. Good thing is if I don't like them on the Les Paul I can give them a go into a couple of other guitars to see how they behave. Worst case scenario, if they're not to my taste in general I'll find someone to trade them for something else.
     

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