Wrong pickups or wrong guitar?

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by lyonk55, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. lyonk55

    lyonk55 SS.org Regular

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    Hey all, looking for advice on my current tone predicament: my 7 string always sounds harsh.

    It's a second-hand Skervesen I've had around three years now. It's a limba bodied Raptor with bolt-on maple and rosewood (perhaps?) neck and maple fretboard. I've tried three sets of pickups in it in that time and haven't been getting along completely with any. It always seems to have too much going on in the upper mids/treble. It originally had Bareknuckle Nailbombs, which were lacking in midrange fullness. I switched those to Juggernauts which solved that, but I wasn't a fan of the cocked-wah thing going on, or the low mid bump at ~250 Hz. So I tried Impulses. These are much more balanced and were looking promising, but there is a harshness that comes through on higher notes/big chords that all three sets have. Both my Ibanez SZ4020 with Duncan Alpha/Omegas and my newest JP15 with Dimarzio Illuminators sound much smoother while staying aggressive.

    At this point, I'm not sure if this is inherent to the guitar, the pickups or just the combination not working. I'm tempted to just sell the guitar and try something new, but it's a good looking, comfortable instrument. So I'm looking for what people here would recommend: cutting my loses or to keep experimenting, maybe with different brands?
     
  2. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    If you like how it plays and sounds acoustically I'd hang on to it. I can feel you on all those descriptions, I think you just haven't tried the right pickup yet. My advice would be to try something more classic, for example, BKP Emerald and VHII neck. Something like that.
     
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  3. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire despair ahead

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    holy divers are smoother on the high end and less dark on the low end than the impulses, i'd say give those a shot. they can
    get very aggresive as well.
    a lot of the more vintage flavored pickups (ie black dog, emerald, rebel yell) will prob have more high end than you're looking for. the rebel yells have that upper mid accentuation already, so i wouldn't go that route.

    never hurts to ask tim at bkp or nick at axe palace either.
     
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  4. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    Have you considered changing the electronics? Pots have a huge effect on High End frequencies. I'm not experienced with active pickups (either Fluence or EMGs or Seymour) but as far as passive pickups go, the right pot can make a difference for the sound you're looking for. I'd say to find the pickup that's closer to what you need, back it off a little from the strings and eventually experiment with different value pots for volume and tone.
     
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  5. Lemonbaby

    Lemonbaby SS.org Regular

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    I hope you see the problem and the solution yourself in the condensed view.
     
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  6. lyonk55

    lyonk55 SS.org Regular

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    I hadn't no, but it is a single volume set up with, I think a BKP 550k pot and the others are 500ks with tone knobs too. If I understand correctly, the 2 pot set up should be the equivalent to 1 250k pot, so I might give that a try.
     
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  7. lyonk55

    lyonk55 SS.org Regular

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    That the bareknucle range ain't for me?
     
  8. Alex79

    Alex79 SS.org Regular

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    Sounds like it's the guitar.

    Try the pickups in a different guitar maybe?
     
  9. Lorcan Ward

    Lorcan Ward 7slinger

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    BM style guitars are always very bright cause of the construction and timbers used. Pairing that with BKPs which have a high mid emphasis it's no wonder it's harsh sounding. Try a set of dimarzios, maybe even swap the magnets for Alnico V and it would take down a lot of those high frequencies.

    I found the same problem with nearly every BKP set I tried, they are mostly voiced using Tim's thick mahogany les paul so they can get bright and mid spikey in anything brighter sounding. It's consistent across all their range like other pickups have a certain fizz or character across the range. If it doesn't work for you then swap brand.
     
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  10. TommyG

    TommyG Tommy G

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    As it was said above, I would give Nick a call at The Axe Palace and have this conversation with him.
    He has always had good suggestions for my guitars...
     
  11. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Probably inherent to the instrument, to a large extent. As @Lorcan Ward said, that construction style is designed to be very bright, lots of clarity, lots of attack. Actually, that sound is great for recording because it thickens up when you add layers.

    You also have to bear in mind that usually brightness/clarity of a guitar is a desired property, which is why it was built that way. It helps you cut through, and it's a lot easier to dial back a bright sound than it is to boost/clear up a muddy and dull sound.

    The obvious thing to tweak first is your amp settings. I personally have amp settings/plugin presets specific to each guitar. I can't expect my 7 string with EMGs to use the same settings as my les paul with burstbuckers or my baritone with Fishmans.

    You might want to just find a really dark pair of pickups to put in there. If that still doesn't get rid of the particular characteristic that you don't like, you should consider it inherent to the guitar and sell it.
     
  12. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    I wouldn't say to go that low, but if you're experienced with soldering, get a few different value pots, ranging from 550k to 250k ohms and test them. It should be pretty cheap comparing to swapping pickups...
     
  13. lyonk55

    lyonk55 SS.org Regular

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    Can't I'm afraid: I only have one 7 string and don't yew anyone's I could borrow.

    I feel that currently it's actually making things less clear, especially on distorted chords. Single notes aren't so bad, but chords have a grating hiss to them that just mushes together. Seems to be specific frequency bands in the 2k to 4k region : cutting them clears things up, but ends up leaving things sounding dull.

    I think I'll pick up a lower value pot in the mean time, while looking more into duncan and dimarzio. Give it another chance before giving up on the guitar.

    Thanks for the suggestions guys. Any more advice/suggested pickups etc are always welcome. :)
     
  14. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Fiddle with your amp presence/treble control? Or if you're using modelling, try a different cab impulse? And everything mushing together sounds like maybe you have too much gain.

    I know these are basic things, but worth suggesting in case you haven't tried.
     
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  15. lyonk55

    lyonk55 SS.org Regular

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    I have tried that. I can't seem to find find the sweet spot there is clarity, definition and enough saturation without the upper mids cutting through too much. I try to use "just enough" gain but here it's either enough but harsh or not enough and and dull if I try to cut the presence or highs a bit.
     
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  16. TommyG

    TommyG Tommy G

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    Just a thought...
    Pickup height can play into this also. Have you tweaked it at all?
    Closer to the strings creates more output volume and typically more bass.
    Good Luck,
     
  17. lyonk55

    lyonk55 SS.org Regular

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    I have, but I'm planning on more tweaking with them tonight when I get home from work. If I can put down the JP for long enough that is :p
     
  18. skmanga

    skmanga SS.org Regular

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    How about some of those Dimarzio PAF's Ibanez puts in their prestige 7's.
    My buddys got some in his RG752 with an ash body, and its a surprisingly warm and great sounding guitar!
     
  19. lyonk55

    lyonk55 SS.org Regular

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    So...a bit of a surprise this weekend. On a whim I loosened the truss rod a touch and that might have actually fixed the high end issues I was having. I'm guessing the action was a hair too low and notes where choking/ringing against the frets without rattling, but emphasising some unpleasant frequencies. I actually put the Juggernauts back in and I'm enjoying the extra chunk compared to the Impulses now.

    Not sure it's exactly what I'm wanting yet (more playing to tell), but it is a definite improvement. Which makes me feel daft that it was something so simple. :p
     
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  20. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    A bad setup kills a guitar's tone...
     

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