Anyone else wonder how much pickups actually matter?

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by Nag, Jan 10, 2021.

  1. Nag

    Nag chugs and screams

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    Interestingly enough, you're not the first person I've seen pointing that out.
     
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  2. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    It depends how much it matters. As you get more into shaping your tone digitally, it matters less and less. If you plug into a vintage amp, it obviously matters a lot more, because you have fewer tone shaping tools.

    It's like how much clay matters to a sculptor. If the sculptor is removing material by hand, it's very important. If you are using a CNC machine with modern tool heads to sculpt, and some sort of feedback loop to control speed, then the material still matters, but tends to matter less.

    So, with modern amp sims and IR's and other VST plugins, you are basically controlling what your pickups sound like with your computer.

    I'm surprised at how much this topic has been coming up the past several months, as if it's something new. :confused:
     
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  3. efiltsohg

    efiltsohg SS.org Regular

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    pickups matter a lot, just that most of the pickups members on this site are using are pretty similar
     
  4. DrakkarTyrannis

    DrakkarTyrannis

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    People are using practically everything under the sun...
     
  5. efiltsohg

    efiltsohg SS.org Regular

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    swap one hot PAF for another - DURR WHY MY GUITAR SOUND SAME
     
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  6. DrakkarTyrannis

    DrakkarTyrannis

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    But everyone here has different guitars with l sorts of pickups. That's a bit of a sweep.

    We've got low gain, high gain, active, passive, series, parallel, P90s, single coil, all kinds of stuff.
     
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  7. Stuck_in_a_dream

    Stuck_in_a_dream SS.org Regular

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    ^ this plus in my experience, playing my guitars/amps/sims and watching gazillion and one demos, pickups do/can matter a great deal up to a point. For example, for highly distorted tones, I think several pickups could sound near identical, a bigger factor for these tones might be the cab/cab sim.

    For me, I care a lot about the quality of the attack of the note, so the pick material/thickness and pickups really do matter there. Also, depending on guitar materials/construction, e.g. too bright/too warm, it's impossible IME at least, to make such a guitar sounds like say a canonical LP/Strat just by changing the pickups. Not the best example, but there's some truth there.
     
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  8. Metropolis

    Metropolis SS.org Regular

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    Fender singlecoils sound like ass in a metal context, also Caparison humbucker had really weird scratchy fizz going on and it was thin and muffled at the same time. Between certain types of humbuckers it doesn't matter that much. Actives always have a certain kind of compression going on, especially Fishmans have super processed and articulate sound.
     
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  9. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    I think I liked differnet guitars for different riffs more. The Gibson 498T really held it's owm on all the riffs and it was quite surprising. I think the one pickup I liked the least was the Caparison. The Black metal riff, I honestly could not tell a difference between pickups hahaha.
     
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  10. oldbulllee

    oldbulllee SS.org Regular

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    the thing that stood out to me in the video: no Ibanez. go figure.
     
  11. jaxadam

    jaxadam SS.org Regular

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    Great video.

    Two things: I'm not in the least surprised I could tell immediately and preferred the 81. The other is, I have no idea how he got the BH-IIR to sound so good!
     
  12. Themistocles

    Themistocles SS.org Regular

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    They do matter especially in feel. Certain types of pickups have a very distinct feel to them, also when going from cheap stock (usually massively overwound with big ceramic magnets) that come stock they might have output but they are fizzy and a tad harsh. Usable but uninspiring is what I describe most stock pickups from decent manufacturers these days.

    Best thing is get a sense of what you want. For my Custom specd and rather odd Carvin DC747 I liked all of the pickups, especially all 3 at once but hated the bridge pickup for high output distortion and lead playing so I wanted something that had a thicker sound both low end and midrange... so I went with the Tone Zone 7 to smooth out the brittle highs and make it have a chewier pick response. It absolutely worked and now I spend 75% of my time on the bridge pickup alone. For my latest 7 string acquisition I wanted some familiarity but a quicker bass response so I picked the titan 7. It isnt as chewy as the TZ 7 but its similar and though it had more highs it still wasnt brittle. For the bridge of that guitar Im consideringa Bare knuckle supermassive 7 P90 because I lovev that for throaty smooth leads. For my next 7 Ill probably pick up a cheap jackson and make it my pure metal axe. Ill likely pick deactivotors for the bridge and drop my old carvin C26T bridge pickup in as the neck beacuse sometimes I just want that kind of gain and fast attack. I do a lot of alternate picking with sharp dunlop jazz 3 picks so I dont want a harsh attack on that... but maybe the metal guitar is just for sharp rhythm playing? Nut for regular playing I want wide dynamic range and touch sensitivity... I started off with violin and viola so I come form very responsive and somewhat unforgiving acoustic tone generation (dear hell how my parents must have loved me to stand that practicing).


    pick a concept then choose gear that helps contribute. Dont go for fat tones from your pickup to play through an 8 inch open backed cabinet, etc. Pickups contribute but theres a whole system at work... Pickups merely set the table but the actual meal upon it depends on other elements.

    but you see what I mean, pick a tonal and responsive concept when you pick a new pickup set. Im personally jonezing to try out the Seymour Duncan Sh 5 in the bridge sometime... its one mean sounding pickup... I have long very thin fingers so the pickups I pick tend to fatten things up.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  13. Hoss632

    Hoss632 SS.org Regular

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    To me pick ups 100% matter. There are almost no stock pickups that I think sound really good regardless of which company it is. All my favorite sounding guitars that are factory stock come with duncan's, dimarzio's, emg and those aftermarket pick up companies stuff. The availability of plug ins and what not simply makes it easier for folks to get that amazing high gain tone on a a budget.
     
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  14. SubsonicDoom99

    SubsonicDoom99 SS.org Regular

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    I find it's really important to me. For example, I just can't seem to use EMG pickups. I'm not against them by any means, I've heard other players use them and get incredible tones that I love. But when I try to use them, it just doesn't work for some reason. Had an old Explorer with an EMG in the bridge and it never felt/sounded right, regardless of different amps, different pedals and strings, etc. Finally I put a JB in there and boom, world of difference (obviously I know going from active to passive matters as well). Same thing later with an Ironbird I own, got it with an EMG already in it and try as I might I couldn't get it to sound or feel right for me. Swapped with a DiMarzio Super Distortion and suddenly it felt perfect to me. *shrug* And certain pickups I do love don't always work when I put them in certain kinds of guitars compared to others. Even with a high gain amp it still makes a big difference for me.
     
  15. potatohead

    potatohead SS.org Regular

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    I definitely think they matter and I can typically hear differences (in person) immediately. Online it is harder, especially when people are using a lot of processing. However I do believe a good ten band eq is far more useful than a pickup swap the majority of the time. An eq won't change the overall character of a pickup of course, but if you're just looking for some tweaks and not a really big change, it is much more useful.
     
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  16. jaxadam

    jaxadam SS.org Regular

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    I tend to agree, but there are a few stock ones I’ve had no issue with, and actually rather liked, namely the older Ibanez V1/V2’s, Caparison PH-R’s, and PRS Dragon 1 pickups.
     
  17. BenjaminW

    BenjaminW SS.org Regular

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    I'm in a weird situation where I wanna swap out the Burstbucker 2 in my Les Paul Axcess for an EVH Wolfgang, but I'll start tweaking with settings on my amp or on pedals, and whatever it is tonally that bothers me about the Burstbucker pretty much goes away.
     
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  18. Hoss632

    Hoss632 SS.org Regular

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    Funny thing is as I thought about this a little more there are some set's I do like. PRS tremonti USA set, the set in the PRS Core series Paul's guitar and their "m" metal pick ups are nice. Tom Anderson has a couple of humbuckers that are quite nice as well as Suhr and Kiesel. Outside of those the overwhelming majority I'm just not the biggest fan of. I've actually not listened to much of the Caparison stuff. I'll have to check em out.
     
  19. groverj3

    groverj3 Bioinformagician

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    It's hard to say. I have four guitars within reach and all in different tunings. I definitely don't have the patience to swap a bunch of pickups into the same guitar.

    I certainly feel like they react differently to my playing. Between say, a JB in standard tuning, a Duncan Distortion in Eb, a Duncan Custom in D standard, and an EMG 81 in C standard. However, with the variable tunings and string gauges going on it's hard to say.

    It seems to me that my JB isn't great for tight rhythm playing, and lacks the "grind" or "growl" (these damn adjectives) in the low end that I get out of the Custom or Distortion. Is that wind? Magnet? Or strings? Who knows. I'd love to have a quick connect system like EMGs for passives so I can check it out with all other variables the same.
     
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  20. Hoss632

    Hoss632 SS.org Regular

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    100% agree. I personally find when I listend to most Dimarzio pick ups they have more mid and low end and smoother highes. Where Duncan pick ups so to have more of a focus on the mid's and higher end of the spectrum. EMG's vary for me though. The retro actives have a MUCH wider frenquency range sound wise than a lot of the normal actives like the 81 and 85.
     
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