Are any OEM pickups really good?

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by JediMasterThrash, Aug 6, 2021.

  1. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    Gibson's 500T/496R set is great. I tried a few other sets out of curiosity in the guitar they're in and have put them back in. Not sure how well they fair in lreally ow tunings but up to C thay sound great.

    Carvin C22B/N set. I was curious about other sets and trying a magnet swap on the bridge pickup. Even though I have a different set in that guitar I still have then and am considering putting them back in. Really hot and clear sounding bridge pickup.

    Dimarzio/IBZ, sounded great in my Ivanez and I had it on for about 3-4 years before I decided to try something else. The bridge pickup sounded a bit honky and it got a bit grating after a while. But they seemed great for lower tunings.
     
  2. Necky379

    Necky379 SS.org Regular

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    They’re great in other guitars besides the Wolfgang too, one of my all time favorite humbuckers.

    OEM Fender Robert Cray import pickups from Mexico are my favorite single coils. They are so good.
     
  3. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    The original question was about high end guitars, and that makes me wonder why exactly those high end guitars even come with pickups. Anyone who is spending like $1000 or more on a guitar is obviously someone who aftermarket pickups will be interesting to, and who has a clear idea of what they want. So what's the point in putting in "jack of all trades" pickups that won't be great for any one thing?

    Maybe it's the cynic in me, but I have to wonder if there isn't a really good profit margin on the "high end but still stock OEM" pickups. I have no problems with that, they gots to make money, but it seems likely to me that this is true.

    We all know that stock pickups are... Well, stock pickups... But we also accept that the pickups are included in the pricetag, and our brains adjust for that when we consider the value for money. Just a thought.
     
  4. BabUShka

    BabUShka SS.org Regular

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    I've changed OEM pickups om nearly all of my guitars. Even 3 Gibson guitars. There is only one guitar where the original pickups really impressed me - a cheap Korea EVH Wolfgang Standard. Man those pickups were smooth. Hot, crunchy, tight and super clear.
     
  5. USMarine75

    USMarine75 Colorless green ideas sleep furiously Contributor

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    So many great OEM pickups many of which were already mentioned.

    I think people conflate OEM pickups not being "good" because:
    • They're not technically "bad" per se, just not what you prefer
    • hype for aftermarket pickups vs no hype generally for stock pickups
    • We all fall for the "aftermarket must be better than stock" fallacy due to $$$, YT shills, etc.

    There are many "high end" OEM pickups too. EVH Wolfgang, Suhr, Schecter, Fender, Gibson, PRS, etc. The Gibson 496/500 are underrated for metal IMO and their Classic 57/57+ are great for everything else. I actually don't like their Burstbuckers (personal preference) but that doesnt make them bad.

    On the more affordable end, the Duncan Designed pickups in several guitars I've owned were fantastic. Peavey made dual and quad radiused rail pickups 20 years ago that were amazing, not just the Wolfgang.

    Also, are we including pickups like Dimarzio and SD as OEM? Because the stock SD JB (inexpensive and come stock on many guitars) in my new Epiphone sound killer. And I've always been a Dimarzio guy. The TZ/AN stock in many Ibanez models is one of the best (IMO) overall pickup sets ever made. And the stock JB/59 SD set may be the most ubiquitous and best-bang-for-the-buck sets.
     
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  6. dr_game0ver

    dr_game0ver SS.org Regular

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    Aren't the Dean PUs copies of others popular PUs?
    Also: Jackson PUs from the 80' are great. Godin also make some killer PUs.
     
  7. ChrisLA

    ChrisLA SS.org Regular

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    1000 dollars "high end"? That's mid tier territory, think MIM Fender, LTD. High end would, in my book, be at least 3k, or perhaps even 4-5k.
     
  8. Randy

    Randy ✝✝✝ Super Moderator

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    The stocker in my old Intrepid sounded better than literally any aftermarket 8 string pickup I've played.
     
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  9. jaxadam

    jaxadam SS.org Regular

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    Caparison PH-F and PH-R’s.
     
  10. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    You're making my point for me. The more that someone is spending on a guitar, the less relevant the stock pickups become. Pickups cost money, but there is a pretty solid ceiling there. Up around $400ish is where you can spec your own from the Seymour Duncan custom shop. If you're going to spend 2k or 3k to get your dream guitar then it's pretty obvious you're going to get your dream pickups. There are some good OEM pickups, but no-one is sitting up at night thinking "Man, one day I will get a stock Gibson PAF...".

    And seriously, just because you CAN spend 5k on a guitar doesn't mean that 5k is where "high end" starts. Those ludicrous off-the-shelf 5k models are not there to actually sell, they are part of a pricing structure which aims to convince you to buy a guitar somewhere in the middle of the range with higher profit margins. They aren't helpful to reference.

    At a minimum, I must insist that anything you special order from the custom shop counts as high end, even if its modestly specced and only runs to $1800.
     
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  11. Neon_Knight_

    Neon_Knight_ SS.org Regular

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    These are underrated. It seems a lot of people swap them out without trying them (or even avoid buying a certain guitar because of them), purely based on negative comments online...most of which are actually about the cheap IBZ pickups, not DiMarzio/IBZ.

    Bridge is somewhere between Super D & Super 3. Neck is similar to Super 2.
    That's not going to be the perfect set for everyone, but will do a good job of a wide range of hard rock and metal.
     
  12. Rex

    Rex SS.org Regular

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    I remember the Cepheus 7 strings passives were really good pickups I regret having sold them
     
  13. dspellman

    dspellman SS.org Regular

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    Most of my guitars (50+ and counting) have their original pickups.

    I think SD and the rest have done a good job of marketing in the aftermarket, and particularly in guitar forums, there are folks who suck that up.
     
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  14. dspellman

    dspellman SS.org Regular

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    I have two guitars with Suhr Aldrich pickups. Good?
     
  15. Bearitone

    Bearitone SS.org Regular

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    Schecter apocalypse pickups are bitchin.

    Supposedly, Balaguer pickups are great too but, no direct experience personally
     
  16. grimm26

    grimm26 SS.org Regular

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    I had a USA Jackson Warrior that I bought in 1991 and the pickups were TERRIBLE.
     
  17. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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    Yes, the high end + stock is more to the point.

    Even a baseline SD JB+59 or DM TZ+AN set is going to run you around 180$. So if your guitar is <1K it's unlikely a guitar builder would put 20% of the price of the guitar into 3rd party hardware.

    That 1k-2k mark I used to consider high end when I had 300-600$ guitars, though I guess that's mostly mid-range now. I can see an OEM still not wanting to put 400$ BKP set in a 2K guitar. But at that price point you at least expect a pickup that is "worth" 200$ for the set (i.e. it is as good of quality as a standard SD/DM).

    I've been a fan of getting a good 200-600$ guitar, good wood, feel, looks, and then putting in 400$ worth of new hardware. Then for <1K I've got something that specs better than at 2K guitar.

    Once i hit the 1.5K mark, I kind of expect I shouldn't have to change anything. I just don't understand non-SS frets and bolt-on necks at that price point. And when they do come with a brand pickup, it's something you either love or hate (usually something really modern metal, like active EMGs or nazgul/sentient or painkillers or something) versus something more versatile (TZ or blaze or super-distortion or something).

    And once you're over 2K, I don't see the point in not getting exactly what you want which means a semi-custom, something where you get to make some key choices. And usually let you pick pickups and just add the price.
     
  18. soul_lip_mike

    soul_lip_mike SS.org Regular

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    I’d love to hear opinions on Dean’s in house pickups.
     
  19. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire \[T]/

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    The Balaguer feral and evergreen pickups are realllly good if you like more modern leaning tones. They keep up with anything aftermarket I've tried tbh.
     
  20. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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    This is not my original question, but this thought suddenly peaked my interest.

    Are there any non-standard pup brands (DM/SD/EMG/BKP) that are worth looking at to replace an existing PUP (which maybe already is one of those standard brands).

    Like it's not just great enough on an OEM guitar, it's great enough you'd pick it for a pup swap.

    At one point I'd thought about suhr pickups. But it was hard to really get any A/B comparisons with anything I knew, it's hard to take a gamble. The nice thing about the bigger brands is there's plenty of comparison reviews, and also they make enough variety that they clearly have pups identified as for your metal style.

    Some I think are pretty nitchy (lace and lundgren, and maybe you might consider those standard, even though technically boutique).
    At one point I'd thought about the Suhr Aldrich pickups since I've liked his 80's tone.

    But would you ever track down a guitar OEM pickup to replace something else?
     

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