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Have you ever been in pickup-swap hell?

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  • Have you ever been in pickup-swap hell?

    You know, constantly experimenting because what you're hearing isn't right? I just went through this with a new guitar. I installed six different humbuckers with several magnet swaps trying to find the right sound for this guitar.

    I've also had the experience where I've tried many different pickups, only to find that I like the stock ones best.

    Have you ever gone through pickup swap hell? Have you ever bought a guitar where you didn't have to change them?



  • #2
    Yes, except that I think of it more as an adventure. It's a combination of frustrating and a learning experience.

    I have several guitars with stock pups. But almost all came with either Duncan Designed or EMG Designed. Good pups. Just not made in the good ole USA.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Top-L View Post
      Have you ever bought a guitar where you didn't have to change them?
      What? No. Not possible. There are always more mods you can do. And after you're done with those, you can mod your mods so they become modded mods, which may need yet more modest modification if they're only moderately close to the sound in your head. Mod mod.


      __PRESENT
      LP, Pearly Gates A6 bridge, Alnico II Pro neck A2
      Strat, BKP True Grit bridge 'bucker A2, SSL6s middle/neck
      Strat, Perpetual Burn A6 bridge, SSL6s middle/neck
      Tele, Quarter Pound Tele bridge, Hot for Tele neck
      Tele, Transition A6 bridge, Air Norton A4 neck
      SG Special, Lead Mini A6, Rhythm Mini A4
      Jackson V, 500T bridge, 498T A2 neck
      RG, EVO2 A6 bridge, FRED A4 Neck

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      • #4
        ^^^ You're sick. You're one of us.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ArtieToo View Post
          Yes, except that I think of it more as an adventure. It's a combination of frustrating and a learning experience.

          I have several guitars with stock pups. But almost all came with either Duncan Designed or EMG Designed. Good pups. Just not made in the good ole USA.
          I actually learned quite a bit.

          I swapped Ceramic/A5 between four pickups and learned the difference it makes. Ultimately they weren't the pickups I wanted in the guitar.

          I learned that the Evolution is (probably) designed for Basswood guitars, because it adds an upper mid peak that is well represented in my new "Mahogany" guitar. (Lets be honest, its an indonesian guitar with solid paint, I have no idea what wood it really is.) I put the Evolution in a Basswood guitar and its right as rain in there.

          While I was "in" one of the guitars scavenging pickups, I swapped out an old cheap pot for one with better finger roll. I learned I should have fixed that when I got the guitar seven years ago instead of living with it.

          I learned that my multimeter has an Ohms resistance calibration that needs to be set or it will give ridiculous readings.

          I learned that I should attend to the frets much more frequently. The difference between my new guitar's frets and all my other guitars is night/day. Over time I get used to the dead spots and compromised tone and don't realize how bad they are. I probably play 16x as many notes as most people so I've got to budget in yearly plek jobs.

          I learned that if you drill out a pickup for direct mount, if you want to later use it with pickup rings, you can fix it by soldering a nut to the base.

          I learned that if a Floyd has loose bar threads, you can fix it with teflon tape.

          I learned that in Dimarzio pickups, the magnet is encased in wax and changing the magnet could be major surgery.

          Last edited by Top-L; 08-08-2020, 01:37 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Top-L View Post
            ave you ever bought a guitar where you didn't have to change them?
            Yes, two of my Les Pauls have stock Gibson pickups and two other Les Pauls have Duncan WLHs. My 99 USA Parker, 73 Ovation Deacon, 02 Gibson SG all have the stock pickups. Seeing I have 20 or so guitars that is not a lot of stock instruments.


            | Gear Reviews | Beer | Babes | The Internet's Only Unedited & Uncensored Musician's Forum | Sports |

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            • #7
              Originally posted by zizyphus View Post

              What? No. Not possible. There are always more mods you can do. And after you're done with those, you can mod your mods so they become modded mods, which may need yet more modest modification if they're only moderately close to the sound in your head. Mod mod.


              __PRESENT
              I like the way you think!

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              • #8
                I am currently going through pickup swap monkey business as well.
                So far 4 swaps in my Ibanez and Iím still not 100% satisfied. I think I have learned that this particular guitar wants a Dimarzio in it though.
                I tried a mag swap in one of the pickups and I think I damaged it.
                Iím going to use it as an opportunity to learn exactly how a pickup is assembled. And as such I absolutely will fix this damn pickup or die trying.

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                • #9
                  It ends when you become exhausted, sell the guitar, or you stop worrying because you have an experience with one of the pickups that was previously unsatisfactory that causes you to change your mind. Once you've been in the zone for a while, you're listening to close to the pickups and not enough for anything else. The same thing happens with swapping speakers in an amp. Bonding with the guitar is more about figuring out its strengths. It took me 40 years to learn this.

                  One solution that sometimes works for me is buy a GFS or Tonerider in the configuration closest to what you think you want, and tell yourself you're giving up the quest. Then either you stick with it, marveling at how the cheapest pickup wasn't any worse than the most expensive one, or it becomes clear to you that one of your prior more expensive sets is the way to go. One time I was having the most horrible time finding a bridge pickup, I replaced an expensive custom bridge humbucker with a GFS Vintage 59. Initially I hated it and thought it was pure, harsh treble, but I'd blown up my soldering Iron and temporarily given up soldering after an embarrassing SNAFU, so it stayed in. Dang if I didn't fall in love with it over time.

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                  • #10
                    I have swapped a lot of pickups only to arrive back at the stock pickup. That's fun.
                    Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Gtrjunior View Post
                      I am currently going through pickup swap monkey business as well.
                      So far 4 swaps in my Ibanez and Iím still not 100% satisfied. I think I have learned that this particular guitar wants a Dimarzio in it though.
                      I tried a mag swap in one of the pickups and I think I damaged it.
                      Iím going to use it as an opportunity to learn exactly how a pickup is assembled. And as such I absolutely will fix this damn pickup or die trying.
                      I put 490Ts in two of my Ibanezs and they sound killer. The great thing about the 490T is so many people talk crap about them you can get them cheap on the used market. I paid $50 for one of them.



                      | Gear Reviews | Beer | Babes | The Internet's Only Unedited & Uncensored Musician's Forum | Sports |

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                      • #12
                        I actually learned quite a bit.

                        I swapped Ceramic/A5 between four pickups and learned the difference it makes. Ultimately they weren't the pickups I wanted in the guitar.
                        I've magnet swapped my face off. It's a tone of fun, and you can get some great sounds!

                        I learned that if you drill out a pickup for direct mount, if you want to later use it with pickup rings, you can fix it by soldering a nut to the base.
                        That's.... that's brilliant...


                        I learned that in Dimarzio pickups, the magnet is encased in wax and changing the magnet could be major surgery.
                        True. Huge PITA


                        __PRESENT
                        LP, Pearly Gates A6 bridge, Alnico II Pro neck A2
                        Strat, BKP True Grit bridge 'bucker A2, SSL6s middle/neck
                        Strat, Perpetual Burn A6 bridge, SSL6s middle/neck
                        Tele, Quarter Pound Tele bridge, Hot for Tele neck
                        Tele, Transition A6 bridge, Air Norton A4 neck
                        SG Special, Lead Mini A6, Rhythm Mini A4
                        Jackson V, 500T bridge, 498T A2 neck
                        RG, EVO2 A6 bridge, FRED A4 Neck

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Definitely been down this road...many times. Glad you learned so much along the way!

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                          • #14
                            Don't sacrifice good for perfect.
                            Unless, of course, you have the resources to.

                            Sent from my Alcatel_5044C using Tapatalk

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                            • #15
                              '83 Les Paul Custom "Black Beauty."

                              Mudsville.

                              Tried everything. Many different pickups, covers pulled, crazy adjustments, pickups flipped, etc. Years spent fighting that thing. In the end, hacked it to take P90s, and it sounded better...but still DARK.

                              Turns out, in my ignorance of my youth, I didn't realize that the stock pots were 100Ks, or what that even meant in regards to tone. The original Tim Shaws sounded as good as anything, once I built a proper vintage style wiring harness for the guitar. I restored the hack work that I had done to put the P90s in, and the guitar is now better than new, and original except for the internal components and slight wood repairs (which are totally invisible the way I repaired it – and under the pickup rings anyhow).
                              Last edited by ItsaBass; 08-08-2020, 08:38 PM.
                              Originally posted by LesStrat
                              Yogi Berra was correct.
                              Originally posted by JOLLY
                              I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

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