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Low output >> Ceramic Swap, into Boost circuit- Intriguing concept? Which pickups?

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  • Low output >> Ceramic Swap, into Boost circuit- Intriguing concept? Which pickups?

    Hey all-

    I've recently been exploring the concept of boosted passives-

    Logically it would make sense that taking the clear, nuanced output of a low output pickup and then boosting it would result in a much more nuanced end result than simply having a huge magnet/overwound pickup. Maybe I'm wrong, but I've never liked super high output pickups to begin with.

    If I wanted to try this out, have any of you guys swapped out vintage pickups' magnets for ceramic? My goal is to get something in that 'vintage hot' range output wise, balanced with lots of detail.

    Thanks-
    Last edited by ekulggats; 01-26-2021, 02:32 PM.

  • #2
    It could result in something a bit brighter and more scooped. I would go with an A8 in a vintage wind pickup first. But that's not to say that a ceramic wouldn't work.

    Sent from my SM-A115A using Tapatalk

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    • #3
      Use a double thick alnico magnet, it achieves exactly that. Or not.
      The things that you wanted
      I bought them for you

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      • #4
        I remember a post years ago from somebody who used a ceramic in his SH-1B.
        Doesn't show up in a search anymore, but he called it a fire breathing monster.

        Seymour sometimes used to hot-rod people's humbuckers by swapping in a ceramic.
        I agree with Demanic that A8 might be a better alternative nowadays.
        Unless you want a real flamethrower.
        .
        "My hovercraft is full of eels."

        .

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        • #5
          I have a guitar with a PAF style pickup (around 8k) with a ceramic magnet. It has a nice clear tone. It’s not overly bright. But you can get single coil type tones from it.

          The older Bill Lawrence pickups are like that. And many of the older Bartolini/Hi-A pickups.

          The difference with an A8 is the increased inductance. That would give a low end boost. A ceramic would be more hi-fi.

          Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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          • #6
            What's the perceived advantage of changing the magnet in the pickup rather than the more traditional route of boosting your low output pickups' signal with a pedal?

            I believe Dimarzio uses ceramic magnets in some of their lower output pickups.
            Last edited by alex1fly; 01-27-2021, 11:46 AM.
            Originally posted by crusty philtrum
            Anyone who *sings* at me through their teeth deserves to have a bus drive through their face
            http://www.youtube.com/alexiansounds

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            • #7
              I have to say, I've never heard a magnet swap sound as drastic as adding an actual preamp like the Blackout to a guitar. The tone and attack changes with the magnet swap, but it isn't a huge jump in output that a preamp can provide.
              Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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              • #8
                There's quite a bit to disassemble here in your post to get to the endpoint you want.
                But you're reaching for it, for an idea, and I get where you're going, that's great.

                For starters, and a good example out the gate:
                Watch Andy Timmons' Rig Rundown on Premier Guitar (YT).
                And his use of the Carl Martin compressor In Particular.
                But you have to watch and listen Carefully to what he's saying.
                His Entire Goal of using the comp is to get Exactly what you're describing.
                Disregard any 'chicken-picken' super-squash references he makes, that doesn't apply here.

                Point being, he can't 'get there' with pickups alone.
                If he could, he would have sown the path for you, but he can't, so he found an alternative, workable solution, the comp.
                He uses clean (DiMarzio DP187 Cruiser) pickups with a treble bleed on-board circuit.
                To Maintain exactly what you want, a clean, nuanced, detailed tone.
                But he needs the comp to take that tone the rest of the way (of where you want to go).
                To maintain it, but pump it up to loud and proud levels without losing anything along the way.
                The minute he goes into any level of dirt, the comp gets kicked OFF.

                You mention a boost circuit, then boosted passives, but no details.
                I've been building hybridized passive>(boosted) active circuits on my own custom builds for nearly 30 years now.
                I use whatever passive pickups I want into EMG active onboard products.
                So I have a lot of experience with on-board boosted circuits (at least EMG anyway).

                But I'm very unclear where YOU'RE going with it, with the 'boosted' part of your post.
                In my experience, I tend to stay away from ceramic double coil HB pickups if I'm doing an active guitar.
                They don't seem to get along too well.
                I've taken a ceramic magged HB and swapped the mag Out (into an active guitar) for something alnico and it calmed everything down nicely.
                But I have also used ceramic SC HB's (like Bardens) that work fine in active (boosted) circuits.

                So now, let's just get rid of the entire 'active' part of the conversation.
                If you want to circle back around to it and ask more about active (boosted, boosters, pre-amps) situations, absolutely go ahead.

                "Logically it would make sense that taking the clear, nuanced output of a low output pickup and then boosting it would result in a much more nuanced end result"
                Well, really, that is what Barden pickups are all about, exactly that.
                Very clean, very defined and nuanced, and pretty loud, using ceramic magnets to boost a low wind.
                So for that, the answer has already been formulated more or less, that is what a Barden pickup is designed around.
                So YT their full-sized pickups, it is pretty much what you're describing.
                They also wire their HB's in parallel, not series, which adds to their 'nuanced' tonal recipe.

                "Than simply having a huge magnet/overwound pickup.
                Maybe I'm wrong, but I've never liked super high output pickups to begin with.

                If I wanted to try this out, have any of you guys swapped out vintage pickups' magnets for ceramic?
                My goal is to get something in that 'vintage hot' range output wise, balanced with lots of detail."


                I believe Joe Barden had some affiliation with Bill Lawrence somewhere along the way.
                Bill Lawrence being the mentor, Joe Barden being the apprentice.
                I'm a huge fan of (original) Bill Lawrence pickups of all shapes sizes and have a drawerful of them.
                If you're looking for that 'hot but clean' thing, I would recommend you try some Lawrence L-500 varieties.
                Now wound by his wife and daughter as old Bill has passed away (Wilde Pickups).

                It would be the L500 that's wound to 8K or so, can't remember the exact model for that.
                But even their higher output L500's remain clear and articulate, that's one thing they're known for in the first place.
                But that's the sound you're describing, a pretty typical Lawrence L500 HB.
                Since I have a drawerful of them (Lawrence's) sitting here, I don't need to make 'that' pickup recipe.
                I typically go the other way, I am usually removing ceramics for some other magnet option on my DiMarzios and Duncans.

                For some reason, even my higher output Lawrences work fantastic with my active EMG harnesses, where others (using ceramics) sound horrible.
                Can't tell you why, but sonically, it's obvious.

                This is an old build, 'Trail Boss', using a late 70's Lawrence L500 in the bridge and one of his 'sidewinder' designs in the neck.
                With my typical full compliment active harness.
                Top row front to back: passive volume, passive tone, EMG Afterburner pre-amp (pull to activate)
                Bottom Row: EMG EXG tone pot, EMG SPC tone pot.

                Click image for larger version

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                Last edited by Drak; 01-28-2021, 10:52 AM.

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                • #9
                  My strat with low output singles thru a Clapton circuit just about equals the volume of my guitars with super distortions or d'activators.

                  Way different tone, but same volume/output.

                  The active circuit is tons more versatile.

                  The high output pickups sound best driving lower drive pedals or clean amps.

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                  • #10
                    I have never tried the Clapton boost. It sounds good to me when he uses it, though.
                    Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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                    • #11
                      I always figured the Clapton boost was similar in design to the EMG SPC control I use a lot.
                      Which lends a 'hot frown' EQ curve with boost, kinda makes a SC sound like a hot HB basically.
                      I consider the SPC to have as much gain and 'frown' curve as I'd ever really need when maxed, and I usually use it around halfway to 2/3.
                      I can't imagine a control that nearly 'doubles' that effect, but seemingly the Clapton boost does just that.
                      So I looked it up and here's what I found.
                      This is a quote from Dashface who is 'Dave' in a PF band (Canadian, I think) who owned both a Clapton strat and a DG 20 EMG fitted strat.

                      "I thought they would be mostly the same - but they are very different.
                      I have both. I've had a Clapton Strat for many years, and I have the DG20 set in a 57RI Strat.
                      I have used both professionally in hundreds of shows.
                      They are similar in that they are active and both have a mid boost...
                      But the Clapton has about twice as much boost. The DG20 tops out at 12db of boost, and the Clapton around 25db - it is _much_ more dramatic.
                      Plus - the Clapton can't ever be turned off. By that I mean that at "0" on the knob the Clapton boost is putting out 12db already. So it's at the full blast of the DG20 system at off.
                      The Clapton boost system with the lace sensors is great for leads but isn't great for rhythms.
                      Also it doesn't play nice with fuzzes perhaps because of its impedance.
                      I hope that helps!"



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