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Thread: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

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    Default Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    Hoping the collective wisdom of the forum can point me in the right direction.

    About me: I'm an obsessive researcher. Before I make a purchase of any kind (only slight exaggeration), I scour the internet, looking for as many articles and reviews that I can find. I once spent a month researching multivitamins and fish oil.

    Coming to the point, I've spent the last few weeks digging through the forums here, DiMarzio, BKP, TDPRI, EverythingSG, TGP, and probably more. Listened to so many clips on soundcloud and YouTube (Which I know is not a great reference of a p/u's true sound). Now I need your help.

    I'm looking for recommendations for 2 guitars. The sounds tones I'm looking for are similar, but still within their own realm. For example:

    Guitar 1 is an Aerodyne Tele from the early 2000's. Basswood body, maple neck with rosewood board. This is my first guitar with a P90 in the neck and I'm not impressed. It actually sounds like I always thought it would, just kinda raunchy and a bit too much for my taste. The bridge is...okay. Not unusable by any means and much better than the P90 from where I'm standing. The neck has to go and if someone can recommend a nice matching bridge, I'll swap it too. I looked a lot at the DiMarzio P90-sized humbuckers, but still wonder if there is a better P90 out there. I had looked at the BKP Supermassive, but BKPs always have a high buy-in, even though I have enjoyed most of their offerings that I've tried.

    Guitar 2 is an '05 SG Special. The stock 490T was terrible. Like starting out, it was great because it was all I had. Over the years though, as I've owned more and more guitars with all kinds of different pickups, I've noticed how lacking the bridge really was. The 490R in the neck was actually much better and had a nice, thick, gong like quality even with the thin bodied SG. Fast forward, I took the repeated advice from across this forum and bought a Custom 5 and put an A8 magnet in it. Truth be told, I thought the A5 magnet sounded better. Neck is now a 59 I think. Or a Jazz. I cant remember right now. Either way, it's ok. Not quite as gong-like as the 490R but still pretty good.

    So like I said, the range of tones for both is similar, but still different. For the Tele, I want a pop-punk kind of sound (mid-2k Fallout Boy and Paramore) when the knobs are at 10. But I want to be able to still pull a decent twang out of it with the knobs backed off a little. Not a super clean, piercing twang. More of a low to mid gain twang like Brad Paisley or Keith Urban, with an early Eagles country-rock vibe. I know it can be done, Teles are versatile af. I've seen the video of Rodney Gene demoing the Quarter Pound doing a decent twang, but I also read that he ended up removing them. As for the neck P90, I don't know. Something that will compliment the bridge tone im looking for. Make me not hate P90s if you can.

    For the SG, I'm also looking for the same thing, but heavier. Like less Eagles country-rock and more Eagles "Life in the Fast Lane on the way to Hotel California with my Witchy Woman". Still pop-punk, but with a little bit of Coheed and Cambria "not quite as heavy as Welcome Home because they have other songs" thrown into the mix. Wondering if I should put the A5 back in the Custom and give it a better chance, also wondering if an overwound A2 would get me there.

    God I hope someone can offer some opinions and insight. My obsessiveness is going to drive me insane.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    Welcome to the forum!

    For the Tele, the only higher output pickup that still twangs is the Jerry Donahue. It sounds good with distortion, and works for clean, too. For the neck, you might just not like P90s. Have you considered just a humbucker in the neck? I'd say either a Jazz or a 59.

    For the SG, certainly consider putting that A5 back in the Custom, as the Custom was the first thing I thought of. An A2 pickup might sound a little mushy on the heavy stuff. For the neck, any A5 based vintage-output pickup would work.
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    Super Toneologist allbutromeo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    For the Tele either a Donahue or Hot Tele in the bridge, and a Firebird mini humbucker in the neck. For the SG, I personally like the Screamin Demon with a Jazz in the neck, but the Custom 5 (with the A5) and 59 or WLH would be a good suggestion.

    Gibson LP Trad Pro II->Various pedals->MEsa Boogie MkV->Owensby/219 Guitar Works Vertical Slant 2x12 w/WGS ET-65 and Veteran 30.

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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    If you don't like the P90, go with a mini-humbucker. I prefer the non-firebird type, but that's just my taste. For the SG, grab a ceramic, an A5 and an A2 and try them all in the Custom you already have. Worst case, you will have a lot more information on what you liked and didn't like to figure out what you want and you're only out $10 or so.

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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    Welcome to the forum!

    For the Tele, the only higher output pickup that still twangs is the Jerry Donahue. It sounds good with distortion, and works for clean, too. For the neck, you might just not like P90s. Have you considered just a humbucker in the neck? I'd say either a Jazz or a 59.

    For the SG, certainly consider putting that A5 back in the Custom, as the Custom was the first thing I thought of. An A2 pickup might sound a little mushy on the heavy stuff. For the neck, any A5 based vintage-output pickup would work.
    Man seeing my post on my phone...it looks like an essay. Sorry if it's needlessly wordy. Habit, I guess.

    But hey thanks for responding. You're actually one I was hoping to hear from.

    So on the tele side, the JD is one I've only glanced at because it's hard to find any clips of it being used with any significant gain. But outside of 2 outliers, it seems to be a very highly regarded pickup. I'll definitely consider it. As for the neck, do they make a P90 sized version of those p'ups? Or is that a custom shop thing? If that's the case, do you have any opinions about the P90 sized HB's from DiMarzio?

    For the SG, I will certainly consider swapping the magnets back. The A8 wasn't bad, but I just didn't get the hype, at least as far as I was using it.

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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    Quote Originally Posted by allbutromeo View Post
    For the Tele either a Donahue or Hot Tele in the bridge, and a Firebird mini humbucker in the neck. For the SG, I personally like the Screamin Demon with a Jazz in the neck, but the Custom 5 (with the A5) and 59 or WLH would be a good suggestion.
    I've never looked at the mini HB's or the screamin demon. I will definitely do some more research on both. Thank you

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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    That's a good idea. I already know the A5 was pretty good. I have some ceramics in other guitars used for much heavier stuff, but I wasnt sure how they would be on the less gainy end of the spectrum.

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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    Well, I know there is a Custom Shop version of a P90 that is really a humbucker. You can have it wound to sound like any humbucker you want. Other companies might make something similar. You could also route for a full size HB if you just hate the P90 thing. But every stock production SD P90 is designed to sound like a P90. At least with production Duncans, if you don't dig the P90 sound, getting any of those won't help.
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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    Well, I know there is a Custom Shop version of a P90 that is really a humbucker. You can have it wound to sound like any humbucker you want. Other companies might make something similar. You could also route for a full size HB if you just hate the P90 thing. But every stock production SD P90 is designed to sound like a P90. At least with production Duncans, if you don't dig the P90 sound, getting any of those won't help.
    I appreciate your honesty. It would have been easy to hock any SD P90 as "the one" to solve my problems. I'm not looking to route this guitar, at least not until I can find another spare body on reverb. And I'm not quite at the point of dropping custom shop money, even though it's certainly another option I had not considered. I'll continue looking for now for the P90.

  10. #10
    Super Toneologist allbutromeo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    The nice thing about mini humbuckers is the mounting ring is literally just a P90 cover with a hole cut in it for the pickup.

    Gibson LP Trad Pro II->Various pedals->MEsa Boogie MkV->Owensby/219 Guitar Works Vertical Slant 2x12 w/WGS ET-65 and Veteran 30.

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    Super Toneologist allbutromeo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    Quote Originally Posted by chadd View Post
    If you don't like the P90, go with a mini-humbucker. I prefer the non-firebird type, but that's just my taste. For the SG, grab a ceramic, an A5 and an A2 and try them all in the Custom you already have. Worst case, you will have a lot more information on what you liked and didn't like to figure out what you want and you're only out $10 or so.
    I do like the Epiphone/LP Deluxe minis better in the bridge position, but for the neck spot I like the extra brightness of the Firebird pickups, and they go really well with Tele bridge pickups.

    Gibson LP Trad Pro II->Various pedals->MEsa Boogie MkV->Owensby/219 Guitar Works Vertical Slant 2x12 w/WGS ET-65 and Veteran 30.

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    Mojo's Minions dr.barlo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    Tastes...

    I don't like Firebird minis in the neck. To trebly for my tastes. Dlx minis on the other hand sound right to me. Like a cleaner PAF, somewhere in between a PAF and a tele neck without that uppermid bark of the p90. I did the following recording yesterday on a backtrack with my 76 deluxe neck, amp is a Vox clone with 2 EL34's and an EF86 in the preamp (the speaker is a WGS ET65):



    If you are into mag swaps, make sure to check an a4 in your Custom. It might be exactly what you want. It is almost like a a5 but sounding a bit "weaker" in the highs and bass. I'd say try it, also in the neck. I have an a4 59 that I think is at par with the most pricey and fancy PAF clones out there.

    B

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    Mojo's Minions ItsaBass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    I've owned one of those Aerodyne Teles since I bought it new in 2004. I love the stock bridge pickup. It's shrill, nasty, aggressive, twangy, which is the perfect base for building a grungier tone. It can be dialed back in treble with the onboard tone knob. The neck pickup is dog ****, but you can just ignore it and stay on your bridge pickup. I would leave the Aerodyne alone and simply play it harder and/or use more volume and/or gain. Better to take an inherently thin pickup and stack it with dirt than to start out with a dirty pickup, which can never be cleaned up.

    For the SG, I'd continue to use the C5 in the bridge position (whichever magnet you want), but go back to the stock neck pickup.

    What is your amp and effects situation? The amp and its settings are going to make these tones far more than the pickups will.
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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    Quote Originally Posted by dr.barlo View Post

    If you are into mag swaps, make sure to check an a4 in your Custom. It might be exactly what you want. It is almost like a a5 but sounding a bit "weaker" in the highs and bass. I'd say try it, also in the neck. I have an a4 59 that I think is at par with the most pricey and fancy PAF clones out there.

    B
    It's funny you bring up the A4. When I started out on this journey, the first pickup that really caught by attention was the Saturday Night Special, due in no small part D-Raps demo video. Knowing I can't trust one video from an expert player, I listened to more clips of the A4 and found that it can come off as flat sounding, which I then found was a characteristic of the magnet. Not that"even" is a bad quality, I just didn't have enough information to make a decision on it. I wonder now what a Custom 4 sounds like and how different it is from the SNS.

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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    Quote Originally Posted by ItsaBass View Post
    I've owned one of those Aerodyne Teles since I bought it new in 2004. I love the stock bridge pickup. It's shrill, nasty, aggressive, twangy, which is the perfect base for building a grungier tone. It can be dialed back in treble with the onboard tone knob. The neck pickup is dog ****, but you can just ignore it and stay on your bridge pickup. I would leave the Aerodyne alone and simply play it harder and/or use more volume and/or gain. Better to take an inherently thin pickup and stack it with dirt than to start out with a dirty pickup, which can never be cleaned up.

    For the SG, I'd continue to use the C5 in the bridge position (whichever magnet you want), but go back to the stock neck pickup.

    What is your amp and effects situation? The amp and its settings are going to make these tones far more than the pickups will.
    The thought of leaving the tele alone has crossed my mind more than once. I even have saved searches on reverb and eBay in case the occasional aerodyne tele body shows up for a decent price. I'm not above keeping mine stock, but having a 2nd one to mod. I really like the carved top look on a tele, wish fender had more.

    But I do agree, the bridge isn't the problem. That P90 blows. That's what started this whole thing, I was trying to figure out if the one in the aerodyne was a shining example of all P90s or just an uninspired throwaway in an otherwise great guitar. I don't really want to just live with it like it is, I'd at least like it to be something I don't hate.
    The idea behind the bridge was mostly "if you get this neck pickup, this bridge pickup compliments it really well", but also an opportunity to see what people recommended if I do decide to pull the trigger on a new bridge. One less thread I gotta make later.

    Amp and fx? My current amp is a tiny terror and matching 212 I got in a trade. It's not sticking around. All of my recording setup is direct in. Helix, neural dsp, etc.

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    Mojo's Minions dr.barlo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    I dunno SNS, haven't gotten the chance to try it in a guitar that I know. I kinda like a4's. My old pricey Holmes' PAF set had a4s. And it was quite a good sound. But I let go of them on account of the high prices and having a 8.75K/7.65K Ant HB set that I have used with a pair of a4s. I wish I kept them, sold them together with the guitar (an 04 LP standard) to a buddy of mine. I still miss them!

    I know C4... It is my fav. version of the customs. In my walnut hardtail strat, CC is too soft, C5 has too stingey highs. C3 was for quite a while what I went with. But then once I could get hold some a4, both the 59 in the neck and the bridge custom got their a4s. Now I am using PATB-3 (stock) in that guitar while keeping that a4 59.

    You might wanna check out unoriented a5's. It won't be that similar to a regular shiny a5, it will sorta more closer to an a2. If that's ok, that's also a flavor that custom benefits from.

    B

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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    Quote Originally Posted by dr.barlo View Post
    You might wanna check out unoriented a5's. It won't be that similar to a regular shiny a5, it will sorta more closer to an a2. If that's ok, that's also a flavor that custom benefits from.

    B
    I'll consider it, like I said the custom 5 wasn't bad for the short time I used it before popping the A8 in there. I know the 5 did well under some moderate gain and an overdrive pedal, but I never really gave it a chance with a cleaner, more vintage tone. I'll try it first and see what I think. If I'm not convinced, magnets are cheap and it couldn't hurt to have a couple different ones handy. I'm still curious about that A4

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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    Quote Originally Posted by TrashPanda View Post
    The thought of leaving the tele alone has crossed my mind more than once. I even have saved searches on reverb and eBay in case the occasional aerodyne tele body shows up for a decent price. I'm not above keeping mine stock, but having a 2nd one to mod. I really like the carved top look on a tele, wish fender had more.

    But I do agree, the bridge isn't the problem. That P90 blows. That's what started this whole thing, I was trying to figure out if the one in the aerodyne was a shining example of all P90s or just an uninspired throwaway in an otherwise great guitar. I don't really want to just live with it like it is, I'd at least like it to be something I don't hate.
    The idea behind the bridge was mostly "if you get this neck pickup, this bridge pickup compliments it really well", but also an opportunity to see what people recommended if I do decide to pull the trigger on a new bridge. One less thread I gotta make later.

    Amp and fx? My current amp is a tiny terror and matching 212 I got in a trade. It's not sticking around. All of my recording setup is direct in. Helix, neural dsp, etc.
    I've played that guitar, and the P90 is pretty much what all P90s sound like. I mean, you look at an Antiquity, it is just a better, more refined version of that sound you don't like.
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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    ...it is just a better, more refined version of that sound you don't like.
    This made me laugh more than you probably intended.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Looked everywhere, but can't make up my mind. Tele and SG pickups.

    I have an SG with Saturday Night Specials. I love it, it is a very versatile guitar. I love those pickups, I'm considering putting a pair in my Epi Dot, I love what they do so much.

    So much of the marketing and discussion of pickups (and everything guitar-related) relies on adjectives to describe sound. So people say that the nature of an Alnico 4 magnet is to have a "flat" eq curve relative to other magnets.
    Flat. I mean who the hell would get anything sound-based when it's described as "flat?"

    To me, it just seems that no frequency stands out more than the rest, so it's not super-bassy, not middy, not a trebly nightmare. It's a very evenly voiced pickup, with no really dominating part of the spectrum. I just wish there were a more sexy way to say that than "flat."

    The bridge and neck seem to be fairly different pickups, sharing the same magnet type. Both can sound very nice clean, but can do dirty stuff from a mild breakup, to a passable Metallica or Alice in Chains with the right amp. I've been very happy with them in my SG. Would they be the best swap vs. the current Custom 5/'59 in there? I don't know, but I think you may find the overall vibe different enough to give it a shot.

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