Author Topic: Solved for now "Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome."  (Read 4644 times)

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Offline Hugo77

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Solved for now "Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome."
« on: December 25, 2014, 03:04:38 pm »
So I got a custom Strat, build by a Dutch luthier with Warmoth woods. Got it since '98 I think. Beautiful guitar, yet it never was my go-to guitar. Has a Swamp-ash body with figured maple top, birdseye maple neck with ebony fretboard.Started of with emg SV's, quickly replaced by SAV's (in combination with a presence control/boost). These pups have been on there for 15 years. This summer I decided I decided to switch to passive pups and because of the routing (SSS), I landed on Duncans. Because I don't particularly like single coils by default, I chose 2 little '59's and a JBjr in the bridge. Positions 2&4 are parallel versions of the neck and middle pu respectively.
And you've guessed it, I'm underwhelmed. No wow-factor or anything remotely like it. So I consider replacing them yet again.

At this point I'm inclined to look for DiMarzio's humbuckers in single-coil format, but I have no experience with those and there are a lot to chose from. I also checked out Bare Knuckle's The Sinner and Trilogy Suite pups. But I'm a bit weary about going back to single coils, even if they should sound fat and ballsy.

The Duncan's left me wanting, lacked balls and power. Even the JBjr I was disappointed with. To explain myself; two weeks ago I replaced the EMG85 with a EMG57 on a twin Strat. The pup turned out to have a defect with the cover, so I had to send ot back. But while it was on there, playing it gave me a big smile. Especially compared to the 85 that I'd been playing for nearly 20 years.

I did some research on DiMarzio's via the usual Youtube reviews and the like and came up with a potential list.
Neck: Satch Track/ Fast Track 1/ Pro Track of maybe even the Chopper.
Middle; Cruiser
Bridge: Chopper/  Fast Track 2

I really would like a organic, yet powerful bridge pup. I like Richie Kotzen's sound (not the amp though) and he uses the Chopper. I'm intriged by the new Satch Track, but it seems high output and maybe too high when used with the Chopper in the bridge? So maybe the better combo would be Satch and FT 2?
Also, I thought of having the middle pup have less output so in position 3 my guitar would have a decent bluesy sound and maybe in pos 2&4 a great rhythm sound?
My neck pu I would use for lead (dirty and clean)and clean chords (rhythm and picking), bridge pup for rhythm and leads dirty.

My apologies for the long story. Maybe some people who actualy play any of these pups could give me some insight on their use and sound, their pro's and cons.
Thanks!
« Last Edit: January 23, 2015, 05:05:32 am by Hugo77 »

Offline Slowhand

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Re: Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome.
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2014, 01:42:53 am »
The Satch Track seems like a really interesting pickup. Have you also considered the Injector? I heard the bridge was supposed to be pretty good but if you like what Ritchie Kotzen's sound is like with the chopper, why not just got for that?

Do you also plan on splitting the coils for position 2 and 4 for a more traditional strat sound? Because if you are, you might want to consider using a trule single in the middle but otherwise I think the Cruiser would be an awesome choice.

Offline Hugo77

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Re: Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome.
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2014, 04:48:46 am »
Thing is, I like RK's sound and the way he plays. It's not how I play though and I'd like a pickup to cover a lot of ground. I have no idea how the Chopper holds up in different styles, say Alter Bridge or Guthrie Govan even.
For example, most of the pups Satriani uses or used are not for me. Too specific if you know what I mean. Same thing with injectors, I don't like what I'm hearing. For instance; a Suhr ssh+ (or Aldrich model even) are much more flexible it seems to me, but that would mean cutting into the body. Which I'm not sure I want to do.

I'm not a big fan of the positions 2&4, so they'll be last on the list of priorities :-) As in let's cross that bridge when we get there. Too many choices anyway with that. When you split  a humbucker, do you take the inner or outer coil? Etc.
That's the only thing I kinda like at the present, pos2&4 being parallel switched nekc and middle pu. Gets me a thicker bluesier tone than a mere split would I think. Guess I'm saying that I DO like the sound of traditional pos2&4, just not how thin it sounds. Do I make sense?

o...it also seems that the Satch Track is not (yet) available in Europe. So that kinda sucks.

Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome.
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2014, 01:23:38 pm »
So far I only have experience with the Chopper T, the Tele variant. I just scored a Chopper (the Strat variant) but it will be a few days before it arrives. It is destined to go into the bridge slot of a strat. Neck is an Area 67, middle an Area 58. I will let you know how this turns out but that will take a few more days. I am convinced it should work well, though.

However, since you seem to want more power I would consider a Super Distortion S in the Bridge. Neck - I would have landed on the Satch tone as well. Middle - probably a Fast Track 1 or a Cruiser.

Cheers Stephan
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Offline buddroyce

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Re: Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome.
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2014, 01:31:12 am »
It sounds like you're wanting a humbucker but since you don't want to route the guitar, I would say go with the Fast Track 2 in the bridge, Cruiser bridge in the middle and the Chopper in the neck.
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Offline Hugo77

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Re: Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome.
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2014, 04:57:27 am »
Thanks for the input guys. It doesn't get any easier though  ;)
One thing that puzzles me is that one of the biggest players in pickup-land doesn't offer proper sound clips of their pickups. It's not like they bring a new pup on the market every other week. One of the things I like about Bare Knuckle pups. It's not really consistent on all their pups, but mostly you get the same song (or chords), played on the same guitar (I would assume) and the same amp, so you really can tell the difference.

But I digress. Just saying I find it hard to find proper demo's on most of these pups on Youtube. Crappy cam-sound, crappy amp, crappy playing, no clean sound, only clean sound, pup in the (for me) wrong position....take your pick.

The Super Distortion S was a good tip and something I didn't even consider. Sounded very 80's to me with lots of cohones, but at the same time not very dynamic and a bit lifeless. At least from what I could decipher from the vid. Unfortunately I already read the post about What pickups left you less than impressed (or something), and the SD was mentioned a few times.
Do you use the pups you recommended yourselves? If so, why did you chose this pup and how would you describe the sound? Is it a flexible pup or full bore Rock? From what I heard the FT 2 doesn't have a pleasant bite to it, kinda like the Tone Zone (which is definitely not what I'm after). I like all pups to be able to cover a lot of ground. For example the Chopper in the neck sounded (again on the vids) great for leads in a Yngwie sort of way. But would they hold their own with clean chords or strumming? When I hear the same pup in the bridge (most decent vids I came across use Tele's), it sound more organic with bite, but also a nice growl to it. I don't care too much for really tight or too bright, but it has to have bite and growl.

I'll quit before I get lost in metaphores :P But if you would take the time to describe why you chose the pup you  use and how it sounds. And of course what kind of guitar you use them with. In the meantime I'll keep researching.

Offline 27fretshred

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Re: Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome.
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2014, 02:05:17 am »
I currently have a Norton and a Cruiser in my Caparison Horus. I chose the Norton because it covers a lot of ground and it as highly recommended by the guys here. I went through a lot of neck pickups for that guitar. It's got 27 frets and the neck pickup is kinda in between where the neck and middle pickup was. I wanted something I could shred with but also do a lot of bluesrock and jazz fusiony stuff with and the cruiser just seemed to fit the bill.

Offline Hugo77

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Re: Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome.
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2014, 02:43:53 pm »
Just listened to some clips of the Air Norton and it surely rips, but not my thing.
There's something missing for me. Damn, this is really difficult.
I just emailed Dimarzio and got a quick reply, but I doubt they can be of much help, since I'm
not really able to describe what it is I'm looking for or what I don't want. They asked me what it is I don't like in my little 59's. Normal enough question, but I honestly don't know how to answer expect that it doesn't make me smile, that there's no wow-factor.
What I would like to achieve is to have an axe that has soul and Rock&Roll. Like an old Les Paul or
Richie Kotzen's Tele to give an example. I'll give it some more thought I guess.

Offline Jason1994

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Re: Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome.
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2015, 05:12:39 pm »
I currently own the duncan YJM Fury's and they rip, very rock n roll and they sound very humbucker like, as far as stacked pickups go. They also seem very versatile, plus you get to retain the original single coil look, instead of the rails :)
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Offline Hugo77

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Re: Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome.
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2015, 04:33:27 am »
I did check those Fury's out at some point, but I remember not being drawn to their sound. Can't remember why. I think I'll stick with my latest plan, which involves 2 Injectors and a Chopper. Don't mind aesthetics that much. Pups gonna be black anyway, so.. And I don't have a pickguard. All in all there's not much traditional about my guitar anyway, except for the shape :-)

Offline Mail2JackButler

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Re: Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome.
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2015, 06:46:05 pm »
The Chopper with the Injectors would be cool.. in one of my stats I simply have a Chopper in the neck and a Chopper in the bridge.. stock single in the middle.. Blucher and I were throwing different combos around when I put that one together and as he said.. why not try the same in both positions.. there's no rule that says you can't.. guys like Mike Romeo use a bridge pup in the neck position.. as does Timmons with his Cruisers.. they're both bridge models despite being placed in the neck and middle positions.. went with the Choppers in the neck and bridge.. plenty of power.. still stratty enough for me.. never looked back.. my daughters building me a new strat starting this passed weekend and in that we will go with Injectors all the way across.
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Offline Lelik

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Re: Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome.
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2015, 02:59:33 am »
I have the Cruiser bridge pu in the neck position, and it's wonderful. I think I have a perfect sound with it. I love both the clean, blues and hi-gain tones with it. I use 500 kohm pots, because after trying with 250 kohm, it seemed even too dark for me. I admit anyway that I like a lot of clarity in the neck.
My guitar has only 2 pickups, but I'd suggest easily 2 Cruiser bridge in the middle and neck (or even the Cruiser neck in the middle if you prefer a lower output for the 2-3 and 4 positions).
As to the bridge, I used the Virtual Solo for some years. It's very good, but at the end I'm now trying different solutions, because I find it was a little too harsh. And maybe definitely I don't like a single coil pu in the bridge position.
Now I'm using a BC-1 (yes the neck version) in my bridge position, and with a multipole switch I also split it (and it's really great the position with the split bridge + neck). The BC-1 is rather middy, with a typical humbucker tone, and with a lot (really a lot!) of easy harmonics. I'll keep it some time before a definitive opinion. For sure it has so many harmonics that I missed with the Virtual Solo, that it seems a different guitar now. I think that the Tone Zone and the Air Norton (single coil size) probably are not very different from the BC-1.

Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome.
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2015, 04:30:58 am »
Even if the Cruiser bridge is spec'd for the bridge position it has low output and therefore works well in the neck - no muddiness at all. The Chopper has more output so Chopper in the bridge and Cruiser in neck/middle would be a good combination.

With the Chopper in the neck I would go with something higher output in the bridge but there is no law that says you have to. Many people like Les Pauls with two (almost) identical pickups - which is what a PAF set is.

Cheers Stephan
Area 67, Area 58, VV Pro 54, Injector neck, HB2, Cruisers, Virtual Solo, SDS-1, Area T set, Area Hot T, Area T 615, Virtual Hot T, Chopper, Chopper T, Bluesbucker, Breed set, Air Norton, SD, DLX+, DLX-90, DP240, DP198, VHPAF, AT-1, Morse set, Super Distortion S; Norton

Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome.
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2015, 04:37:28 am »
As to the bridge, I used the Virtual Solo for some years. It's very good, but at the end I'm now trying different solutions, because I find it was a little too harsh. And maybe definitely I don't like a single coil pu in the bridge position.

Indeed the Virtual Solo sounds like a strat single coil. What it does well is to keep that sound (with less icepick) but also match up well in volume with low output neck and middle pickups. To me it does not sound remotely like a P90 and not really like a hot/overwound single coil either.

Cheers Stephan
Area 67, Area 58, VV Pro 54, Injector neck, HB2, Cruisers, Virtual Solo, SDS-1, Area T set, Area Hot T, Area T 615, Virtual Hot T, Chopper, Chopper T, Bluesbucker, Breed set, Air Norton, SD, DLX+, DLX-90, DP240, DP198, VHPAF, AT-1, Morse set, Super Distortion S; Norton

Offline Hugo77

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Re: Want to replace pickups. Any advice welcome.
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2015, 05:04:39 am »
Alas, I've put my tone-quest on hold for the foreseeable future. I will have the pup replaced in my MusicMan Majesty, but as far as the other guitars go, it will have to wait.
I did however come to a descission regarding pu choice. I would go with two Injectors (neck and middle) and a Chopper in the bridge. Too bad it'll have to wait now :-)