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About mcgruff

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  1. First, can we get rid of hands? Tone is not in the hands. Tone is in the gear and any specific set up can only produce a finite set of sounds. Whether or not you know how to pull all of these sounds out of an instrument is an issue but we're talking about guitars not guitarists ie the properties of the instrument not the properties of the musician. Pickups filter the natural acoustic sound of an electric guitar pretty savagely. Most will have a peak in their frequency response around 5k or so, and then a sharp fall off. Straight away, a lot of the natural tone is discarded. Amps will also put their own stamp on the signal. Coupling caps between gain stages create a high pass filter, for example. Different circuits will have their unique dynamics and frequency responses. Note that overdrive can stomp all over any subtle differences between different guitars (and pickups..) so if you're trying to compare the sound of different guitars you really need to do it with cleans. The speaker is also incredibly important. Just like a guitar pickup, it filters the signal pretty drastically. Different speakers will have their own unique frequency response. Again, like a guitar pickup, there is a sharp cut-off somewhere in the upper mids. So if the natural, acoustic tone was a character in a movie, it would get kidnapped, knocked unconscious, have one of its kidneys stolen, and finally get brain-washed into believing it's a completely different person - but that's exactly what is supposed to happen. An electric guitar sound is manufactured in contrast to an acoustic guitar where the natural tone IS the final product which mostly you just want to capture as accurately as possible.
  2. I can forgive the plastic nut given the price of these guitars but yeah that was one of the first things I changed. Epiphone seems to have (or had) problems with pickup selector switches. If the wiring works there's no real reason to change it but if something goes wrong, just replace the lot and use a Switchcraft toggle. If you know how, it's not actually that hard to get the pots etc in and out through the F-hole. Personally I'd always recommend 500k pots with humbuckers. I also like 15n tone caps because they seem to give the best rolled-back tone. Low-output humbuckers would be traditional for a semi-hollow but they don't have enough turns of wire in one coil to split well. PAF-ish 'buckers will have about 5,000 turns of wire per coil but the single coil pickups you're trying to emulate might have around 7,000 (forget DCR it's the number of turns of wire which really counts). One way to deal with this is to put a tap in the second coil and wire up the split so it includes one full coil and part of the second coil. You'll have to wind your own but it's actually a very easy skill to learn - particularly if you're a luthier and therefore used to working with patience, care and precision. Once you crack that, you could even create your own custom line of electric guitars. I like Jimmy Page wiring in a dual humbucker guitar for coil splits, out-of-phase sounds, etc. The results can vary quite a bit depending on the way different pickups blend together in each of the settings but you're bound to find a few you like.
  3. If you know how to solder you can pretty much take your pick of some of the best tube amps ever made for a fraction of the price of the real thing. The circuits are often very simple.
  4. Matchless Spitfire (similar to Vox AC15). You'll have to build it yourself though.
  5. If you want to measure capacitance yourself there are some cheap LCR meters that can do the job. Probably the minimum capacitance you could expect from a decent, short guitar cable is around 250pF so if you can get the guitar circuitry (without pickups) down anywhere under 100pF that should be enough. The 800pF mentioned in the article could easily be obtained with a long guitar cable. Bad solder work can add a big chunk of tone-sucking capacitance - note the joint can still pass a continuity test.
  6. Here's a DI clip of a 57CHG, a slightly overwound PAF with A2 and then the same pickup with A4: comparison clip You can hear how dull and flat the 57CHG is, and how much more dynamic, clear and bright the other pickup is. That incidentally was the first pickup I ever made - inspired by the need to upgrade from the awful pups Epiphone used to fit as standard. I should say they're much better in the more recent models. Also, even with bad pups, I still thought the instrument was good value.
  7. If I deliberately set out to design a bad pickup, I could not hope to compete with the dead, mud-bucking awfulness of these magnetic paper-weights. Let me put it like this: if an attack squad of squirrels are in the garden and all I have to defend my apple trees are a pile of rocks and a pile of these "pickups", I'd be heaving humbuckers at the tree-rats so as not to waste any perfectly good stones. Whip 'em out and you've likely discover a great-sounding guitar though.
  8. I think Jason Lollar does Firebird-style pickups and mini-hums which can be mounted in a standard humbucker ring. Or maybe you'd like a low-wind Imperial for a brighter sound.
  9. If you can't get a faux crocodile case, maybe you could train a real one to carry your guitar?
  10. That's interesting but you would have to measure both coils in the same way in order to be sure you were making a valid comparison. Measuring one and calculating the other by difference may not be a valid technique. We'd also need to know the accuracy of your meter. For example, if accuracy is +/- 0.1k all the differences you found are within these limits. Also, the calculated DCR is based on two measurements and the errors could compound each other (incidentally this is OK with a very large number of measurements because, statistically, all the measurement errors cancel each other out). DCR also varies with temperature. If the pickup starts off cool and then you handle it enough between measurements to raise the temperature, that could be another source of error. Thanks for taking the time to post them though.
  11. I'm not sure if you need new pickups. Try some clean boost. That way you've got more output when you want to push a tube amp harder but you don't sacrifice any top end or clean tone. An EQ pedal can be very useful as well. A neck pickup overdrives a lot better with some bass cut for example. Danelectro Fish n Chips is quite decent and cheap or go for one of the MXR's if you want something better. Both of these have a volume control which provides a small amount of boost, although maybe not as much as you need. Overdrive pedals vary a lot. Some have a fair amount of tone control. Some can be set up to provide fairly clean boost as well as overdrive so you can use them to add a flavour to the amp's natural distortion, or you can use them more as a clean boost. I like low-wind humbuckers in my own guitar, and often use clean boost for more drive, and an EQ to shape the tone a little. I'm also tempted to try one of these classic pedals: (you can get DIY kits). In the end you just have to experiment a bit to find what works best for you.
  12. This is the one I've used in my dot. I'm struggling a bit to understand the circuit but AFAIK this is what you get: TREBLE bridge bucker bridge screw bridge slug slugs SIP bridge screw + neck slug SOP bridge bucker + neck slug SOP bridge bucker + neck slug SIP MIDDLE buckers PIP buckers POP megabucker SIP megabucker SOP slugs SIP screws PIP bridge screw neck bucker PIP bridge screw neck bucker SOP bridge screw neck slug SOP bridge slug neck bucker POP bridge slug neck bucker SIP bridge slug neck screw POP bridge bucker neck screw PIP bridge bucker neck screw POP bridge bucker neck slug SOP bridge bucker neck slug SIP RYTHMN neck bucker neck screw "S" or "P" means series or parallel. "OP" and "IP" are in phase and out of phase. Eg "SIP" would be series in phase. Exactly what you get out of this depends on the way the given pickups interact in the various settings but you should find a few useful extra sounds. If a setting doesn't sound good at first try fine-tuning with vol and tone controls before you give up on it.
  13. I'd also like to get some of these connectors if anybody knows where they can be found.
  14. Different magnets can create small but significant changes in tone. For example, if you've got alnico V in the new pickups, alnico II should make them a little sweeter. Magnets don't cost much so, if you're trying out pickups, it doesn't hurt to have some A2, A3, A4 and A5 lying around to experiment with. To swap them out, remove the cover (there'll be a blob of solder holding it on) and then, on the baseplate, slacken the screws which hold the bobbins on just enough to slide out the magnet. Take note of the polarity so you don't end up with the middle position out of phase (unless you like that sound - many do).
  15. Couldn't afford a Gibson.
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