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Another "Which Pickups" Topic


raf66

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Hi all. I'm new to posting on the forum but I've been visiting the site for more than a year and have learned quite a bit during my visits. Anyway, on to my query.

 

I have a 2006 Epi LP Classic that I really like. It has the open buckers and I'm more of a covered guy, for looks if nothing else. I play through a Vox Valvetronix AD30VT and my favorite music is Green Day, Blink 182, Three Days Grace, 3 Doors Down and other bands with that type of punk/chunk sound. I also really like old REO Speedwagon and Journey for those Les Paul throwback days.

 

I'm not the best player in the world (or even on my street) as I've only been playing for 2 years but I've been trying to research the issue of adding pickups to better simulate the sounds that I like vs. playing through a true tube amp. It seems that the Gibson 57 Classic and Classic Plus may be good pickups for me, though the Burstbuckers also sound intriguing. However, I'm also trying to determine if it would just be better to buy a tube amp to get the sound I like. I did a lot of research before purchasing the Vox and it seems to get excellent reviews. It's got a tube preamp and it's a fine modeling amp, which takes some of the guesswork out of trying to pick a particular sound. However, I'm guessing that it could never get that true tube amp sound.

 

It's not that I don't like the stock pickups, though they do sound a little harsh/muddy occasionally. I've just always attributed that to my amateurish playing. I don't play professionally and will likely never take the amp to any real gigs. I have a dedicated music room in my home and I retire there to basically perform for myself. My son has a drum set in the same room and he's a pretty good drummer for an 11 year old (maybe I'm biased since I'm his dad) so I'd need to get an amp that could be heard above the din of the drums if I chose that route rather than pickups.

 

Can you guys give me some guidance as to which way to go? I'd really appreciate your insight.

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Get a Valve Junior. It's a nice amp, V3 is nice stock. Get the head, and a cabinet, if you can; the speaker is great. I hear the new V3 combo sounds really close though.

 

Drop a pair of JJ tubes into the VJ.

 

Play through your silicon and your tube amps when assessing your guitar. Determine which amp you like more, what sound you want, etc.

 

I'm not sure on pickups. They're too expensive and hard to change out to experiment with. As amps go, $150-$250 isn't much to ask, and I think everyone should have experience using pure tube and silicon both (a Roland Cube 15X $100 modeling amp is a good silicon amp for a newbie, but you're past that stage and have a nice modeling amp you bough with a tube preamp).

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Funny you should mention the Vox Valvetronix amps...I got my Vox newsletter today. One of the features is Vox Sound Settings, where they publish favorite amp settings from the product demo guys. This one, Chicago Blues is good enough that, without side-by-side comparisons, I can't tell you if there is any difference. GAIN @ 2:30, TREBLE @11:00, BASS @ 1:00, REVERB @ 12:00 OR LESS, MASTER VOLUME @ 10:00 OR MORE. EDIT: I forgot to say this is setup to reproduce an AC15CC...

 

Also, go to http://valvetronix.net for many, many more settings. You have a truly capable amp. See what it can do before you search for something else. Truth, good as they are, there are some settings that just aren't as good as others, and even maybe some amps (tubes for sure) that do something better - there is no single tube amp out there, IMHO, that does so much, so good as the valvetronix series. Overall, they are great. I own and use other amps, a Fender Jazzmaster because its 250 watts and only 22 lbs; a Blackheart and a VJH and some miscellaneous practice amps - but I use those for one or two things only, because that's all they do really, really well. Specialists, if you will, compared to the Vox' more widespread utility.

 

I also change pickups regularly in new guitars, but (at least in recent years) I've stopped buying pickups because SOMEONE ELSE liked them. These days, I put in pickups that will give me a particular sound - and if I don't get it, I change them again until I do. My recommendation for you is to explore what you've got so you don't waste as much money as I did learning what I wanted.

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I have the AD30DT and the humbuckers on my Dot and Gibson LP sound muddy on it also. I had to set thebuckers lower because they were overdriving the amp. Now I'm a much happier man. My Strats - single coils - needed no adjustments. I used 2 nickles to set the height on the neck and bridge pickups them adjusted the volume to match on the bridge pickup.

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Thanks for all the replies. I really do think that my Vox should do just fine for what I want. I guess another question I would have is if my stock pups are ultimately ok for at least the time being, could I just buy covers for the open humbuckers? Are they hard to install? Would they negatively effect the sound?

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No, I understood. I was being a bit tongue in cheek. We moved from changing/not changing the pickups for reasons of tone, to removing the pickups to install a cover (the covers need to align with the poles properly and be soldered in place to the pickup body) and reinstall them so they look differently - aesthetics - adding a step (and work) to what simply replacing the would require. I just think changing them would be easier than adding covers, if you intend to go to all that trouble. Also, they tend to become microphonic if not wax potted; and that's a bit messy. I've never had a problem with wanting to change the way a guitar LOOKED, and wouldn't in this case anyway because its your guitar. Its not difficutl, but it may be more bother than its worth (definitely more work than replacing) because when done, you'll still have the same pickups you're not already not sure you like, that's all.

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You're probably right, garyelcrrt, about all the work that will be required to cover vs. replace the pickups. My guess is I'll just continue experimenting with different sounds through my amp with my current pickups . . . oh, and practicing a lot more. Thanks again for the replies.

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... It's not that I don't like the stock pickups' date=' though they do sound a little harsh/muddy occasionally. [/quote']

 

As far as pickups, stick with what you've got. Never give up on a set of pickups. They can be expensive to replace. Harsh, may be attributable to your style, but there really isn't anything wrong with that. Try to tame it. Muddy, is probably due to speakers. Musicians often will write off speakers, but they can be just as important as the instrument in the formulation of the sound.

 

Ditto on the VJr, everybody should have one.

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Raf66:

I've been playing electric guitar for about the same length of time you have.

You know, I've found that the better I get as a guitar player, the better the pickups sound, the better the guitar overall sounds. And the better I get at making it sound the way I want to. So keep playing, getting better, getting to know your amp and guitar better, and you may soon find out it doesn't sound too bad. I know people who spend more on guitars, pickups, cords, pedals, etc, than I make in a week at work. But I never see it improving their skills as a player. It's almost as though they think the only reason they are not getting better as a player is because they can not find the right pickup or amp or whatever.

But it's really because they don't play enough.

The better you get, the better you will sound.

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You might want to try various combinations where possible and use/borrow or try out guitars that have a certain pickup and the amp you like . Some amps overdrive easily and others need high output pickups to get a little crunch. My SD pearly gates overdrive my Roland Cube 60 modeling channel on certain models even when they are adjusted physically as low as I can get them. So, I just back off on the volume a little for clean and crank the guitar for a solo.

 

Pickups are subjective. Probably the best way to choose is to build a short list based on what your particular guitar hero uses and go from there. It is, as someone said, really expensive to buy and try pickups. That said, you probably can't go wrong with '57 classic type pickups and there are lots of cheaper names out there that sound great. What you want in a pickup is good output, clear, clean response on soft passages, and lots of bark and bite when you dig in. That's all subjective and dependent on your picking style.

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I'd say get the tube amp. The amp is one of the most underrated parts of the set up (at least to the people I've met). Everyone is always worried about the guitar, when most of the actual tone and sound comes from the amp. Sometimes, it really is the guitar or pickups, but most of the time it is blamed as the bad sound way to quickly. A great amp can make a bad guitar sound okay, but a bad amp can't make that 1959 Gibson Les Paul sound good. Pedals are also very over rated. When I want a different sound, I go to the amp, I don't think about changing the pickups, or getting that new pedal.

 

Of course, some pedals are needed and a few different guitars are needed, but for the most part people never factor in the importance of a good amp.

 

When people say their pickups sounds harsh, that's usually because they dime the controls on the guitar all the time. Try turning the tone knob down a few numbers, and the volume number down 1 or 2. You'll be surprised.

 

And of course, great equipment doesn't make a bad player sound good either. I'd say get a nice tube amp.

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