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Don't be so quick to mod your pickups; it might be your amp

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I'd like to see how everybody's ears do in a blind pickup test . . . our ears may not be quite as sensitive as we think :-$
You'd have to bring along the old one too.

Some of those Samicks from the 'better' era (lol) circa '94 or so.

Lets compare the common build and pickups

I bet people's heads would spin. Including mine!

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I'd like to see how everybody's ears do in a blind pickup test . . . our ears may not be quite as sensitive as we think :-

 

I would agree with you, but still would take the challenge just to see how good I do. Like i said before I changed my pickups and I am glad that I did, but I changed them after I tried many amps. The $130 set of SD pickups were much cheaper than the $1000+ amp that I would want. However, I am much happier with the Solid state Marshall than I was with the digital modeling amp from Line 6. Once I buy a house I can by that tube amp since I won't have to worry about the neighbors.

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Regardless we are still tinkerers by nature and creatures of habit. when we buy a house we want to increase it's value. so we tear up the rugs and replace them with nice oak floors(or cherry wood in my case) when we buy a car we upgrade the radio and sound system. the car stereo now a days is fine when we get a HDTV right away we gotta have that surround sound :-) see where i am getting at?

so, when we know that there are mods that we can make to our guitars we most likely will :-) and there is nothing wrong with that. for the most part aftermarket pickup manufacturers have a lot to lose if their pickups are not noticably better that the stock pickups coming out of china.

but it's not just pickups. heck we change caps pots swtiches nuts bridges all for the love of tone :-)

 

when you pick up a gibson lp custom and those pickups strart screaming you want to emulate that on your epiphone whenever possible.

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I purchased my Epiphone LP Custom four years ago along with a Fender SS combo 212 amp. I wasn't too impressed, but it was all I could afford at the time. I left the guitar alone thinking it was certainly the amp causing the less than wanted sound I was getting.

 

A year ago I bought a VOX AC50 Classic Plus. This was a totally different sound. It was almost the exact sound I was after...but not quite. I fiddled and fussed with the amp for months and still it was never quite spot on.

 

I changed the pickups out for SD '59's and BINGO. There it was. THAT was the sound I was looking for. All the amp fiddling and knob turning on a nice VOX was not going to change the sound of the Epi pickups. The Seymore Duncans took care of it. I have exactly the combination I was looking for.

 

You have to pry these two from my cold dead hands before I'd give them up. I think a VOX amp and a Les Paul was a match made in Heaven.

 

I'm not knocking the Epi pickups, they just wouldn't produce the sound I was looking for. I got very lucky and got it right the second time with the amp and pickups. I hear tell of people looking for years for that certain 'sound' and they have never found it. I wish the rest of them as much luck as I had.

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you cant say that your sound is dependent on one or the other. the two main things would of course be pickups and amp, but your sound will be different depending on each. the sound also depends on guitar shape and materials, effects, strings, etc.

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great topic. I swapped my stock pups to a gfs set. I've got a 15 watt hughes and kettner practice amp which sounds fine for practice - not a great difference in the sound when I swapped the pups though. Recently a mate came over with a 75 line 6 amp and the quality of the sound was significantly better - more sustain, more solid sound - my 15 watter just couldnt compete. They're both solid states obviously.

 

From that experience I've been wondering what the tipping point is between a small practice amp and a decent amp. Would upgrading to a 5watt Epi Valve Junior head and cab do it or is that just a similar practice amp. I'm only a home player but rather than purchase that next guitar - I'm thinking I'd like to get an amp that can give me a great tone and solid sound - without having to get a Marshall stack.

 

Can anyone offer recommendations?

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See my post above, but what sort of music do you like to play?

 

The VOX tone isn't for everyone, or for every sort of music, but it probably beats SS in any circumstances. At least it does for me.

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you cant say that your sound is dependent on one or the other. the two main things would of course be pickups and amp' date=' but your sound will be different depending on each. the sound also depends on guitar shape and materials, effects, strings, etc. [/quote']

 

No you can't. The sound I was after was dependent upon both. I was lucky to find it.

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See my post above' date=' but what sort of music do you like to play?

 

The VOX tone isn't for everyone, or for every sort of music, but it probably beats SS in any circumstances. At least it does for me.[/quote']

 

I like to play classic rock but have started to really get into the blues, JL Hooker etc. Would the VOX suit that style?

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Yes. You will love it for blues. Please try it out when you can. You'll take one home. I guarantee it.

 

The smooth tone that come out of this amp can only be experienced. Take your Dot or Sheraton or Gretsch, or whatever you have and try this amp out if you can find one.

 

You will love the overdrive on the clean channel too. Smoooooooth. There's not enough O's in smooth to describe it.

 

It breaks up a bit early though, but it's very gentle if you are. Do try before laying out the Pounds, dollars, Euro, etc.

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I'm only a home player but rather than purchase that next guitar - I'm thinking I'd like to get an amp that can give me a great tone and solid sound - without having to get a Marshall stack.

 

Can anyone offer recommendations?

 

 

For home use as well as small gigs' date=' I always recommend the versatile Vox Valvetronix series of modelling amps. They have a good reputation for quality modelling and usable effects. You can get a very passable clean Dumble or Fender tone, a nice class A Vox crunch, or scream like a Marshall or Soldano. They all use a 12AX7 tube as part of a low-wattage tube circuit which is amplified by SS. Some models have an output power knob on the back, so you can get nearly the full depth of tone at a lower volume.

 

Going back to the pickup change vs. amp change topic, I think that both pickups and amp are important, as the electrical impulse/sound is "picked up" at the source (guitar) and is output through the amp/speakers. What happens in between is secondary (effects, etc.).

 

As for the instinctual urge to swap out Epiphone pickups, according to my guitar tech, the Asian-made P90's in my '56 Gold Top and Zephyr Blues Deluxe are actually an offshore line of Kent Armstrongs. My tech used to live in England, just down the road from KA, so I presume he has his facts straight. He said that the stock pups are pretty good, so there's no reason to change them. They sound pretty good to me - they have a nice "growl" to them. The only issue I've had with them is a couple of pole screws have slipped down because of wax on the threads. I stuck small washers under the screw heads and now they are fine. I also have lowered the neck pup on the Gold Top as much as possible because the bass is too much (or the bridge pup is a little weaker). Unless I had a real good reason, I probably will not change these pickups.

 

I think that playing technique is even more important than pickups, guitars or amps - "it's all in the wrist". I read that Stevie Ray Vaughan did a guest number at a club one night and played whatever guitar and amp happened to be up on the stage at the time. And guess what - he sounded just like Stevie Ray Vaughan!=P~:-k When Eric Clapton recorded the iconic "Beano" album with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, he played a '59 Les Paul Standard, patched through a Dallas Rangemaster treble booster, into a 1965 Marshall Model 1962 combo amp. Could you or I recreate the magic if we spent over $300,000 for this "Holy Grail" vintage rig? Probably not, because if the premise is that vintage/expensive is better, that is not the case here, because Eric's gear was new/near new when the recording was made. Would this gear play and sound better now than it did 45 years ago? Probably. However, the gear didn't make the tone, it was Eric Clapton's hands default_eusa_wall.gif I also read of a guy who attended a Van Halen concert and Eddie was up there wailin' away, backed up by his venerable 5150 stacks (well, he endorses them, right?). However, the writer claims that the 5150's weren't even being used (maybe not even plugged in). Apparently, EVH was actually plugged in to a small Marshall combo and mic'd #-o THAT's the "Brown Sound"!?!? Some bands have all these monstrous stacks hulking on the stage, but they are just props, or maybe they just use the speakers. Again, they are actually plugged into mic'd small combo amps hidden in the back :-s

 

At my age (55), I know that I will never play like Clapton, Page, SRV or EVH (or even Tiny Tim for that matter). But I know that I have the gear that I like and I get the tone that I like. Do I still get GAS? Of course, but there is always BEANO for relief [-X

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You may wind up spending a lot of extra money

on new pickups only to find they still sound not as great with the s**ty amp you still have. Just something to think about.

 

Good point. But I'd like to think my amps are good enough that changing pickups on my guitar(s) may actually make a discernable difference...Just something to think about. :-)

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-F-spaced means Floyd/Fender spacing. Just something DiMarzio came up with to differentiate between the standard and wider spacings. If you're looking at DiMarzio, then you'll need an F-spaced p'up for the bridge. If you're looking at Duncan, then you'll need the Trembucker. Here's a larger pic of my sig. I have DiMarzios in it and the bridge p'up is F-spaced. You can see how the strings line up perfectly with the polepieces.

 

48c07fa0.jpg?t=1242530383

 

L8R,

Matt

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I see. Thanks for the explanation.

 

The high E string on my LP is slightly off-set from the pole on the SD59 bridge pickup. Your's look dead-on.

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-The TB59 would have given you a better line up with the spacing. But if you don't notice any ill effects, i.e. volume drops, then no blood no foul. Personally the minor offset between the spacings would just drive me nuts whether there were any volume differences or not.

 

L8R,

Matt

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I've changed pickups in one Epi, my LP custom. The stock pickups sounded great clean, but got a little muddy in the distorted realm. A set of SD Pearly Gates pups fixed that. I left the stock 490/498 combo on my Gibson studio and like them. The P90s in my 56 Goldtop reissue sound great.

 

I swapped out the pups in my Fender squire Tele for a set of Fender Custom Shop Texas Specials and there was a pronounced improvement in sound with that swap.

 

Our other guitar player has a black Epi standard and has kept the stock pickups in his and they sound just fine through his Fender Supersonic amp. It's a full tube amp with 8 tubes, no SS.

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Yes. You will love it for blues. Please try it out when you can. You'll take one home. I guarantee it.

 

The smooth tone that come out of this amp can only be experienced. Take your Dot or Sheraton or Gretsch' date=' or whatever you have and try this amp out if you can find one.

 

You will love the overdrive on the clean channel too. Smoooooooth. There's not enough O's in smooth to describe it.

 

It breaks up a bit early though, but it's very gentle if you are. Do try before laying out the Pounds, dollars, Euro, etc.[/quote']

 

found one of the VOX AC50's on aussie ebay but its going for $1999 and quotes a $2799 rrp. Thats a big step up from my 15 watt ss hughes and kettner. Anyone have any advice on a more mid priced amp. I checked out the VOX valvetronix as mentioned by another member here but would prefer to go with a full tube amp.

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The p'ups in my guitars range from Hot Twinrails in my Tele and the 496R/500T set in my Flying-V

down in output to Bill Laurence circuitboard p'ups in my GLP and stockers in all my Epis........

I use a Vox Valvetronix amp, modeling either a Vintage Marshall, or Fender Twin Reverb, and

occasionally a Fender Bassman amp.

The only thing i've ever done to brighten up the neck p'ups is to turn the bass eq. down to ZERO,

the mid down to 5 and the treble up to 10.

Granted, I realize i'll never get a vintage tone from my high output bridge pickups at these settings, without twisting

down on the tone knob but thats what all my lower output guitars are for.......when I want to SHRIEK,

i'll grab the V or flip the switch on my Tele down to bridge.

All of my other p'ups give a great, singing, vintage sound at these amp settings.

 

The only p'up that i'm truly unhappy with, is the Fishman under the saddle on my Fender Malibu acou/elec.

I currently use this guitar as an acoustic only model, for Delta and Roots Blues.......it sounds thin and flat

just like soooo many of the boxes recorded in the 30's and 40's did.......I doubt i'll ever try to change the

p'up in it as it would be more cost effective to use a better sounding box to start with (which I have in my

trusty, beat up, old Washburn D-10).

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found one of the VOX AC50's on aussie ebay but its going for $1999 and quotes a $2799 rrp. Thats a big step up from my 15 watt ss hughes and kettner. Anyone have any advice on a more mid priced amp. I checked out the VOX valvetronix as mentioned by another member here but would prefer to go with a full tube amp.

 

That's awfully high for this amp. Even in Australian dollars, that comes out to $1550 USD. AMS lowered the price on this amp to $699 USD a couple of months ago. I guess they don't sell very well. I really don't understand why. It's the best of the AC30 series plus extra.

 

If you bought it in the States though, it'd probably cost a small fortune to get it Down Under, but I think these are about the most bang for the buck you can get from a straight valve amp. Especially after the price reduction.

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I have a Vox AC30, and it's a beautiful sounding amp. I also have an epiphone dot and have changed the pickups to 57 classics, I noticed an enormous improvement in tone. And I don't regret doing it, but hey that's just me.

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I have a Vox AC30' date=' and it's a beautiful sounding amp. I also have an epiphone dot and have changed the pickups to 57 classics, I noticed an enormous improvement in tone. And I don't regret doing it, but hey that's just me.[/quote']

 

Caramello Koala, I hear what you're saying. My original reason for starting the thread is that many are looking for

the "Holy Grail" of tone. Too many people begin by swapping out the pickups and then don't notice that much of

a difference and become disappointed. I just found by playing through a better amplifier (VOX AC30CC2 tube amp) that my guitars with their stock pickups sound "So Much" better. Not to say that I won't or that nobody should look for a better pickup if they choose to, but having a great rig with it will make all the difference. That's all I was trying to get across.

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