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Taming Muddy Sounding Pickups

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MANY of us, myself included, have had issues with pickups that just plain sound muddy, and

even after adjusting pickup height and pole pieces it's still not acceptable.

Well I found an article and thought I would share this. I'm going to try this on my G400

this weekend as my bridge pup just isn't bright enough for my liking. The article I read

was here Taming The Tone Zone, and although Duncan's take on it is for a neck pickup,

the author used it on his bridge unit and says it worked!

Might be a good fix instead of replacing that pickup!

I'll post my findings asap.

Here is an audio of the changes he made with different caps;

TZ Cap Shootout

 

This diagram is from the the Seymour Duncan website.

 

muddyneckpickup.jpg

 

 

If you'll scroll down to post #20 I've put up links to the recordings I did using stock configuration on my bridge pickup, then with a .047 and a .01uf cap. Works surprisingly well!

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That seems such a simple fix, I hope it works out, I'll be very interested in the results, good find GH.

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ive been changing caps for years 7 might be a bit much though. my preference is 33. but you have to try it . i think it will sound like a fender with a 47. 22 i believe is what was in there so 33 is in the middle. anyhow thats what i use on all my guitars with humbuckers.

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For Amx,

He is not using the cap as a tone cap per say. He is using it as a filter. Instead of "rolling off" the tone he is using the higher values to filter out the lower frequencies.

 

Gearhead,

Good find and an interesting concept.

This is his Tone Zone clip. The first part is the pickup without mod. The second part he uses a .047 cap. The third part is with a .01 cap.

 

TZ Cap Shootout:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/21424628/TZ_cap_shootout.mp3

(I hope this works out. It is the first time I have tried this type of embedding.)

 

With all the distortion he is using it is hard to tell if it is getting rid of the muddyness or just the low end.

It is definitely brightening up the pickup.

 

Willy

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Ahhhhhhhhh.... Very Useful information! [thumbup]

 

681.jpg

 

 

No post is complete without a pie chart or Graph.......

 

4000_05.gif

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I have .05 caps in a couple of my Epis.

I like them because it seems to make the tone knob actually work. In other words, I can tell a real difference when using the tone knob than with guitars that have a less value

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This is indeed interesting information, But surely if you are playing with mega distortion and the bottom end is muddy and messy, then in theory you could just turn down the bass on the amp to get the same effect as filtering out some of the bass at the source without having to make permanent ...well, semi permanent alterations ??

 

Correct me if my understanding here is wrong.

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in theory you could just turn down the bass on the amp to get the same effect as filtering out some of the bass at the source without having to make permanent

Correct me if my understanding here is wrong.

Good point!

You might be correct!

I'm hoping that Gearhead does his test and reports back. I also hopes he does both clean and dirty tests.

 

Willy

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This is indeed interesting information, But surely if you are playing with mega distortion and the bottom end is muddy and messy, then in theory you could just turn down the bass on the amp to get the same effect as filtering out some of the bass at the source without having to make permanent ...well, semi permanent alterations ?? Correct me if my understanding here is wrong.

Zackly!!!! All those little mods that yield subtle, if any, tone "improvement", are often probably less than the simple turn of a knob.

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Well I'll try it out, see if I can make a decent recording of the differences and post it here. I've seen some other tricks like using a resistor in series with the pickup to cut the output of a really hot pickup. Not to mention the "Vari-tone" concept of several different caps attached to a rotary switch, but that affects your tone control, not the basic sound of the pickup BEFORE it goes through the tone pot.

Like I said, my G400 sounds muddy, doesn't really matter how much I tweak on the amp settings, or move the height of the pups, so I figure it will be a good unit to experiment on!I will see if I can do it over the weekend and post my findings. We'll see if and how much of a difference it makes!

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Another factor that kinda bugs me...

 

I had a "competing" Dot type I got a super deal on "used" that sounded fine at home but... at a gig with another guitar and bass, it just didn't cut it. I guess you could say "muddy" if you want to.

 

Did a swap for a new Dot that supposedly has the new Epi switch and pots.

 

I think there is a very obvious better sound - but without a scope I don't know really how you can quantify the result.

 

m

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I think there is a very obvious better sound - but without a scope I don't know really how you can quantify the result.

 

m

 

Well to my thinking, if you can record the sound changes, without changing any amp, guitar, or recording (microphone) settings your ear should tell you something about the effect the modification has. But it has to be done with a "base" setting to be able to truly compare it.

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ive been changing caps for years 7 might be a bit much though. my preference is 33. but you have to try it . i think it will sound like a fender with a 47. 22 i believe is what was in there so 33 is in the middle. anyhow thats what i use on all my guitars with humbuckers.

Would the 47 caps sound like a fender because it would have a cleaner sound.Can you just pull out the pickups to get to the caps?

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Would the 47 caps sound like a fender because it would have a cleaner sound.Can you just pull out the pickups to get to the caps?

No, you should do the mod at the back of the switch or vol pots as illustrated above.

 

You could slpice it in at the pickup, but that would limit the pickups usefulness later on, and create an unecessary failure point.

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I have .05 caps in a couple of my Epis.

I like them because it seems to make the tone knob actually work. In other words, I can tell a real difference when using the tone knob than with guitars that have a less value

 

The main reason for that is most guitar company's use a lineal tone pot instead of an audio tone pot. Lineal has a much shorter "travel" (like 1-4) than a true audio taper pot that will travel from 1-8 range.

 

Every Epi I own has been rewired using CTS audio pots and .05 Orange Drop caps. I have one LP (a custom) that has open face Duncan 59's in it and it sounds very good. It does tend to go harmonic quite easy due to the chambers (??) and I suspect the open PUP's.

 

I have an Epi LP Standard that I used the same Duncan 59's but put covers on (with a complete wiring overhaul) and they are butter... much better than open.

 

The audio clip was interesting but with all that distortion, while I could hear a difference, I really would have liked to hear it clean.

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This is indeed interesting information, But surely if you are playing with mega distortion and the bottom end is muddy and messy, then in theory you could just turn down the bass on the amp to get the same effect as filtering out some of the bass at the source without having to make permanent ...well, semi permanent alterations ??

 

Correct me if my understanding here is wrong.

On the face of it this seems a logical solution, but you are still sending a muddy signal to be amplified, so turning down the bass on the amp is just amplifying a muddy signal with a little less bass, it is still a muddy signal though. Like the old adage states, crap in = crap out.

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On the face of it this seems a logical solution, but you are still sending a muddy signal to be amplified, so turning down the bass on the amp is just amplifying a muddy signal with a little less bass, it is still a muddy signal though. Like the old adage states, crap in = crap out.

 

That is a very good point Rastus. If This mod lives up to expectation, I may try some sort of rotary switch on one of my guitars with several different capacitors, including one position with no capacitor.

 

Perhaps My Ibby, one volume, one tone~(essentially a variable low pass filter), and a switch-able High pass filter.

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I replied earlier .. guess it didnt save (happens when I am at work when my boss walks in).

 

Anyway.. if I find a pickup too "muddy" I change the pots first. If it is a 250K I go to 500K .. A 500K would be replaced by a 1Meg

 

I find that when the cap value sets a point where the control says " Ok..anything above frequency X I am going to roll off" If the value is too high, xfrequency is too low and the tone control acts almost like a volume control. .22 usually is fine for most of my guitar but I do have a .18 in my Emp Reg with CC style pickup.

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Ok. I tried the different caps on my stock G400.

I unsoldered the "HOT" lead from my bridge pickup at the volume control,

then I used 2 test leads with alligator clips, one attached to the volume pot, and one to the "Hot" lead.

Then it was just an easy task to swap out the caps for testing. I tried the .047 and .01uf caps.

I settled for the .047uf cap for my unit. It took the overbearing bass out of the low E string!

Sorry for all the links! My recording program had a glitch and I couldn't put the tracks together as one,

but here are the links. They aren't real good recordings, I just used a pc microphone and my Nero Wave Editor.

You can definitely tell how well it took the "mud" out and left it a good bit brighter sounding, especially on the clean recordings.

 

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Gearhead,

 

Tried listening to your clips.

It took me to a web page that told me the file was not available or that I was either not logged in or did not have the owners permission to view it.

Is it just me or something else?

Is anyone else able to access these files?

 

P.S. Hope you got my reply to your PM. In any case I hope my post in the Lounge answers your question.

 

Willy

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I'll have to check those links again, they loaded for me last night (Might need to upload to a different site). As far as control settings, my guitar pots were on 10 (Vol & tone), my amp is set where it always is, I rarely change it. Low-9, Mid-3, High-9, Presence-7.5, on both clean and distortion channels. Now my amp has other settings such as cab, amp and "mode" emulation. But I kept everything the same as I checked each cap. It did make a difference. Definitely removed some of the low frequencies, making the pickup sound brighter, but not tinny. Made me a believer!

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Definitely removed some of the low frequencies, making the pickup sound brighter, but not tinny. Made me a believer!

That's great news GH, this goes into my bag of tricks for sure, thanks for bringing to our attention.

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OK I GOT THE LINKS TO MY SOUND CLIPS WORKING!

SORRY IT TOOK ME A COUPLE DAYS, MY WIRELESS WAS DOWN.

SO HERE THEY ARE AGAIN!

The changes in the tone are VERY noticeable on the clean clips,

the distortion clips are a little harder to differentiate the tones.

 

SORRY THESE LINKS DON'T WORK ANY MORE BECAUSE OF WEBSITE CHANGE,

BUT WILLY DID AN IMBEDDED LINK IN POST #28, THANKS WILLY!

Clean No Mod

Clean .047 Mod

Clean .01 Mod

Distortion No Mod

Distortion .047 Mod

Distortion .01 Mod

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