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Old 02-10-2013, 05:22 AM   #1
omertaxtasy
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Pickup Configuration - I have no idea!

First of all, I can't decide whether to go with an SSS configuration MIA Strat or the one with the HSS configuration. I play pink floyd, stevie ray vaughan, a bit of zakk wylde. The thing that confuses me the most is that can single coils do good pinch harmonics? Though I already own a Jackson RX10D rhoads with seymour duncan blackouts - Sounds really good in the metal scene.

Secondly, If I get a HSS, can I do this : Texas Specials on the neck and mid position with a good metal humbucker on the bridge?

If I get a SSS, can I go with : Texas Specials on the neck, David Gilmour DG20 in the middle position with a DiMarzio Area pickups on the bridge?

Is it possible to install different pickups at different positions instead of installing a ste of pickups? (That is the same pickups in all three positions)
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Old 02-10-2013, 05:44 AM   #2
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Old 02-10-2013, 11:45 PM   #3
MrFlibble
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The Gilmour DG20 isn't a pickup, it's a whole pickguard assembly; David Gilmour's pickups are standard EMG pickups that can be bought by themselves.

However, what you can't do is mix active EMG pickups with passive, regular pickups. Although technically it can be made to work, the pickups will never sound good. Either the active sounds right and the passives become very muffled or the passives sound right and the actives become very shrill and deafening. It's not a difference you can compensate for. Either go fully active or fully passive.

As for pinch harmonics, those are all about technique. You'll hear it a lot around here, but only because it's true; you can get pinch harmonics ringing out on an acoustic, if your technique is good enough.

In the early days of the electric guitar, guitars had the same pickup in every position. Since the 70s, most guitars have different pickups in each position You can mix up pickups however you want, so long as they physically fit int he guitar, of course (and you're not trying to mix active and passive pickups, as I said above).


Bear in mind that simply having a Texas Special will not give you the tone of Stevie Ray Vaughan, having an EMG SA will not give you Gilmour's tone and having a high-output humbucker will not make you sound like Zakk Wylde. Pickusp do not define your tone. Your amplifier is what defines your tone, then the guitar overall. Pickups are for tweaking your tone once you've got the basic rig right.

That said, you're battling a whole lot of things. SRV tone use basic guitars but quite unusual set ups elsewhere and a specific combination of pedals and amps. Gilmour uses active EQ controls built into his guitar to shape his tone. Zakk Wylde uses completely different styles of guitar from a Strat, using different construction and woods, with completely different amps and settings to the other two.

If you're trying to capture all their sounds in one Stratocaster, I'd get one of two things:
  1. An HSH pickguard, with passive, slightly high-power pickups, and coil split switches. This gives you powerful humbucker tones and mid-power sort-of-single-coil tones too. Do this if the heavier tones are your priority.
  2. An SSS pickguard with two EMG SAVX for the neck and middle and an EMG SA in the bridge, with an EMG SPC mid boost instead of one of the tone controls. This allows you to have powerful single coil tones in every position, just like Gilmour and SRV, and the SPC can be used to fatten up the sound and add output to make the tone more humbucker-like. This is better if the lighter tones are your priority.

Though that all assumes you have an amp (or amps) that can cover such a wide range of tones as this. Really, if you don't have an appropriate amp then you'll never get that mix of tones, no matter what guitar and pickups you use.
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Old 02-12-2013, 06:42 AM   #4
omertaxtasy
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Hey thanks a lot!
I prefer the lighter tones.

I'm rooting for the SSS pickup configuration. I;m considering your EMG option, but what do you have to say about a Lace Hot Gold in the neck, with Texas specials in the mid position and another good passive with humbucking capabilities (seymour duncan hot rails?) for the bridge setting? The two I have mentioned are passives right?

Sorry I'm such a noob with pickups.
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Old 02-12-2013, 04:04 PM   #5
4FunandProphet
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I would honestly call a couple of the smaller custom pickup winders and tell the what you want. They should be able to translate what you're looking for into a well matched set that are guaranteed to sound good together instead of playing pickup bingo. A popular one on the Strat boards is D. Allen, who is also fairly reasonably priced, as I understand it.
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Old 02-12-2013, 04:48 PM   #6
MrFlibble
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I did realise, after writing the above post, that I forgot to mention one thing: if you're buying an MIA Strat, instead of buying a Special or Standard and then spending more money changing the pickups, just get an American Deluxe. They are made with nicer and lighter woods, the single coils in them are noise-cancelling, they have compound radius fretboards for easier string bending, contoured heels for better fret access, a more stable bridge and better tuners. The HSS version also has a LSR roller nut which allows the guitar to stay in tune better when using the vibrato. Most importantly, the Deluxe models fetaure the S-1 switch, which combiend the pickups to give you more powerful humbucking tones. This way, the HSS version gives you true humbucker bridge tones, a more powerful humbucker bridge tone and a sort-of humbucker neck tone as well as its standard single coil middle and neck tones, and the SSS version gives you proper single coil tones in every position as well as sort-of humbucker tones at the bridge and neck.

Truth be told, a Texas Special is just a normal single coil with a few more turns of wire. There's nothing special about it and they're quite overpriced. I know, I've got them in my Strat! The noiseless single coils in the American Deluxe are about the same output and have pretty much the same tone, without the hum. The same goes for the Lace Sensors, which are basically less dynamic (but passive) EMGs; again, the American Deluxe's nosieless single coils will do the same thing without you having to replace anything.

The bridge humbucker is where it gets tricky. The single coil-size humbuckers, like the Seymour Duncan Hot Rails, do sound just like a full-size humbucker but they can't sound anything like a single coil. Of the three tone examples you mentioned, both SRV and Gilmour used the bridge pickup (and the bridge/middle combination) a lot, so if their tone is something you want to copy then you need to bear in mind that any kind of bridge humbucker, whether it's a full-size one or a single-size one, is going to deny you that tone.

4FunandProphet does bring up a good point, that for the cost you're looking at, you could get int ouch with a custom winder and simply have them make you a set of pickups that gives you the sound you're after (bearing in mind that you're trying to cover a very wide range, so they wouldn't do it all perfectly, but they could kind of average it out). Again, though, by the time you pay for that you could have just bought the American Deluxe Strat instead, which is a big improvement in build quality and wood—the two things that can't be upgraded—and does basically everything you want tone-wise.
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