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Old 11-26-2012, 06:00 PM   #1
this&that
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Thinking of swapping pickups

Hey EG, so i have been doing some research lately but I also have wanted to get some opinions from you guys since you know your stuff.

So my main guitar right now is an ltd ec-500 with active EMG 81/60 pickups. I have been playing it a lot lately and i do play using a tube amp at a studio I rent out with friends. At home I use a roland 30x cube since I do not have a tube amp. The thing I have noticed is that I find the pickups to be very hot. I love my metal, but I am also very fond of blues and rock. I primarily play metal/hard rock but I have been noticing that because the pickups are very hot im not getting enough chunkiness in my playing, its very tight. I have been thinking of swapping out my pickups for passive ones, I have been looking at some seymour duncans and doing research before actually going through with it. But I also wanted to know whether it would be a good idea or not. My primary pedal is a BOSS mt-2, yes that very loud metal one, however I do have a DS-1. I wanted to know what everyone's ideas or input was perhaps give me insight into making a better decision.

Im trying to get a chunkier sound, my cube is surprisingly versatile, but maybe im just doing something wrong here with my gear. If anyone has any input or advice I would love to hear it. Thanks EG
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Old 11-26-2012, 06:22 PM   #2
krehzeekid
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with your rig, the pickups will hardly make any difference at all. a tiny little amp isn't going to create giant, chunky rhythm tones, no matter how you set it up. also, the MT-2 is despised by a whole bunch of people for sounding too hissy (myself included)- it's not a tight and chunky pedal.

try turning the volume on your guitar down just a little bit to take the edge off the pickups.
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Old 11-26-2012, 06:36 PM   #3
this&that
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I have been thinking of buying a new pedal, as i mentioned before I have access to several full cabs and tube amps at the studio that i go to often, but at my house I cant exactly have a loud amp due to the neighbours getting on my case. Would purchasing a different pedal be a better idea? Because I'm really starting to get sick of the mt-2. I have been using the ds-1 a lot more because its not as hissy. But I was thinking of swaying away from boss and looking for a better pedal. Any suggestions? I would be looking for something chunkier
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Old 11-26-2012, 06:45 PM   #4
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If you're using the distortion pedals for most of your distorted tones then the pickups' output won't be doing much anyway, whether you're using a valve amp, the Cube or anything else. High output is only going to really matter when you're driving a valve amp directly. With pedals in the way, or with a solid state amp, output becomes rather meaningless.
In terms of getting a 'chunkier' tone, you're always going to struggle with the Cube; solid state amps specialise in a broader, flatter and more precise response, and typiclaly 'chunky' is a phrase you'd associate with the narrow treble and increased mids you get with valves. It's very hard to get a tone that can be described as 'chunky' from a solid state amp, no matter what your pickups or pedals are.
I use a solid state into a 2x12 and even with a Les Paul with warm-toned, mid-output passive pickups, I have to put the bass and mids all the way to max and add in a secondary bass boost option to get the tone sounding thick. That's just the nature of solid state.

Changing pickups may help, but not much. Active pickups inherently have more of everything than any passive can; more bass, more mids, more treble. Switching to any passive pickup, while still using those pedals and amp combination, may lose you some treble but won't give you any more mids and bass, which seem to be what you're really in need of.
What I'd suggest you do is look into different kinds of active pickup instead. I pimp them everywhere, but the EMG 60AX is a really good option for people who want to cover various styles of music with a simple 2-humbucker set up. The 60's winding gives them clarity, the use of an alnico magnet rather than a ceramic one (as in the regular 60) gives some smoothness and character and the X-series preamp gives you more headroom and slightly softer bass. 60AXs are one of EMG's most expensive pickups, but with good reason. You're essentially getting a PAF-style tone with zero noise, lower impedance, jazz-style response and metal-style output; 60AXs can do anything you throw at them, in any guitar and through any rig.
EMG 85s or 85Xs may also serve you well. You're basically getting an 81 with much stronger mids; 'chunk' is their middle name. They don't have the clarity of the 60A, but they are missing some extra treble over the 60A, which is handy if a much, much smoother tone is what you're after.
They'll both still give you the typical flatter, wider and more responsive active tone when you're running the gain high, but when you back the gain off and dial in more mids they can both be used as standard rock pickups (the 60AX being more suited to blues, the 85 being geared more towards hard rock), more than any other active pickup and more than most passive pickups.

If you really insist on going passive, my picks for a thicker tone from an EC which can still do metal as well as slightly softer tones would be a SD Custom 5 or Custom in the bridge and a Jazz in the neck, if you're more of a standard lead player, or a 59/Custom Hybrid in the bridge and an Alnico II Pro in the neck, if you're more of a rhythm player. A DiMarzio Tone Zone or Breed will also give you a much thicker tone in the bridge, but they do come with quite high output, so if you want to get away from that then they might not be such good choices.
Don't write off PAF-style pickups just because they're not famous for hard rock and metal, either. Just as an example, Metallica have used Gibson Historic Reissue Les Pauls with the stock Burstbucker pickups (low-output with alnico II magnets) for recordings. PAFs and active pickups share a lot in common, and you might find that using a PAF-style pickup like Gibson Burstbuckers or SD Seth Lovers gets you enough of a classic tone for the blues and standard rock stuff whilst still giving you enough clarity for hard rock and metal. They're not the obvious choice and they don't work out for everybody, but some people like to go this way and simply turn the gain up more, rather than rely on the boosted output of actives or the decreased response of overwound, hotter passives.


edit: whoops, sorry for the essay.
tl;dr version: EMG 60AX, SD Custom 5 or 59/Custom Hybrid (bridge) and either Jazz (for lead) or Alnico II Pro (for rhythm) in the neck, maybe considering SD Seth Lovers.
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Last edited by MrFlibble : 11-26-2012 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by this&that
I have been thinking of buying a new pedal, as i mentioned before I have access to several full cabs and tube amps at the studio that i go to often, but at my house I cant exactly have a loud amp due to the neighbours getting on my case. Would purchasing a different pedal be a better idea? Because I'm really starting to get sick of the mt-2. I have been using the ds-1 a lot more because its not as hissy. But I was thinking of swaying away from boss and looking for a better pedal. Any suggestions? I would be looking for something chunkier


yeah, a better pedal could help. probably for less money than pickups too.
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