Poll: What pickups should I use?
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View poll results: What pickups should I use?
Custom Shop '69
4 57%
Texas Specials
0 0%
Other
3 43%
Voters: 7.
#1
Hi there!

First let me say that this is my first post and I am a novice both here and as a guitar player. I've been around plenty of forums, and guitars are not my strong area. But if you want to talk digital photography, you're on...(and on that note, please dont yell if i sound stupid or ask stupid questions. I know whats its like to read a forum from a novice)

Anyways, I have a summer project brewing and I want to lay out the plan before I begin buying things.

Basic idea:

I want to strip my fender squier guitar of its stock pickups and replace them with some new ones!

Problem:

I have no experience with wiring or soldering, and i'm almost clueless as to what all the wires under my pickguard are doing (like why is there a wire that leads to no-where?)

I plan on buying a set of fender custom shop '69 pickups, a soldering kit, and maybe some wire if need be.

I wanted to know if this would be enough to make my guitar actually sound good, and to the full potential of these pickups (disregarding the body they will be in, which i doubt is really up to spec compared to higher end models). I've read something like "those pickups need 250k pots" but I'm unclear if I need to replace the ones I have, or if I already have those in my guitar, or if all 250k pots are the same. Do I need to change the 5 way selector too? Any other electronics?

I know that changing pickups won't make this cheap guitar sound amazing (I am using the cheap amp it came with--15 amp fender front man or something?) but I plan on eventually getting some sort of tube amp, and perhaps some better effects pedals if need be.

Also:

Do you recommend these pickups? I'm, a huge Jimi Hendrix fan, and while I realize that I would need lots...lots of power in my amplifier to even approach his sound, I believe these are somewhat close to his sound. At the least, they sound nice.

I'm also a big SRV fan. I hum the sky is crying or texas flood whenever it starts raining

I was also looking at texas specials...but I liked the CS 69 sound a bit more.

Finally (sorry for the all the questions! I'll be your biggest fan if you respond to them all..) what do you think of pre-wired pickguards? I found one with some dimarzio pre-wired pickguards with some 'area' model pickups that sounded pretty good. Should I pay the 270 bucks to get that instead of bothering with wiring it myself?

Thanks! I hope to be on this forum a lot in the future :p
Last edited by 71EightyOne at May 20, 2010,
#2
Honestly if you are looking to improve your sound dramatically i would first get a new amp. Plus in my opinion dimarzio > fender
#3
You honestly won't hear too big of a difference in sound by changing your pickups by playing through a crappy practice SS amp. I'm sorry if it disappoints you but it's true. You're better off pumping all your money into a new amplifier.. Obviously you're going to look for a tube amp as you said.. Those can get quite pricey if you want quality. (Well, pricey to me is anything over $200.. lol)

Once you have a nice tube amp, or even a more high-end SS amp, you'll hear a distinct difference in your tone when you swap pickups.
#4
Quote by barnesybaby
Honestly if you are looking to improve your sound dramatically i would first get a new amp. Plus in my opinion dimarzio > fender


Thanks for the reply!

How much do you think it would help? The pickups in the squier really aren't that *bad* (my friends has a e-bay bought 100 dollar guitar and it sounds horrid), but they don't have a tremendous amount of character either. They are single coil, so they have a little bit of that single-coil 'growl' in the 1-3-5 positions. Normal. They really just amplify the strings--which is fine-- but it has zero 'character' if you know what I mean. If I go to the neck pickup I can make it sound a little nice, or if I pull back the tone knob it can make a fake kinda humbucker-smooth tone. The bridge is alright too...


I'd be willing to spend around 200 dollars max on an amp..maybe 300. I've seen some nice little tube amps, but I really can't imagine it doing that much. I mean, you need to have some good input to amplify, don't you? Like crap guitar+amps made from god can't make the thing sound great.

Any Dimarizo pickups that you would suggest instead? Or amps?
#5
...Hmm...two people say amp>guitar.

I'm guessing that i'm totally wrong in my logic then . Ok, gotcha. In the photography world there is a rule like that. It's called glass>body. The lens on the camera matters more then the camera itself, because thats what controls the light coming inside of it.

Yes, i will be on the hunt for tube amps. I have around 700 dollars i could potentially let myself spend on an amp, but i'm really only comfortable with around 200 dollars like i said before.

Any suggestions on tube amps? (Or do I need to have tube amps per say?)
#6
Quote by 71EightyOne
Thanks for the reply!

How much do you think it would help? The pickups in the squier really aren't that *bad* (my friends has a e-bay bought 100 dollar guitar and it sounds horrid), but they don't have a tremendous amount of character either. They are single coil, so they have a little bit of that single-coil 'growl' in the 1-3-5 positions. Normal. They really just amplify the strings--which is fine-- but it has zero 'character' if you know what I mean. If I go to the neck pickup I can make it sound a little nice, or if I pull back the tone knob it can make a fake kinda humbucker-smooth tone. The bridge is alright too...


I'd be willing to spend around 200 dollars max on an amp..maybe 300. I've seen some nice little tube amps, but I really can't imagine it doing that much. I mean, you need to have some good input to amplify, don't you? Like crap guitar+amps made from god can't make the thing sound great.

Any Dimarizo pickups that you would suggest instead? Or amps?

Quite the contrary, actually. Shit guitar through nice tube amp = decent tone.

Amazing high end guitar through fender frontman 15 = shit tone no matter what.
#7
Oh really? Well thats good to know!

I suppose I should just save my money and splurge on a 5,000 dollar amp then :p
#8
Quote by 71EightyOne
...Hmm...two people say amp>guitar.

I'm guessing that i'm totally wrong in my logic then . Ok, gotcha. In the photography world there is a rule like that. It's called glass>body. The lens on the camera matters more then the camera itself, because thats what controls the light coming inside of it.

Yes, i will be on the hunt for tube amps. I have around 700 dollars i could potentially let myself spend on an amp, but i'm really only comfortable with around 200 dollars like i said before.

Any suggestions on tube amps? (Or do I need to have tube amps per say?)

Tube amps are not a must on any level.. People just prefer tube because of it's "Organic" and "Natural" sound. No digital bullshit.

You could look into solid-state amps, if you want to. Nothing says you can't. Hell, I've never owned a tube, myself.

You said you're into Hendrix/SRV type stuff, so you don't exactly need a lot of gain behind your tone. Fender Hot Rod Deluxe?

Just, for the love of god, don't get a little something called a Line 6 Spider. Any of them.
#9
Quote by TheAbsentOne
Tube amps are not a must on any level.. People just prefer tube because of it's "Organic" and "Natural" sound. No digital bullshit.

You could look into solid-state amps, if you want to. Nothing says you can't. Hell, I've never owned a tube, myself.

You said you're into Hendrix/SRV type stuff, so you don't exactly need a lot of gain behind your tone. Fender Hot Rod Deluxe?

Just, for the love of god, don't get a little something called a Line 6 Spider. Any of them.


Funny you mention the line 6 spider.I saw that on the bottom of a musicians friend magazine and thought "this could work..."

That hot rod deluxe looks sweet! And yeah, i like listening and attempting to play their stuff. I enjoy attempting to play the blues too, but i'm a bit too young and inexperienced for that.

I was always under the impression that tube>solid state amps. I like the vintage tone that some guitar players had, and i know the tube amps are good for the simply because they were around back then (I think so at least). I don't really know of much of a difference beyond that though...like...do i need to replace the tubes? I've heard they break. (I'm not really down for doing that with a limited budget)

umm..do you know of any small and good tube amps? I've never played live before and hardly need to crank the volume up as I just play in the living room and stuff (i dont know if id ever use the full power of that hot rod amp.)

thanks!
#10
Quote by 71EightyOne
Funny you mention the line 6 spider.I saw that on the bottom of a musicians friend magazine and thought "this could work..."

That hot rod deluxe looks sweet! And yeah, i like listening and attempting to play their stuff. I enjoy attempting to play the blues too, but i'm a bit too young and inexperienced for that.

I was always under the impression that tube>solid state amps. I like the vintage tone that some guitar players had, and i know the tube amps are good for the simply because they were around back then (I think so at least). I don't really know of much of a difference beyond that though...like...do i need to replace the tubes? I've heard they break. (I'm not really down for doing that with a limited budget)

umm..do you know of any small and good tube amps? I've never played live before and hardly need to crank the volume up as I just play in the living room and stuff (i dont know if id ever use the full power of that hot rod amp.)

thanks!

Well I can't really help you there, I've never played a gig either
I'm only a bedroom player. Also, I don't honestly know a lot about tube amps. I've never owned one myself
#12
well if you really want a tube amp there are some nice lower wattage amps
like the tiny terror
#13
Quote by TheAbsentOne
Tube amps are not a must on any level.. People just prefer tube because of it's "Organic" and "Natural" sound. No digital bullshit.

You could look into solid-state amps, if you want to. Nothing says you can't. Hell, I've never owned a tube, myself.

You said you're into Hendrix/SRV type stuff, so you don't exactly need a lot of gain behind your tone. Fender Hot Rod Deluxe?

Just, for the love of god, don't get a little something called a Line 6 Spider. Any of them.


I've never played any of the spider line before I got the 120w spider iv, but I've not been anything but pleased with it. Its a damned good amp, Im running an Epiphone Tony Iommi signature into it and it sounds pretty awesome if you ask me. Maybe the previous variants were crap, I don't know, but the Spider IV is damn good.
#14
Quote by mh1986
I've never played any of the spider line before I got the 120w spider iv, but I've not been anything but pleased with it. Its a damned good amp, Im running an Epiphone Tony Iommi signature into it and it sounds pretty awesome if you ask me. Maybe the previous variants were crap, I don't know, but the Spider IV is damn good.

All Line 6's that I've personally had my hands on and messed with have all been pretty terrible.. I will admit though that I've never had a chance to use a IV. So, honestly I could be wrong about the new model. But still, it probably has that "Digital" feel and sound to it, no matter what. It's still a modeling amp. It would be nice though if they stepped it up to match quality of other modellers such as the Vypers and Rolands.
#15
Oh...another question before I forget...

Not related to the OP, but if I were to modify some pickups, is it possible to re-wind single coils to give it a heavier sound? I imagine if I took them apart i could find the copper (?) wire and remove it, then replace it with new wire and re-wind them around the magnets.

Thanks!
#16
Quote by LeviMan_2001
Fingers>Amp>Guitar

But then again Fingers can't play a really terrible guitar (although your squire should be pretty good).

true, fretting, picking and vibrato styles especially have everything to do with your tone. But that isn't a piece of kit you can buy, it just comes down to practice. A great amp is the happiest thing you can ever have as a guitarist
#17
Yeah, i kinda agree, but please note for the future ive found that depending on the pickups it will make more of a difference to swap out the electronics (im talking a really shitty £50 guitar), as i was too embarrassed to play my guitar for people through any amp. But as you have a nice squier, the pickups should be decent enough to sound alright.
If you do replace the pickups i would recommend swapping out the pots and switch as well, they dont cost much anyway.
As for nice small tube amps, look at something like the Epiphone Valve Junior, they seem to get good reviews. But beware that often small tube amps will just have a volume, maybe an EQ but will rarely have a gain knob, so to get nice overdriven tones you will have to crank up the volume. Some of the more expensive small amps have seperate gain controls, though (e.g Epiphone valve senior)
As for changing the valves im not sure but it doesnt need doing that often, and when it does its usually quite cheap. I heard somewhere that tube amps go wrong more often than SS amps, but when a tube amp goes wrong you just replace the tubes, but when a SS amp goes wrong you're screwed.
Hope this helps!
#19
well are you mechanically inclined? i recently tried rewiring a guitar myself. i am pretty good with my hands too.

my general idea was however it was, keep it that way just replace old wires with good wires. if that didnt work, look up a diagram online. if you follow that, you should be ok. however, you still need to know basic wiring skills and stripping and prepping the wires (tinning them).

advice, youtube soldering. it will really help you out. tinning your iron and wires makes life 100x easier.

also, your only doing pickups, so KEEP EVERYTHING THE SAME. all you have to do is free up teh pickup wires and putthem right back where they were with the new ones. easy.

my problem is grounding the proper wires (i gave myself ground loops and have hum now), cause i redid the whole guitar. your life is easy.
#20
Fender blues junior? Works well for that SRV tone, along with a tubscreamer pedal or two. If you want Hendrix you need to crank a tube amp and/or get a good fuzz.
#21
this
and this http://www.guitarcenter.com/Electro-Harmonix-XO-Little-Big-Muff-PI-Distortion-Guitar-Effects-Pedal-103849147-i1124736.gc

with that you should be set for awhile, ive heard good things about this amp and pedal, you also play what i play , and ive been looking for a little tube amp for recording, and this looks very good.
MIM Fender Strat
Ibanez AE series acoustic
Washburn Semi Hollow loaded with Di-Marzios
Main Street LP
Tama drum set
Marshall Blues-breaker 2
VOX V847 Wah
Fender Princeton chorus
#22
Thanks for all the replies guys!

I think i am looking at these two at the moment:

Fender Vibro Champ XD 5W
Bugera V5

The other suggestions look good too though! I'll research them some more.

The Bugera seems interesting because it has a..uh...thing that can scale back the sound but allows you to still get the overdriven tube amp sound? I'd like that, as I sometimes play in the living room with family within easy ear shot. Dont want to be bothering them too much (oh, and going to college so i cant be annoying everyone)
#23
If your looking for a low wattage tube amp, get a blackheart killer ant. I have one, and it's less the half a watt. Real easy to get that nice tube tone, and can even do metal if driven enough.
Just call me Bobby
Member of the official GB&C "Who to Listen to" list
Quote by mikeyElite
you build guitars worthy of sexual favors

Quote by Invader Jim
if this party gets any livelier a funeral is gonna break out.
#24
Quote by metalwarrior40
If your looking for a low wattage tube amp, get a blackheart killer ant. I have one, and it's less the half a watt. Real easy to get that nice tube tone, and can even do metal if driven enough.


that amp looks good! I have a question though...i found it being sold at amazon, but it says it is only an amp 'head'. I was aware that plugging in amp into only the 'head' wasn't enough...you need a stack or something like that?

Ugh...amps are so confusing.
#25
You need a cabinet for it. However, if you already have a combo amp, you can unplug the amp that's already plugged into the speaker, then plug the head in to it. That's what i do.
Just call me Bobby
Member of the official GB&C "Who to Listen to" list
Quote by mikeyElite
you build guitars worthy of sexual favors

Quote by Invader Jim
if this party gets any livelier a funeral is gonna break out.
#26
Quote by metalwarrior40
You need a cabinet for it. However, if you already have a combo amp, you can unplug the amp that's already plugged into the speaker, then plug the head in to it. That's what i do.


So...a combo amp is like a simple amp that has both those things, right? And I have the SS amp that came with the squier.

Let me get this straight...

It would look like

Fingers-->pick-->strings-->pickups-->cable-->(Shiny new amp)-->cable-->old amp-->better sound?

Would it still sound good if I am using a non-tube amp cabinet thingy? So in theory I can buy a 100 W marshall head and have my guitar line into it, then line into my amp and i'll essentially get a tube amp sound with a physical tube amp in my speaker? (ok, i think it may break the speaker, but just in theory)

I
#27
A cabinet is just a box with a speaker in it. The speaker in that little Fender combo is shit, so you'd want to buy or build a better cabinet for the Ant. Also, you would disconnect the amp in the combo and only use the speaker directly attached to the new amp; you most definitely DO NOT want to plug the output of one amp into the input of another. You also obviously need a little lesson in thermodynamics. Higher wattage=more heat, which means you'd fry the speaker of a small combo amp if you plugged a 100W head into it. You need to match the wattage and impedance of the speakers in a cabinet to the amplifier you're plugging into it.

You also don't seem to have much understanding of tube vs. solid state amps. The primary difference is that in a tube amp the signal is amplified using the Edison effect in vacuum tubes whereas in solid state it is amplified by transistors.

In the pre-amp section the signal is brought up from instrument level and the tone is shaped, by either small transistors or triode vacuum tubes. That signal is then sent to the power amplifier which usually consists of much higher power pentode tubes or higher power transistors that amplify it to a level suitable for driving loudspeakers. Distortion can be produced in either amplifier section, each one producing a different character. The classic tube tone heard on recordings by Hendrix and SRV comes primarily from the power amp and is characterised by its comparative smoothness, but can only be gotten by turning the amplifier up to its maximum volume. They also augmented their sound using daisy-chained tubescreamer distortion pedals in the case of SRV and fuzz faces and wah pedals in the case of Hendrix.
#28
Quote by Mike-T93
A cabinet is just a box with a speaker in it. The speaker in that little Fender combo is shit, so you'd want to buy or build a better cabinet for the Ant. Also, you would disconnect the amp in the combo and only use the speaker directly attached to the new amp; you most definitely DO NOT want to plug the output of one amp into the input of another. You also obviously need a little lesson in thermodynamics. Higher wattage=more heat, which means you'd fry the speaker of a small combo amp if you plugged a 100W head into it. You need to match the wattage and impedance of the speakers in a cabinet to the amplifier you're plugging into it.

You also don't seem to have much understanding of tube vs. solid state amps. The primary difference is that in a tube amp the signal is amplified using the Edison effect in vacuum tubes whereas in solid state it is amplified by transistors.

In the pre-amp section the signal is brought up from instrument level and the tone is shaped, by either small transistors or triode vacuum tubes. That signal is then sent to the power amplifier which usually consists of much higher power pentode tubes or higher power transistors that amplify it to a level suitable for driving loudspeakers. Distortion can be produced in either amplifier section, each one producing a different character. The classic tube tone heard on recordings by Hendrix and SRV comes primarily from the power amp and is characterised by its comparative smoothness, but can only be gotten by turning the amplifier up to its maximum volume. They also augmented their sound using daisy-chained tubescreamer distortion pedals in the case of SRV and fuzz faces and wah pedals in the case of Hendrix.


Ouch...headache. Kinda makes sense.

Mmkay. I think I may stick with something that is a bit more simple/cheaper. A tube amp I can just plug into and be ok with. I don't think I would need the pre amp and cabinet stuff quite yet, as I also have no intention of playing loud enough for people to hear me in a band/performance setting.

And i'll keep the "dont plug one amp into the input of another amp" advice .

I understand the base idea of solid state vs. tube amp and how they work, but i'm just overloaded with all the various parts that make up a tube amp.

thanks though! very informative.
#29
Quote by 71EightyOne
Ouch...headache. Kinda makes sense.

Mmkay. I think I may stick with something that is a bit more simple/cheaper. A tube amp I can just plug into and be ok with. I don't think I would need the pre amp and cabinet stuff quite yet, as I also have no intention of playing loud enough for people to hear me in a band/performance setting.

And i'll keep the "dont plug one amp into the input of another amp" advice .

I understand the base idea of solid state vs. tube amp and how they work, but i'm just overloaded with all the various parts that make up a tube amp.

thanks though! very informative.

The pre-amp is an integrated part of most guitar amplifiers, so you don't need to worry about it, same with the cabinet since it's what the entire thing is housed in. Just buy a combo and you'll be peachy.

No problem, here to help.