#1
Hi I'm planning to change my crappy Duncan Designed HB102b bridge pickup to either one of these. My guitar has a mahogany body and a rosewood fretboard, I've heard the JB and I really like it. I haven't heard much about the SH14 Custom 5 actually so which of these would be better suited for my guitar? I usually play heavier stuff and want a nice tight metal rhythm tone.
Oh and I'm playing through a Peavey Vypyr 30.
Thanks.
Last edited by BlackIce21 at Mar 10, 2013,
#2
There won't be a dramatic difference running it through the amp you've got. You're better off saving your money and putting it towards an amp.
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#3
Quote by Eppicurt
There won't be a dramatic difference running it through the amp you've got. You're better off saving your money and putting it towards an amp.


Unfortunately I just bought the Vypyr two weeks ago, so there's no way I can sell it this soon.
#4
I'm not saying you should sell your amp, but eventually put the money saved from the pickups towards something nice.
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#5
So what he really needs is a new amp?

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#6
To answer your question specifically, I personally prefer the JB. It might be my favorite humbucker.

Sadly though I agree, you won't hear that much of a difference with a pickup swap. Just hold off for now.
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#8
Yeah, sorry mate. Look on the bright side, you'll have saved some cash because you did a bit of research and asked a few questions first.
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#9
Never tried the custom, but I love the JB in my charvel San dimas. I guess it's opposite woods of your guitar though.. Alder body with maple neck. Still, I don't think that matters too much. The JB is great .
#10
custom 5 is probably a little tighter. it can be too scooped, though. the JB's not that tight, though, and can be way too middy.

i agree that a different amp would likely be a better idea, if at all possible.
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#11
The JB is hardly any different to the Duncan Designed pickup in there at the moment (which is a copy of the JB's spec). The only difference in terms of construction is the Duncan Designed version is wound very, very slightly hotter; such a little difference that in a blind test you won't tell the two apart.

But yes, new amp. When you're playing through a modelling amp, that amp will do everything in its power to make you sound how the model is supposed to. Even more so for a solid state amp like that. The Vypyr's not a bad amp by any means, it's just not one which will benefit from different pickups running to it. You play pretty much any two humbucker-equipped guitars through one and they'll sound the same. The tiny, tiny differences between something like the DD HB102, SD JB and SD C5 won't count for anything.

Hey, some of us happen to like solid state, digital modelling amps for that very reason.


If you do decide to go for a pickup swap and want a 'tighter' tone than the JB gives (even through a boutique valve amp, the HB102 and JB are indistinguishable with gain...), try the SD Custom line; plain Custom gives you the 'sharpest' tone, Custom 5 softens the highs and lowers the mids a little and the Custom Custom softens the bass and pumps the mids. The Duncan Distortion may also be a good option for you; it's basically a pumped-up version of the Custom, or another way to look at it is as a more aggressive, ceramic version of the JB.
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#12
Thanks for all the help guys but a possibility of a new amp now is out the window. I do play on my friend's Peavey Vypyr Tube 60 from time to time. So if I do want a change of pickups the Custom would actually sound different even through my Vypyr 30?
#13
Quote by MrFlibble
Even through a boutique valve amp, the HB102 and JB are indistinguishable with gain

Really? My HB102 sounds kinda muddy, don't like it too much.
#15
And guess what, the JB is also very muddy in many rigs. Pickups do not sound the same in all guitars and through all amps. You can't just listen to a few clips of a JB sounding nice and take it that you will get that same sound with your guitar.

The JB and HB102 really are as basic a 'hot' humbucker as you can get; overwound with 44 AWG wire, matched coils and a standard A5 bar magnet. There's not much to go wrong, but there's also not much to go right. If your guitar or amp has a particularly indistinct tone or muddy resonance then the JB/HB102 is just gonna sound muddy and dull. Stick it in a shrill, thin guitar and it becomes shrill and thin.

A really great way of showing the difference is with the Epiphone and Gibson Standard Les Pauls. The wood and construction of an LP gives them a pretty balanced tone (and being mahogany and rosewood, this is a relevant combination to you), but Gibson and Epiphone versions vary. Epiphones have a darker and generally thicker tone while Gibsons tend to have a brighter and more resonant tone. Stick a JB (or HB102; really, the only difference is one is made by a machine operated by a guy in America and the other is made on a machine operated by a guy in Korea) in the Gibson and you get a bright, cutting and very precise tone; take that pickup out and put it in the Epiphone and the tone you'll get will be dark and soft.

It's really not the jack-of-all-trades that many think it is. It was originally designed with an A2 magnet and to be used with 250k pots; the current version, with an A5 magnet and most often used with 500k pots, is a bit of a useless mess.

The SD Custom is the real all-rounder that many people think the JB is. The coils aren't as overwound with such a clarity-robbing wire gauge, so you can stick it into a darker and muddier-sounding rig and get a clearer tone, yet it has enough thickness for you to be able to put it in a bright-sounding guitar without it getting shrill. Because it comes in three versions (ceramic, A5 and A2) you can pick one which exaggerates a particular aspect of tone, to suit your particular amp/guitar/playing style.

Really though, while any of the Customs will address the general EQ balance and clarity, it sitll won't be a revolution in tone. It's the amp that dictates how your tone sounds overall, even more so when it's a modelling amp.
Your best (most cost-effective) bet may simply be to lower the current pickup further from the strings. The closer you move a pickup to the strings the stronger the fundamental tone will come through (more output, stronger mids/low mids), the more compressed the attack and decay of the note will be and the shorter the note will ring out (i.e. louder for longer, shorter overall). As you move a pickup further from the strings you will get the opposite effect; your will get a clearer sound with more treble and tighter bass, the note will ring out for longer and the note will decay sooner but less drastically. If clarity is a big issue for you and you want to tighten up your tone, simply screwing the pickup further down, away from the strings, may be enough.

Though just as a matter of interest, look up some Seether songs (if you don't like by-the-numbers grunge, brace yourself ); almost all of their guitar parts are recorded using a Duncan Designed HB102 in a variety of guitars and you'll notice they're very clear and tight, bordering on downright thin.
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