#1
I'm wondering about replacing pickups. I just bought a guitar with factory pups and need to get them replaced, and I don't have tons of money to do so.. I'm looking to spend somewhere from $50-75 per pickup, so neck and bridge combined $100-150. The kind of sound I'm looking for is something nice and crisp, punchy and capable of moderate-high distortion and output, and hopefully with the option of still being able to produce somewhat decent clean sound.
I'm into a sound that comes from harder rock and metal, metalcore, etc, and I think for the bridge I have settled on the
DiMarzio DP160 Norton Bridge, and for the neck I was looking at the VR-Extreme by Tesla pickups. (note: Its infinitely more convenient to me if the pickups are PASSIVE).

Anyhow, given what I was hoping for regarding my pups, what do you think I should invest in? Infinite thanks everyone
#2
This would be a solid time to add which amp you're playing through, and what kind of guitar you're playing. It's no point upgrading pickups if you're playing through a low end amp in my opinion.
Different guitars have different sound characteristics too, so this might/should affect the pickup choice as well.

Never tried that bridge, but I've tried many DiMarzio pickups, and I'm a huge fan of them, so I'm sure it's a good pickup.
Can't say anything about the Tesla pickups though.
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#3
I'm planning on upgrading my amp when I can afford to but I'll have access to much better amps every now and again and I want to have nice sound. I'm playing on an Ibanez RG-120
#4
I first heard Tesla VR-Extremes used in the Malden Bad Karma and some other guitars from small brands. Now I'm just a week or so away from accepting delivery of a custom guitar with a VR-Extreme in the bridge partnered with Tesla OPUS S1 singlecoils in the middle and neck positions. The luthier in question liked them enough to make himself a new HSS guitar with the same array.
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Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#5
what guitar do you have and what pup layout?
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#6
Quote by ikey_
what guitar do you have and what pup layout?

I play an Ibanez RG-120 with two double pickup spots, not quite sure what you want to call that but I would need a double in the bridge and a double in the neck.
#7
It has 2 humbuckers they are just uncovered. If they are anything like the humbuckers on the Ibanez I have in that price range they sound ok but are kind of muddy when clean.
#8
Quote by xaphenx
I'm wondering about replacing pickups. I just bought a guitar with factory pups and need to get them replaced, and I don't have tons of money to do so..


Whoa, stop.

You don't need to replace factory pickups. You've spent too much time on Internet Forums. You're pretty much a beginner (not a bad thing), don't even know what to call them (not a bad thing) and you have the names of some pickups that you might consider spending your money on, but you really have no idea what they're going to do to the sound of your guitar other than somehow "make it better." That last is a bad thing and a waste of your money.

I realize that peer pressure from internet forums and buddies who think they know something will often drive someone to think that factory pickups (humbuckers, by the way, and if you've got two of them, you have an "H-H" (H=humbucker, S = Single coil) guitar) are necessarily not as good as aftermarket pickups. 'Tain't so.

What you're experience is marketing at its finest. It might be useful to ignore it.

I've got something over 50 guitars and have been playing for a while. The vast majority of my guitars have their original pickups, still, and that includes everything from very expensive guitars (>$6K) to very cheap ones (<$200).

In an internet forum like this one, you will be applauded for swapping out perfectly good wiring for some expensive aftermarket wiring harness, for swapping out usable pickups for some expensive aftermarket pickups, and for buying some aftermarket bridge made out of unobtainium sulphate. You will be told that your guitar can't breathe if you don't have a nitrocellulose lacquer finish. Applause, applause. If you take a very cheap guitar, though, and have its frets superglued and leveled on a PLEK machine so that it plays like the wind, you'll be asked what you're smoking. It's just the nature of internet forums. They're all about "consensus" and "conventional wisdom" and getting vast herds of sheep all nodding in the same direction, no matter how silly the premise.

Leave your pickups alone. Have your guitar set up so that it plays beautifully and then practice. Have someone standing by who can give you some mild course corrections when you develop bad technique habits. And then practice some more. In among all the one-finger power chords and alternate tunings and downtunings and all that, learn to read music and develop some understanding of theory. That way if you happen into a group of professionals who tell you to "add the flatted ninth there," you won't stand there blinking. Learn what frequencies comprise lows, mid-bass, high mids, etc. When you understand all of that, give a thought to the whole "tone" business. Most of the time you'll find that some EQ tweaking will give you everything you need, whether live or recording. And when you fully understand what a difference a different gauge of coil wire, or more winds, or a magnet change or even a different form factor (minihum vs full-size humbucker, etc.) can make in changing the sound of your guitar, THEN consider tweaking your pickups.
#9
^ to be fair, that's more tgp (and similar places) you're talking about than here. we frequently advise against swapping pickups. I've only done a pickup swap on one guitar (to be fair, that's more due to my complete incompetence at soldering, but still Even if I could click my fingers and swap pickups with no effort at all, I'd say maybe only a quarter of my guitars "need" a swap).

I don't disagree with anything you've said there (though I still query what you're smoking with that plek job on a cheap guitar And I'd still say that some pickups are better than others... but you're right, apart from the really crappy cheapo ones, most are serviceable at least)
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#10
Quote by Dave_Mc
^ to be fair, that's more tgp (and similar places) you're talking about than here.


On the money.


Quote by Dave_Mc
Even if I could click my fingers and swap pickups with no effort at all, I'd say maybe only a quarter of my guitars "need" a swap).


I worked with (didn't own) an original Dan Armstrong Plex guitar back in the day. Dan and Bill Lawrence were shop partners for a while, and rubbed off on each other. The Plex guitar would allow you to undo a single screw and push the old pickup out of a ramp and drop another one in (redo the screw). At the time, there were something like half a dozen different pickups available for the guitar, and there was even a deluxe edition that came with all six in a nice box. Almost everyone who owned the guitar picked one pickup and never changed it for the rest of the time they played the guitar. This is a fairly current variant with a standard wood body:



Quote by Dave_Mc
I don't disagree with anything you've said there (though I still query what you're smoking with that plek job on a cheap guitar And I'd still say that some pickups are better than others... but you're right, apart from the really crappy cheapo ones, most are serviceable at least)


Yeah, I *assumed*, based on everything I'd read, that I was going to have to change those ceramic-based pickups on the AL-2000 B stock. I've got half a dozen sets of pickups sitting around here ready to go into something. I've just...never...done it.
Last edited by dspellman at Sep 16, 2013,
#11
Quote by Dave_Mc
I've only done a pickup swap on one guitar


I'm in a similar boat: so far, I only have one guitar that got its pups switched out. It was a luthier's prototype, and he was using it as a test bed for pickups. I bought it "as is."

Well, the last set of pups he tried in it were awful- two actually died on me. So now it has Lace Alumitones.

I'd say maybe only a quarter of my guitars "need" a swap.


I have one (out of my collection in the mid-teens) hat definitely needs a swap. My Dean EVO was one of my first 2 electrics, and subsequent purchases have exposed its pickups as a bit muddy. Its getting a HB and a HB-sized P90 from Vintage Vibe.

I have 2 others I'm considering putting RailHammers in, and am planning on getting a Dean Cadillac to drop in some Bareknuckle Rebel Yells to be my "Steve Stevens" guitar...

If I do all of that, that would amount to 1/6th or less of my collection.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#12
^ yeah. it depends on your definition of "need", too. I reckon I only have two guitars which would actually "need" a swap- by that I mean the stock pickups are crap- my musicyo kramer and my patrick eggle new york.

I have a couple of other guitars whose stock pickups don't suit the style of guitar (IMO) or whose pickups are serviceable but not too inspiring. But if I had to, I could put up with them.

that's not to say that in an absolute perfect world (i.e. where i had limitless money and could click my fingers and have them swap themselves) I couldn't improve on most of my guitars with a judicious pickup swap, but yeah. for the time being, i'll stick with the stock ones.

Quote by dspellman
(a) On the money.


(b) I worked with (didn't own) an original Dan Armstrong Plex guitar back in the day. Dan and Bill Lawrence were shop partners for a while, and rubbed off on each other. The Plex guitar would allow you to undo a single screw and push the old pickup out of a ramp and drop another one in (redo the screw). At the time, there were something like half a dozen different pickups available for the guitar, and there was even a deluxe edition that came with all six in a nice box. Almost everyone who owned the guitar picked one pickup and never changed it for the rest of the time they played the guitar. This is a fairly current variant with a standard wood body:




(c) Yeah, I *assumed*, based on everything I'd read, that I was going to have to change those ceramic-based pickups on the AL-2000 B stock. I've got half a dozen sets of pickups sitting around here ready to go into something. I've just...never...done it.


(a)

(b) lol

(c) yeah. except I don't have a bunch of pickups sitting around.
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
Last edited by Dave_Mc at Sep 16, 2013,
#13
I would wait til you hear it honestly. I'm looking at a lot of videos of that guitar and the pickups seem to sound fine clean.
#14
Quote by dspellman
Whoa, stop.

You don't need to replace factory pickups. You've spent too much time on Internet Forums. You're pretty much a beginner (not a bad thing), don't even know what to call them (not a bad thing) and you have the names of some pickups that you might consider spending your money on, but you really have no idea what they're going to do to the sound of your guitar other than somehow "make it better." That last is a bad thing and a waste of your money.

I realize that peer pressure from internet forums and buddies who think they know something will often drive someone to think that factory pickups (humbuckers, by the way, and if you've got two of them, you have an "H-H" (H=humbucker, S = Single coil) guitar) are necessarily not as good as aftermarket pickups. 'Tain't so.


Yeah, I'm definitely a beginner and I'm not opposed to insight and critique, both of which you seem to have xD I'm just wary because right now I'm using the INFINITY 4 in the bridge and 3 in the neck. From what I have heard (again, internet forums and marketing, but I can't say I'm not intrigued even a little bit..) Infinity's are trash, but meh who knows.

There are two or three main reasons I'm considering doing this swap though.. First being I have a $75 gift-card and some cash still coming in from a summer job that I have absolutely no use for, sans wasting it on guitar toys. So naturally, when I think of something that I can throw change at and get noticeable improvement, I would think that pickups are next on my list of things that would be nice to do. Getting an amp that I would actually want is too much money for the mean time though :P Second would be that I'm looking to begin helping out with worship in my local youth group, and third would be that I'm trying to start a band with a few of my musical friends. I would be doing vocals and rhythm guitar, and would like my sound for both of those occasions to be nice. And I'm something of a self-taught, while I would absolutely LOVE to take guitar lessons and music theory lessons / a class regarding music theory, I don't have the time.. I'm in high-school and am taking a pretty rigorous courseload and I'm also in season for sports. So my schedule doesn't permit any consistent hour of the day for lessons, except for 8-9:00 and later, which I personally mind, but who in hell would teach me at that hour?

So, that in mind.. Stick with the infinity's and grab something else from Guitar Center?
Or still go for a swap?
#15
Quote by Dave_Mc
Intelligible words, etc

Quote by dannyalcatraz
More helpful and intelligible words


Thanks a ton for your willingness to contribute from the both of you, much appreciated.
#16
Quote by xaphenx

There are two or three main reasons I'm considering doing this swap though.. First being I have a $75 gift-card and some cash still coming in from a summer job that I have absolutely no use for, sans wasting it on guitar toys. So naturally, when I think of something that I can throw change at and get noticeable improvement, I would think that pickups are next on my list of things that would be nice to do. Getting an amp that I would actually want is too much money for the mean time though :P Second would be that I'm looking to begin helping out with worship in my local youth group, and third would be that I'm trying to start a band with a few of my musical friends. I would be doing vocals and rhythm guitar, and would like my sound for both of those occasions to be nice. And I'm something of a self-taught, while I would absolutely LOVE to take guitar lessons and music theory lessons / a class regarding music theory, I don't have the time.. I'm in high-school and am taking a pretty rigorous courseload and I'm also in season for sports. So my schedule doesn't permit any consistent hour of the day for lessons, except for 8-9:00 and later, which I personally mind, but who in hell would teach me at that hour?

So, that in mind.. Stick with the infinity's and grab something else from Guitar Center?
Or still go for a swap?


Ah, the old money-burning-a-hole-in-my-pocket problem! TICK-TOCK!

In your position, I have to agree with the others: you probably don't need a swap. Wait a while. Let your ears become more sensitive to the nuances of tone.

If the gift card has an expiration date, I'd get a really cool, comfy strap (Levy's, Fender, Plane Waves, Oberon, etc.), or maybe put it towards a good pedal. Chorus, Tremolo and Echo pedals are pretty commonly used in "clean" signal chains to add a little texture. So are things like Distortion or Rotary pedal effects used with their settings set very low.

If it doesn't have an expiration date, save it until you have some more $$$ to get a better amp or second guitar.

...or that pickup upgrade, if it genuinely is needed.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#17
GFS Fat Pats. Great pickups for the price.
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