#1
Hi everyone, I need some help that I would very much appreciate your opinions on.

I have a Yamaha SA500 (think semi hollow 335 kind of guitar), that I am planning to replace the pick ups in to make it sound more like I want it to based on the guitar playing I am doing at the moment.

I play in a duo that uses backing tracks, and I run the guitar through a Vox TonelabST direct into a Yamaha EMX5016CF powered mixer. ie no amp.
I need 2 main sounds, a clear, yet full clean tone for open chord rhythm. Think intro to U2 angel of Harlem. And I need an overdriven sound to play the opening chords of ACDC Long way to the top.

Currently the guitar is fitted with 2 Yamaha humbuckers, which are doing an OK job right now, however I am looking to replace these with 2 new pickups that will best suit my requirements within this musical outfit.

I love the guitar as it feels great, sounds great and stays in tune wonderfully. I am just wanting to improve my tone as I don't use an amp.

Any suggestions are welcome, but please don't bag me out for playing in a covers duo with backing tracks, not using an amp.
My original band rig is a sweet UK made AC30 top boost and Tele. The duo is for the cash.

Cheers y'all
Legman \m/
#2
Probably something PAF-style. Clear and full cleans sounds like pafs, and AC/DC is vintage output humbuckers, too (at least angus is).

what's your budget?
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#3
Choose a pickup brand you're interested in, email the techs, they can help you better..I emailed
DiMarzio and they got me sorted out with my choices...
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#4
thanx for the advice. Budget is not really an issue. just want to get the right pups
#5
As long as your amps/models are vintage, I feel like a DiMarzio Super Distortion / PAF Pro combo would do what you want.

Otherwise, can't go too wrong with a Seymour Duncan '59 / '59 set, or maybe a Custom 5 / '59 set.
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#6
PAF's with an Anico 4 magnet but A5 will work well too. Preferably PAF's using PE wire. Duncan '59 set was a good suggestion, BKP Mule or Riff Raff are good too. If you don't mind sitting on a waiting list then I'd ask SD pickups or Shed pickups to make you one.
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#7
I purchased a set of Sheptone tribute PAFs and they are without a doubt the best humbuckers that I've ever heard. I was able to get them on eBay for about what I got a set of Duncan Seth Lovers for (also good PAF type pickups, but the a2 magnets don't have the bite I was looking for). They make any other hbucker sound completely bland and expressionless by comparison. I Also have tried the Fralin Pure Pafs, which are easily the worst out of these three.

Do not get high output pickups for AC DC.
#8
Quote by Legman


I play in a duo that uses backing tracks, and I run the guitar through a Vox TonelabST direct into a Yamaha EMX5016CF powered mixer. ie no amp.
I need 2 main sounds, a clear, yet full clean tone for open chord rhythm. Think intro to U2 angel of Harlem. And I need an overdriven sound to play the opening chords of ACDC Long way to the top.

Currently the guitar is fitted with 2 Yamaha humbuckers, which are doing an OK job right now, however I am looking to replace these with 2 new pickups that will best suit my requirements within this musical outfit./


I don't think your pickups are the issue. More importantly, you've selected the one point of attack in your rig that will show the least amount of change for the most amount of money. Further, it's the one point of attack that's a pain in the butt in terms of trying things out. You really won't know how any set of pickups is going to sound in your guitar until you yank the old ones and then solder in something else.

Start with the modeler. Honestly, I don't know of any question regarding modelers to which the Vox Tonelab is the answer that doesn't start with, "I have a really tight budget and...". It's an old design and it wasn't overly impressive when it was a new one.

First, is there ANY other guitar within your sphere of influence that produces the sounds you're looking for with the rig you have? Buy, rent, borrow, steal -- but try as many guitars as you can and see what comes closer than your guitar. This is not as easy as sitting, typing to an internet forum and then hitting the Buy Now button on a shopping cart. If you find one, then you can start working with the guitar in mind. If not, then you've gotta start looking at the rig itself.

If you're madly in love with the Tonelab that doesn't produce what you're looking for, then try out a 10-band EQ pedal immediately after the pickups. I've seen three of these EQ pedals on some pretty famous rigs -- one right after the pickups to EQ the pickups. One right after the distortion to EQ that, and another in the FX loop to EQ the cabinet. Start with EQing the pickups. Chances are nearly 100% that this will change your life.

After that, you can look at the Tonelab itself...

FWIW, AC/DC's opening chords on that song are done with the same guitar used on every AC/DC song, and it's using a single coil pickup (not a humbucker) through a JTM-45 (later a 100W version of the same amp) run hot. Angus and his SG may be upfront, but his brother and that ratty old guitar are the basic sound of the band.

If you want to get closer to the amp sound used, listen to the Wampler Pinnacle, Plextortion and Plexidrive pedals. If you can pull something like that out of the Tonelab, fine. Otherwise, consider one of those.

If you can find one and if you can get it to try it, snag a Torpedo C.A.B. and run it after the Tonelab. Turn off the cab sims in the tonelab and use the Torpedo for those instead. You're likely to find your clean sound that way as well. I use one after a Pod HD, and it's quite a difference.
#9
Quote by dspellman
I don't think your pickups are the issue. More importantly, you've selected the one point of attack in your rig that will show the least amount of change for the most amount of money. Further, it's the one point of attack that's a pain in the butt in terms of trying things out. You really won't know how any set of pickups is going to sound in your guitar until you yank the old ones and then solder in something else.

Start with the modeler. Honestly, I don't know of any question regarding modelers to which the Vox Tonelab is the answer that doesn't start with, "I have a really tight budget and...". It's an old design and it wasn't overly impressive when it was a new one.

First, is there ANY other guitar within your sphere of influence that produces the sounds you're looking for with the rig you have? Buy, rent, borrow, steal -- but try as many guitars as you can and see what comes closer than your guitar. This is not as easy as sitting, typing to an internet forum and then hitting the Buy Now button on a shopping cart. If you find one, then you can start working with the guitar in mind. If not, then you've gotta start looking at the rig itself.

If you're madly in love with the Tonelab that doesn't produce what you're looking for, then try out a 10-band EQ pedal immediately after the pickups. I've seen three of these EQ pedals on some pretty famous rigs -- one right after the pickups to EQ the pickups. One right after the distortion to EQ that, and another in the FX loop to EQ the cabinet. Start with EQing the pickups. Chances are nearly 100% that this will change your life.

After that, you can look at the Tonelab itself...

FWIW, AC/DC's opening chords on that song are done with the same guitar used on every AC/DC song, and it's using a single coil pickup (not a humbucker) through a JTM-45 (later a 100W version of the same amp) run hot. Angus and his SG may be upfront, but his brother and that ratty old guitar are the basic sound of the band.

If you want to get closer to the amp sound used, listen to the Wampler Pinnacle, Plextortion and Plexidrive pedals. If you can pull something like that out of the Tonelab, fine. Otherwise, consider one of those.

If you can find one and if you can get it to try it, snag a Torpedo C.A.B. and run it after the Tonelab. Turn off the cab sims in the tonelab and use the Torpedo for those instead. You're likely to find your clean sound that way as well. I use one after a Pod HD, and it's quite a difference.

While I don't disagree with what you said, he does state that he has a quality amp. If he invested that kind of money into a rig he doesn't use, I doubt he'd mind forking over some money for quality pickups in a guitar that earns him some cash.
#10
Quote by dspellman
I don't think your pickups are the issue. More importantly, you've selected the one point of attack in your rig that will show the least amount of change for the most amount of money. Further, it's the one point of attack that's a pain in the butt in terms of trying things out. You really won't know how any set of pickups is going to sound in your guitar until you yank the old ones and then solder in something else.



I disagree. Most of the time when people want new pickups they can be better served by getting a better amp or a pedal, however, I don't think that is the case here. A reasonable modeling pedal into a reasonable PA can be very responsive and make great pickups sound great or horrible pickups sound horrible. The TS's setup is incredibly common for a 1 or 2 man band playing small gigs and there is nothing wrong with it.

Pickups might not be the biggest and most noticable factor in your tone but they are still one of the most significant. Your amplified sound is created in those pickups. If the pickup isn't producing something you want you can't use an amp or a pedal to boost whats not their because you can't boost nothing. If your pickups are producing too much of somethng you can use a parametric EQ to get rid of what you don't want but you will always sacrifice a bit of what you do want at the same time. If your pickups sound mushy can't un mush it. In other words, there are some things you can't fix with amp and FX. If getting the right pickups will fix the sound issue before they reach your pedal then why not just get the right pickups? Why try to fix by processing the signal more when the desired tone is distinctly raw and unprocessed?

The TS's guitar (if it's stock) has the Chinese interpretation of a PAF in it right now. The problem with that is 3 fold
1 it's metal components don't have enough carbon in them and it make the pickups sound sluggish, lacking in definition, and often times boomy.
2 the pickups use poly wire which also lacks definition
3 the parts are metric sizes instead of imperial which has a dramatic effect on the tone.

Switching to a better PAF made with the right type of metal, correct wire, and correct size parts will give the TS the right sound coming from his guitar and then with little more than some fuzz, or overdrive the sound coming from the PA will be spot on. No need to mess with setting or use extra pedals.

/rant
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#11
Noone mentioned Pearly Gates:
http://www.seymourduncan.com/products/electric/humbucker/vintage-output/shpg1_pearly_ga/

SD also has a blues Saraceno Trembucker that might also work well for AC/DC but it is typically made for tremolo guitar.

I'd prefer PAF Joe in neck and regular PAF from DiMarzio.
#12
thanx for all the comments. I have just taken delivery of a matched pair of Pearly Gates Zebra and they will be installed into the guitar tomorrow. look forward to hearing the tone. cheers, y'all
#13
Yeah, but the Tonelab isn't very good. Buy a Pod HD500X. That'll have far more impact than pickups.
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#14
Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge, Seymour Duncan Jazz Model in the neck. You can get it together in one packas the hot rodded humbucker set. Great for ALL music I play. Love it.
#15
Quote by Legman
thanx for all the comments. I have just taken delivery of a matched pair of Pearly Gates Zebra and they will be installed into the guitar tomorrow. look forward to hearing the tone. cheers, y'all



Good choice man, pearly gates are one of my favorite Seymore Duncan pickups.