#1
Can somebody explain the use of the neck pickup to new-to-electric-guitar me? I've heard that in jazz and related styles, especially on hollowbody guitars, only the neck pickup is used, but what about rock and beyond? Right now, I always use the bridge pickup on my SG (I assume it's the bridge pickup, it's got more BAM! to it and it's louder), and only use the other one to switch between clean and distortion (turning down the other PU's volume to 2 or 3 so it's quiet enough not to distort).

So what kind of music is the neck pickup used for? Are there any rock or metal musicians using it at all? From what I've read, Billie Joe for example only uses the bridge PU. Or do people only use it for "softer" genres? And if so, why do companies such as EMG manufacture active neck PUs? I always assumed active electronics were mainly a metal speciality.

Really confused now. Any input would be nice
#2
For anything that isn't distorted or with gain. Some metal songs do include clean bits, and some bands do play songs without gain. Since most guitars come with two pickups, even those that are for metal, pickup manufacturers offer all sorts of neck pickups.
#3
Watch some of Zakk Wylde's (insert pinch harmonic joke here) solos on youtube. On some leads he will switch back and forth several times depending on what piece he is playing.

I use my neck p/u mostly for the cleans and mellower or bluesy stuff, or if I am playing rhythm behind another guitarists leads. It's all personal preference really. Whatever sounds good to your ear.
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#4
a lot of distorted solos use the neck pickup for at least some of the solo, too. in addition to what's already been said.
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#5
It's not really a question of "what kind of music are they used for", it's more like "what kind of music do YOU use them for".

I can't really say there's any particular genre I use the neck pickup on more than the bridge or vice versa, I tend to think of the pickups different colours on the sonic palette, and use the neck pickup wherever I feel the softer, richer sound is appropriate for the piece of music, be it for gentle clean tones, thick blazing lead lines, or anything in between. Use your ears and your imagination - be creative!
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#6
I sometimes switch to the neck to change sounds for a solo, or to give 2 sounds for one solo...even 3 sounds using the bridge/middle-bridge/bridge toggle positions. The neck sounds great for clean sounds, too, as mentioned.
#7
I use my neck pickup all the time. blues and jazz players use it quite a bit. rock players to. Ritchie Blackmore used it all the time with Deep Purple and Rainbow. Hendrix used it, Alex Lifeson from Rush the list goes on. up to the player to find uses for it. a lot of metal players tend to stay on the bridge pickup but there really is no reason you have to.
#8
Quote by Dave_Mc
a lot of distorted solos use the neck pickup for at least some of the solo, too. in addition to what's already been said.
Yeah, I would say there's a fairly large number of metal players who observe a rule of thumb of using the bridge pickup for rhythm for definition and the neck pickup for a smooth lead tone.
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#9
Vintage guitars up until the mid-80's had two identical pickups. This meant that the bridge pickup was actually quieter than the neck pickup due to placement. In the late '70's, as "hot" pickups arrived, guitar players replaced the bridge pickup with a hotter one to "match" the neck pickup in volume. Manufacturers eventually got the idea, and most guitars (and most pickup sets) these days have a hotter bridge pickup than neck pickup.

I personally don't think that "matched" pickups are a necessary thing, and I have a number of newer guitars in which I've either got the same pickup in both positions or a hotter pickup in the neck. I've set up a couple of LPs with a 9.2Kohm '57 in the bridge position and an 18Kohm Fast Track II (single coil size humbucker) in the neck position. Thanks to placement AND higher output, the neck pickup is a LOT louder than the bridge pickup, and it's a really useful solo pickup as well (with less mud at the bottom end due to its size). If you're not using your neck pickup much these days, rethink it. Change it out and make it something really useful.
#10
Clapton played a Gibson LP and used the neck to achieve what many call the "woman tone" mellow but with a bite...
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#11
Clapton played a Gibson LP and used the neck to achieve what many call the "woman tone" mellow but with a bite...[/QUOT

actually the woman tone was the bridge and neck pups together with the tone controls rolled back
#12
Quote by chaosinsues5
I sometimes switch to the neck to change sounds for a solo, or to give 2 sounds for one solo...even 3 sounds using the bridge/middle-bridge/bridge toggle positions. The neck sounds great for clean sounds, too, as mentioned.


yeah getting two sounds for a solo is really useful with the neck pickup- mellower with the neck and then really letting rip with the bridge
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Yeah, I would say there's a fairly large number of metal players who observe a rule of thumb of using the bridge pickup for rhythm for definition and the neck pickup for a smooth lead tone.


yeah

and quite a lot do what chaosinsues5 said, too.
Quote by dspellman

I personally don't think that "matched" pickups are a necessary thing,


I agree, however for certain situations it can still be useful. Not necessarily even really for volume, but just for more saturation/distortion.

This is an oversimplification, but I'd probably prefer guitars with fairly closely-matched bridge and neck pickups for more vintage tones, and a bit of a hotter bridge pickup for more modern tones- both because I like the extra saturation/distortion from the bridge, and I just seem to prefer PAF-output pickups in the neck position, even when I have a hotter bridge pickup- I guess, the stuff I use the neck pickup for just sounds better with a lower output pickup there.

Of course there's an exception to every rule, since I really like my Ibanez with PAF Pros in the neck and bridge position, and it's very much a modern-style guitar.
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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.

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

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#13
I use my pickup selector a lot and vary the levels on different songs. Most of my tone comes from a combination of both pick ups (as an example on a Les Paul I usually go 4 on the neck and 6 on the bridge). That combo leaves a lot of room for tone adjustments on the fly. A lot depends on the guitar I'm using but on any of them it's usually a combination of both neck and bridge 80% of the time.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Feb 8, 2017,
#14
I use the neck pickup for all the leads and for clean stuff. Really all of it, the solos sound so much better on the neck pickups, its not even funny. I also use it if i play some lower gain stuff, and want a mellower and dirtier sound.
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#15
Output really is a matter of pickup choice

The key thing for me is the balance between fundamental and overtones. When I'm trying to get tones like the later Kyuss stuff the neck pickup is necessary (though Josh Homme's tone at that point was primarily due to the Ampeg amps he used)
#17
Quote by wolflen
Clapton played a Gibson LP and used the neck to achieve what many call the "woman tone" mellow but with a bite...[/QUOT

actually the woman tone was the bridge and neck pups together with the tone controls rolled back


Also I think it was his Gibson SG as well....to be pedantic....
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#18
Quote by Dave_Mc
a lot of distorted solos use the neck pickup for at least some of the solo, too. in addition to what's already been said.


^ This neck pups are used for soloing it gives a darker warmer tone.
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#19
Bridge i's my go - to pick up on the heavy channels if you need to cut through the mix ... I use it on solo's exclusively , I'm not the lead guitarist but I have four solos in our songs , works great

one more thing too is it might make a difference on a what amp you have , dark amp might be more useful with the bridge to brighten it up more
Last edited by Fumble fingers at Feb 9, 2017,
#20
I use the neck pup for giving my tone a rounder, warmer sound. I don't limit its use to genre.
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#21
Quote by dthmtl3
For anything that isn't distorted or with gain.


no no no no no no no

There's no correlation between clean vs distorted and bridge vs neck.
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#22
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Yeah, I would say there's a fairly large number of metal players who observe a rule of thumb of using the bridge pickup for rhythm for definition and the neck pickup for a smooth lead tone.


Neck pickup helps to make poor shredding sound better, don't you know? It's like the guitarist's equivalent of a mono switch for soloing.
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#23
Quote by wolflen
Clapton played a Gibson LP and used the neck to achieve what many call the "woman tone" mellow but with a bite...


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Quote by Fumble fingers
Bridge i's my go - to pick up on the heavy channels if you need to cut through the mix ... I use it on solo's exclusively , I'm not the lead guitarist but I have four solos in our songs , works great

one more thing too is it might make a difference on a what amp you have , dark amp might be more useful with the bridge to brighten it up more


I sometime's wander how people, hear made it passed the 5st grade seriously what is grammar ...
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#24
I use my neck pickup for solos that are more laid back, it has a warmer tonality to it thats nice for moderate to high gain, also for ambient guitar lines that use hella delay and reverb. Theres no rules when it comes to tone... other than you need to turn up your mids
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#25
Quote by theogonia777
no no no no no no no

There's no correlation between clean vs distorted and bridge vs neck.


It's what I do. You can do it whichever way you prefer.
#26
Quote by dthmtl3
It's what I do. You can do it whichever way you prefer.


It doesn’t matter what you do. You're telling someone that doesn't know better what to do and what you're telling him (that neck pickups are for anything that isn't distorted or with gain) is not accurate.
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#27
Quote by theogonia777
It doesn’t matter what you do. You're telling someone that doesn't know better what to do and what you're telling him (that neck pickups are for anything that isn't distorted or with gain) is not accurate.
'

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#28
Quote by theogonia777
I sometime's wander how people, hear made it passed the 5st grade seriously what is grammar ...



so do you wonder or wander ???...LMAO .... when I wander I blame it on Beer
Last edited by Fumble fingers at Feb 9, 2017,
#29
Quote by theogonia777
Neck pickup helps to make poor shredding sound better, don't you know? It's like the guitarist's equivalent of a mono switch for soloing.
Yeah, that's why I use it.
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#30
Quote by Blompcube
It's not really a question of "what kind of music are they used for", it's more like "what kind of music do YOU use them for".

I can't really say there's any particular genre I use the neck pickup on more than the bridge or vice versa, I tend to think of the pickups different colours on the sonic palette, and use the neck pickup wherever I feel the softer, richer sound is appropriate for the piece of music, be it for gentle clean tones, thick blazing lead lines, or anything in between. Use your ears and your imagination - be creative!


this

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The joke went over your head I reckon
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Last edited by H4T3BR33D3R at Feb 9, 2017,
#32
Quote by rich.bendall
Also I think it was his Gibson SG as well....to be pedantic....


pretty sure the Fool was a 62 or 63 which were still called a Les Paul. Les's contract was up in 64 which is when he got divorced. he asked them to take his name off the guitar (which he didn't care for either).
#33
I use my neck pickups wide open for doom frequently. Really brings out that heavy wooly sound, making my speakers sound like they are exploding in slow motion.
#34
Quote by monwobobbo
pretty sure the Fool was a 62 or 63 which were still called a Les Paul. Les's contract was up in 64 which is when he got divorced. he asked them to take his name off the guitar (which he didn't care for either).


Extra screw hole, its a 64, so an SG.


FWIW Clapton did most of the recordings of Bluesbreakers, Fresh Cream etc... with a Gibson LP (the Beano guitar) (various amps, like an older Selmer, a Vox AC30 and a Marshall combo NO TREBLE BOOSTER) and only had the SG during the Disraeli Gears era. Another thing is Clapton recorded a lot with the Firebird and a 335 after the LP was stolen and IIRC the SG is only used on like 2 songs (Tales of Brave Ulysses & SWLABR IIRC) in the studio
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#35
Right now, I use the quieter one (the label says it's rhythm?) for, well, rhythm playing (chords or power chords), and the loud one (treble?), which is almost twice as loud, for lead, this way, I don't have to turn any knobs on the amp to get the same volume. The rhythm one sounds really thin, too.

Thanks f or all the input! I now know that apparently the neck pickup isn't limited to certain genres, but to which pickup fits the needs of the song or guitarist better.
#36
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Yeah, I would say there's a fairly large number of metal players who observe a rule of thumb of using the bridge pickup for rhythm for definition and the neck pickup for a smooth lead tone.


This is pretty much what I do, the bridge pickup can get to harsh and brittle sounding for higher notes and solos.

When I am playing Metal it is basically bridge for rhythm and neck for leads and cleans.
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#37
All up to the player for sure. Hell, I like 5 way switches in my dual-humbucker guitars. That way I have an option for every occassion.
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#38
Depends pretty much on what pickups you've got in the neck position, and what kind of setup you're playing it through. That is way too general a question to get a good answer.