Pickup FAQ (page 1)

Hi and welcome to the pickup FAQ, this normally live in the GB&C forum but i decided it was time to unleash it on the rest of UG! Feel free to give me suggestions new websites tidied up versions of this, heckle me (not too much please) whatever just make it useful!

this is not the be all and end all of pickups on this site just a rough guide to inform your choice and what you do is up to you.

1. Interesting and Informative websites
2. Manufacturers of pickups
3. Manufacturers of acoustic pickups
4. Pickup wiring diagrams and mods
5. Different kinds of pickup:

a.The Difference Between Single Coils and Humbuckers
b.Passive Pickup Systems
c.Active Pickup Systems
d.Low-Impedance Pickups with Separate Pre-Amps
e.High-Impedance Pickups with Separate Pre-Amps
f.Onboard E.Q. Circuits

6. Changing pickups for beginners
7. Pickup reviews (just a few to get you started)

Fender Lace Sensor Gold
Fender Texas Specials

Dimarzio Tone Zone
Dimarzio Air Norton
Dimarzio Paf Pro
Dimarzio Super Distortion
Dimarzio Fred and PAF Fred.

Seymour Duncan JB
Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro
Seymour Duncan Jazz
Seymour Duncan Custom
Seymour Duncan Invader

Swineshead Runaway and Warthog Humbuckers
Swineshead X-bucker

Ibanez V8/S1/V7 (Humbucker/single coil/Humbucker

8. Credits and thanks

1. Interesting and Informative websites





2. Manufacturers of pickups
Most of you will head strait to one or two companies when considdering a new Pup why not take a look outside the box with these and create a unique tone?































3. Manufacturers of acoustic pickups











4. Pickup wiring diagrams and mods

( Note that wiring for pickups vary from each model )









5. Different types of pickup

A. The Difference Between Single Coils and Humbuckers.

General knowledge and the basics

Pickups are essentially magnets. Your strings are made of magnetic metals; usually electric guitar strings have a steel core wrapped in nickel, or are just plain steel. Your pickup creates a magnetic field that when the strings move, disturb. This disturbance is transferred to an electrical signal by your pickup, affected by all your guitar's electronics and eventually reaches your amp and is turned into vibrations which you hear as your guitar.

Pickups get their magnetism from either a magnet attached to their base, or from magnetic pole pieces. Pole pieces are the metal cylinders that come out of the pickup under each string. The pole pieces are wrapped in magnetic wire (usually copper), which increases the strength of the magnetic field. One set of pole pieces wrapped in copper wire is called a coil of a pickup.

More advanced stuff
There are 3 main types of magnets used in passive pickups; Alnico II (2), Alnico V (5), and Ceramic.

Alnico II is the lowest output and the smoothest/warmest/bassiest of the 3 main magnet types. Alnico V is higher output than Alnico II and has more trebly/midrange bite than Alnico II. Ceramic is the highest output of all and the most trebly/biting. In general, Either Alnico II or Alnico V can sound good distorted or clean, but ceramic pickups generally produce a tone that isn't as pleasing clean, but somewhat preferred for heavy distortion.

Depending on the type of wire used to wind the pickup, it's thickness, how it was prepared and how old it is, the wire can affect the pickup's overall sound greatly. Companies generally do not list information about what wire type they use in order to keep their pickup formula somewhat guarded. In general, the more wire that is used will give you a greater output and a bassier tone.

As you may have noticed, if you pick closer to the bridge of your guitar, the sound you get will be quieter and more trebly than it would be if you picked closer to the neck. When pickups were first made, they didn't account for this and your bridge pickup would sound very quiet and trebly, while your neck pickup would sound very loud and bassy. Eventually, people began to realize that if you over-wound the bridge pickup, so that it became hotter and more bassy, and under-wound the neck pickup, so that it became quieter and more trebly, that you could create a greater balance between the pickups. In general, bridge pickups will still sound more trebly than neck pickups, but not in all cases.

So, now that you have some general knowledge, we can move on to the pickup divisions.

Pickup divisions

There are 2 main different pickup constructions, single coil and humbucker (2 coils). Single coils and humbuckers come in all different sizes and shapes.

Here are some various single coil pickups.

Here are some various humbuckers.

Hopefully you know, visually, the difference between humbuckers and single coils now.

Single coils

here is a pic of a generic single coil

The first pickups created were single coils. Along with picking up signals from your strings, which they were supposed to, they also picked up stray radio frequencies (RF) which you would hear through your amp as an annoying buzzing sound. The orientation of this RF signal is related to which way the wire is wound around your pickup. Meaning that if you wind the pickup clockwise, the RF signal will travel in a different way then it would if you wound the pickup counter-clockwise. If you have 2 signals being used at once, where the RF signal is different in each, they will cancel each other out, or at least lessen their collective sound greatly.

This is why humbuckers were created.
Last edited by sillybuuger12 at Aug 13, 2005,
(Page 2)

5A(cont). Humbuckers

here are two pics of a basic humbucker with and without the cover

Humbuckers are essentially 2 single coil pickups that share a large magnet at their base. Each coil of a humbucker is wrapped differently, so that the RF signals they create cancel each other out.

The only purpose in creating humbuckers was to "buck" the hum that single coils created.

However humbuckers did not, and do not, sound just like single coils without hum. Since a much larger magnet was used, and there were 2 coils of wire, the humbucker created a much louder signal.

There are many other differences between humbuckers and single coils. Some will say that humbuckers are only good for distortion and single coils only good for clean. This is only personal taste, and many people (There are too many people who use Gibson style guitars for clean to begin to list them) use guitars with humbuckers for playing clean. Also, guitarists such as Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple), Ywingie Malsteen, Kirk Hammet (Metallica), both of Iron Maiden's guitarists and many others have used single coils for metal.

I could begin to describe the tonal differences of humbuckers and single coils to you, but it would be best if you went out and played alot of guitars and found them out for yourself. I could say single coils have more "quack" or "twang", but what you think of as quack may be different than what I think of, so it'd be best you come to your own conclusions.

These links have clips of many different pickups, use them to help you make decisions about pickups

B. Passive Pickup Systems
All basses and guitars generate an output signal by means of a pickup that translates some of the vibration energy of the strings in to voltage that gets sent to an amp. ?Passive? instruments send this raw signal to the amp, and passive volume and tone controls can only attenuate the signal and treble response, that is, make it quieter. In order for passive magnetic pickups to generate enough voltage to drive an amplifier, they must be wound with a large number of turns of wire. This causes high inductance in the coil, and a high impedance output signal. This has the effect of rolling off the extreme high and low frequency response and making the signal more susceptible to loss and degradation in the cable on the way to the amp. While this sounds bad, it?s one of the reasons passive pickups can sound ?punchier?, because the ear perceives more midrange when the high treble and low bass are rolled off. The powerful magnets and larger wire coils in passive pickups can also produce strange electromagnetic interactions with the strings and adjacent pickup coils, causing irregular response curves and dynamic effects usually not seen in active pickups. Both of these factors contribute to the unique voice and continued popularity of passive pickups.

C. Active Pickup Systems
Typical examples are EMG pickups and the Duncan/Basslines Active Pickups. These generally use low-impedance pickups with a smaller number of wire turns. This causes less loss in the high and low end, and generally allows a much broader, full-range, hi-fi sound. Unfortunately, it also means the voltage produced by the pickup is very low, not nearly enough to drive an amp through a long cable. So these pickups have miniature amplifiers, called preamps, built into the pickup housing itself. Thus the signal only has to travel a fraction of an inch before it gets amplified and buffered into a low-impedance output. These systems often, but not always, provide a higher output signal than passive systems, so you don?t need to turn up the gain as much on your amp, which can add noise.

To confuse matters, active systems can use passive volume and tone controls just like passive pickups. These controls are almost always have different values for potentiometers and capacitors, and you usually must use the parts supplied by the pickup manufacturer. In addition, because the connection from the pickup coils to the preamp is made inside the pickup housing, options like series/parallel switching and coil tapping are rare and generally not available unless the manufacturer has specifically designed the pickup for it.

D. Low-Impedance Pickups with Separate Pre-Amps
This kind of system is essentially an active pickup with the preamp taken out of the pickup housing and mounted separately in the instrument?s control cavity. This approach is typical of some Bartolini and Lace Sensor designs. You gain the ability to do things like coil-splitting and phase switching, because the pickup wires are accessible before they go into the preamp. However, adding a passive bypass switch is usually not a good idea, because the passive output of the pickup is so low. The preamps that go with these systems have a lot of gain to boost the output of the pickup?s signal to a useful level, and usually also offer some kind of active tone shaping E.Q.

E. High-Impedance Pickups with Separate Pre-Amps

This is essentially a passive instrument with high-output passive pickups that has an onboard preamp. All preamps will buffer the pickup?s output to a low-impedance signal and many add some gain to help drive your amp with less noise. This helps maintain signal integrity and retains much of the high and low end that would get lost in the cable run, resulting in a kind of ?ideal? passive sound. With this system you retain all the switching options you have with a passive instrument, and you can easily bypass the active circuit with a switch for a more ?vintage? sound, or as a fail-safe in case your battery runs out.

F. Onboard E.Q. Circuits

Most of these preamps also give you onboard active tone controls, where you can boost as well as cut frequencies, just like the E.Q. in your amp. There?s no sonic benefit to using these onboard controls rather than the ones on your amp, and they?re usually not as clean or quiet. The main advantage is being able to control your sound from the instrument, especially when going direct into a recording console or P.A. system.

6. Changing Pickups For Beginners

now you?ve chosen you pickup your probably wondering how the hell to install the bloody thing! Well whatever you do don?t take it to a shop because the WILL rip you off do it your self here?s the idiot?s guide on how to do it

All your electrical components inside your guitar are connected by a metal called solder. Solder is a mix of lead and tin, and melts at a relatively low temperature. It is melted over a wire and electrical terminal, hardens in only a few seconds, and then you have a nearly permanent electrical link between the wire and whatever you've soldered it to. Solder is commonly melted with a soldering iron, here's a picture of one. http://www.modchip.ca/products/misc/images/iron-02.jpg

They work by heating up alot, you putting the tip to some solder, the solder melting over the wire and electrical terminal.

If you want to change pickups, you'll need to get yourself a soldering iron of your own, you can pick one up at radioshack for like $8. I'd reccomend a 35 or 40 watt soldering iron. One would tend to think that the lower value iron you get, the safer you are from messing up your guitar, but it's actually the opposite. If you get a low value soldering iron, it will take a longer time to heat up solder to the melting point. During the time it will take to heat up the solder, the heat will travel through the whole component, and could warp the plastic and sillicone parts inside. If you have a hotter iron, you'll hold it there for less time, heating up whatever you're working on for less time.

Picture it like this, if you put something in the oven or microwave at a high power for like 3 seconds, the outside will probably get hot, but the inside will still be cool. If you put it in there at a medium power for a bit longer, the whole thing will get heated up.

You'll also need to buy solder for installing new pickups. The industry standard is 60/40 rosin core solder, this is the same stuff that's used basically by everyone in the world, and is fine.

I also advise getting desoldering braid. It's a metal braid that sucks up liquid solder. So if you have alot of solder somewhere, you just heat it up and touch the desoldering braid to it, the braid sucks it up like a paper towel does water, and your joint is clean.

Now, you know what you need to buy, this is how you actually change your pickups.

Take off all of your strings

Unscrew the pickup you're removing.

Locate the wires from that pickup and carefully desolder them carefully. Be sure when desoldering or soldering anything that you let the component you're working on cool down before you work on it again, or you can overheat it.

Totally remove the pickup

Screw the new pickup into the pickguard.

Follow whatever sort of diagram you're using.

Test that everything works by plugging the guitar in, selecting the pickup you changed and tap on the pickup's coils with something magnetic, and listening to if you get a sound from your amp. If you hear any sort of noise, then you did it right, restring and play.
(page 3)
7. pickup reviews

Fender Lace Sensor Gold

I have the LC Gold in the middle position of my mahagony bodied, maple capped Warmoth. It is designed to be a noise cancelling pickup, meaning that it cancels the 60 cicle hum that you get from a standard single coil pickup. It seems to do a pretty good job - there is still some noise, but much less than you would expect from a single coil. It is a medium output pickup designed mostly for blues (Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy both use this model). It is a fairly dry sounding pickup, however, and would be excellent for country as well.

I find the cleans to be somewhat boring. Dry is deffinatly the best word to describe them. They're not bad by any means, but they lack that fullness than you get with some pickups. Under light overdrive, this pickup sounds fantastic. It's nice and crunchy but really lets the notes sing. Under high gain, it tends to sound a little honky. It sounds great when used with an acoustic simulator. When combined with one coil from a neck humbucker, it gives you a very articulate sound - think "Sweet Home Alabama."

Although I have it in a mahagony bodied guitar, I suspect the LC Gold would sound a lot better in a strat style guitar.

Suited for: Blues, country, and maybe jazz if used in the neck position
Tone: 4/5
Versatility: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Fender Texas Specials

Used By: Many - Noteably SRV signiture Stratocaster.
Postion: All 3 Strat positions.
Review On: Blade Strat (Alder body)
Tested On: Musicman 210 Combo (1970's)

This pickup set actually overcame my doubts of blues tone.

I never considered using these pickups untill a good friend of mine passed me his Blade Strat. Loaded with these babys.

The initial tone of the bridge Position was somewhat 'hairy' yet still with that element of 'spice' that can make a valve amp start to break up nicely.

I have summerised the pickups here: (5 Way switch)

Position One: Hairy, Raunchy and Ballsy.
Postion Two: Quacky especially with the treble rolled off.
Postion Three: Balanced and Clean.
Position Four: PERFECT tone for blues. Sublime
Position Five: A bit overly bassy but would shine thru a Fender tube amp.

I no longer have doubts about these pickups. They arent just for blues :- They can hold jazz, punk, funk, pop, grunge and ska perfectly. They are a sublime single coil if ever there was some.

The neck unit reminded me somewhat of a P-90 style unit, which is a good thing in my opinion. They are slightly victim to 60 cycle hum. But as long as you don't play next to a computer monitor like I did, your fine.

If you are attempting to get an SRV tone these pickups are essential.

Suited for: Everything except metal.
Tone: 5/5
Versatility: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Dimarzio Tone Zone

Used By: Paul Gilbert (probably more, but I can't think of any!)
Position: Bridge
Review On: Ibanez RG8570/8670 (mahogany body, flame maple cap)
Tested On: Mesa Boogie Stiletto Deuce

This pickup is fantastic! At the moment, it's my favourite bridge pickup (from the limited amount I've tried). It scores points in my book because it's high enough output to really push an amp into distortion, but at the same time not so high that it can only be used for metal. Also, it has a really good tone, and seems to do the impossible task of beefing up the distortion AND the tone at the same time. A lot of high output pickups give the feeling that all they want is the gain on 11, even when you're playing clean. The tone zone isn't like this- it only reminds you that it loves gain when you're playing with gain. Cleans aren't fantastic, but are usable. The split sounds with single coils aren't fantastic either, but again are usable.

Suited for: Rock, Hard Rock, Metal, Shred.

Tone: 5/5
Versatility: 4/5
Overall: 5/5

Verdict: Excellent if you want a high gain sound that also has tone, and you also play some not-so-heavy stuff from time to time too.

Dimarzio Air Norton

Used By: Jeff Stinco of Simple Plan (but don't let that put you off!)
Position: Neck
Review On: Ibanez RG8570/8670 (mahogany body, flame maple cap)
Tested On: Mesa Boogie Stiletto Deuce

This pickup is very good! It is a really nice classic-type toned pickup. Cleans are nice and very warm, as is overdrive. The split sounds with single coil are also really good. It's medium output, so it goes well with the tone zone if you want the tone zone to cover high gain stuff, while the neck covers more classic sounds. It's also got enough clarity for shred (not so much as a paf pro, but pretty good) and has a nice warm lead sound too.

Suited for: Cleans, Blues, Classic Rock, Mellow lead sounds, shred.

Tone: 5/5
Versatility: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Verdict: Excellent if you want a classic sounding neck pickup that can cover other tonal bases too.

Dimarzio Paf Pro

Used By: Steve Vai before he got Evos. Satch may have used them too, and probably some others I've forgotten about.
Position: Bridge and Neck
Review On: Ibanez RG3270 (mahogany body, flame maple cap)
Tested On: Mesa Boogie Stiletto Deuce

Bridge: To be honest, I didn't like the bridge version of this pickup, for what I wanted to play, anyway. It has really nice cleans, almost single coil-like, as this pickup has a lot of treble, and it mixes well with single coils in coil-split mode. It has a good tone too, and is great for shred, as it has great clarity, but it just doesn't sound good to me with distortion. No matter how much gain you use, it sounds a bit weedy and wussy. If you play more classic sounding stuff, I suppose it's good, or if you play shred, but I wouldn't recommend it for hard rock or metal.

Suited for: Cleans, Mellow lead sounds, shred.

Tone: 4/5
Versatility: 2/5
Overall: 3/5

Verdict: Great for shred, cleans and classic sounding stuff. Not great for hard rock or metal.

Neck: This was more like it! I loved this pickup in the neck position! It has great clarity, and is superb for sweep picking. It has a more modern tone than an air norton, but still sounds really nice clean as well. It is quite trebly too, so doesn't really sound all that much like a neck pickup to my ears, but that's not to say it's not good. It has a very distinctive tone that's hard to describe- passion and warfare by steve vai would be the best place to look to see what it sounds like (i think he still used paf pros then). In my opinion, if you play shred a lot, get this neck pickup! I still haven't decided whether I prefer this or the Air Norton- they're good for different things. Perhaps not as versatile as an Air Norton, but it is better for all-out shred.

Suited for: Shred mainly, good for cleans and more laid back soloing too
Tone: 4/5
Versatility: 4/5
Overall: 5/5

Verdict: Great for shred, cleans and classic sounding stuff. Not great for hard rock or metal.

Dimarzio Super Distortion

I use the Super Distortion in the bridge position of my mahagony bodied, maple capped Warmoth. This pickup was introduced by Dimarzio in the 70's just as metal was taking off. It is designed to push an overdriven amp off the edge and into full blow distortion, and it does just that. It has enough power to give you good chunk regardless of the gain capabilities of the amp. It's fantastic for anything from 80's metal (Def Leppard) to mainstream metal (Metallica) to nu-metal (Chevelle). To my ears, it's great as an alternative to active EMGs which are a hassle.

The Super Distortion is a ceramic magnet pickup and has a lot of bass - if you have a super thick bodied guitar, this may make it muddy sounding. There are more than enough mids to cut through the mix for solos, and tapping really sounds great on it.

The downside is the lack of versatility. Clean sounds just that - clean. It's rather bland, and not good for anything but nu-metal type riffs (think Chevelle or Seether). It has way too much power to sound good with anything less than full blown distortion. Coil split, it sounds thin and nasely but too powerful to sound anything like a single coil pickup.

Suited for: All types of metal
Tone: 5/5
Versatility: 2/5
Overall: 4/5

Dimarzio Fred and PAF Fred.

Used By: Joe Satch (Signiture Models)
Postion: Bridge and Neck respectivley.
Review On: An Ibanez JS with basswood body.
Tested On: Line 6 Spider 2, Peavy JSX and Ashdown Fallen Angel.

Anyone who has heard Mr. Joe Satriani in the past few years will of noticed his dramatic tone. This comes mostly in part of his signiture model pickups. The Joe and Joe PAF.

The bridge version - The ordinary Joe (Sorry it had to be said...) - Has a very outspoken character.

With its high mid range, for a bridge position pickup, and well defined bottom end it can sound just like vocals if you wish to screaming solos if it so takes you. It could be defined as 'spicy' were it edible.

The PAF Joe is the sugar to Joe's spice. It is silky smooth and sounds more like a vintage pickup compared to the relativley spacey Joe.

It has not as much bottom as you may expect from a neck position pickup which makes it perfect for cleanly strummed chords but it lacks some of the depth for those bluesy style licks and solos which knocks it down on versatility points.

Overall, this pickup set works wonders if your looking for a melodic, smooth yet still powerfull tone. Yet there are no bluesy/punky/funky sounds to be found and just a subtle hint of warmth for jazz tones on the neck pickup. But otherwise the sound is 'glacier'

Suited for: Shred, Light Jazz, Some Metal.
Tone: 4/5
Versatility: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5
(page 4)
(is it just me or is this getting rediculously big?)
7. pickup reviews

Seymour Duncan JB

Used By: Seriously? Are you kidding? The list would be shorter if I told you who hadn't used one at one point or another!
Position: Bridge
Review On: Jackson Kelly KE-2 (alder body, flame maple cap)
Tested On: Mesa Boogie Stiletto Deuce

I'm going to get lynched here by the JB appreciation society (in other words, everyone who plays the electric guitar!) but I didn't really like this pickup. It's very "in your face" whereas I prefer a bit of subtlety. Granted, it's great if all you're using your bridge pickup for is high gain metal or rock, but I found it had a poor clean tone, and didn't mix well with the Jazz (that was also in this guitar) in the in-between setting (I liked the Jazz better, but someone else has already written a review-I still thought it was "in your face" though!). It was also too trebly for my liking-it didn't seem to add any tone to your playing, like the tone zone did. To be fair, this may have been due to the alder, not mahogany, body. It just felt like all the time it was chomping at the bit for more gain, and it sounded quite fizzy to my ears. However, most of the world likes it, so it must be good for something!

Suited for:: Hard Rock and Metal (in my opinion!)

Tone: 4/5
Versatility: 2/5
Overall: 3/5

Verdict: Excellent if you play a lot of hard rock or metal, but it's not exactly subtle (or versatile), and it keeps reminding you that this is what it wants to play!

Just to reiterate, I don't own these pickups, I've just tried them, but I think I got a pretty good impression of them when I tried them.

Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro

The Alnico II Pro is a low output humbucker with an Alnico II magnet (hence the name). The most famous users of it are Slash and Santana. Unlike most A2 magnet pups, it has a scooped sound rather than the characteristic mid-hump. There are enough mids to keep it sweet sounding, but it isn't as warm as you might expect.

I use the A2P in the neck position of my mahagony bodied, maple capped Warmoth. I find the tone to be a little brighter than I like, but I atribute that to the guitar rather than the pickup. It deffinatly is not a bright sounding pickup. Clean, it is very articulate and has a lot of depth. In the right situation, it's almost bell-like. Add a little gain and you're instantly transported into tonal bliss. Each note rings clear and true, but the slight mid scoop keeps things interesting.

If you're looking for a good blues-rock pup, this is it. It has just enough output to be full sounding, but not so much that it's overpowering. There's enough bass to satisfy just about any metalhead (assuming you have the right amp for it) but not so much that it sounds boomy. All in all, one of my favorite pickups.

Suited for: Blues, jazz, metal, classic rock, modern rock. Too wet for country and not thin enough for punk.
Tone: 4.5/5
Versatility: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Seymour Duncan Jazz

The Jazz is Seymour's offer to those who want a punchy, clear, articulate pickup that stays super clear and never muddies up. Using an Alnico 5 bar magnet, the Jazz is wound to a medium output that gives it plenty of punch but keeps the tone perfectly clean. It's a very well-balanced pickup with plenty of brightness. Whether you play jazz, blues, or metal, this pickup is a great choice.

I use mine in a thick basswood-bodied Schecter 006 Deluxe. I generally like a warm, dark clean tone, but I chose the jazz to balance out the super dark tone that the basswood body has. Boy was I right! The lows and mids from the wood combined with the top end sparkle give me the exact tone I was looking for. Smooth enough for blues, clear enough for jazz, and very punchy. Add a little distortion and it's great for metal too. I wired mine to a push-pull pot for coil split, and it sounds fantastic. I never thought a coil split humbucker could sound this good.

If you're considering the Jazz as a replacement pickup for a guitar, keep in mind that it does tend to be bright. If you want to play blues, it wouldn't be a good idea to put this in an alder bodied guitar. If you've got something thick like a Les Paul, this is a great match for just about any style.

Suited for: Jazz, blues, punk, metal, country...
Tone: 5/5
Versatility: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Seymour Duncan Custom

The Custom is a ceramic magnet pickup that was designed to sound like a "PAF on steroids." It has that grind that the original 50's Les Paul humbuckers were known for, but more power to provide more thump. It's great if you want to give a Les Paul a little extra kick, or if you want to round out the tone of something thin like an Ibanez RG. If you like mids, the Custom is for you. It's warm and smooth with just enough lows and highs to keep things interesting. It's great for a variety of styles but best suited for strait up rock.

I use the Custom in the bridge postion of my thick basswood bodied Schecter 006 Deluxe. I have the covered version, and combined with the basswood, it gives me a very warm, smooth sound. In a mahagony bodied guitar it would probably sound a little more raw. It's actually fairly mellow when played clean, but things really get rocking when you turn up the gain. Sounds great for anything from Velvet Revolver to ACDC. I have mine wired to a potentiometer that lets me gradually shut off one of the coils, providing me with an endless combination of sounds. Overall, this is a fantastic pickup.

Suited for: Any kind of rock
Tone: 5/5
Versatility: 3/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Seymour Duncan Invader

Used By: Tom Delonge, Synester Gates, Zacky Vengence.
Postion: Bridge.
Review On: PRS style mahogany guitar.
Tested On: Mesa Dual Rec, Fender Super Reverb.

First off - This pickup LOOKS powerful. Its polepieces are oversized to the point that they nearly touch each other and it has huge magnets underneath. This makes it heavier in the hand than most pickups.

I decided to test its clean capabilities on the cleanest amp I could find - A Fender Super Reverb. Its clean tone is not quite as bad as most people said and would suit wiry funk tones but strumming is out of the question. It will breakup the speaker on your amp which is usually only desired on Valve amps - but sounds harsh thru a solid state rig.

I was itching to put this baby under some serious gain so I went straight to the dual rectifier and pushed it into a fuzzed up, sloppy, disappointing distortion. Then I realised I still had it set on clean.

How I was shocked when I turned onto full distortion! It can growl like a junkyard dog or scream like some kind of cat being stepped on. It has excellent dynamics and responds well to picking hand strength.

It falls apart under vintage distortion as it seems to be itching for more gain. The same applies to blues and jazz tones. But if punk or metal is your kettle of fish - GET THIS PICKUP!

Suited for: Punk, Metal, Funk.
Tone: 5/5
Versatility: 3/5
Overall: 4/5

Swineshead Runaway and Warthog Humbuckers

Used by: They're a new compnay, there are no famous users as of yet.
Positions: 3 Way toggle, neck and bridge
Review on: Epiphone Les Paul Custom - Mahogany/Alder
Tested on: Marshall MG30DFX (sorry, getting a valve amp soon)

Theres always an air of suspicion when a new pickup company comes to town, and Swineshead were no different. Entering the custom guitar pickup business for the first time, Jon Bell - Manager of Swineshead, and main employee - hand winds all his own pickups, and bases the models are based on his love of players like Satriani, Slash, and many others in this area.

The range began with 4 humbucker models, Condor, Runaway, Warthog and Xbucker, all in order of output, from low to high. I chose the middle two in the range, as this best suited my uses, in rock, blues and jazz.

The runaway is in the neck position, and provides me with excellent jazzy clean tones, excellent for chord work, while overdriven, it holds a great bluesy soloing sound. I generally use the rhythm pickup more, and I had this in mind while choosing the second pickup. In the bridge is the Warthog. This gives brilliant heavy rock sounds, and it happily takes the gain turned up. Superb for riffing, and great for rock solos, when i do get round to using this, I love every moment. However, my one problem with this is its hard, flat sounding clean tone, which I rarely (if ever) use.

Neck: Jazzy cleans, especially wih full volume through a loud clean channel, tone all up, smooth bluesy driven tones, my all purpose soloing sound

Bridge: Rock, rock and more rock. Not great for a lot else, nothing special clean though.

Neck/Bridge: A decent clean sound, basic rock sound, but i rarely use this, I find that it doesnt blend all that well together. Having said that, I never find a use for it. Just generally balanced.

Tone: 5/5
Overall:4/5 (because of the bridge cleans, otherwise its great.
(page five...comone this is just getting stupid! )
7. pickup reviews (cont)

Swineshead X-bucker

With a bridge DC resistance of 10.7k and 19.0K for the neck with a powerfull ceramic magnet, this pickup is made to be played LOUD, There is no doubt about that. The emense output of this powerfull pickup will be loved by many metal players who want the classic metal tone built to rock through a heavily distorted amp.
This pickup is similar in sound to Gibson's superb 500T Ceramic bridge model without the pricetag. However, having backed off treble frequencies, a high bass and powerfull midrange, leaves this pickup with dark and heavy cleans. The Xbucker is however made for the shredders and it proforms brilliantly.
The exotic range of colours and wood bobbins combined with an attractive price make this pickup one of a kind. At £38 which is about $67 or 56 euros this pickup is one of the cheapest available but is still as high quality as any other 'more comercial pickup'.

Bridge: Metal!!! sucky cleans!! Made for high distortion.

Tone: 5/5
Versatility:3/5 (because cleans suck otherwise its great)

Ibanez V8/S1/V7 (Humbucker/single coil/Humbucker)

Used By: Not many- they're stock pickups on mid-range Ibanez RGs
Position: V8 (bridge humbucker (alnico) )/S1(middle single coil (alnico V))/V7 (neck humbucker (ceramic))
Review On: Ibanez MIJ RG 470 (basswood body)
Tested On: Marshall AVT100 (sorry, i should be getting an Engl or something soon!)

These pickups come stock on mid-range Ibanez RG's- they come on the 470 and 500 series (now on the 1550, since they changed the model numbers), but i think they were more prevalent on older Ibanez models.

I'm now considering upgrading to Swinesheads, but these pickups have served me well, at least until I tried Dimarzios and Seymour Duncans recently. Anyway, on with the review.

I have summarised the pickups here (5 Way switch):

Position One: Bridge humbucker: This is quite aggressive, even if it is alnico (Ibanez don't say if it's alnico V or II). It's got a reasonably good overdriven sound, for classic rock or heavier, but really isn't much use for anything softer. I never use this position for cleans.

Postion Two: 1 coil from bridge + middle single: This position is good for clean and blues. It gets a quite good fender-y tone out of it, but of course is not as good as the real thing. All the single coil settings get a little noisy if too much gain is added.

Postion Three: Middle Single: Nice single coil sound, if a little trebly. I don't use this position much- I prefer the "in-between" single coil tones.

Position Four: 1 coil from neck + middle single: Much like position 2, but warmer. Perhaps better suited for clean, and slightly less strident and more laid-back blues.

Position Five: Neck humbucker: This gets a very warm, jazzy clean tone. It also gets a warm, slash-type soloing sound, although can get a bit muddy at higher overdrive levels. Can also be used for blues.

Of course, I don't see anyone switching their pickups for these, this review is just to let you know what these stock pickups are like, in case you decide to buy an Ibanez with them in it.

In a nutshell, these aren't great stock pickups, but they aren't terrible either. They won't hold your playing back, but they won't really do it many favours either. They're good enough to keep if you can't afford to upgrade just at the moment, but once you hear a REAL pickup (eg dimarzio etc.), you'll basically want to upgrade.

Suited for:

Bridge (V8): Classic Rock, Hard Rock, Metal, Shred.
Middle (S1): Clean, Blues, Classic Rock (not too heavy)
[Neck (V7): Clean, Jazz, Blues, laid-back Soloing

Tone: 3/5
Versatility: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

Verdict: Not bad for stock pickups.

8.credits and thanks

a huge thanks to all those who submited reviews or gave me web site adresses.

the reviwers were

mnbaseball91: Dimarzio Super Distortion
Fender Lace Sensor Gold
Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro (neck)
Seymour Duncan Jazz (neck)
Seymour Duncan Custom (bridge)

Pedricko: Dimarzio Fred and PAF Fred.
Seymour Duncan Invader
Fender Texas Specials

cc2003btw:Swineshead Runaway and Warthog Humbuckers

Dave_Mc: Ibanez V8/S1/V7 (Humbucker/single coil/Humbucker)

~Hypermonkey~: Swineshead X-Bucker

people who submited sites were:
power freak

the distance of the pup from the string only really affects the volume and is used to balance out out puts when one pup is louder than the other

Originally posted by slash111391
...u have too much time

not really this was done over sdeveral months with help from other people

please excuse my piss poor spelling if you point it out i'll go over it for you

oh PS is there a word limit? because this (as you can see) is rather large
Last edited by sillybuuger12 at Aug 13, 2005,
cheers though much of it is from other people (duely credited) and some bits are from the archives

i may add in more like that guy was asking about pup heights ect, i'm also thinking of putting in a part about WHY you should/should no change your pups what do you think?
cool if i borrow from other sites i just credit them at the bottom yes?

Guitar Pickup Adjustments: How To Adjust Pickup Height and Adjust Pole Pieces on Your Guitar Pickups:

Pickup Adjustments are usually a quick way to get a little or a lot more pickup tone out of your guitar. You're probably visiting this web page because your guitar tone is not hot enough or what is should be. Guitar Pickup Adjustments are usually a quick way to get more tone or hotness out of your pickups. One word of caution is not to overdue the pickup adjustment. Sometimes if you over adjust pickup height or poles pieces this can affect the intonation and tonality of your guitar. Basically, you will know if you over adjust due to the sound of your guitar for the most part. You would hear an out of phase type sound. ****Always remember to unplug your guitar from your amplifier before making any adjustment to guitar electronics****

Pickup Height Adjustment
There are basically two ways to adjust a guitar pickups tone or hotness. The first way to adjust the pickup is to either tighten or loosen the screws on either side of the pickup. Most people think these screws just hold the pickup in place, but they also adjust the height of the pickup. Sometimes these screws are located on the pickup cover. Now it depends on the pickup, but for the most part if you tighten the screws you'll lower the pickup and if you loosen the screws you'll raise the pickup. If you want more tone or a hotter sound raise the pickup closer to the strings. If you want less tone lower the pickup away from the guitar strings. Pretty simple right. Make small adjustments and then plug in the guitar and check out the sound. You don't even have to take the strings off to do this adjustment. Just lower or raise the pickup with screws on either side of the pickup. Try to turn the screws with equal turns for each side of the pickup. Small adjustments can make a big difference. As we talked about earlier, do not overadjust because this will negatively affect the tone of your pickup.

Guitar Pickup Pole Pieces Adjustments
The second pickup adjustment is to raise or lower your pickup pole pieces on your guitar pickup itself. Let's say you've already raised your pickup height, but still want a little more tone. Try raising the pole pieces. Pole pieces are the 6 metal magnetic rods or pieces on a single coil pickup or 12 metal pole pieces on a humbucker. If you need more info on guitar terms please visit the guitar glossary link. Now, not all pickups are able to have there pole pieces adjusted. You will need to check your pickup to see if there small screws or hex adjustment pole pieces. If this is the case you can adjust the pole pieces on the pickup. You would either need a screwdriver or hex wrench to do the procedure.
To raise your pole pieces loosen the screw or hex adjustment in very small increments so that you can see the pieces rise a bit. Raising the pole pieces in not recommended for some pickups or guitars so check your guitar manual or check the pickup manufacturer Adjustable pole pieces are mostly on Humbucker Pickups. You don't see many adjustable pole pieces on single coil pickups. Some hotter Single Coil pickups you may see staggered pole pieces, or basically the pole pieces are raised to different heights from the factory. For Example, Fender Texas Special pickups have staggered pole pieces in the bridge position.
Adjusting Pole Pieces is a trial and error process so make a small adjustment while the guitar is unplugged, then plug in and try the guitar. You should notice a hotter tone the more you raise the pole pieces. Do Not raise the Pole Pieces to far as this will negatively affect tone or tonality of your guitar. If you do raise the pole pieces to far start tightening the screw or hex adjustment to lower the pieces.
You should notice a nice difference in tone after doing these pickup adjustments. Basically, adjust to how you feel you would want you pickup tone to be either hot, fat, thin, or whatever you like. The tips above should help anyone improve his or her guitar tone.

(taken from http://mediawebsource.com/guitar/pickupadjust.htm )

Why should I change/not change my Pickups?

This is a toughie , you are probably changing them to try to get yourself a better/new tone. STOP RIGHT THERE GOMEZ!! You can get a better tone by doing little things to your guitar and other gear BEFORE you shell out £40-£200 on a new pickup. Try these first if you are still not satisfied THEN get the new pickup. The other reason not to change them is if you have a cheep guitar eg Squier strat and want to make it better. The problem with this is that no matter what you do the Squier will never be made of good tone wood and therefore will always sound not quite as good as the pickups are capable of being. However if you still wish to do this remember that you can always take the pickups out and put them into another guitar at a later date.

The main reason to change your pickups it to quite simply change the tone. For example you have a strat and want a humbucker sound so you put in an SD hot/cool rails. But there are other things you can do like getting hand wound or scatter wound pups that sound better. The other main reason I find people changing pickups is to get closer to the tone of another player. A excellent example of this is that soon after Dimbag (rip) died many people were fitting Dimebuckers to get closer to his tone.


not sure about that last section but hey if it aint good enough i just won't put it in
Last edited by sillybuuger12 at Aug 13, 2005,
ok cool time for me to knock a few more of these off! their really for the GB&C forum but their kinda usefull elsewhere too i reckon
Has the spelling been corrected? There are various errors throughout, although mostly in that last section.

And: 'both of Iron Maiden's guitarists'

Maiden has 3 guitarists
The above user has physical deformities, which make any crude, sarcastic or offensive comments actually the fault of the threadstarter. Honest.
JmP's Evil Picnic (you know you want to...)