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Probably the usual newbie questions


Dugz Ink
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Here's the background: I have a LOT of woodworking experience, but I have never built a guitar, let alone bought pickups. I am clueless.

However, my first guitar body is looking better than I had expected, and I'm to the stage where I need to mark out and cut out the body for the appropriate hardware. (Or, at least, I think I am... but I could be wrong.)

I was going to just move all of the hardware plus the neck over from my cheap-miester Epiphone, but now I'm thinking "If this turns out beautiful, I'm going to want a nice neck and some decent pickups.

But I don't know anything about pickups. All I know is that somebody told me that the humbucker pickups on my Chinese "Les Paul Jr" are pretty cheap. (Since I've already spent some time trying to straighten out the neck and the frets, I know they're cheap... and believe people when they say that the same is true of the hardware.)

So where can an idiot like me read up on pickups? I need to learn about the types of pickups AND how the various types/models may affect the way I mount the neck and hardware.

If you could post some links, or point me to a thread that I've overlooked, I would appreciate it.

D~s

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Here's the background: I have a LOT of woodworking experience, but I have never built a guitar, let alone bought pickups. I am clueless.

However, my first guitar body is looking better than I had expected, and I'm to the stage where I need to mark out and cut out the body for the appropriate hardware. (Or, at least, I think I am... but I could be wrong.)

I was going to just move all of the hardware plus the neck over from my cheap-miester Epiphone, but now I'm thinking "If this turns out beautiful, I'm going to want a nice neck and some decent pickups.

But I don't know anything about pickups. All I know is that somebody told me that the humbucker pickups on my Chinese "Les Paul Jr" are pretty cheap. (Since I've already spent some time trying to straighten out the neck and the frets, I know they're cheap... and believe people when they say that the same is true of the hardware.)

So where can an idiot like me read up on pickups? I need to learn about the types of pickups AND how the various types/models may affect the way I mount the neck and hardware.

If you could post some links, or point me to a thread that I've overlooked, I would appreciate it.

D~s

hey dugz...i don't know what type of music you are playing or what type of guitar you are building(les paul?)

but if it is a les paul...look at the seymour duncan blackbacks for everything from warm and clean to heavy rock(def leppard-ish?)

the "feel" i get from you is that you are a "take it easy" kind of guy in the music department,and those are great warm,mellow pickups with just enough bite to also hit some rock and roll

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the "feel" i get from you is that you are a "take it easy" kind of guy in the music department

I'm a song writer, not a guitar slinger like you guys. I bought this cheap Epi just so I could occassionally work out some rifts.

I eventually want to build a five-string fretless bass, but thought I would start with something simple... something cheap... and fitting a new body to this Epi just seemed to fit that description.

But, yes, I prefer the deep rich sounds to the ear-rattling sounds.

The design looks like this:

lespaul.gif

Do those "seymour duncan blackbacks" mount near the surface or deep in the body? Do I really need to know what pickup I'm going to use before I bolt on the neck?

I'm about as lost as an Easter egg.

If you could point me in the right direction, I would appreciate it.

D~s

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Do those "seymour duncan blackbacks" mount near the surface or deep in the body? Do I really need to know what pickup I'm going to use before I bolt on the neck?

they mount deep...how deep depends on alot of factors..but the typical humbucker routing(like ibanez,esp,etc) would work fine...

blackback is a typical sized humbucker...if you were to,say,get the humbucker routing template from ,like,stewmac for example...that would be the correct rout

so no,you don't need to wait for the pickups to bolt on the neck...

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There are SO MANY variables that affect the sounds (output strength, sustain and tones) your pickups make. Man, when I think about it the combinations can be mind boggling. When you take it right down to basics most pickups are the same, that is, a collection of polar magnets (or one bar magnet) wrapped with fine copper wire to form an electromagnet. Attraction between the magnets and your steel strings "excites" an electrical charge (signal) through the copper wire. That signal is then channeled to an amplifier.

Variations in pickups revolve around magnet size and strength, wire thickness, number of windings and insulating properties. Also, the quality of materials used, ie. Alnico vs. regular magnets, insulation, design etc. There are many combinations that can alter output strength and tone. There is also quite a bit of similar overlap between pickups and their differences can only be discerned when they are taken to their extremes. Your output can also be "modified" by control settings on your guitar, effects/pedals and the amp you are pushing it through, not to mention the type/design of guitar also pickup heights, locations and how they are mounted on said guitar. I'm sure there are even more variables involved.

I'm not going to recommend any particular brand/model of pickup for that simple reason. Too many variables. An expensive, high quality pickup might not sound great on every guitar you mount it on. The Seymour Duncan website has a great arsenal of info on all their pickups. Its a good place to find out how/why one pickup is different from another from many angles, ie. construction, specs, sound clip examples and dimensions.

http://www.seymourduncan.com/website/products.shtml

If you want to take it even further and have an understanding of frequency response, here is a place that shows the "visual" effects of pickup placement on different scale lengths.

http://www.till.com/articles/PickupResponseDemo/index.html

As you can see there is A LOT of research involved in learning about pickups and choosing the right one for you. I can easily say that I'm still learning myself! Another aspect to consider involves wiring schematics and how features on certain pickups can be utilized to get the optimum combination of sounds. Most humbuckers are wired for things like coil cutting/splitting depending on the number of wires you have to play with. For example a 3-wire humbucker gives you the option to use as a humbucker or to "split" the HB and use only one of the single coils. A 4-wire pickup gives you the additional option to use both single coils of the HB independently. There are even MORE options available like setting up pickups so they are out of phase with each other or are in series/parallel. Here are a few good resources that describe what I'm talking about. Guitarnuts gives you the basics and the HotRod site shows the wire color codes of well known brands.

http://www.guitarnuts.com/wiring/howitallworks.php

http://www.hotrodguitars.com/WireCode.htm

Edited by Southpa
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