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Guitar Pickups (shhhh...quiet...i'm Hunting Pickups)


Black Stool
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Hi guys...I was hoping for some suggestions on choosing guitar pickups for my Fender American Strat (3 single coil size). I will be using this guitar with a guitar plug-in (either Guitar Rig 2 or AmpliTube 2). My current pickups are the stock, noisy versions...they hum better than I do and I have shielded the wiring cavity. So I was wondering if you had pickup suggestions. I like rock, blues, pop...I would like something a bit diverse so I can use the one guitar.

I have been researching the Kinman site, Seymour Duncan & Fender sites and I am honestly just overwhelmed. First off, noiseless is important for recording so I was considering 3 different setups and would be interested in your opinions:

1) Fender: SCN Samarium Cobalt Noiseless Stratocaster Pickup Set [$200]. Like on a Fender Strat Deluxe. Concerned about the quality as compared to another model or brand.

2) Seymour Duncan: JB Jr. SJBJ-1B [bridge, black], SDBR-1N Duckbuckers [$73, middle, black, keep it close to the strings or may seem weak], & Seymour Duncan SL59-1N Little ‘59 [$73, neck, black]. Concerned a little that this setup will take away from the Strat's value or hide the Fender tone.

3) Kinman: Not sure which model pickup will be the right one and not sure if I will go with a K7 or K9 pots & wiring configuration. So much information on his site. Anyone have experience with his products or have suggestions?

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my advice would be to listen to sound bytes both seymour duncan and kinman have them i dont think the sound bytes for kinman are on his site but on a reviewers. if you are a fan of the fender tone i would strongly recomend the kinmans, as for the fender scn p/u's personaly i dont like them that much and i think i read somewehre they need 1meg pots or at least volumes. the duncans will definatly sound different but if your after versatility they offer a wide range so you might want to combine one of the stacked/dual rails humbuckers that are ment to sound like humbuckers with one that are ment to sound like single coils however the "inbetween positions" may not sound so good or they may sound quite good this isnt something iv tried so i cant comment there

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I would suggest an EMG active pickup setup for your guitar, especially if you're going to be using it mostly around computers. I have the Strat in my avatar set up with an EMG-SA set, which is warm with the Alnico magnet, but the S, SV, and SAV sets are all pretty good. You'll pretty much be able to cover all the bases with that set, even some good metal sounds.

You can usually find the set including the new pots, jack, and switch all prewired for under $200.

Edited by crafty
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:D looks like you're going to get a differant opinion from everyone!

I'd personally go for something like a JB jr or other 'mini humbucker' in the bridge...there are lots of differant manufactures of similar things so do shop arround. Then probably stacked single coils in the middle and neck, they don't sound identical to standard strat pickups ( B) no 'bzzzz' for a start!) but they're pretty darn close, Dimarzio offer a huge range of humbucking single coils so do check them out. If you're after something a little cheeper have a look at Kent Armstrong pickups, I have them in one of my guitars and if it wasn't for the fact I'm winding for myself now I'd have them in more!

EMG's are ok....they sound like EMG's though.

if you're going for all hum canceling pickups then you might want to think about changing your switching options so the 'inbetween sounds' in possition 2 and 4 use one coil of each pickup (ie coil taping the pickups) should give a closer aproximation of the strat sounds in those positions. Though this would require a 'mega' switch I can do a wiring diagram if you're not sure about this :D

Robert

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Thanks for the feedback guys. I wasn't considering the EMG's prior, but the pre-wiring idea might be a good idea. I have a Seymour Duncan JB Jr in the bridge now. I don't know if the pots need to be matched or if it's the Fender pickups in the neck and middle but I wasn't too excited about the outcome. I tend to love hearing the lower tones and was hoping it would balance out the variety of the guitar. Now I am a bit torn to keep that fender tone with a Fender or Kinman product...or go down the Seymour Duncan or EMG road.

Looking over the Kinman's site...he chats about matching the pot to the type of pickup and pre-wiring like Fender's S1...I think he called it his K9 wiring/pot setup. I like that idea. EMG's are considerbly cheaper...so it appears...but I haven't heard much about them...this could be good and bad.

I have been played some sound samples from Kinman and Seymour...it is helpful. It's hard to want to buy EMG's with no sound samples...couldn't find any on their site.

Anyone know a company that does stainless steel scratch guards?

Thanks for the feedback guys...keep the opinions coming as I am enjoying the feedback.

Edited by Black Stool
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You've heard the EMG's before:

EMG-SA==David Gilmour, lots of Steve Lukather in the early '80s

EMG-S==Kirk Hammett on the intro to One, anything with Vince Gill

EMG also has soundbites on their website, too.

Edited by crafty
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You've heard the EMG's before:

EMG-SA==David Gilmour, lots of Steve Lukather in the early '80s

EMG-S==Kirk Hammett on the intro to One, anything with Vince Gill

EMG also has soundbites on their website, too.

I've looked on every web page of their site and wasn't able to find any audio samples. Perhaps I am on the wrong site (EMGinc.com). If they don't have samples that would just be a bad marketing move, but I have seen it before with other pup companies...I just don't understand this. David Gilmour also has Seamour Duncans and Kinmans I believe...I guess it just depends which guitar of their stockpile they decide to play...that must be nice.

Anyone try the Fender Deluxe's new pickups? The Fender SCN Samarium Cobalt Noiseless Stratocaster Pickup Set? I need to go play with this guitar at the store...I heard a sample at Kinman's site...it was suppose to be a comparison, but I kind of preferred the lower notes that these pups were hitting. Kinman's claim is that people claim that the lows aren't very well defined....hmmmm. Anyone more experienced than myself agree with that? I know he is selling...I just need to weed through his hype and reputation.

Keep the opinions coming guys...thanks.

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http://emginc.com/displayproducts.asp?sect...=7&catalogid=46

under the description you should see clean(bridge) and dirty(bridge) they are links to the sound bytes

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I guess you didn't look at every page on EMG's website then...

I'm not trying to push you into buying the EMGs, I just thought it'd be a good option for you since you said you were going to be playing through your computer most of the time. Active pickups tend to have a fairly consistent and powerful output, plus the shielding and noise-free preamps are great when around other electronics.

I've played through Kinmans and Fender SCNs. I like the Kinmans, but the price is just beyond what I can justify spending for plastic and wire. The SCNs are a little too brittle for my ears. I prefer Duncan Classic Stacks or Quarter Pounders for passive single-coils. Stay away from the JB Jr. and the Lil' 59 if you want to retain the Strat sound. The Duckbucker should also be renamed the Suckbucker. It's not that great, either.

Edited by crafty
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I would recommend the Bill Lawrence L250's or some other similar Lawrence product.

Noiseless, authentic SC tone, and really reasonably priced.

Kinmans are simply ridiculous, I would never consider buying them solely because of the price alone.

It takes less than $5.00 in materials to build a pickup for chrissakes.

I do not support raw greed. :DB):D

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Hmm. Well, I'm gonna recommend the Kinmans--if you're set on noiseless pickups. I had a set of Kinman pickups in a Strat and they were pretty darn good. They were certainly noiseless! And they had the best tone of any noiseless pickup I've come across.

That said, there's something that noiseless pickups just don't seem to capture. It's kinda like the comparison of tube amps to solid-state. I prefer the sound of standard single coils and I make do with them humming. Reshielding your guitar is probably a very good suggestion to combat hum, rather than going for noiseless pickups, IMO.

Just to confuse you more, have you looked at the DiMarzio stacked single coils? I don't know much about them, but they might be worth checking out.

I've also had single-coil-sized humbuckers and not liked them all that much. They don't sound like a humbucker and they certainly don't sound like a typical single-coil pickup either.

If you do choose to go for new pickups, but don't want them to be noiseless after all, I can recommend Lollar pickups and Bare Knuckle pickups. They really sound much better than any other pickups I've owned. Expensive though; Drac won't approve. :D

Edited by MarkPav
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Ahhh....your right. On the EMG site...a couple of the non-sets...(single pups) had audio files. The sets don't. Thanks for setting me straight.

Kinman: Yes...I too am wondering if I'm sane considering pickups that cost what a guitar costs...half the price of an american strat....Kinmans Blues set are a little hollow...I guess they are just your overwound variety. The MKII's sound full though. I tend to like hitting the lower end of the spectrum more frequently than the high notes...so I will keep that in mind. Someone ought to tell the guy to stream line the site as there is SO much information you just feel confused. How about sound samples with all the effects off? Some have reverb, some don't, not to mention the songs are all different. Sure that guy can play but it's not good for comparison's sake...in my opinion.

EMG: I will keep an open mind here on the EMG's. Any opinions for or against these? Any particular models favored? The David Gilmour setup sounds interesting...kind of getting away from that strat look though. I do like the sound of the SA's clean...hits some nice lows...bet it sounds good clean with just a touch of fender reverb...argh argh argh! What's good for blues and rock in their lineup?

Seymour Duncan: Yes the JB jr's were a disapointment and was thinking that maybe the pickups weren't well matched with the stock pickups in the bridge and neck. Is there anything to the "pot has to match the pickups"? That seems to be a popular idea on Kinman's site.

Fender: Does Fender sell their S-1 pot? I think they are doing a bit of pickup mixing too with that new pot. I like the idea of mixing pickups...just not sure if I want to mess with the wiring, the pots, jacks, etc. I can definately do it...just think I might let the experts match it up for me so I can focus on the playing.

Edited by Black Stool
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I think you can get the S-1 kit, but it's just another kit you can readily put together yourself with a little planning.

Kinman makes great pickups, no one's going to dispute that, but like Drak said, you can get the same thing if not better from Bill and Becky Lawrence for less than a third of the price. It's just plastic and wire, the cost is dependant on the greed of the winder.

As for the EMGs, I really like my SA set. Very smooth response. The S set may be more to your liking if you're into the low-end response. Either way, they're super easy to switch out because of the quick-connectors and most dealers will let you play around with them until you get the sound you want.

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No audio samples for the S or the SV unfortunately. Looking over the PDF documents for the EMG sets...there's a battery! Does the 9v battery for these active humbuckers really make a difference from a passive humbucker? In other words, is it worth the duracell hassel for the tone? Over time, I wonder if the wood screws for the pickguard may not hold as well over time, due to the increase of pickguard removal/re-attachment that a battery replacement may require (even if it's 3 times a year...that's a lot over 10 years).

The Bill Lawrence's site looks like it was designed by his grandkids! I haven't got the patience to read through that mess. :D For those that want to see what I mean: www.billlawrenceusa.com

I need to get noiseless pups. I have countered the hum by turning 90 degrees to the monitor, running good cables, adjusting the guitar's wiring, re-grounding, and adding shielding paint...Yet, my guitar still hums as if it doesn't know the lyrics! For those that haven't done some of this stuff...here is a good reference: http://www.guitarnuts.com/wiring/index.

Edited by Black Stool
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Bill Lawrence USA is actually owned by Bill Lawrence's competitor and former business partner. The pickups are about the same quality as the website.

The man, Bill Lawrence, and his wife manufacture their own better pickups and designed the SCN series for Fender. His website is simply http://www.billlawrence.com

I routed my Strat for a battery box because of the stripped screw problem.

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As for the EMGs, I really like my SA set. Very smooth response. The S set may be more to your liking if you're into the low-end response. Either way, they're super easy to switch out because of the quick-connectors and most dealers will let you play around with them until you get the sound you want.

I got a NOS set of EMG S pickups in the old prewired version and I love them in my Strat. It still sounds like a strat, but it's so quiet. As for "They sound like EMG's," I guess it depends on what and how you play, but I really, really like the clean sound I can get from them, especially w/ 18v. Of course, they're on my Frankenstein guitar that I do my testing on, so the batteries are actually outisde the pickguard cavities. When I move them to a permanent home, I'll do that a little better.

GBT

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No audio samples for the S or the SV unfortunately. Looking over the PDF documents for the EMG sets...there's a battery! Does the 9v battery for these active humbuckers really make a difference from a passive humbucker? In other words, is it worth the duracell hassel for the tone? Over time, I wonder if the wood screws for the pickguard may not hold as well over time, due to the increase of pickguard removal/re-attachment that a battery replacement may require (even if it's 3 times a year...that's a lot over 10 years).

You've got something like 3000 hours with a 9v using EMGs, and I haven't had to change a battery yet in the year or so that I've had them.

I need to get noiseless pups. I have countered the hum by turning 90 degrees to the monitor, running good cables, adjusting the guitar's wiring, re-grounding, and adding shielding paint...Yet, my guitar still hums as if it doesn't know the lyrics! For those that haven't done some of this stuff...here is a good reference: http://www.guitarnuts.com/wiring/index.

Another solution: ditch the proton cannon firing at your face and replace it with an LCD monitor. I've got two 20" IBM ThinkVisions LCD's at work, though I still use a 19" CRT at home. I'll replace that one this Christmas. Because even with noiseless pickups, you will still pickup some noise with a CRT monitor. I know I do with mine.

Joseph

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