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Another Build And I'm Bored With Pickup Selection.


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So, I'm building this guitar that's sort of a tribute to the whole late 60's/early 70's Plymouth Muscle cars. The pickups have got to have balls and yet still look like they belong on the guitar. I'm confined to a H/S/S config but I can substitute the humbucker bridge for a single coil and go S/S/S if needed. But hey, this is a muscle car guitar...it's got to have that humbucker in the bridge, right?

Typically, what I really love about the whole H/S/S option is that I can still keep my woody Hendrix'y neck tone, retain my #4 bell/chime/quack tone, and still go balls to the wall lead tone with a humbucker bridge. I've done the whole overwound single coil bridge routine to compansate for a humbucker for either visual cosmetics, pickguard on hand, or to avoid routing a hole to make room for a humbucker. Never ever sounds the same as just dropping in a humbucker. All I ever get from the overwound single is a Tele bridge tone or slight P-90 tone/output. A single coil is a single coil no matter how you slice it, right? Plus if it's overwound too much, you then have to start compansating in other areas which can get overwhelming or cause me to make even more trade offs.

For this build, I want something....um......fuel injected? Rather than a 325, I want a 440 Magnum 6 barrel carburetor tone. 426 Hemi might be too much and I'm not planning on using this for metal. How's that for a fun analogy?

Actually, I'm looking for simplicity; nice fat bridge tone, still retaining clean-dirty SRV'ish neck tone, still keeping my Stratty quack tone, keep the volume difference between neck and bridge to a minimum.....meaning I'd like something balanced. Tonal balance would be nice too. Problems in the past; nice bright Strat neck, dark muddy humbucker bridge. Solution: get overwound neck & middle single coils to match up with the humbucking bridge. Now neck & middle single coils sound too dark, but humbucking bridge sounds great.

I'm kicking around using EMG's (81/SA/SA), tried and true Seymour Duncan's (so many options that nothhing seems to excite me), or possibly something I've never tried before. Money is sort of an issue. I really don't want to go beyond $300 for pickups.


EMG issue. Pros: Would fit the look of the guitar since the pickguard will be flat black, like a 1970's Barracuda hood scoop. No hum. Easy to install plus all pots and switches are included in the price, big plus. Grounded in a way that would not spark my lips when I move up to the microphone. Cons: Been years since I've used EMG products, my ear might no longer favor the tone. I loved them in the 80's when I was pushing heavy effects through racks, and recording. But I've grown accustomed to a more raw classic rock tone rather than a more polished modern tone. Might look too modern.

SD issue. Pros: Black single coil and exposed coil humbucker look, classic. Closer tone to what I'm used to hearing. Big variety to choose from (Vintage-Progressive, rails option). Cons: Have to buy pots and switches which I would have to do anyway with any guitar build. Would also need to sheild the guitar unless I would buy stacked single coils or just plain ol' drop in some single coiled sized "Lil' 59's" and keep everything hum free using hum cancelling pickups. I'd need to choose wisely in order to balance the volume/tone differences between the bridge humbucker choice and single coil choice.

Lollar pickups issue. Pros:Absolutely love his pickups. Would also match my visual. Jason listens carefully regarding what you're looking for. Cons: Limited options. Shielding must be done. Pricey but in many cases well worth it.

I guess I could do something really nuts and just load the whole guitar with humbucker pickups and a Super Switch? Use a SD Pearly Gates bridge/Lil' 59 middle/Lil' 59 neck. Then wire the Super switch to do the following: #5 full neck; humbucker tone, #4 split coil; Strat neck tone, #3 split neck & middle pickup coils; Strat quack tone, #2 full neck & full bridge humbucker; Les Paul type middle pickup selection tone, #1 full humbucker; PAF tone. Crazy huh?

Other factors: maple neck with ebony fingerboard, nickel frets (6105), Sperzel tuners, bone nut, and alder body. For some reason, I'm going with a Fender American Standard two pivot bridge. Dunno, just something told me to use that rather than a 6 screw vintage deal. It kills me to have to use a Fender replacement part on this. Still, I'm going in gut instinct.

You know, just thinking about it, I should have routed for a Floyd but maybe that would have made it too modern.

Ahhhhhh! :D Any suggestions?

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So, I'm building this guitar that's sort of a tribute to the whole late 60's/early 70's Plymouth Muscle cars. The pickups have got to have balls and yet still look like they belong on the guitar.

If you want a pickup with balls then go SD Dimebucker....if you want it with a little vintage and have screamin leads go with SD Pearly gates.

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If you want 60's muscle car you need the look! I have used these pups before. they are not super distortions but they will give you an SH6 type over drive and they look the part!

Do a search for boutique pickups and you'll find something that will excite you if you really want that 60's look

Edited by zyonsdream
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I have used the Tom Anderson H3s before and they rock.... Hard edge controllable distortion. I usually get them locally.

I have never bought them from here so you are warned.


I have a set of Ultrasonics. They reproduce with true clarity the sound of the guitar and amp. They are impossible to find since they went out of business in 1991 but if you can score a set they are great!

Not sure how to get them in the US... but Bare Knuckle are some I want to try


The other is Lindy Fralin


Lastly from what I understand the Rockfield are good cheap pickups...

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Instead of using an EMG 81 in the bridge position, you may want to consider using an 85. I have a MIM strat that has a Lukather set of EMGs in it and they sound amazing, the cleans are great, and the distortion just screams when you decide to crank the gain, definitely fits the muscle car theme, IMO. Plus, it keeps the H/S/S configuration that you want. :D

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EMGs would look nice and clean, but I think exposed humbuckers would fit the look better. Reminds me of some of the real tough, machined looking rims with all the rivets/screws around the tire bead.

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Ok then, what about the Lace Sensor "Chrome Domes"? They have a dual coil humbucker "dually" version also. They look just like the chrome Tele neck pickup but in all pickup positions. The chrome dually measures out a 19.8k (8.9/10.9k) which is insane. The neck and middle would be 6.2k. I'd place a coil splitter for the dually as well.

As far as the black exposed pickup look, I really like the large "rivot" looking SD "Invader" humbucker. Only thing is that it would not match the single coil pickups.

Great ideas guys.

- Stew

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Good to see your back...

Have you considered alternatives to the single coils...say mini HB's or filtertrons with a full size HB with a similar cover.

These are cool...


However, you can get blank HB covers under which you could hide anything which would match a pair of firebird like mini HB's...


Certainly "a look" and might meet the theme. It would still provide a fair amount of tonal variety and be noiseless and while the quack might be different (not strictly fender) some of this sound could still be created. That is, if you wanted to step out of the conventional tonal realm and look. Might help balance out the sound too with three HB's...

Looking forward to seeing your stuff around the place again...


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You guys don't understand, I don't want to route anymore. I've routed a H/S/S configure. If I were going dual humbuckers than a lot of these choices would be really cool. But whatever I do to the bridge humbucker, I want to somewhat match the single coils.

I think I've decided already and now you'll just have to wait and see when I'm done in about, oh 12 weeks. I'll be lucky if I can build 3 guitars this year.

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