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Overwound Pickup Myth?


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When you refer to “mass of coil” I think that you are really meaning that you are adding much steel to this pickup. When adding steel to a pickup you increase the inductance. That itself influence how the pickup will sound.

:D I actually spotted that mistake, but I failed to correct it...hehehe. Yes, of course I meant mass of the core, not the coil...the coil and magnet strength stayed the same.

I don't think we really talked about resonant peaks or "Q factor" which is critical to the sound of a pickup and heavily influenced by things like inductance. I did say that adding mass to or any other suggestion may not necessarily make a better sounding pickup, any more than overwinding it...it is a balance of qualities and that is where the art is at, both in design and in the making. Such things though will change the sound for better or for worse, unintentionally making this mod actually helped quite a bit.

This simple mod will quickly move the sound into P90 territory. It will not mace it sound LIKE a P90, but P90ish.

For sure...another weird one would be to use powerful but compact neodymium magnets in a similar way. Normally I wouldn't suggest them as just the "rare earth" tag is enough to inspire people into thinking that they would be a good choice. Normally they are not, but they can be used to create very interesting fields. The SCN's by fender use them to make a kind of figure 8 around the stacked coils for instance, isolating the lower coil for a more single coil effect with zero hum.

I love that part. The world is so full of people that know what is right and what is wrong. If it works it works. Doesn’t matter if it is made in an unconventional way.

That's right, and lets face it a simple single coil, p-90 or HB works...so if that is what you want...then that is a way of getting it...no need to get all exotic about it. Even cheap pickups can have their charms...look at all the lipstick tube things people were getting into...very cheap low output pickup by design...they look cool, they can even sound cool (listen to some of that page stuff). A lot of people don't know what they are listening to anyway...stairway was done on a tele, yet you imagine a les paul...two very different guitars and pickups.

If you hate the clean sound with it have a look at something more traditional.

Right on...the clean sound is where it is at, especially if you use boosters or just about any amplifier these days have a lot of tone options, even whole channels dedicated to crunch and distortions and such with EQ's and all, so you don't want something that is going to slam the front end like in the old days. Remember, non-master volume marshals and the ubiquitous 100watt fender twin...if you were playing them you had to turn them up a whole lot to get "that sound", then there is more of a trend towards smaller amps or amps with master controls like the mesa boogie era...but before that, you could sell a "super distortion" and get that sound because the guitar would be putting out so much voltage it would always slam the amp...unfortunately, that is all it did, hardly a tone monster!

Now that strategy is a bit obsolete. In some ways a lot of people would be better of with a very neutral sounding setup like an EMG and tweak it all with processors and stuff. This is particularly true with digital recording and such where a lot of processing is done later with a computer...or even on stage....I just saw a really great cover band with aging aussie rock legend (guitar sax keyboards singer and midi drums, etc)...it was really very good. The guitar player had an amp like mine (40watt fender deluxe) and a jackson but everything was processed so he could switch from clean to full on distortion in a flash. Now, the guy is playing outside with a PA so this is ideal and it did sound exactly like EVH or dusty springfield (they diod a wide range of stuff with guest vocalists) even a bit of acoustic simulator (funny seeing a pointy guitar used for son of a preacher man, hahaha) but really, no body would know, it was all in the ability to make a reasonable sound but be able to play it very well.

Remember a lot of it really is in the hands of a player and we do tend to fetish things like pickups and stuff. I remember seeing Roy Buchannan once in Australia (it is very rare to see anyone like this in australia, especially now) but wow...the guy was amazing live. The guy came down here and obviously just picked up a guitar somewhere for the gig cause instead of his trademark telecaster (the sound that got seymour duncan into business) he was playing a standard strat. Now, if you kids know who roy buchanan is, he is the sound of the telecaster, but I swear he sounded just the same with this strat because so much is in the way someone attacks the strings. These kinds of things are so hard to reproduce but I love to hear a guitarist with a "voice"...that is what I aspire to anyway. I heard an interview with via where he listened to roy for days before recording one of his tracks (I forget which) where he wanted to get that sound. He really tried to get into it but you can hear, despite his obvious technical ability, that he was struggling to get roy's effect. Part of his secret was in the way he could play so outrageously out of time and control but always come back and meet the spot. EVH had some of this too, he called it "falling downstairs and landing on your feet", a very powerful effect.

A bit of a digression, but a lot of people put a lot of store in equipment and details like pickups where they should think more about some of the little things. So much tone can be achieved through picking...I was watching a santana documenatry the other day...huge triangle pick, almost all up strokes. A P-90 rubber necked SG at woodstock, a les paul, the old yamaha thing and then a string of PRS guitars...all of them sounded like santana.

Plus, with any kind of digital processing you loose so much "tone" it wouldn't matter what you played into it. Remember, the variax sounds pretty convincing yet it uses quacky piezos and nothing else. Perhaps this is the future, magnetic pickups are a little primitive, but for all the advances in modeling and such it is weird how so much harks back to the original ideas and designs...these guys have the power to model any kind of sound, but what they actually model is the classics from the 1950"s hehehehe.

I guess that is why I have done so much on the sustainer technology. Here is an area that has nowhere near been fully explored either technically or musically. Where as a pickup may be able to sense the strings vibration in different, usually filtering ways...the electromagnetic sustain devices are not just a gimmick for creating infinite sustain but a means to actually change the way a string vibrates. Here is a related technology that could be tremendously powerful as far as tone and musical expression...plus they are a lot of fun. Originally (back in 2004 I think) I came to PG with the express aim to make some original and radically different magnetic pickup designs...all I have done since then has been sustainers or sustainer/pickups...largely because there are so many working on reinventing the wheel with pickups and so much BS and mojo, whereas with a new technology like this, the field is wide open.

After working with these things, if I were to be making pickups now, I guess I would be making low impedance pickups with preamps (like EMG) but with adjustable filters and outputs so the user could play with a few trim pots and radically alter things like resonant peaks and such to their own taste...plus I would most likely add an active tone control that could cut, boost or scoop perhaps. All these things are common place with bass players, but guitarists love the nostalgia and the mojo so perhaps there wouldn't be a market for such things...or perhaps eventually modelling will be so good that we wont even have mag pickups anymore, just downloadable variax parameters...might happen, you never know. At least with my sustainer technology I would be safe, regardless of the pickups or the technology, this is something that can't be done another way and as I say, is no where near fully explored...

I just had to get the sustainer into this somewhere...hehehe.


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Either an overwound single coil or a SC sized Humbucker. The Seymour Duncan HOT has the advantage of tapping. You have both a more “normal” SC output, and with the flick of a switch you have a high output sound. From DiMarzio, the FS-1 is a version with high output or the SDS-1 (classic one) that is the SC sized equivalence to the DiMarzio Super Distortion.

From SDs SC sized HB range maybe the blackout? “Aggressive sound with plenty of cut and focused attack.” Or the Hot Rails. The DiMarzio version of the HotRails is the Fast Track 1. Go with the Chopper DP184 if you need even more output. Or the Super Distortion S or…

There are sooo many options available that is impossible to give a definite answer. Or I can wind you a set. That way we can fine-tune the sound to what you need. Where do you live? Hopefully in Europe. Because unfortunately I get too much administrative work with the tax authorities if exporting outside of the EU… PM me if you would like to go down that road.

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