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Pickups For Jazz? (in A Solidbody Strat Project)


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I'm customising a squier strat and amongst other things, including the circuitry from an old archtop.

This will give me a tone and volume for each pickup, as well as individual on/off switches.

Can anyone suggest any pickups?

I want a warm/dark(ish) jazz tone, and I've been looking at P90's...

Any suggestions are welcome, I'm on a bit of a budget, but anything under £100 should be fine.

Kind regards, Pat x

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Hmm, I've heard of bareknuckle pickups but haven't checked them out yet, thanks a lot :D

It actually sounds perfect for what I want to do, but am I right in thinking it would cost £200 to buy a set?

I don't think I can afford that :D

I'll check my options or try to pick up some second hand if I can

Thanks x

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well it might not be worth it for a squier strat anyway, but it is my favorite jazz pickup and you only really need the neck one to do that.

check out catswhisker p-ups as well - another home grown brand but considerably cheaper and fully custom - so you could ask them to do an underwound jazzy P90


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Hey, I messaged Catswhisker pickups yesterday and got a response the same day :D

Allan over there suggested this

'I’d recommend a pair of Alnico 2 Moggies, wound to warm things up and your choice of cover – the nickel and plastic are the most sonically transparent.'

You think this will give me a jazz tone?

I'm sorry for relentlessly running things past people, but it's my first project guitar/pickup purchase :D

Thanks, Pat x

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I like to use the analogy of guitars are like soups or stews, certain recipes work to give you a fantastic hearty stew, and others would make you hurl chunks.

Some are fantastic with very few ingredients (LP Jr.), mixed properly,

and some take a lot of ingredients, the amount of ingredients doesn't make a stew good or bad.

And while a thick chili is a hearty stew much like a good beef stew or maybe a Shepard's Pie, they are not the same.

Different recipes, different spices, different components, different textures result in different flavors.

To start out with an Alder solid body, then to aim at a dark and woolly jazz tone, to me, is like buying a bowl of chili and asking, 'if I toss some navy beans and vegetables in it, can I make this beef stew?

Alder is not the best starting point for a (typically voiced) jazz guitar, and it depends on a lot more than the body wood.

Hell, I play cowboy jazz on my Teles, and they sound fantastic, but they don't sound like a big woolly jazz-box either. Jazz (or any other music for that matter) is as much in the hands, heart, and technique as it is in the guitar or pickups anyway really. Buying a set of pickups won't make you play jazz, or make a guitar a jazz guitar.

What I would suggest is to play the guitar and see what it wants to be, work WITH it, don't order it to be this thing or that thing, listen to IT...do you even know what the guitar is telling you yet? Have you bothered to actually listen to it yet?

...in other words, taste the bowl in front of you and see how you can accent the flavor it already has.

Guitars are not empty bowls waiting to be filled, they already ARE a thing, so you might as well taste what's already in the bowl, then take your spicing from there, buying this pickup or that will not change a twang-master into a jazz trumpet at the snap of your fingers, it doesn't work like that.

You can get a certain distance with the right decisions tho.

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Yeah, I've pretty much stripped the guitar and replaced everything that could be replaced with, well, replacements.

I've taken measurements every step of the way in calculated efforts to be able to get the tone(s) I want from the guitar, electronics/body modifications ect., I'm just basically looking for pickups that will let me dial in an approximation, and then take it from there.

Not by any stretch of the imagination am I an expert, this is my first project guitar, and it started with me wanting to re-spray it if you can believe that...

I think with the options I've given myself I have a good chance of getting the various voices I want to get from the guitar, hell, it was one of the only guitars I rarely used before I started on it, now I love the thing after taking so much time with it...

Obviously there's no easy fix for sounding good, I just want something that can react to the music I write and a fun and beautiful guitar to record it with. I mean, I rarely if ever use distortion, so I'm looking for pickups that sound good clean, right?

I'm not looking for an archtop sound, just something a little... warmer? dustier?

Pat x

Edited by TheGarden
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  • 3 weeks later...

Don't let the body wood discourage you. I personally use an alder/maple solidbody for my jazz playing when I work as an accompanist for musicals and the likes. I used to play a 335, but I always thought it sounded too dark and dull. I wanted a more lively sound, so I sold it and switched to my current guitar.

I use a Seymour Duncan Jazz in the neck position of this particular guitar. There is little to no mud in that pickup... I wouldn't call it bright, but its trebles are nice and clear, which is why I like it. SD says it's voiced that way to make sure that your fast bebop runs don't get lost in the mix, or some marketing catchphrase like that. I've also used a diMarzio PAF Pro as a jazz pickup, and again it's just a lowish-output humbucker with nice clear upper mids. I think the SD Jazz is nicer for clean playing, though.

When I'm playing jazz (whether in a combo or in a big-band), the other musicians usually want me to sound pretty mellow so I use that ugliest of controls: my guitar's tone control (500kA with a 0.01uF cap, wired to the input lug of the volume pot - not the wiper!). It's typically rolled back to 3 or 4, the "brite" switch on my amp is turned off, and the EQ is set for a fairly flat response (instead of being scooped or tweaked anywhere). That way if I need a brighter sound to better suit a song, I can always turn my tone control back up to 10 and get a clear-but-not-bright-or-edgy tone (instead of being stuck with a dark guitar or a dark amp voicing for the entire gig).

Edit: to be clear, it seems stupid to find a nice clear neck pickup and then roll your tone knob down. I know. But with the small-ish tone cap and the clear, vibrant neck pickup, you won't get that "playing through a pillow" sound that my setup would suggest.

Edited by B. Aaron
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