PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

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PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by umpdv5000 on Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:11 am

Last night I took my recently acquired Thunder I-A to my bands rehearsal session to give it a try out at full bore through my Marshall and on trial I found the pickups to sound a little harsh compared to my other guitars. Now it is fair to say that I didn't spend a lot of time with it as we needed a rehearsal and I didn't alter my amp to suit it, but my initial impressions were that the pickups didn't sound too expensive of a tone. The other guitarist tried it too through his Marshall (without altering tones) and it sounded the same through that. I just wondered what everyone's opinions are about these pickups? I am sure that some of you must have compared them against other guitars.

Martin.

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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by corsair on Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:04 pm

If they're MMK45s, check their output but otherwise I don't know. The MMk45's I have in various guitars sound great and my Invader has an MMK45 in the neck and a Seymour Duncan at the bridge (which allows pretty easy A/B testing ) ... I prefer the MMK but that's hardly an objective assessment!!

Most in here like the sound on the MMKs but we're also hardly objective observers....

I haven't A/B tested any against DiMarzios or SDs or EMG in
the same guitar
, but I have spent a bit of time with suchlike
equipped guitars at home with my outboard gear and never failed to get a
good sound out of the Matsumokus, but often couldn't get a warm sound
out of the others, particularly the EMG equipped guitars... you may
possibly have a crook one?

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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by umpdv5000 on Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:14 pm

The meter readings are 11.2 on the bridge pickup and 10.2 on the neck pickup. I have had it plugged into a small amp in my living room and it sounds fine, it could just be that they need equalising a little on Marshalls. Everything is subjective to what you have it plugged into but there are times when things just jump out at you and this was just one of those times.

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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by umpdv5000 on Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:38 pm

John, do the outputs that I got off the pickups suggest that they are MMK45's?

A guy I used to play along with in the 70's had a Hayman Guitar (soon after became Shergold) that had a pair of humbuckers on them that looked very much like the old Music Man Stingray pickups. These had a sort of harsh spikey sound and I thought of this guitar when I plugged in my Thunder last night. Anyway, this guy replaced the pickups with a pair of Gibson Humbuckers and it totally transformed the sound and effect of the guitar. I will have to give it a more in depth testing next time I get it at full bore.

Martin.

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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by Westbone on Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:43 pm

Were you playing the guitar in active mode with the boost circuit full up?

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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by umpdv5000 on Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:48 pm

Westbone wrote:Were you playing the guitar in active mode with the boost circuit full up?

Hi Roger,

I tried it in both modes. I balanced the pre-amp volume against that of the natural pickup output. There is a slight tonal difference with the pre-amp switched in but the same harshness was present. Maybe I am being a bit harsh myself by describing the sound as harsh, but there was a sort of spikey sound around the upper middle frequencies that my pickups on other guitars don't have.

Martin.

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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by Westbone on Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:14 pm

Thats the one with a steel (gold) bridge is it. Try distancing your pups away from the strings a tad or closer till your find "your" sound. The 45;s are on the hotter side.

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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by Barry on Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:24 pm

Hey Martin. The output values you state would certainly indicate MMK45's to me at least.
Westbone's already mentioned the active boost, so if you're sure that's not the problem, then it might just be an individual anomaly with these particular pups. Or, quite possibly, it's simply a subjective response to the sound. The thunder is a very versatile guitar but nobody would accuse it of being "subtle".
Even Tom Presley has stated that there was a variance in these, although his complaint, if I recall correctly, was that there was to much muddiness in the mid range.

My subjective feeling about the tonal output is that it tends to lean a bit towards a Strat sound despite the HB's. Not sure why, perhaps it's the choice of wood. My Vantage VE550 has the same pups but the overall tone is different, likely again because of the wood and arched cap top.

I was just about to post this when Westbone touched on my next point before I could hit Enter!
I am wondering though if the bridge metal has anything to do with it? The original was brass, and the replacement steel. That might account for part of it?

The Thunder does have the power, but that won't help if you are unsatisfied with the tonal output. A pup transplant is always a possibility although I have no clue what to suggest here.

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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by umpdv5000 on Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:27 pm

I have tested them at different heights Rog but that doesn't alter the tone so much as the grunt and body. I will have a longer twiddle with them the next time out, it may just be the equalisation of the amp that didn't agree with their tonalities, but they did have a particular harsh sound.

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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by umpdv5000 on Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:50 pm

The Steel bridge is a fair comment Barry, however, I can't imagine any difference in tonal effects from a brass bridge as opposed to a steel bridge making any significant difference. I rather fancy its because I haven't had enough of a play around with it at stage volume. When I plug it into a small amp in a living room, I can give it hell and it sounds fine, even when I compare other guitars against it without altering tone. Problem with Marshall valve amps is they have a tendency to be lacking in mid tone variants. That is to say that the Middle tone control doesn't do a great deal. That's common on all Marshall valve amps, there is a definite tonal sound which is Marshall and there is little deviation from that sound no matter what you do with the tone controls. Unfortunately, if you stick a guitar into one that has a frequency coming from its pickups that the amp is already boosting (ie giving that Marshall sound) it can make that frequency jump out a little too far and create a spike in the equalisation spectrum. I have always used an MXR ten band graphic equaliser in line with any valve amps that I've used over the years, as they all have a few over grown middle frequencies, but the damn thing developed a buzz a while back and I haven't got around to fixing it. Maybe this will prompt me as I know it cures all tonal anomalies.

Martin.

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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by Barry on Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:55 pm

Sounds like you've id'd the cause Martin. Cool

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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by Westbone on Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:00 pm

Brass is less harsh than steel, giving a slightly mellower tone. I,ve tried both saddles on my strat and it does make a differance.

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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by umpdv5000 on Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:05 pm

I suppose steel saddles and bass plate may make the sound a little brighter at the top end. I am not sure that this was the effect that was causing the problem, but it is possible that it may have a bearing on it. Like I said it sounds fine on small amps, but I will get to the bottom of it the next time I wind the Marshall up.

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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by corsair on Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:11 pm

umpdv5000 wrote:I have always used an MXR ten band graphic equaliser in line with any valve amps that I've used over the years,

There you go... I have always used a Boss 7 band EQ on my pedalboards in front of the valve amp I favour, just to find that sweet spot that isn't always apparent from the guitar, although to be fair, latterly I generally only engaged it to give that "mid scooped" sound that was so popular when soloing a year or 40 ago...

Yeah, I agree with the others; the values do seem to indicate MMK but without seeing what's written on their bums, you won't know for sure.

Bear in mind, too, that if you're used to EMGs or SDs, these can be about as subtle as being hit with a bag of hammers....

Keep us posted, man; this is interesting.

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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by colt933 on Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:02 pm

Get a Boogie. The tone controls work on them.


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Re: PICKUP TONE ON THE THUNDER 1A

Post by Barry on Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:11 pm

Westbone wrote:Brass is less harsh than steel, giving a slightly mellower tone...
I would tend to agree. So far, the only brass bridge I've swapped out is the Vantage AV310.
It sounds great but the new steel bridge does have a slightly harsher bite to it:
LINK
I'm hoping the Thunder won't end up sounding too 'steely' when I replace its little brass bits.

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