Replacing pickups on a Westone Thunder 1, and other sacrilege

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Replacing pickups on a Westone Thunder 1, and other sacrilege

Post by david_ft on Mon Mar 24, 2014 6:19 am

Hi all, 
first post for me here, and very pleased to have found an internet home for this guitar. It's still my favourite to play, but I'm 
toying with the idea of giving it new pickups. I would like the community's opinion on this!  My main motivation here is that while
I love how this guitar plays, I'm not so keen on its sound. I have a strat copy that has a HotRails in the bridge position, and this
sounds fantastic to me. I also like the various sounds I get from the three pickups and selector positions, etc.

So, while it's probably impossible to make an HH sound like a superstrat (?), I'd like to do something at least.

Firstly - is this a shocking thing to do?  I mean, are those standard pickups considered to be hot stuff in their own right and I'd
be a fool to mess with them? (I'm not so much of a purist on preserving the original hardware, I already burned that bridge as
a teenager when I messed with active circuitry, since removed!)

Second - has anyone else done this, and how did you like the results? What did you put in? I've seen suggestions for other types
of guitar where a combination of '59s and Pearly Gates (neck / bridge respectively) have been used for versatility (I play in a
covers band, so would like clean and funky to metallica/velvet revolver/van halen). 

Here's a third question: I don't know what it is about this guitar that works so well for me, my guess is neck length, radius and width
(ie, neck geometry). What could I buy these days that would feel the same, or similar? It could be strat or HH. I'm not worried
about the wood finish or weight etc, mainly the way it feels to play and the tone (hot!)

Many thanks for any advice, flamage, disdain, encouragement you see fit to offer.

Cheers
Dave

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Re: Replacing pickups on a Westone Thunder 1, and other sacrilege

Post by corsair on Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:23 am

I don't know what would be the equivalent of a Thunder in todays market; you'd have to measure everything - scale length, neck and fretboard geometry, headstock and neck angles, etc. etc. etc. - and then find something in the same ballpark!! Good luck!  Laughing Laughing 

Mate, it's your guitar and you can do whatever you damn well like with it; there are plenty of minty Thunders out there for the window-lickers so I say go hard!! I'd be loathe to suggest pickup options and there are others in here that will have no such inhibitions, but I played a guitar that had Bareknuckle pickups onboard and I loved it; all the crunch and drive you'd ever want! They're really expensive, though, and as much as I'd like to be able to justify a set.... I can't!!

Yes, the MMK45s that come as standard on these and a lot of other Matsumoku guitars are quite highly regarded, by us mostly.... so keep them with the guitar, eh!

Oh... and welcome here!!

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Re: Replacing pickups on a Westone Thunder 1, and other sacrilege

Post by punkyjam67 on Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:46 am

david_ft wrote:Second - has anyone else done this, and how did you like the results? What did you put in? I've seen suggestions for other types
of guitar where a combination of '59s and Pearly Gates (neck / bridge respectively) have been used for versatility (I play in a
covers band, so would like clean and funky to metallica/velvet revolver/van halen).

Hello Dave, I can't speak for the Thunder I (mine is as it left the factory), but I did change the humbucker on my Pantera X300 (an MMK45, same as the Thunder I) a number of years ago, as I'd convinced myself it didn't sound 'quite good enough'.

I fitted a Seymour Duncan '59, & it did sound nice & I was more than happy with it... Then some years later, I re-fitted the MMK45 (when I put the guitar up for sale) & it blew the '59 out of the water! It probably helped that I got myself a better amp in the meantime, too, but it likely goes to show that there was nowt wrong with the guitar in the first place! Embarassed.

The MMK45 has been fitted since then & I can't see any reason at all to change it, to be honest - I played my first gig for donkey's years last month & through my Marshall 6100LM & 4x12", the old beast sounded the dog's danglies!
Metal Head Very Happy

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Re: Replacing pickups on a Westone Thunder 1, and other sacrilege

Post by Barry on Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:22 am

Hi David, and welcome.
The MMK45's are the standard "workhorse" pickup for many of the Matsumoku made guitars under several headstock brands, and with good reason.

Most of us love 'em and see no need to change. But others find them a tad "mushy" at certain levels. They tend to have a high DC resistance, usually in the 11K to 13K range, and they break up quite convincingly when cranked. But they can also deliver some nice bluesy sounds. The '45's have also been compared to DiMarzio Super Distortions.

I would not be in a rush to swap them out, especially in a Thunder. I think the 45's and the Thunders were made for each other.

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Re: Replacing pickups on a Westone Thunder 1, and other sacrilege

Post by Meadows on Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:28 am

Hi Dave

Regarding question three, if you want to stay brand loyal you might wish to consider the Corsair Custom range. I only mention this because a year or so ago I was facing a similar situation as yourself and bought two of these. They have amazing necks and gave me the SSH configuration I was looking for. Sadly they turned out to be a tad too heavy for me but they are worth a look. Happy hunting

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Re: Replacing pickups on a Westone Thunder 1, and other sacrilege

Post by david_ft on Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:26 pm

Hi all, thanks for feedback and help. I like this place already :-)

I've looked into the Bareknuckle pickups; they do look good! I'm  not sure my ear is refined enough to tell the difference between those and some good Seymour Duncans, for example. I can tell I'd like them though, so I have made enquiries with them.

I'm not brand loyal, I would consider any guitar that felt and sounded right.

Maybe I just need to set this guitar up properly. I might take a pic of the pickups and see what you guys think of their positioning. I messed with this guitar so much as a kid, I wish I could press a "Reset" button!  It's got teeth marks on it, and the drummer from our uni band did set it alight with lighter fuel at one point. The only damage is slight on the pickup plastic frame. It still looks fantastic though.

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Re: Replacing pickups on a Westone Thunder 1, and other sacrilege

Post by Westbone on Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:33 pm

About halfway down this page. GFS picture.
http://forum.westoneguitars.net/t2448p40-thunder-i-rebuild

These sound really good on a Thunder.
Although slightly different wiring to the standard.
1 volume, 2 tones. Tones are pull/push with series/parallel switching.
Even though it is my own guitar it does sound pretty good.
THE BOLLX!... Laughing

The mixed sound, 2 pups on, bridge in parallel and neck in series is a killer tone, sounds almost acoustic
or vise versa.

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