How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

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How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by Barry on Mon Jun 15, 2009 12:13 pm

I am lucky enough to have 12 EDIT: 14 guitars now, 3 of which, I am delighted to say, are Westones. cheers

Leaving aside the usual spousal moaning that we GAS'ers must endure ("Why do you need another guitar!?"), I'd like to pose a slightly different question:
How many pups do you really need to play your kind of music?
Not so much the brand of pup, but the number of them.
1? 2? 3? (and for the Teisco freaks: 4?! click here )

I was musing over my collection and, leaving aside the flat top acoustic (zero pup's), I have 2 Ovations which have piezo's in the bridge (so, 1 pup each for them I guess). The rest, 9 EDIT: 11 guitars, have only 2 pups each.

I've mentioned this elsewhere in another post, but I should say that I was/am the singer in the group and play mostly rhythm with occasional acts of sonic lunacy. In my style of playing I find that a centre pup just gets in the way of my strummin' and gets whacked repeatedly with the pick. I also tend to dampen the strings at the bridge with the heel of my hand a lot which pretty much causes this to happen I guess.

Because I had my hands full with fronting the band, I never had the need or time to figure out 3 pups, 5 way selector switches plus coil taps, effects pedals, and God knows what else. scratch
I left that stuff mostly for my Strat pervert lead player companions, one of whom seldom, if ever, took it off the neck pup anyway. I think I made more changes than he did!

And now, since I've acquired my Thunder 1A, I still have 2 pups, but I have a whole lot more options with which to use them. I find that's more than enough switches and dials for me. Makes my little head spin with possibilities. Any more and I'd blow up real good! tongue

So, what your story?
Circumstances may vary, i.e., whether you're playing live or recording, but confess now, do you really use all three pups, and the selector switches, and, and, and...? Or are they just for show and nice to have?


Last edited by Barry on Tue Jul 14, 2009 12:05 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by Warrn on Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:32 pm

Wow, that Teisco you've linked is just gorgeous! I've never seen a Teisco that hadn't had the hell beaten out of it! Anyway...

I'm a bassist. I never get more than two pickup options. On my two pickup basses I will either use both pickups or flip it to the middle/neck pickup only. I will occasionally use the bridge pup on my Dimension bass, but I usually set it to both and phase reverse it (which is only slightly more trebley and ridiculous than the bridge pup by itself). On my Spectrum GT I tend to only use the middle pup because the bridge pup is very weak and may need rewound. Most of my basses only have one pickup though, or do not have a switch to flip one pup off. On my Rail basses I tend to have the pickup centered or 4/5ths of the way to the neck (though I do experiment with them). I usually crank the tone knobs for treble to get a little more sound out of my basses, except on my Peavey T-45 since the tone knob also acts as a coil tap and splits it to a single above about 7 (I keep it lower so it stays on humbucker mode).

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by corsair on Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:00 pm

The thing about electric guitars is that you have to spend quite a bit of time with them at stage volume to find out what p'up combination works for any given song; and then of course you have to decide whether the coil split or phase reverse need to be activated! It is what practice is all about kiddies; when I started gigging my ST it wasn't so much of a problem as it has the same setup as my VA900 (2xh/b) that has been my stage guitar for 25+ years albeit without the signal boost but when I decided, in one of those rock'n'roll moments, to take the Genesis II (h/s/s) out for a play, things got complex very quickly! Matters got right out of hand when the decision was made to gig the Electra X195 (s/h/s) simply because it was different to ANYTHING else that anyone was playing on the circuit at the time!
I hadn't spent enough time with either of them at highish volumes to really do justice to the setlist, but eventually worked out where the switches should be for the songs we were playing!

My feeling is that to do covers, and do 'em well, you need a bit of versatility in your guitar, and that may mean a 3 p'up layout, be it h/s/s or s/s/s or h/s/h, as well as a few stompers under the foot - which is another can o'worms, eh!!

I have a few guitars now with p'up layouts from 1xh/b, 2xh/b, h/s/s, h/s/h, s/h/s and s/s/s, and each of them have such differing characteristics that it becomes a bit of a quandary but one which now that I've stopped playing live, is not as important to me, or my band!, as it once was!!

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by Barry on Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:52 pm

Warrn wrote:I'm a bassist. I never get more than two pickup options.
Sorry warrn, I completely wasn't thinking about you bass boys. Embarassed
Apologies and thanks for the post.

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by Barry on Mon Jun 15, 2009 5:31 pm

corsair wrote:...things got complex very quickly! Matters got right out of hand...
"Precisely Watson".
These days I'm happier to go the simpler route, downsizing the wattage and playing a lot more acoustic, etc.
I've even been gassing after a single pup of some sort, a Matsumoko if possible. I had a shot recently at an Aria Pro II RS INAZUMA-I but I dithered too long and lost it. Crying or Very sad
Talk about simple. One volume control and no tone control at all (weird). Ah well, it was a wacky aqua blue colour anyway. Sigh.

Otherwise I'd love to get my arthritic fingers on something like a 50's vintage Gibson Melody Maker (yeah, right!). Or a Tokai (yeah right). A clone like a Dillion, Godin or Epiphone is more likely.
Maybe Santa will bring for Christmas santa


Last edited by Barry on Mon Jun 15, 2009 6:32 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by corsair on Mon Jun 15, 2009 5:59 pm

Yep; get a single Matt if you can; there are a few to shoot for, APII have the Inazuma, and The Cat, Westone the Paduak, Leader, Raider, Spectrum basic and X120 and I was lucky enough to score a Vantage Avenger, so there's a few out there!!

That Inazuma is really high on the cool scale, eh!!! Very Happy

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by Barry on Mon Jun 15, 2009 6:36 pm

That Inazuma is really high on the cool scale, eh!!! Very Happy
Yeah, it kinda grows on you.
The one on the Westone.info site is very cool with the dark blue sunburst. Unhappily the one I let go was, as I said, a strange Miami Vice'sh turquoise-y colour which didn't turn my crank much.

I also get a kick out my Danelectro U2 and wouldn't mind complementing it with a U1 if I could find one that doesn't cost a fortune.
Dano's are the most fun I've ever had with masonite! Those lipstick pup's are outa site for vintage 50's sound.

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by Steve777 on Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:09 pm

I must admit that I am fast approaching the conclusion that audio opinion and marketing statements from Pup manufacturers are nothing more than the "kings new clothes".

For years I bought Hifi separates because I was told through marketing hype in hifi mags that such and such was the best. Could I tell the difference? No ! My ability to detect the difference between one set up in a Hifi shop and another only raised my eyebrows. What was the price? oh ! Cant you tell the difference? errr no ... sarcastic salesman smiles!!!

With regard to Pups, beauty is in the eye of the beholder! or rather a sonic orgasm !

Dont get me wrong, I love the sound of my Thunders, especially the 2a. However, I am equally estactic about my Genesis II and the bridge Pup is an Artec hummer costing £8.50 and has all the sonic credentials of a Pup from the boutique suppliers. Yet because its cheap and not labeled SD or Dimarizio, somehow its implied to be inferior and a sound to match its price. Actually, I have a "sound" comfort zone that is peculiar to me. One mans meat etc?

Actually, John and Barry are spot on, its whatever floats your boat! If you want 2 or 4 or 6 etc Pups on your guitar you go for it! If you want a particular type of Pup .... Great! At the end of the day, its a personal thing , isnt it!

All the best

Steve

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by Warrn on Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:59 am

No worries, Barry, though now that I think about it there IS a Traben bass with a whopping FIVE pickups. Of course it's a Bootsy bass... has like eight knobs as well.

As for pickups... got to say, I am not a fan of the expensive brands I keep hearing about. I can go into a store and play all the basses and generally find a cheaper one that I prefer to everything else... in fact, that's what happened with my old T-45! I went into a Sam Ash with nothing better to do than playing EVERYTHING IN REACH, and stumbled upon a 1982 Peavey T-45 for $300... best tone I've ever heard out of a bass of any brand. I bought it immediately.

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by corsair on Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:18 am

... this is the same argument as say, Westone.v.Fender etc.; having a well known, and respected for the most part, name on something does tend to enhance somethings value, even if it is subjective. It does not guarantee that said article with big name is superior in any way at all but, and it's a pretty big but, it does lend itself to a certain peace of mind!! I mean, I'm looking at Bareknuckle pickups for a project and I think I'll go with the 'name' rather than buy something on the second-hand market that came out of an Indonesian/Chinese/Vietnamese Plywood wonder...

The thread, however, is trying to deal with the perennial pickup question in that "How many do you need to play your preferred type of music?" and it has to be said that certain p'ups lend themselves to certain types of music; it's hard, for example to imagine down home C&W being belted out on a P90 equipped Gibson LP, or NWOBHM being flayed with a Fender Coronado!
And the other side to this particular coin, is "Do more options on a guitars' wiring equate to ease of switching between genres?" I'm inclined to say no to the latter simply because however much I fiddled with my settings during practice, come gig night, I pretty much just alternated between neck and bridge p'up and dialled up a stompbox for anything else that was needed!!

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by Barry on Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:10 am

Switching guitars for a different sound or style of music is pretty much a given. As John says you need to use the "right" guitar to get the appropriate sound.

No, I'm more interested in whether you actually use all 3 or 4 pickups plus the selector combinations available on that gee whiz guitar of yours--no matter which one is in your hands at the moment. And since we're dealing in this forum with so many people with terminal GAS, that's not an easy choice for some! Twisted Evil

Which kinda brings up a corollary question:
If you have several copies of the same model instrument do you "trick out" each one specifically to get a sound variation?
Different strings/gauge? Different tuning? Change the wiring
or pups?
Or, do you figure Uncle Mats had it right in the first place?

In my warm and cozy music room, I'm bloody fantastic!
Flip this, change that, stomp the other. Wow!
Playing live?...um, not so much. I tend to the KISS principle so I don't sound and look like a complete doofus.

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by Warrn on Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:41 am

My black Rail is being left alone because it was built slightly different from the red and white ones (1984s are not the same as 1985s). The red one is factory standard, while the white has its pickup at a tilt... but I'd really like to get the pickup back to normal, and have them both remain as Uncle Mat intended them. I just don't have a small enough Phillip's Head to realign the pup.

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by bobroberts on Tue Jun 16, 2009 12:38 pm

1 pickup is plenty!

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by corsair on Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:44 pm

Barry wrote:If you have several copies of the same model instrument do you "trick out" each one specifically to get a sound variation?
Different strings/gauge? Different tuning? Change the wiring
or pups?

No; both of my Clippers are exactly as Uncle Matt made 'em! Very Happy

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by Guest on Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:17 pm

bobroberts wrote:1 pickup is plenty!


I have to agree with you there Bob!
Smile

There is something really clean and uncluttered looking about a guitar with a single pickup and I have to say that I do have a soft spot for them... especially my Clipper Six and Paduak. Both these guitars lose nothing as far as tone and versatility is concerned, and can belt it out as good as the rest of them! The Paduak especially, can shatter windows and blow the roof off once you hit that coil tap!

Yep! I definitely give a thumbs up to the single pickup guitars! (Less to fiddle about with too!)
cheers

Polly
:queen: :flower:

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by corsair on Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:26 pm

Look, I agree that the simple, uncluttered look of a single p'up guitar is undeniable, but only if they're not fugly.... oops, sorry, Polly - didn't see you there!! Razz Laughing

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by colt933 on Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:30 am

This is certainly an interesting dilemma. It depends on what kinds of songs you are going to play and what sounds you require for those songs.

For years, I tried to have one guitar that I could do all styles and tones with. The Pantera X-390 came pretty close with 2 humbuckers that could be coil tapped and phase inverted. The Spectrum FX with H-S-H has lots of different tone combinations. Any nice super-strat with H-S-S works pretty well too. But none of them sound like a telecaster. And the super-strats don't REALLY sound like a strat, do they? If you have a hot bridge humbucker, it doesn't mix well with the single coils unless they're hot too, and again, it doesn't really sound like a strat.

After years of contemplation and experimentation, I have found that you can get by under most normal circumstances with 2 guitars. One with 2 humbuckers and the other is a regular strat. There's not much that you can't do with that combination. Switching is simple.

On the strat with a 5 way switch, unless you're wanting to play Dire Straits or maybe Skynnyrd, you don't really need positions 2 and 4. You can kind of play hard rock in positions 2 and 4, but it's not really what you're looking for is it? The middle position is very versatile on the strat - lots of recordings feature the middle position but not everyone realizes it. The neck position is of course the classic blues soloing tone and also a good classic rock or clean rhythm tone. The bridge isn't all that useful under most circumstances. But lots of Gilmour solos do feature the bridge pickup. Also remember that while many people have tried over the years, you can't REALLY play HARD rock on a strat without changing out the pickups. Then it's not really a strat anymore, is it. Strats are special.

Pickup choices get confusing too, so try not to make it overly-complicated unless you're looking for something really special or different sounding. Duncan '59s or Dimarzio PAF Pros are very usable for just about any type of music that requires a humbucker tone, as are most reasonable quality stock pickups. Duncan vintage staggered or just American Strat pickups are fine for the strat.

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Re: How Many PuP's Do You Need For Your Music?

Post by anaerobe on Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:50 pm

I agree with Colt's comments, and others who like simplicity.

To answer the question - I like two pickups, whether its h/h (coil cuts and phase reverse can push the sounds a long way) or s/h. Playing live is a great equalizer, as mentioned by Barry and John. I gravitate toward simplicity as well. Sorry for the analogy (I need a well-known descriptor so that I can convey the meaning) but the x70 gives me a real "Tele" sound with its single coil up on the neck. Its something the Spectrum can't quite reach, despite the coil tap.
Actually I own nothing else that sounds anything like the x70. The tone is unique.

In my humble opinion, changing guitars to get the right tone is the simplest, best way to attack the problem, as is said above.

With pickups I guess that we are venturing into "float your boat" territory. Many big name pups are great, some not so much. I've played an old beat-up and unnamed diMarzio that, despite its looks (pink), sounded really gritty and had lots of sizzle on the bridge. SD '59's are versatile, very fat silky sound. They still make 'em with a chunk of wood in the base, grounded by soldering something to the wire cover braid. Simple but cool. The used Gibson that I bought from a friend who essentially was going to chuck it out ...its a 496r and nowhere close to mellow (ceramic pup) but sounds amazing for hard rock. I've got some 70's dual rails h/h (original stuff) in my Onyx... and those sound incredibly rich in the mid-range - they are split and phased as well so the variety is huge. Gigging with this thing would require notes just to find that best tone you once found last week in the basement. At any rate those rails sound great with a delay pedal on the bridge for surf stuff.

I could go on at the risk of killing all interest in this thread Sleep

Ian

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