Harmony Central Forums
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Cheap pickups -- just as good?

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse









X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Cheap pickups -- just as good?

    I am inherently a cynic when it comes to most of the snake oil stuff about guitar tone, but while I'll begrudingly accept that the piece of mahogany used in a $300 guitar is perhaps not as tone worthy as one found in a $3000 guitar, I don't get the whole thing about cheaper pickups being less tone worthy than the big brands.

    When it comes to something as primiative as wrapped wires and magnets, surely a Chinese factory can bust out a million clones of Duncan JBs and call it a day? Surely a Jackson own-brand pickup sounds just as great as anything Bare Knuckles or Dimarzio sells?

    And what about Duncan Designed? If you read the Seymour Duncan web page about them it makes them sound like there is zero difference from the true SDs aside from the country of origin.

    Am I being a sucker to pay more for brand name pickups?


  • #2
    Use your ears to decide. Buy the pickups that sound best to you regardless of price.
    INTERNET stands for: Inter-connected Network of Tools Endlessly Regurgitating Negatively Energized Tantrums

    My Guitars | ... but can he play? | Currently a Gold Trader +6

    Use extreme caution when attempting to interact or transact with IndianScout.

    Comment


    • #3
      IMO, there's not much of a reason to go outside of Dimarzio and Duncan, regardless of price.
      The Common Sense Mets Fan

      There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge." - Isaac Asimov, Newsweek (21 January 1980)

      Comment


      • Ratae Corieltauvorum
        Editing a comment

        Help!I'maRock! wrote:
        IMO, there's not much of a reason to go outside of Dimarzio and Duncan, regardless of price.

        IMO, DiM and Duncan are the one sto not bother with, as the high end budget pickups get to this standard.

         

        Above this standard you find the Wolfetones, Throbaks, Bare Knuckles, Creamery etc.

         

        Above those you find OTPG

         


    • #4
      There are 2 kinds of cheap pickup - those made by the big corporate pup manufacturers, and those made by small shops or one-man-band guys. The objective of the manufacturer is very different in each case.

      The large corporates are VERY keen to ensure that the cheap ones aren't very good or at least don't crap all over their expensive options.

      A small shop doesn't need to worry about that kind of corporate BS, so they make the best possible pickups and apply a cost + margin model, so you're likely to get more for your money, unless the skill and materials are dodgy.

      Comment


      • belovedmonster
        belovedmonster commented
        Editing a comment

        I did wonder if maybe Duncan Designed are in some way made worse than they need to be on purpose, to protect the bigger margins on the branded ones. If so that is pretty lame.


        Maybe someone with more technical knowledge can weigh in with information about the specifics of the wires and magnets, and explain how making a cheaper pickup might result in lesser tone.

         


    • #5
      I don't think that is the case most often. The bang for buck winner IMO is the manufacturer who makes my ears happy for the least cabbage. Many times it's Artec or similar or Artec made with a different name. The one man band guys offer more bang for someone who spends more than me's buck!
      LIVESTRONGwww.bandmix.com/kevman/Hey what happened? I had 5000+ posts here.

      Comment


      • #6

        "Just as great" and "tone worthy" don't mean anything. 

        If you're talking about inexpensive stock pickups, they're usually not "bad" so much as they are middle-of-the-road sounding. Usually what you're paying for with replacement pickups is specialization of tone, ie making the guitar sound better for the specific kind of music you'll be using it for.

        What I don't understand is why so many people think the only way to change tone is to change pickups, instead of using EQ.

        Comment


        • #7

          I suspect that cheap pickups got a bad rap because so many inexpensive guitars have harsh-sounding ceramic magnet pickups rather than alnico. This probably helps sell the guitars to teenage guys who just want crank up the gain and go nuts, but those pickups tend to sound bad or bland to everybody else.

          Inconsistency might also have something to do with it. I read a ****************load of complaints about those Duncan Designed pickups in otherwise good guitars, and there is also lots of praise for those same pickups. But I rarely read complaints about the matching USA Seymour Duncan models. To me that says that the Korean/Chinese pickup winding shops still have a long way to go in terms of QC.

          Comment


          • #8
            Well, GFS pickups are Chinese, I believe. Some of them sound great. Others are just ok. In my experience, Duncans are consistently good. I don't have Dimarzios, but my RG has INF pickups, which are supposed to sound like some Dimarzios, and they're surprisingly good.
            Guitars: 3 Fender Strats, Fender Jazzmaster, Squier Bullet, 2 Gibson Les Pauls, Gibson ES-339, Gibson Les Paul Jr. Special, Epiphone Les Paul, Epiphone Dot, Epiphone SG, PRS SE Custom 24, Ibanez AS73, Hamer Duotone, Larrivee D-03R, Takamine EG5013S, 1951 Epiphone Devon, Ibanez SR305 (bass)Pedal Chain: BBE Green Screamer -> MXR Distortion III -> Boss CE-5 -> EH Stereo Pulsar -> Boss DD-20 -> BBE Boosta GrandeAmps: Vox AC4, AC15, AC30, Pathfinder 10, DA5SoundCloud

            Comment


            • Mad Tele
              Mad Tele commented
              Editing a comment

              ill say this though my favorite pickups are fred stuarts and they were $270 (for 2)


          • #9
            The ingredients make the difference.
            A brass baseplate and brass cover suck tone. Nickel base plates and covers don't. All the little pieces make the whole. It's not just a magnet and wire, but the right magnet and the right wire.
            If you go to a supplier an say "give me wire cheap," you'll get who knows what but its cheap. If you ask your supplier for 42 guage plain enamel wire, it costs more but it's going to sound right.
            We're not in Kansas anymore.

            Comment


            • #10

              What prompted me to start this dicussion was seeing the PRS tour video on Youtube. It spends 20 minutes showing how each part of the guitar is lovingly hand sanded, checked, hand sanded again, ad infinitum. It really makes you appreciate how much care goes into one of those intruments.

              However, when it comes to the part where they show the pickups being made, it's just a machine where they load on some wire and it makes 50 of the things at a time, all automated. It got me thinking that if there can be such a difference between the care taken in the guitar and the lack of human touch in the pickups, that really there is no reason why some far eastern factory couldn't make the PRS pickups.

              Comment


              • lz4005
                lz4005 commented
                Editing a comment

                belovedmonster wrote:.

                However, when it comes to the part where they show the pickups being made, it's just a machine where they load on some wire and it makes 50 of the things at a time, all automated. It got me thinking that if there can be such a difference between the care taken in the guitar and the lack of human touch in the pickups, that really there is no reason why some far eastern factory couldn't make the PRS pickups.


                It is sort of apples and oranges, comparing the sanding and finishing process on the wooden parts of a guitar to the internals of winding pickups. But then again, there are people who say they can hear the difference between machine wound and hand or scatter wound pickups because the randomness of how the wires cross over each other does something to the sound.

                Like any kind of automation they're choosing to produce consistent, if average, pickups over the possibility of getting some percentage of duds and some percentage of outstanding ones on either end of the spectrum.


              • Help!I'maRock!
                Help!I'maRock! commented
                Editing a comment

                belovedmonster wrote:

                What prompted me to start this dicussion was seeing the PRS tour video on Youtube. It spends 20 minutes showing how each part of the guitar is lovingly hand sanded, checked, hand sanded again, ad infinitum. It really makes you appreciate how much care goes into one of those intruments.

                However, when it comes to the part where they show the pickups being made, it's just a machine where they load on some wire and it makes 50 of the things at a time, all automated. It got me thinking that if there can be such a difference between the care taken in the guitar and the lack of human touch in the pickups, that really there is no reason why some far eastern factory couldn't make the PRS pickups.


                i replaced my PRS pickups. not because they weren't quality, but because i didn't like how they were voiced. some Dimarzio PAFs got me where i wanted. 


            • #11
              Some people don't like PRS pickups. Maybe that's why? I don't know. Like I said, some cheap Chinese pickups sound great, while others are crap. I'm sure it's the same for boutique manufacturers, too. Throw in personal taste and the unconscious influence that price has on our perception, and it's tough to tell.

              I have a bunch of Duncan pickups, all of which are great, and they often replaced stock Epi pickups in my collection. I have a set of GFS (and had a set on a Strat I sold) and I like them a lot. The humbucker on my cheap Squier Bullet sounds fantastic, though the guitar is quite ****************ty. Gibson pickups, in my experience, are almost always great. It's all subjective.
              Guitars: 3 Fender Strats, Fender Jazzmaster, Squier Bullet, 2 Gibson Les Pauls, Gibson ES-339, Gibson Les Paul Jr. Special, Epiphone Les Paul, Epiphone Dot, Epiphone SG, PRS SE Custom 24, Ibanez AS73, Hamer Duotone, Larrivee D-03R, Takamine EG5013S, 1951 Epiphone Devon, Ibanez SR305 (bass)Pedal Chain: BBE Green Screamer -> MXR Distortion III -> Boss CE-5 -> EH Stereo Pulsar -> Boss DD-20 -> BBE Boosta GrandeAmps: Vox AC4, AC15, AC30, Pathfinder 10, DA5SoundCloud

              Comment


              • #12

                I have seen and played with guys that sound amazing using stock pickups in standard guitars through run of the mill pedals into cheap amps and I have seen and played with guys that have boutique pickups in high end guitars, with boutique pedals into high end amps that played and sounded like ****************!  It is not what you have it is how you use it.

                Comment


                • #13
                  I have gfs pro strat pups in my mim, and ive yet to find another strat that sounds as sweet for under 3 grand, so yeah, cheaper pups can still get you great tone. Not to say fralins or bareknuckle aren't still amazing.

                  Comment


                  • #14

                    Obviously there's a lot of subjectivity going on here: some people will claim that their GFS pickup is just as good as anything from Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio and others will say Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio is well worth the extra $$$.  It's all a matter of what you're willing, or able, to spend. 

                    To use a car metaphor: can you only afford a Kia, or do you go with a Honda, or a Mercedes-Benz? Some have argued that the Honda can do anything a Mercedes can do, at a much lower price. 

                    For myself, I have pickups from several different manufacturers (Bartolini, BG, Dawgtown, DiMarzio, Fender, Kinman, Rio Grande, Seymour Duncan) installed in my guitars.  Some of them give me more satisfaction than others, but there's a basic level of quality in all of them.  I'm happy to gig with any of those pickups.  I've tried GFS and Duncan Designed and while I respect that they're good value for the $$$, there's a tonal richness I hear in the pickups I usually use that makes them worth it to me.

                    But my #1 guitar has Kinman pickups, a boutique builder that generates a fair amount of controversy on these boards.  Some people claim they're way overpriced for what you get, but I love the Woodstock set in my Strat (I bought the guitar with the pickups already installed).  Certainly the fact that my bandmates consistently tell me, "Stick with the Strat" says that they can hear a difference between the Kinmans and my other pickups, and they prefer the Kinmans. 

                     

                    Originally Posted by Warren Buffett


                    “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”



                    Member of the Hamer Squad

                    Founder of the Danelectro Horde

                    Third Cousin of The Orange-y Family

                    Good dealings with: GreatDane, Norcal_GIT_r (x2), solly, puckman, rydia is hot, 98 les paul, JerEvil

                    MY GUITARS

                    Comment


                    • #15
                      If you can define "good", then you might be able to answer the question.

                      For some people, "good" is a well known brand, for others it's a boutique "name", for others it's as cheap as possible.

                      It is rarely about how they sound.

                      Comment



                      Working...
                      X