03-20-2013 09:59 PM
I apologize if this is a rookie question but I have not been able to find the answer after searching for quite awhile.
What is the difference, tonally, between playing a higher ouput pickup with less gain and playing a lower output pickup with more gain?
If I have to run my gain knob pretty high (2-3 o'clock) to get the amount of distortion etc. that I like, should I be looking for a higher output pickup?
Thanks so much for any guidance!
03-20-2013 10:28 PM - edited 03-20-2013 10:31 PM
Distortion is wave clipping. It makes a difference where and when you do it in the signal chain. It depends on what you are after and what tools you have available. When you clip a wave you actually reduce some of the dynamic range, If you have a clean pup output then it will have more dynamics . Higher output pups can have a filtering effect. It also matters what your amps doing . SS amps can sometimes sound sterile or cold and a high output pup will filter some of that off. A tube amp can be more sensitive to dynamics(low output pup) as well. If you have a ton of amp gain after a really hot pup then its a bit redundant as the amp will mask the pup . Sometimes layered clipping is good if its intentional Dialing in a tone is trial and error -Good luck.
03-20-2013 10:49 PM
Turn your guitar all the way up and use the gain on you amp for more distortion. Then you can use you vol control on you guitar for dynamics once you get it figured out.
03-21-2013 12:52 AM
03-21-2013 09:37 AM - edited 03-21-2013 09:39 AM
The pickup output is really driven by two factors. The first is the magnet strength. In general, a stronger magnet will induce more voltage in the coil than a weaker one. It has been said that different types of magnets produce different tones - The popular thought being that ceramic magnets (the strongest) produce harsher tones, and AlNiCo (weaker) produce warmer tones.
The other main factor in pickup output is the number of turns of wire in the coil. Typical humbuckers have 5000 to 10000 turns of wire, and the more turns, the “hotter” the pickup is. So you get more voltage output, but you also get more resistance, capacitance and inductance, which play a big factor in the frequency response of the pickup. There is a peak in this response (called the resonant peak) which shifts up and down in frequency based on how hot the pickup is wound. Generally, a pickup with fewer winds has less output and that peak is way up high in the spectrum giving it a brighter tone. As you increase the number of turns of wire the pickup produces more output, but the resonant peak also gets lower in the spectrum, and the pickup typically gets more mid-rangy.
Of the two factors listed above, I think the second plays a more significant role in the tone.
Note that this is all assuming the pickups are passive. Active pickups are a different story.
If you want your distortion at lower amp settings you might want to look at overdrive/distortion pedals.
03-21-2013 05:54 PM
A low OP pickup you can get really distorted but a Hi OP pickup will never get a really clean. Hi Outup pickup were started in the 70's because the amps were single preamp amps no gain stages no master volume. They were made to push the preamp hard so you could get sustain and overdrive. With the new amps you have so many Gain Stages they really aren't needed.
03-21-2013 07:20 PM
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