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awd83

Pickups and Modeling Amps

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Serious question, no "It's just going to always sound like digital crap" answers.

 

I've got a question about amps and pickups, specifically modeling amps and/or modeling pedals. For example, I have a Vox VT15 modeling amp, and I have a Digitech RP255 modeling pedal. Does it really matter what kind of pickups my guitar has, as long as they aren't total garbage? Shouldn't I be able to get pretty much any sound (theoretically) I want from a setup like that? I know there's always going to be a digital "fake" sound about it, but would pickups really matter in this case?

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I use a POD X3, and I would say no.. Garbage in, garbage out.. Of course, "garbage" is a relative term. Some of the coolest things ever recorded were done so using "garbage"..

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Yeah, agreeing with RaVenCAD. Modeling is magic, but it isn't *that* magic.

 

edit: Modeling (unless you're talking about a guitar synth or something super-fancy like that) is amp modeling. Not guitar modeling. If you want the sound of the bridge pickup of a Tele going through a Tweed amp, you're not going to get there with the neck humbucker of a pointy guitar.

 

edit2: Are you plugging a pedal that's modeling an amp into an amp that's modeling an amp as well?

 

I-N-C-E-P-T-I-O-N

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I use a POD X3, and I would say no.. Garbage in, garbage out.. Of course, "garbage" is a relative term. Some of the coolest things ever recorded were done so using "garbage"..

 

So you're saying that pickups do matter, even in this situation? The reason I'm asking is that I think my pickups are just ok, nothing great but not awful, either, would I gain anything by switching them out with anything else? I can't really afford anything more than some GFS pups, I'm just curious if it's even worth doing that. I just don't feel like there's a lot of note differentiation, like you can't hear each note clearly.

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Of course pickups matter. The better the original signal going in to your modeling hardware/software, the better potential sound coming out. Thin sounding pickups can only be processed so much before it really starts sounding digital and ugly... you want a thicker sound, start with thicker pickups. A low signal can be brought up in digital modeling, but again, there are limits. In some ways, digital modeling works essentially the same as the equipment it attempts to replicate, and if you use better pickups on the original gear, you will have a better result as well.

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The answer is YES as in hell yes it matter. The following is my expericne with a Line 6 Spider 3 amp 75 watts. I have a Hamer SATF I bought because it played great, but it sounded like crap. My 78 Ibanez concert series with the super 80's sounds great, hell my cheap sx strat sounds great through the amp. I email Bryan Gunsher (look him up he's a member here) I tell him the problem, 6 weeks or so later I get some BG darks install them and BOOM kick ass guitar sound through spider amp. I'd say a good percentage of people that think the modelling stuff sucks is because they start with crappy gear or at least gear that just doesn't match what they are trying to do. I listen to the sound clips line 6 has on their website and I'll de damned if I hear anything that is 'digital' or whatever the complaint is. Now of course they start with good gear, mics recording eq ect. And then they add damn good players to make the sound clips. You decide.

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Yeah, agreeing with RaVenCAD. Modeling is magic, but it isn't *that* magic.


edit: Modeling (unless you're talking about a guitar synth or something super-fancy like that) is amp modeling. Not guitar modeling. If you want the sound of the bridge pickup of a Tele going through a Tweed amp, you're not going to get there with the neck humbucker of a pointy guitar.


edit2: Are you plugging a pedal that's modeling an amp into an amp that's modeling an amp as well?


I-N-C-E-P-T-I-O-N

 

No, I've got the amp set as clean as I can get it, with only the pedal doing the amp modeling. It does, however, have a pickup model on the pedal, as well, although I never use it, so I don't know how good it is.

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Pickups matter, and the guitar matters...


What matters MOST though is the player.

 

agree, and at my capability, I don't think any pup is going to matter!

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Of course pickups matter. The better the original signal going in to your modeling hardware/software, the better potential sound coming out. Thin sounding pickups can only be processed so much before it really starts sounding digital and ugly... you want a thicker sound, start with thicker pickups. A low signal can be brought up in digital modeling, but again, there are limits. In some ways, digital modeling works essentially the same as the equipment it attempts to replicate, and if you use better pickups on the original gear, you will have a better result as well.

 

great points.

 

I have a Dean Soltero, and I think it's a pretty decent guitar, (covers head from rotten tomatoes), with decent pups. I just don't know if GFS pups would be any better, I've heard so many MIXED reviews.

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The reason I'm asking is that I think my pickups are just ok, nothing great but not awful, either, would I gain anything by switching them out with anything else? ... I just don't feel like there's a lot of note differentiation, like you can't hear each note clearly.

 

Does your guitar sound ok when you're playing clean? No modeling, no effects, no overdrive... just clean? Find a good starting point and build from there. I have a feeling that you're bogging down your sound with processing.

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The pickup model takes the signal coming from your pickup and digitally tweaks the EQ/level/hum cancellation/etc. of that signal to simulate the sound of various other pickups... but of course the maker of that model had to GUESS what pickup you're using to send that signal in order to figure out how much to massage the signal. I'm willing to bet the assumption they make is that you are using basic ceramic strat pickups, since the "budget" strat is pretty much the most common guitar in the world.

 

So if you send the signal of an Epiphone Les Paul humbucker into a digital modeler and tell it to simulate a Gibson Les Paul burstbucker... The results may not be exactly what you're looking for.

 

However, if you are using MIDI pickups or some other integrated system where the signal from your guitar is known by the hardware doing the modeling, that's a whole other story.

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And as I read more of the thread, I see that you are wondering if modeling will make redundant or cancel out any improvements you make to the signal with a pickup upgrade.

 

The answer is:

 

1. No. Your guitar will still sound better with non-junky pickups.

2. Once you have non-junky pickups, you might not want to use those digital models anymore anyway.

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Wait just a second, though... The gear list in your signature says you're playing a $600 Dean.

 

I'm not the biggest Dean fan in the world, but those are NOT junk pickups.

 

It sounds like there's some element of your rig which is not giving you the sound that you want, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's probably your Valvetronix amp and your Digi RP pedal.

 

It could be that your tastes have matured to the point that "affordable" digital modeling can't possibly satisfy you, no matter what you do with your guitar's electronics. Time to go buy yourself a quality amp, or else if you must stick with the digital revolution start saving your pennies until you can afford something like the Axe-FX and a good PA to play it through.

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Wait just a second, though... The gear list in your signature says you're playing a $600 Dean.


I'm not the biggest Dean fan in the world, but those are NOT junk pickups.


It sounds like there's some element of your rig which is not giving you the sound that you want, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's probably your Valvetronix amp and your Digi RP pedal.


It could be that your tastes have matured to the point that "affordable" digital modeling can't possibly satisfy you, no matter what you do with your guitar's electronics. Time to go buy yourself a quality amp, or else if you
must
stick with the digital revolution start saving your pennies until you can afford something like the Axe-FX and a good PA to play it through.

 

Thanks, Golias, you make some good points. I don't think the pickups are junk, I think the biggest problem is the bridge pickup is slightly off from the strings. The Low E is perfectly centered, the High E is off by a width of the pole piece. Which I know a new pickup won't solve that issue.

 

I'm actually pretty happy with my sound, I was just curious if changing out to another inexpensive pup would make any difference since I'm going through so much modeling. I like both my amp and my pedal. Just wondering what else is out there, and pups could be my easiest/cheapest upgrade.

 

Like I said, I've got the amp pretty clean, and using the pedal for my dirt. I get some great sounds out of it, but I know there's always room for improvement, especially when I try to play a broad range of styles, from old gospel to blues to hard classic rock and even a little hair metal. I think I've got a perfect sound for some rock/hair metal, it's the blues and clean stuff that I'm not perfectly happy with. I guess my biggest complaint is that there isn't much of a difference from the neck to the bridge pickup.

 

And the pup model in the pedal is a single coil>humbucker or humbucker>single coil, depending on what you've got. I haven't played with it much, since my Dean has coil splits.

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Does your guitar sound ok when you're playing clean? No modeling, no effects, no overdrive... just clean? Find a good starting point and build from there. I have a feeling that you're bogging down your sound with processing.

 

I try not to add in a lot of effects, really. It sounds ok clean, I think it could be better. Usually, I have the amp as clean as I can get it, and I use a distortion pedal model, and on certain songs, a little chorus or delay, but that's really it. I may use a amp model from the pedal, but not too much.

 

What I really need more than anything else is figuring out HOW to get the sound I want - what EQ settings, tone settings, drive pedal, etc... I've got so much to play with and such limited time (I have 3 sons, all under 7 yrs old) that I don't get to experiment much, especially at volume.

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I've been a tube amp guy for my entire adult life, but I embraced modelers pretty early on as well. My take is that, yes... pickups differences can still be heard through modelers. Most of my experience is with the Vox/Korg line, but I've also owned Line 6, Digitech, Zoom and Boss modelers and probably couple more I've forgotten about. The Vox stuff in particular, I can easily hear differences in pickups. I'm pretty picky when it comes to vintage type single coils, and I can easily hear differences.

 

BUT... there is still a layer or a veil over modelers. The difference between a set of EMG SAs or Lace Hot Golds vs Fender Custom Shop 54s or Duncan Antiquities jump out and slap you in the face when played through a really nice tube amp. When played through modelers, it's a more subtle difference. The EMGs lack a bit of sparkle whereas through an exceptional Twin with JBLs, the difference is 'the EMGs are nice and single coily while the 54s are Nirvana.'

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Here's my experience. I have a Line 6 SV MKII HD100 Head and a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe (and a traynor but its a pos so...).

 

I just did a pickup swap in my Ibanez RG270 from the crap stock pickups to some Dimarzio's. Initially I hated the sound of the stock pickups on pretty much every amp I played the guitar through. However I tried it on my buddies Line 6 Spider 3 (before I bought SV MKII) and I liked how they sounded. Now that I have done the pickups swap I have noticed a bit of a difference through my Line 6 but the real difference is through my Hot Rod Deluxe. Before I couldn't do anything that sounded good with that guitar through the Fender. Now it sounds amazing.

 

So long story short... yes pickups still affect the sound quite a bit with modelers. Just differently then how they affect tube amps. Modelers with a SS preamp are not affected by impedance differences and a lot of other things that different pickups do. However they are affected by the EQ and output of the pickup. And while some pickups sound good through modelers, others don't and they react differently to tube amps so they may or may not sound good through a tube amp while the opposite may be true on a modeler. No formula, just gotta try until you find what you like.

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I try not to add in a lot of effects, really. It sounds ok clean, I think it could be better. Usually, I have the amp as clean as I can get it, and I use a distortion pedal model, and on certain songs, a little chorus or delay, but that's really it. I may use a amp model from the pedal, but not too much.


What I really need more than anything else is figuring out HOW to get the sound I want - what EQ settings, tone settings, drive pedal, etc... I've got so much to play with and such limited time (I have 3 sons, all under 7 yrs old) that I don't get to experiment much, especially at volume.

 

If you want a great sound with a minimum of fiddling, get rid of the digital VOX, get rid of the RP-whatever pedal, and plug a good guitar into a very simple high-quality amp. Among those I highly recommend for both home and stage use:

 

Fender DRRI

Fender Blues Junior

Peavey Classic

Roland Jazz Chorus

VOX AC

 

(If you only play at home, both the Epiphone Valve Jr. and Fender Champion are great little performers, as are some of the pre-digital Peavey "transtube" amps.)

 

Others here will speak highly of several other options... but the point here is, try the amp out with YOUR guitar and see if it gives you EXACTLY the clean tone you want. If it does, buy it. Done.

 

Then if you want preamp distortion on top of that either use the gain stage of the amp (if it has one and it rocks... so NOT on the Roland JC) or else buy a really good distortion pedal. I highly recommend snapping up the now-discontinued "Liquid Blues" pedal from Damage control before they run out of them.

 

Follow this link. They are being cleared out for $140 right now.

 

As long as you're working with all those digital gizmos, you can find yourself spending hours trying to "dial in" your sound when you would probably rather be playing.

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I'd keep the VT15. The overdrive tones in it are easily as good as most pedals. Its very simple to dial in some great tones as well, and it likes a boost pedal in front of it. And of course, pickups matter. Here's my VT15 at a little last-minute going-away gig we played a while back. I had gotten the VT15 that very day and took it out of the box at the gig, so I didn't have much time to dial anything in too exact.

 

[YOUTUBE]DPwlZGYWrok[/YOUTUBE]

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I really like the Vox VT15, I don't think that's any part of the problem. Tlbonehead proves that the little amp sounds pretty good. Thanks.

 

I can't afford a better amp, anyway. Even that pedal Golias is talking about at $140 on clearance is too much. I'm pretty much stuck with what I've got for the time being. I could swing $60 for a set of GFS pups if it would make a difference, but nothing more. money is very tight right now, and my wife doesn't like me spending money on a "hobby" anyway. Thanks, though.

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My Strat with Custom Shop Fat 50's pickups definitely sounds like a vintage Strat when I play thru either Guitar Rig or Amplitube, so yes, pickups matter.

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Its been stated already but the clean tone is the key, if you can get a clean tone that is solid, the rest is easy. On my duncan designed humbuckers I COULD NOT get anything close to a decent clean tone. With the new BG Darks I can get great clean tones and 3 very different sounds from each selector position. In fact the middle position off phase with both pickups going sounds very much like the middle single coil position of my strat.

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