Letís talk pickups....

Posted by: -Will-

Letís talk pickups.... - 01/11/13 09:27 AM

I have a question that I've been thinking about... It centers around a Sterling by Musicman AX-40 I just picked up used. So far it seems to be a decent guitar, definitely worth the money I paid. I'm not sure I will even replace the pickups but my first thought was to replace the stock pickups with EVH pickups... Why, cause I admit I'm a bit of an EVH fan boy... I won't apologize.

My question is if the EVH pickups are built to specs for the Wolfgang guitar. which I assume they are? or just built to certain specs? Same thing with the stock in the AX-40... built to AX40 specs or just built? Anyway, both the EVH Wolfgang Special and the AX-40 have Basswood bodies with Maple Veneer tops... so how likely are the EVH pickups in the Wolfgang to sound similar in the AX40? I know results vary from guitar to guitar when you are talking pickups, what other factors would factor into the sound of the pickups?
Posted by: CEB

Re: Letís talk pickups.... - 01/11/13 10:35 AM

If it sounds good I leave them alone. If it don't then I start changing stuff.

It depends on what I want to play.

I gravitate toward a couple of different setups. If it is a set neck guitar and 2-HB setup for Rock I gravitate toward Duncan JB in the Bridge and Duncan Jazz in the neck. It is a known quanity and a safe configuration that works weel for a lot of different stuff.

If it is a Strat bolt on jobber with a Humberbuck in the bridge and I want it to scream the Dimarzio X2N is an old favorite on mine (it is a HOT output PU).

For a 335 I leave it stock or sell it. Switching pickups in a 335 is a pain in the patootie. A PAF in the Neck and a Dimarizo Super Distortion in the Bridge was a Les Paul setup I had onece that work well.

I am using a Chinese Fender thing and the stock pickups work well for what I am doing once I dealt with the shielding. There is not always a direct correlation to pickup price and usability ... IMO.

Usually what I have done is ride the coat tails of someone else. I will play some else's guitar who has tried a mod then if I like it then I consider what they did. I'm considering putting a Duncan Vintage stack in one of my Tele's with a PAF in the neck based on how a buddy's Tele with the Duncan responds.
Posted by: Winston Psmith

Re: Letís talk pickups.... - 01/11/13 10:47 AM

I tend to swap out pickups, only if I really can't use the stock pickups to get the tone I want. The Squier Strat I found recently is a good example - no amount of EQ, boosting nor processing is going to get me there. They're not painful, they're just not . . . convincing.

If you have the skills, and the tools, to swap out pups on your own, it may be worth experimenting. OTOH, if you have to add in the cost of going to a repair shop, for something that may not really be an upgrade, I'd think about it some more.
Posted by: Guitarzan

Re: Letís talk pickups.... - 01/11/13 12:05 PM

ok, the pickups in the Sterling series would most likely be a cheaper to manufacture version of the EBMM axis ( formerly known as the EVH model by EBMM). Ernie Ball retained the rights to the guitars design ( pickups included) after Ed went to Peavey. the new EVH pickups are what he owns the rights to and designed for his new signature series. the original Dimarzio pickups are what Ed and Dimarzio came up with when he was with EBMM.
Any testing would have been done on his guitars obviously, so i would say yes they would be for the specs of his guitar.
Posted by: Larryz

Re: Letís talk pickups.... - 01/11/13 09:09 PM

The guys at my favorite shop can swap out a 335 in nothing flat as they have the tools and the know-how and are very light on the pocket book if you buy the pups and the pots from them...same was true on some Prails with push/pull pots on my buddies two guitars...they did the same for me on my 3 Strats using EMG drop-ins. Their prices for pups and pots and locking tuners were the same as MF. So unless you prefer being a DIY'er, you might find a good shop/store than can get'er done right and get'er done quick...
Posted by: Bluesape

Re: Letís talk pickups.... - 01/12/13 07:43 AM

I would see how your axe sounds as it is through several amps before changing anything. I'd bet it sounds great through a gainy tube amp. A pup swap may still not deliver your desired tone if the amp is ..... blah. rolleyes EVH sounds like EVH because of a specific chain of gear with full-time techs and engineers, and because he's EVH, and if HIS settings are off, he won't have the right tone either.
Posted by: -Will-

Re: Letís talk pickups.... - 01/12/13 08:51 AM

Well, I picked this guitar really cheap... it's going to be a "fun" guitar. But it feels and plays even better than I expected. It sounds OK, but while I like buying "affordable" guitars... I guess I have a mental thing about the pickups and always want to upgrade... I bought a Sterling JP100, upgraded the pickups and the pickup switch and at least mentally, thought it made it a better guitar... will likely do the same with this one down the road.
Posted by: -Will-

Re: Letís talk pickups.... - 01/15/13 05:49 AM

Played the AX-40 at church on Sunday... it sounded pretty good... I don't think I'll be swapping out the pickups. I really wasn't expecting much when I bought this guitar, but I really like it.
Posted by: Larryz

Re: Letís talk pickups.... - 01/15/13 09:39 AM

Congrats! glad you found a good one...
Posted by: skipclone 1

Re: Letís talk pickups.... - 01/16/13 05:52 PM

Yeah the mental construct I tend to carry around is, cool it`s cheap-that means I can put something really good in it-and the first thing that comes to mind is pickups.
I did that with one, not a cheapo but it had in-house pickups. They weren`t bad and I still have them sitting around, but...I wanted the best I could afford in there so yup I swapped them almost immediately. Turned out great.
Posted by: Caevan O'Shite

Re: Letís talk pickups.... - 01/16/13 08:06 PM

A good set-up paying attention to adjusting the heghts and pole-pieces of the pickups for bass-side to treble-side balance and balance between the pickups with a smidgin more output from the bridge pickup, after settling on the RIGHT strings for you and this guitar, is going to be very productive and potentially with a LOT less tail-chasing than swapping pickups. And it's relatively FREE (you've gotta buy strings anyway).