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Old 05-28-2018, 09:42 PM
TripleB TripleB is offline
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Default Pickup Configuration and Sound?

I've been looking at the electric guitars sold on a website and took a look at the pickup configurations, seeing which is the most popular as far as the number of guitars offered with each. It seems that the HH and SSS are by far and away the most common set ups...with SS being 3rd and then HSS being a distant 4th.

Being a newbie I would have thought that the HSS would be a very versatile set up and would be more popular...obviously that's not the case.

Can someone give me, in newbie language, what difference each of these four pickup configurations make as far as the sound you get and the versatility each set up offers in the types of music you can play with each?

I'm just getting ready to start learning how to play but I dream of playing everything from the Beatles to Bon Jovi to AC/DC to Deep Purple to a variety of Blues to Lynyrd Skynyrd to some Country (for my wife).

Thank you for your help!

TripleB
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Old 05-28-2018, 09:59 PM
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I'm just getting ready to start learning how to play but I dream of playing everything from the Beatles to Bon Jovi to AC/DC to Deep Purple to a variety of Blues to Lynyrd Skynyrd to some Country
Oh that stuff is easy! Just add "I dream about practicing 3 hours a day"
Good Luck!


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Old 05-28-2018, 11:05 PM
muscmp muscmp is offline
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just going by the music you've mentioned, i'd recommend the standard 3 single coil strat or the dual humbucker les paul. les paul is heavier if that matters but has a distinctive sound. strat has more pickup variation and will given you more sounds, and, is lighter.

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Old 05-29-2018, 07:14 PM
Steel and wood Steel and wood is offline
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Humbuckers are basically twin single coil pickups joined together to eliminate the hum you normally get from single coil pickups and in so doing, giving you a "fatter" sound. (Some Stratocaster and Telecaster players like the option of a fatter sound option and buy/install a humbucker to accompany their single coils even if the original guitars weren't designed so).

I love mostly low output Fender single coils and I'm a bit of a traditionalist so you won't find humbuckers on my Fenders. (Nor will you find Les Pauls for example with single coils). If I want to play a guitar with humbuckers I reach for my Samick Greg Bennett Royale semi.

These days you can also get noiseless single coil pickups so hum is no longer an issue, though I must confess to not having much experience with them.
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Old 05-29-2018, 07:40 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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...Nor will you find Les Pauls for example with single coils...
Actually you will, and without too much effort; the P-90 pickup featured in all LP models until mid-1957 (and the low-end Junior/Special thereafter) is in fact a true single-coil pickup, and they're a long-time favorite among tone junkies (myself included). FYI Gibson still issues P-90 LP's at various price points - I've got a '11 Studio goldtop that looks like a sweet under-the-bed '56, cost me well under $1K brand-new, and IME covers more styles of music more credibly than a comparable twin-humbucker version (think an LP can't do country or surf - think again); if you're on the "Strat-or-LP" fence one of these could be the best of both worlds - single-coil chime and clarity (minus the hard, steely edge many Fenders exhibit when strung with 10's or lighter) with the characteristic LP punch and girth - and well worth addition to your "must-play" list...
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Old 05-29-2018, 11:25 PM
Steel and wood Steel and wood is offline
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Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Actually you will, and without too much effort; the P-90 pickup featured in all LP models until mid-1957 (and the low-end Junior/Special thereafter) is in fact a true single-coil pickup, and they're a long-time favorite among tone junkies (myself included). FYI Gibson still issues P-90 LP's at various price points - I've got a '11 Studio goldtop that looks like a sweet under-the-bed '56, cost me well under $1K brand-new, and IME covers more styles of music more credibly than a comparable twin-humbucker version (think an LP can't do country or surf - think again); if you're on the "Strat-or-LP" fence one of these could be the best of both worlds - single-coil chime and clarity (minus the hard, steely edge many Fenders exhibit when strung with 10's or lighter) with the characteristic LP punch and girth - and well worth addition to your "must-play" list...
Apologies …. P90 single coils ….. of course!
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Old 05-29-2018, 11:36 PM
1neeto 1neeto is offline
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It really comes down to what kind of sound you’re looking for. For the styles you mentioned, it seems like you need at the very least a SSS Strat and a HH Les Paul or SG. So I’ll break down those two pickup configurations for you.

SSS traditionally, they’re configured with a 5-way switch, and that’s what makes a Strat so versatile. With that configuration you have a master volume pot, and separate tone pots for the middle and bridge pickups. Traditionally, the bridge pickup has no tone pot, and this makes that pickup extremely bright and jangly. You’ll also notice the slanted position of that pickup, which basically picks up the treble side closer to the bridge than the bass side, which also adds to its very bright characteristic. When you go to position 2 on the five-way, you’re now using both the bridge and middle pickups in parallel mode. This tone was very popular back in the 60’s. In fact, back then, the Strat didn’t have a 5 way switch, it was a 3 way, but many discovered that if you just move the switch right in between the bridge and middle positions, you could activate both those pickups and give you a very distinctive tone. It got popular enough that Fender started to make starts with a 5 way switch instead.

As you move to position 3, then that’s the middle pickup by itself, which is also a tone that only a Strat with a middle single coil can produce. Then 4, which is middle and neck and five which is the neck. Those two positions are Blues country right there. Some of the most iconic Strat tones come from that neck pickup. You’ll recognize it instantly. Simply put, nothing sounds like a SSS Strat. If configured in HSS, then pretty much everything I said applies, except, that now you have the fat humbucker tone on the bridge. If you can split-coil that humbucker, then you basically have the humbucker or single coil tone in that bridge. But...no split humbucker will ever sound like a true single coil. I’ll also add that “noiseless” single coils are not single coils (they’re basically stacked humbuckers so they look like single coils), and therefore will never sound like a true single coil.

Ok and now to a traditional LP with HH configuration. LP’s are versatile in their own way too. For example, both pickups have their dedicated volume and tone pot. And many also come with coil splitting which brings the versatility to 11. The fat humbucker tone of a Les Paul is just as rock and roll as you can get.

In short, you need both! [emoji23] [emoji450]
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Old 05-30-2018, 01:12 AM
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JeffreyAK JeffreyAK is offline
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The sounds you say you like are pretty widely different, but fortunately I've found it's more about how you play (including attack, picks, strings) and the rest of your signal chain (amp, effects, speakers, volume too) than about the details of the guitar, which to me are more about playability and flexibility.

I'm a Strat guy, and a big part of that is playability for me. I like to anchor the heel of my palm on the Strat bridge and palm-mute strings sometimes, and I have a harder time doing that with a Les Paul-style tunomatic. The rest is flexibility with 5 different pickup configurations, from beefy lead (I have a hot stack pickup in the bridge position, so it's basically HSS) to glassy smooth neck pickup, and lots in between. I also have a harder time sitting down and playing a Les Paul, whereas the Strat lends itself nicely to standing or sitting.

Sound-wise, I can get pretty much everything I want out of my HSS configuration, which is just a standard Strat with a pickup swap in the bridge position.
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Old 05-30-2018, 03:42 AM
Minstermarce Minstermarce is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TripleB View Post
I've been looking at the electric guitars sold on a website and took a look at the pickup configurations, seeing which is the most popular as far as the number of guitars offered with each. It seems that the HH and SSS are by far and away the most common set ups...with SS being 3rd and then HSS being a distant 4th.

Being a newbie I would have thought that the HSS would be a very versatile set up and would be more popular...obviously that's not the case.

Can someone give me, in newbie language, what difference each of these four pickup configurations make as far as the sound you get and the versatility each set up offers in the types of music you can play with each?

I'm just getting ready to start learning how to play but I dream of playing everything from the Beatles to Bon Jovi to AC/DC to Deep Purple to a variety of Blues to Lynyrd Skynyrd to some Country (for my wife).

Thank you for your help!

TripleB
I think a Strat or similar is the way to go as this is known to be the Swiss Army knife of guitars. The combination of Humbuckers and single coils makes it very versatile.

My Duesenberg Paloma is Strat-like with two single coils (at neck and middle) and with a humbucker on the bridge (so SSH), which is a bit of an unusual ordering of the pick-ups. It is incredibly versatile though. It also has 4 selector positions (a classic Strat has 5) - no push pull. The 1st position (from the top) engages the Neck only; the 2nd the Neck and Bridge; the 3rd the Middle and Bridge (great for funk) and the 4th the Neck only.

Pick-ups at the neck I find are tonally warmer, the middle a combination of warm and light and the bridge tends to be bright (good for lead work). In the Duesey's case there's a bit of wizardry going on in the 3rd position making it great for funk (have heard certain frequencies are cut).

I play in a cover band and we play pop, funk, soul and rock (Spandau Ballet, Arctic Monkeys, Jamiroquai, David Bowie, Doobie Brothers, Stereophonics, Lenny Krawitz, Nirvana etc). I tend to use the neck for a warmer sound, the neck and bridge for British Indie and for funk the 3rd position (the Quack!) and for rock the 4th (with distortion). The tone knob plays a key role as well of course.

Hope this helps.
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  #10  
Old 05-30-2018, 07:31 AM
guitararmy guitararmy is offline
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https://www.musiciansfriend.com/guit...ro-fingerboard

If you can't have both a stratocaster and a Les Paul, this guitar will split the difference...
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Old 05-30-2018, 12:49 PM
1neeto 1neeto is offline
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Oh yes and forgot to mention that Strats are easier to modify. Here’s my Strat in SSS and HSS configuration. All I have to do is change pickguards and solder the output jack.
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Old 05-30-2018, 03:03 PM
wrathfuldeity wrathfuldeity is offline
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I've had all mentioned...but in the end a low k sss strat and tele guy. But when there is a hankering for HB like...my go to is a Seymour Duncan pickup booster with a bit of roll-off of the git's vol and tone. Remember many things can be done with those pesky little boxes...especially something like a parametric eq...the swiss army knife of tiny boxes.
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