I have a number of guitars that I have built, and the one I play has always been the one I have built most recently. My most recent build is a double neck that has one neck in standard tuning and a fretless neck that I made out of aluminum rectangular stock and that is tuned to open E for my very rudimentary slide playing. I am really enjoying this guitar, and can see this being my primary instrument for a long time to come.
The guitar started as an experiment to see if I could come up with a design that is light and balanced enough to be comfortable - I was able to do that and it plays wonderfully. The guitar currently has two GFS hum buckers in it - one for each of the necks. I think this sounds really good as is, but I find myself also thinking ' "Yeah, but....... it might sound even better if I took "better" pickups out of one of my other guitars, and put them into this guitar instead." I have for example, a guitar that I rarely play that has Lollar vintage humbuckers in it. I have another guitar that has a pair of TV Jones pickups, and another that has Duesenberg pickups in it, and two guitars that each have different model Supro pickups in them. All of these could be candidates for a pickup transplant with the double neck, and I have been toying with the idea of doing just that, but is this a fundamentally lousy idea given that I think the guitar sounds great as is? When is it time to say: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it?" and leave well enough alone, so that I don't end up with a guitar that doesn't sound much different and another guitar that is disassembled?
I've had mixed results so I say there is no risk in trying a reversible mod.
But a word of warning. I've done the same ("what if I stuck THESE pickups in?")...the sound was not what I expected, and I reverted to the original configuration. And the guitar didn't play as well and/or sound as good as it originally did.
I mention this because sometimes the planets just simply line up. Mess with The Cosmos and the orbits can go all cattywompus on you.
This dilemma is common among artists that paint on canvas. "Is that my last brush stroke? Do I need another hint of blue over there?" That sort of thing. There's a saying in the Navy, related to fire direction: an 85% firing solution right now is better than a 95% solution when your vessel is now out of ideal firing position. It's called polishing the cannonball.
Only you know what to do, because you have to live with the guitar and the tug-of-war going on in your brain about whether to get out the soldering stick. I have the same inclinations, so you're not alone with this problem. But I kind of fixed things by having a few bitsers that I have no fear of taking apart when I feel the need to tweak something.
Us toolie freaks have this drive to use tools and do stuff. I suppose you're one because your username pretty much is an admission you have the problem Sometimes controlling these proclivities is a real battle.
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I try very hard to not cripple a functioning instrument. I play everything I own or I discard it. Projects that fail hang on the wall. If I ever have a functional guitar that I'd consider taking parts from well... I wouldn't have such a thing. If it wasn't the optimal guitar for its intent, I'd have already sold it or gifted it. I'm not a collector. No desire for instruments that aren't my players.
Thanks everyone - I appreciate your thoughts about this very much, and it gets me to thinking about my own experiences in the past. The truth for me is that I don't think I have ever switched out pickups and gone "Wow, what a difference!" I have made other mods to other guitars that have really improved things, but this is different. This one already sounds really good to my ears, and as such, I think it best to leave this one alone, and find something else to futz around with.
I once bought a set of DiMarzios (Area 58, 61, and 67). They were to replace vintage style "noisy" single coils so there was no question if I was keeping them but I was only going to use two out of the three. So I figured "great, nice opportunity to experiment and record and compare".
I discovered that choosing pickups can be as much about feel as anything else. Differences that seemed obvious when playing the guitar can seem to vanish when recording and A-B'ing back. And even then, when actually playing music, I wasn't paying attention. Notes, not tones. So while pickups swaps often promise to fix a tonal chasing conundrum it really might not help.
I also learned to give something new a long time to prove itself before saying "I don't like this". At first I gave each pickup a week in different positions. Then I settled on one combination and loved it for a month, but after another two months decided it really wasn't for me. It was a year after I started the process that I finally said "I choose THIS configuration" and swore to leave it alone. And then sold the spare pickup so I wouldn't go back to any more messin' round. :-D
And since then, I have decided that the answer I was looking for tonally wasn't in a different single coil pickup, it was in amp settings and speakers. And cables. And yet not cables.
We are rabbits. Tone-chasing rabbits in a world fulled with a bazillion rabbit holes lined only with diminishing returns.
Post by funkykikuchiyo on Apr 18, 2020 22:06:15 GMT -5
Being able to predict how a guitar will change after changing pickups is a weird thing, and it absolutely can be done... but it takes practice. You need to hear it with your own ears a bunch of times to be able to predict it. A lot of people over think it and dream up what the perfect guitar/pickup combo will be based on online sound clips and a bunch of a priori day dreams about what a guitar is supposed to sound like, and they end up with really odd results. Hearing the same pickup in a few different guitars helps you get an ear for what parts of the tone are the pickup, and what parts are the guitar.
My guess is that since your homemade double neck with an aluminum neck is such an oddball, very little will be all that predictable. Bear in mind that when a "very nice" pickup like a Lollar is voiced (and, I do think Lollars are great... Jason not only knows his stuff, but he has an amazing ear) they're being voiced for more conventional guitars, so what sounds good in yours might be something completely different.
If you're looking to do this to find some bigger, better tone... might be worth your effort, might not be. If you're just curious, AND you think you can do it without heart breaking damage (nicking some magnet wires, etc.) AND you have time to kill, then it'll make for a good educational experiment.
An update - I could not resist the urge, so went ahead and swapped the GFS humbuckers out for a set of Lollar Imperials that I had in another guitar. I also added a Fralin high output Tele split blade neck pick up in the neck position of the standard tuning neck. That neck also has the Lollar bridge pickup place about 4" from the bridge saddles. The Lollar neck pickup is on the aluminum, 22" scale, open E "slide" neck. The Lollars do have more clarity and definition than the GFSs but to my ears, the difference is not huge. The Fralin is a nice addition.
I wrote and recorded a "comedy" song and used this guitar on it. If you are curious about how the guitar looks and sounds post modification, here is the link to the video. How the guitar now looks and sounds