Pickup help for my first sg

Discussion in 'Epiphone SG' started by jarnold, Mar 17, 2019.

  1. jarnold

    jarnold New Member

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    Hi I bought an epi sg pro recently and love the feel of the neck so I want to put some nice pickups in it that won't sound muddy like the stock ones. I play a lot of heavy blues rock/psyche rock stuff so was leaning towards something with a vintage style voicing. as well as wanting something not to boomy and bass heavy as the orange amp I play through has enough of that. Initially after reading up the seymour duncan sh14 custom 5 in the bridge with a seymour duncan jazz in the neck is what I was going to go for but after asking some people for advice my interest in vintage voiced gain led me to more PAF style humbuckers. I no the custom five is heavily recommended for Sg's but just wondering if a paf would be more my style n if some folk who know about pickups could guide me a bit this is what I'm trying to decide from:

    Neck: SD sh2n jazz, SD 59 neck,(a little worried those could be too boomy or muddy in a dark amp), Dimarzio humbucker from hell

    Bridge: SD custom 5, dimarzio 36th anniversary, dimarzio super distortion, SD jazz bridge, SD 59 bridge

    If anyone could guide me as to which of these bridge pups would do what I want best or of any other neck pup suggestions I'd be really grateful, thanks, Josh
     
  2. GrumpyOldDBA

    GrumpyOldDBA Well-Known Member

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    What other pickups do you have in other guitars that you like?
     
  3. jarnold

    jarnold New Member

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    Thanks for the reply that's the thing I've only had single coils cos of the American strat I've basically kept faithful to up until now, I have a couple guitars with stock humbuckers and want a good humbucker guitar for the first time
     
  4. Daniel.S

    Daniel.S Well-Known Member

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    57 classic sounds like it could work for you
     
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  5. jarnold

    jarnold New Member

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    Have read a lot of love for these and considered it for the bridge, how about the 'plus' version? Are they worth the extra bit of money over the Duncans or dimarzio?
     
  6. Daniel.S

    Daniel.S Well-Known Member

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    Never tried them.
    I have no experience with your amp, but what are your settings? Maybe you've set the amp too dark.
     
  7. jarnold

    jarnold New Member

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    I love the amp it's an orange or15 head into a 112 cab but with humbuckers I do tend to eq it with much less bass, I guess my only real worry is the neck pickups will sound too boomy like my old epi les paul (first electric guitar that is muddy as hell) but I suppose that might be less of a concern in an sg, guess I'm just trying to zero in on what's optimal for my setup
     
  8. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to ETSG...
    Here are a couple of suggestions you haven't asked for...
    but I'll lay them on you anyway.

    1: Epiphone pickups are not muddy, so if you are getting muddy tone
    I would look critically at your signal chain. This includes the pick you choose
    (or your bare fingers), the cable you play through, the pedals you have
    on your board, the amp you choose, the
    speakers you install (or don't install) in that amp... all of this together
    equals tone.
    Often I've read posts by new
    owners of an Epi SG that criticized the pickups as too harsh and too hot.
    Even if this was true, you could control this by using the tone controls on
    your guitar and on your amp. Use these!

    2: New strings! Old dead strings will never give good tone, so if you can't
    remember when you last changed strings, or if you've never done it on
    this guitar, do this first. Do this before you buy anything. New strings might clear up your tone in a dramatic way.

    3. I suggest you play your new Epiphone for six months before considering any modifications.
    Just to acquaint yourself with what this guitar can do.
    If you can't stand to practice with it for six months, do it as long as
    you can stand. The longer you play your SG, the more you will get used
    to the tones it is capable of. And the more places you will find for these
    tones in your music.
    You will not be able to use the same EQ settings that you use for your Strat. They are different animals. But it's good to own and use both
    platforms. They are good for different songs in the same set.

    4. Often I suggest that you get an EQ pedal and put that in your signal chain, or in your f/x loop. Set the EQ pedal for what sounds great with your SG, and keep the settings you are used to for your single coil guitars. I like to use an EQ pedal as a clean boost also.

    >When you pick up the SG, step on the pedal. This will give you control over seven bands of tone frequency, and you ought to be able to dial in your tone using it. This would cost about half the price of ONE Seymour Duncan pickup. A fairly cheap mod, easy to do, and you will find other
    uses for it.

    5. If you have paid attention, and you try all these things and still don't
    like the tone of your SG through the amp and signal chain you've chosen, then try replacing your wiring harness with a high quality kit or pre-wired harness from StewMac.

    https://www.stewmac.com/Pickups_and_Electronics/Wiring_Kits/

    One of these choices might help you realize that your stock p'ups are
    actually ok. In my experience, the wiring harness, the bridge and the tuners are the weak links in Epiphone guitars. But I don't think you should spend large money upgrading an Epi... I don't think it's necessary.
    I have used these components in several guitar projects, and they work
    fine without exceeding the value of your guitar itself.

    6: If you are dead set on replacing pickups, I would do that last, after
    all these other avenues have been explored. The high quality wiring will
    improve the dependability of your Epi. So for pickups I will recommend
    the Golden Age Humbucker for the neck, and the Golden Age Overwound hum bucker for the bridge.

    https://www.stewmac.com/Pickups_and_Electronics/Pickups/

    Once again, these are about half the price of
    Seymour Duncan or Gibson p'ups, and they sound great. I have one of the Golden Age Overwound hum buckers in the bridge position of my
    Epiphone Wilshire replica, and it sounds excellent. Lots of presence, great tone in all the highs, mids and lows. Fairly hot at 12 Ohms resistance...
    Highly recommended, and not too expensive to install in an Epi.

    Good luck with your project...
    and now let's see some pictures of your new Epiphone.
     
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  9. jarnold

    jarnold New Member

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    Hi thanks for the detailed response. So you don't think putting seymour Duncans in will improve the sound enough to warrant the cost? I do think the sg can sound a little harsh and perhaps muddy is the wrong word I just didn't want to risk buying a pickup that would sound overly boomy like my old epi les paul. but don't get me wrong it sounds good though the orange amp I run it through (an amp I love) I just wouldn't want to buy something too bass heavy but I just thought an upgrade in pups would give it a smoother tone before I started gigging it. I know it won't eq like the strat I guess it was more about getting a better overall humbucker sound.

    Guess I heard a friends guitar in comparison to the sg I brought round and was blown away by the sound of his burst buckers in comparison to my sgs stock I also heard another friend who has the exact same guitar and had a much brighter sound after changing the bridge pickup (not sure on the pup)
    An eq pedal is definitely a good idea as well cheers i will look into a couple
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
  10. 83 Blazer

    83 Blazer Well-Known Member

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  11. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    If you have an Epi G400 Pro then the stock pickups are basically the same thing, they're the Epiphone version. There's a good video on Youtube that compares the 57's to the Alnico Pros and they're virtually identical tone wise.

    I have a '66 G400 Pro and I love the bridge pickup, the neck is okay but can be a bit boomy. I have thought about dropping in a HB size P90 as I really like the sound of a single coil in the neck position.

    Definitely this. Before you go replacing anything play around with pickup height, it makes a huge difference. Like mentioned above, it's always best to play a guitar for awhile before you go spending money on "improvements".
     
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  12. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    Do people change amp EQ setting for different guitars? I have SGs with humbuckers, a LP Special with P90s and a HSS Strat and I never change EQ settings when I swap between them. The only time I mess with the EQ is when the amp is in a different space.
     
  13. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    You are used to the single coils brightness. A humbucker is a completely different animal. Maybe you shouldn't try to duplicate that Strat tone, what would be the point. Embrace the difference. Like many suggested, your amp EQ is your friend here.

    Did you buy the G400 new ? If so, it has Probuckers in it and they are some of the best pups out there. But the Alnico Classic is great too.

    One of the most overlooked, cheap, and easy mod you can and should do is like other said, adjust pickup height.

    Here's how I do it:

    I set the bridge pickup (pole) height to about two credit card thickness distance from the bottom of the strings (1/8" or ±3cm). If it sounds good, I leave it there. Too hot for you ? Go (counterclockwise for humbucker, clockwise for P90) ½ turn of each screw at a time to lower it where I want it. Once I have that one at the sweet spot, I go to the neck.

    Any neck pickup will sound boomy if adjusted too high.

    Neck tone has to be different from middle position. Many people have the neck pup adjusted so it gives the same tonality as middle position. Not good. Neck pup has to be adjusted so middle position gets a quacky tone. You'll know what I mean when you get there. So, I raise the neck pup until it starts to sound boomy. Notes will seem to be overwhelmed with too much bass. Now I lower it a full screw turn and compare it to middle. If it sounds the same, the neck pup is still too high. I go on until I hear three different balanced tones out of the two pup.

    That is a fun thing to do. Take your time and you will find the sweet spot for each pickup.


     
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  14. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    The G400 Pro comes with Alnico Classic Pro pickups, which are apparently similar to the Probuckers except they have alnico 5 magnets.
    From Epiphone:

    Alnico Classic PRO™
    If you’re looking for the traditional tonal charteristics of Alnico pickups but with a higher output and a slightly more modern sound, check out our critically acclaimed Alnico Classic PRO™ humbuckers. Alnico Classic PROs are found in nouvo classics like the Epiphone ES-339 PRO, the G-400 PRO, and the Les Paul Traditional PRO™. Alnico Classic PROs are similar to ProBuckers in construction except they use Alnico-V magnets, making them higher in output for enhanced mids and highs.

    http://www.epiphone.com/News/Features/2014/The-Sound-of-Innovation.aspx

    The Worn G400 comes with Alnico Classic and Classic Plus pickups.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2019
  15. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Hell yes! That's what those controls are for, and it's a lot cheaper to turn
    a couple knobs than to go replacing p'ups. SD p'ups go for about $80 new
    and maybe you can find them cheaper. SGs and Strats are supposed to sound
    different, that's why we like to own both, and each instrument will want its
    own EQ settings.

    That said, I usually run my Orange Micro Terror amp pretty flat and use the controls on the guitar to adjust the tone. But I don't own a Strat. I do use my EQ pedal when I'm running two different guitars through the same amp. One goes through the pedal, and one doesn't. That works for me.

    But adjusting pickup height is also a lot cheaper. My colleagues above have
    explained this well, I'll just note that when I adjust my neck p'up, I usually set the bass side to be a turn lower than the treble side, and that tames
    the woofiness that a neck hum bucker can produce. Or two turns even.

    My basic point is that there's likely nothing wrong with your guitar or your pickups. Prolly nothing wrong with your Les Paul either... all these suggestions
    apply to the Les Paul as well.

    Many internet posts seem to assume that stock equipment is junk... Not necessarily so. I'm a person who actually enjoys modding my
    guitars, but I usually caution guitarists not to pay more for the modding
    components than they paid for the guitar. (I've done this, of course, but I
    do it for fun, and only to Epiphones I really like).

    So my suggestions are to do the easiest and cheapest things first, and only
    buy expensive pickups after you know you're head over heels for this
    guitar. Or not even then... check out the Golden Age equipment, you can likely find online comparisons.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2019
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  16. papagayo

    papagayo Well-Known Member

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    Epiphone Pro pickups are basic chinese pickups ...

    Choose a reputable and recognized brand (Seymour Duncan, Gibson, Dimarzio, Friedman, Tonerider ... )
    Switchcraft and CTS potentiometers are necessary.

    For better playability a serious work on the nut will make you happy.
     
  17. jarnold

    jarnold New Member

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    Thanks for all the replies especially for the detailed advice on adjusting pickups (and to the others who also mentioned it) as this isn't something I have very much knowledge on i definitely appreciate getting a bit of a break down.

    Whilst I have mostly stuck to a strat over probably the past eight years (only currently use my les paul for stoner/doom metal here n there) I defo don't want the sg to sound like a strat I bought the g400 Pro cos I want a nice humbucker guitar to gig as well as the strat and love the humbucker sound in general. My friend also has the same model and I loved the neck. I bought it used but as new

    Apart from the neck pickup being a bit boomy/muddy I don't think the guitar sounds that bad at all it's a great guitar, i bought it with the intent of optimising the sound (there are a couple of other adjustments I wanted to make like the nut n such), I wanted to make it sound really good for when I take it out gigging and I guess particularly with that vintage style voicing (if that even makes sense) and having played a few friends guitars with nice pickups next to my sg recently I thought that was the way to go but if you guys think that pickup height adjustment could achieve a similar result maybe I should try that to tailor the sound how I like it, I can see this being another thing for me to be really indecisive about but I will definitely give it a try. Thanks again for the help
     
  18. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    That was my point, I own different guitars for their different sounds. I just haven't found it necessary to change the EQ to suit each one and I didn't realize others did.
     
  19. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    I have a 2003 G400 Vintage with 57s. I can honestly say that the oem was a hotter and better fit for rock.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2019
  20. jtees4

    jtees4 Active Member

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    I am not familiar with the current Epi specs BUT before you do anything, maybe you should look into pots, not pickups. Sometimes that's easier and more fruitful. But I also agree with others, wait awhile...you may change your mind since you are used to single coils.
     

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