Tonal difference between naked Pups and covered ones?

Discussion in 'Epiphone SG' started by Layne Matz, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2018
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    15
    I'm thinking about taking the covers off the stock pickups on my G400 Pro, I've been told it helps the high end.

    Anyone tried this?

    I always think these pickups sound muddy. Its probably my old Envoy 110 amp, I'll have to try my SG with a better one. I prefer a twin reverb but I'm low income so its out of range right now.
     
  2. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2012
    Messages:
    3,152
    Likes Received:
    2,665
    Location:
    London, helping a friend design a knitting machine
    Just tweak the amp's treble control about a gnat's kneecap to the right and you have done the same thing for nothing
     
  3. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2017
    Messages:
    829
    Likes Received:
    706
    Covers are for aesthetics.

    [​IMG]

    My experience of removing them in the past and thinking they sound brighter was a result of the Placebo Effect.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  4. plankton

    plankton Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2016
    Messages:
    216
    Likes Received:
    181
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    I have those Alnico Classic Pro pickups and they shouldn't be muddy, they're certainly not in my G400 Pro.

    Could be your amp, or possibly the wiring. Check the pots, they should be 500k, but not all pots are created equal and the cheap stock ones might measure considerably less which could muddy up your tone.

    I put some Gotoh pots in mine and changed the capacitor values to tweak the tone a bit (33nF bridge, 15nF neck)
     
    Layne Matz likes this.
  5. Daniel.S

    Daniel.S Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2018
    Messages:
    84
    Likes Received:
    61
    You may even try to lower the pickup to get less low end output
     
  6. Chubbles

    Chubbles Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Messages:
    317
    Likes Received:
    169
    +1 On a different cap value if everything else doesn't help.
     
  7. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2018
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    15
    Thank you for all the advice, I'm going to try some things. Different amp, have a handy friend look at the pots, perhaps readjust the pickups again.

    My peavy 110 amp is on its last leg, it was old and used when I got it for free as a gift last year. It may very likely be the source of my muddy tone. I'll be trying out a friends reverb practice amp today.
     
  8. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2015
    Messages:
    4,900
    Likes Received:
    4,021
    Location:
    Sutton Québec
    Solid state amps don't really slowly worsen as they get older. They usually just eventually crap out.

    Pickup height is very often the culprit in an unsatisfying tone.
    Set your amp neutral with tone knobs at 5.
    Start the pup at ring level and raise one screwdriver turn at a time on both screws, play it like that for a while and if not better, another turn. Don't do too much at the the same time, you'll loose track. The bridge pup will probably end up close to strings, I'd say a few mm between strings and pole pieces. Neck pup should be much lower and by itself, should sound different from middle position.
     
    dub-setter likes this.
  9. Gillean

    Gillean Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2012
    Messages:
    543
    Likes Received:
    477
    Location:
    Bucharest
    it will sound brighter if you remove them, I tested this more than once.

    It will also sound brighter if you increase the treble on the amp.

    It`s your choice. :)
     
    Chris Stone likes this.
  10. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Messages:
    6,460
    Likes Received:
    5,784
    Location:
    Michigan
    First things first: How old are your strings? If you can't remember, then
    they are too old. Don't try and judge your pickups, or your cables, or your
    signal chain, or your amp unless you are using a new set of strings. Old dead
    strings are always muddy, and never stay in tune. That's how you know.

    Now, to address your original question:

    Removing the covers from Gibson Humbucking pickups was something
    that was pioneered by people like Eric Clapton in the mid to late sixties.
    That was a long time ago, and things were pretty different from our time.
    In those days, guitarists were on a seemingly endless quest for more treble.
    It was because of the primitive equipment they had to use at that time.
    Some guitarists revere the old amps, but I don't. I'm old enough
    to remember using them. But this was fifty years ago. The concept is as
    obsolete as the Shure Vocal Master we all had to sing through.
    Shure Vocal Master@100.jpg

    In those days, there were very few pedals like we have now.
    Guitarists always obsess about tone, but only a few radicals then
    were swapping pickups around.
    The abysmal coil cords we had to use at that time had high capacitance, which
    translates to: They sucked tone (mostly treble).
    But we didn't know any better
    at that time. We just bought what they sold us at the music store
    and plugged it in, and played music.
    Jimi and Marshall.jpg
    Very few players knew exactly why they needed more treble
    from their hum bucker guitars.
    There were no monitors onstage... maybe some side fills.
    So everything sounded like mush to the performer, you can just imagine.

    Anyway, Vox came up with an
    early pedal (or guitarist's black box) called a Treble booster.
    Some performers bought these and
    played through them. *shrugs (personally, I don't like that sound).

    Treble booster was considered desirable and fashionable at that time,
    and so Vox modded their own designs to include the Treble Booster as
    a built in feature. Sort of like modern Bass amp manufacturers including an
    octave doubler to play each note an octave lower and literally shake the earth...
    'cause these days it's all about that bass... I would never use one of those.
    You can still buy a modern version of the Vox amp with a treble booster.
    But I don't think we need them now like we did when they were invented.

    Fast fwd to modernistic times, and we still talk about removing
    the covers from the hum buckers. These days, it's only aesthetic.
    It's only about what you want it to look like.
    We have more controls at our feet than early Clapton or Hendrix ever did.
    IMHO there is actually very little
    tonal difference between a covered pickup and a bare one
    ...
    the covers are designed not to color the tone.
    There's been a lot of advances in amp technology since
    the sixties

    (although if you listen to some, you'd never know it. ...but it's true)

    These days, a player can plug his guitar into an excellent signal chain that gives complete
    control over the tone expressed by the amp. We don't need to saw the covers off our pickups,
    we can just open up the treble, or we can put an EQ pedal into the signal chain and shape
    the tone in seven bands (or more). And that's what I recommend. The EQ pedal is so
    versatile, you can shape your tone for any amp. And without surgery.
    electric pedalboard 12-07-16@100.jpg

    So I don't believe that the mud you hear is the fault of your pickups.
    If it was, removing the covers wouldn't make much difference.
    But I believe it's somewhere else in your signal chain.
    Hence the recommendation for the EQ pedal.
    This can adapt your guitar to whatever you play through now,
    and then adapt again if you get a new amp.

    Nothing like complete control eh? It's a lot cheaper than a new set of p'ups.
    So remove your pickup covers if that makes your guitar look cooler in your eyes.
    The amount of tonal difference might be a notch or so on your tone control.
    Not enough to fuss over.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
    rotorhead, Adavis84, Svaba and 2 others like this.
  11. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2018
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    15
    Col. Mustard, personally I like the look of the pickups but I'm unsatisfied with the treble I'm getting. My strings are about 3 weeks old. Ive had to use old strings in the past, they aren't perfect but they can be played. My amp has problems, there are a lot of symptoms but I'm not sure what the problem is. Either way I just moved and have to find a job before I can replace it.

    I tried a friends frontman 25r and it was a lot better, necause I could adjust the treble but the 'Highs' dial on my Envoy 110 amp doesn't seem to do a whole lot. The reverb is null to void. The high and low gain controls and inputs don't work AT ALL. The volume spikes and drops over and over. The clean setting is alright but pretty deep if you ask me. I don't think the controls are functioning correctly.

    I don't know how old or used the amp was, I got it for free from a session musician. I'm going to replace the amp as soon as I can afford it.
     
  12. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2018
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    15
    Someone had suggested to me that the pickup covers interfere with the magnetic field and this time. I have modified strat pickups before, by modify I mean tore the set apart and left the middle or bridge pickup connected to the pots but disconnect the switch. It was for a lap steel.

    Anyways in doing this I heard a definite difference between the pickup with and without the plastic casing and tape. I don't know exactly what I did to it but without the tape it gets a more biting tone.

    Again, I dont know too much about all this but I don't really get drug down by a lot of things because I have learned to work with what I have. Low income, never been able to afford too much.

    As for old strings, ive used one set of phosphor bronze daddario .13s on my Ibanez acoustic and they worked. They sound different than fresh strings but can be work. Of course I was playing mostly acoustic blues slide guitar at that point, a lot of those old bluesman probably couldn't get new strings very often either.
     
  13. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2015
    Messages:
    4,900
    Likes Received:
    4,021
    Location:
    Sutton Québec
    I wouldn't start messing around with the guitar, if the amp is the problem. Doesn't make sense to me.
     
    Layne Matz and plankton like this.
  14. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2018
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    15
    Yep. Agreed. My amp has been continually getting worse though. The guy I got it fro said he had used it for bass a lot come to think of it. Its solid state but its been deteriorating and it doesn't have stable tone as in it shifts. I was wrong in assuming my SG was the problem. Using a fender amp I can adjust the treble and it makes a noticeable difference. However on this amp.I can crank the high dial and it STILL isn't enough treble its deep and lacks a top end-void of piercing tones. All I can play is jazzy stuff- with no top end...
    Some boogie woogie rythms...alright.

    In the future I'm going to take out these picmups and try a set of P90s. If I don't like it I'll switch it back. I usually prefer single coils these days... Maybe its because the only comparable treble I can get through my amp is with my strat and lap steel. Both single coils.


    Bgood you have given me a talking to on p90s before. I thought I could live with pickup splitting but I'm not sure. Ill wait till I figure out these amp problems to figure that out.

    Thanks
     
  15. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2015
    Messages:
    4,900
    Likes Received:
    4,021
    Location:
    Sutton Québec
    Have you tried throwing the amp off the second floor window ? That could help ...
     
    rotorhead likes this.
  16. Layne Matz

    Layne Matz Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2018
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    15
    I considered doing so... However if I replace this amp I may save this for bass or backup. I own and play an old Epi SG bass but its not my primary focus. Have you ever played lead through a bass amp? Its weird but can be used tastefully. Thinking now this amp sounds a bit like the octaves are dropped or something...
     
  17. rotorhead

    rotorhead Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2017
    Messages:
    471
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    Jacksonville FL
    Outstanding perspective, thank you.
     
  18. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2015
    Messages:
    4,900
    Likes Received:
    4,021
    Location:
    Sutton Québec
    Lead through bass amp yes, perfect. The other way around, less perfect.
     
  19. jvin248

    jvin248 Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2016
    Messages:
    188
    Likes Received:
    172
    .

    I've tested with and without and you can get treble increase -- but you'll also get noise increase. The humbucker will stop 60 cycle humming but the cover shields against other interference like the hiss off a computer monitor.

    If you are fighting 'too muddy' then swap your 0.047uF tone cap for a 0.033uF. If you need more use that 0.047uF cap in series with the pickup's hot lead. If you need some more brightness then measure your volume pot and find another that measures higher on their tolerance band.

    .
     
    Layne Matz likes this.
  20. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Messages:
    6,460
    Likes Received:
    5,784
    Location:
    Michigan
    But before you start doing any of that, take your guitar to a good
    music store, and plug it into as many different amps as they'll let you.
    Ask how much a used EQ pedal is... (not too much).

    If you get an excellent sound by using a different amp,
    OR the EQ pedal, or both, there it is.
    Get a job, save yer money and buy that one. Conclude there's nothing
    wrong with your guitar. (which seems most likely to me).

    If your problem is in your amp, you might be able to get it repaired instead
    of throwing it into the pool. Find out where the local pros get their amp service
    done. It might be cheaper to fix the amp. If your guitar continues to sound
    muddy when played through good quality amps that you can't afford, then getting
    into the wiring might be the next least expensive course.

    I don't think guitars are made with .o47 uF capacitors, at least not Gibson
    designs. Maybe Fender designs are. Or bass guitars. Gibson guitars (and Epis) are made with
    .015 uF caps at the neck, and .022 uF caps at the bridge. An Epiphone guitar
    can be made to come alive by replacing the wiring harness with good quality
    parts. That's one of the least expensive mods to do, and you might find that
    your stock pickups are fine once you install good wiring.

    That mod will have much more effect than removing the covers. The covers are like,
    not magnetic. So they are designed by engineers at both Gibson and Fender to have
    zero effect on tone. Some players insist they can hear a difference, but IMHO
    it's very small if it's there at all.
     
    Layne Matz likes this.

Share This Page


Recommended Links: PAF Pickups, Luthier Forum