If you tune low, what pickups are best?

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by Col Mustard, Apr 10, 2016.

  1. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    ...Mods, feel free to move this thread to the pickup section if necessary...

    Well and so: I've seen so many posts where somebody writes in that they've got
    a new SG Standard or '61 RI or SG special and they think the sound is muddy.

    Does anyone on this site feel this way? And if so, do you tune a full step lower
    than Concert pitch, or two steps low? Does anyone who tunes to E regular pitch
    feel this way?

    I'm wondering if there's a correlation between tuning your guitar way low and
    finding fault with the stock pickups. I'm wondering if the stock pickups
    (meaning the 490/498 set that's stock in the SG Standard and Les Paul Standard
    or the 57 Classic set that's stock in the '61 ReIssue, or the 490R/490T set that's
    stock in the SG Special) are designed to be played in E regular Pitch.

    What say ye, me droogies? Is there a problem with stock p'ups if you want to
    tune to C# or lower?

    And if so, what pickups should we recommend to the guys who come aboard here
    with the same stock complaint? Has anyone in our community solved this problem
    for themselves. If you choose to tune low, and you've got some pickups that work
    great for you, what are they?
     
  2. Metal89

    Metal89 Well-Known Member

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    With my goth epi, I string her up with 12-54 gauge and tune down to C, she's armed With an iommi signature pickup in the bridge and an air Norton dimarzio dp190 in the neck, I play through a low gain setup. To my ear I love the tone. It's a heavy doom axe.
     
  3. +Mastodon Fan+

    +Mastodon Fan+ Active Member

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    My 57's sound mean in any tuning. They tend to muddy up when you play intricate chopping like old school metallica and such.

    It really just depends on picking hand dynamics too. If you do a real hard mute and chop extra hard the sound is more defined and less muddy.
     
  4. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    thanks you guys... I think this thread could be very helpful to a number of our
    members and lurkers, which I why I got it going. Let's hear from more of us...
     
  5. Metal89

    Metal89 Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if it has something to do with effects as well. I usually just run with a pinch of reverb.
     
  6. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    If you're setting up your initial amp sound with the guitar set to the neck pickup with the volume set around five, it'll never be muddy sounding. That gives you a great rhythm sound that leaves room to turn up and get some great Growl. Then hit the bridge pickup, and she screams like a banshee.

    It the amp is set up with the guitar's bridge pickup turned up to ten, yes the neck pickup will sound like poop.

    Just my opinion, but it seems to have worked for a lot of people in the last 60 years or so.

    But then, there are some guitars that are just plain dogs, and can't be improved no matter what you throw at them.

    Also, with the added slack of the lowered tuning, the pickup height should be lowered. Basic physics.
     
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  7. Dave_Death

    Dave_Death Well-Known Member

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    It depends on what kind of sound you want.

    For 'doom' sounds it's less problematic as they tend to be sludgy, woofy, or whatever with less emphasis on 'tightness', so a broader range of pickups can do the trick. I am managing to get away with BKP Warpigs in C standard, but that's because I am playing doom and my guitar is itself very bright sounding.

    For a lot of styles though you will need something with a bit more output, but with a very tight bottom end response, not a huge amount of lows (when used in standard tuning) and good punchy mids. Anything too dark and bassy is going to sound like mud, and some of your more subtle low output pickups will just sound flubby.

    There is a lot of advice to be had on this topic on forums like sevenstring.org or the bare knuckle forums, where extended range guitars (and discussions of pickups) are common

    Also I would never use the neck pickup for rhythm playing in low tunings.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
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  8. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    So, single pickup guitars like SG Juniors might be better for Doom type stuff? That way there's not additional magnets pulling on the middle of the strings.
     
  9. Dave_Death

    Dave_Death Well-Known Member

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    It's just that neck pickups are too bassy. But yeah all I use my neck pickup for is a kill switch

    Also it's necessary to use heavier strings when tuning lower, that's a given
     
  10. 67plexi

    67plexi Well-Known Member

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    • Alnico 2 for warm tone with smooth highs and a soft bottom response.
    • Alnico 5 produces a clear tone with more pronounced highs and a tighter low end.

    http://www.guitarhq.com/pickups.html

    https://musicalilluminism.wordpress...bson-humbucker-specs-and-general-pickup-tech/

    This would explain why I don't care for any Gibson pickups made after 1963-5 Now poly isolation is used on most pickups and transformers.
    The reason I bring up transformers is on my custom builds some of the best output transformers were made 1959-1969
    Am I some expert no way I learn something new every day and have some great mentors through the years.
     
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  11. nico1975

    nico1975 Well-Known Member

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    this is just to avoid vibrating strings to touch pickup s or cause the greater Radius of movement bring them closer to the pu?
    Never tought about it...:smile:

    Talkin about PU's for Down tuning I am happy with my 57s but I would really like to try Lace Dirty Heshers :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
  12. Gibsg

    Gibsg Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion a good pickup will be good with low tune. The frequency range is large enough to reproduce lower frequencies .
     
  13. zisme

    zisme Well-Known Member

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    with lower tunings, i personally find string gauge to be more important than pickups
    but simply for input, i've had good luck with dimarzio d'activators (in my agile 3010se tuned to drop A) and the dimarzio crunch lab/liquifire combo (in my ibanez sz720 tuned to drop C). they seem to maintain tightness and articulation the best out of what i've tried
     
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  14. gball

    gball Well-Known Member

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    I think it depends a lot on the tone you are looking for. Muddy with a clean(er/ish) tone? I'd say lower the pickups. Muddy with a distorted tone? I'd say back off the gain, usually farther than you think.

    I agree that any good quality pickup can be used for any tuning. I have also come to believe that high-output pickups are more likely to provide a mud bog with gain than lower output/PAF ones. As mentioned, the '57 Classics excel at everything I have used them for and I find it a lot easier to dial in a responsive high gain tone using a lower-output pickup than starting with a high output one (although they certainly have their place and I have my fair share - I particularly like the Dirty Fingers).
     
  15. Metal89

    Metal89 Well-Known Member

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    I love the dirty fingers pickups, never tried them for downtuned doom type stuff, but then again that guitar i reach for that 80's type tone (scorpions, iron maiden, type stuff). I do find myself backing off the volume and tone a few clicks on the axe so the pickups aren't so harsh on any style of metal I play. (Also gives me room to dime out on leads on the fly, but I usually just end up raising the volume on the mixer)
     
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  16. RedMastiff

    RedMastiff Active Member

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    I play my 2013 standard with standard D tuning.
    since some weeks ago I went to C standard.
    I use 10-46. and a pair of 57 classics.
    I really think thas SGs are made to play on low tunings.
    If I tune a les paul under D standard it starts to sound too dark while on the SG sounds just amazing.
    I think thas one of the reasons why SGs are so popular on stoner rock/underground rock.
     
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  17. +Mastodon Fan+

    +Mastodon Fan+ Active Member

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    The Iommi in my LP sounds great in all tunings. It even keeps the tightness tuned down with light gauge strings. I kinda like playing tuned down to(D standard) with 9's. It gives it that floppy sound when you strum too hard. Iommi didn't run huge gauge strings when he dropped to C# standard. His tone was killer for the old stuff (amps) he was playing through.
     
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  18. Metal89

    Metal89 Well-Known Member

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    I don't think iommi had much in the way of effects either, generally speaking. Sounds like he was going off of the gain of his amps more than anything aside from breaking out the wah pedal on a few songs and delay
     
  19. +Mastodon Fan+

    +Mastodon Fan+ Active Member

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    I know right. His tone on children of the grave is kinda loose chuggy stoner rockish, but at the same time it's still tight as hell on the solo's. It's like the perfect blend of loose and tight. Alot of the looseness sounds to me like it's coming from string flop from using light gauge strings; but like I said before...I dig it.
     
  20. milesdeem

    milesdeem Well-Known Member

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    +1 on the Gibson Iommi Signature pickup. You get what you pay for.
     
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