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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently bought an older Japanese Strat that can use better pickups. I'm pretty much looking for suggestions. I'm also curious to hear why someone would buy a Fender CS vs a Lollar vs a Fralin vs a Seymour Duncan vs a Tone Emporium pickup. Besides marketing and reputation, is there a huge difference in the products?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well, lots of pickup makers do the '54, '65, '69 type thing, which I'm alright with, but why can there be such big price discrepancies?

Thanks, Saucy: I'll check out the Vineham site.
 

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You've gotta get an idea of what you're looking for sonically in order for anyone to suggest something that might fit the bill.
Nailed it.

Well, lots of pickup makers do the '54, '65, '69 type thing, which I'm alright with, but why can there be such big price discrepancies?

Thanks, Saucy: I'll check out the Vineham site.
Price is part prestige and part some level of guaranteed satisfaction. Pickups arent hard to make, but if you do it well and people will pay, you can charge a lot. As with other threads, you have to decide your budget and your point of diminishing returns. Theres also the fact that our dollar is crap compared to usd, and most parts or products are US made.

How much experimenting do you want to do?
 

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I dropped a pair Tone Emporiums into a Hwy 1 along with a Duncan A2HP that was getting the HSS treatment & actually preferred the stock neck & middle pickups with a Duncan SSL-5 (overwound single coil a la David Gilmour) in the bridge. Also thought I was supporting a local winder but apparently the TEs are MIC & just repackaged in Ottawa.

To be fair, I was also underwhelmed by a set of Lollar Blondes. Guess they couldn’t live up to the hype.

As previously stated, the first step is to figure out the tone in your head. Once you do that, Jon Moore (Hamilton ON) is a master at translating it into a pickup. And he’ll give you one free rewind if you’re not happy.

Have also heard good things about Smitty (@sambonee can put you in touch with him) & the Pickup Wizard in Kingston.
 

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Handwound generally costs more. Fender & Duncan offer their regular production line pups at relatively decent prices, but the Custom Shop offerings are priced higher.

If you use a lot of effects, you may want to consider something with a lower output like a Fender CS69 (well under 6k IIRC) as hotter pups can slam the front end too hard & things tend to get a little squirrelly once you stomp on many boxes.
 

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I'm with JBF.
If you don't provide some kind of context concerning what you want nobody will be able to make a worthwhile suggestion.
People will still tell you what they like but that doesn't mean you'll like them.
You have to know what you want.

Start by telling us which pickups you have now (if you know) and what it is you dislike about them and what sonic difference you would like to see in a new set of pups.
You should also include what amp and pedals you are using and what kinds of music you typically play.
Your sound is a cumulative result of your guitar type, the pups in it, the amp, the stomp boxes, your hands, strings and the way you adjust things.
I've often seen people dislike how they sound so they go on a pickup quest and try a bunch of pups and end up saying the same thing about all of them.
That usually indicates either they are looking for something that cannot be achieved with that category of pickup or it's not really the pickups that are the issue.

Noodle the guitar for a while, not for practice but just to listen.
Pay attention to your sound and try to figure exactly what you don't like, what you do like and what you'd like to see different.
Give it some thought and get back to us.
 
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Agree with the posts that said you have to know what's wrong before you can attempt a fix.

The standard pup upgrade in the 70s was 'higher output'. Didn't like your sound? You need hotter pickups. Yea, that's the ticket.

Mind you, amps of that era had relatively high sensitivity and that helped get some distortion. Now, with all the gain in a the world available in most every amp out there, a lot of people have gone back to lower output pickups.
 

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I did a few pup quests myself and eventually learned I prefer the tone of lower output pups.
Perhaps not as low as some vintage pups but certainly much lower than the hot demons available today.
I find the really hot ones to lack dynamics and clarity.
Of course if you're a high gain distortion sort of person then I guess the hotter the better.
I usually find myself in the "less is more" camp when it comes to distortion.
That said, I find myself in the position of having my current fave Strat pups (SSS) being a little on the hot side but they are a different kind of pup.
They're built differently and are like a cross between a standard Strat single coil and a P90, with screw type adjustable pole pieces which I love for the string-to-string balance tweaking possibilities.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for all feedback. I've been toying with going after a Vineham or Pickup Wizard set.

For more context, I've gone on a bit of a run with higher end Fender Custom Shops and PRS's, but found a cheaper Japanese Strat that's super comfy to play. The pickups don't have the same satisfying fullness as the last few guitars.

I play with clean sounds and minimal pedals, usually through a Princeton or Twin Reverb. I was even looking at the Dimarzio SDS1 and SD Antiquity models to get closer to a Jerry Garcia-like sound, but there was much more happening in his rig than the pickups. :)
 

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Thanks for all feedback. I've been toying with going after a Vineham or Pickup Wizard set.

For more context, I've gone on a bit of a run with higher end Fender Custom Shops and PRS's, but found a cheaper Japanese Strat that's super comfy to play. The pickups don't have the same satisfying fullness as the last few guitars.

I play with clean sounds and minimal pedals, usually through a Princeton or Twin Reverb. I was even looking at the Dimarzio SDS1 and SD Antiquity models to get closer to a Jerry Garcia-like sound, but there was much more happening in his rig than the pickups. :)
If you know exactly what you are looking for, talk to Craig (Vineham) and he will set you in the right direction with one of his pickup set
 

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I've gone on a bit of a run with higher end Fender Custom Shops and PRS's, but found a cheaper Japanese Strat that's super comfy to play. The pickups don't have the same satisfying fullness as the last few guitars.
If you're going to compare a Strat, any Strat, to a PRS and comment that you don't find the same fullness then I refer you to a quote from my prior post.
I've often seen people dislike how they sound so they go on a pickup quest and try a bunch of pups and end up saying the same thing about all of them.
That usually indicates either they are looking for something that cannot be achieved with that category of pickup or it's not really the pickups that are the issue.
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well, the PRS had single coil pups, but the construction was different, so that's fine, but it's safe to compare Strats. Not to mention, there are tons of single coil pickups out there that emulate P90's, humbuckers, etc.
 

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Well, the PRS had single coil pups, but the construction was different, so that's fine, but it's safe to compare Strats. Not to mention, there are tons of single coil pickups out there that emulate P90's, humbuckers, etc.
Was the PRS their traditional 25" scale or 25.5"?
 
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