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Thread: Semi-hollow pickup advice

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    Junior Member Grizmit's Avatar
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    Default Semi-hollow pickup advice

    Hello, new user here. I am looking to freshen up the tone on my Hagstrom Viking (es 335 style). It's such a great guitar, and the stock pups are far from worst ever, but they're still overseas stock pups. Have decided for certain that I want a P90 neck, so my question is what bridge HB would compliment a Phat Cat neck on the semi? Looking for max diversity (clean to heavy crunch and all points in between - I can dream can't I?) My research thus far has me considering the PG, CC, or JB. I feel like the Lover might not be hot enough? IDK... I realize it all comes down to personal pref, but any assistance in the matter is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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    Junior Member Ludwigvan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    The DiMarzio 36th Anniversary PAF would be great in my opinion. It'd be very similar to a vintage 335 pickup. Eddie Van Halen's Frankenstein had one of those in it, so you know you can go from clean to all out no problem. The output isn't huge either so it'd be a great match for a P90. I'd highly recommend them.

    Actually the DiMarzio Bluesbucker is pretty much a P90 if you're thinking of doing permanent work on your guitar to accommodate a 'true' P90.

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    Toneologist Nagash's Avatar
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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    The JB is the standard pickup for overall versatility, and I believe it's for good reason. But I'm not sure it would be good in a semihollow... what woods is the guitar made of ?

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    Li'l Junior Member MetalManiac's Avatar
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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Nagash View Post
    The JB is the standard pickup for overall versatility, and I believe it's for good reason. But I'm not sure it would be good in a semihollow... what woods is the guitar made of ?
    OMG no! lol.

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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    Quote Originally Posted by metalmaniac View Post
    omg no! Lol.
    +1
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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    wut ?

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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    Hi and welcome to the forum.

    You are going to get a few really experienced and respected guys on the forum suggesting you swap magnets in the phat cat neck to brighten it up. Listen and think about their opinions.

    Phat cats are generally lower output than buckers so I would not worry too much about overpowering the bridge pickup. You will get a bunch of recommendations for 59b and Custom 8. Personally I would go for a phat cat with a 59, or a CC if you are going to go crunchy more often than clean. You can get a lot of crunch from your amp so dont worry too much about needing a high output pup.

    JB, well it has its lovers and haters. It would not be high on my list for that gat. JB is pegged as being very hit or miss, lead orientated, 80 super strat hair metal. Great for what it does but not what I think you want.

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    Toneologist Nagash's Avatar
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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    I rather see the JB as the pickup that plays any style and has a "good" sound. But it doesn't have a "very good" sound for a precise style of music, that's why it's called "versatile" and comes in almost every guitar that has stock Duncans. I don't like it for my use, but it's not bad after all.

    But your ideas are much better that what I can tell.

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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    I would stay away from anything hot for 2 reasons:- a hot pickup would totally drown out the amazing natural sound of the semi hollow, and if played with too much gain it would result in feedback. i would recommend a PAF style pickup, they are lower output and more organic sounding and would match the phat cat a lot better.

    I had a 59 in my sheraton and it was great for everything you need it to do and more.
    You might find it a bit bright but there are (of course) magnet swaps and pot value changes amongst other things to tame the top end. go for any PAF type pickup and you can't go wrong IMO
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    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    I would stay with PAF strength. You can generate even metal tones with these if you have right rig. They also will sound better for low gain.

    If your guitar has a bright tone, then an A2 magnet pickup (A2pro, Slash sig, PG) will help to counter this and add some mids growl. The '59 has solid top/bottom, but with slightly less mids due to the A5 magnet. The most I would go for would be a 10k pickup.

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    Junior Member Grizmit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    Thanks everybody. @Ludwig - sounds good, not sure I'm ready to route the body just yet. @ Nagash -it's a maple laminate body with a "resonator" composite fretboard (kind of a mix between rosewood and ebony, it's pretty cool actually). @Mark/Jake/Alex - great input, thanks.

    Obviously, the diverse responses just confirms the whole personal preference thing. So funny how you can over analyze it. I was firm on Lovers, then PGs early on, but then started talking hotter pickups with my local tech, I just don't know. I know PAFs are the logical move for the vintage semi tone, but I'm obviously trying to get out of the box with the P90 as it is (which isn't necessarily low output btw), so I just figured a hot HB bridge... it may sound like sacrilege to tone purists I realize, but I guess I'm just not really into mimicking what's already been done, and done well. I'm sure I could get metal tones with my current setup as well. But that's not what I'm after, I'm just looking for some unique character I suppose, and some clarity. And if it gets a little hairy at times with the semi... maybe that's not such a bad thing? (Probably been listening to too much Dan Auerbach lately haha). But I have to assume with the hotter HBs that I could roll back the volume to regain the semi's natural tone when needed, but still have the headroom when I need it... ? Anyway, thanks alot for your thoughts, gents. Nothing is off the table at this point...

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    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    Well if you're not necessarily counting anything out, then the PATB series would be well worth a look. Different looks, great tones.the #3 for an overwound PAF, or the #1 for hot pickup.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker IanBallard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    I'm gonna have to echo the '59 here. Usually, 335 type guitars are pretty fat and have plenty of midrange, so the '59 should balance that and the P-90. I'd probably not put a CC in there because the mids will be overpowering and the clean tone leaves little to be desired. The JB is hit or miss in various guitars, but for single-note lead playing with a louder band, it can't be beat though.

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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    If you mind's set on a Phat Cat in the neck, your best bet in the bridge tone-wise and output-wise is the APH-1.

    HTH,
    Last edited by LtKojak; 03-16-2011 at 10:52 PM.
    Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker ParameterMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    Some of the best "how'd he do that?" sounds I've heard from a 335 have been antiquities and seth lovers. That's if you want ye olde clean, rich smokiness with a little airy bite on the top.

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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    I recently bought a used Schecter C-1/SH (semi-hollow) that came with a Dimarzio Tone Zone in the bridge. I was expecting it to be too hot and planning to change it out, but so far I'm really liking it.

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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    you're forgetting that the vintage 335 tones you're thinking of where a lot to do with the amps they had back then. with modern amps a PAF pickup can do metal easily. FWIW i breifly tried an invader in my sheraton (just to see what it was like) and although it didn't sound totally bad, i couldn't really use it with out it squeeling, so bear that in mind
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    Junior Member Grizmit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    More thoughtful input - thanks, everybody. So I called SD to talk tone with the SD tone-talking guys... the guy recommended the JB or CC. Said that either should balance well with the Phat Cat and sound great in the mid position. Also said that neither would be too much for the semi-hollow. I think maybe some people might be skittish about hotter pups because of the "hollow" part of semi-hollow. If it were full on hollow I could see that being an issue, but I'm not worried about losing the guitar's natural tone, or fighting feedback. Plus I'm not talking EMG 81s, I'm just looking for a bit of boost to go with the articulation and punch of the p90... a little bite to go with my bark, if you will.

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    Junior Member Grizmit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    I don't know guys... check out this clip of a 335 with a JB bridge - sounds pretty damn sweet to me. I definitely still hear the richness of the semi, and the guy's rig didn't burst into flames one single time

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96vunBVws90

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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: Semi-hollow pickup advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Le Comte View Post
    Hi and welcome to the forum.

    You are going to get a few really experienced and respected guys on the forum suggesting you swap magnets in the phat cat neck to brighten it up. Listen and think about their opinions.

    Phat cats are generally lower output than buckers so I would not worry too much about overpowering the bridge pickup. You will get a bunch of recommendations for 59b and Custom 8.

    JB, well it has its lovers and haters. It would not be high on my list for that gat. JB is pegged as being very hit or miss, lead orientated, 80 super strat hair metal. Great for what it does but not what I think you want.
    +1 on all counts. Phat CatN's are very dark, and in some guitars have almost no treble. However, they're very good with twin A5's or an A5/A4. Then they sound like a Gibson P-90.

    I've go with one of Duncan's PAF's in the bridge ('59, PG, A2P, or Seth). If you want a high output, a C8 or C5 with an UOA5 would be best in a semi-hollowbody.

    JB's are notorius for sounding lousy in many warm-toned guitars (LP, 335's, etc), Sometimes guys get lucky and it works, but there have been many disappoints. It's just too fickle of a PU to be considered reliable in anything but bright woods.

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