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Thread: New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound

  1. #1
    Junior Member JohnnyMcGill's Avatar
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    Default New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound

    Ok first things first, my first electric was a Yamaha Pacifica 112L (that's a left handed guitar by the way) and got it 17years ago when I had dreams of being the next Cobain or something. Now I'm Irish so for some reason got into Traditional Music a while back and stopped playing electric.

    I recently started listening to the blues in a big way so decided to have a look and see was my old electric still worth looking at. It was in storage in a shed for about 6 years. Now you won't believe this but it was still almost in tune! The neck was still playable and to be honest it actually sounded better than ever. Took it to a luthier who sorted the frets and fixed the neck (touch of warping after 6 years with strings attached). So now I've decided to fix the old girl up properly.

    This is where you guys come in. I am looking for a recommendation for what pups to install. The stock pups are ok but just want really good blues pickups in her now as I feel she deserves it after being neglected for so long. I was initially just going to stick a JB in the bridge, but then I seen a clip of a guy playing a Screaming Demon with a coil split in a Pacifica that was brilliant.

    Would I need to replace the vol pot as well as its 500k for the JB? Or would a Albico Pro II work better with this configuration?
    That's the wiring diagram for this guitar by the way (right handed).

    Any recommendations for the neck and middle pups are more than welcome as well.

    I know this has been a rambling first post but just looking for a bit of advice. Thanks a million for taking the time to read.


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  2. #2
    Toneologist
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    Default Re: New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound

    To my ears the only pot working with a JB IS a 250K, with a 500K that high-mid peak it has becomes hard to handle.
    That said, it depends a lot on the body wood you have and the rest of the signal chain, last but not least the amount of gain you use.
    JB is good in a band situation, it gets out of the mix very well (I think this is its strongest quality), if you want a less compressed sound I'd use a APH-1 or a Pearly Gates, but I'm generally partial to A2 magnet equipped pickups when we talk about the bridge, I think they have the 'right' blues vibe. If the guitar is bright you might not even need to change the pot.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Nostalgic Distortion's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound

    No JB's.... My recommendation- a Custom/Hybrid or Pearly Gates & two Texas Antiquity's for the neck & middle slots. Great blues tones and a whole lot more! Plus the TB-16 sounds amazing split so with the addition of a push/pull tone pot or even a mini toggle you can still get great S/S/S sounds from it when you see fit. The Antiquity's are on the pricey side but well worth the money IMHO but if you wanted to keep the cost down perhaps some SSL-1's for singles? They're cooler, or more vintage sounding but they've got a great "Vintage So Cal" sound with just a touch of twang so you get beautiful bell like tones from the neck and some of the best "Strat Quack" in pos. 4 that I've ever heard!!!

    Other humbucker considerations- (Custom/Custom TB-PA, Custom 5, the Pegasus & of course 59's although they work much better if you have a 500K volume pot in the harness or swap out the stock A5 for an A3). Surprisingly enough the Pegasus makes an amazing Blues pup when used as such & especially in a Strat format! It's ability to retain clarity under tremendous amounts of gain makes for a extremely dynamic & versatile humbucker, in that you can kinda control the breakup of the amp or whatever Blues box your playing through just by how hard you dig into the strings?
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Brandenburg's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound

    I have a HSS guitar that I have set up for blues and blues it does but I also use it extensively for 80's metal/70's rock as well.. has a A5 medium output humbucker ('78 gibson TTOP), a stacked single for the neck,vintage overwound type for the mid.cant really recommend a SD pup as I dont really use SD pups or Dimazio for that matter.Both companies make good pups but i was going for something a bit different .Why am i here? I like the people

    Id like to split the humbucker but its vintage and cant.. but if I could i would.I do have a neck always on mod which gives a strat 2 extra sounds so you might think of that.. (N+M+B & N+B) . a terribly useful mod IMO so thats definitely something to look at. alot of times I really like the N+ B sound. just sounds like a cocked wah and is pretty kool

    so lets summarize..

    A5 medium output 'pup with coil split. Id also recommend a parallel mod as well.. if you coil split, you can add this mod with just 1 jumper wire on the same switch if its a on/on/on DPDT. a double stacked single in the neck and a vintage output in the mid. To me, this is a good blues setup for a blues guitar that is vesatile enough to do other styles

    neck always on mod

    im assuming you want a traditional wired strat like master volume,N +M tone,B tone ( cant make out your pic) or something like that. I have mine setup with master volume,N+M volume,master tone as well as several other mods besides the neck always-on mod but thats works for my style and is very much me

    One note. If you are changing the pups to something new, id just get all new electronics such as pots and switches. seriously, dont try to save a few bucks and use the old or you might regret it.. new pups call for new pots and switches IMO. if you are using an import 8 pin 5 way, I would change to a higher quality 5 way such as a super switch or a 5-Way Oak Grigsby Switch..

    what neck and middle pups do I use?..I prefer 'pups from a UK company called Iron Gear.. A smoke stack II and a Pig Iron. THey have a wide selection of pickups. Not as big of a selection as SD or dimazio but ....still some nice ones. I dont use IG 'pups for the humbucker on this guitar even though i would definitely recommend the Rolling Mills II. Have it in the neck of a HSH and REALLY dig it. I also use a Hot Slag in the bridge of the same guitar and that really might be too hot!! for ya. I have also heard good things about their blues engine pup. an A4 magnet and medium output from what I gather.
    http://www.irongear.co.uk/irongear_pickups_020.htm

    let me know if you would like a wiring schematic drawn up if yopu cant find what your looking for and have something special in mind..It wont take long to draw something up
    Last edited by Brandenburg; 04-19-2016 at 07:12 AM.

  5. #5
    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound

    As a longtime blues player, JB's are one of the last PU's I'd use for that genre. Many other better choices, like a good warm-sounding PAF.
    "Completely Conceded Glowing Expert."
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    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound

    A 59/Custom Hybrid with Classic Stack Plus in the neck & middle. Use a 500 volume, a 250k tone for neck and middle, and 500k tone for the bridge. The Hybrid splits well too, so use a push pull for one of the pots to split it. Great setup for blues, and more blues/rock stuff.
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    Default Re: New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound


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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Brandenburg's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    A 59/Custom Hybrid with Classic Stack Plus in the neck & middle. Use a 500 volume, a 250k tone for neck and middle, and 500k tone for the bridge. The Hybrid splits well too, so use a push pull for one of the pots to split it. Great setup for blues, and more blues/rock stuff.

    just realized.. in away.. the 'pups i recommended are iron gear versions of those you mentioned

    smokestack II=Classic Stack Plus
    Rolling mills 2 is said to be very simular a '59.. never played a '59 but i do like the smooth tone of the RM2..

    edit>>
    well the one you mentioned was a hybrid.. the rolling mills is not

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    Junior Member JohnnyMcGill's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound

    Wow guys, I was expecting maybe one or two replies so am blown away with the response. Thanks a lot! Sorry I didn't give more info on the guitar its Alder body and Rosewood fretboard. Also sorry about the wiring diagram I stupidly selected small when adding the image here is a better version.


    Have listened to a few of your suggestions and have to say I've fallen in love with the Pearly Gates straight away. That's not to put down any other suggestions just that sound in a strat is basically what I'm after. I just wonder how it would sound split in a strat style guitar. I like the sound of the SSL-1s as well my only issue with them is the staggered pole pieces as my guitar is left handed (I know Hendrix played reversed but I don't wanna).

    Thanks Brandenburg for your detailed reply. I actually am thinking of replacing all electronics in the guitar and having push pull pots so I could split the humbucker and possibly have another tone for the neck. Only have a single vol and tone on the guitar at present and want to keep it looking like that. Am actually wondering would it be better to replace all electronics and pickups at the same time, just I get paid monthly so was trying to split having to pay out on the guitar into more manageable chunks. I could possibly add another small switch to give me a N+M+B and N+B option.

    This is the great thing about this forum, you ask a question and the answers lead to more questions





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    Mojo's Minions
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    Default Re: New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound

    Don't worry about the lefty bit and the stagger. Putting a RH stagger into a LH guitar actually solves many of the issues righties have with string imbalance.
    I'm lefty, have never bought any strat single with a flipped stagger, and have never come across the string imbalance problem with the V loud G people seem to keep having. Hendrix had effectively the same thing, as he played with the strings over the opposite poles to RH.

  11. #11
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Brandenburg's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyMcGill View Post
    Wow guys, I was expecting maybe one or two replies so am blown away with the response. Thanks a lot! Sorry I didn't give more info on the guitar its Alder body and Rosewood fretboard. Also sorry about the wiring diagram I stupidly selected small when adding the image here is a better version.


    Have listened to a few of your suggestions and have to say I've fallen in love with the Pearly Gates straight away. That's not to put down any other suggestions just that sound in a strat is basically what I'm after. I just wonder how it would sound split in a strat style guitar. I like the sound of the SSL-1s as well my only issue with them is the staggered pole pieces as my guitar is left handed (I know Hendrix played reversed but I don't wanna).

    Thanks Brandenburg for your detailed reply. I actually am thinking of replacing all electronics in the guitar and having push pull pots so I could split the humbucker and possibly have another tone for the neck. Only have a single vol and tone on the guitar at present and want to keep it looking like that. Am actually wondering would it be better to replace all electronics and pickups at the same time, just I get paid monthly so was trying to split having to pay out on the guitar into more manageable chunks. I could possibly add another small switch to give me a N+M+B and N+B option.

    This is the great thing about this forum, you ask a question and the answers lead to more questions





    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    well if you cant swing getting all the parts at once.. you cant.. i had to do my last couple of mods in planned out stages based on my 2 to 3 paychecks a month

    electronics are expensive. I figured how much it cost me on my strat.. push/pull post,2 mini switches,1 toggle,5 way super,DMT tone control. if you add the 2 ebony bell knobs, cloth wire, and shielding tape.. i spent $125 just on that or about the same as i spent on the pair of humbuckers i bought.. doesnt seem right.. lol

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Mr. B's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound

    Single coil pickups with vintage stagger are the bane of my existence. I love the sound of them, but the uneven string volume and stratitis drives me crazy.
    2 SSL-2 flat single coils (or 2 A2Pro flat stagger singles) and a Pearly Gates Bridge, all run with 250K pots, would be killer. The 59b is also great with singles, and the Seth Bridge is too. The JB does not say "blues" to my ears.

    You can get all fancy with coil splits and parallel/series wiring, but then I don't think you are officially allowed to play blues with that guitar any more...

  13. #13
    Junior Member JohnnyMcGill's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. B View Post
    Single coil pickups with vintage stagger are the bane of my existence. I love the sound of them, but the uneven string volume and stratitis drives me crazy.
    2 SSL-2 flat single coils (or 2 A2Pro flat stagger singles) and a Pearly Gates Bridge, all run with 250K pots, would be killer. The 59b is also great with singles, and the Seth Bridge is too. The JB does not say "blues" to my ears.

    You can get all fancy with coil splits and parallel/series wiring, but then I don't think you are officially allowed to play blues with that guitar any more...
    Ha have added the SSL-2 to my basket already, like the look of non staggered better as well.

    Ah have to have a coil split at least, sure what's the point of modding if your not going to throw something tricky in?

  14. #14
    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Pups for HSS guitar - blues sound

    It is fun to split the humbucker on a setup like this. It may not be the best single coil sound, but you can approximate the middle/bridge combo that is really awesome on a Strat.
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