Takano's Doki Doki Guitar - Introduction to Pickup Replacement - - Takano's Doki Doki Guitar
When we buy several hundred guitars a year and look at them for adjustment, we notice that surprisingly many of them have had their pickups replaced. Perhaps they are dissatisfied with the sound of their current guitar and have decided to replace it to solve the problem. If you are already familiar with the instrument, you probably know how to solve this problem by yourself. What if you have a similar problem and you are still an entry-level player?
That's how we came up with this special issue. We hope that it will provide you with some inspiration to solve your own guitar problems.
Many amateur musicians (and even professionals!) are at least somewhat dissatisfied with their instruments and their sound. Many amateur musicians (and even professionals!) have at least some dissatisfaction or problem with their instruments and their sound. Many of them may consider replacing the pickups as a chance to solve their problems. Another reason is to make your instrument more special by replacing the PU cover with a colorful color variation or an aged PU cover with a vintage look.
How does it work? For example, can you get the same sound by replacing it with a signature model of a famous musician? The answer, unfortunately, is "no. Even if you use a signature model guitar, it is impossible to get the same sound because the equipment used, the environment, and, above all, the player himself/herself are different. Strictly speaking, that may be the case. There are different opinions on this, but some people think it is a waste to put expensive pickups on an inexpensive guitar! There may be such an opinion. My opinion on this is slightly different, and I don't think it can be said that this is true in general. Certainly, a large part of the value of a guitar and the quality of its sound is due to the precision of the materials and manufacturing. However, changing the pickups alone will certainly change the sound. (The difference between small and large, good and bad, of course...) It would be a great pleasure to hear the sound you like, even if it is only a little, with the pickups you have chosen.
There are many variations of pickups. By the way, it was Adolph Rickenbacker who invented the electromagnetic induction type pickups, which became the beginning of the current electric pickups.
～Single Coil Pick Up
The most popular pickup. This model is installed in Stratocaster. Characteristic of this pickup is its high noise level. Bright, clear sound with a lot of overtones...etc. The basic single coil consists of six pole pieces that are magnets themselves, around which wires are wound by a machine (the standard number of windings is about 6,500 to 8,000. The higher this number of windings, the greater the output and the weaker the high frequencies). And "Fleming's right hand rule".... In a nutshell, electricity is generated by the vibration of the strings passing through the magnetic field of the pole piece magnet. (I've left out a great deal of the story...) That electrical signal is amplified by the amplifier and comes out of the speaker as sound. Many manufacturers are now offering replacement speakers. Here are just a few examples.
Seymour Duncan SSL-1
Replica of the classic vintage Strat pickup. Alnico 5 magnet (alloy of aluminum, nickel, and cobalt) produces a powerful and edgy vintage sound. It has a very pleasant tone when used in shallow crunchy distortion.
Fender Vintage Noiseless Strat Pick Up
This is a stacked type (two coils in two sections), which provides a hum canceling effect, and has the tone of vintage strats from the late 50's to early 60's. It removes the noise of single coil to the maximum. A dedicated POT and condenser are included, so we recommend using a set of three.
DiMarzio DP-184 The Chopper
This is a single size humbucker. It has a single-coil character, but has a higher output than the original humbucker. The low midrange is much closer to the original humbucker. It has a bar polepiece, which is a thin plate that does not change the volume even if the position of the strings is changed by choking.
～Humbucking Pick Up
Humbucking pickups are used on many Gibson guitars, as Gibson is known for its humbuckers. Humbucking pickups originated about half a century ago, when Seth Lover developed them in 1956 in an attempt to solve the noise problem of magnetic pickups.
The idea was to cancel each other's noise by winding one coil in the opposite direction. Furthermore, by reversing the magnets so that the electrical signals would not cancel each other out, a low-noise, high-output pickup was developed. Unlike single coil pickups, the pole piece is not a magnet, but a plate magnet placed under the two coils wired in series. The characteristic feature of this type of coil is that when they are wired in series, the inductance of the coils increases, resulting in a higher output power. And while it is easier to pass low frequencies through, the high frequency characteristics become poor. In other words, the sound is completely different from that of a single coil. The coil height is also slightly lower and the number of wire turns is about 5,000. Also, the six pole pieces are movable and the height can be adjusted up and down.
In 1957, Gibson's first humbucker PU-490 was introduced. The decal on the back of the PAF was called PAF, which stands for "Patent Applied For. Alnico magnets are used, and they are not impregnated with wax, which tends to cause feedback. This is the basis of the driving rock sound, as it triggers a long sustain when distorted by an amplifier.
Tom Holmes H453 Limited
This guitar has a sound reminiscent of Gibson's Old PAF, with no WAX impregnation and an Alnico 4 magnet with a slightly stronger magnetic force. The H453 Limited is a replacement pickup for Gibson's old PAFs, with no WAX impregnation and an Alnico 4 magnet for a slightly stronger magnetism.
DiMarzio Dual Sound
Many manufacturers offer replacement pickups based on the Gibson PAF, but there are also many pickups like DiMarzio that pursue the original sound and have their own unique design, and there are many variations of open type bobbin colors. This model has all 12 pole pieces adjustable for a boosted midrange sound. The pickups can be coil-tapped for even more sonic versatility.
EMG is now synonymous with active pickups. To be precise, low-impedance pickups are pickups that are thoroughly concerned with low noise. Ordinary pickups are called high-impedance pickups, which have a structure to obtain high output by strong magnetic force and the number of coil turns, and they are weak against noise. The low impedance type is characterized by a low number of coil turns and weak magnetic force magnets, which are very resistant to noise. A battery is required to drive the preamp. The clear and bright sound character makes it a perfect match for distortion systems.
The Gibson P-90 has a surprisingly long history, first appearing around 1946. It was developed by Walter Fuller, and at that time, the pole piece was not yet movable. The basic construction is a single coil with two alnico magnets under the bobbin. The sound is slightly brighter, thicker, and warmer than Fender's Single Coil. In the 90's, the P-100 model was introduced with a stacked hum construction. The size is the same as the P-90, but the P-100 is taller due to its stacked construction. The P-100 is a humbucker, but its main purpose is to cancel hum, so it sounds like a low-noise version of the P-90.
Now, let's replace the pickups. Basically, if the pickups have the same structure (Single to Single, etc.), there is no need to modify the guitar body, so you can simply install the pickups back where you removed them. Let's take a Strat as an example. First, let's remove the pickguard from the guitar. Disconnect the two output wires connected to the jack and the ground wire. If they are long enough, you will not feel inconvenienced even if you do not disconnect them, but if they are short, you will find it very difficult to do the work. Also, since the basic rule of guitar wiring is to keep the wiring as clean and neat as possible, wiring that is so long that it can be placed next to the body with the pickguard removed is not a good idea. Next, remove the pickups. It is recommended to note which wires were attached to which terminals.
When installing the new pickups, it is best to mount all the pickups on the pickguard, rather than soldering them one by one. As I mentioned earlier, "keep the guitar wiring as clean and neat as possible", but the new pickups have longer leads, so it will look better if you mount all the pickups and then adjust them to the proper length.
It is better to bundle the lead wires with a cable tie at an appropriate place. Now it's time to solder, but don't forget to bring spare solder. (This refers to lightly plating the stripped lead wires with solder.) This will make it easier for the solder to blend in when soldering.
After connecting to the switch, solder three ground wires to the back of the volume pot. It is difficult to solder all three wires together, and it is effective to twist the three wires together and pre-solder them, but it is troublesome to remove them later when you want to replace only one of them. When reusing the previous solder, it is sometimes difficult to melt the new solder. In such a case, it can be easily dissolved by adding a little new solder. Do not add too much solder.
The replacement procedure is as follows. Adjust the height of the pickups, etc. and try to play the sound!
Now, when replacing the PU, it is also relatively easy to customize by changing the pots, wiring materials, capacitors, etc. Just changing these items will definitely change the sound. Just changing these items will definitely change the sound. As a side note, for some reason, guitar parts made in the U.S.A. are overwhelmingly preferred over those made in Japan, whether for home appliances or cars. It is probably because Fender and Gibson's genuine parts are made in the USA. CTS and CRL parts, which account for a large share of the market, seem to be overwhelmingly popular among them. Even domestic products are not bad...
We have been focusing only on pickups so far, but it occurred to us...have you ever thought about replacing the condenser? It has been covered in various fields recently, but I happened to have a capacitor on hand that I replaced to test it out and check it out. Rumors? I've heard that even if you replace the capacitor, it won't make much difference, or you won't be able to distinguish it from aural point of view.
*Top left: ceramic condenser, top right: orange drop, bottom left: oil condenser, bottom right: film condenser
It is clear without any peculiarities. Compared to the other three, it gives the impression of being the most well-balanced. I guess you could call it standard...
This one seems brighter than the ceramic capacitor. It is rough and brittle. When played on a chord, it sounds jarring. When the Tone is turned down, it seems milder than the ceramic capacitor.
This is also bright and clear, but a little more mature than the Orange Drop. However, the sound is very well balanced in terms of graininess. The sound is more high fidelity. When the tone is turned down, the sound is a little blurred, but I feel it is the best of the three.
This is something that is often found on inexpensive guitars. Perhaps due to this preconceived notion, the sound seems lighter in general. There seems to be no sparkle in the high frequency range. I felt that this was not the case.
I compared the above four guitars and found that there are differences among them. The differences are slight, but not so big that you would need to replace an effector. However, I felt that even if the changes in wiring materials, solder, potentiometers, etc., were very slight, when they were accumulated, the changes could not be underestimated. All of these changes are too simple to be called modifications, but the effects are interesting, so please give them a try.
How was it? Please look forward to the next issue.
We also offer a wide variety of pickups and parts.