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Guitar Pickups & Axe Fx II XL

hierogfx

New Member
I'm a relatively new user and have a question regarding guitar pickups and the Axe Fx II XL. Several years ago I replaced the stock pickups in my Strat with Seymour Duncan Hot Rails (high output with DCR 16.6K in the bridge where I mostly play) to punch up my sound. Playing through an old Fender Tweed amp (non-modeling) it definitely changed my sound on the high gain side.

Now that I've moved up to the Axe Fx II XL which is a robust modeler (Fractal may object to the word modeler) I'm wondering if these pickups might be working against me. I watched some of the Axe Fx videos on YouTube dealing with the presets and I notice that some of the presets sound a little different than I'm experiencing. I know there are many factors which contribute to the output sound (actual amp, actual cab, etc) but I'm currently running the Axe FX II XL through a powered FFFR speaker that should minimize that factor. I wondering if these high output Seymour Duncans are adding their own ingredients to the sound and perhaps I should replace them with more of a standard pickup (someone recommended Fender Samarium Cobalt Noiseless). I guess what I'm looking for are some users with a lot more knowledge and experience to weigh in on the subject and make some recommendations. If in fact I'm right in my assumption and the Hot Rails are "coloring" the output, maybe you can recommend some good pickup solutions. I'd appreciate any help/advice you're willing to offer. I haven't been able to find anything on this subject on the web.
 

Funeral

Fractal Fanatic
It really depends on what you are going for. If you play lots of different styles it makes sense to have more versatile pickups.
I like a low to mid gain pickup because adding dirt or drive is very easy. Taking it away can be a pain. Still, all subjective.
That being said, if you build your own presets from scratch you will get much more mileage out of the gear you already own. It might even sound great. Stock presets are not always flattering to all guitars.
Build from scratch at gig/practice volume and use your ears.
 

hierogfx

New Member
It really depends on what you are going for. If you play lots of different styles it makes sense to have more versatile pickups.
I like a low to mid gain pickup because adding dirt or drive is very easy. Taking it away can be a pain. Still, all subjective.
That being said, if you build your own presets from scratch you will get much more mileage out of the gear you already own. It might even sound great. Stock presets are not always flattering to all guitars.
Build from scratch at gig/practice volume and use your ears.
I agree with you that removing dirt or drive is harder than adding it in the Axe Fx preset you create. What low to mid gain pickup would you recommend.
 

hierogfx

New Member
What style or styles of music are you playing?
I'm in a band that gets together every week (like bowling night) and jams together. We play just for fun and don't venture out into public (yet!). We play all kinds of music -- everything from pristine Steely Dan to heavily saturated Neil Young. We're all over the map. My question about guitar pickups may come from my being overly anal, but I'm just trying to get the most out of my Axe Fx which I already love. Someone's suggestion that I just forget about the pickups and build more of my own presets is probably the way to go. In a YouTube video a user was playing one of the on-board Axe Fx presets and he just seemed to be getting more definition and clarity in the outputted sound than I was for the same preset and it got me thinking that my pickups might be part of the reason.
 

stm113

Power User
The Axe behaves (in my opinion) like an amp does and reacts to pickups differently. The only guitar I have found that I don't like the sound of is with one of my ESP EC 1000's with active EMGs. That guitar sounds muddy, not clear, I have to EQ the hell out of everything to get a decent tone. It confuses me as I have found that EMG to my ears tend to be brighter almost thin-ish.
 

strat714

Experienced
Another thing that you can try that is much easier than swapping pickups. Change the pickup height! I can't believe how much difference this can make. I know some will tell you that it has to be 3/16 on the bass side and 1/8 on the treble side, etc. , etc. But, I use my ears to determine the right height and it can make a huge difference. Just my two pennys worth.
 

stm113

Power User
I second that, all my guitars pickups heights are quite varied. In fact that the only way I have been able to get a semi-usable tone from my EC-1000 w/EMGs is to lower the p/u as far as I can.
 

hierogfx

New Member
Another thing that you can try that is much easier than swapping pickups. Change the pickup height! I can't believe how much difference this can make. I know some will tell you that it has to be 3/16 on the bass side and 1/8 on the treble side, etc. , etc. But, I use my ears to determine the right height and it can make a huge difference. Just my two pennys worth.
I like the idea of the pickup height -- I hadn't even thought about this as a solution. Lowering the pickup height might add some of the individual string definition back into the mix and make the sound less saturated (close proximity to the magnet).
 

Matt_B_77

Power User
.....Seymour Duncan Hot Rails (high output with DCR 16.6K....
FWIW DC Resistance is not a reliable indicator of a pickup's output. There are other mitigating factors (wire gauge, magnet type, magnet strength, etc) all factor in to a pickup's final out in millivolts.

I'd appreciate any help/advice you're willing to offer. I haven't been able to find anything on this subject on the web.
There was a topic recently about how pickups interact with the Axe FX.

Once I switched to the Axe FX I stopped worrying about how much output a pickup had because the Axe FX has gain to spare for even the lowest output vintage style pickup. I also stopped caring about pickups having lots of bass or mids because it's very easy to sculpt the guitar's tone in the Axe FX. For humbucker I still with basic PAFs and vintage style stacked single coils.
 

randombastage

Experienced
You can reduce the Input Trim setting to simulate an input pad. If the sound improves keep using it or at least you know cooler pups are what you need....
 

fotozvuk

Member
Hello! Maybe my idea of someone useful. I have 3 guitars –Variax JT59, LP Standard, and my favorite universal gitara- Guroff and Smirnoff. These are the names of my friends who have made the body and neck. Electronics mine. For all guitarists have a problem to have the sound on a guitar Fender and Gibson. I solved this problem well. I found the guitar pickups 5. Set of 3 pickup Fender Samarium Cobalt Noiseless and 2 Seymour Duncan Duckbuckers Each one has 3 humbuckers sound. Neck Series connection is resistance of 8.7K. Number 2 single 1- 6.2k №3 single 2- 2.5K Bridge serial connection 13.5K single 1-2.8K, singl2-10.7K. English is not my native language. All claims to the Google translator I hope this is useful to someone
 

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