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PAF Style Pickups and Optimal AXE Settings

Narzugon

Power User
However, I've found that a characteristic of my guitar pickups is there seems to be a spike in the mid/highs that hits the front end of the amp so hard that it causes overdrive and thus loses articulation. This behavior happens on just about every amp I've tried over the 8 years I've owned this guitar.

One thing that seems to help a lot with the Blah sound is if I turn off the Bright Switch. It seems to bring back that articulation. But at the expense of some mid punch that'll cut through the mix. Though I suppose I could GEQ it back in after the amp block.

Anyone else experience this with PAF style pickups? Any suggestions? Seems turning off the bright switch helps, but doesn't seem like that should be necessary.

Another suggestion is try leaving the Bright Switch on and roll back the tone on your guitar. If your guitar has quality pots, sometimes a very small amount can work wonders w/o sounding muddy or dull. Or try rolling back the guitar's volume just a touch, see how that sounds. Or a combo of vol/tone with the Bright Switch on. Again, very small adjustments.

If those spikey freq's are the only issue and the above doesn't work, try to lessen or carve out those bad freq's with an EQ or soften them with a multiband compressor.
 

Budda

Fractal Fanatic
The EQ talk reminds me - use the RTA block or an EQ analyzer in your DAW if you have one, as it should help pinpoint where the mid spike is.
 

State of Epicicity

Experienced
My first thought was immediately that the pickup must be too high. I always go for low height on my humbuckers; to me it yields a much more organic response and beautiful tone. I’d measure where you are now if you do try this just to be able to revert easily if you don’t like it. Best of luck!
 

aziz

Power User
I don't have those PRS pickups, but the ones in older Custom 24 were quite "wah-spiky" to my taste. Seymour Duncans opened up the sound a lot.
 

Rex

Legend!
However, I've found that a characteristic of my guitar pickups is there seems to be a spike in the mid/highs that hits the front end of the amp so hard that it causes overdrive and thus loses articulation.
The Amp block has an Input EQ that's just made for dialing out that sort of stuff.
 

Dave Merrill

Fractal Fanatic
Because the magnet has been reversed.
I'm willing to be wrong, but I really don't think that's how it works. Turning the pickup around doesn't change its magnetic phase.

Back in the day, I had an L5 with the the bridge pickup turned around, and I'm quite sure I didn't switch the wiring, or get out of phase tones. I'd remember switching the wiring, it's a hollowbody, would have been a project. Also, one of my current guitars definitely has the bridge pickup turned around, and I'm pretty much certain the wiring isn't reversed.
 

LiamH

Inspired
I'm willing to be wrong, but I really don't think that's how it works. Turning the pickup around doesn't change its magnetic phase.
You are totally, right. You have to actually take the magnet out of the pickup and turn it through 180 degrees before re-inserting to get phase reversal. Sounds pretty good unless you have both volume controls set the same as each other, at which point it sounds good, but kind of quiet! Don't tell any Peter Green fans (or I should say, other PG fans, as I am very much one of them) but I think it's a bit of a gimmick, and prefer them in phase myself.

Liam
 

JRod4928

Experienced
Around 1/16-3/32 high E , 3/32-1/8 low E I usually raise the screws a tad on the Gibson and lower the screws on the PRS ( helps some to compensate for the closer pickup position)
That seems very close. Is that typical?
 

JRod4928

Experienced
Another suggestion is try leaving the Bright Switch on and roll back the tone on your guitar. If your guitar has quality pots, sometimes a very small amount can work wonders w/o sounding muddy or dull. Or try rolling back the guitar's volume just a touch, see how that sounds. Or a combo of vol/tone with the Bright Switch on. Again, very small adjustments.

If those spikey freq's are the only issue and the above doesn't work, try to lessen or carve out those bad freq's with an EQ or soften them with a multiband compressor.
The volume pot is very sensitive on the PRS. Even rolling back to 8 or 9 can make a big difference vs. 10. Hoping to find a solution that allows me to go to 10.

Compressor is a decent idea, but I have tried and only got decent results.
 

LiamH

Inspired
That seems very close. Is that typical?
That would be really close for me too. Neck pickup much further away from the strings, maybe as much as 1/8". bridge closer to balance volume overall. Also, try raising the screw poles a little and dropping the pickup body if the mid seems too thick (or clip the pole screws shorter under the pickup - used to get done when PAFs were just pickups rather than the Holy Grail ;), and achieves the same thing pretty much.)

Liam
 

EdgE

Power User
I’d try to use the tone, turning a pickup around doesn’t change the polarity, changing magnet around does. You could try another pickup . But that’s sometime a rabbit hole . If the neck pickup sound good , I could be another pickup in the bridge, if it’s bright , lower the treble side . I wouldn’t go any higher than a 1/16 to the string .
 

Dave Merrill

Fractal Fanatic
I’d try to use the tone, turning a pickup around doesn’t change the polarity, changing magnet around does. You could try another pickup . But that’s sometime a rabbit hole . If the neck pickup sound good , I could be another pickup in the bridge, if it’s bright , lower the treble side . I wouldn’t go any higher than a 1/16 to the string .
I think you're agreeing with me that turning the bridge pickup around doesn't knock things out of phase, but just to be clear, that's just a reason doing that doesn't suck, not the reason to try it.

The reason some people like it, including me, is that it moves the primary coil, the one with the screws, further away from the bridge, so it sounds more full. It's like picking further from the bridge.

OP could maybe just try it, it's not that hard :)
 

Dave Merrill

Fractal Fanatic
Turning a pickup around accomplishes the same thing as rotating the magnet 180º because the magnet will rotate inside the pickup. The pickups are then out of phase, so they almost completely cancel when the volumes are set the same, except for some minor harmonic differences. And, that's how Peter Green got his sound. The neck pickup was accidentally reversed. Either pickup can be reversed to accomplish the same situation.

Take a look at the neck pickup in Bonamassa's video. It's turned around.

https://www.guitarplayer.com/players/the-key-to-peter-greens-magic-1959-les-paul-tone
All I can say is try it.

If you want that two pickups out of phase with each other tone, switch the two wires coming out of one pickup. Doesn't change the sound of each pickup by itself, but there's a bunch of cancellation when they're both on.

Some guitars have a switch to do that, lots of Carvins used to for instance. No need to modify the pickups themselves.
 

Greg Ferguson

Fractal Fanatic
All I can say is try it.

If you want that two pickups out of phase with each other tone, switch the two wires coming out of one pickup. Doesn't change the sound of each pickup by itself, but there's a bunch of cancellation when they're both on.

Some guitars have a switch to do that, lots of Carvins used to for instance. No need to modify the pickups themselves.
I did more reading and it's still seems to be somewhat of a mystery. The consensus seems to be that Green accidentally flipped the magnet when he had the pickup worked on. Some people are saying the pickup was rewound with different gauge wire and rewound backwards. Probably nobody knows what really happened to the guitar or who did it, but it looks like the actual cause of the difference in the sound was the magnet being reversed in relation to the bridge magnet.

Way back when, before we could get Dimarzio and Seymour Duncan pickups, way before all the boutique pickup makers were around, we used to buy replacement magnets that were hotter and would stick them into our humbuckers. I accidentally got one backwards, and noticed quickly and fixed the problem because it sounded like sh*t. I never associated that sound with what Peter Green was using; What I heard on my Les Paul was thin to the point of being useless, obviously Green was blending the pickups to retain some depth and his use of it didn't sound that much different to me. Live 'n learn! :)
 
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State of Epicicity

Experienced
@Dave Merrill I really like the idea of turning the bridge around, but I also really like what I currently do: I keep my tone knob down on the bridge until I want a nastier rock 'n roll bridge tone, at which point I dime the tone knob and reduce the volume.
 

Dave Merrill

Fractal Fanatic
I did more reading and it's still seems to be somewhat of a mystery. The consensus seems to be that Green accidentally flipped the magnet when he had the pickup worked on. Some people are saying the pickup was rewound with different gauge wire and rewound backwards. Probably nobody knows what really happened to the guitar or who did it, but it looks like the actual cause of the difference in the sound was the magnet being reversed in relation to the bridge magnet.

Way back when, before we could get Dimarzio and Seymour Duncan pickups, way before all the boutique pickup makers were around, we used to buy replacement magnets that were hotter and would stick them into our humbuckers. I accidentally got one backwards, and noticed quickly and fixed the problem because it sounded like sh*t. I never associated that sound with what Peter Green was using; What I heard on my Les Paul was thin to the point of being useless, obviously Green was blending the pickups to retain some depth and his use of it didn't sound that much different to me. Live 'n learn! :)
If you want that thin tone, flipping the magnet is the long way around, really. Reversing the hot and ground wires coming out of the pickup is much easier.

However, that leaves the backing plate, and the cover if it has one, ungrounded, a possible source of noise. That's why many modern pickups have 5 wires, both ends of the two coils plus shield, so you can reverse output polarity and do other worrying options without unwinding the cover and backplate.

And none of this matters, since you're not trying to get that out of phase tone. Reversing the bridge pickup physically just moves the primary could further from the bridge, which the OP might like.
 

JRod4928

Experienced
Around 1/16-3/32 high E , 3/32-1/8 low E I usually raise the screws a tad on the Gibson and lower the screws on the PRS ( helps some to compensate for the closer pickup position)
https://www.thegearpage.net/board/i...e-side-than-bass-questions-anomalies.1436706/

For future reference. This guy sets his PRS similarly to your LP. I'll have to see where I'm at and adjust to see if it helps. I have a feeling I'm much higher than that.

I assume this is measured by pressing the high and low E strings down into the 24th fret (or 22nd)?

I might like moving the primary away from the bridge buy I'll try that some other time since it is more work
 
I also have a PRS and the spike in the mids around 600-1.2k is the PRS body and the resonance from it. I have nearly the same PAFs in my Les Paul and I have none of that.

I put a PEQ before the amp and bring down that range. For me it was 2.5db. I also adjusted the input trim and drive down a good bit which worked well with both of these guitars. The only difference is I don't need to pull back between 600-1.2k on the LP.

James
 
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