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Single coils, low output for metal?

don_joe

Experienced
I'm too lazy to have separate guitars for different kinds of tones, so I have just one guitar that covers the most of the ground from jazzy-funky over vintage rock to a lot of metal. I was experimenting a bit with different pickups and to my surprise, I found out that the juiciest tones come from a single coil (coil splitted in my case).

Not only that, also if you ask an average metal player what kind of pickup do you need for a decent metal tone, the answer would with a high probability be - a high output pickup.

I bought a Mayones Regius 7 string recently, it came with Seymour Duncan JB7s. The guy in the shop, where it firstly arrived set it up to his taste, so the pickups were almost underneath the strings. A lot of signal, relatively high output, not bad but it wasn't really exactly to my taste. Too much highs and not enough definition in the lows. With lowering the pickups, I have managed to get a better sound but I wanted to try different pups at the end.

I decided to try something more PAF like, which I have had in my old Gibson SG and which I missed. It felt better to play with it than with all 7 string guitar and pickup combinations that I have had afterwards. I went with DiMarzio PAF7 in the bridge and left JB7 as the neck pup cause I liked this pup in the neck after lowering it.

Both pups are now quite low, you could probably put a whole finger between the pups and the strings. They sounded the best to me like that. Since it's a good guitar, a nice acoustic-percussive quality is noticable now. Low setting, low output pup, splitted coils...and I have the best tones ever in my life, from vintage to prog. I can't stop playing in the middle position with both JB7 and PAF7 on, splitted. OK, that's good for rock, but metal riffs with splitted bridge pup?

How come? How is that possible with such a low output? Shouldn't that be everything contrary to achieving a good metal tone? Did I miss something? Do you have a similar experience? Are single coils and low output something usual in metal music these days? I just can't explain why does it sound so good.
 

JoKeR III

Power User
I personally prefer lower output pickups for high gain tones. It basically boils down to personal preference, I've never really cared for the "fizz" created by most high output pickups. Others find that factor key to achieving their high gain tones.
 

Muad'zin

Fractal Fanatic
If it works for you, then by default it cannot be wrong. Stick to it, ignore the nay sayers and at worst you will stand out from the pack high output humbucker equipped guitarists, who all use the same amp and cab sims, because common metal wisdom, an echo chamber if there ever was one, has it that you have to have all that. Ritchie Blackmore used single coils, and he is one of the founding fathers of metal. Tony Iommi used P90's in the early days and those albums have become classics, also in regards to tone. And of course there's hubris and arrogance made manifest, Yngwie Malmsteen, who also uses single coils. Just use whatever you like to use and be different.

I personally prefer lower output pickups for high gain tones. It basically boils down to personal preference, I've never really cared for the "fizz" created by most high output pickups. Others find that factor key to achieving their high gain tones.
One man's fizz is another man's clarity. One man's warmth is another man's mud. Ain't it great that we all have different tastes and opt for different tones?
 

JoKeR III

Power User
One man's fizz is another man's clarity. One man's warmth is another man's mud. Ain't it great that we all have different tastes and opt for different tones?
Yep, that's why I said it's personal preference. If it sounds good to, you, that is all that really matters to a certain extent. When you are happy with your tone you're more apt to play and remain inspired. However, if you consistently get remarks about your tone not being the best, it may be time rethink what you think sounds good. ;)
 

Muad'zin

Fractal Fanatic
Yep, that's why I said it's personal preference. If it sounds good to, you, that is all that really matters to a certain extent. When you are happy with your tone you're more apt to play and remain inspired. However, if you consistently get remarks about your tone not being the best, it may be time rethink what you think sounds good. ;)
I always say most people in the audience don't notice tone, hell, they'll probably not even notice you. All their attention will be on the singer. The only people paying attention to your tone will be other musicians and sound guys. If the sound guy tells you you should change your tone so it will sit better in the mix, that might be worth paying attention too. It's his job and if he's good its a professional opinion. Sound guys aren't interested in how nice, fizzy or warn your tone is, they only want to create a good mix. If the mix is right the audience will be happy too. And audiences pay the bills. If its other musicians, then its probably a matter of taste. Could be a case of them wanting to genuinely improve your tone. But you might like your tone as it is. It might be a case of them having a preconceived idea of what a good tone should be. Because that is what they keep telling each other on places like The Gear Page. When its a matter of taste what's more important? Your own taste or someone else's?
 
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