Effect of swapping pickups on my Godin for Seymour Duncans

  • Hi all


    I have a Godin Solidac going into my Kemper. I love the Kemper and I love the guitar, great build quality, but I sense that one area that could be improved is in the pickups. People have screamed 'Seymour Duncans!' at me, but I'm just wondering if it's possible to prepare me for what kind of difference this might have on all my profiles?


    And furthermore, tbh, I'm also a bit wary of swapping the pickups. I know SD's have a great rep, but will I really like it better? I listen to demos on YouTube etc, of the ones I'm homing in on, but everyone's blazing away with extravagant bluesy rock wingin', or balls out crunchy mayhem, which is all very impressive but I have quite a mellow clean arpeggio approach, perhaps think Johnny Marr (ish). Hard to know what you're letting yourself in for. Any tips?


    Thanks!

  • I use SD pups almost exclusively on my guitars. Most are hot HB pups (+12 ohms), however, I truly love the bite and growl you get with 6-7ohm PAF HB style pickups. I think the Kemper shines more with low output pickups even when you split them to singles.


    Rather than swapping pups out of a guitar that sounds good already, I would opt to get another guitar with different pickups.

    The more you find what Kemper can do then the harder you try to find what it cannot do -- like make a good cup of Frappuccino.

  • Mudchild
    before changing pickups, I'd try changing the distance to strings and the angle of the pickup.
    Usually PUs are set too close and aren't angled away from the lower strings (more mass -> more output) - try this first.
    If you still find your pickups are lacking, try to define what the issue is, like too scooped, too bassy etc.
    Once you know what you're looking for, don't disregard small-ish pickup makers - SD makes good stuff, but it is by no means the only route to go.
    Smaller businesses will often be accessible and easier to talk to, figuring out what you need and even be able to make a somewhat custom pickup (for example a hotter wind) without much upcharge.

    After years and years of SD pickups I went the local/smaller builder route and I couldn't be happier - also there are cheaper pickups like Roswell that are really, really good, one of those replaced a Calvalier and a complete custom shop PU in my Tele.


    hth

  • Adjusting the pickups is great advice. It can make a significant difference.


    I'll offer a different opinion regarding pickups after spending a few decades swapping them. I came to the conclusion that pickup swaps aren't really worth it unless the pickup is broken or poorly made. For the most part, the majority of replacement pickups are a waste of money IMO. That being said, there are some specialized pickups with targeted qualities that will offer some significant tonal differences and noise advantages. But my view is that the most significant aspect of a guitar's tone is the scale length and wood. I have swapped a multitude of pickups through guitars that never sounded 'right' and not once has a pickup solved the problem. I'll get some popcorn... ;)

  • I have a Nash T2HB tele that came with Lollar Imperials. I swapped those for Seymour Duncan Psyclones and am very pleased (I too use mostly cleanish tones).

    Go for it now. The future is promised to no one. - Wayne Dyer

  • Adjusting the pickups is great advice. It can make a significant difference.


    I'll offer a different opinion regarding pickups after spending a few decades swapping them. I came to the conclusion that pickup swaps aren't really worth it unless the pickup is broken or poorly made. For the most part, the majority of replacement pickups are a waste of money IMO. That being said, there are some specialized pickups with targeted qualities that will offer some significant tonal differences and noise advantages. But my view is that the most significant aspect of a guitar's tone is the scale length and wood. I have swapped a multitude of pickups through guitars that never sounded 'right' and not once has a pickup solved the problem. I'll get some popcorn... ;)

    I kind of agree....pickups make a difference but not as big a difference as you might expect.


    By default I tend to swap my pickups for Bareknuckles and I use SD for some guitars, but more out of habit then necessity. As they are both good/high quality you would be pushed to tell the difference.


    So unless the pickups are particularly bad ( they do exist), then you might see a slight improvement.


    Also, SD's come in many different variations of vintage vs contemporary so it also depends on what sound you are aiming for.


    Until you know the problem difficult to know if the pickups will help/resolve.


    The kemper will respond like any other amp to pickup changes.

  • Adjusting the pickups is great advice. It can make a significant difference.


    I'll offer a different opinion regarding pickups after spending a few decades swapping them. I came to the conclusion that pickup swaps aren't really worth it unless the pickup is broken or poorly made. For the most part, the majority of replacement pickups are a waste of money IMO. That being said, there are some specialized pickups with targeted qualities that will offer some significant tonal differences and noise advantages. But my view is that the most significant aspect of a guitar's tone is the scale length and wood. I have swapped a multitude of pickups through guitars that never sounded 'right' and not once has a pickup solved the problem. I'll get some popcorn... ;)

    I see your point, but in the end I disagree ;)

    New pickups are no silver bullet that'll instantly improve your tone just like that.
    It's more of a process.
    You need to figure out the basic tonality of your guitar, whether it's bright or warmer sounding etc.
    I tend to favour brighter pickups in warmer sounding guitars and vice versa - no use in over-emphasizing a tonal aspect.

    My '80s Yamaha SG1000 is a good example - I got it in '91 with the stock Yamaha pickups.
    Went for Dimarzios shortly after that - PAF Pro and FRED (you know, '90s)
    I never was happy with the pickups, exchanged them for Seymour Duncans, multiple Duncans in fact, tried Duesenbergs but the guitar always got a little lost in mixes.
    Then on a hunch I got Guitarfetish Nashville Retrotrons, because they were described as jangly and bright - and bingo:
    just what the SG needed.

    However these pickups wouldn't make much sense in any of my other guitars.
    In the bridge position of my Strat is a Hot Rails (very mid heavy) and my Tele bridge pu is almost a P90 to reign in the overly bright and snappy nature of this beast.

    TLDR
    figure out the character of your instrument

    decide where you want to go from there
    make an informed guess when buying pickups, cause you'll never know how the guitar/pu combo will sound before you actually have them in your guitar


  • My '80s Yamaha SG1000 is a good example - I got it in '91 with the stock Yamaha pickups.
    Went for Dimarzios shortly after that - PAF Pro and FRED (you know, '90s)

    Spooky....I have an SG1500 and love it!! I swapped the pickups out for a PAF pro ( I think - it was pink!). I got the bargain of the century when I bought it for £125 many years ago!


    Eventually I swapped them out for EMG's as I was playing really heavy rock.


    I guess my point was I don't think the sound change is often that dramatic between good quality similar output pickups. Yes if you compare a single coil vintage to an EMG 81, then of course there is a significant change but a reasonable quality stock pickup compared to an SD will enhance the sound, but not dramatically change the character.


    Totally agree that the OP needs to work out what he wants to change before just upgrading pickups :)

  • Mudchild I agree with what DonPetersen has been telling you. Try adjusting the pickups you have first and see if you can get them to where you like them. If you can't get them there figure out what you are hearing that you don't like. You can then select a pickup that addresses that issue. From what you mentioned in the OP, I would say to look at the Pearly Gates SD pickups. Those are nice and clear and of a vintage wind.


    I had a set of Seth Lover SD pickups in a guitar and while they sounded good, I had a little bit of a feedback issue with them at gig volumes. I swapped them over to the Pearly Gates pickups because they are basically the same spec but are wax potted. They sound great in that guitar. That is the type of issue that would require a pickup swap. The issue I had was because the Seth Lover pickups are not potted so they are more prone to being a bit microphonic and feedback with gain.

  • Yes, try to setup pickups height before changing them ! ;)

    If you don't like them ; switch for another ones.

    Adjusting the pickups is great advice. It can make a significant difference.


    I'll offer a different opinion regarding pickups after spending a few decades swapping them. I came to the conclusion that pickup swaps aren't really worth it unless the pickup is broken or poorly made. For the most part, the majority of replacement pickups are a waste of money IMO. That being said, there are some specialized pickups with targeted qualities that will offer some significant tonal differences and noise advantages. But my view is that the most significant aspect of a guitar's tone is the scale length and wood. I have swapped a multitude of pickups through guitars that never sounded 'right' and not once has a pickup solved the problem. I'll get some popcorn... ;)

    I don't have the same experience and my conclusion is not this one.

    I have made a switch for my gibson SG and my fender strato.

    A French guy makes handwounded pickups with American parts specifically selected. He has a real good reputation.

    I visited him (he lives at only one hour from my home) and we talked about what i like, what kind of music i play, etc...

    I could play with a lot of different guitar he owned to choose the "good" pickups" for me.

    At that time, i used to play with Helix/Variax :/=O so i couldn't tell immediatly the difference.

    My Gibby is my goto guitar nowdays.


    Nevertheless, after some time, i decided to buy a Michael Kelly Guitar (my avatar) with Rockfield PU. cause i just find it magnificient ! :love:

    But the sound was not there for me. It's nearly impossible to find those guitars over there, so i jumped on the used one i've seen.

    At home, even if i've played with pickups settings, the sound was never pleasant for me.

    So i've ordered a pair of Humbucker Alnico 4 to the same guy, changed them.

    It was night and day ! The sound has really nothing similar ; for the best ! What an improvement ! :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:

    The sound was less harsh, the definition was far better.....

    I really hear every nuances in my (amateur) play now.

  • Referring to the original post and my specific experience. I had a Godin Freeway SA with dual humbuckers. Always sounded thin and trebly. The mids were never right on that guitar. I have a 58 Reissue Les Paul that sounds fantastic - burstbuckers. I had a set of Fralin Humbuckers(pure PAFs if memory serves). I swapped those pickups in all possible combinations between those two guitars. The LP sounded great and essentially the same with all 3 pickup sets. The Godin sounded thin and trebly with all 3 sets. I acknowledge that this is one specific example, but I have had very similar experiences with many other guitars over the years. I am fully aware that my results may be considered anecdotal as I have not conducted an exhaustive experiment. My experience is based on a limited set of guitars and pickups. All of the pickups I have experience with are based on 'vintage' type humbucker and single coil designs. Nothing high gain or what I would call experimental. I realize that my opinion is not popular as there is a huge aftermarket pickup industry and plenty of guitarists willing to support it. YMMV

  • hot pickups behave like hot pickups with the PROFILER - a SD Hot Rails is my main pickup on a G&L Legacy, and I have plenty of high and low output pickups to compare - generalizations like this don't really make much sense IMO

    I should have clarified that a vast majority of the OEM Kemper Profiles seem to shine with low output pickups and that includes the higher gain ones, IMO. ;) Maybe just my personal taste. But I suspect most of the clean to mid gain profiles are done with a low output pickup so it would make sense to use that to match up with what the profiler used.

    The more you find what Kemper can do then the harder you try to find what it cannot do -- like make a good cup of Frappuccino.

  • I use SD pups almost exclusively on my guitars. Most are hot HB pups (+12 ohms), however, I truly love the bite and growl you get with 6-7ohm PAF HB style pickups. I think the Kemper shines more with low output pickups even when you split them to singles.


    Rather than swapping pups out of a guitar that sounds good already, I would opt to get another guitar with different pickups.

    Those are all kOhm figures I think you'll find. Which models did you go with for hi and low output? People seem to like Antiquity/Seth Lover/Pearly Gates in the low output models.

  • Also, don't overlook the caps/resistors used with the tone and volume controls. They can have a major impact on your tone, regardless of the pickups.

    Go for it now. The future is promised to no one. - Wayne Dyer

  • Those are all kOhm figures I think you'll find. Which models did you go with for hi and low output? People seem to like Antiquity/Seth Lover/Pearly Gates in the low output models.

    I have SD hot rails singles, JBs, Distortions, Sentient, Pegasus. EMG Retro Actives. The lower ones are SD '59, Fender '65 singles, Westone mangnaflux and Epi Pro buckers 2 and 3. I am surprised at how much I like the Pro buckers. I would love to try one in one of my strat models.


    I would also like to try both Seth and Pearly but more likely Pearly for strat since it comes in trembucker form and it has less of a mid cut compared to Seth.


    You can't dock me for missing one "K" since all I seem to do is use it for "K"emper. ;)

    The more you find what Kemper can do then the harder you try to find what it cannot do -- like make a good cup of Frappuccino.