Should I buy a new guitar (which one? :D) or just change pickups of my current one?

  • I mostly play metal of all kinds (Pantera, Mastodon, Gojira, even some brutal death stuff) using my Les Paul STD. It's not a full metal go-to guitar, but for me - I like exactly what I get from it.

    I recently got into "less heavy distortion stuff" (polyphia, ichika nito, to brit-rock stuff), the more Strat-like guitars sounds, mid-neck sound.

    I found a good priced 2nd hand Musicman Silhouette 2000 model with the stock Paf Pros pickups: It's great (maybe the most) comfortable 24 fretted maple neck. alder wood. suited my needs. seemed to handle well distortion too, mid-neck mode was awesome.

    Both are very different in specs.

    With time i noticed that I'm not satisfied with the sound of it with heavier distortion sounds:

    Bridge pickup sound "muddy" or "noodley". Or just lacking the "powerful" flavor. no crunch-sharp power chords. I just cannot describe it other than that.

    I am maybe comparing it to a gibson, but idk. maybe it's just the pickup that sucks? I'm not sure if i should replace the bridge pickup or plan to get a new one.

    I was sure it would be my "all in one" versatile standard tuning guitar. it's not.

    I went to a professional to confirm nothing is wrong with the pickup/height btw

    1. Should I replace the bridge pickup. since I am generally satisfied (should cost me around ~200$ with the installation).

    2. or Sell it and get something else, which then I'm not sure which will be a good all-in-one guitar (bridge pickup that can handle heavy distortion, mid-bridge and mid-neck mode for polyphia/britrock stuff, neck pickup for blues/jazz).

    I thought of PRS CUSTOM, mahogany guitar. note sure if non-balanced wood would be the right choice. so maybe the more strat guitar to fill the "void". Suhr modern plus?

    I do have the savings, and defiantly considering, but I do have that other side in my brain telling me "there are same quality guitars you can get with half the price, wt* are they charging this much". Basically recommend me guitars that I might.

  • You should buy one like this for metal! Pegasus and Sentient pickups. It will get "stratty" on the coil taps. An LP is just not Metal enough nor is a PRS. I tend to buy different guitars for each genre. But I did build one that does almost everything.

    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.

  • If I am understanding what you are saying, you are trying to use one guitar for very different applications. To me, this sounds like you need one guitar built to get you the high gain tones you are wanting and another guitar more suited to the medium gain tones. It may be very difficult to get one guitar to do all of that. The output of the pickups is going to be drastically different just for starters. Some woods lend themselves to one of those better than others. For instance, it isn't uncommon to see basswood bodies on metal guitars and alder on a guitar that is used for medium gain stuff. All of this is subjective to the player.

  • Couple of things to consider:

    1) There is some theory kicking around that the sound of the guitar is massively, if not 100% the pickups and woods etc have little impact. Therefore you can achieve different sounds with just changing the pickups

    2) For me there is less impact on the sound from the pickups than the amp settings and more importantly what/how you play - I have EMG's, Bareknuckle, Seymours....these are all pretty good at a range of sounds. It only at the extremes, like trying to get a high gain humbucker to sound like a vintage single coil or P90 that you will really struggle.

    So, on that basis there is no right or wrong answer except when at the extremes. Changing the pickups is likely to get you there anyway but buying a new guitar will by definition give you a new pickup.

    I believe 90% of a new guitar is about the look/how it makes you feel.

  • Similar to what JEverly stated, finding the right combos is key. I'll give some examples of pickup swaps that have made each of these guitars more exciting to play.

    Schecter Solo 6 Custom (Gibson style)

    It had Seymour Duncan Customs' pickups and sounded good. Put in JWP Jim Wagner Pickups Darkburst (bridge) Godwood (Neck) and it kicked it into high gear. More tone and a bit brighter.

    Further, I previously put these in a cheap Kramer and they worked phenomenally as well, but I couldn't get over the neck's discomfort on my left hand.

    PRS SC Goldtop

    Original pickups sounded very nice (I think they were their 57/08 pickups), but once I put in Wolftone Marshallhead and Vintage pickups, it sounds even better. Now, this swap might be more psychological than the others. Their customer support is great as well.

    Gibson Les Paul Studio (as I mentioned in another recent post)

    Stock 490T pickups sounded bland and dark. Put some Mojotone humbucker sized P-90s and the tone and warmth significantly increased.

    Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro II (2014)

    I think they were Burstbuckers, which sounded OK, but a little too bright and brash. I put Rio Grande BBQ's and it smoothed out the sound so well. I had read that Rio Grandes tend to be a bit darker, and in my experience they were and paired nicely with this Les Paul.

    I had tried the famous Seymour Duncan JB/59 set in this guitar as well and it just didn't inspire me as much. Perhaps the output was a little too low.

    Hope some of this helps!