Is it the pickups or the amp?

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by Teledriver, Mar 19, 2021.

  1. Teledriver

    Teledriver Synchromatic

    Feb 12, 2011
    Iowa City, IA
    Suppose you have 1 electric guitar and 1 amplifier, AND you play clean with no pedals...

    FORGET make and model and year of the guitar or the amplifier.

    You are a beginner, a quick-learner, and somehow have the ear of an experienced player....

    The clean sound (your only sound) is good, but maybe could sound better....or could it??
  2. Teledriver

    Teledriver Synchromatic

    Feb 12, 2011
    Iowa City, IA
    People talk about "these pickups just have more xxxxx and less xxxxx, but what I really wanted was the xxxxx pickups, because they xxxxx..."

    For example, SD Seth Lover PAFs. Made to spec from what a new PAF would sound like.
    And SD Antiquities. PAFs that are made to sound like a Seth Lover aged 50+ years.

    Amplifiers are a bit more complex, in regards to circutry and components and speaker size and witch-craft.
    Some are renown for their clean sound, others for their break-up. Some for their sparkle, and others for their warmth.

    My question really is, how can you tell if you need a different amp, or need different pickups?
  3. Teledriver

    Teledriver Synchromatic

    Feb 12, 2011
    Iowa City, IA
    REMEMBER- you only have 1 amp and 1 guitar...
    NO for replacements of either. HOW DO YOU TELL WHAT NEEDS REPLACED??
  4. LongJohn

    LongJohn Synchromatic

    Apr 22, 2016
    Queens, NY
    Take your one guitar to Guitar Center and audition all amps in your budget. It's a start. ;)
    azrielle, HOYERGEORGE and new6659 like this.
  5. Learn the accordion. I heard it’s making a comeback.
  6. wildeman

    wildeman I Bleed Orange

    May 10, 2015
    Buy a good acoustic, i know which one but the rules of the thread wont let me tell you:confused:
    T-Bawler and Electrosynthesis like this.
  7. mbkri

    mbkri Country Gent

    Sep 22, 2012
    You put the chicken in the boat with the fox and leave the seed... no thats not right.
  8. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Country Gent

    Feb 17, 2020
    I think you need to really define exactly what is good, or bad, about your current sound. You can't determine what might be better until you can separate your sound into all the characteristics that make it what it is now.

    I've loved guitar music all my life (as we all have) but until I started learning to play (only 15 months ago) I never really analyzed and defined why guitars sounded as they do. I've been working hard on a self-designed "ear training" program to pick apart what I hear and learn how the various sounds fit the labels.
    It is really complicated because everything affects how a guitar sounds (and there are millions of them) but after a while you can find common tones and reactions and combinations that become familiar.

    When you hear something you really like, analyze why. What part sounds good to you?

    And as suggested above, take your guitar to GC and play every amp they will let you plug in to.

    And/or do what I did, spend $150 to buy a Fender Mustang LT-25 and spend over a year playing with the thousands of voices programmed into it and learn a ton without leaving your living room.
    T-Bawler and Giovanniz28 like this.
  9. wabash slim

    wabash slim Gretschified

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    Of course it could be better.
    It could get worse, too.
    There are too many variables to make a decision like this with no defining criteria.

    Or, to bring up an answer from Monty Python---
  10. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    If you can’t with absolute certainty know what is missing or present that makes it less than perfect than you do nothing. I was sucked into the maybe it could be better if, situations. I don’t fall for hype and gossip anymore.
  11. Ricochet

    Ricochet Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    You can notice that something is missing from your sound on a gut level, but you can’t determine what that something is if you’ve never compared it to other gear.
  12. Byron

    Byron Country Gent

    Sep 4, 2009
    Or buy dozens of different amps and guitars, then STILL can't decide. Like most people
    new6659 and Henry like this.
  13. audept

    audept Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    When I first started playing back in the'60s I used to buy the same guitars and amps as my guitar heroes. I was really disappointed to discover that I still couldn't get those same tones, let alone play like them.
  14. Tony65x55

    Tony65x55 Gretschified

    Sep 23, 2011
    The 'Shwa, Ontario, Canada
    Why would anything need to be replaced? Is something in the sound wrong? How is the feel? We have a tendency to always believe something to be wrong but is it simply a matter of taste?

    You can always go Strat into a Deluxe Reverb and solve the problem.
    Mr Twangy and mike77rios like this.
  15. manunk

    manunk Gretschie

    Stuck with one guitar and one amp? Try different strings, try the amp facing backwards, on a stand, on the floor, on the floor but tilted up by putting a 2 x 4 under front edge, etc.
    azrielle likes this.
  16. Teledriver

    Teledriver Synchromatic

    Feb 12, 2011
    Iowa City, IA
    Okay, lemme try a new tack to the same question-
    Not sure you guys got the gist of what I am asking.

    quote- "The pickups were dull and lifeless, despite string guage/material changes and height/pole pieces adjustments. Then I bought xxxx pickups and the guitar came alive."

    How did this person know it was the pickups and not the amp just needing adjustment/relacement/speaker change?
    Mr Twangy likes this.
  17. Gregor

    Gregor Synchromatic

    Oct 17, 2018
    New Brunswick, Canada
    I'm still laughing :D:D:D
  18. Inox

    Inox Electromatic

    Jun 24, 2018
  19. Inox

    Inox Electromatic

    Jun 24, 2018
    Because pickups usually cost less than (decent) amps?;)
  20. Ricochet

    Ricochet Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Part lucky guess and part deduction.

    By adjusting the amp he knows the tonal width of the amp, so apart from the speaker change, could dismiss it as a candidate for a swap.
    Adjusting a pickup is about adjusting volume or balancing bass/trebles, never changing the PU’s intrinsic character, as he found out.
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