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Best Tone at a Reasonable Price with Today's Technology...

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by skypeace, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. heltershelton

    heltershelton ASKED TO LEAVE THE STAGE Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 5, 2013
    Not Florida

  2. Guitaraxe

    Guitaraxe Strat-O-Master

    Aug 22, 2015

    (imo) Amp and speaker type can help achieve some of those tone goals.
    skypeace likes this.

  3. Textele

    Textele Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Oct 10, 2009
    I really like this.

    That is exactly how we just handled the biggest problem musician I have ever encountered.

    It's the right way to do it..... head on!

    And to stay on topic, pick some decent pickups and the other 99.9% improvement in your "tone" will be implemented in your desire to practice and the occasional turning of the available potentiometers on your instrument and amp.

  4. QMTstrat

    QMTstrat Strat-O-Master

    Some interesting points made in this thread. I see it this way:

    Less gas= more time to play= find best tone (with what we have)

    Best tone, best player notions are very subjective. I agree with OP though, I now try to enjoy and appreciate what I DO have, instead of letting gas get to me :D
    skypeace likes this.

  5. Seymour Duncan

    Seymour Duncan Senior Stratmaster

    At that price, there are dozens of pickups out there. As far as a unique tone, that is up to the player. Figure out what your current pickups aren't giving you, and start there.

  6. skypeace

    skypeace Sky Pilot Strat-Talk Supporter

    Mar 10, 2017
    This has been quite sobering and I haven't drank in 30 years.

  7. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 28, 2014
    in between
    One area where tone has really improved is with modeling amps. They're becoming really good at capturing "studio magic" in a box. That's the problem for me though, I think they sound more like a guitar through a nice stereo system than a guitar amp and cab, but on the other hand, the price of tube amps has been coming down a lot, too, so even the real thing has become more accessible to more people.
    skypeace likes this.

  8. Dont_Fret_None

    Dont_Fret_None Strange Stringer Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 22, 2013
    Up Yonder Way
    Indeed, "Political Correctness." Hhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaa (sighing, while rolling my eyes, and rubbing my chin).

    To dully mirror these sentiments, while also remaining ever-cognizant to return to the OP's subject matter; I tend to liken the PC (Political Correctness) Beast to that of an octopus, as the octopus has many tentacles which are potentially lethal, to various prey. One of the most prominent tentacles of the PC Beast being the propensity to become offended at the drop of a hat. Even more so, is the active search to become offended before the hat is dropped, not unlike the groping antennae of a snail. This reality underscores the essence of insanity, when one considers that the PC advocates and adherents deem themselves "progressive" in thought, which is to be touted as being "open minded." When in fact, these are the most closed-minded human beings on the planet as they grope about, actively searching for cause to take offense.

    A kindred measure of such insanity is that reflected in the Militant Vegan movement, wherein advocates and adherents embark on a quest to convert the world to veganism, while wholly ignorant of the fact that they alienate everyone they come in contact with through their accusatory and near-violent antics. Surly there is great merit in a vegan diet, however motivation toward such a dietary change-up is destroyed by the abrasive antics of the very advocates--the Militant Vegans themselves. Perhaps a fitting summation to my sentiments would read thus:

    Question: How do you know when someone is a vegan?

    Answer: If you've met them, you already know so, as they've told you they were a vegan before you had the opportunity to ask.

    OK, back to the OP's subject matter: Tone - how about tonal distinctions in Nitro vs Poly?


    And say, how 'bout them Seminoles, aye?

    skypeace and heltershelton like this.

  9. Duotone

    Duotone Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 12, 2016

    Where did the strat through low watt tube amp sound go? Has worked since 1953...

    Playing good music kind of solves 90% of the "tone" issues.;)
    skypeace likes this.

  10. moullineaux

    moullineaux Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 11, 2009
    This debate seems to have many twists and turns. My 2 cents: The guitar evolved with the new electronic age, as did many other musical instruments ( keyboards come to mind) but the ability to achieve ones tone, playing style and song writing skills though perhaps inspired and influenced by the " newest technology " comes down to practice, hard work and inspiration. I find it hard to believe that any tech will ever surpass the fundamentals that make a good player a good player.

  11. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Senior Stratmaster

    May 26, 2006
    Jacksonville, FL
    the quest for tone can be easily truncated by .. quite simply.. Tone, the tone "you" like, is nothing more than a sonic "fashion" statement....

    were it not, there would have been a slow migration over the decades to one sound, the "best" sound... hasn't happened has it? It's not gonna happen either... know why... not everyone wants to "dress" the same...

    If it had migrated to that "best" sound.. then the discussions/arguments would now be over who and what produced best "best" tone.... :rolleyes:

    skypeace likes this.

  12. Mr C

    Mr C Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 17, 2016
    New Zealand
    I'm probably a rarity on here in that I've never bought aftermarket pickups, when I buy a guitar I play A heap until I find one I like and that's that. Nothing wrong with a gear driven approach to tone if that's your thing, we all have a different take on the instrument which is what makes it interesting...
    thomaswayne and skypeace like this.

  13. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Senior Stratmaster

    May 26, 2006
    Jacksonville, FL
    and that is exactly how it was done during the Leo years, and most of the CBS years...

    it wasn't until the mid 80's, when after-market parts availability exploded, that haute couture became chic, and prêt-à-porter became too pedestrian for the avant guard guitarists..

    then the internet was foisted upon humanity and we could all find out how wrong we were 24/7, and that the necessity of having something custom made became the defining way to determine if someone was a knowledgeable guitarist... didn't matter if the guy could play or not.... he had to know all the 'buzz words" and where and where to apply 'em.. otherwise he was a guitar troglodyte...


  14. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 10, 2014

    "Best tone at a reasonable price"... have you tried some of those ebay import pickups for $15 a set of humbuckers? Or Strats for $10? or P90s for $12? They are hot with ceramic but approach hand wound coil characteristics in many other evaluations I've done (half the internal capacitance of many fancy factories for the same output).
    No, they are not all great, some are built poorly (excessively thin stampings held together with silicone goop) while others are built as well as conventional high dollar pickups with shrink wrap on the solder joints and wax potting. Order some sets and compare with your own testing, which is what you will do gathering together a lot of boutique pickups anyway (some will sound fantastic to you and some while sounding fantastic to someone else will be horrible for you and your gear).

    Buy some volume pots at different measured kohms and different uF tone caps -- the controls actually control your tone, even when dimed. You'll spend $20 a throw here instead of $200 a throw at new pickups.

    skypeace likes this.

  15. CalicoSkies

    CalicoSkies Senior Stratmaster

    Jun 10, 2013
    Hillsboro, OR, USA
    By "with today's technology", do you mean buying brand-new parts with recent designs? I imagine you can get great tone at a reasonable price with older technology as well. It depends on what your goal is.

    Several people have mentioned Fishman Fluence. They seem interesting, but I think a downside is that they are active pickups and require a battery (which of course needs replacement/charging).

    As far as pickups, I think Kinman and Zexcoil pickups sound good and are hum-cancelling. There are a multitude of options though. I used to have a set of Lace Holy Grail pickups that I thought sounded good too (and those are also hum-cancelling).

  16. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 28, 2014
    in between
    One thing nobody elaborates on is exactly why practice produces better tone. People say it all the time, but nobody ever says how that actually works out. Does a piano's *tone* improve if the piano player is more skilled? I think the answer is that people actually confuse technique for some, some how, some way. There are subtle things you can do with your picking and fretting that tease out pleasing sounds from a guitar, and maybe the assumption is that with the right gear, all that happens automagically, not realizing its the guitarist who is, consciously or not, making the tone "shimmery" or "deep", or whatever. I know that over the years I've figured out all sorts of ways to make a guitar sound better just by changing what I'm doing, but it's come about so subtly over so many years that I can't necessarily describe it real well. There are a lot of aspects to music that defy description, which is also why music is of such high value to people, it replaces words in many ways.

  17. jaymichaels

    jaymichaels Strat-Talker

    Feb 7, 2017
    I have an 03 Clapton with Kinman pups and the Kinman K9 switching system... its pretty unbelievable how many strat tones and more they give you with whisper quiet true single coil tones and more... I highly recommend them... IMG_4975.JPG

  18. mad axe man

    mad axe man Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 23, 2016
    ontario canada
    "dimarzio area" pickups are also great
    Tube ToneChaser and skypeace like this.

  19. dbbluesproject

    dbbluesproject Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 3, 2015
    Correct me if i'm wrong but the question was not "If I practice more will my tone improve?"
    The question posted by the op specifically asked what pickups manufactured today would give him a warm, bluesy tone that cost between $75 and $250.
    That having been said I am not in anyway trying to discredit any of the opinions posted..all are valid....but it does kind of set up an atmosphere that makes it difficult to answer the op's question without feeling "less than".
    Just my humble opinion.
    skypeace likes this.

  20. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 28, 2014
    in between
    You can get a warm, bluesy tone from virtually any pickup, because even if pickups are bright, you can warm it up with the tone knob. Warm means mellowed out treble, and if your pickups don't do that naturally, you can make them do that. Even the cheapest ceramic pickups lend themselves to warmer tones. You can get a warm bluesy tone out of a $75 guitar.

    The whole practice=tone thing isn't snark, it's to say that the premise of the question assumes there is purely technical answer when there isn't one, beyond what I'd said.
    skypeace likes this.