Guitar Lessons by Chip McDonald - September 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Strange and Abstruse World of Guitar Pickup Descriptions

I recently installed a Dimarzio Area 58 and EJ Custom pickup in one of my guitars. They're great. That amazes me because it's the first time I bought pickups I've never heard before, just based on the specifications/inductance figures.

Almost. I did temper that with a lot of anecdotal descriptions. Which is a dangerous thing in the guitar world, because people have very different ideas about how to describe what they're hearing - or think they're hearing.

I think pickup manufacturers (and gear manufacturers in general) take advantage of that a little bit. The following are some excerpts from different pickup manufacturer sites, descriptions of what their pickups sound like:

"The result is an almost vocal, three-dimensional sound that jumps off the string faster and stays true as it sustains. "
"They’re bright and have great presence without sounding thin. "
"The highs are actually bigger and smoother than either model."
"are not polite-sounding, and they’re not for the inexperienced, but – if you’ve got the chops and a hot amp – your sound will burn."
"Its treble response is warmer and smoother while bass response is tighter and brighter."
"a unique mid-range “growl” that’s a result of a hand-calibrated magnet structure. "
"a deeper sound from the low strings without losing any punch"
" It has a warm, smoky sound, fattens up "
"Single notes have weight and presence, and chords have detail and dimension. "
" organic and open tone while still maintaining the clarity and response"
"beautiful round tones"
"sound is full and expansive"
"it's louder and the highs have more depth. The lows and mids are more open"
"big, open sound with just a subtle hint of glass"
"The tone is big and percussive without being too harsh."
"vintage-style punch and ripping tone that will sear through almost anything"
"design retains the depth and the sparkle that is the hallmark of vintage tone."

If only it were that simple.

Student Robert Long plays "Creep" by Radiohead

Former student Walker Howle's band _Dead Confederate_: the making of "Sugar"

Improv with student Tyler Willing

Student Mike Posada plays "More Than a Feeling"

Student Demo (old)

Student Ben Lowry Plays "8 Second Ride" by Jake Owens

Student Ben Lowry plays 8 Second Ride by Jake Owens