Is high output always better?

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Thread: Is high output always better?

  1. #1

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: NB, Canuckistan
    ME: Fernandes Ravelle
    MB: Yamaha TRBX305
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    Is high output always better?

    I was talking with a couple of friends today and we were discussing high output pickups (ie Duncan Distortion/JB/Invader/etc...) vs medium gain pickups and how the higher output sacrifices tone. Given that a good chunk of people use a boost of some kind or other in front of their amp rather than just relying on pickups to hit the pre-amp hard, I was curious if anyone here uses "lower gain" pickups (eg.. 7K-8K output) and just turns everything up a little bit more.

  2. #2

    Join Date: Jun 2009
    Location: New Orleans
    ME: Elysian Custom
    Rig: Bias Desktop

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    High Output vs medium/low output is more of a personal taste kind of question. I prefer to let my amp do the work and just let my pickups complement it though I still like high output pickups when I want a guitar to have a loud and in your face kind of tone.
    I play Suhrs, not poor people guitars. -Chris

  3. #3

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Somerville, Ma
    ME: Suhr Modern 7
    MA: Martin MC16-GTE
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    Disclaimer, I play fairly low gain... But, my experience has been lower gain pickups tend to offer better definition and clairity, and a broader, more balanced sound. High gain pickups, at least the ones I've played, are often more focused in a particular frequency range, and tend to sound a little more "notched" and narrow until you throw a lot of gain at them. When you do, of course, they tend to sound tighter for that very reason.
    "They can kill you, but the legalities of eating you are a bit dicier." - David Foster Wallace

  4. #4

    Join Date: Jun 2014
    Location: Sydney, Australia
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    In todays day and age of amps with enough gain stages to make even a 50s strat scream I personally prefer low output pickups.

    I love PAF style pickups in the 7.5-8.5K range with either A5, A8 or Ceramic. I've got some Dimarzio PAF 36's coming for my Caparison Angelus, a Norton/PAF pro in my RGR480, ESP LH200 in my 83 ESP Custom (desperately searching for more go those pickups as they are killer) and for my actives I have 57/66 sets as they have that more vintage frequency response. I find high output pickups with lower gain amps work, and lower output pickups bring a killer clarity to higher gain amps.
    "I'm afraid of new guitars. They're too shiny, I can't play them or take them anywhere. They might get damaged!"

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  5. #5

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Somerville, Ma
    ME: Suhr Modern 7
    MA: Martin MC16-GTE
    MB: Dingwall Afterburner 5
    Rig: Mesa Roadster, Recto 4x12

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    Disclaimer - the Rebel Yell set in my Suhr is 8k in the neck and 14k in the bridge. To my ears, though (and really, to my amp's response - the 7k PAF7 and, well, no surprises here 20k Blaze Bridge feel way hotter - the Blaze to me is about as hot as I'd want to go) they don't seem all that hot.

  6. #6

    Join Date: Aug 2012
    Location: Chicago, Il
    ME: Strat
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    Blazes are 20k?! They feel like 12-13~
    ^ probably sarcasm.

  7. #7

    Join Date: Oct 2008
    Location: Daytona, FL
    ME: Charvel Strathead
    Rig: Laney Ironheart

    iTrader: 3 (100%)

    You guys do know resistance numbers are only part of the picture with output, right? An X2N is the hottest thing Dimarzio makes, and it's only like 15k; while a Super 3 isn't as hot, but clocks in at a ridiculous 25k.

    I prefer more "medium-hot" pickups, like the AT-1, Breed, or Dominion. The really high output stuff just sounds too compressed to me now.

  8. #8

    Join Date: Apr 2015
    Location: Lackawanna, NY - USA
    ME: Ibanez JEM Jr. 2015
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    Q: Is high output always better?

    A: You need to own several guitars, with models that vary from having low output pickups through-to high output pickups - only then will the universe start to 'kind of' make sense.

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