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Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #125875  by Lephty
 Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:05 am
Hey kind folks, I am in search of suggestions for pickups. I have a G&L ASAT Deluxe semi-hollow that takes 2 humbuckers, and I currently have P90's in it, but I'm not crazy about the way it sounds...the P90's are a little too crunchy for me. I am looking for crystal clear, glassy cleans (along the lines of Bill Frisell) with very strong bass with a lot of attack, a la Jerry G.

In addition to suggestions for pickups, I would appreciate any general advice on pickup types, brands, etc., as I am embarrassingly ignorant about it (having played guitar for 30 years). Thanks in advance!
 #125884  by tcsned
 Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:32 pm
Jerry used the DiMarzio Super IIs, but there's a lot of choices out there. DAllen pickups get a lot of props on this board. I like Lollar pickups and have always favored Seymour Duncan's. I've got a set of Duncan StagMags on my current guitar and I like I them. I've also always been a fan of Joe Barden pickups. They ain't cheap but I think they are as good as any out there.
 #125885  by tcsned
 Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:36 pm
The one thing I forgot to mention is string spacing. Fender and Gibson style bridges have different string spacing. You want to make sure your pickups are spaced properly or the strings won't line up over the pole pieces of the pickup. Not sure what G&L uses for those guitars.
 #125889  by Lephty
 Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:02 pm
Thanks for the pointers. Definitely did not know about the string spacing issue, and will check on it before I commit. Fortunately, I have a very good tech who can help me out.

So here's another question to throw out there. While I'm not exactly going for a "Jerry" sound (whatever that even means), one of the things I want that you could say is "Jerry-like" is some balls in the low end, so that when I play a run in the lower register, it cuts through the mix. How essential are single-coil pickups for that kind of thing?
 #125890  by tcsned
 Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:44 pm
Jerry mostly used the middle position set in the single coil position. It's definitely one of the many factors it that tone but not the only one. If your guitar is already routed for humbuckers you might as well get a humbucker. While your at it I'd get a coil tap switch. It's not that big of a job and most good pickups have the wiring to tap them. Whether or not you're going for a Jerry tone it gives you more tonal options. I'm assuming you have a 2 pickup guitar. Jerry used the middle pickup mostly, there's something to the placement of the pickup that goes into that sound, you can get close with a 2 pickup guitar. Jerry used several of them early on. He used P90s on at least one of them.

I'd rate the order of importance of his tone as:
1. Hands
2. Amp (Twin preamp, Mac solid state power amp)
3. Guitar type - neck scale, high action, wood choice, string gauge
4. Electronics - pickups, electronics, coil tapped middle position
5. Peripherals - string brand, picks, etc.
 #125892  by tigerstrat
 Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:25 pm
Of the two, I would suggest Super Distortion over the Super II if you are trying to have more low end impact.
 #125893  by Lephty
 Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:50 pm
Actually the guitar already has a coil tap switch...should have mentioned that in my original post. And yes, 2 pickups.

I did a little reading on the Super Distortion and I'm not sure it'd give me the clean that I'm looking for. But it also sounds like "super distortion" is a bit of a misnomer, so I'll certainly add it (and the Super II) to my list of considerations.

Thanks again for the advice!