Boutique pickups: What does a $250+ set have that a $150 - $200 set doesn't?

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by gregggyf, Oct 6, 2010.

  1. toneguy86

    toneguy86 V.I.P. Member

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    No...he was playing great instruments with sets of highly sought after pickups already. Did JP mess around with all kinds of things to get the sound he was after? Damn straight he did. The difference between these guys and us is they can damn well afford to do whatever they need to to get the best they gear they can find...but they are obsessed about details nonetheless. Are pickups on the list? I know they are. Is it the only thing? No probably not...but it is on the list. You can bet on it...and they don't buy cheap crap off the shelf either and just call it good.
     
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  2. mbself

    mbself Member

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    I think the law of diminishing returns is at play here. Do mid-priced boutique, or higher end off the shelf SD's or Dimarzio's perform better than stock epiphone pickups in an Epiphone Dot? Probably. If so, do Ultra high end off the shelf stuff from the same companies and cottage winders outperform their cheaper cousins? Maybe....but is the price worth it? That answer is harder to determine....the price is worth it question that is. It's like cameras to me. I plan to buy one of the lower end Canon DSLR cameras and a couple of useful lenses. Is there a quality difference in the top of the line DSLR body and the ultra expensive lens options......? Absolutely! Will I ever be able to justify that money considering all I do is family snapshots and the occasional vacation shots? NOPE! I do spend some money each year on pickups. I have a friend who gets Pickup Gas.....so I benefit from his buyers remorse. I buy them off of him with the ability to audition them before purchase. So far I have got Pearly Gates, SD Classic 57's, some Lollar P90's and a set of Fralin single coils off of him. Each at roughly a 30% discount off of street prices. I have also purchased, from stores, EMG DG20's and EMG Bass Pickups, SD P-Rails (soon to be installed in a dot with push pulls) and some SD cool/hot rails. I actually make a little money playing, so the hobby basically pays for my experiments and "upgrades"......but that's about it. The camera will never make me a penny unless i happen to have it when Elvis comes to the local supermarket.
     
  3. Webtroll

    Webtroll Senior Member

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    I haven't had much experience with boutique pickups, but I've done high gain, overdriven and clean comparisons between multiple PRS, Gibson and SD pickups. The PRS Santana Treble stood out in the high gain tests for having clarity while distorted; the difference between major and minor chords was more pronounced than the other pickups I tried. That said when I play around with high gain processed signals like amp simulators I can't hardly tell the difference between guitars, much less the pickups. Maybe that was where he was coming from when he said that at high gain pickups sound the same? Just guessing and hoping I know more about it than the average bass player.
     
  4. Zhangliqun

    Zhangliqun Senior Member

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    It depends on how high gain. Past a certain point, they go through the beehive homogenizer. In most cases, players don't need THAT much gain -- they use it as a crutch to compress the sloppiness in their picking technique that makes one note barely audible and the next like they just threw the guitar against the wall. They think this dynamic evenness provided by the beehive means good tone but standing out front and listening it's like the hum of a P90 with variable pitch, or in some cases, just this side of a white noise generator, all overtone with the fundamental pitch weak and murky at best.

    Not to say that it's not useful for certain things, effects and some solos, but in my experience, most players using gain that high are using it as a compressor rather than for the tone, while the guys they're imitating probably used a good deal less.
     
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  5. BillB1960

    BillB1960 Senior Member

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    Just how many "boutique" pickup winders do you think there were in the 70's?
     
  6. Webtroll

    Webtroll Senior Member

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    Seymour Duncan?
     
  7. carydad

    carydad Senior Member

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    Popularity is the difference ;)
    Also, what the buying public deem a fair price. Sheptones are pretty much my staple, but I've been mixing it up lately. I have Suhr aldritches in one lifeson, WCRs in the other. SHeps in my LRP until the Ellis pups get back. Skatters incoming for my other axcess. Then I will have different pups in 4 guitars and can maybe-possibly get an idea of what I like in each.
     
  8. 79standard

    79standard Senior Member

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    :laugh2::laugh2::laugh2::laugh2::laugh2:

    I really needed a good laugh. Thank you.

    As far as boo-teek winds at Duncan prices, try Jeff at HighOrder. He's a very good listener and does good clean work... oh, and his pups SOUND very good indeed.
     
  9. pmonk

    pmonk Senior Member

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    Better parts?

    More labor hours?
     
  10. Zhangliqun

    Zhangliqun Senior Member

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    There's probably several but I know of one for sure, Jon at Tone For Days. I can vouch that his work is very good too.
     
  11. Zhangliqun

    Zhangliqun Senior Member

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    Ah, you beat me to it. And by 4 months at that.
     
  12. captcoolaid

    captcoolaid Senior Member

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    I think I said this before, but i think the biggest difference in price range is people like Dave, Wolfe, Rod, Lollar etc... have a name so they can fetch more than people like me, Fuelie, etc.......
     
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  13. Zhangliqun

    Zhangliqun Senior Member

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    You're charging less than $80 for a humbucker?
     
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  14. captcoolaid

    captcoolaid Senior Member

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    Yep right now. I am charging 70 a pop.
     
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  15. nitrous12

    nitrous12 Senior Member

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    One of those threads that won't die....

    I don't see any responses to some of the winders comments about the amount of emails they answer. I can completely understand how this could get old quickly. A necessary evil in todays day and age where I am assuming most probably try to stay patient and polite and answer the questions while feeling like they are potentially wasting a lot of time. I don't envy you guys on this part of your business at all.

    I was able to try quite a few different pickups from different winders, but this is costly. Knowing I was going to experiment and flip a lot I had to go searching for used stuff to minimize the loss. I didn't have the budget to buy new sets and get hammered on resale. But even still with shipping and sometimes not getting back what I put in I ended up losing a little money. I ultimately had to stop because money became an issue, but there were many more pups I would love to try. (I did find some favorites and things that worked with specific guitars and was able to stick w/them)
    So although I can imagine there are some folks that pound you guys with way too many questions going into levels of detail you really can't answer for them I do have to think for some the motivation is to minimize the risk of losing money.
    I am probably stating the obvious, but I just hope that we don't lose site of that. Taking a $60 hit on a $250 set of pups may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but to some it hurts quite a bit. My personal situation is such that I have to sell gear to buy gear. I can't invest new $$ into this hobby so I have to liquidate whenever I want something. So coming up with $250 by selling something only to end up with $190 to try another set of pups cuz I didn't like those...that starts to hurt.
    I try to keep my questions to winders down to things like stating the music I play, the guitar, the amp and overall kind of tone I am going for and then asking which set should do what I want in terms of how I want it to drive the amp or not. I might ask for a comparison of two models that seem to fit my parameters.
     
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  16. geetarfreek82

    geetarfreek82 Senior Member

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    I'm confident enough in my playing and in my guitars and amps enough to agree with this as well. :slash:
     
  17. bsm9981

    bsm9981 Senior Member

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    I would like to put my 2 cents in if its okay. I don't have much experiance with pickups, but I have bought from a couple of the winders on here. My experiance has been that what makes buying from these guys better IMO, is the experiance you get when doing so. Personal contact, you get to explain what kind of guitars you have, what woods they are made of, and so on and so forth, and then you get a recommendation from someone who is experianced in the field, and if they don't have a set that works for you, they'll tweek it to make it work. Makes me feel like they are actually trying to put the right set of pickups for my style of music and my guitars, amps ect. May or may not cost more than off the shelf pickups, but the experiance you get, especially when your a novice like me is priceless. My opinion. Plus the ones I've delt with, give a return policy, if you don't like it, send it back, and they'll try to make you something your happy with.
     
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  18. acstorfer

    acstorfer Senior Member

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    Sorry, I'm too lazy to read all the posts. Please forgive me if I'm repeating what someone else said.

    I like the boutique stuff, but I also like nearly every aftermarket pickup I've heard, "boutique" or mass-produced. I think a difference in the prices may have a great deal to do with the pup being made in the USA or China, Korea, Mexico, Indonesia, etc.
     
  19. WolfeMacleod

    WolfeMacleod V.I.P. Member MLP Vendor

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    That's why, in 1998, I had the "Wind 'em till you like 'em" guarantee. And still do. I think I was the first to offer that.
    You don't like 'em? Send 'em back, we'll go in another direction. I think I give 30-45 days. I forget which offhand.

    The only part about that guarantee that irks me though, is when someone goes directly against my suggestions for what I feel will work for him and orders something I know won't work... and then winds up sending them back 2 or 3 times...
    It's happened.
     
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  20. captcoolaid

    captcoolaid Senior Member

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    +1
     

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