Is every neck pickup muddy???

tonepad

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Finally weighing in on this...First welcome to the OP and it's a decent topic to discuss, in fact I was just getting ready to start a thread when this popped onto the radar. Here's what I've been experiencing.
I have 3 LP standards....#1: 2006 G0....#2: 2005 LP Faded....#3: 2008 LP Faded (chambered) After successfully finding bridge pups that I liked for these 3 (another topic) I decided to take on the neck pups in an attempt to make the pieces more usable in that position. The '05 Faded responds very well to having a Duncan '59 in the neck, in fact it's a great combo. The '08 LP Faded being chambered is a bit less fussy (they are a bit thinner sounding what with less wood and the chamber effect) so The stock BB Pro was not bad and the SD '59 is also stellar and for now I'm running with a Seth Lover minus the cover. The bitch of the bunch is the G0, which while about the same weight as the '05 Faded doesn't like much of any Neck pup I've tried. I'm specifically talking about the low E and A strings when playing an F/C/G/A down there. I've put a '59 in that piece for now but it def sounds muddier in there than in my other 2, but the best yet of my available selection. So I'm coming to the conclusion that the wood in the G0 is creating some of the mud. It's not just about weight since the G0 is slightly less than the '05 Faded. (8.09 lbs vs 9.06 lbs) so that's a head scratcher.

My test amp is a '65 Fender Deluxe with either the stock Oxford (now pulled for) a New Jensen C12Q and soon a vintage Jensen Concert recone. Now this amp/speaker combo has a rep for being low end challenged, but since 2 of the guitars are sounding good I'm staying with that amp.

Hope my findings shed some light. My take away is that it's not a universal problem so that may explain why many posts are from users w/o issues, but many of us with even multiple axes can experience the issue and though there are solutions not every fix works. I've tried the cap in line trick and I'm going to put one on the SD '59 in the G0 to see if it takes me the rest of the way.

Thanks to everyone for the input here, I've gotten a lot of info. Maybe we should finally get a sticky going on this common problem.
 

Playforfun

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I've only been playing Les Paul's for a short time,but I will just say this. Possibly the best sound I've ever heard from a guitar is the SD 59 in the neck of my Les Paul. I EQ the neck first then adjust volume an tone on the bridge. This works for me good luck I hope you find the sound you're looking for.
 

freefrog

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My take away is that it's not a universal problem so that may explain why many posts are from users w/o issues, but many of us with even multiple axes can experience the issue and though there are solutions not every fix works.
Morning post before to work... :)





Yes, of course, the acoustic resonance of a guitar counts in the result.

And no, obviously, not every fix works in any case.



Now, there’s a few things which remain true in any situation IME/AFAIK:

-mud is due to bass and low mids;


-pickups with a high pitched “resonant frequency” have symmetrically less bass and low mids to offer;


-a high pitched resonant peak requires a low stray capacitance and a low inductance.






To obtain a high pitched resonant frequency and a clear overall spectrum, it’s better to try a PAF replica with…


1-low wound coils, in order to have a low inductance;


2-unpotted wire: wax tends to increase capacitance and to shift down the resonant peak, bringing back the mud;


3-low to moderate gauss: powerful mags cause a higher resonant peak BUT also a big bass rumble, making a PU harsh and muddy in the same time (listen some contemporary Gibson PAF replicas). Magnetically transparent materials are also necessary because an altered magnetic field gives a rounder resonant peak, which might lack of clarity.


4-precisely tensioned winding. In a few words, “Hand winding” (hand guiding) or loose machine winding = low tension and broad response. Machine winding = tighter coils and tighter tone, more focused and nasal. A coil wound too tight and/or with a capacitive wire insulation will have a too high stray capacitance and will get dark;


5-each of the boutique PAF clones that I’ve tried until now had all the qualities mentioned above.



A few more notes to share:


A capacitor in series with a pickup brings down the bass and low mids (Hi pass filter).


A HB splitted or in parallel has a lower inductance, hence a higher resonant peak, hence less bass and low mids.


Pulling off the screws diminishes the inductance too and changes the HB in a single coil with a hum cancelling dummy coil.

WARNING: this trick shown by Scott Grove comes from Nashville session musicians. It works with PAF and their faithful replicas, whose poles are screwed in the coils AND baseplate. If your pickup has a baseplate with larger holes, a keeper bar floating around the screws and some coils made of soft plastic, screwing and unscrewing your pole pieces will finally strip the plastic and make the screw poles impossible to set properly...



Regarding Duncans: I use their PU's since the 80's and am a big fan of the Seth Lover, that I feel as the best mass produced PAF replica on the market.
I’ve tried all of their “SH” line (Duncan PAF variations) and most of their SSL’s for Strats. I’ve even here some pre-historic/pre-Duncan “Seymourized” SH1’s, probably built in 1978.


On this basis, I’d say that Seymour tends to "voice" his vintage replicas with rich low mids (remember: these replicas were initially designed to replace T-Tops and CBS single coils, low wound and thin sounding; fat low mids are in the DNA of Duncan’s). That’s why typical Duncan’s work with some guitars, not with others, IME/IMO.


FWIW (2 cents of morning thought). Have a nice day! :wave:
 

rabidhamster

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This indeed works well on the individual pickup. The issue I had with this was that it affects the middle position in a weird way: the low strings sound out of phase.

Cheers Stephan

Interesting. Its not unthinkable that the resistance/reactance of the pickups plus the cap in series on the neck would cause some phase shift. One can read for hours on inductor-capacitor phase shift.
 

Bluefox

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They were called 'Super Humbuckers'. They use ceramic magnets and a low resistance coil (usually around the 6k/ohm mark). This makes for a much clearer and articulate sounding pickup then a normal PAF style pickup. Due to the strong magnets, the actual output is still strong (comparable to an 8-9k/ohm pickup).They are potted in tar, hence they are often called tarbacks. There was a set on eBay for $200USD IIRC not long ago. I have a 1977 L6-S custom with these in them. It's a wonderful guitar.

I currently don't own a Gibson Les Paul, but if I did get one, my plan would be to put a set of these in it. They are a bit of an undiscovered gem of a pickup I feel.

The pickups on the L-6S were called True Blues and are different than Super Humbuckers. They have three ceramic magnets and a DCR of 6k.
To the OP: Lots of good suggestions by Dougie, but that's not surprising as any post from him is a learning experience.
About contemporary pickups the brightest I can think of, in a good way, is the El Diablo set by Lollar. But those are very clear and would bring the Les Paul to a complete different sonic venue.
To let it be still a Les Paul, 50's wiring and boutique pickups should solve the problem.
I have a guitar fitted purposedly with a 8,3 neck pickup and a 8k bridge pickup, and it's fat and clear. Of course the bridge pickup will sound brighter than usual, by comparison with the neck, but that's useful for some country licks and for blues I simply turn down its tone control.
The middle position gives tots of nuances adjusting the volume controls.
To me that gives a very wide range of tones from the same guitar, I don't see the point inf having a guitar that sounds the same whatever pickup is selected. The amp and speaker choice is important, but to me this set up works with vintage Fender and Marshall amps and mostly Jensen speakers or very old Celestion, I don't use modern style amps, so I don't know what it would be with them.
 

victrola1915

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I just use a equalizer between the guitar and amp.

No modifications to any of my guitars.
No modifications to my amps.

A equalizer was the simple, perfect solution to my problem.
And it was only $100 . The mud is GONE!

Come on people.......think outside the box.
 

freefrog

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Come on people.......think outside the box.

As someone who uses a Variax, a Roland Guitar Synth, active pickups and various digital MFX's besides my analog gear, I should be able to think out of the box...

... but an EQ is active electronics.

Active electronics never sounds like passive devices. It colors the tone and adds noise...

So, if an EQ is a good solution in your case, I'm glad for you. But there's reasons why it doesn't work for other people.

Have a nice day, everybody!
 

darkbluemurder

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I just use a equalizer between the guitar and amp.

No modifications to any of my guitars.
No modifications to my amps.

A equalizer was the simple, perfect solution to my problem.
And it was only $100 . The mud is GONE!

Come on people.......think outside the box.

That reminds me of the beginning of my guitar playing time. I had an SG which I played through an old transistor radio (did not have an amp back then). I needed a special cable with a 5-pin cinch plug on one side to connect to the radio. Then I put an Ibanez EQ between guitar and radio - I think the model name was GE-6 or GE-7 - which also had a volume fader to balance the EQ'd sound to the bypassed sound. Guess what I did - pushed all the faders up of course:dude:. Harmonic feedback at will. Killer slide sound, too. Lesson learned: an EQ can be used to equalise low output.

Cheers Stephan
 

2001standard

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Try a 550k Pot for the neck with a .015 cap. Make sure the bass side of pick up is at least 1/8th of inch from low e string fretted at 22nd fret.

EQ your amp to neck pick up and just lower tone on bridge to match.

Or if none of that works Dump those pick ups and get some Fralins pure pafs or dimarzio 36th and you'll love em.
 

Shadowplayer

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I have a set of Fralin PAF's in my Les Paul and the neck pup aint muddy at all. But compared to my blue strat its a little muddy, guess it picks up a bit more gain
 

Laars

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I just did this to a few of my friends guitars. Works great. roll back the volume, and it stays crystal clear. NO WOOFY blanket over the speaker sound.

 

victrola1915

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FREEFROG..........
your Variax, a Roland Guitar Synth, active pickups and various digital MFX's all are active electronics. They seem to improve your sound.
It seems that EVERYONE who posts on the Les Paul forum owns a amplifier or 4.
All amps are active electronics. (volume, bass, middle,treble, preamp, main amplifier).
Active electronics works for everybody who plugs into a amp and turns it on.
Pedals etc. or not..........once any amp is turned on, you are coloring the tone with the amplifiers' active electronics.

A simple "quality" equalizer can save a lot of people a pickup swap, a tone capacitor swap or even a amplifier speaker swap. Swaps seem to be the majority of forum
questions and subjects from my observations.

Just trying to simplify the matter you see.
 

freefrog

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FREEFROG..........

[...]

Just trying to simplify the matter you see.
[...]

questions and subjects from my observations.

Forewords: I know that you try to help. that's what I do too. :)

And we can have different experiences/tell opposite things without necessarily be "wrong". It's a question of perspective.

About EQ's, I agree with you : pre-EQing and post EQ-ing (EQ before and after the preamp) are extremely useful. They are even the KEY of guitar tones for someone who knows how to set them. :slash:




All amps are active electronics. (volume, bass, middle,treble, preamp, main amplifier).
Active electronics works for everybody who plugs into a amp and turns it on.
Pedals etc. or not..........once any amp is turned on, you are coloring the tone with the amplifiers' active electronics.
Guitar amps are active but expect a "passive" signal. Because of their huge amplification factor, they become hissy and noisy when fed by a typical active circuit.
My Variax produces hiss. My Charvel with active electronics too. Noise gates work but tend to alter and eat the sound...

It's always a trade off with guitar devices. One of the downside of active electronics is the noise. That's life...


A simple "quality" equalizer can save a lot of people a pickup swap, a tone capacitor swap or even a amplifier speaker swap. Swaps seem to be the majority of forum
Let me tell you a part of my long relationship with EQing.

I'm an old fart. :laugh2:

There's 34 years now that I tinker with guitar stuff, for me and my friends (as I do it for free, they appreciate my work - LOL).

Ten years ago, I've took the road of tone emulation: that's why I've bought a Variax, a synth, MFX's, various full range amps and systems to amplify all this gear and so on.


PROS:

-it has been an educative experience;

-tone emulation with EQ's or modeling is an effective solution to sound good and versatile with a minimum of gear.



CONS:

-setting modelers and EQ's is time consuming. All forums are full of people who pass their life to tweak the gear instead to play. I've been one of them;

-EQing or modeling can mimic a tone but can't change the basic sound of the devices used : guitar pickup, loudspeakers, tubes etc have each a fundamental resonant frequency. No EQ can alter it, even with corrections of 20db. A corrected sound always sounds... corrected. At least for my old ears.

In the same way, a cheap pickup, with a dark muddy tone can be EQed to sound better... but it won't loose its lack of clarity: it's in the absence of stray capacitance in the coils that such a clarity lives.


-Last but not least: EQing might have unexpected results...

Let's try to correct the tone of a Fender amp + cab and to make it sound like a Marshall + Celestion: we'll have to
dig the high mids for that, thanks to some post EQing (an EQ in the loop, for example).

At home, it works...

But once on stage, the amp gets lost in the mix because the post EQing eats its strongest frequencies... and when we set it louder, the speaker begins to fart because the post EQing interacts with its natural peaks and dips... I've seen that dozens of times. :thumb:

That's why people swap Eminence's for Celestion's. :)



Now, let's try to obtain a crystal clear tone from a powerful 16k bridge humbucker... pre-EQing is our friend.

We scoop the mids on a wide spectrum, with a low Q factor. We rise the volume because the sound is weaker...

At low level, the result is stunning: hey, my SH4 sounds clearer than a Strat!

At the rehearsal room we plug the axe, crank up the volume and play.
The crystal clear tone is still there. Gorgeous.

And suddendly... POOF. Hey, my amp has blown a fuse. What happened?

Two weeks later, the amp tech calls: the OT of the amp is dead. Its tube have melted (!).

A reflection explains that: actually, the "cleaning" pre-EQing used was'nt killing the power of the SH4. The HB was still sending its overpowering signal to the amp, in the extreme low and high ranges.

The tubes have struggled to death to amplify these frequencies that the speaker couldn't reproduce. Then they have failed.

It's a true story: been there, seen that too. :lol:

This testimonial is meant to share an experience: I sincerely hope it to be useful.

And I stop there because I've done my post of the week. Sorry for the long rambling... :laugh2: :wave:

 

Lord High Warlock

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I found the 490R on my '50s Tribute to be quite bright. In fact, when set to 10, I found it TOO bright for most of the stuff I play, and turned it down to around 6. The range it has just amazes me.

The Epi Ultra-III I had before that, though, was quite muddy in comparison.
 

tonepad

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Here's an update on my muddy neck problem with my '06 LP G0. I had parked a Duncan '59 zebra in it since that flavor pup works really well in my '05 LPS Faded. It was almost as good but still dark so I tried the Duncan inline cap idea....a PIO .015 works very well in there now. So well that I also strapped one in my '08 Faded Seth Lover, again a desired result. Hell I might even try one in my '05 Faded now. I also helped the cause in other ways by installing a reconed Jensen Concert speaker in my 65 Fender Deluxe...a much nicer, more full range speaker, that still breaks up nicely but has a better, tighter low end than either the classic stock Oxford or a newer made in Italy Jensen.

Since I've gotten really good at neck pup swaps now, I'm now considering a Duncan Jazz neck since it appears to be voiced a bit differently than either the '59 or Seth. Anyone used one of these?

Re. the EQ idea...I think I'm like a lot of players in that I like to start with the best natural tone possible. Since I record a lot, that means Guitar, Amp, Mic, Preamp/comp. I have a nice selection to use and have favorite combos that all start with a solid natural tone. From that point I do add some pedals to taste and in the EQ dept. I have a RC Booster that can add just the right amount of treble/bass as needed, but sometimes not...it's just seasoning that I don't have to use to get the tone correct.
 

copperheadroad

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It seems like every stock neck pickup I have is terrible!! Just bought a 13 Trad. Redid all the wiring (50s) with nice pots and caps. It plays like a dream and the bridge pickup is on point, BUT the classic 57 in the neck sounds like the tone is rolled off. I've lowered the pup down to the pickup ring and raised the polepieces very high to no avail, it sounds muddy on all my amps. I'd like it to be bright and then have the woman tone peter green thing on tap with the tone knob. Trolling thru MLP has not given me a direct simple answer. Do I need to adjust it or replace it? What am I missing here? Thanks for your time

The 57 is at the higher range (8k) for a neck pickup The tone can be dark for some .
Most Boutique Winders offer many options .& will certainly help .
The misconception that every neck pickup is muddy ...the same pickup ,Muddy in one guitar & absolutely astonishing in another. :cool:
 

RangerJay

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If I really want a good neck sound, I prefer to pick up a Fender. A single coil just seems to work best for me. However, I've had good luck with a Dimarzio 36th Anniversary pickup in the neck of a Les Paul. I think that a 57 Classic is just too hot in there. I think that almost any low- or vintage-output humbucker will give you less mud.

I used to rarely use the neck pickup only on my LP. Now that I have the Dimarzio in there, I find that I tend to use it more often.
 

jcsk8

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No. Almost every boutique paf replica has a decent neck pup. Dimarzio 36th´s also have a very good neck picukp, Very wel balanced with the bridge. Mine Dr. Vintage´s have amazing neck pickups too.
 

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