Neck pickup, help me end the madness!

el84ster

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Guys, I need serous help from your collective knowledge.
my question is how does anyone, ever get a good sound out of a neck humbucker (not too muddy and huge) without making the bridge sound horrible?? Talking about with a les Paul, the neck
on my L5 is heaven!

for background, I’ve been playing for over 30 years, run a recording studio, have a music degree, been around guitar players forever.
I can get a great neck sound by itself making the amp brighter, but then the bridge is shrill. So I roll down the bridge tone, then the bridge sucks.

how do folks do this? I wish I could use both but mainly live on the bridge.

I’m using early pat number pick ups, so they’re clear and bright. I’ve lowered the bass side of the neck pickup but then the lower strings get too weak. I’ve messed with the pole screws, that helps some...I’ve changed magnets...gads.

What is the answer? Do most just pick one pickup and live there?
Thanks in advance for helping save my sanity!
 

Brek

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Yeah, I guess I do pick one, although trying to use both as was advised by a member on here to do, and to just play about with the balance. This muddiness people speak of , I not sure what that sound is, if pickup is too close I find the bass is over emphasised like putting a rear ported speaker too close to a wall. I have my neck quite low though, 4mm from bottom of string. I for no particular reason that to keep dirt out balance individual strings making sure no one pole is lower than the cover, and also non to night that the base of the cheese head is proud of the cover either.
 

NotScott

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Assuming you have your pickups setup to provide you with the tone you want and assuming you are talking about a typical LP control setup, I set up my amp to provide the best tone for the neck pup with tone and volume on 10. Then I use the bridge tone to take off the shrill from the bridge pup. Works like a champ every time.

Also, I prefer 50s wiring to modern wiring as it tends to keep more clarity when backing down guitar volumes.
 

Duane_the_tub

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Easiest way is to put an EQ pedal in front of your amp that you can step on when you want to get on the neck. That way you can fine-tune whatever tone you want out if it.

I also run early PAT #s and my neck p/u has the voice of God. It's low wind, though (7.3K). I think it's an anomaly compared to how they were usually wound.
 

el84ster

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I appreciate all the thoughts. My neck is 7.3 also, higher winds are even worse.
I think sadly the answer is probably most players dial in one pickup and live with the other best they can or work the middle position.

I just love the bridge so much when the amp is set for that, I can’t get away from that.
 

David Garner

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Assuming you have your pickups setup to provide you with the tone you want and assuming you are talking about a typical LP control setup, I set up my amp to provide the best tone for the neck pup with tone and volume on 10. Then I use the bridge tone to take off the shrill from the bridge pup. Works like a champ every time.

Also, I prefer 50s wiring to modern wiring as it tends to keep more clarity when backing down guitar volumes.
Same, and I have two very different setups and it works with both. The first is a Custom Shop Pearly Gates set in the LP in my avatar. That one has a glorious neck pickup, lots of chirp and sparkle to the tone. The bridge is thick, but a little bright and cutting. I set up the amp for the neck pickup, and then I roll the tone on the bridge back to 5 or so. I set height from there, because you can warm up or brighten a pickup just setting the pole pieces and the pickup height.

The second is a JB/59 set in my 93 Standard. It works exactly the same way. I set up the neck pickup right, then work in the bridge. The JB needs a little more treble than the Pearly, probably due to the guitar itself and the fact that it is a hotter wind. It can get piercing if you aren't careful. That one stays between 6 and 7 on the tone knob as home base, and I just work the tone I want from there. People complain about the JB overpowering a lower power pickup, but I honestly don't find it that much hotter than the 59. It's definitely more aggressive, but in terms of volume, the 59 hangs in there just fine.

In both cases, you can get a lot of mileage by turning the amp up and then rolling the guitar's volume back a shade. Both of my guitars sound better with the bridge volume on 9 or 9.5 than on 10. The neck does too unless I'm playing lead, in which case I want the extra cut in most instances. But the bridge in particular gains a lot of clarity and doesn't lose much in output just by rolling it back that little bit. It sounds the same, only thicker and warmer.
 

ErictheRed

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50's wiring, EQ your clean amp to your neck pickup with the tone on 10, then use the bridge pickup with the tone down around 4-7, depending. That will usually do the trick. I admit that for me and my tastes, I have never had this problem with a Les Paul, at least not after converting to 50s wiring.
 

el84ster

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Thanks. I just don’t like the bridge with tone rolled down as much as I like the amp optimized for bridge with tone up.
maybe I should just convert my neck tone control to a bass roll off.
 

David Garner

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Thanks. I just don’t like the bridge with tone rolled down as much as I like the amp optimized for bridge with tone up.
maybe I should just convert my neck tone control to a bass roll off.
Honestly, work with it a bit. You can do a few things to help. You can set up a pedal just for the bridge pickup to help you EQ it and get the bite you want. You can do the same to warm up the neck pickup. Etc.

There is a reason this works for most people, and I was an "everything on 10 always" guy forever, and I always hated my neck pickups. Once it clicked, it really clicked, and I started getting tones I could only dream of before.

Amp up, guitar volume down (slightly), a little cleaner than you thought you needed, optimize for neck pickup and roll down bridge tone. It is a proven formula for great tone.
 

NotScott

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Honestly, work with it a bit. You can do a few things to help. You can set up a pedal just for the bridge pickup to help you EQ it and get the bite you want. You can do the same to warm up the neck pickup. Etc.

There is a reason this works for most people, and I was an "everything on 10 always" guy forever, and I always hated my neck pickups. Once it clicked, it really clicked, and I started getting tones I could only dream of before.

Amp up, guitar volume down (slightly), a little cleaner than you thought you needed, optimize for neck pickup and roll down bridge tone. It is a proven formula for great tone.
This x 1000000!
 

Stinky Kitty

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I've had results that are pleasing to me using a .15k or .10k value cap in the neck. This has worked for me with a variety of pick ups: T-Tops, ECP Electric Flag, Stock 49x, various Duncans, 57 Classics, and some other custom winders to name just a few.
 

Tonemeister

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OP this is being discussed in more than a few threads currently. Here’s one ...

 

BadMongo

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.15k or .10k??

is that .15uF or .15nF? Where in the circuit?
It'd be .015uF as the cap between the volume and tone pots, instead of the standard 0.022uf, presumably. I'll second that, sinking the neck pickup low, and possibly tuning the bridge pickup darker by dropping its polepieces as well if you don't like the tone rolloff.
 

el84ster

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Thank you all, I actually got this to work after 25 years!
I basically did everything suggested (except lowering the cap value). I’ve tried all these things over the years, but I think they have to be all done together.
Amp bright, neck poles up/the rest lowered and use the tone on the bridge. I also lowered the bridge pu a touch to warm that up a bit.
And boom! Super versatile and so many great sounds.
Amazing. And thanks again!
 

Stinky Kitty

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Those would be .01uF and .015uF. Use them in place of the stock neck pup tone cap. I use the Russian PIOs. They sound good, are cheap and readily available.
It'd be .015uF as the cap between the volume and tone pots, instead of the standard 0.022uf, presumably. I'll second that, sinking the neck pickup low, and possibly tuning the bridge pickup darker by dropping its polepieces as well if you don't like the tone rolloff.
Yes, .01uF and .015uF, and yes, in place of the standard .22uF. Sometimes testing different values can dial in a sweet range.

Edited to add that I prefer the cap mod because the pick up heights are free to adjust for best tone, volume, and best balance for the middle position rather than being committed to a specific height for corrective purposes.
 
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eddie_bowers

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This (works great)


neck still sounds fat, just not boomy. I constantly use all pickup selections on both my les Pauls (one has P90s).
 


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