How to Install Pickups

"I always forget — which end gets hot?"

“I always forget — which end gets hot?”

Somewhat embarrassingly, I never got around to changing one of my own pickups until I was knocking on senility’s door recently. I owe part of the inspiration to that fabulous DIY Fest known as the Maker Fair, where each year hundreds of little kids learn to [...]

Those Times When It’s Good to NOT Play Like Yourself…

I am not any of these people —but I pretended to be them.

Can we all agree that it’s a good thing when guitarists and bassists cultivate their own style? Even a jaded old cuss experienced music journalist like me still gets a thrill upon discovering a new player with a startlingly original voice.

I am not any of these people —but I pretended to be them.

[...]

How Nashville High-Stringing Works

You don't have to be high in Nashville to enjoy Nashville high-strung.

You don’t have to be high in Nashville to enjoy Nashville high-strung.

Nashville high-strung tuning is one of the guitar’s great magic tricks. It has a delicious, “secrets of the Guild” quality — you feel like an insider just knowing what it is.

Not that I did know what it is until embarrassingly late [...]

Does a Guitar Ever Play You?

The other day I posted a demo for a high-gain pickup, and I’m usually a lower-gain guy. Zyon said in comments that it sounded like Santana. (It sort of did, if you can imagine a clumsy, out-of-tune Santana with a really short attention span.)

But I assure you, Carlos was far from my conscious [...]

What’s the Deal with Alnico VIII Magnets?

Like this royalty-free clip-art illustration, the Alternative 8 is aggressive but round.

Like this royalty-free clip-art illustration, the Alternative 8 manages to be both aggressive and round.

I was talking to some of the Seymour Duncan dudes the other day about pickups models deserving greater public awareness. One of the first names on everyone’s lips was the Alternative 8, a a high-output humbucker that uses a [...]

A Cheap Archtop Upgrade!

Sounds like MONEY!

Sounds like MONEY!

I’ve said it so many times, I feel like the parrot of pickups, but here goes again: These days the weakest links on inexpensive Asian and Mexican guitars are invariably the pickups. Upgrading them often yields a princely axe at a pauperly price.

A perfect example is the Ibanez Art Star [...]

Are Your Sinister — or Dextrous?

"Why is everything upside-down?"

“Why is everything upside-down?”

You know the origin of the word “sinister,” don’t you? It’s the Latin word for “left,” which, according to etymologists, became associated with evil, thanks to the medieval belief that left-handed people were deceitful and probably possessed. Meanwhile, “dexterous,” which means adept with your hands or brain, is from the [...]

Mixing Magnets in One Pickup

This pickup is ferocious on the bottom and sweet on top.

Aggressive on the bass side, sweet on the top.

I was talking to Seymour the other day about the types of magnets used in vintage Fender pickups. I knew that Fender used strong, punchy alnico V magnets in most of their models, but I didn’t know that the earliest Teles used softer-sounding alnico IIs, [...]

Play Me Something I Don’t Already Know!

Africa's finest: The eternal Dr. Nico.

Africa’s finest: The eternal Dr. Nico.

Looking for some cool new stuff to listen to? Or some cool old stuff that just happens to be new to you? Me too!

This thread’s goal is to share some personal guitar or bass favorites that aren’t as well known as they should be. You know — [...]