High or Low Output pickup for Dino Rock?

In the 80's it was basically the DiMarzio's Super Distortion vs. the Duncan's JB, with the occasional Bill Lawrence and then the EMGs showed up. That was it for High Gain, and those who were old school were going for the PAF flavor. Now there are thousands of options and it's hard to make your mind even from a single brand (the Duncan website offers endless variants even on the same style).

So I was thinking, as far as Dino Hard Rock goes: There are several ways to get there (pedals or amps) but as far as pickups go, what do you guys prefer? Low output and then let the amp do all the work? or High Output from the start?

I know Gary Moore used original PAFs on his Les Pauls, which are very low output compared to today's standards. On the other hand, John Sykes used Dirty Fingers and got insane amounts of gain (I use these two as examples because one was influenced by the other and have similar approaches to their playing, but their tones are quite different.


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Comments

  • VenomboyVenomboy Posts: 3,348
    High output with clarity.

    I really like the DiMarzio CrunchLab/Liquifire set. Gives me the clarity and sizzle I love.

    EMGs and the Widle USA pickups are super clear but are high output.

    I think it depends on the character of your amp. My Framus is super clear and I can get a lot of sustain with most pickups. If I'm recording I just back off the gain on the amp to get more clarity. I also really pay attention to my picking dynamics. I think too many players haven't worked on their hand strength and dynamics and rely on a ton of gain to make notes sing.
  • Gunner4LifeGunner4Life Posts: 5,722
    I had great results with the fairly low output Duncan PATB Blues Saraceno pickups, I guess they're 9.5k, which isn't really low, but I thought they sounded phenomenal in a high gain amp setting, but were really just a hot PAF. 
  • inmyhandsinmyhands Posts: 11,037
    It depends on the rest of your signal chain. If you're using vintage amps or amps built to vintage specifications and analog vintage effects you'll do far better with low output pickups. If your signal chain is made up of modern build effects and modern build amplifiers you'll probably do better with high output pickups.

    It's all about the relationship of signal chain components. Old School vs. New School. In the past I screamed for the vintage side of everything including low output pickups. Today I realize that components evolve together. As one part of the signal chain advances or at least evolves into a new format the rest of the signal chain has to also evolve.

    I still and always love low output pups because the majority of my favorite effects work best with them. That said ..... many modern day effects, (strymon for example), will work equally with low or high gain pickups. The DA pickups in a Les Paul are very high output and they've become my favorite LP pickups.
  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 647
    I became really enamored with the relatively low output T-Type pickups in the 79 Les Paul, to the extent that I'm leaning more in that direction for future pickup purchases. In my opinion, the main virtue in hot pickups was to drive low gain amps into more distortion. Since we have multitudes of ways to generate distortion, I think it frees up guitarists to pick based on the overall EQ curve, how they respond to picking, and how they respond to the guitar's controls. 
  • Dinosaur David BDinosaur David B Posts: 15,627
    edited February 8
    inmyhands said:
    It depends on the rest of your signal chain. If you're using vintage amps or amps built to vintage specifications and analog vintage effects you'll do far better with low output pickups. If your signal chain is made up of modern build effects and modern build amplifiers you'll probably do better with high output pickups.

    It's all about the relationship of signal chain components. Old School vs. New School. In the past I screamed for the vintage side of everything including low output pickups. Today I realize that components evolve together. As one part of the signal chain advances or at least evolves into a new format the rest of the signal chain has to also evolve.

    I still and always love low output pups because the majority of my favorite effects work best with them. That said ..... many modern day effects, (strymon for example), will work equally with low or high gain pickups. The DA pickups in a Les Paul are very high output and they've become my favorite LP pickups.
    I couldn't have said it better.  It's not an either/or  -- both high AND low output pups work equally great for Dino-style rock. It's just a matter of matching it to the rest of your rig.

    TravisW said:
     In my opinion, the main virtue in hot pickups was to drive low gain amps into more distortion. Since we have multitudes of ways to generate distortion, I think it frees up guitarists to pick based on the overall EQ curve, how they respond to picking, and how they respond to the guitar's controls. 
    Also quite true!

    I see these questions a LOT -- and not just here.  The more apt/real question is a philosophical one, and its: where in your rig do you want to get your distortion from?  PickupsAmp? Pedals? Combination?

    I have everything from John Cruz vintage-style single coils, and vintage PAFs to high-output Duncan QPs, Aldrich HBs and EMGs.  They all sound GREAT if you're know what you're doing. 


    Post edited by Dinosaur David B on
    The only guy in Boston who knows what that thing sticking out of the left side of the steering column is for. 
  • Seven MoonsSeven Moons Posts: 7,699
    I don't think there can be a dogma about this. I happen to like high output pickups with clarity and "crisp" tone: EMGs, Gibson Iommi sig pups...  I don't have to use a booster or massive preamp gain, because the DSL reacts very well to punchy pickups IMO.  
  • SanchoSancho Posts: 17,922
    A JB is more than enough for me. I throw in an OD9 with medium gain amps like a Marshall JCM800.
    With my high gain amps, it's plenty.

    Years ago, I would have gone for the hottest output pickup available and had any amp's gain maxed out.
    Nowadays, I like some definition to what I'm playing...
  • cvansicklecvansickle Posts: 5,683
    Interesting discussion, and timely for me as I've made a couple of observations lately.

    I have Suhr Doug Aldrich pickups (Alnico 5 magnets) in one of my Les Pauls. Those pickups are hot, but have more warmth than bite. They have their own natural compression. Another LP has Fralin High Output pickups (Alnico 4), and I would characterize these as more hi-fi sounding, brighter and tighter, much less compressed than the DAs. My new LP has 57 Classic/Classic + pickups (Alnico 2) which I perceive as having a close to true vintage output, and they're definitely not as loud as the pickups on the other two.

    In my high gain rig, I don't notice the difference as much. The 57s retain smoothness, the Fralins stay bright, and the DAs stay hot. In a lower wattage rig, using an amp just on the verge of breakup, the DAs get into distortion territory very easily. The Fralins need to be pushed a little harder, but when it happens they seem louder than the DAs. The 57s kind of stay at that almost there place when driven a little harder. Add an OD pedal and there are tons of sounds available throughout the volume knobs' ranges on all of them.
    Death Or Glory - Who Dares Wins!
  • Tatosh GuitarTatosh Guitar Posts: 393
    edited February 8
    I had great results with the fairly low output Duncan PATB Blues Saraceno pickups, I guess they're 9.5k, which isn't really low, but I thought they sounded phenomenal in a high gain amp setting, but were really just a hot PAF. 
    I have heard great things about this pickups, and I am really curious. How would it compare to, say, a Custom? Those are supposedly high output PAFs...
    inmyhands said:
    It depends on the rest of your signal chain. If you're using vintage amps or amps built to vintage specifications and analog vintage effects you'll do far better with low output pickups. If your signal chain is made up of modern build effects and modern build amplifiers you'll probably do better with high output pickups.

    It's all about the relationship of signal chain components. Old School vs. New School. In the past I screamed for the vintage side of everything including low output pickups. Today I realize that components evolve together. As one part of the signal chain advances or at least evolves into a new format the rest of the signal chain has to also evolve.

    I still and always love low output pups because the majority of my favorite effects work best with them. That said ..... many modern day effects, (strymon for example), will work equally with low or high gain pickups. The DA pickups in a Les Paul are very high output and they've become my favorite LP pickups.
    This is a great comment, and quite illustrative. Personally I love vintage, old school stuff. But I always end up adding more gain than I would have thought of doing in theory. As far as I can tell, all of my guitars have high output pickups. In the past I used vintage Marshalls, but they are too loud for my current applications. With my current setup, which is a clean fender amp with pedals for dirt, my Strat sounds awesome (it has a Duncan's custom 5 in the bridge). But if I use the same settings with my Explorer, which has Dirty Fingers, the distortion becomes unbearable (at least to me).
    TravisW said:
    I became really enamored with the relatively low output T-Type pickups in the 79 Les Paul, to the extent that I'm leaning more in that direction for future pickup purchases. In my opinion, the main virtue in hot pickups was to drive low gain amps into more distortion. Since we have multitudes of ways to generate distortion, I think it frees up guitarists to pick based on the overall EQ curve, how they respond to picking, and how they respond to the guitar's controls. 
    I have heard Michael Schenker used T-Type pickups in his UFO days, basically because that's what came as standard on Vs. I love that sound, but those are hard to find without spending big bucks. I wonder if there are any similar modern equivalents from one of the big brands...

    Yeah, high output is a bit like boosting at the very start of the signal. That's why the vintage metal guys jumped to the super distortion as soon as they became available. But my pedals have plenty of gain on their own, certainly way more than I need. So I wonder how any of my guitars would sound with low output pick ups...
    Post edited by Tatosh Guitar on
  • Interesting discussion, and timely for me as I've made a couple of observations lately.

    I have Suhr Doug Aldrich pickups (Alnico 5 magnets) in one of my Les Pauls. Those pickups are hot, but have more warmth than bite. They have their own natural compression. Another LP has Fralin High Output pickups (Alnico 4), and I would characterize these as more hi-fi sounding, brighter and tighter, much less compressed than the DAs. My new LP has 57 Classic/Classic + pickups (Alnico 2) which I perceive as having a close to true vintage output, and they're definitely not as loud as the pickups on the other two.

    In my high gain rig, I don't notice the difference as much. The 57s retain smoothness, the Fralins stay bright, and the DAs stay hot. In a lower wattage rig, using an amp just on the verge of breakup, the DAs get into distortion territory very easily. The Fralins need to be pushed a little harder, but when it happens they seem louder than the DAs. The 57s kind of stay at that almost there place when driven a little harder. Add an OD pedal and there are tons of sounds available throughout the volume knobs' ranges on all of them.
    If I had a Les Paul, I would certainly give the DAs, some serious thoughts... Heck, I have considered swapping the Dirty Fingers from the Explorer several times... who knows?
  • mr_crowleymr_crowley Posts: 6,015
    I prefer a bit of a hotter pickup. As mentioned in the thread it really depends where in your rig you want to create the distortion and get some extra push. What I don't really see mentioned though (maybe because it is very obvious) is that where you choose to boost the signal into something hotter and send it into overdrive (quite literally :p ) does really affect how the distortion will sound.

    I like the hotter pickups because there is a compression and clarity there from the get-go which I find it easier to work with to achieve what I like rather than having to boost the signal after the fact into something that really isn't there to begin with but it all comes down to a matter of personal taste.
  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 647
    I have heard Michael Schenker used T-Type pickups in his UFO days, basically because that's what came as standard on Vs. I love that sound, but those are hard to find without spending big bucks. I wonder if there are any similar modern equivalents from one of the big brands...

    Yeah, high output is a bit like boosting at the very start of the signal. That's why the vintage metal guys jumped to the super distortion as soon as they became available. But my pedals have plenty of gain on their own, certainly way more than I need. So I wonder how any of my guitars would sound with low output pick ups...
    To my ear, the big thing with T-tops is that they are fairly clean, have a present but not overbearing midrange, and are capable of a chime-like clean that is more like a big single coil, like a P-90. I've only played a few original PAFs, but they were likewise low to mid output. 

    T-Tops were invented to replace the PAF only because the tooling was in need of replacement. So the idea wasn't that the pickup was supposed to sound significantly different, and I think a lot of similar sonic characteristics carry over. T-Tops are a lot more consistent than PAFs, so there aren't any really "hot" ones like you'll hear about with PAFs. I think there are probably a lot of pretty authentic PAF-based pickups that capture those same attributes. That's what I've been looking at, anyway. 
  • Nick LaytonNick Layton Posts: 592
    With the amp I'm using now (Marshall DSL) I like to set the gain pretty low (about 11 o clock) and boost the signal with an overdrive. I get nice clarity and more than enough gain depending on how I set the overdrive. What I'm finding is that my new guitar which has EMG's requires me to back off the overdrive gain in comparison to my other guitars which have DiMarzios. I want the character of the pick up and guitar to come through without masking it with too much gain...and I think the Marshall sounds better set at a lower gain...so I just adjust the overdrive pedal depending on the guitar/pickup combo. I used to swear by low to medium gain output pick ups but I'm finding I really enjoy the clarity and punch of the EMG's as well. 
  • SanchoSancho Posts: 17,922
    For all the crap EMGs get, they offer remarkable note separation and definition.
  • VenomboyVenomboy Posts: 3,348
    I love my EMG's. They're very consistent but they don't make every guitar sound exactly the same. Been experimenting with the X Series as well.
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