New Lollar pickups

I mentioned it last week in my little UPS rant, but my new pickups from Lollar arrived this week. I considered a lot of brands (Fralin, WCR, Wolfetone, etc) but the Lollar pickups sounded like what I wanted.

I decided on the Imperial humbucker for the neck. I got the low-wind option, which gives it an overall brighter tone than the standard Imperial. I got a Special T for the bridge. It’s basically a hot-rodded, high output pickup that sounds almost like a P-90. Both of these pickups use Alnico 5 magnets, which contribute to an overall brighter tone than the Alnico 2 magnets used in the stock G&L pickups.

I installed the new pickups on Monday, but I haven’t really had a chance to play the guitar through a real amp yet. Things have been a little busy at home lately. However, I have played the guitar through the school’s solid state Peavey keyboard amp. That amp is actually surprisingly okay if you set the EQ right. Anyway, my initial impressions are pretty good. The neck humbucker is a lot louder than the bridge pickup, so I still need to tweak the height of the neck pickup a little bit. I also need to mess with the tone cap values a little bit. I currently have a .022 uF cap, but I want to try a couple of other values (Jason Lollar recommends .015 for teles).

Anyway, I don’t have a lot to say about the tone since I haven’t played them through a tube amp, but I think that I’m going to be pretty happy with them. I had two complaints about the the stock pickups. My main problem was that they were too dark. The Lollars are clearly brighter without being icepicky. The other problem is that they were unpotted, so they tended to get microphonic and would squeal whenever you added much gain. I haven’t played with distortion yet, but the Lollars are wax potted so they shouldn’t have the squealing issues.

I’ll post again (with clips) when I have a chance to really play through the new pickups. In the meantime, does anyone need some gently used pickups? I’ve got a Seymour Duncan Seth Lover (PAF-style) and a G&L MFD tele bridge pickup. Both pickups are actually really nice, but they didn’t really agree with the guitar. I think that the semi-hollow body makes the guitar darker or something. Anyway, feel free to send me trade offers or whatever if you’re interested.

Am I insane?

Ever since I got my tele, I have been feeling the urge to learn some country licks. I have resisted so far, but whenever I switch to the bridge pickup, I just want to do some chicken pickin’ or banjo rolls or something.

To state what may already be obvious: I dislike country music. All the “tear in my beer” stuff generally makes me want to puke. Even though country guitarists are some of the fastest, most technically proficient musicians that you’re likely to find in popular music, the twangy, nasal vocals kill it for me. That, and the extremely predictable harmonic, melodic, rhythmic, and lyrical content. So yeah, I don’t like country.

Regardless, I would like to open up my tonal palette a little bit. What country tinged (or maybe alt-country) recordings should I look into for country-flavored guitar stuff. As a rule of thumb, if the lead singer wears a hat (cowboy or trucker) or a big belt buckle, then you probably shouldn’t make the recommendation.

UPS

I’m not a big fan of UPS today.

I ordered a set of tele pickups from Lollar last Friday, and they were supposed to be here today. They were packed and shipped the day that I ordered them and the estimated delivery date was today. It kinda sucks that I paid $12 for shipping and it still takes a full 7 days to get here, but whatever. Unfortunately, they must not have made it out of the UPS warehouse until Monday, because the estimated delivery date got pushed back to next Monday. Ugh.

Anyway, I checked the status yesterday and it looked like they had caught up. The package was set to be delivered today. I get on this morning, expecting to see the familiar “out for delivery,” but instead saw that the package was still in Houston and wouldn’t be delivered until Monday.

It’s not a big deal, but I was really hoping to get the new pickups installed so that I could use them this weekend. It’s a minor irritation at best, but it’s still annoying.

Lately…

I just realized that it’s been almost 2 weeks since my last post. That is is a good example of what not to do to attract new readers. Anyway, this post is going to be pretty random with a lot of non sequiturs as I play catch up.

Anyway, not much has been going on. It seems like the only time that I write anything lately is when I get something new, or when I’m obsessing over getting some new piece of gear. I can honestly say that I am pretty content right now. Of course, there are always things that I wouldn’t mind checking out or adding to my board, but I don’t really “need” anything. For example, I really want to try out the Electro Harmonix Micro POG. I think I could get some really cool pitch-shifted OK Computer type sounds with that thing, but it’s not really a necessity or anything. I also want to check out a tap tremolo [the Seymour Duncan Shape Shifter looks like a great deal - has anyone tried one?], but again, it’s not really necessary.

***

I’m thinking about selling a couple of my DIY pedals. I have a Rangemaster clone and a COT50/Bluesbreaker 2-in-1 combo. They are all nice effects, but I don’t use them. The Rangemaster sounds amazing in front of a cranked amp, but I never crank the gain on my amps. I picked up a couple of transistors (OC44 and OC71) from Small Bear to try with it, and they both sound much better than the leaky OC44 that I had in there before. It’s quieter than before, but it still makes noise at higher gain settings. It’s just the nature of the beast, I’m afraid.

The COT50/BB combo is cool as well, but it doesn’t really sit well in my setup. I’m going for a very clear, uncompressed kind of sound, and both of these effects add a lot of mids and compression to the signal. I did the King of Tone mods to the Bluesbreaker, which lowers the overall gain and reduces the mid hump. It sounds better than the stock values, and it’s actually really cool for adding a little chime and sparkle, but it still sounds a little too much like a pedal (if that makes sense). If you’re interested in either of these, let me know. I’m open for interesting trades or whatever.

***

I really like the  new guitar. However, as the honeymoon draws to a close, I am discovering some little issues. My main complaint is that the neck pickup is pretty muddy on it’s own. It’s almost unusable. I’m thinking about replacing the neck pickup, but I don’t want to mess up the tone that I get from the in-between position. The neck/bridge combo is a great sound – twangy, but not too thin. I might check into a Lollar neck pickup (maybe a HB-sized P90).

The other issue with both pickups is that they squeal with high gain. They’re unpotted, which gives you vintage-sounding tone, but they tend to be a little microphonic (not sure if that’s the right word). Basically, I’m using the G&L for the jangly, cleanish stuff, and I’m using the Les Paul for the chunkier stuff. I’m telling you, my Les Paul has got some ridiculous sustain that the tele just can’t even come close to matching. I now see that it was pretty foolish to think that there would be much overlap between the two guitars just because they both use a neck humbucker.

***

I have been working on some ideas for instrumental tunes for Jenny’s photo site. I think I’m overreaching a little bit. I go into composer mode and try to add in all these little harmonic things and textures and layers and stuff, when all I really need to do is lay down a rhythm track and play some melodic stuff on top. I’m having trouble simplifying things for some reason. I hope to have time to work on music this summer.

***

I finally got a backup external hard drive for my MacBook. It’s nice to know that if something catastrophic happens that I won’t lose all my tedious little data.

***

Well, that’s all I can think of. I’ll try to come up with something pertinent shortly.

G&L ASAT Classic Bluesboy demo clips

I have had the house to myself for a little while today, so I decided to play the new guitar for a while. While I was at it, I set up the mic and hit the record button. All of my pedals are at the church, so these demos are guitar – cord – amp. I used three different settings on the amp – clean, dirty, and dirtier. I go through each pickup option, starting with the neck, then neck/bridge, and then bridge. The bridge is clearly a lot brighter than the neck pickup, so it helps to roll the tone knob back a little.

Clean

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Dirty

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Dirtier

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New Guitar Day!

I only plugged it in long enough to tell that it works, so I can’t give a full report yet. However, I can say that it is certainly a fine looking axe. I’ll let the pics speak for themselves (click for higher resolution images). Oh, and Jenny wanted me to let you know that I took these pictures. Apparently, they’re not *fancy* enough for her.