Bare Knuckle Pickups Forum

Forum Ringside => Pickups => Topic started by: optilude on December 21, 2020, 01:18:08 PM

Title: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: optilude on December 21, 2020, 01:18:08 PM
Iím having a hard time choosing a new set of pickups for my PRS SE Custom 24 Zebrawood (mahogany body with maple cap and zebrawood veneer, maple neck with rosewood fretboard, currently has PRS S 85/15 zebra uncovered humbuckers and Alpha pots, with push/pull on the tone knob for splitting both pickups).

I find the stock pickups ok but uninspiring. I mostly use the middle position on full volume which I guess is kind of a neutral sound. Iíll sometimes use the neck (a bit too muddy) and rarely the bridge (too harsh) on its own. I very rarely use split coil as it sounds too tinny but sometimes the middle position can have a nice almost acoustic ring to it.

My other guitar is a Ď78 Custom Telecaster (so Wide Range humbucker in the neck and Tele bridge pickup) with a maple neck, which does the snap and twang thing really well. So I want the PRS to complement that and in particular provide some fatter and warmer tones.

I mostly play blues, some funk, some more crunchy pop/rock but nothing with super high gain. Certainly no shredding or metal!

Amp wise I use a modeller called Overloud TH-U that does rig emulation (think a fully digital Kemper), and mainly through headphones or small speakers. Mainly modes of Fender and Vox amps and similar, edge of breakup. My life wonít let me do anything louder!

This is all for enjoyment and fun, but I do want something Iíll love picking up. The PRS feels great in the hand so I think a pickup upgrade is the way to go.

Iíve had lots of chats with the lovely Bareknuckle people. But Iím a bit overwhelmed by choices. So far Iím trying to decide between:

- PG Blues: love the Peter Green sound, but maybe itíll be a bit niche?
- Stormy Monday: for that PAF sound?
- Mule: recommended by my local guitar tech
- Abraxas: recommended elsewhere on the forum

... or maybe a Mississippi Queen HSP90?

... or maybe a combination?

Suggestions and ideas most welcome!
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: darrenw5094 on December 21, 2020, 03:46:54 PM
I would say the Mule is a good all rounder for blues, funk etc. But the Alnico ll BKP would probably work also.

I've also got an Abraxas set in another Les Paul which is hotter and more middier than the balanced Mule. Maybe too hot for you.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: Nolly on December 21, 2020, 11:37:56 PM
I'd recommend either the Mules or Abraxas. I can definitely understand your comments about the 85/15 S's that currently have, and I think if you want a thicker sounding bridge pickup and clearer neck position either of those sets will do it for you, with the Abraxas being a step hotter and fatter sounding but still very versatile and classic sounding.
The neck pickups in both sets are quite close to one another, so perhaps the way to determine which is better for you would be to say that the Mule bridge is going to be more vintage and bluesier in voice (less low end, more top end and more of a hollow/clucky mid character), though you can always roll off the tone knob a bit to access smooth tones too. The Abraxas will be bigger in the bass, with fuller mids and less pick attack but arguably might sound stronger when split, so if that's a sound you like that may sway you.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: optilude on December 22, 2020, 12:22:36 AM
That is super helpful!

I'm thinking the Abraxas might be a bit less similar to the Wide Range humbucker in the neck of my Tele Custom (ie this already has a very vintage sound, albeit not a PAF as such!) and so Iíd cover more range with them?
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: Telerocker on December 22, 2020, 12:40:47 AM
Go Mules, I would say. They are quite balanced and cover a lot of ground. I like the dynamic and open, almost 3D sound sound of these pickups. Such a clear sound with great articulation. The middle position is great for funk as well. And they handle gain with authority! But stay defined.

I must emphasize I have amps with a lot of balls and midrange if necessary: Orange RV MK1 50 head en Diezel Schmidt. And my EP-booster is most of the time on, so my Mules never sound thin.

Only if your guitar has a natural bright voice I would go Abraxas.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: optilude on December 22, 2020, 09:07:33 AM
Not entirely sure how to judge if the PRS is bright or not. My other reference point is a maple neck Tele but thatís not ever comparable. Certainly the double cut Custom 24 is brighter than a Les Paul I guess. It had a nice resonant ring when unplugged.

Iím thinking this will be fine either way, though.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: Nolly on December 22, 2020, 05:10:13 PM
I agree that you'll be fine either way. I think Telerocker's points make perfect sense given the amps he's using, which both have quite dark overdrive circuits that, in my opinion, require that you feed them a signal with a lean low end in order to avoid mush/muddiness particularly for rhythm work. Given that you're using modelling and can use any amp type you like, I'd suggest you won't have issues with an Abraxas in your guitar at all especially if you take the time to tinker with the pickup heights to control the low end as you see fit (this is pretty essential with any set of pickups in my opinion).
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: Dave Sloven on December 23, 2020, 01:37:15 AM
I would have thought the choice would be between Mules and Stormy Mondays, given that you play funk sometimes.

Mules are probably the better all-rounders.  Stormy Mondays would have more cut.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: b.gandt on December 23, 2020, 01:41:27 PM
I've got a pair of Mules that will be going in a PRS SE.  The only reason they haven't been installed is sloth on my part.  However, they should be going in sometime in the next few days, and I'll report back if they do.  It will be a week or so until I get to use them at gig volume (at a practice space),  but I'll can get a wee bit of an idea at lower volume levels.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: b.gandt on December 25, 2020, 07:30:12 PM
I installed the Mules in the PRS SE Singlecut Korina.

Next week I'll hit the practice space for some gig level testing, but, FWIW, I did some low volume testing at home with my regular amp.  The amp is a Rockitt Retro 50.  That is a clone of the builder's favorite version of a 1968 50 watt Plexi (wonderful amp).  Has a PPIMV that works well.

At low levels I get a classic vibe in all the right ways.  The bridge does not sound exactly like the guitar in the Humble Pie song I'll Go Alone (a Frampton composition off the As Safe As Yesterday record), but it  has that vibe!

Neck pickup is one of the best I've used.  Warm, not muddy.  I've not understood the term "fluety" in the past, but I think it applies here.  Maybe another way is to say that compared to a Seymour Duncan Jazz neck (which I've used) there is more of a pleasant airy sound to it  The Jazz neck sounds like a simple note, there is more complexity with the Mule neck, and those complexities don't sound crammed together, or congested.    I don't have the bridge/neck balance where I want it, but that will come with time.

I'll report back after using them with volume.  I will attempt to be more descriptive then, if I can.  Right now, I am quite happy!

Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: b.gandt on December 31, 2020, 04:56:04 PM
Finally got to the practice space.  Mules set in a PRS Singlecut Korina, straight into a Rockitt Retro 50, which is a clone of the builder's fave 68 50 watt Plexi.  I have the optional PPIMV.  Ran it into a Marshall 1960 4x12 that the studio has.  I think the speakers are the 75s?  I'm more of a Greenback guy, but this cab works decently well.

Volume was loud, probably louder than some gigs these days, but I didn't have the amp dimed.

Bridge Pickup:

Playing crunchy, the chords sounded balance in terms of frequency, no particular frequency was too much.  Classic crunch, although that's a description that could mean different things...

Leads:  Initially, it seemed a bit bright, probably because most humbuckers I've used for gigging hve been hot, various Duncan and Dimarzio offerings like the Invader, Super Distortion,  and X2N.  Currently, I have a Crawler in a Strat.

After playing the leads a bit, I really got to like the cut the brightness gave it, and I also realized that a number of artists I like have that brightness to their playing.  I think it was just a matter of my ear working with the sound.

Neck Pickup:

Talk about blues rock heaven!  I generally stay off neck pickups, but I see this one getting a lot of use.  Just a cool warm cut, if that makes sense.

It occurred to me that the overall sound of the Mules in the PRS, going straight into the Marshall clone has a somewhat similar sound that the Stones might have had if they'd used Marshall half or full stacks on Get Your YaYas Out.

By the way, I have used lower output humbuckers before, but it was a long time ago.  What I do remember was that the bridge pickups were bright in a cheap way, and the neck pickups were just plain mud.  Certainly not my experience here.

I also did some clean playing, and they would be fantastic for funk, or blues, or any rock style that requires clean sound, IMHO.

As always, YMMV, but I am happy.

Edit:  As I listen to Savoy Brown's Blue Matter, I'm thinking that the soloing is right down the tone alley of these Mules, especially on It Hurts Me Too.  I know that there are different ways to get there, but the Mules are doing it for me.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: Telerocker on January 02, 2021, 01:57:45 PM
I like how the Mule cuts. Yes present but with a good roundness to it. Put a EP-booster in front to take a little edge off.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: b.gandt on January 04, 2021, 07:14:04 PM
Iím having a hard time choosing a new set of pickups for my PRS SE Custom 24 Zebrawood (mahogany body with maple cap and zebrawood veneer, maple neck with rosewood fretboard, currently has PRS S 85/15 zebra uncovered humbuckers and Alpha pots, with push/pull on the tone knob for splitting both pickups).

I find the stock pickups ok but uninspiring. I mostly use the middle position on full volume which I guess is kind of a neutral sound. Iíll sometimes use the neck (a bit too muddy) and rarely the bridge (too harsh) on its own. I very rarely use split coil as it sounds too tinny but sometimes the middle position can have a nice almost acoustic ring to it.

My other guitar is a Ď78 Custom Telecaster (so Wide Range humbucker in the neck and Tele bridge pickup) with a maple neck, which does the snap and twang thing really well. So I want the PRS to complement that and in particular provide some fatter and warmer tones.

I mostly play blues, some funk, some more crunchy pop/rock but nothing with super high gain. Certainly no shredding or metal!

Amp wise I use a modeller called Overloud TH-U that does rig emulation (think a fully digital Kemper), and mainly through headphones or small speakers. Mainly modes of Fender and Vox amps and similar, edge of breakup. My life wonít let me do anything louder!

This is all for enjoyment and fun, but I do want something Iíll love picking up. The PRS feels great in the hand so I think a pickup upgrade is the way to go.

Iíve had lots of chats with the lovely Bareknuckle people. But Iím a bit overwhelmed by choices. So far Iím trying to decide between:

- PG Blues: love the Peter Green sound, but maybe itíll be a bit niche?
- Stormy Monday: for that PAF sound?
- Mule: recommended by my local guitar tech
- Abraxas: recommended elsewhere on the forum

... or maybe a Mississippi Queen HSP90?

... or maybe a combination?

Suggestions and ideas most welcome!

OP, any decisions made yet?
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: optilude on January 15, 2021, 09:47:37 PM
So...

Ordered the Abraxas. Learned how to solder. Asked a bunch of dumb questions of the amazing people at BKP.

They sound amazing. They look cool. Even coil split is decent.

The one thing that I wasnít expecting though is that bridge and middle positions sound very, very similar. More so than on any guitar Iíve played.

Attached is a file with a play through of neck, middle, bridge first with humbucking and then split pickups.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: optilude on January 16, 2021, 08:44:02 AM
I was considering changing my volume pot to a push/pull and wiring the coil splits independently, thus allowing middle positions with a mix of humbucking and coil split sounds. Is that worth trying / likely to be useful?

Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: Nolly on January 16, 2021, 09:50:36 PM
So...

Ordered the Abraxas. Learned how to solder. Asked a bunch of dumb questions of the amazing people at BKP.

They sound amazing. They look cool. Even coil split is decent.

The one thing that I wasnít expecting though is that bridge and middle positions sound very, very similar. More so than on any guitar Iíve played.

Attached is a file with a play through of neck, middle, bridge first with humbucking and then split pickups.

Fantastic, I'm really pleased to hear you are happy with the Abraxas! In listening to your clips I didn't notice the bridge and middle positions sounding similar, but it's interesting that you find that to be the case.
As to adding a second push-pull to independently split the pickups, it's certainly something that gives you some cool bonuses. One of the coolest is being able "pre-set" the split on a pickup you're not using to get a seamless switch. Say you're playing a lead on the bridge pickup in full humbucking mode, you could have the neck pickup split and switch to it to get an instantly much cleaner and spankier tone. On top of that, the combination of full bridge with split neck can be very nice indeed and worth trying.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: optilude on January 16, 2021, 09:55:58 PM
Could be all the soldering going to my head?

I still think they sound very close most of the time. But Iím learning the nuances by playing them more. Rolling off a bit of volume really nicely balances the tone too.

Iíve ordered a second push pull. I was considering experimenting with using one to switch the middle to an out of phase sound. Any thoughts?
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: Nolly on January 16, 2021, 10:04:15 PM
Haha it could be! It's certainly very rewarding to be able to tweak your guitar electronics - there are so many things you can do that make huge differences in the sonic capabilities of your instrument.

In my opinion, the out of phase sound isn't all that usable unless you have separate volumes for each pickup. To me, it's once you start playing with the relative volumes of the pickups that you can really extract all sorts of great unusual tones. With both pickups on full and out of phase, it's a bit too extreme an effect, I find.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: optilude on January 16, 2021, 10:06:16 PM
That is really useful advice!

Any thoughts on serial/parallel switching?
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: Nolly on January 16, 2021, 10:09:11 PM
I love parallel, probably more than coil splitting. It's a fantastic sound in my opinion, and of course humbucking.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: optilude on January 16, 2021, 10:12:19 PM
Is it possible to have both coil split and parallel switching (on both pickups) with two push pulls? Iím one starting to get my  head around the wiring logic and thinking back to high school physics class...

Pointers to diagrams or articles welcome!
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: Nolly on January 16, 2021, 10:15:48 PM
I don't think it is I'm afraid, not with a 2-position switch anyway. For parallel you need a switch per pickup too, unfortunately (you can't use one push-pull to switch both pickups between series and parallel simultaneously)
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: optilude on January 16, 2021, 10:17:40 PM
Yeah ok that makes sense Iím going to experiment but if you were going to pick one pickup to make series/parallel, would you go bridge or neck?
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: Nolly on January 17, 2021, 05:56:00 PM
Yeah ok that makes sense Iím going to experiment but if you were going to pick one pickup to make series/parallel, would you go bridge or neck?

Tough choice.. I guess I'd say bridge? I don't particularly love split bridge humbucker tones, but in parallel you get a really cool sound somewhere between a hot Tele and a vintage humbucker.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: b.gandt on January 17, 2021, 06:41:26 PM
I've found that splitting a hot ceramic humbucker in the bridge will yield some decent Fenderish sounds, but a lower output humbucker tends to sound too weak or thin.  At that point, I like parallel.  I don't have a output level where that goes one way or another.  I stay series with my BKPs now, but in the past split worked well with a Gibson 500T and a SD Invader.  Parallel worked best with a Dimarzio Chopper T, a much lower output stacked humbucker.  All were bridge position.

As to bridge or neck, where would you prefer to have a more Fender like option?
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: darkbluemurder on January 18, 2021, 08:09:51 AM
I also prefer parallel to coil cut (or coil shunt) as the humcancelling properties are retained. I like this in particular for bridge pickups to get a cleaner tone from them. And I will do this in the guitar that has a True Grit in the bridge. For the neck pickup this can sound great as well.

Cheers Stephan

Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: optilude on January 20, 2021, 09:11:09 AM
Hi,

Iím going to document some of my experiments here in case others come across it. I guess itís a fairly common guitar to want to upgrade.

One thing to note: I bought the BKP 550k push pull pots, replacing both volume and tone. The Alpha pots that were there before were 1-2mm narrower in diameter so I had to carefully file the holes to be slightly bigger. Mildly scary but worked ok. I followed this guide using the tools I had: https://youtu.be/bKNAkTWC4xA

Secondly I ended up re-doing all the grounding and wire routing inside the cavity using push-back cloth wire (also from BKP). It just made it neater and easier to understand what was going on.

Anyway, the current wiring is:

- Volume pot push/pull is used to reverse phase on the neck pickup.
- Tone pot push/pull is used to split both coils using standard coil split wiring.
- 0.022f Russian tone capacitor from BKP.
- 3 way blade switch.

Basically https://www.bareknucklepickups.co.uk/upload/support/20_132fcee.pdf mixed with https://www.bareknucklepickups.co.uk/upload/support/1_hum_4_con_pushpull_pot_phase_reversal_with_another_hum_c8e3961.pdf (for the neck pickup and volume pot).

The sound file is a rough play through of the same sounds on all the settings in this order, played through a model of a Fender Pro Reverb.

Neck humbucking phase normal
Neck humbucking phase reversed (which I suppose is pointless)
Neck split phase reversed (which I think means itís using the inner coil?)
Neck split phase normal

Middle humbucking neck phase normal
Middle humbucking neck phase reversed
Middle split neck phase reversed
Middle split neck phase normal

Bridge hum
Bridge split
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: b.gandt on January 21, 2021, 12:37:36 AM
Did the mounting flanges  fit in the cavity on yours?  On my SE Singlecut, the rout for the feet wasn't quite wide enough for the BKPs.  I ended using a drill bit to expand that part of the cavity.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: Dave Sloven on January 21, 2021, 05:31:15 AM
Did the mounting flanges  fit in the cavity on yours?  On my SE Singlecut, the rout for the flanges wasn't quite wide enough for the BKPs.  I ended using a drill bit to expand that part of the cavity.

With my Schecter C-6 Pro the feet didn't fit (they also were direct mount, with a 3mm bolt) so I simply filed the feet of the pickup to match the stock pickup and drilled the holes in the feet out to 3mm.  It was a lot easier than modifying the guitar
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: optilude on January 21, 2021, 07:08:58 AM
Did the mounting flanges  fit in the cavity on yours?  On my SE Singlecut, the rout for the flanges wasn't quite wide enough for the BKPs.  I ended using a drill bit to expand that part of the cavity.

Yes they did. Not a lot of space but no tools required.
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: b.gandt on January 23, 2021, 12:47:35 PM
Did the mounting flanges  fit in the cavity on yours?  On my SE Singlecut, the rout for the flanges wasn't quite wide enough for the BKPs.  I ended using a drill bit to expand that part of the cavity.

With my Schecter C-6 Pro the feet didn't fit (they also were direct mount, with a 3mm bolt) so I simply filed the feet of the pickup to match the stock pickup and drilled the holes in the feet out to 3mm.  It was a lot easier than modifying the guitar

I'll bet it was easier.  In my case, I didn't have a proper file, and my clipper couldn't take enough of the feet off. 
Title: Re: PRS SE Custom 24
Post by: Dave Sloven on January 23, 2021, 02:27:05 PM
Did the mounting flanges  fit in the cavity on yours?  On my SE Singlecut, the rout for the flanges wasn't quite wide enough for the BKPs.  I ended using a drill bit to expand that part of the cavity.

With my Schecter C-6 Pro the feet didn't fit (they also were direct mount, with a 3mm bolt) so I simply filed the feet of the pickup to match the stock pickup and drilled the holes in the feet out to 3mm.  It was a lot easier than modifying the guitar

I'll bet it was easier.  In my case, I didn't have a proper file, and my clipper couldn't take enough of the feet off.

I just used a regular flat file.  The metal is quite soft