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Author Topic: Pickups for PRS Custom 22 (2003 model)  (Read 344 times)

No Quarter

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Pickups for PRS Custom 22 (2003 model)
« on: March 25, 2021, 10:15:49 PM »
Hello to all! I am looking to change the pickups in my PRS Custom 22 (2003 model). The guitar is quite middy and dark.

The guitar originally had Dragon II's, which I changed to a set of Rebel Yells which are on the guitar currently. I've also tried a set of Mules. The Mules generally sound very neutral to me, to the point of being bland, especially on the PRS.

Bridge pickup - Things I like about the RY are the feel / response, output and the tightness. I also like the smoothness of the pickup, although I wouldn't mind a hair more treble or bite. I definitely don't want less highs but I also hate very trebly / ice picky sounds. The reason I want to change the RY is that on the PRS they sound very honky, sort of like having a Tubescreamer or a half-c--ked wah always on. Also the lack of bass on the RY is not a good match for the PRS I feel. I want something that sounds more "open" or "broad" while retaining the thickness for leads - which in my mind means a bit more treble and bass and / or a little scoop in the mids. I use the guitar for general hard rock, guns n' roses, iron maiden, whitesnake, metallica, alice in chains, and also progressive / guitar virtuoso stuff (dream theater, opeth, vai, etc.). Not modern djenty stuff. I want a clear, broad and thick sound. Not overly aggressive or bitey.

Neck Pickup - I generally like the RY on the neck. I might want a tad more treble / bass but that's about it. From the neck pickup I want very clear / chimey clean tones, and a thick lead tone with gain. That's about it. The RY neck is pretty good for the lead tone. If it had a hair more treble and bass I think it would be ideal.

Going by the EQ charts on the BKP website, I am leaning towards the Cold Sweat set. The output, EQ and general descriptions seem ideal for what I'm looking for. My only concern is that I have never tried a ceramic pickup so I'm afraid that the bridge pickup might be TOO bright and I wonder if it's lacking mids making it sound thin especially for leads. How is the CS bridge compared to the RY?

Having read the forums other candidates I'm looking into for bridge are the A-Bomb, C-Bomb, Abraxas, A-Miracle Man, C-Miracle Man and mayyybe the VHII, and Emeralds...?

If you could offer any suggestions I would be very grateful. I think what would help me would be to describe other pickups using RY or Mules as a reference point.

Thank you!

RobAbrams84

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Re: Pickups for PRS Custom 22 (2003 model)
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2021, 12:06:38 AM »
One thing to realize is that the EQ charts posted only pertain to the bridge models.  Sometimes the necks can be completely different!  It's a little frustrating.

I haven't tried as many different pickups as some others around here, but it sounds like you're looking for a Holydiver or Riff Raff neck.  Both are rather bright and have some jangle and chime.  For the bridge I'm thinking possibly Nailbomb.

« Last Edit: March 31, 2021, 09:26:26 PM by RobAbrams84 »

Dave Sloven

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Re: Pickups for PRS Custom 22 (2003 model)
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2021, 02:49:32 AM »
If you find the RY lacking in bass then avoid the Emerald, Impulse, and Riff Raff bridge pickups.

The Cold Sweat bridge is has a lot more bottom end than any of those, but less mids.  It's probably not a bad choice for you.  Cold Sweat neck is quite similar to the RY neck, maybe more bass

You might want to consider the Miracle Man set.  I prefer the Miracle Man bridge to the Cold Sweat bridge in my SG Standard.  More bottom end, more output, highs seem about the same.
BLACK HAWKS
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darkbluemurder

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Re: Pickups for PRS Custom 22 (2003 model)
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2021, 01:12:08 PM »
If you go with the Cold Sweat bridge, Holydiver neck is an exellent choice. compared to the Cold Sweat neck it has a bit less bass and more top end, and it also has more top end than the RY neck.

Cheers Stephan

ericsabbath

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Re: Pickups for PRS Custom 22 (2003 model)
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2021, 05:59:24 PM »
my first thought when I installed the rebel yell is that it sounded a lot like the riff raff it replaced boosted with a tube screamer
it can get too much sometimes, but I absolutely love that, unless I actually use my sd-1 pedal with it instead of a flatter boost

I had great experiences with the riff raff, cold sweat and miracle man in PRS McCarties

my first thought was cold sweat, but I think you shouldn't dismiss the VHII, although it is a quite less compressed pup
Riff Raff, Mules, Black Dog, VHII's, Cold Sweat

Telerocker

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Re: Pickups for PRS Custom 22 (2003 model)
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2021, 02:44:42 AM »
It seems a difficult guitar to tailor. I played several PRS's and lot were a bit bland/lacking sparkle and vibe, imho of course. I have Mules in a mahogany St. Blues and that's a stellar combo. But back to your choice: I would think along the lines of a VHII, CS and Miracle Man, with a (slightly) scooped voicing rather than mid-accentuated. My personal bet would be a Miracle Man, like others suggest as well.
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

No Quarter

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Re: Pickups for PRS Custom 22 (2003 model)
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2021, 06:29:43 PM »
Thanks a lot to all for the replies so far! Some follow up questions...

Bridge pickup:
From the comments the favourites seem to be the Cold Sweat and Miracle Man for the bridge. From the EQ descriptions they seem to be the 2 out of the 3 scooped pickups (the 3rd one being the C-Bomb). So my questions are:
1) Why is the C-Bomb not considered for this discussion? It seems to be in the middle between CS and MM in terms of output at least. I read some things in the forums that seem to imply it is a love it or hate it pickup. Is it that it is simply not very popular?
2) My concern with MM is that it is very focused to metal and not very versatile outside that. How do you think is able to handle more hard rock stuff like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Guns n Roses, Thin Lizzy, etc. compared to CS? Also, while I like that it is more low mid focused which in my mind translates to girth, I am concerned if it is too compressed. I'd like something more open and dynamic. Also has anyone experimented with the MM neck in the bridge position? How is the EQ for the MM neck? Is it scooped like the Ceramic bridge or different altogether?
3) With the Cold Sweat my main concern is if it's too bright or too thin compared to Miracle Man (or Rebel Yell for that matter). Which out of the 2 - CS or MM would you think is more versatile?

Neck pickup:
From the comments again I think 3 seem to be the favourites: CS, HD, VHII. To be honest I am quite happy with the RY neck. I'd like something more "open" i.e. with a little more high end and a hair more bass but that's about it. In terms of output and compression the RY neck is fine. Out of the 4 (CS, HD, VHII, RY) which is the brightest / more open? Which has the more bass?

I really thank you all for taking the time and sending in your opinions!

ericsabbath

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Re: Pickups for PRS Custom 22 (2003 model)
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2021, 07:41:55 PM »
Thanks a lot to all for the replies so far! Some follow up questions...

Bridge pickup:
From the comments the favourites seem to be the Cold Sweat and Miracle Man for the bridge. From the EQ descriptions they seem to be the 2 out of the 3 scooped pickups (the 3rd one being the C-Bomb). So my questions are:
1) Why is the C-Bomb not considered for this discussion? It seems to be in the middle between CS and MM in terms of output at least. I read some things in the forums that seem to imply it is a love it or hate it pickup. Is it that it is simply not very popular?
2) My concern with MM is that it is very focused to metal and not very versatile outside that. How do you think is able to handle more hard rock stuff like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Guns n Roses, Thin Lizzy, etc. compared to CS? Also, while I like that it is more low mid focused which in my mind translates to girth, I am concerned if it is too compressed. I'd like something more open and dynamic. Also has anyone experimented with the MM neck in the bridge position? How is the EQ for the MM neck? Is it scooped like the Ceramic bridge or different altogether?
3) With the Cold Sweat my main concern is if it's too bright or too thin compared to Miracle Man (or Rebel Yell for that matter). Which out of the 2 - CS or MM would you think is more versatile?

Neck pickup:
From the comments again I think 3 seem to be the favourites: CS, HD, VHII. To be honest I am quite happy with the RY neck. I'd like something more "open" i.e. with a little more high end and a hair more bass but that's about it. In terms of output and compression the RY neck is fine. Out of the 4 (CS, HD, VHII, RY) which is the brightest / more open? Which has the more bass?

I really thank you all for taking the time and sending in your opinions!

1) I wouldn't say the c-bomb is particularly treble heavy or mid scooped
it has a quite balanced voicing, but it's hotter and more compressed than both cs and mm in my experience, so It's not really a mid term

2) the miracle man does have a VERY unique tone, but it is a very versatile pickup that will still sound unique for stuff other than metal, so you shouldn't expect it to sound like a PAF or that it will make everything sound like 90's Metallica or something
it is a quite dynamic pup and a great splitter, but hardly the most open sounding of the contemporary models
the neck pup sounds darker, middier and quite smooth

3) the cold sweat has plenty of lows, just not a low mid heavy model like the miracle man
not as lean on the bottom end as the rebel yell, that's still fat enough for me
it does not deliver the same tube screamer tone shape of the rebel yell, since it has more bass and less center mids
it does feel brighter than the miracle man, although the miracle man has a more piercing treble (not in a bad way, actually)
more versatile than the miracle man, maybe less "unique" and more of a mix of classic late 70's and early 80's tones like the rebel yell, but edgier and punchier


Neck pup: sounds like CS neck, but the VHII is more like a fat PAF, if that's your thing
Riff Raff, Mules, Black Dog, VHII's, Cold Sweat

Dave Sloven

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Re: Pickups for PRS Custom 22 (2003 model)
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2021, 02:27:53 AM »
I have the MM in an SG and I find it is the most versatile and balanced pickup I've used in that guitar.

The MM suits any guitar that has strong mids.  The acoustic mids of the guitar balance the scoop in the pickup.

The Nalbomb has a lot of mids, and a lot of treble 'hair' ... the ceramic magnet calms the mids a bit but emphasises the hair.

I have used an alnico Nailbomb, Cold Sweat, and Miracle Man in this guitar (all paired with a Cold Sweat neck).  The NB was by far the worst. It made the guitar super aggressive in the mid range, I could get AC/DC out of it but it was a super annoyed AC/DC, more like Poison Idea.  The Cold Sweat was next, it was a lot better but it lacked a bit pf low end.  For the most part it was really good, the cleans were a lot better than the NB, and the mids were much more balanced.  The top end was quite present.  It could do AC/DC better than the NB, with a lot more subtleties.  The Miracle Man is very similar to the Cold Sweat with a bit more oomph in the low end.  I can do rock music like AC/DC with it no problems, at least as well as the Cold Sweat.  The cleans on this are pretty close to the Cold Sweat.

Both ceramic pickups had better cleans than the alnico Nailbomb in my SG.  I think this is because of the windings of the NB (shared with the ceramic version) rather than the magnet. That said, I sold the Nailbomb set to a guy with a heavy Les Paul Classic and it sounded great in there, totally different.

If your guitar is mid-heavy I definitely wouldn't recommend a NB.  The MM I can recommend, same with the CS.

BLACK HAWKS
IMPULSES
WAR PIGS
STOCKHOLM
COLD SWEATS
MIRACLE MAN

https://slovendoom.bandcamp.com/releases