Old 05-21-2019, 09:52 AM   #1
toleolu
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Default Suggestions for Strat Pickups

I've been looking into some new pickups for one of my strats and I've reached the point of paralysis by analysis, so many options out there. DiMarzio, Seymour Duncan, Fender Custom Shop, damn, my head is swimming.

I know this isn't Reaper related, but I've been so impressed with the broad knowledge and expertise demonstrated by so many on this forum that I thought I would seek some recommendations here.

Looking for something with a classic rock sound, might even consider a fat strat arrangement with a humbucker and single coil combo. I'll be replacing the Texas Specials in my parts caster and I'm already using the Fender Hot Noiseless pickups in my MIM mod.

Not looking at any active pickups, though I do like them, just don't want to route out a cavity for the battery.

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by toleolu; 05-21-2019 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:13 AM   #2
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I had a set of Classic stacks in the Strat I bought in Honolulu. I'm going to put a set of these in my current Strat:

Neck

Middle

Bridge
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:20 AM   #3
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First off, why aren't you happy with your current pickups?

When I replaced my tele pickup I went with Seymour Duncan, mainly because they had a good collection of sound examples and I was able to find one with the tone I wanted just by listening to their clips online.
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:25 AM   #4
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The rub is that no matter how much you read about, listen to audio of, and discuss pickups, you aren't going to know what you like until you try some in your guitar with your hands and ears. Same with guitar speakers and pretty much any other gear. Personally, I think there is too much noise made about pickups. For a given type of pickup there are surely differences in windings and magnet types, but past that I feel that marketing has too much influence on discussion about pickups. For classic strat sounds, look for pickups with Alnico II magnets that aren't overwound. Same goes for classic style humbuckers.
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:41 AM   #5
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Default Tonerider

I put Tonerider Pure Vintage in my MiM Roland Ready Strat:

http://www.tonerider.com/strat
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:49 AM   #6
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When I bought my "Investment Stratocaster" I wanted the brightest most bellish sounding pickups I could get on a stock American Strat, so I watched a ton of YouTube videos to zero in on the Custom Shop Fat 50s. I could tell by the videos that those pickups were going to have that edge that I wanted, and from there was able to zero in on a range of years for Strats that would have those pickups. When I finally got my 2012 American Standard Strat, it sounded exactly like the sound I wanted and was hearing in the videos.

The short of all this is to first decide on a sound you want, and then look for people getting that sound on YouTube to figure out what to buy. If you want the crystal clear bellish sound, I'm very happy with the Fender Custom Shop Fat 50s, but listen before you buy anything.
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:58 AM   #7
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I've got Texas Specials in my Squire Bullet and they sound fine to me. That's my least played guitar, though (but not because of the pickups). What don't you like about them?

James Wilsey used a stock 62 RI strat on Wicked Game.
https://www.thegearpage.net/board/in...#post-11840371

That's not really a "classic rock" sound, though. He used a custom shop strat on most of El Dorado, not sure what pickups were in it.
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/show...8&postcount=13

Have you tried adjusting the heights? I find that can make a significant difference. Might be placebo, i dunno, but lowering the stock P90s in my Epi LP Jr brought them from tubby-and-muffled to the clear-but-muscular-singles tone that I was looking for.
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Old 05-21-2019, 01:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxAsteria View Post
First off, why aren't you happy with your current pickups?
I love the Texas Specials, I'm not looking for a replacement, looking for an additional set that will give me a different tonal quality when playing along with my MIM mod with the Hot Noiseless pickups.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stringer View Post
I put Tonerider Pure Vintage in my MiM Roland Ready Strat:
I originally had a set of Tonerider Classic Blues pickups in my PartsCaster, first set of pickups I installed in it after I built it. Really good pickups, I replaced them with the Texas Specials but I've still got them laying around here somewhere.

Regarding the points made about not really knowing for sure how they're going to sound until you actually get them installed and start playing, I totally agree. That's why I was hoping to narrow the field a little by seeing what others experiences were. There's just so many choices out there.

The plan is to wire up a new pickguard and just swap pickguards on the PartsCaster with the the Texas Specials. When I do hit on a set that gets me close to this tone I have in my head, then I'll look around for a good used Strat, or just get another MIM strat and put that pick guard in the new strat and put the pickguard with the Texas Specials back in my PartsCaster.

Boys and their toys, right???

Never even dawned on me to check You Tube, thanks for the suggestion.

EDIT: Should probably mention I'm playing through a Fender BassBreaker tube amp.

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Old 05-21-2019, 01:40 PM   #9
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I had a set of Classic stacks in the Strat I bought in Honolulu. I'm going to put a set of these in my current Strat:

Neck

Middle

Bridge
Are those the same as the SSL-4's?
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:20 PM   #10
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Are those the same as the SSL-4's?
I don't believe they are but to make sure just email Seymour Duncan. They respond rather quickly.
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:28 PM   #11
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Be sure to check out Lindy Fralin pickups. Lindy has been making pickups for a long time, and his pickups are really a step above most aftermarket options. Some really big names use his pickups.

I'd check out the Vintage Hot series, but the High Output strat pickups have the advantage of pairing well with humbuckers.
https://www.fralinpickups.com/produc...strat-pickups/
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:33 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jeffsounds View Post
I don't believe they are but to make sure just email Seymour Duncan. They respond rather quickly.
You're right, there different. So far I'm liking the SSL 4's, looks like you put one in the bridge, one in the neck, then one of their reverse wound pickups in the mid position for noise cancelling.

Still looking and listening.
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:36 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by citizenkeith View Post
Be sure to check out Lindy Fralin pickups. Lindy has been making pickups for a long time, and his pickups are really a step above most aftermarket options. Some really big names use his pickups.

I'd check out the Vintage Hot series, but the High Output strat pickups have the advantage of pairing well with humbuckers.
https://www.fralinpickups.com/produc...strat-pickups/
Yep, been seeing those a lot. Lot's of good reviews.

I'm not really looking for something with that traditional strat sound, something more punchy or beefy.

Kind of hard telling what some of these sound like though, especially since these guys playing them in the demos are so damn good.

Just listened to the Fralin High Output pickups. Really liking those too.

Last edited by toleolu; 05-21-2019 at 10:42 PM. Reason: Update
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:42 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by toleolu View Post
Yep, been seeing those a lot. Lot's of good reviews.

I'm not really looking for something with that traditional strat sound, something more punchy or beefy.

Kind of hard telling what some of these sound like though, especially since these guys playing them in the demos are so damn good. 😁😁
Definitely check out the High Output pickups. It sounds like what you describe. Maybe ask about their return policy?

And I get it... I'm a very basic guitar player. It's not my first instrument. Some of those demo videos feature players who are far beyond my abilities!
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:56 PM   #15
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Fishman Fluence Strat replacment pickup set. All the classic and overwound Strat tone, no hum.
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:08 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by EvilDragon View Post
Fishman Fluence Strat replacment pickup set. All the classic and overwound Strat tone, no hum.
Thanks, but it looks like they're active pickups, unless I'm missing something.

I like active pickups, just don't want to route a battery cavity on the particular guitar.
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:09 PM   #17
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They are active yes, but due to their design they sound like passive pickups. All the dynamics are there It's a completely different design to classic wire-wound pickups. They're great.

You don't have to route a battery cavity, they also sell batteries shaped like spring cavity lid on Strats, so you use it instead of the lid. There's also a smaller battery you can just mount wherever you want, cut out a part of the lid and mount it there. No routing necessary.
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:18 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by EvilDragon View Post
They are active yes, but due to their design they sound like passive pickups. All the dynamics are there It's a completely different design to classic wire-wound pickups. They're great.

You don't have to route a battery cavity, they also sell batteries shaped like spring cavity lid on Strats, so you use it instead of the lid. There's also a smaller battery you can just mount wherever you want, cut out a part of the lid and mount it there. No routing necessary.
Thanks, wasn't aware of that about the batteries, definitely give that a look. Would the same thing about the batteries apply to other active pickups like EMG?
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:20 PM   #19
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Not sure, probably not. I think this cavity lid-shaped battery is something I only saw Fishman do. Not sure if their battery would work with EMGs - probably not.
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:30 PM   #20
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I can always drill a hole from the back for the battery leads then just tape the battery to the back.

If I decide to go with an active pickup I can route the battery pocket on the next guitar.
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:36 PM   #21
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Ah, actually they do say it can be used with other 9V requiring pickups...

https://www.fishman.com/products/ser...ry-pack-strat/
https://www.fishman.com/products/ser...e-battery-pack
https://www.fishman.com/products/ser...-battery-pack/
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:41 PM   #22
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Fishman Fluence Strat replacment pickup set. All the classic and overwound Strat tone, no hum.
Bullshit.

How long have guitar players been hearing that? Which strat tone, by the way? There are many. All of them? Even better than the real thing? Marketing...
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Old 05-22-2019, 12:30 AM   #23
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Which strat tone, by the way?
Glassy.
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Old 05-22-2019, 01:26 AM   #24
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Bullshit.

How long have guitar players been hearing that? Which strat tone, by the way? There are many. All of them? Even better than the real thing? Marketing...
Let's say it this way. Putting their replacement set in my Strat I didn't lose the original bright and spanky tone it had, I only gained flexibility (overwound tone is really nice!) and I lost all the buzzing and hum. Win for me
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Old 05-22-2019, 01:28 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by toleolu View Post
The plan is to wire up a new pickguard and just swap pickguards on the PartsCaster with the the Texas Specials. When I do hit on a set that gets me close to this tone I have in my head, then I'll look around for a good used Strat, or just get another MIM strat and put that pick guard in the new strat and put the pickguard with the Texas Specials back in my PartsCaster.
Why not just get the guitar the pickups are going to be used for first and use that for the tests?
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Old 05-22-2019, 01:51 AM   #26
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Since YouTube got a mention, Earl Slick has a line of gear through GFS. If "Classic Rock" is the ballpark, a couple of the sets might be worth a listen.

"Warmtone":

- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lDa...K&index=6&t=0s

" '65 Start Set":

- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1Sy...&index=12&t=0s
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Old 05-22-2019, 01:54 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by EvilDragon View Post
Let's say it this way. Putting their replacement set in my Strat I didn't lose the original bright and spanky tone it had, I only gained flexibility (overwound tone is really nice!) and I lost all the buzzing and hum. Win for me
One thing there...

Being an active design, they might not play ball with some "Fuzz/Volume Turned Down..." scenarios.

While that might not be a deal breaker for everyone, it's one of the first places my mind goes when I think "Strat".
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Old 05-22-2019, 05:29 AM   #28
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Volume turned down works just as it does on passives on these. I also have active EMGs in my Schecter and passives in my LP and Washburn, I know what you mean by volume turned down scenarios - the volume knob actually affects the response of the guitar (and Tone knob does sound differently at different volume levels, as it should), it's not just a "master volume" control like on a lot of EMGs, where it just has this amped, buffered, often clipped signal from the get go, and just turns that down.

Alas, I have no fuzz pedal to check it out. But indeed that might not work with them. Not sure, haven't tried


To summarize, I think Fishman did an absolutely kickass job with their Fluence design. Best pickups ever (not just for Strat). I can have higher gain tones with my Strat without a noise gate - there's no hum, and the actual noise is at extremely low levels. It really obviates the need of using a noise gate. It is bliss.
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Old 05-22-2019, 08:25 AM   #29
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One thing there...

Being an active design, they might not play ball with some "Fuzz/Volume Turned Down..." scenarios.

While that might not be a deal breaker for everyone, it's one of the first places my mind goes when I think "Strat".
That's a good point... Fuzzes kind of suck unless it's the first thing the guitar plugs into and is a hi-z guitar PU - because the guitar is sort of part of the fuzz circuit. Not even plugins can properly replicate that sudden clean up and getting brighter when turning the vol knob down on the guitar, aka real fuzz because they can't react to the impedance changes as the knob turns. Plugins can do a decent job of replicating a full on fuzz to an extent but much of fuzz goodness is that guitar/pedal interaction.

I've been seriously thinking of getting pre-wired set of Fluence but being a fuzz fan, this sort of deal-breaks it a tiny bit.
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Old 05-22-2019, 08:29 AM   #30
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Call me tone deaf, but I LOVED the Fender Vintage Noiseless pups that came stock in my '98 Am Dlx Strat.
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Old 05-22-2019, 08:33 AM   #31
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Call me tone deaf, but I LOVED the Fender Vintage Noiseless pups that came stock in my '98 Am Dlx Strat.
No one has a monopoly on sounds good. I love the v1 noiseless in my 1998 tele, I like the N3 noiseless in my 2017 deluxe strat and I love my van zandt PUs in my 1983 strat, I can happily make music with all of them. Tbh though, I don't really ever think about what pickups are in my guitars, if I have to think about that maybe somethings wrong with the guitar.
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Old 05-22-2019, 08:45 AM   #32
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Seems like we've had this discussion before!

It was videos like this that let me hear side by side things like the noiseless pickups vs the Custom Shop Fat 50s running through the same amp with the same settings. (lame video but you can hear some side by side comparisons)

https://youtu.be/1xLwEH70K_c?t=300

To my ears the Fat 50s have more bite and edge, which was what I wanted so I bought a 2012 American Standard that came with them stock.
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Old 05-22-2019, 09:22 AM   #33
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Seems like we've had this discussion before!

It was videos like this that let me hear side by side things like the noiseless pickups vs the Custom Shop Fat 50s running through the same amp with the same settings. (lame video but you can hear some side by side comparisons)

https://youtu.be/1xLwEH70K_c?t=300

To my ears the Fat 50s have more bite and edge, which was what I wanted so I bought a 2012 American Standard that came with them stock.
Wish more of the comparison videos were like that, pretty much just clean tones and chords. I've got the Hot Noiseless in my MIM, just love them played with a touch of overdrive from my TS-9.

Kinda leaning towards the Fralin Steel 43's right now, but really liking the Seymour Duncan Red Devils. May have to do both. I'm thinking the Fralins will give me the complimentary tone with my Hot Noiseless pickups, but those Red Devils, to my ears, are killer!!!

Going to email Fralin today to get recommended specs, in the meantime, any additional suggestions more than welcome.

Thanks all.
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Old 05-22-2019, 09:51 AM   #34
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Anyone tried the Irongear or Rose PU's?
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Old 05-22-2019, 11:31 AM   #35
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G&L MFD pickups with the adjustable pole pieces. You can make those things so sound many different ways. The PTB wiring is a big plus as well. Even on a Fender, I wire it G&L style now because I use the Treble and Bass knob way more often. And you can get more tones from your pickups.

The Lace Sensor Hot Gold set is one of my favorites. I have had guys tell me "Lace sound to steril to me". because that what folks say on the net. Then these guys come to a gig and tell me how amazing my Strat sounds and ask my what pickups I am using.

Lollar makes some great pickups. But honestly, I did a shootout with some players. A blind test. And they couldn't pick the Lollar from the Lace. No joke. Guitar players stay away from blind test because so many hear with their eyes.

Dimarzio makes excellent pickups as well for Strats. I would really consider the G&L PTB wiring to go with your new pickups.

This video shows off the MFD pickups (Rio Grande have permission to make versions as well) and the PTB system. These pickups and PTB system are so much tone!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpvjOlbAWAs
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Old 05-22-2019, 12:39 PM   #36
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I had MFD pickups in an ASAT I used to have and I found them too high fi, which is what I have heard about Lace too, so maybe that is the sound you like. I put Lollar 50's wind P-90s in an Epiphone Casino, however, and they are amazing. Pricey, but worth it.

Sorry, getting off the topic of strat pickups.
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Old 05-22-2019, 12:50 PM   #37
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Sorry guys, but turns out this has all been a lot of mental masturbation.

Did some testing:

Here's the strat with the Texas Specials mic'd.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/bb41zxl22p...brmic.wav?dl=0

Here's the exact same setup only the amp is connected to the interface:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/5t3izgz7rknf9tx/brdi.wav?dl=0

It's that brighter twangier kind of tone, to my ears anyway, that I was looking for an alternative for, just for those occasions where it would fit in better with the overall tone of the song. Not that that brighter tone is all that bad, but it does kind of point up just the basic difference between micing my amp and connecting it to the interface. I know there's any number of adjustments I can make with tone, plugins, whatnot. But to me, that's more of a band aid than a solution.

And yes, I did have Cab Emulation turned on in the amp, and the mic I was using is a Sennheiser 609, slightly offset from the center of the speaker.

Crap, since it's really not feasible for me to record by micing the amp, acoustics, neighbors, that kind of stuff, no sense wasting money on new gear, except possibly for a new interface if you think that might help. Still running my old Presonus FireWire Mobile.
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Old 05-22-2019, 05:44 PM   #38
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Its probably meant to sound like that, bring it by and plug it into my various DI boxes and lets see

I've always found it VERY easy to dull bright pickups, than to brighten dull pickups
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Old 05-22-2019, 05:48 PM   #39
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Thanks Pipeline, I think you're right, that cab emulation on the line out is probably just crap?

Who built that vocal booth in your studio? Wondering what they might charge to build me a box for this amp.
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Old 05-22-2019, 06:15 PM   #40
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