Should I Replace My Pickups or Get a Different Guitar? | Warehouse Guitar Speakers

Should I Replace My Pickups or Get a Different Guitar?

Should I Replace My Pickups or Get a Different Guitar?

Should I replace my Pickups or sell the guitar?

So last week I wrote about if it made sense to replace the speaker in an amp, or if it would be better to just get a different amp, I'll bet some of ya saw this weeks topic coming, right?  Once again I must begin by stating that even though we design, build and sell pickups here, we will NOT offer biased information (I promise); remember, we are real-world guitar players too.  Yep, we also need to carefully watch how we spend our money lest we find ourselves without a roof over our head!  And I mean really, I could take being homeless ... but I'd NEVER do that to a good GUITAR! Shall we dive in?

Should I replace my pickups or get a different guitar?

Once again I'll start with those occasions when it just plain does NOT make sense to replace the pickups in your guitar.

It's a great guitar, but you just plain don't like it.  Man, we've all been there; the little gal looks flat-out awesome, we LOVE the way she looks on our wall but the second she's slung over our shoulder the love turns to hate.  Ugg.  Life's too short.  Sell it in hopes the next owner WILL love her!

It's the perfect guitar ... for someone else!  So your buddy just gave you his 7-string death avenger before heading off to college cuz he knew you wanted to learn to play.  Nice, but what he did NOT know is that you hope to be the next string-bending Tele-twangin' Brad Paisley.  It ain't EVER gonna happen with you wielding the death-star, sell her to a metal head and getcha that Tele!

It was a great guitar to learn on, but you are ready for a serious gigging guitar.  Okay, if she was your FIRST love then don't dell her, keep her around for inspiration (plus she ain't worth any money anyway).  Do NOT upgrade her.  Once you start, there will be no end.  Sure great pickups will make her sound great, but you'll also want to replace ALL the electronics, and the tuners, and the bridge, and... well, you get the idea.

And again. the no-brainer: your guitar just plain sucks.  If your bought your guitar at Wall-Mart for $19.99, PLEASE don't put my pickups in it!!!  Here is EXACTLY what you should do with it: keep it around until you are playing your first big club gig and you need to do something extraordinary to get the crowds attention.  As you thrash away on the final chord of the last song pick up THIS guitar, douse it heavily with lighter-fluid and light that puppy up!  Now that's getting more that 20-bucks worth of wow-factor out of that pile of Chinese dog-dung!

So, when SHOULD you seriously consider replacing your pickups?

You've bought most ANY new guitar that sells for less than about 700-bucks.  Seriously.  These days there are LOTS of really decent guitars out there in the $300-$500 price range.  Guitars designed well (and by that I mean ripped-off from Leo Fender), with bodies and necks that have been cut precisely by high-end CNC machines, decent hardware, and again a nice CNC-finish on the frets and good-looking automated paint jobs.  All in all, a guitar that plays well, intonates and stays in tune well, and looks great.  But ... sounds mediocre!  Yep, ALL manufacturers skimp on the pickups today, at least on any guitar less that about  $700-$1000.  Great guitar with midlin pickups?  Yea, fix that!

Some bonehead really put the WRONG pickups in a guitar you just bought. So you bought a sweet vintage Strat from a guy who put P-Rails in it because now it can get "any tone".  He failed to mention that all of those tones kinda suck.  Hey, you just want a great sounding STRAT!  Drop in the right vintage Strat pickups and you'll be there baby'.  Then off-load those jack-of-all-trades tone-suckers to some idiot who actually believes one weird pickup can nail EVERYTHING.

You're close, but not quite where you want to be with your tone.  You are officially a serious tone chaser; you've already swapped the stock burstbuckers in your awesome R9 Les Paul for something better ... but you are still only at 95-percent of the TONE you want, need, and hear in your head.  Keep seeking grasshopper, and you will find.  For only those who persist will drink from the holy grail.

You've Changed.  Yep, you still LOVE your guitar, but man, you are now playing through a sweeet pedal board and amp that has way more gain than you could ever use.  The days of plugging straight into a Twin Reverb and trying to bully her into distortion is (thankfully) long gone.  Plus, you're older and wiser now, you no longer judge a pickup's value simply in it's output level ... you have now acquired a taste for true tone.  You want rich complex harmonics and touch sensitivity.  Face it, those EMG's did what needed to be done in 1991, but it's time to move on! 

And of course, the disclaimer:  I'm sure I've missed a few good reasons to, or not to, replace the pickups in your guitar.  Y'all feel free to share your thoughts with comments here :-)

01/19/2018 5:20am

After some time on reading articles specifying the great things that can leave disposing of the stock pickups on inexpensive guitars, I put your pickups in my Epiphone Les Paul. Wow, I can say what a difference. Sounds better than other high dollar Gibson models.

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