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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, I hope this is in the right place.
I already searched the forums and couldn't really find anything 'definitive' on the matter.
Has anyone actually tried, using the same pickups and the same guitar, direct mount verses ring or pickguard mount?
I know some people insist that the tone is different, but I'm just wondering if anyone has actually proven it. Even if it was just to themselves.
Not that I think it's an issue, I'm just curious.
My boyfriend thinks he can hear a difference, but when we are in a music store there's always something else different about the guitar too, other than how the pickups are mounted so we really can't do an 'apples to apples' comparison.
I hope I came up with something new to discuss. :)
Micchy.
 

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Yes--I have a few RG570s..some with direct mount, some with rings.
Since I threw different model DiMarzios in--I can hear that obvious difference.
I can also hear another diffetence. The ones with direct mount seem to sustain and resonate more...if that makes sense.
 

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Hey guys, I hope this is in the right place.
I already searched the forums and couldn't really find anything 'definitive' on the matter.
Has anyone actually tried, using the same pickups and the same guitar, direct mount verses ring or pickguard mount?
I know some people insist that the tone is different, but I'm just wondering if anyone has actually proven it. Even if it was just to themselves.
Not that I think it's an issue, I'm just curious.
My boyfriend thinks he can hear a difference, but when we are in a music store there's always something else different about the guitar too, other than how the pickups are mounted so we really can't do an 'apples to apples' comparison.
I hope I came up with something new to discuss. :)
Micchy.
Edward Van Halen and Les Paul were huge proponents of the direct mounted approach. I tend to take a more scientific approach, being a fellow PC tech like you, and want hard numbers and not some touchy feely anecdote about sound.

The touchy feely side of me that is still there thinks that a certain period PAF would get a hotter sound, or a slightly different alnico recipe in a regular pickup, but the techie side of me gets that ceramic pickup ala Vai or active pickup and gets the hotter tone. I can dial in the rest or scale it back if it's too hot.

I look at the numbers and get something quite a bit hotter and then I know what I have to work with. It's almost a waste of time pining over a slight change due to something like a pickup with or without a mounting ring. If you have the time and energy be my guest and carve stuff up and go for direct mount. I have considered this on a superstrat that had only the lead pickup and I thought a really specifically routed out neck channel allowing for a tight fit neck humbucker would give me that position with optimal sustain....that or I could just put in a hotter pickup. I did the latter and got a rather hot "Jackson" humbucker and it was more than a match for the Duncan JB I already had in the lead position. I could go between the pickups clean or dirty and not have to worry about a volume drop. So much in live situations the neck pickup just gets lost in the mix and becomes anemic as a lead pickup, especially with distortion. But mixing and matching with plenty of experimentation allows for a good result without having to remove pickup rings or do something quite uncosmetic. If a guitar comes standard without pickup rings/pickguards like the EVH and Peaveys, then fine but the obsession with removing rings for tone is overrated.
 

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Edward Van Halen and Les Paul were huge proponents of the direct mounted approach.
I read an article about Eddie developing the current EVH guitar with Fender. He was getting absolutely crazy about certain details like the type of finish used, certain cavities not being sealed so the wood could breathe, etc. The way he does direct mounts is slightly different than Ibanez. He has the cavity routed to the exact depth he wants and the pickup is solidly mounted to the wood. With Ibanez, direct mount pickups are sitting on a block of foam.

Now after obsessing over all those details, he later went on to choose stainless frets because they don't wear and he claims that they have no impact on the sound. So, having a cavity sealed or unsealed makes a huge difference, but not the fretwire? My point here is that I think EVH is kind of full of ****.

To another point you made, I have five Jems, all with PAF Pros, all made of basswood. They don't all sound the same. My FP (which has the newest pickups) is noticeably warmer than the others. The GMC has direct mounted pickups but doesn't sound noticeably different than the SK with guard-mounted pickups.

My feeling is that direct vs. ring-mounted pickups is a preference that has less to do with the sound and more to do with feel. I played an Ibanez with direct mounts exclusively for a number of years and I definitely prefer having no ring there, because I put my pinkie right there next to the bridge humbucker. John Petrucci does the exact same thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Edward Van Halen and Les Paul were huge proponents of the direct mounted approach. I tend to take a more scientific approach, being a fellow PC tech like you, and want hard numbers and not some touchy feely anecdote about sound.

The touchy feely side of me that is still there thinks that a certain period PAF would get a hotter sound, or a slightly different alnico recipe in a regular pickup, but the techie side of me gets that ceramic pickup ala Vai or active pickup and gets the hotter tone. I can dial in the rest or scale it back if it's too hot.

I look at the numbers and get something quite a bit hotter and then I know what I have to work with. It's almost a waste of time pining over a slight change due to something like a pickup with or without a mounting ring. If you have the time and energy be my guest and carve stuff up and go for direct mount. I have considered this on a superstrat that had only the lead pickup and I thought a really specifically routed out neck channel allowing for a tight fit neck humbucker would give me that position with optimal sustain....that or I could just put in a hotter pickup. I did the latter and got a rather hot "Jackson" humbucker and it was more than a match for the Duncan JB I already had in the lead position. I could go between the pickups clean or dirty and not have to worry about a volume drop. So much in live situations the neck pickup just gets lost in the mix and becomes anemic as a lead pickup, especially with distortion. But mixing and matching with plenty of experimentation allows for a good result without having to remove pickup rings or do something quite uncosmetic. If a guitar comes standard without pickup rings/pickguards like the EVH and Peaveys, then fine but the obsession with removing rings for tone is overrated.
Are you working towards a Masters in Computer Science too? ;)
Anyway, when it comes to music I try to put my mathematical brain on hold... I have to do enough of that in school... even though, at its core, music is mathematical.
I'm more concerned (well, curious) about people's opinions about if there actually is a difference in tone.
I just don't see how it really could make a difference. Not much of one anyway.
I mean, I can see where one anchored to the wood solidly would stop the pickup from vibrating on a set of springs and ever so slightly alter the way the magnetic fields interact with the alloy of the strings... but would it really be enough to notice? Are some people's ears that good?
I know it's argued here often about wood, shapes, blah blah blah making differences in the overall tone... some say 'yes, it all has an effect', some say no, only 'this' or 'this' makes a difference... but I guess it's an argument that can't be resolved because there's no way to make a true direct comparison since even cuts of the same wood from the same tree can be dramatically different. (My Uncle Joe makes a living selling wood, he can attest to that fact.)
So it's impossible to really compare the effect of any one thing... unless you want to constantly 'tear up' your guitar... and none of us wants to do that. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
To another point you made, I have five Jems, all with PAF Pros, all made of basswood. They don't all sound the same. My FP (which has the newest pickups) is noticeably warmer than the others. The GMC has direct mounted pickups but doesn't sound noticeably different than the SK with guard-mounted pickups.

My feeling is that direct vs. ring-mounted pickups is a preference that has less to do with the sound and more to do with feel. I played an Ibanez with direct mounts exclusively for a number of years and I definitely prefer having no ring there, because I put my pinkie right there next to the bridge humbucker. John Petrucci does the exact same thing.
How about pickguard mounted? Does the one or two millimeters difference change the feel dramatically compared to a guitar without one? The two guitars I have access to both have pickguards and since I live close to nowhere I really can't just 'pop down' to the local GC (400 miles away) to do a comparison of my own and I never thought about it while I was in Philly at the GC there.
Also, does all that plastic/wood/metal/glass of the pickguard change the tone?
I know I'm asking a lot of silly questions, but searching these forums is kind of like trying to determine the location, velocity and spin of a quantum particle (can't do it) since so many of the results that come up are unrelated to the question I asked it. ;)
 

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Are you working towards a Masters in Computer Science too? ;)
Anyway, when it comes to music I try to put my mathematical brain on hold... I have to do enough of that in school... even though, at its core, music is mathematical.
I'm more concerned (well, curious) about people's opinions about if there actually is a difference in tone.
I just don't see how it really could make a difference. Not much of one anyway.
I mean, I can see where one anchored to the wood solidly would stop the pickup from vibrating on a set of springs and ever so slightly alter the way the magnetic fields interact with the alloy of the strings... but would it really be enough to notice? Are some people's ears that good?
I know it's argued here often about wood, shapes, blah blah blah making differences in the overall tone... some say 'yes, it all has an effect', some say no, only 'this' or 'this' makes a difference... but I guess it's an argument that can't be resolved because there's no way to make a true direct comparison since even cuts of the same wood from the same tree can be dramatically different. (My Uncle Joe makes a living selling wood, he can attest to that fact.)
So it's impossible to really compare the effect of any one thing... unless you want to constantly 'tear up' your guitar... and none of us wants to do that. :)
It's so funny that by far the best musicians I have come across are not math people. The few techie math people I know who also do music either suck or suck the life out of any song they sing or play. I think it seems wise to leave the hard math out of music since it's probably more about feel than about treating like something technical like the design of the space shuttle.

As for study, I am through with higher end expensive education and I did my prereqs for master's in computer engineering MS and PhD via UCSC and spent many years just at that prereq stage at but then didn't pursue it. I wanted to be hands on more than endlessly spend years working on a component on a motherboard that would end up on some router, maybe. At this point I only fix stuff for friends and am pretty burned out of all stuff tech.

My buddy got his electronic engineering master's and has spent over 20 years working with flash memory and making it cheaper and faster. It's his life's work and while impressive on its face in the small circles of EEs and ELs, I couldn't imagine living and breathing those little keychain ditties. A master's will definitely get you work and pay well but could also be really dull, too. Thousands of people work on what will be the next great PC gaming motherboard only to be superseded in a few months at best.
 

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How about pickguard mounted? Does the one or two millimeters difference change the feel dramatically compared to a guitar without one? The two guitars I have access to both have pickguards and since I live close to nowhere I really can't just 'pop down' to the local GC (400 miles away) to do a comparison of my own and I never thought about it while I was in Philly at the GC there.
Also, does all that plastic/wood/metal/glass of the pickguard change the tone?
I know I'm asking a lot of silly questions, but searching these forums is kind of like trying to determine the location, velocity and spin of a quantum particle (can't do it) since so many of the results that come up are unrelated to the question I asked it. ;)
To me, the distance between the top of the guitar (be that the wood or the pickguard) to the strings makes a huge difference in feel. I can tell you that I don't like the feel of a guitar where the strings are a mile up off the body.

There are probably small differences in pickup sounds from direct mount, to ring mount, to pickguard mount, but you would probably have to try the same pickup in different configurations on the same guitar to test it. There are a million other variables like the density of the wood and variations from pickup to pickup to detect the small differences the mounting makes.
 

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This guitar used to be a rg570 with pup rings, changed to direct mount right to the wood. The same pickups sound a little fuller and sustain longer for sure, harmonics and feedback are different also... It does sound better than it did before... It's not BS or voodoo it does make a real difference

 

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This guitar used to be a rg570 with pup rings, changed to direct mount right to the wood. The same pickups sound a little fuller and sustain longer for sure, harmonics and feedback are different also... It does sound better than it did before... It's not BS or voodoo it does make a real difference
So your saying that the only thing that changed on that guitar was how the pickups were mounted?
 

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So your saying that the only thing that changed on that guitar was how the pickups were mounted?
I didn't say that at all, but do you think cutting out the handle, carving out the lion's claw, and replacing the thick layers of paint and clear coat with an equally thick layer of paint and clear coat would make it sound fuller and sustain longer?
 

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I didn't say that at all, but do you think cutting out the handle, carving out the lion's claw, and replacing the thick layers of paint and clear coat with an equally thick layer of paint and clear coat would make it sound fuller and sustain longer?
First, on the mounting debate I don't know either way. However, I will say I have never ;) known ;) any guitar players to be a little neurotic. I remember reading back in the day Eric Johnson could tell the difference in battery manufactures used in his pedals. He wanted a certain bread used etc.

Second, there was something about the old THICK finish on Kramers killing tone and sustain on their guitars. I would be willing to bet all you did to change your guitar is what caused the difference you noticed more so that how the pups were mounted.

**Disclaimer**
I am just some dude on the internet. Take my opinion for that it is worth, squat! **End Disclaimer**
 

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Oh yea, that is one nice swirl btw.
Thanks man :mrgreen:

You could be right about the different finishes... It has a 2k clear on it now which I didn't think was all that different from what was on it before. It even has the original sanding sealer on it....

I had this body, neck, hardware, and pups put together and it was my main guitar for a few months while I was finishing up another project. It was such a dead sounding combo with mediocre sustain that I almost just parted it out. After all the mods it is my favorite trem guitar I own... Something I did made a huge difference...IDK what exactly it was? I just assumed it was direct mounting the pickups more than anything else I did...
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
it doesn't matter which you use... neither will give you guaranteed success in music or guitar playing :p
I don't care about success (fame) in music, I'm just doing it for fun and since I do seem to have such an over-analytical mind, like the Enquirer says, "I just want to know!" :)
My father is a mechanical engineer, so it runs in the family.
I do want to design motherboards and CPUs, I don't care if what I design ends up in the back of a child's learning letters game, it's the designing of the circuits and logic boards that turns me on. What some corporate nit-wit does with it later doesn't concern me. As long as they aren't making bombs with it. :)
My luck though, with the economy how it is, I'll end up being the highest educated fabric cutter at Wal-Mart, especially around here.
Nowhere, WV 25504
 

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I don't care about success (fame) in music, I'm just doing it for fun and since I do seem to have such an over-analytical mind, like the Enquirer says, "I just want to know!" :)
My father is a mechanical engineer, so it runs in the family.
I do want to design motherboards and CPUs, I don't care if what I design ends up in the back of a child's learning letters game, it's the designing of the circuits and logic boards that turns me on. What some corporate nit-wit does with it later doesn't concern me. As long as they aren't making bombs with it. :)
My luck though, with the economy how it is, I'll end up being the highest educated fabric cutter at Wal-Mart, especially around here.
Nowhere, WV 25504
Im confused, what are going to prove ? that one is better then the other ? How are you going to prove that ? Its a subjective opinion whether or not direct mounting, changes the sound for the better or worse ...
 

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I don't care about success (fame) in music, I'm just doing it for fun and since I do seem to have such an over-analytical mind, like the Enquirer says, "I just want to know!" :)
My father is a mechanical engineer, so it runs in the family.
I do want to design motherboards and CPUs, I don't care if what I design ends up in the back of a child's learning letters game, it's the designing of the circuits and logic boards that turns me on. What some corporate nit-wit does with it later doesn't concern me. As long as they aren't making bombs with it. :)
My luck though, with the economy how it is, I'll end up being the highest educated fabric cutter at Wal-Mart, especially around here.
Nowhere, WV 25504
I was a non-technical person for years (striving to be a musician, then fiction writer) and really went by the popular myths of non covered humbuckers sounding "better", or pre-CBS sounding better because it had Leo's mojo, etc. Those popular myths did allow me to get a '65 tele for a lot cheaper than similar '64 pre-CBS era tele even though the parts of most '65s were made during Leo's CEO tenure. Those theories around rare and old were just sexy and cool and still hold a lot of value to many players.

But lo and behold I started having to be more objective due to job and other things checked out this stupid thing called the scientific method and it did a lot to prove few things change sound more than things like amp, player, and then pickups. I remember being with my scientific nerd friend and he totally laughed at the Seymour Duncan catalog and its descriptions. It had colorful language but that particular catalog did not put in numbers. What's the DC resistance, for instance?

The subtle things like if my Les Paul Custom with a maple top on mahogany body versus if it's an older school Custom with mahogany top on mahogany body are really not that worth writing about. Other things like if the more expensive vintage era Brazilian Rosewood fingerboards sound way better than later era East Indian Rosewood fingerboards. On those maple toped Les Pauls, then some quibble over whether flame is better or if the sunburst had faded or how thin the nitro finish is on that 9 pound solidbody. Come on! It will also make sense that while pickup mounting techniques can make a difference it's pales in comparison to swapping stuff out.

Throw in an EMG 81 or Duncan Invader and you will get the character of a hotter guitar due to its pickup and other factors like if it's mounted on body or pickup rings will matter very little. I wouldn't really carve up a guitar (doing it perfectly by filling pickup cavities with like wood, rerouting, and then seamless refinishing whole guitar just for the look of a factory direct mount guitar. Just get a couple or three different humbuckers and have some variety there. Your electronic knowledge should get you by in the complicated HSH splittalbe diagrams Ibanez often employs.

While there are subtle differences in mounting pups, few out there take the time to swap out pickups (due to cost and bothersome labor). Before I had some cash I would experiment and put a small block of wood under humbuckers and single coils and let that be the mount and not the rings/pickguard. Yes, there was some added sustain but nothing like when I later just went out and bought hotter pickups. :)

Being a PC person you can understand that even though the cool looking cases with smoked glass and lights inside will make a machine look cool, the bus speed, RAM speed and amount, and CPU make a lot more difference. Give me an old tan box PC with a couple of quad processors and 8 gigs of RAM over some more expensive machine with much nicer case, monitor, but half the CPU and RAM.
 
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