Super High Gain Pickups

Markedman

Well-known member
They are not for everyone but I love them! There’s something about a pick up with more gain, it’s the way it grabs the note and really pulls it out. For most players they are too smooth and lack tonal coloration from the guitar itself. One of my favorite tones is Vivian Campbell’s tone on “rainbow in the dark.”

Many will agree that after trying every pick up on the market you’ll end up with the Seymour Duncan JB. It is after all, the most popular pick up in history.

The pick up I have recently fallen in love with is the lace sensor drop and gain which has a rating of 24k. My old favorite was Tom Anderson H3+ which is around 15 K.

I did an Internet search to see if there is a hotter pickup on the market and all I could find was at one time mighty mite had a 26K.

What is the hottest pickup any of you ever seen before?
 

Markedman

Well-known member
I'd just note that measured resistance is only lightly correlated with output of a pickup. It really only means something in the context of similarly wound pickups with identical magnets.
This is the kind of shit that I don’t know about, it’s hard to find an explanation.
 

blackba

Well-known member
When I was looking at Anderson pickups, I first tried an H3 and found it too hot for me. Swapped it for an H2+ and that has stayed to this day. I would think an H3+ would be way too much for me.

For me I have been moving away from super hot pickups. I put T tops back in my 73 Les Paul custom. In my other les Paul, I tool out the Suhr Aldrich pickups I had for years for a thornbucker/+ set. I find I have plenty of gain available on my pedals and my amps, so letting them do the work. All that said I am more of a classic hard rock and metal player, so I am sure I am chasing different tones.

And I will echo on pickups, DC resistance is the easiest to measure, but you have to combine that with magnet strength & type as was mentioned and also you should know the inductance of the pickups. So DC resistance is really only 1 piece of the puzzle, its not worthless, but its also doesn't tell the whole story.
 

nigelpkay

Active member
I’ve moved on to medium hot pickups (10-15k) but once I tried Seymour Duncan Blackouts and they were just way too much over the top. I think that’s what turned me away because I can’t even play a JB or Distortion now without getting tired of it quickly.
 

rstites

Active member
This is the kind of shit that I don’t know about, it’s hard to find an explanation.

I get it, and it's a perfectly good way to get a first approximation across a pickup line from a given brand.

The resistance will be proportional to the length of the wire, so the longer the wire, the more resistance. The longer the wire, the more wraps on the pickup, so the more output current it'll produce. At the same time, a thicker wire will have less resistance and yet have the same interaction with the magnetic field.....and resistance goes down with the square of the diameter of the wire, which results in more current output. The two work against each other, so measuring resistance only works so long as the wire thickness is the same.

The strength of the magnet and the specific material have a major affect too, and I can't even quantify those without digging out books and reading. Those will probably play a bigger role in output. The induction of the coil will depend on those, the size the interaction of field and coil, and that can't be measured with an ohmmeter. (This is the same reason that you measure speakers and only get resistance, which is lower than the impedance.)

Anyhow, I don't really think it's worth worrying about, when it comes down to it. I think you go for high output pickups and just try them. Use your ears in the end. I've spent days recording and swapping pickups to find the right match for a given guitar/amp. We'd record it and blind label everything so there was no bias going into listen to them. The difference is subtle, really, but still fun.
 

rstites

Active member
When I was looking at Anderson pickups, I first tried an H3 and found it too hot for me. Swapped it for an H2+ and that has stayed to this day. I would think an H3+ would be way too much for me.

Andersons have consistently been my favorite high(er) output pickups that work in the most guitars. I have H-3's and H-3+'s in 2 or 3 guitars, and have had them for years. I mostly gravitate toward the H-3's because they roll off noticeably better for a clean(ish) tone. I've used Duncan Customs in several guitars too. I prefer them to the JB, which is too piercing in the upper mids and a bit flubby in the bottom in a lot of guitars. I also still use the venerable Dimarzio SD in several. In some ways, nobody has really surpassed it.

For higher output, I tend to just go for actives and be down with it. (Likewise, an onboard boost/preamp with passives gives some more flexibility with mid-gain pickups that can act like higher gain, but I've never gotten one to actually work out in practice.)
 

stephen sawall

Well-known member
I prefer hotter pickups also. The Gibson 500T is the highest I use. It measures 11.4. The Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 I have in a few guitars. Highest Seymour Duncan I have is a Distortion SH-6 DDJ. It measures 17.2.
The 500T is a lot louder at 11.4 than the SH-6 DDJ at 17.2.
 

Devin

Well-known member
I used the Duncan Blackout EMTY and AHB-3 pickups in one of my axes for years; they're insanely hot but I dug em
 

Racerxrated

Well-known member
I have the Wagner Iron Man in 2 of my Charvels. They are over 20 in resistance from what I remember. My other Charvel has an MCP Afwayu which is 17k. Both have great clarity and feel. I also have a Tone Nerd(Scottosan here on RT) Sunset Strip which is also a killer pickup, I think around 14k? I’ll be swapping one of my IMs for it soon. It was in my SoCal but the Afwayu wins in that guitar.
 
D

Deleted member 13074

Guest
Hotter than H3+...
Duncan RTM which is a hotter JB @17.4k. Close in sound to the H3+, so not fitting the brief
Others I run - Suhr Aldrich @17.5k, original Gibson Dirty Fingers
Aldrich is compressed and even
At 16k, the DF is not the highest resistance but the hottest of them all. It screams under gain so needs potting
 

Speeddemon

Well-known member
I tend to favor medium/high output pickups (JB, Norton, Custom5, Custom/59Hybrid) over the really high gain and ceramic ones, because I want some sort of character along with my gain.
Notable exception is the Dimarzio Super Distortion here.
I do like Duncan Distortions, but they're not as versatile as I typically require from my guitars.

Aside from the lack of character, I find that ceramics can often sound congested too, opposed to a more open, lively Alnico-based pickup.
Another downside; it's nigh impossible to play real clean with really high output (X2N, Deactivators, etc.) pickups. I rather get my additional gain from an amp. There's a reason why PAF-type (low/medium output) are so popular, even with high gain players.
 

scottosan

Well-known member
It’s the number of winds and the magnet gauss that determine output, not the resistance. The higher the output, usually requires a smaller gauge wire. Don’t get caught up in the resistance. My Wicked 8 is 13.8kish. and has more output than a JB or my Roxy at over 17k+. 7100 winds of 44awg wired and an A5 magnet will be less output than 6850 winds of 43 awg wire with an A8 magnet.
 

japetus

Well-known member
It’s the number of winds and the magnet gauss that determine output, not the resistance. The higher the output, usually requires a smaller gauge wire. Don’t get caught up in the resistance. My Wicked 8 is 13.8kish. and has more output than a JB or my Roxy at over 17k+. 7100 winds of 44awg wired and an A5 magnet will be less output than 6850 winds of 43 awg wire with an A8 magnet.
I have learned more about pickups from you in the past year than I have learned in the past 20 of playing guitar, that's no joke.
 

ccn

Well-known member
Unfortunately, finding the perfect pickup can be expensive. You tend to think the next one will be better than the one you currently have . It's like a never ending quest lol.

Not all pickups will sound the same in every guitar either , so much experimentation but when you do finally nail that ideal match there's nothing quite like it and that's what keeps us searching imo.
 

TX6Strings

Well-known member
I’ve become a big fan Bare Knuckles Rebel Yell (14.4K Alnico V). I’m running them in 2 of my PRS and they sound great.
 
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