Effect of swapping pickups on my Godin for Seymour Duncans

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Effect of swapping pickups on my Godin for Seymour Duncans

Post by Mudchild »

Hi all

I have a Godin Solidac going into my Kemper. I love the Kemper and I love the guitar, great build quality, but I sense that one area that could be improved is in the pickups. People have screamed 'Seymour Duncans!' at me, but I'm just wondering if it's possible to prepare me for what kind of difference this might have on all my profiles?

And furthermore, tbh, I'm also a bit wary of swapping the pickups. I know SD's have a great rep, but will I really like it better? I listen to demos on YouTube etc, of the ones I'm homing in on, but everyone's blazing away with extravagant bluesy rock wingin', or balls out crunchy mayhem, which is all very impressive but I have quite a mellow clean arpeggio approach, perhaps think Johnny Marr (ish). Hard to know what you're letting yourself in for. Any tips?

Thanks!
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Re: Effect of swapping pickups on my Godin for Seymour Duncans

Post by zenguitar »

The best advice is that you should be very clear in your own mind about what, if anything, is wrong with the Godin pick-ups fitted as standard.

Don't even begin to think about replacing pick-ups until you have a clear idea whether or not there is actually a problem to fix.

And then you need to consider whether small changes to the relative heights of the pick-ups and the bass/treble side height adjustment would prove a better fix to any perceived problem.

Seymour Duncan do make excellent pick-ups. But so do many other companies, including Godin. My instincts are always to be exceedingly wary about those who scream advice framed around specific brands. It often turns out that the screamers have little or no experience or first hand knowledge, just a bunch of 'truths' culled from other inexperienced individuals on the internet.

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Re: Effect of swapping pickups on my Godin for Seymour Duncans

Post by Wonks »

Apart from knowing the guitar has an HSH configuration, I don’t know what sort of pickups are fitted by Godin. Are they powerful ceramics in say an Ibanez vein, or a more traditional humbucker and single coil combination?

What pickup combinations do you use most? Do you want a very clean sound, or warmth but with clarity etc? Can you describe what you get and what you're after? What amp models do you use in the Kemper?
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Re: Effect of swapping pickups on my Godin for Seymour Duncans

Post by Dynamic Mike »

One option would be a Duesenberg Domino P90. Great for clean sounds and considerably cheaper than Seymour Duncan. But heed all the advice above first.
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Re: Effect of swapping pickups on my Godin for Seymour Duncans

Post by Mudchild »

Thanks for the input guys, very thought provoking! Also apologies for the length in getting back on this thread, life took over for a little while.

It's a good question - what is 'wrong' with the current pickups. Well for a start, the single coil in the middle sounds rather thin, I never use it. It's certainly quieter although I guess this is to be expected? Perhaps this would be a candidate for raising, to get higher/thicker output?

I actually quite like the tone of the humbuckers, especially the neck one, but when recording, there's something about the attack of string plucking that i don't like. Sounds a bit 'plasticky'/'brittle'/'cheap'. I think that's what's making me look elsewhere...

But I totally get the view that maybe what I'd be better off thinking about is a new guitar...

Oh and the pickups on the Godin are:
Neck: GHN1
Middle: S1
Bridge GHB1

Seen one of those on Reverb for about £25, so they're not expensive, if that makes a difference...
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Re: Effect of swapping pickups on my Godin for Seymour Duncans

Post by Wonks »

You can but try raising the single coil. You will get a stronger and thicker output. Just be aware that get it too close and you may induce wolf notes from the magnetic field affecting the string vibrations.

Humbuckers have a less strong affect on the strings, so you can probably get closer than on a three single coil guitar. But if in doubt, just wind it back down a bit.
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Re: Effect of swapping pickups on my Godin for Seymour Duncans

Post by Wonks »

How are you recording? Maybe there’s something in the signal chain that’s causing or exacerbating the attack issue.

Have you tried recording a different guitar with different humbuckers. You may find a difference/improvement, but you may find exactly the same issue.
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Re: Effect of swapping pickups on my Godin for Seymour Duncans

Post by merlyn »

You do know that a Godin solidac has piezo pickups too?

'Brittle' is often a description of what people don't like about piezo pickups. The attack is different from magnetic pickups.

There will be some sort of mix control to bring in the piezo pickups, is that at zero?
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Re: Effect of swapping pickups on my Godin for Seymour Duncans

Post by Funkyflash5 »

The stock pickups are also ceramic, which also are often described as brittle. Having found details and clips of the Solidac I'm fairly sure that a pickup change could remedy Mudchild's problems, and having clarity on what tone is desired should make selecting new pickups that much easier.
It sounds to me like a fairly standard humbucker would be fine, perhaps something a bit brighter than average but with alnico to get a smoother attack. The single coil is the wildcard, where something unusual might be more to your liking, perhaps a single coil sized humbucker, or just a warmer more p90ish strat. There are certainly options from SD that might achieve this, as well as from any of the other big after market brands. If it was me I'd pass this same info along to a small pickup maker like The Creamery and take their guidance on what would get you to the sound your looking for.
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Re: Effect of swapping pickups on my Godin for Seymour Duncans

Post by Mudchild »

wow thanks so much Funkyflash, good bit of research there! Ceramic = brittle eh?

And in answer to Merlyn, yes I'm fully conversant with how the piezos work on the guitar, and it's not those in the mix.

And answer to Wonks' question, yes I can compare it to an Epiphone Les Paul which someone gave to me recently. It's an inferior, budget guitar in so many ways, but the middle switch tone does have quite a charm to it, and does not sound brittle at all. I'm recording through my Kemper into a Scarlett.

So this may have rejuvenated my interest in replacing the pickups after all.

Not having had any knowledge of the Creamery, the site looks good but I can't get any of the sound demos to work for some reason. Is it a good idea to go with someone like this over SD then?
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Re: Effect of swapping pickups on my Godin for Seymour Duncans

Post by GCKelloch »

The Creamery or other pickup makers are likely going to recommend their pickups, but there are much cheaper solutions that might get just want you want. It's often pretty easy to swap magnets out of PAF style pickups. Yes, C8 magnets tend to produce a harsher/thinner sound due to the much higher than AlNiCo Gauss. C5 is a bit less, but I'd go for AlNiCo bars. Ceramic is also non-conductive, so the poles may not be properly grounded if there isn't something conductive connecting them.

Philadelphia Luthiers sells HB bar magnets that should fit your HB's. From what I've heard in demos, "brittleness" (emphasized upper string harmonics and unpleasant inter-modulations from string Gauss) goes from most to least with: A8, A5, A4, A2, A3. A4 and A3 have substantially higher permeability than the other types. That draws the flux lines from the strings more into the center of the pickups, which in creases efficiency tends to produce a warmer/fatter note timbre. Since the neck pickup seems almost fine as is, you might try an A5 bar for that, but I'd go with one of the A4 options for the bridge for more warmth, unless you are a Metal player. In which case, you might want as high as A8. Gibson apparently used A4 in their pickups for a time in the mid '60s.

I'd assume the middle SC pickup has A5 poles. The Gauss at the top of the poles would then be ~4x that at the top of the poles of one of your HB's with an A5 bar. Reducing the Gauss to ~1/2 will allow raising the pickup closer to the strings for a fatter note timbre without too much string pull. The early '60s Fender SC's used a type of lower Gauss A5.

You can use one of the C8 bars to somewhat de-Gauss the poles by pressing the opposing field side against the bottom of the pole pieces. First, try getting a feel for the Gauss strength by pulling the tip of a Phillips head screwdriver straight off the center of one of the poles, and then de-Gauss the poles for ~2 seconds and test again with the screwdriver. If it then feels much too weak, re-Gauss the poles to full strength with the other side of the C8 bar for ~5 secs, and de-Gauss again for ~1 sec, or for ~3 secs if it felt too strong after ~2 secs of de-Gaussing. Repeat the process till the Gauss feels ~1/2 as strong as full strength. Slightly more than 1/2 would likely better balance with the other pickups.

If that doesn't do the trick, there are many affordable options to get a fatter note timber. Some of the Ceramic powered SC-size twin blade pickups are actually very good sounding. The smaller ceramic magnet reduces the blade Gauss and the twin blade design increases aperture for an articulate, but fatter tone. You may want a bit higher inductance pickup than what's in there as well. The GFS 10k Lil Killer model is a good choice. It's 4~4.5H inductance like a vintage Gibson PAF. It rounds off the high end a bit, but has ample power to keep up with the HB's. It might be worth also buying the 7kHz version to see which one you prefer. Due to the inductance vs DCR measurements, I'd assume they are wound with thinner than standard wire, like 44AWG. That improves efficiency and the lower to upper string harmonic ratio for a warmer/fatter note timbre. The only drawback of those pickups is I don't think both blades are grounded, but that can be remedied with a piece of Copper tape connecting them on the bottom. It's worth doing to eliminate any noise that might create audible inter-modulations.

Finally, it's not clear if the pickups in that guitar are necessarily always mixed through the onboard preamp or not. If it is the case in all output jack combinations, the capacitance load would be very low. That can reduce the pickup resonance peaks to the point where they may lack clarity even though the high end is more extended. Soldering a 200~300pF cap across each of the pickup leads b4 the preamp input may be preferable in that case. Caps are very cheap. I get them from BYOC.
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Re: Effect of swapping pickups on my Godin for Seymour Duncans

Post by Wonks »

I think you’ve got your capacitance loading effect wrong, as more capacitance lowers the resonant peak (less treble more mids) and less capacitance increases it (more treble less mids). But a good point about the internal preamp. If the pickups are passing through it and it doesn’t mimic the sort of capacitance found in a typical guitar lead, then it could make the sound a bit brighter. And the more capacitance, capacitance there is, the more smooths off the attack portion of a note.
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