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  #1  
Old 03.05.12, 8:14 AM
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What Would You Invest First For A Better Or Different Tone?

So I'm planning on changing my "Fender 57 Reissue Maple Neck Stratocaster Made In Japan Since 1993"'s original pickup to "Lindy Fralin's Blues Special" pickup. And I'm not sure even if let's say I'm playing on a Marshall tube amp, is the sound difference/improvement going to be huge/obvious or not by swapping the pickup? I mean, for an experienced player who have been playing for a long time it might easily sound very different and much better to them. But for a beginner or the audience in general, is swapping the pickup going to sound so different that they're going to notice the sound difference/improvement if they heard the before and after? If the audience just wants to enjoy music and majority of them probably doesn't know much about guitar and doesn't pay so much attention on the sound quality or overall it just sounds the same to them. Then what's the point of swapping the pickup? Yea maybe it matters if you're an experienced player and looking for getting the exact perfect tone? But for an almost intermediate player like me, perhaps it's better to save the money and invest on an effect pedal / multi-effect first if I don't have one yet? And think about swapping pickup when I'm better and start to seek for a particular / better tone in the future? Also, I use a Roland Micro Cube amp for practice and I don't see why I need to invest on a tube amp if I'm just practicing on my own in a dorm of university where usually I can't play at loud volume and not doing any record at the moment? Also, they already got great tube amps on stage or band practice room. Besides, isn't it hard to carry a huge tube amp around.

Furthermore, I often hear people say "I would recommend a better amp before you invest much in pickups." or "A good amp can make a bad guitar sound good. But a good guitar cannot make a bad amp sound good." With that said, if a guitarist is seeking for a better or different tone. What would you invest first for the most obvious improvement or change in sound? Pickup / Amp / Perhaps Multi-Effect which would give you many types of tone to choose from? In my case, maybe investing on an effect pedal / multi-effect first would be the best way to go for now?

My apologize for the long thread...
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Old 03.05.12, 9:57 AM
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Typically, the audience won't care what you're playing, or be able to tell how much your gear costs based on the sound coming out the PA system.

However, the audience can tell the difference between bad sound and good sound, and having good sound will often improve their perception of the overall quality of the whole performance.

Things like a better set of pickups don't typically make a big change to the overall sound, but they can make a difference to the way the guitar and/or amp feel to play, which can improve (or worsen if you choose the wrong ones) your enjoyment of the instrument... which to me is more important that the audience perception. I can have more fun and play more relaxed when I'm not fighting my rig to sound good, which is something that benefits everyone in the end.

As for your second question, the amp and speakers make the biggest difference in sound in an electric guitar. The sound the guitar/pickup produces hasn't changed all that much in the last 50-60 years... however the way amplifiers/speakers process that basic signal from the guitar has evolved several times, producing whole new sounds and genres each step of the way.

That said, if you're just practicing in a dorm room I'd stick to the little modelling amp. A tube amp isn't worth buying until you can enjoy it, and it's just going to be an aggravation in an environment where everyone is going to keep telling you to turn it down to whisper levels.
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Old 03.05.12, 9:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by screamingdaisy View Post
Typically, the audience won't care what you're playing, or be able to tell how much your gear costs based on the sound coming out the PA system.

However, the audience can tell the difference between bad sound and good sound, and having good sound will often improve their perception of the overall quality of the whole performance.

Things like a better set of pickups don't typically make a big change to the overall sound, but they can make a difference to the way the guitar and/or amp feel to play, which can improve (or worsen if you choose the wrong ones) your enjoyment of the instrument... which to me is more important that the audience perception. I can have more fun and play more relaxed when I'm not fighting my rig to sound good, which is something that benefits everyone in the end.

As for your second question, the amp and speakers make the biggest difference in sound in an electric guitar. The sound the guitar/pickup produces hasn't changed all that much in the last 50-60 years... however the way amplifiers/speakers process that basic signal from the guitar has evolved several times, producing whole new sounds and genres each step of the way.

That said, if you're just practicing in a dorm room I'd stick to the little modelling amp. A tube amp isn't worth buying until you can enjoy it, and it's just going to be an aggravation in an environment where everyone is going to keep telling you to turn it down to whisper levels.
All I thought of was "think of it like testing Lay-Z boy chairs.... and just looking for the comfortable one for you". Then again, perfect fit is hard to find sometimes. Playing style can change things though too...

Tis true though
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Old 03.05.12, 10:40 PM
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when you get to where you can afford it and have the place for it dont rule out amp mixing. using two or more amps on the same track to achieve the tone you like.
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Old 03.06.12, 4:16 AM
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I pretty much agree with Screaming Daisy.
Also, the little Roland amps are actually pretty good.
I have to say that I am totally in love with Fralin pickups in my Strat (Vintage Hots) and I probably love them more now than when I goth them over 10 years ago but I've always played them into some good and some amazing tube amps. It's a mod that's definitely worth doing at some stage but don't be in a huge hurry - Fender Japan pickups are still pretty good. The difference is not always night and day with these things.

I'd consider a better amp at some stage but again, you don't need to be in a big hurry because the Cubes are pretty good as bedroom amps. Save you money and if you start wanting to play with a band look at some of the mid-level tube combos (Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, Peavey Classic 30 etc) if/when you need to play with a drummer and a full band.

My 2 cents anyway... hope it was of some help at least.
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Old 03.06.12, 11:37 AM
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Thanks a lot for all the respond! But please excuse me. So I was thinking about it, and I agree the pickup swap should come last. Apparently majority of the people suggested that the biggest problem I have now, and before making any other changes, is to change my amp, which makes me start to regret of buying this Roland Micro Cube Amp just few weeks ago : ( I actually just bought this cube amp recently as a small practice amp since I'm going back from Bangkok to my hometown Taiwan soon for university. And in university, I'd say most of the time I will be wearing headphone, and even if not, I can't really play at loud volume. So in my situation, I don't see the point of buying a tube amp, at least not for now. It might be a waste and perhaps it's not a good idea to put such an expensive amp in the dorm. In the future, when I graduate from university and not staying in a dorm with others anymore. I think that's when I should get a decent tube amp like what almost everyone suggested, and be able to make good use of it.

I was wondering, how do you guys manage to carry these big amps around to gig room / stage / different places? Part of the reason I bought the micro cube was because I thought it's really small that I can easily carry it from school dorm to home during weekend. Anyways, I think for performance and band gig, I would just stick with whatever amp they got on stage / practice room for now due to limited budget. And invest my little money on a better practice set up, for example a pod, an interface, multi effect, or a pedal. Something to keep me interested in the dorm room through headphones. Point is, these pod / interface / multi effect / pedal, are they going to do a good job (effective) on my Roland Micro Cube amp? I think unfortunately I can't make the most out of these stuffs if it's on a Roland Micro Cube amp...? Which now it comes down to changing my amp again... sigh. I mean I just bought the cube amp, and I did a lot of research and comparison, and I thought this amp got good reviews at a cheap affordable price : (

Planning on buying a compressor pedal for now... But I heard this pedal is the worst buy and most useless pedal out of all, because it makes it sound pretty much the same and doesn't help much? BTW I play blues, jazz, funk, and rock. Other effect pedals probably won't be necessary for now since the cube amp already has many built-in effects, but then again, these pedal may not work well on my micro cube amp.... What should I do... Also, does the noise gate pedal work well on canceling the single coil hum? Because I'm worry my ears will get hurt by wearing headphone with those buzz so close to my ears, and I might find the buzz annoying and decrease my practice time as a result.
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Old 03.06.12, 11:47 AM
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if you end up in a band with a band space getting a bigger amp to keep in the practice space isnt a bad idea. if all else fails use the headphone out on your cube to a pa.
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Old 03.06.12, 8:34 PM
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I've been using the Line 6 Mobile in for the late night jamming at the moment. I use an Iphone 4, so it just makes sense to me, as well, my phone, and guitar are always on me.... Plus, with the right adapters and cables, any amp I plug into will get what I'm looking for. So all I'd ever need is a bag of cables, guitar, and my phone, which is always on me. You can download many apps for it, I hear it also works with the Ipad as well, which many use, might be a worthwhile investment, or something like the Irig, the Apogee Jam, and I think there's a few others as well. Been using Ampkit at the moment, as I'll get my tones I can typically get through a 5150. Not my type of amp in a live situation, but gets what I'm looking for, and I can plug into any amp, and get a sound like it. Also pedals included, it's just software And is always upgrading as well. I have a Line 6 Spider for my jamming/practicing as well

And the big rig is collecting dust at the moment in ATA cases, but I usually will use a station wagon or a truck to move it. My cab is in the UK at the moment, my head still here, as I can borrow a cabinet if need be.

And a compressor? Well, can be a great thing, can be a bad thing, it comes down to if you know how to use it. I use an overdrive, or a "boost" pedal to compress my tone, as I use natural gain to compress it anyways..... I'm looking into an EQ for my clean tones at the moment.
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strats. It's like their own form of puberty.

Last edited by Supergrunged; 03.06.12 at 8:40 PM.
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Old 03.06.12, 10:20 PM
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I really think the Micro Cube is probably fine for what you're looking for - does it have a headphone out as well? I haven't played through that particular amp but I have played through other Roland Cube amps that I thought were good for what they were.

The big question is simple - do you like the sounds you get with the Strat and the Roland? If the answer is yes then you don't need to look any further. You only need to get something else if you really don't like the sounds you are getting now. Also, don't forget that sometimes it takes a while to really find the sounds you are looking for in a new amp, especially if you are fairly new to guitar. John Suhr from Suhr Guitars has a famous quote that is something like "Practice cures most tone issues". Very true.

If you're still not happy, Supergrunged's idea of an iphone app app and iRig is a good one. Or, if you're a student in a dorm you could always get a simple interface and Amplitube. Not as good as a real amp but not bad with headphones.
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Old 03.07.12, 8:15 AM
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I don't think your current guitar is really lacking, so I'd leave it as is. As for what to do about your amp, I'd look into Tech 21's stuff. Even the smallest Tech 21 amp still has an extension cab out for gigging, as well as the emulated headphone and XLR outs for practice and recording.
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Old 03.08.12, 1:33 PM
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And I too will agree with Screamingdaisy. The biggest gear-related mistake guitarists make is buying more amp than they need. If you're just practicing, you don't need a big amp. If you really MUST have a tube amp, get one of those Epiphone five-watt amps (or the innumerable variations released by other companies).
I'm getting confused.
Why do you want to change pickups, and what change are you seeking from a new pickup?
What makes you happy or unhappy about your current amp that makes you believe you need to upgrade?
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