I really don’t believe that pickups make that much of a difference, once you get a decent set in. It’s mostly the player and the amp. Every pickup change that I’ve done hasn’t made a change as drastic as an amp, cab, or speaker. Most of my guitars sound close in recordings to the point that you’d be hard-pressed to identify which one you hear.
That has not been my experience. I find all other things being equal, the pickup construction, their position and the electrical network they form impart a certain characteristic on the guitar sound.
Amps+Cabs can certainly have a more dramatic tonal change no doubt; For me however it’s still a change of that characteristic sound.
For me, all it took was a pickup change on my Carvin DC127C for me to love it again (Going from Carvins to Dimarzio Liquifire/Crunchlab combination)
Or using Bill Lawrence’s L200 set on my Carvin Bolt:
A great example of pickup differences was done by Keith Merrow
I find very little differences in hum-bucking pickups, but when I switch to a single coil guitar there is a distinct difference. I can go from my Ibanez RG321 stock pickups, to my Faded SG stock pups, to my parts caster with a Duncan Distortion and 2 Duncan little 59’ers and I find only a small difference. However in order to appreciate my Agile Strat Clone, I have to use a Boss Blues Driver for tone and boost to get it to sound similar to my hum-bucking guitars. Yes there is a minor difference in similar pickups so I agree with acwild.
Some pickups can sound great in one guitar and not so good when you put them in another. If we are talking guitar straight to amp without fancy processing and effects, I would rate guitar cable a game changer as well.
Guitar cable a game changer? How so?
The pickup differences that I heard can all be achieve through the presence knob. His core tone didn’t change, at least to my ears.
I think the higher the gain, the less the pickups matter especially when you’re scooping mids
I’d say speakers are #1 most important.
#2 in this article. I don’t really understand it, but i know with my amp there is a big difference between a thin long copper wire and a thick short one. Mainly in the clarity of the highs.
The thinner cable has higher capacitance and chokes the highs like a tone control in the high harmonic range. I have found a real difference in pickups as I change them quite a bit. Some hum buckers can be really bright, others midrangey, and others somewhat full range. There is a world of difference between Ibanez, MightyMite, and Gibson humbuckers. Yet as stated above your amplifier would have to produce a full range of sound the hear it.