Megi's Jazz Odyssey - the return

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Comments

  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,214Member
    I don't pretend to understand all of what you have said in regard to the major and minor Jazz patterns. But it is interesting to see and hear - thanks for detailing them like this.

    I'm getting the feeling you've had to crack the Jazz thing coming at it mainly from the major scale. I don't know what it is but I just don't find the way the major scale sounds to come as naturally to playing improvs as the minor scale. Despite their being the same patterns but just 3 frets removed. I think it's that thing abut target notes and hitting them at the right time as new chords occur - think my melancholia means I think more naturally in terms of sad sounds so I hit the right key notes more often in minor scale.

    However in amongst what you've said .....

    Originally Posted By: Megi
    for me it's the shape of the pattern itself that is most important

    Now there is something that chimes with me. What little I have learned about scales / modes relies very heavily on patterns. For no other reason than the fact it's been the only way to translate "theory" into a practical playing of notes in a way that is at least reasonable sounding.

    Originally Posted By: Megi
    The Jazz Minor often sounds nice over minor 7th type chords, even though it has a major 7th.

    I suppose this is not dis-similar to the old blues thing of playing minor scales over major chords. I'm just guessing mind you.

    Originally Posted By: Megi
    I haven't really got to the Phrygian mode yet I admit

    For me it's the mode with the strongest flavour / identity of all of them. Fun to play but it's nature seems to give it a narrower range of possibilities for styles of playing. The Aeolian seems more versatile in it's application, and is probably my preferred mode of all of them.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    Mark, it was nice of you to wade through the posts, cheers for that! appreciated, I seem to have provoked a stunned silence from the rest of the forum, not that I can blame them...

    Re the major scale not feeling as natural to use - I agree completely, it just doesn't at first. I think listening to a lot of jazz, and how the greats do things, helps a lot - just trying to get the sound of jazz in your brain really. Also adding chromatic notes i.e. outside of the scale, has helped me a lot - you can approach any scale note from a fret above or below. Also, have a look at the link about the enclosure technique if you haven't already - it's a simple concept which can be applied to almost anything. And another thing a lot of people neglect is learning nice-sounding jazz lines or licks - I think people think it's not creative enough, but I have to say that's not true, it's really giving your brain material to work with, you will still sound like yourself in the end.

    You say "I'm getting the feeling you've had to crack the Jazz thing coming at it mainly from the major scale" and I suppose with jazz, the major scale and it's modes does really come first in importance, so you're right in a way. Although that said, getting the Jazz Minor scale, its modes, and its sounds into my playing has just made a vast difference - in many ways I think this scale really nails that modern jazz kind of sound - I say "modern" but I'm really referring to about the 1940s and 50s bebop era and onwards. For me it just brings something very authentic - not sure if that's the right word, but anyway.

    The shape learning thing - yes, I think that is very much the key with our instrument i.e. learn the shape/pattern of whatever you want to play, I guess where the root note is is useful too, and through practice get the sounds it makes into your brain. Any theoretical waffling on top of that is more superfluous. I tend to talk in theory terms, but that just suits me, maybe not for everyone. I have met brilliant jazz guitarists who think almost entirely in terms of licks or shapes, without knowing much theory at all. I'm told some of the "gypsy jazz" players are a lot like this too. So don't let the theory put you off - actually I try to take a "nuts and bolts", practical approach myself, but somehow the theory waffle keeps sneaking in! laugh

    You're right about the major 7th note in the Jazz Minor scale too. It's usually the case that when soloing over a particular chord, we want to use a scale that contains all the notes of that chord. But there are examples that break that rule, the blues is one, the Jazz Minor scale over a minor 7th chord is another, and there are plenty more out there I'm sure.

    I agree the Phrygian does have a very strong, exotic kind of flavour - it's an interesting scale. I just haven't really used it much because I don't generally need to. When a few years back I decided to really sort out my improvising, I felt it was best (and still do) to figure out what were the most useful/important scales to know in order to handle all the common chord sequences I might encounter in jazz. The Phrygian is not generally needed, so I haven't got to the point of working with it yet. At some stage I will have the really important stuff nailed (I hope) and then I will have the luxury of looking at some of the other interesting possibilities out there.

    Sorry, more jazz waffle! cheers smile
  • HobbioHobbio Posts: 21Member
    Oh, I read it mate! It's just a a bit advanced for me at the moment, so I couldn't really comment smile
  • zoglugzoglug Posts: 314Member
    Agree with Hobbio,

    I cant even play a Dm chord, let alone understand this! It will come in very useful though as i develop further.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    Fair comment Hobbio and zog, I'm not trying to show off or anything - this is just an area of playing which I've wrestled with myself over the years, and I do think the approach I've come up with is very good if I may say so blush, or at least it's "solved" things for me. I've seen a lot of books which show 5 pattern CAGED type systems, others which go for some sort of 7 pattern approach. Then there are people who advocate a strict 3 notes-per string way of working. And they are all good - which is the problem in a way, as I find there are times when I might want to use any one of them. So what I came up with allows me to do that, i.e. includes it all, and puts it in a "reasonably simple" (lol) way. Maybe I'll have to write the book some time ha ha!
  • zoglugzoglug Posts: 314Member
    Originally Posted By: Megi
    Fair comment Hobbio and zog, I'm not trying to show off or anything


    Dont worry Megi! I dont perceive it as showing off in any way what so ever. I love the fact that you have taken the time to share your knowledge and thoughts and i encourage people to do so. Once i develop and skill i will most certainly revisit with a better understanding.
  • HobbioHobbio Posts: 21Member
    Wot Zog sed lol

    Funny you should mention CAGED systems, I've got some vids saved on YT that I'm planning on viewing soon.

    I really need to get some structure into my learning journey.
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,513Member, Moderator
    My teacher, my friend the Leeds College of Music graduate, taught me the 5 pattern pentatonic scale. Lessons finished because he moved away. In the intervening years I have come to my only way of thinking and visualising the fretboard based on the 5 pattern approach:
    - Megi's red dots show the root notes (1st)
    - Apreggios use an extra two notes (3rd, 5th)
    - Pentatonic scale uses an extra two (4th, 7th) and flattens the 3rd
    - The major scale uses an extra two (2nd, 6th)
    ... and bingo, I have 4 systems that, apart from the flattened 3rd, neatly overlay on top of each other for each of the 5 patterns. It would work with the 7 pattern approach too. It works for me.
    And like Megi's blue notes, I have found it helps to know where one pattern runs into the next so that solos are not straight up and down a single pattern.

    Thanks for sharing those, Megi. I need to add minor scales into my thinking. At the moment they are a bodge of the major scale, using the petatonic's flattened 3rd and then playing around with major and minor 7ths.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    Cheers chaps! I'm planning to further expand my diagram pages to include the specific modes I'm talking about, plus arpeggios and other scales and stuff. It's really all for my own benefit, so I can clearly see what it is I'm working on. But anyways - the diagrams do appear a bit small and fuzzy on the forum, so if you ever want, please send me a PM with an email address and I can attach the original versions in PDF or jpeg format with a return email back to you. Who knows, it all may end up in an ebook or something one day...
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    Originally Posted By: Lester
    My teacher, my friend the Leeds College of Music graduate, taught me the 5 pattern pentatonic scale. Lessons finished because he moved away. In the intervening years I have come to my only way of thinking and visualising the fretboard based on the 5 pattern approach:
    - Megi's red dots show the root notes (1st)
    - Apreggios use an extra two notes (3rd, 5th)
    - Pentatonic scale uses an extra two (4th, 7th) and flattens the 3rd
    - The major scale uses an extra two (2nd, 6th)
    ... and bingo, I have 4 systems that, apart from the flattened 3rd, neatly overlay on top of each other for each of the 5 patterns. It would work with the 7 pattern approach too. It works for me.
    And like Megi's blue notes, I have found it helps to know where one pattern runs into the next so that solos are not straight up and down a single pattern.

    Thanks for sharing those, Megi. I need to add minor scales into my thinking. At the moment they are a bodge of the major scale, using the petatonic's flattened 3rd and then playing around with major and minor 7ths.
    Cheers Lester! I forgot to say that the red notes are the roots, so thanks for pointing that out. I know a lot of people, including some great guitarists, go for the 5 pattern approach, and indeed it works for them. Somehow I just felt I needed something else as well - maybe I'm a bit of an obsessive compulsive completist type (hope not lol frown ). Hope it's of some interest anyway - I'll post more diagrams as and when I do them.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    Just noticed I used the term "melodic minor" in various places in the post showing the Jazz Minor patterns - to avoid any confusion "melodic minor" means the same as Jazz Minor - I use the 2 interchangebly - really I should just stick to "Jazz Minor" - it would be clearer.

    (In classical music "melodic minor" is a slightly different thing i.e. it has different notes when ascending and descending, but this is not important to know for jazz...).
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,214Member
    Thanks for the comments following my post - every little bit of information can help to clarify. Although it can sometimes do quite the opposite too of course! However I do approve of the visualisation approach, and what you said in your reply WAS helpful. smile

    There's the fascination of mixing a load of modes together in one song too. I'm suspecting this is fairly common in jazz - am I correct? I'm not averse to a two mode backing track, but I have attempted an improv over a rather more complex David Wallimann backing track that had me in mental contortions though I did manage to not hit any bum notes.

    1st Bar had chords Bm9 then C13, 2nd bar Am9 and Bb13. Instruction for B Aelioan 1st bar and A Aeolian 2nd bar. Then two bars Am7 followed by two Gm7 - those four bars then repeated. A Aeolina on the Am7 and F Ionain on the Gm7. Then two bars of FMaj7 foloowed by two bars of Gm7 - those 4 bars then repeated. F Ionian on both these chords - a lovely eight bars in teh same mode! Except on that second run through the last bar wasn't GM7 all the way through - finished on A7b13 which needed .... wait for it .... A SuperLocrian.

    Felt mentally exhausted after sessions trying out that backing track. Eventually no bum notes as I said, but it did still sound a bit tentative! Wonder why? grin eek
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    There's the fascination of mixing a load of modes together in one song too. I'm suspecting this is fairly common in jazz - am I correct? I'm not averse to a two mode backing track, but I have attempted an improv over a rather more complex David Wallimann backing track that had me in mental contortions though I did manage to not hit any bum notes.

    1st Bar had chords Bm9 then C13, 2nd bar Am9 and Bb13. Instruction for B Aelioan 1st bar and A Aeolian 2nd bar. Then two bars Am7 followed by two Gm7 - those four bars then repeated. A Aeolina on the Am7 and F Ionain on the Gm7. Then two bars of FMaj7 foloowed by two bars of Gm7 - those 4 bars then repeated. F Ionian on both these chords - a lovely eight bars in teh same mode! Except on that second run through the last bar wasn't GM7 all the way through - finished on A7b13 which needed .... wait for it .... A SuperLocrian.

    Felt mentally exhausted after sessions trying out that backing track. Eventually no bum notes as I said, but it did still sound a bit tentative! Wonder why? grin eek


    There is jazz out there that doesn't have many chord changes, or tends to stay in one tonal area - easier in some ways when it comes to improvising, although that can bring it's own challenges - it's very easy to sound aimless and rambling, without any shape or direction when faced with soloing over dozens of bars of the same chord.

    But basically, you're right, a big part of jazz involves soloing over chord changes - in fact jazz musos often say things like "I like the changes for that song". So yes, the noble art of soloing over chord changes - it ain't at all easy - as you say, it often needs more than one scale. Sometimes the chords can be changing very fast - 2 beats per chord or even faster. In such situations, I often find it better to think in terms of arpeggios, or the chord tones themselves - in half a bar, you haven't got much time at all to do anything, and usually the best thing to sound harmonically strong is to play the most important notes to the harmony, which are the chord tones themselves, especially the 3rd and the 7th of the chord.

    For me, and I think most jazz musicians would agree, it's good to sound harmonically strong when soloing. If you take a solo by a great jazz musician, and listen to it without any chord backing, you can still hear the chords and harmony being implied, in fact often you can actually tell what song they are improvising over. Less good jazz musicians (including me lol) sometimes don't quite manage this - but I think it is an important goal. I forget where, but I read or heard someone explain that to the audience, the chord progression for a piece is a kind of story, in which they are engaged, without necessarily having to understand technically what the chords are. They perceive it on a level of feelings and emotion. So if your solo doesn't really reflect the changing chords enough, even if it is free of obvious wrong notes, it will still not be very engaging or interesting. I would agree with this myself - I've found that when I do manage to follow the changes well in a solo, the audience seems to appreciate it more (generally indicated by a smattering of applause at the end, or maybe they're just glad it's over grin).

    Also some tunes are undoubtedly harder than others - with chord changes that don't at first seem very intuitive or easy to predict, or mentally "hear" in your head. In general I guess the challenge is to play something musically meaningful, expressive and coherent, and at the same time not play any "bum notes" lol. The greats of jazz have got to a level where they don't have to really think about any of this difficult stuff, and they truely can just express and communicate when soloing over any song. But they only got to this point by doing a heck of a lot of practice and work beforehand.

    Hope I'm not making it seem too hard - it's a journey really, but any progress you make has immediate rewards for your playing and is worthwhile.
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,214Member
    Thanks for your reply - sorry if I'm sort of hijacking your diary a bit for my own selfish purposes - but I'm finding your thoughts on this area to be of great interest.

    Originally Posted By: Megi
    There is jazz out there that doesn't have many chord changes, or tends to stay in one tonal area - easier in some ways when it comes to improvising, although that can bring it's own challenges - it's very easy to sound aimless and rambling, without any shape or direction when faced with soloing over dozens of bars of the same chord.

    Agreed - and an improv over a one chord vamp is very much a challenge. Though the better you can hear melodies / licks in your head the easier it is. Like you said too - the tunes that are undoubtedly harder than others are due to the difficulty of "getting" the song in a way that you can mentally "hear" in your head.

    Originally Posted By: Megi
    So yes, the noble art of soloing over chord changes - it ain't at all easy - as you say, it often needs more than one scale. Sometimes the chords can be changing very fast - 2 beats per chord or even faster. In such situations, I often find it better to think in terms of arpeggios, or the chord tones themselves - in half a bar, you haven't got much time at all to do anything, and usually the best thing to sound harmonically strong is to play the most important notes to the harmony, which are the chord tones themselves, especially the 3rd and the 7th of the chord.

    I think I file that under useful advice for the future if I ever drag myself up to that level. I do find modulation is fun, but any more than two scales in the modulation and the technical side of the brain is having to work too hard to allow the creative side full reign.

    Originally Posted By: Megi
    For me, and I think most jazz musicians would agree, it's good to sound harmonically strong when soloing. If you take a solo by a great jazz musician, and listen to it without any chord backing, you can still hear the chords and harmony being implied, in fact often you can actually tell what song they are improvising over. Less good jazz musicians (including me lol) sometimes don't quite manage this - but I think it is an important goal.


    Jazz is a much more complex genre, but the same sort of a story for blues. In improvs on blues I find the better I slowly get and the more I practice the more the chord changes are implied in my improvs. If I ever want to bring myself down to earth I just need to isolate my lead improv on a blues recording and play it back on it's own - it's usually quite a useful slap in the face for my ego. grin

    Against that of course, you have to guard aginst it being too much based on the chords as it can then get all too predictable!

    An audience does need something to latch on to and that link to the chordal structure you mention is a useful device. As is repetition of musical ideas / themes - that's a device used in all sorts of music of course - like the repetition with motifs in Wagners Ring Cycle which are not only something for the audience to latch onto but also establish / underline mood and emotions and can also indicate when a character is singing a lie.

    Originally Posted By: Megi
    I've found that when I do manage to follow the changes well in a solo, the audience seems to appreciate it more (generally indicated by a smattering of applause at the end, or maybe they're just glad it's over grin).

    Fortunately my main audience is myself. I think if I had an audience of 100 people and 99 were applauding I'd be beating myself up about why the 100th wasn't. frown

    Originally Posted By: Megi
    Hope I'm not making it seem too hard - it's a journey really, but any progress you make has immediate rewards for your playing and is worthwhile.

    Worry not about making it sound difficult. It's a long road and it's difficult but you just keep going down it as best you can - enjoy the little victories as they occur. I try to keep in mind what the best guitar teacher I've ever encountered (Hawkeye Herman) says - crawl before you walk, walk before you run. He also says the learning never stops however good you get - one if the things that makes guitar playing such a great hobby. smile
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    Thank you Mark - I value your thoughts as well, and you are certainly not hijacking the thread by talking about matters jazz on here! Really one reason I started the diary thread was so I could ramble on about jazz and learning to play it on the guitar, which really is my passion guitar-wise. And it's much nicer to have some interaction with other interested people, rather than me just blah-blah-ing on about things... smile

    I think you raise a fair point that the chord progression is not the only thing one can focus on. Another would be the melody of the tune I suppose, which you can embelish, or use as a starting point. In general, I think something is needed to bring the audience with you as it were. Thinking about it, and knowing your love of blues - I find a well-placed bluesy lick, in a jazz solo can be a very good thing, it can serve very well to add some intensity at the right time - even to provide the "highlight" near the end. It's putting in a familiar sound, but can also be a bit surprising in a good way. I often find myself doing it anyway!

    But please do chip in on here whenever you might want to discuss anything jazz-related at all, I'm bound to be interested. smile
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    Love a bit (or a lot! most of his stuff is quite long isn't it? laugh ) of Wagner btw. I've got cds of the Ring Cycle, and Parsifal, Tristan und Isolda. Wonderful music...
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,214Member
    Originally Posted By: Megi
    But please do chip in on here whenever you might want to discuss anything jazz-related at all, I'm bound to be interested.

    Cheers! Will do that. smile

    Originally Posted By: Megi
    Love a bit (or a lot! most of his stuff is quite long isn't it? laugh ) of Wagner btw. I've got cds of the Ring Cycle, and Parsifal, Tristan und Isolda. Wonderful music...

    Somewhat long! grin

    But yes - wonderful music with rich resonances of musical sound and of the human condition - the man was a musical genius, though quite possibly mad as a box of frogs. It's a shame his music is tainted by it's association with certain people who were born well after he had died.

    I think with the Ring Cycle, Parsifal, and Tristan und Isolda your collection matches mine. Towering achievements.

    We have the Ring Cycle on DVD - dates back to 1980 when it was shown on TV (BBC2 probably!) - it's conducted by Pierre Boulez - performed at the Bayreuth Hall where the cycle was first done. The wife and I have a marathon viewing every so often over a few nights with the sound channeled through the Hi-Fi. Quite a few nights usually ... it's just 8 minutes short of 14 hours long. eek That's where lietmotifs are useful - they give points of reference and reminders of the previous music in the work and something for thickos like me in the audience to latch onto.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    Sat here listening to the Parsifal overture, and considering (I know, I know! ) possible purchase of a second Shine SIL-510! EDIT - bum, hit submit too early, meant to go on...

    I would fit this second guitar with P90 type pickups, rather than the alnico 2 PAF humbuckers I have in the first one. So a question for those of you with P90 equipped guitars - do you think such pickups would be sufficiently different sounding to justify me buying a second identical guitar (apart from the colour, I have a red-burst already, and would get a black-burst this time). I just like the design and playability of this particular guitar so much, just seems to suit me perfectly. In case anyone on the planet is still unaware of the guitar in question lol, it is this one: Shine SIL-510 trans black ...
  • HobbioHobbio Posts: 21Member
    I actually have P90s in my Hofner, and there's a big difference to the sound of the buckers in the Rikter. Whether it'd be sufficiently different to justify the second guitar only you can decide.

    I do like the pups in the Hofner though, they're quite controllable through the volume knob and give a good range of tones through the amp just with that.

    Bear in mind that if you buy it at £95 and get bored with it or it's to similar to the other one you should get your money back on the sale once that crazy low price deal at Chase has disappeared.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    Cheers H! I know I'm making a drama out of this. The resale point is a good one - if down the line, I did feel I'd made a mistake I could recoup most of my money at least - and I would have set the guitar up to a high standard which would hopefully add to the appeal.

    Could you attempt to describe the differences you find between the humbuckers and P90s, in terms of a clean amp tone especially? I should also add that I am primarily interested in the neck pickup sound as well.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    I'm in danger of ending up like Arthur "two sheds" Jackson here... laugh
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
  • HobbioHobbio Posts: 21Member
    I know "Two Sheds" lol, I grew up with Monty Python laugh

    I also tend to use the neck pickup on my guitars, I love the warmer, fuller sound. I'd say the main difference is that the P90 has a little more edge to it, but you have to bear in mind that both the guitars are budget models with budget pups. I think you would see a bigger difference between the good quality pups you use.

    The P90's are a fair bit noisier, but I assume you'd be copper foiling the cavities anyway? It's going to be one of the first things I do to the Hofner.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    It would get the full shielding treatment yes, plus I get on OK with my strat and tele, so I figure I should be alright. Re the pickups - I guess good quality mid-priced really, I'm thinking either Axesrus's Late 50s Humbucker Sized P90s or the Kent Armstrong humbucker sized P90s like this

    Probably the Axesrus as cheaper, and looks well made from the pics, plus both have very similar specs. Might find a different humbucker (already have a couple suitable) to put in the bridge, with a chrome cover added - it would keep the costs down, and I hardly ever use the bridge pup anyhow. I guess just go for it really lol, though I might wait until Mark P has a chance to comment, as he has guitars with nice P90s and humbuckers, and similar tastes to me pickup-wise. I'm thinking if I order tonight or early tomorrow morning, and go the extra for next-day delivery, I'd probably have the guitar some time on Monday.
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,214Member
    Hope I'm not too late with my P90 thoughts (if I'm capable of thought this time of night). tired

    For me a good set of P90s are the best of both worlds in that they have a clarity of single coil pickups mixed with a fuller sound that does not stray into the more coloured but fuller sound of humbuckers. Also, for me, a good P90 has excellent natural sustain. Closer in tone to a PAF than a single coil perhaps. On the negative side they are noisy - probably a bit more than even single coil pickups.

    Though I have to say this is my view about a good set of P90s - so I have to note a reservation.

    I have had three guitars with P90s.
    1. The PRS SE .... I had to upgrade the stock pickups to Tonerider Vintage Alnico II P90s because the "hot" P90s that came with it didn't have that clarity of sound I was hoping for - also the stock pickups sound was very coloured and there were issues for me with insufficient sustain. I had been wondering whether I'd made a mistake in buying the guitar - after the pickup upgrade I was hugely happy with it, and until I upgraded the Hagstrom with those expensive SH55s the PRS SE was my "goto" guitar. cool
    2. The Vintage VSA590 .... oddly enough I did like the budget pickups on this - Wilkinsons, and I believe Alnico V, but not "hot". I did sell the VSA, but that was down to issues with how playable it was for me - particularly the neck shape, and difficulty with higher fret access. Tonally it was great.
    3. The Gibson SG Classic. Shades of the PRS SE there. The guitar is great - beautifully finished and easy to play. But the pickups, particularly when played pretty clean (which is my usual) leave me with an uneasy feeling. Not enough natural sustain and not enough dynamics in the sound. Also they don't really cut through the mix in the way I like P90s to do. confused

    A good set of P90s should give a wide dynamic range. But then, to be fair that applies to all types of pickups.

    I've seen the description "thick and full yet not muddy, articulate and clear without being overly bright" applied to P90s and that's a good succint summary. Certainly versatile - can do nasty well and can do sweet too with no effort.

    Currently I'd place the sound of my P90 Toneriders in the PRS SE not a huge way behind the tone of the much more expensive SH55s. The single coil sounds from the Chris Herndez pups in the Strat are I think as good a quality as the Tonerider P90s but not as versatile / wide ranging - but that is in the nature of the type of pickup.

    Don't know if that helps. All very confusing - I used to be a humbucker fan. My #1 guitar for quite a while was a Tokai MIJ Les Paul Custom. Then over about three months I fell out of love with it's sounds. Then listened to a demo on a guitar magazine DVD comparing single coil, P90 and humbucker sounds and realised it was the P90 and single coil recordings were getting my vote every time. Hadn't really noticed P90s up to then. Ignorance really! blush
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    Hope I'm not too late with my P90 thoughts (if I'm capable of thought this time of night). tired

    Certainly not too late Mark, and thanks for staying up a bit longer to write a response, appreciated.

    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    For me a good set of P90s are the best of both worlds in that they have a clarity of single coil pickups mixed with a fuller sound that does not stray into the more coloured but fuller sound of humbuckers.
    That makes absolute sense to me - I agree that most humbuckers do overlay a certain colouration on the natural tone of the guitar, more so than other pickup types. It's a nice thing, but there all the same. Anyway, that is a good insight into a difference between the two I think.


    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    Also, for me, a good P90 has excellent natural sustain. Closer in tone to a PAF than a single coil perhaps. On the negative side they are noisy - probably a bit more than even single coil pickups.
    I suspect I may notice the noise thing a bit using the guitar at home - I find the average house is one of the worst environments for guitar noise! - but I would be fine at gigs.

    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    Though I have to say this is my view about a good set of P90s - so I have to note a reservation.

    I have had three guitars with P90s.
    1. The PRS SE .... I had to upgrade the stock pickups to Tonerider Vintage Alnico II P90s because the "hot" P90s that came with it didn't have that clarity of sound I was hoping for - also the stock pickups sound was very coloured and there were issues for me with insufficient sustain. I had been wondering whether I'd made a mistake in buying the guitar - after the pickup upgrade I was hugely happy with it, and until I upgraded the Hagstrom with those expensive SH55s the PRS SE was my "goto" guitar. cool
    2. The Vintage VSA590 .... oddly enough I did like the budget pickups on this - Wilkinsons, and I believe Alnico V, but not "hot". I did sell the VSA, but that was down to issues with how playable it was for me - particularly the neck shape, and difficulty with higher fret access. Tonally it was great.
    3. The Gibson SG Classic. Shades of the PRS SE there. The guitar is great - beautifully finished and easy to play. But the pickups, particularly when played pretty clean (which is my usual) leave me with an uneasy feeling. Not enough natural sustain and not enough dynamics in the sound. Also they don't really cut through the mix in the way I like P90s to do. confused

    A good set of P90s should give a wide dynamic range. But then, to be fair that applies to all types of pickups.

    I've seen the description "thick and full yet not muddy, articulate and clear without being overly bright" applied to P90s and that's a good succint summary. Certainly versatile - can do nasty well and can do sweet too with no effort.

    These further observations much appreciated - it does seem like there is as much variation in the P90 category as with other pickuop types. It seems a shame to me you're not liking the pups in the SG all that much, but the fact you are saying so demonstrates your ability to judge things in an unclouded way, not influenced by what you are "supposed" to think, or how expensive the guitar was!

    Originally Posted By: Mark P
    Currently I'd place the sound of my P90 Toneriders in the PRS SE not a huge way behind the tone of the much more expensive SH55s. The single coil sounds from the Chris Herndez pups in the Strat are I think as good a quality as the Tonerider P90s but not as versatile / wide ranging - but that is in the nature of the type of pickup.

    Don't know if that helps. All very confusing - I used to be a humbucker fan. My #1 guitar for quite a while was a Tokai MIJ Les Paul Custom. Then over about three months I fell out of love with it's sounds. Then listened to a demo on a guitar magazine DVD comparing single coil, P90 and humbucker sounds and realised it was the P90 and single coil recordings were getting my vote every time. Hadn't really noticed P90s up to then. Ignorance really! blush
    More honest appraisal - I'm still a little dissapointed you don't like those Hernandez strat pups just a bit more (I totally love the set in my strat) - I felt you might find them on the same level as the SH55s, but I have no doubt you are stating things exactly as you find them. I do agree the strat pickup sound is generally less versatile though, that is just the nature of the beast I think. Anyway, that is all by the by, though interesting, since I'm really concerned with P90s here. I may extend things to consider the Tonerider Rebel 90 also - it's a similar spec to the others I've looked at, but alnico 2. Perhaps a tad hotter than you would go for, but in this case I am looking for something just a little bit grittier/ballsier than the alnico 2 PAFs in my current Shine - just a bit edgier and less polite if you like.

    Again, thanks for your honest "tell it like it is" thoughts. I have a bit of thinking to do, but you've definitely helped, cheers Mark! smile
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,214Member
    I do have a feeling that if you prefer to go for the sounds of Alnico 2 (not to mention 3 and 4) then there is maybe a lot of attraction in the sort of sounds you could get from a good set of P90s.

    I do wish there wasn't such a widespread need, or percieved need by the manufacturers, that players want high output on their P90 pickups. But I'm not looking for grunt and attack as much as clarity, dynamic range and natural sustain. These three attributes can disappear awfully quickly when the balance shifts too far into grunt and attack - which are really aimed more at the more heavily overdriven tones. Like the heavily overdriven tones that Gibson had on their website once upon a time to illustrate their SG range - there was not one cleaner tone sample. So I'm not surprised at the reservations I have on the SG pups - I'm not a "typical" SG buyer - however another story, and one I can fret about in my own diary. The lower output P90s can still do grittier / ballsier, and their wider dynamic range means they can do that with just varying the picking attack and guitar volume.

    The description by The Creamery of their Classic 53 pickups is the sort of P90 I love.
    Classic 53 P90 The Creamery
    In particular they say "A great P90 pickup for those jazzier sounds"
    Unfortunately guitars don't often come with stock pickups like these! frown

    Originally Posted By: Megi
    I'm still a little dissapointed you don't like those Hernandez strat pups just a bit more (I totally love the set in my strat) - I felt you might find them on the same level as the SH55s, but I have no doubt you are stating things exactly as you find them. I do agree the strat pickup sound is generally less versatile though, that is just the nature of the beast I think.

    You've given exactly the explanation that popped into my head when I started reading this bit of your reply. My view is that the Hernandez strat pups are the best single coil pickups I have had on any guitar - and for that reason I'm very happy with them. The nature of single coil pickups is that, for me, they play particular styles very well indeed, but their being less full bodied in tone does limit them more for some styles where very clean tones are required. But that's maybe down to shortcomings in my ears and playing ability.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    Cheers Mark - we really do have similar views on pickups, if not quite exactly the same requirements. "My view is that the Hernandez strat pups are the best single coil pickups I have had on any guitar" - thanks for saying that, makes me feel a bit better lol! I guess really I'm kind of the same as you with the strat as well - I just love it madly, and it sounds fantastic to my ears, but I do have to admit I don't find it hugely versatile - I've not found a way of using for anything jazz-related, which for me means it doesn't get a massive amount of use. Must get working on some Eric Johnson-ish stuff I think, it would do that perfectly.

    I looked at the Cremery website, and they also do a humbucker-sized P90 type pup, which would doubtless be right up my alley, but probably a bit too pricey for me. I'll have to have a think about my best option - one thing I might well do is just buy one P90 type pickup for the neck slot - in which case I could perhaps afford to spend a bit more - and use an old humbucker (I already have a couple that might do, including an alnico 4 tonerider PAF) in the bridge. That would work for now, and I could upgrade the bridge to a P90 type when funds allow.

    Anyways folks, just call me Megi "Two Shine SIL-510s" Jackson, because I've finally done it and ordered a translucent black Shine SIL-510. Got the order in before 10 am today, and paid the extra £7 for next day delivery, which they say includes Saturdays, so in theory I should have the guitar some time tomorrow. smile
  • zoglugzoglug Posts: 314Member
    Congrats Megi! It was always going to happen! My missus doesnt understand why i need 2 electric guitars, so if i said i was buying the exact same guitar in a different colour, i think her head would explode! It'll be interesting to hear what pups you end up going with on the Shine, im sure what ever they are, they will be suitably different from the current shine.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 6,774Member
    Originally Posted By: zoglug
    Congrats Megi! It was always going to happen! My missus doesnt understand why i need 2 electric guitars, so if i said i was buying the exact same guitar in a different colour, i think her head would explode! It'll be interesting to hear what pups you end up going with on the Shine, im sure what ever they are, they will be suitably different from the current shine.

    Thank you zog! can I confess I spent some time yesterday looking on your Photobucket account at your own trans-black Shine blush - but it did help. Also, may I say really impressed with the paintwork you do on those models, it's amazing what people get up to!
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