Are Narrowfield pickups bad? Same question with rotary switches.

MuffinForce1

New Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2022
Messages
6
Hey! So I’m back again, and if you commented on my last post, I thank you very much for all of your kind words and advice. However, I come to you again but on advice for the guitar. I definitely want 3 pickups over the standard 2, but is there something wrong with a narrow field middle pickup? I’ve only found 1 PS guitar that has all the hardware I want, but is there a reason for this? (Reason for not buying this guitar is that I don’t really like this finish, I guess it isn’t unique enough, and I don’t like the back at all, plus looking for a CU24 rather than a CU22.) But anyways, is there a reason many people don’t go with say, a narrow field middle? I just don’t see it often and I’ve heard both good and back things about the pickups, but like I said, is there a particular reason people don’t do it? Also, same with the 5-way rotary switch. I don’t like the look of the blade switch but want a 5-way toggle, and I’ve never seen any PS guitar with a rotary switch, so do they not let you out them in the guitars or are they unreliable, etc.? Any advice welcome, thanks.
 

Herr Squid

I was severely impressed
Joined
Aug 19, 2012
Messages
1,995
I think Narrowfield pickups are a really good pickup that didn't get a fair shake. They sound to me like a gutsier Strat-style single coil. Nothing wrong with that! But they didn't do a very good job of getting people to buy new PRS guitars when they first came out back in the 2010s. Part of that problem was that people looked at them and said "but I can't change 'em if I don't like 'em." PRS is pretty good about pulling features out of the product line if they don't sell. Does anybody remember the Narrowfield McCarty? I think they sold like 10 of those guitars ever. So I was a little surprised to see them sneak back in on the new Studio and Special Semi Hollows. I still think they're good pickups.

The rotary switches? Well, I never loved them, since you have to grip and twist the little suckers to change 'em. I've watched Paul HIsself whack the crap outta those things to change pickups mid-song, so I guess that's a way to use them too. But they made some pickup combinations possible that weren't an option otherwise. I think once PRS got hold of blade switches that would do the same job, they changed to them and never looked back.
 

RickP

Established 1960, Still Not Dead
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
5,070
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
Narrowfields are great pickups. In the guitar community it’s hard to get people to try something besides full sized HBs and singles. Like mini humbuckers and P90s, they are their own thing but can easily cover a lot of common ground. Definitely worth a look and listen.
 

Slowhands

New Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
136
Location
New Jersey
Rotary switches are inconvenient for things like rapid changes midsong but not as bad as people make out. The thing is, there are five positions and two of them are on the ends. It's not that hard to quickly rotate to one end (to get your bearings) and then click one or two spots away to get the combo your looking for. Honestly, I did that on my strats 5-way switch a lot too. The difference for me is that it's easier to very quickly move that blade up and down rather than twisting a knob. But you do get used to it.
 

MuffinForce1

New Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2022
Messages
6
I think Narrowfield pickups are a really good pickup that didn't get a fair shake. They sound to me like a gutsier Strat-style single coil. Nothing wrong with that! But they didn't do a very good job of getting people to buy new PRS guitars when they first came out back in the 2010s. Part of that problem was that people looked at them and said "but I can't change 'em if I don't like 'em." PRS is pretty good about pulling features out of the product line if they don't sell. Does anybody remember the Narrowfield McCarty? I think they sold like 10 of those guitars ever. So I was a little surprised to see them sneak back in on the new Studio and Special Semi Hollows. I still think they're good pickups.

The rotary switches? Well, I never loved them, since you have to grip and twist the little suckers to change 'em. I've watched Paul HIsself whack the crap outta those things to change pickups mid-song, so I guess that's a way to use them too. But they made some pickup combinations possible that weren't an option otherwise. I think once PRS got hold of blade switches that would do the same job, they changed to them and never looked back.
Alrighty, thanks a lot for the advice. I’m a little less nervous ordering a guitar with a Narrowfield now, so that’s a little something off my conscience. I haven’t seen any 5 way toggle switches besides the rotary and blade switches, but I guess I’ll keep looking into that. Again, thanks a ton, I’ve only been playing/into guitar for about 2 1/2 years so it’s nice to have much more knowledgeable people help me out.
 

MuffinForce1

New Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2022
Messages
6
Narrowfields are great pickups. In the guitar community it’s hard to get people to try something besides full sized HBs and singles. Like mini humbuckers and P90s, they are their own thing but can easily cover a lot of common ground. Definitely worth a look and listen.
Alright, awesome. I want this guitar to have a super wide variety of tone options, and I think the Narrowfield would make a good middle for an HSH configuration. Thanks for the info, as I want something unique, something that I like, but is still playable, since I don’t want *too* much of a case queen.
 

LSchefman

Historical Entity
Joined
Apr 26, 2012
Messages
30,432
Location
Michigan
I have a narrowfield middle pickup on a PS, and one on my Special Semi-Hollow. I've had a lot of 3-pickup guitars. There's no middle pickup that suits me better. It goes beautifully with 408 style pickups and with traditional humbuckers.

Obviously, one can only speak for one's self, so the usual disclaimers apply.
 

dogrocketp

I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!
Joined
Apr 28, 2013
Messages
4,331
Location
Washington, DC
While the narrow fields are very good pickups, many Stone Age guitarists didn’t like them because they look “different”. There is always a question of balance in sound on a three pickup guitar, Paul used what he liked the balance of the best. Remember that the narrow field is a relatively recent development. Once production starts on a model they don’t change the pickups if it’s successful. We will probably see more models with the narrow fields. I will always insist that each guitar is about sound, not cosmetics. While we all want a beautiful guitar, every PRS is beautiful in my eyes, especially if it’s blue.
 

Mark Ray

New Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2012
Messages
616
I like Narrowfields.

I like the 5-way rotary. I like 'em enough that when Ron Thorn built my Artisan Master, it has one. (Shhhhhhh, don't tell anyone I mentioned this lol)
 

Mozzi

https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy/posts
Joined
Jun 2, 2018
Messages
3,586
I like the Narrowfield pups and think they offer a great tonal option. A bit more P90ish but without the noise.

The reason I think that many people are 'wary' of buying guitars with NF pick-ups is similar to the reason 408's, Pauls, 513/509's etc are somewhat often overlooked, and that's because they are not so easily replaced IF you want to modify your guitar. Its that 'what if' situation - what if I don't like the Pups, what if I get bored with them, how easy is it to find an 'alternative'....

Standard sized HB's, SC's and even P90 Guitars are a 'safer' buy because if you don't like or get bored with the 'Stock' options, you can relatively easily find alternatives but its not so easy with more 'bespoke' pickup designs.

I only have the one Guitar with a Narrowfield - My PRS Special Limited Edition.
w2IJfi7.jpg
 
Top