McCarty pickup shootout

Apothecarius

New Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
13
The stock pickups in my 2003 McCarty were OK, but I never was really happy...
I was looking for some bright, articulate, PAF type of pickup.
After thinking for a long time which pickups to install, I asked here and got tons of suggestions. A few sleepless nights later, I finally ordered a pair of 57/08's.

If you are in the same situation, don't really know which ones to install and don't want to spend your money on trial and error, here's a video I made with a direct comparison (under the same conditions).

McCarty stock pickups vs. 57/08's

Hopefully I can help with that...cheers.

 

Kiwi

New Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2013
Messages
379
Thanks for putting that together. The differences are pretty plain when recorded like that. We appreciate the effort.

=K
 

danktat

Award winning tattoo artist ... Amateur guitarist
Joined
Nov 5, 2018
Messages
1,335
Location
PA, USA
This has me at a tossup. The 57/08 pups are much more articulate on the cleaner chords. BUT I like the stock for the clean single note stuff better. 57/08's in the split tones. Stock for what sounded like the fingerstyle/hybrid picked stuff. 57/08's seem to have a bit more cut when there is some breakup.

I mean, is there a way to jam all 4 in the same fiddle? o_O
 

Apothecarius

New Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
13
This has me at a tossup. The 57/08 pups are much more articulate on the cleaner chords. BUT I like the stock for the clean single note stuff better. 57/08's in the split tones. Stock for what sounded like the fingerstyle/hybrid picked stuff. 57/08's seem to have a bit more cut when there is some breakup.

I mean, is there a way to jam all 4 in the same fiddle? o_O
Market niche? ;-)))
 

Beery Swine

New Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2019
Messages
74
Location
Philly
I already said this in your pup-swap thread, Apothecarius, but thanks for the demo. There aren't nearly enough PRS pickup comparisons on youtube. It'd be nice if someone did a full Keith Merrow style video with every PRS pup.
 

JDutch

New Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2012
Messages
45
While I think I prefer the 57/08s, I'm impressed by how good the McCarty pickups sound. I think there's a good reason why so many people end up leaving them in guitars, like HBIIs.
 

Mozzi

https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy/posts
Joined
Jun 2, 2018
Messages
3,382
While I think I prefer the 57/08s, I'm impressed by how good the McCarty pickups sound. I think there's a good reason why so many people end up leaving them in guitars, like HBIIs.

The new HBii's come with the 58/15 LT pick-ups - like all the 594 guitars inc the new Hollowbody 594.
 

JDutch

New Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2012
Messages
45
The new HBii's come with the 58/15 LT pick-ups - like all the 594 guitars inc the new Hollowbody 594.

Yes, but many of the earlier HB models had archtop pickups, which, to my understanding, were slightly lower wound McCarty pickups. Those were the models I was referring to. IMO, in spite of how much PRS' pickups have improved over time, those archtop pickups still work really, really well in those guitars, especially if you like mellow, warm, punchy tones.
 

Ajp

New Member
Joined
May 18, 2019
Messages
2
Would anyone know what the differences are between the 57/08s and the old McCarty Archtop pickups?
 

shimmilou

Established in 1963
Joined
Mar 15, 2018
Messages
2,501
Great job Apothecarius, nice comparison.

While both pups sound great, each in their own unique way, and in this instance for what you played, I prefer the stock pups. The stock pups have this organic, liquid tone that was very full, rich and musical to me, while the 57/08s sound thin in comparison.
 

]-[@n$0Ma☩!©

Zombie Zero, DFZ
Joined
Aug 1, 1985
Messages
7,152
Good stuff. I'd like to hear something like this for the different generations/iterations of McCarty pickups.

When 57/08's first hit the streets, I did a fairly comprehensive comparison of them against RP's with high-end recording gear and posted the results to SoundCloud. Wish I had kept it up so I could add to your thread.

Like all pickups, RP's were better with some amps and musical styles than others. To my ears, they sucked hard with my Bad Cat amps but sounded great with my BlackFace Twin. The 57/08's were more consistent across multiple amps.

In the end, I came to believe that context was too important to ignore but was most difficult to communicate in a venue that people would take the time to consume. You have to account for personal taste of the player, playing techniques (which absolutely impact tone), plectrums, strings, as well as the way the tone 'sits' with the band. It doesn't always work-out like you think it will until you hear the whole recipe in its final context. To that end, I stopped making assessments about which tone (and the pickup that contributed to it) was 'better'. I can't only tell you which one I prefer - in my guitar - with my signal-chain - with my band - for my sound.
 
Last edited:

Micky!

Dragon trainer
Joined
Apr 6, 2019
Messages
138
Location
France
Very nice comparison. Both pickups sounds good to me. I like both, but for different use. I always like brighter pickups when I play at home, but I discovered that I was not liking this agressive brigter tone when I play in band situation. I use to prefer rounder tone with fuller mids and softer highs. When I discovered that I didn't play PRS at the time, but I was playing mainly SG with T-Top like PU, ESP Eclipse with EMG, LP traditional with C57/C57+ and SG Special with P90. First 2 were my top home guitar, very alive sound feeling at low level; but in band situation C57 or P90 were the best option in the mix.

With my taste and experience I would go on McCarty PU :)
 

zumaboy

New Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2012
Messages
18
Location
Las Vegas, NV
I have two guitars that started life with McCarty pickups, a ’98 IRW neck McCarty and a’99 Swamp Ash Special. I stuck with the McCarty pups for a long time, gigging in a variety of small clubs, outdoor festivals, and the occasional theatre. I also had possession for a while of a friend’s ‘96 McCarty that had the original “round corner” pickups, which were great and should never be changed. The McCarty pups in my guitars did not suck, but didn’t always shine either (I liked them the least in the SAS). When I started down the replacement path, I started with the McRosie, opting for a set of customized Manlius Hot Rod 59’s. Mick winds great pickups and I liked the results, these stayed in for several years. Having the opportunity to play a few guitars with lower output vintage-style pickups was a bit of a revelation for me and I found a sound that suited my style. The McRosie now has a set of Sheptone Blue Sky pickups installed, and the SAS has a pair of 53/10’s and a Fralin Vintage Hot for the middle position. I’ve finally got both of these guitars where I want them to be, tone-wise. The fun is always in the chase...
 

gush

She said "huge bag of dibs".
Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
5,634
Location
washington iowa
I always thought the McCarty neck was very good but the bridge was just ok.

The only experience I have with 5708s are squabbins I had in my ce24. The neck is incredible and still in there the bridge was ok and replaced with 5909.
 

Ajp

New Member
Joined
May 18, 2019
Messages
2
What about the lighter wound McCarty Archtop pickups that came with the old Hollowbody 2s? Anyone done any comparisons with the 57/08s (which come with the newer model Hollowbody 2s)?
 

Mozzi

https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy/posts
Joined
Jun 2, 2018
Messages
3,382
I think Pick-ups are subjective and really depend on what you want/expect from a guitar. I have a McCarty 594 and I love the 58/15 LT's in both the Bridge and the Neck positions. I also find the Split coil sound of these to be very usable as well. I am a 'Humbucker' fan and prefer the thicker sound a Humbucker delivers but I am also a solo player and don't need to worry about fitting into the mix, taking up and/or muddying the frequencies other band members may be filling etc so Split, tapped and even Single coil sounds are at best, good, usable etc - although I much prefer to hear SC's than play them if that makes sense.

That's a bit of a digression and to get back to the topic, I think its incredibly difficult to advise others on Pick-ups. Even if you try and demo or compare them, you are still hearing them through anothers set-up, their preferred amp, cab and/or mic, the way they EQ'd their amp, any post effects, any pedals etc too. Even if the player sets the EQ at noon, someone may prefer a 'mid-scoop' tone and dislike a 'balanced' Pick-up because it has too much mids and prefer the other because it has poor mids. A tweak in the EQ, turning down the Mids a bit, and that listener may prefer the original PU's but because the EQ was set at 'noon', they are either put off from buying the guitar or looking to see what PU's to buy before they even get the guitar.

Anyone done any comparisons with the 57/08s (which come with the newer model Hollowbody 2s)?

The 'newest' Hollowbody 2's come with the 58/15 LT's as standard - the same PU's as the 594 and 594HB. I think these sound great in both the McCarty 594 and Hollowbody 2 and have absolutely no desire to replace them in either guitar.

I can see why some may want to change the PU's in the 594 to increase their output, bring the guitar from its 'vintage' era tone to more modern higher output PU's - drop some Seymour Duncans in to emulate Slash for example but with PRS build quality. I still think though that people should decide for themselves, compare with their rig and their set-up. Don't be afraid to alter settings rather than plug a completely different guitar with different output PU's and expect it to sound its best. If your gear is EQ'd for an ESP with EMG PU's or ice picky Strat, then plugging in a 594 probably won't sound at its best.
 
Top