Pickup Comparison Question: Paul's Guitar 408 vs TCI vs TCI S?

Proteus

Tru-Arc Bridgeworks
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Dec 25, 2021
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214
I'm lovin' the bejesus out of the TCI S pups in the SE Paul's Guitar. (And the rest of the guitar for that matter. It's an uncannily wonderful instrument. I'm finding it the very apotheosis of Mr Smith's apparent career-spanning vision of creating a guitar tone at the dead-center intersection of every other guitar tone out there - the epitome and archetype of Electric Guitar Tone.)

So, perfect never having yet been good enough, I'm eyeing Core models. And there I see recent PGs have TCI pickups (sans "S"), which I'll assume are much like the TCI S (it's vice versa, I know) - only better.

But I see original PGs, from the dawn of the model (2013?) and shortly thereafter, have a Paul's Guitar Treble at the bridge and a 408 at the neck. I understand those are the ancestors and forerunners of the current TCIs.

My question (probably best answered by someone who has hands-on experience with at least the PGT/408 combo vs the current Core TCI pups) is: how different are they? If I like the current ones, will I like the older ones?

Thanks.
 
Last edited:

Andrew Paul

The cat's meow
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May 25, 2017
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I will start with saying I’ve never played the TCI – S pickups. I did do a very amateur video on my iPhone regarding Paul’s 408 pickups versus the Paul’s TCI pickups. If you ask me, they are like night and day and I prefer the TCI pups with their clarity and glassy single coil tones. Even better the way 408-TCI pups are used on the Modern Eagle V… In my opinion the best guitar PRS has ever made. Anyway not proud of my playing in this video but here’s a link to it. You can hear the obvious differences.

 

Proteus

Tru-Arc Bridgeworks
Joined
Dec 25, 2021
Messages
214
Well, I didn't find them miles apart - but the earlier pickups sound a bit rougher and less refined. Definitely similar flavors, but the TCIs are simultaneously more refined, sweeter - and more focused. A difficult combination to manage, I should think. And I do prefer the TCIs. Which leaves me wondering if TCIs are available after-market. (Though after spending big - for my tastes - on an old Paul's Guitar, it would be painful to spend much on upgrading the pickups.)

I also have to wonder how the bridges (trem vs wraptail) and neck pickup position between the two guitars influences the tone. My instinct is somewhere between noticeably and significantly. The jury in my head is still out on whether the tremolo block and springs bring back resonance and response lost to the greater multiplicity of parts and cutting a big cavity in the back of the guitar (which I can't imagine acts as a resonant chamber). And I know I like neck pickups considerably better when they're under the sweet harmonic spot a 22-fret neck allows. (Though 22 vs 24 frets can't make a difference in the bridge pup.)

So your demo gives me some data points to think about. Thanks for posting - very helpful!
 

Andrew Paul

The cat's meow
Joined
May 25, 2017
Messages
2,547
Location
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Well, I didn't find them miles apart - but the earlier pickups sound a bit rougher and less refined. Definitely similar flavors, but the TCIs are simultaneously more refined, sweeter - and more focused. A difficult combination to manage, I should think. And I do prefer the TCIs. Which leaves me wondering if TCIs are available after-market. (Though after spending big - for my tastes - on an old Paul's Guitar, it would be painful to spend much on upgrading the pickups.)

I also have to wonder how the bridges (trem vs wraptail) and neck pickup position between the two guitars influences the tone. My instinct is somewhere between noticeably and significantly. The jury in my head is still out on whether the tremolo block and springs bring back resonance and response lost to the greater multiplicity of parts and cutting a big cavity in the back of the guitar (which I can't imagine acts as a resonant chamber). And I know I like neck pickups considerably better when they're under the sweet harmonic spot a 22-fret neck allows. (Though 22 vs 24 frets can't make a difference in the bridge pup.)

So your demo gives me some data points to think about. Thanks for posting - very helpful!

Just check out the many posted videos regarding the modern Eagle V same pickups at the bridge and neck as Paul’s with TCI wraparound bridge guitars. MEV has added single coil middle pickup and trem. Just listen to the sound samples with the neck and bridge examples without the middle and there you’ll have your comparison. :cool:
 

Glide-bpm

We were small but we were slow...
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Coastal SC
I love the TCI pickups, but the only thing close to dethroning the Experience PRS 2012 Private Stock 408 with Sig electronics is the Swamp Ash MEV that just showed up today (below).
I love a 408 guitar!
274892399_10221533191023165_1932852968630425419_n.jpg
285346534_10221972786932788_8540146432861801779_n.jpg
 

Silvertree

I love the smell of a PRS case in the morning.
Joined
Apr 26, 2012
Messages
339
I love the TCI pickups, but the only thing close to dethroning the Experience PRS 2012 Private Stock 408 with Sig electronics is the Swamp Ash MEV that just showed up today (below).
I love a 408 guitar!
274892399_10221533191023165_1932852968630425419_n.jpg
285346534_10221972786932788_8540146432861801779_n.jpg
I'm going to need to see more pics of that PS 408 because wow!
 

garrett

...
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The southern tip of Tampa Bay
I haven't tried the "S" version, but they are a different footprint to the USA pickups, so I am sure that will have some effect on the tone.

For the USA pickups, in single coil mode, I think of it like the original narrow 408 is more like a P-90 and the TCI is more like a Strat. The difference in tone is more pronounced on the TCI version and as already pointed out the TCI has the sweeter, more defined sound.

With the originals, the difference between single and humbucker mode can be hard to notice in some situations, especially at lower volume with gain. However, get them on stage and the difference in a live mix is huge.

From my limited experience with the TCI on Mark's MEV, I really like the bright Stratiness of the neck pickup in single coil mode, but I still prefer the original in the bridge for its beefier single coil sound.

They both rock equally in humbucker mode for me. Great clarity and a nice midrange that cuts without being honky.
 

Silvertree

I love the smell of a PRS case in the morning.
Joined
Apr 26, 2012
Messages
339
Here's a few...
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That is the worst guitar I have ever seen. Terrible. Let me PM you my address so you can get rid of it. No, no, don't thank me. I'm willing to help out my fellow man. ;-)

What a beautiful instrument! I absolutely love the top on that. Thank you for the additional pics. I appreciate it!
 

Glide-bpm

We were small but we were slow...
Joined
Feb 10, 2016
Messages
2,626
Location
Coastal SC
That is the worst guitar I have ever seen. Terrible. Let me PM you my address so you can get rid of it. No, no, don't thank me. I'm willing to help out my fellow man. ;-)

What a beautiful instrument! I absolutely love the top on that. Thank you for the additional pics. I appreciate it!
That was classic!
Thanks! You're welcome on the pics overload! LoL!
 
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