Pickup recommendations for SE Hollowbody

Kevin Earl

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Dec 24, 2018
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I recently picked up an SE Hollowbody (standard). It plays so well and sounds fantastic unplugged. Through an amp it sounds good, but I feel that it’s lacks clarity in the lows and low mids - particularly on the neck pickup.

I’m considering swapping the pickups out. I’m curious about the Archtop pickups, or maybe BKP Mules. Clean tone with clarity is very important to me.

Any thoughts or suggestions?
 

NBW

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I just installed some Manlius 59LT pafs in my Hollowbody SE II. It was a big improvement over the 58/15s. It makes the Hollowbody sound more like a jazz box with nice individual note clarity. I can get nice tones with both the neck and bridge together, when before I found the bridge too trebly for my taste.

I think it would probably sound great with BK Stormy Mondays too.
 

Kevin Earl

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I’ll look into those Manlius pickups.

I’m particularly curious to know if anyone thinks the Archtop pickups would have the clarity I’m looking for. Some say that they are bright in a HBII, with this SE HB being all mahogany it should tame the high end some.

the 58/15 “S” have a dominant high end and somewhat flubby lows, looking for something with a more even frequency response. Low end clarity is key as my main amp has loads of EQ options. The BKP Mule has very even EQ and lots of clarity, which is why they are a contender.
 

october3

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I have had mules, which were very good. VHII are great too. If your buying new email them and ask for advice, they give good suggestions based upon past sales etc
 

RickP

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I really like the sound of the 58/15LTs in my 594 Hollowbody II, but they are rare as hen’s teeth, and cost a fortune if you do see one. I’m considering 57/08s, SD Antiquities, or Fralin Pure PAFs in my HB I to bring the tones closer together between the two.

My HB I has Archtops in it right now, and to my ear they are a bit hotter, and more accordingly more warmly voiced than the 58/15LT. Depending on what you’re looking for, the Archtop could be a great option.
 

october3

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I put mine into solid body SE, bernie

For what it's worth I think I read on here that the BK stormy mondays are supposed to be more akin to 58/15LT's, low output
 

NBW

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I put mine into solid body SE, bernie

For what it's worth I think I read on here that the BK stormy mondays are supposed to be more akin to 58/15LT's, low output

They are. I really like them in my SE 24, I would have gotten them for the hollowbody if I could have gotten them as cheap as the first set via Ebay. The world seems to have caught on to BKs and Stormy Mondays in particular perhaps.

The Manlius 59LTs are also low output. They seem pretty good. I’ll ask my friend what he thinks this weekend when I get to Minnesota.
 

Kevin Earl

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Thank you all for your input. I ended up ordering BK Mules. They arrive tomorrow and I’ll install them this weekend. I’ll post the results after
 

NBW

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Installed the Mules last night. Initial impression is that these pickups are much more balanced, the treble is a lot smoother and there is more clarity all around. I am very happy so far

I really love the Stormy Mondays I have in my SE cu 24. I really thought hard about putting a set in the hollowbody.
 

Kevin Earl

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I really love the Stormy Mondays I have in my SE cu 24. I really thought hard about putting a set in the hollowbody.

Very cool, the Stormy Monday’s look intriguing as well! Need more guitars to try more pickups haha
 

Derek Neufeld

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Ive got an se hollow and through my mark v 35 with a mojo mojo i get the smoothest blues/jazz tones ( not anything like my killer quilt or dgt) but its still awesome for the price. I have played it on a few other amps and didnt like it , i think mostly its due to the fact i know exactly how to get the sound i want out of that boogie. But i have been wondering lately if i should do the swap
 

Kevin Earl

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Derek,

I play mine through a Mesa Nomad 100 mated to a 3/4 closed back 2x12 cab with WGS G12C/S speakers. I use the clean channel only and employ a Messner, Mayflower, and Ages (all from Walrus Audio) for various levels of drive. I’ve recently sold all of my other amps because the Mesa’s clean channel beats everything else I’ve had and the amp sounds amazing with any guitar that I put through it.

That said, what would you change about your Hollowbody’s sound? For me the top end was a little bitey and too modern, along with the low end lacking definition. I wanted something more balanced and clearer on the low end. I went with the BKP Mules and I couldn’t be happier. I’ll spare everyone from using catchy descriptors but say that the clarity and balance is now there. There is a complexity to the sound, especially the mids, that wasn’t there before.

For me, my rig, and my playing styles, swapping the pickups was worth its weight in gold.
 

NBW

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I really like it with the Manlius low output PAFs. There seems to be much more clarity and the highs have been tamed a bit. My friend in Minnesota thought the axe sounded great with the new pickups.
 

Derek Neufeld

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Derek,

I play mine through a Mesa Nomad 100 mated to a 3/4 closed back 2x12 cab with WGS G12C/S speakers. I use the clean channel only and employ a Messner, Mayflower, and Ages (all from Walrus Audio) for various levels of drive. I’ve recently sold all of my other amps because the Mesa’s clean channel beats everything else I’ve had and the amp sounds amazing with any guitar that I put through it.

That said, what would you change about your Hollowbody’s sound? For me the top end was a little bitey and too modern, along with the low end lacking definition. I wanted something more balanced and clearer on the low end. I went with the BKP Mules and I couldn’t be happier. I’ll spare everyone from using catchy descriptors but say that the clarity and balance is now there. There is a complexity to the sound, especially the mids, that wasn’t there before.

For me, my rig, and my playing styles, swapping the pickups was worth its weight in gold.
 

Derek Neufeld

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I really like it with the Manlius low output PAFs. There seems to be much more clarity and the highs have been tamed a bit. My friend in Minnesota thought the axe sounded great with the new pickups.
Mostly just to be able to plug in to my rug and not have to change any settings , ive got a nice collection of core guitars and each one sounds very different but awesome without having to do and adjustments to the amp , id love for this one to be that way also so im looking into replacement pups , it is kind of harsh and can get a little muddy but also that can be fixed with three knobs but id like plug n play lol
 

Kevin Earl

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I hear ya. If you are happy with how it sounds unplugged (mine sounds amazing unplugged) then changing the pickups might be the ticket. There are many pickup options that would tame the treble and add clarity.
 

Kevin Earl

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I ended up changing the pickups again. The BKP Mules were amazing but this morning I swapped them over to my ZM as I thought they would be a better fit in that one. The HB received a set of Stormy Mondays today and they are an even better match. I’m still dialing them in but my goodness they sound fantastic.
 

NBW

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The Stormy Mondays are the real deal. I have them in my CU24 SE and they give me the full tone I was looking for.
 
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