SD Custom or Custom 5 in an SE Custom? (Possible NPUD)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by maxtuna26, Aug 27, 2014.

  1. maxtuna26

    maxtuna26 New Member

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    Hey guys, so I've been away for a bit. Life's amazing and I joined a new band recently. I've decided to adopt a new "voice" for my SE Custom 24, which is to go back to what it sounds like originally and take it on from there. I'm putting in a new bridge pickup (and the stock SE VB goes back in the neck). The Dimarzio D Activators are going into another guitar, reserved for heavier stuff/lower tunings. This time, I'm wanting a tone similar to HFS. The reason I don't want to go for the HFS itself is because they're really expensive here and way out of my budget. For now, I'm all set on getting the SD Custom (SH-5) because according to various forums, the Custom is as close as I can get to the HFS.

    However, one thing that swayed me, was the huge 40%-off tag on the Custom 5 (SH-14). I know they're both essentially the same pickups with different magnets (ceramic vs A5), but the tones are, according to the forums, very different. AFAIK, the Custom is termed as a "PAF-on-steroids" made by Seymour, and the Custom 5 is coined as "more of a hot PAF than the Custom" upon it's introduction due to the A5 magnet. I am aware that the HFS has a ceramic magnet, hence the similarities with the Custom. But the price on the Custom 5 is just insane and I just can't pass on it like that.

    I'm not all about true PAF tones or vintage stuff, but I'd like to have a versatile sound that will convincingly do anything from country to blues to borderline metal, etc.

    So what's your opinion on the above pickups? Which one should I get? Sorry if I sound too TGP or HC... :dontknow:
     
  2. ascl

    ascl New Member

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    I don't know about the SH-14, but I have SH-5 in my Singlecut SE, and it was a massive improvement in the sound. The SH-5 is a great pickup, definitely one I like quite a bit -- that said, it is reasonably hot, and I like that -- YMMV!
     
  3. Duffy

    Duffy New Member

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    I think you might like the Custom 5 (SH-14); however, have you considered the JB (SH-4)?

    I have a JB bridge pickup in an SE Standard and it sounds very good. The JB is a great pickup and is clear and has shimmering trebles, yet it is very powerful and a hard hitting pickup.

    The Pearly Gates (SHPG-1) is also a cool pickup, something like a stronger '59. The '59 is also a great pickup, but probably not hot enough for what you are looking for.

    The Custom 5 or the JB are real strong pickups with A5 magnets. Either one could be a great pickup in the right hands; but I guess that could be said for just about any premium pickup.

    Good luck with it. Stick to your goal and I think you will buy the right pickup.
     
  4. vchizzle

    vchizzle Zomb!e Nine, DFZ

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    Custom 5 is in the same territory, a regular custom should be as well but sounds slightly more compressed with the ceramic magnet. Why not an HFS? Can find them used fairly cheap.
     
  5. maxtuna26

    maxtuna26 New Member

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    Sounds like both choices are equally promising. That means I'm still stuck at square one.... :biggrin:

    JB sounds cool, but I'm looking for something more "HFS", if that makes any sense... I can roll with a JB if I wanted. But the thing is, the other guitarist in the band already has a JB in the bridge, so I guess it's better for me to get something that sounds different to compliment the JB rather than compete with it sonically.

    I like the Pearly Gates too, am a big fan of ZZ Top :rock:, but can it do heavy rock/metal?
     
  6. John Beef

    John Beef Opaque

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    I have owned the SH-14 and also owned a HFS for a while that I ran with both the stock ceramic magnet and an Unoriented Alnico 5 magnet. I ran all these in the same guitar so I got a direct head to head comparison. This was all in my SE baritone bridge position.

    The problem that I have been trying to solve with this guitar is, get a hotter pickup that really works well with the lower tunings, but also keeps the tone from going all the way into metal territory. Your tone influences how you play, and if the B standard guitar sounds like a metal machine, as it has with a few pickups, I find myself writing metal riffs easily and struggling to write more rock-based stuff - think early Queens of the Stone Age would be roughly what I'm going for.

    When I bought the guitar I already had a SH-14 kicking around. It was the 1st pickup I installed in the guitar after removing the active Blackouts the previous owner had installed. I actually really liked it and it did the hard rock but not too much metal thing nicely. I only removed it because the guitar would feedback very quickly instead of sustaining notes. It's sad, because all bridge pickups did that until I upped the string gauge and got a proper setup done, but by then I had already sold the SH-14 since I wasn't using it.

    The HFS with its stock ceramic magnet was by far the most "metal" the guitar ever sounded. It really worked well with the guitar, if that was what I was going for. Given there was no cover on the pickup, and I already had the magnet in my parts thingy, it was a no brainer to swap the magnet to UO Alnico 5. This worked fairly well, and it really sounded like I had swapped in a completely different pickup, but the pickup was still just a bit too aggressive. The line between hard rock and metal is blurry and indistinct, but this was still just a bit too metal. The SH-14 was mellower than the HFS with the alnico 5 magnet, but it also was a covered pickup which could also influence things a bit.

    At this point I have a Suhr SSV+ in there which is a hot pickup but with 42 gauge wire instead of 43. I have been running that for a while now and it's a great pickup.

    So, this is all not to say that a SH-14 couldn't do metal. It's just not anywhere near as aggressive as a real HFS, and since that's what you're going for, the Custom might be the right pickup for you. That said, if the SH-14 is a really good price, magnets are very inexpensive and very easy to swap out. Buy the SH-14, try it out, and if you want something more aggressive, swap in the ceramic magnet.
     
  7. TroyBaer

    TroyBaer Really knows where his towel is.

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    The Duncan Custom has been my default aftermarket bridge pickup for about 15 years, and my musical situation has always been all over the map. I'd expect the C5 to be slightly less hot with a bit less midrange and less stiff treble. Either will be able to cover the stylistic range you want IMHO.

    You could always buy the C5 and pick up an aftermarket ceramic magnet if you wanted to "taste-test" what the original Custom would sound like.
     
  8. maxtuna26

    maxtuna26 New Member

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    Sorry, I missed out on your post, just realised we posted around the same time yesterday. Buying used is a good option too, but I can't find any used (or even new) HFS pickups in my country. :/ Plus, ordering them from the dealer is extremely expensive here. We have a moderately weak currency value. In Malaysia, a normal production Duncan/Dimarzio is priced between RM300 to 400 (around $100). An HFS comes in upwards of RM500, possibly RM600+ ($150-200), almost twice the price of a Duncan/Dimarzio. I've seen BKP pickups, they go for RM1000+ ($300+) and there's literally no used/secondhand market here, no one buys/sells their pickups. Plus, the Duncan C5 is on 40% discount, which makes the HFS around 3 times the C5's price. Which is why I'm seriously considering getting the C5 for a third of what an HFS costs, that sits within the ballpark than getting a real deal HFS.

    Looks like majority of the votes are on the Custom 5, and a magnet swap later on if I'm not getting enough "hot sauce" from the pickup. I did forget to mention that I might put gold covers on it, to make it more "25th Anniversary" :rofl:

    edit: End product will look something like this, except mine's an SE. :laugh:....

    http://www.niconico-guitars.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/10custom24_25anni_body.jpg
     
    #8 maxtuna26, Aug 28, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
  9. maxtuna26

    maxtuna26 New Member

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    Hey guys, so I went with the Custom 5, I really could not let go of the deal just like that. :laugh:

    Well, for most of the part, it nailed the tone that's in my head. It's got one of the nicest crunch I've ever heard on med-high gain. Certainly has that powerful Les Paul tone going on. I'd say it sounds really similar to a Gibson LP Classic I've tried once in the shop, except it sounds bigger, and doesn't have ice-picky highs. I'm quite frankly addicted to the cleans now, I seem to be playing more cleans than I usually would! It's got that semi-hollow sound to it, but still sounds very fat and clear, the huge bass is there, but it has a softer response, which is really great for clean blues/jazz. Really versatile and I'd liken it to a tonal cross between a LP and a semi-hollow. It really works well in different environments, from clean to rock, to even metal. It's got this thumpy low end that sounds super huge with palm mutes. Nails the modern rock/metal tone (in the ballpark of Breaking Benjamin etc.) and also classic metal stuff (Megadeth, Anthrax etc.) It won't do fast and heavy, because the bass is a bit "slower", so it won't sound tight enough for death metal/power metal, but that's really not the point of the pickup. Being able to do borderline metal was great enough for me, so being able to nail thrash/sludge is more like, a bonus for me. So I'm pretty impressed. I guess it'll stay in my SE Custom for a preeeeeetty long time.

    Anyway, thanks for all the responses guys, couldn't be more grateful for the helpful opinions and suggestions.

    :cheers:
     
    #9 maxtuna26, Aug 30, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2014
  10. vchizzle

    vchizzle Zomb!e Nine, DFZ

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    gotcha...glad the custom 5 seems to be workin' out.
     

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