TCI or no TCI?

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by Michael Scott, Jul 15, 2021.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott New Member

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    Hey everyone,

    looking to buy a 594, but unsure if going with a used one that doesn’t have the tci pickups.

    Thoughts? Is it that much of a difference?

    I ask because at that price point, not sure if it’s worth it to spend more on a newer model.

    As far as I know, pre 2019 models didn’t get the tic upgrade.

    thanks in advance
     
  2. bodia

    bodia Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved

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    TCI was introduced in the 594 in late 2019. Late October or early November. Anything before that will not have TCI treated pickups. As for difference, there is definitely something there. It's hard to put in words, but they just bring something more to the table. Clearer sound, more articulate. I don't know. They're good, but so are the non TCI 58/15 LT pickups. You can't go wrong either way.

    Here are some comments from another thread. MA Pete is the "594 expert. I think he's probably owned more than 50 of them.



    With respect to the 2020 594s; yes, they still have the LT pickups, just with the TCI treatment. I don't know if it's the nitro or the TCI, but there is just something "different" about them. I'm really bad at this stuff, but I'll cut/paste some thoughts from MA Pete. First, realize his Holy Grail guitar, after lots of PRS and other brands, is his 2016 PRS SC 594 Prototype. He is on record stating that the 2020 Core SC 594 are just as good as that Holy Grail. From a confirmed tone cork sniffer, that says a lot. Here's something from Pete:

    In the coming days, this guitar blew my mind! It validated some really important things about the new 2020 models. First and foremost, the tone and feel of these 2020s (at least THIS ONE so far, more to follow) was 90-95% as good as a Private Stock 594. That was not at all the case for the many V12-finished 594s I owned in 2016 and 2017. They were all on average really fantastic, but none really held a candle to the Private Stock ones, for me. I really love everything about the PRS Nitro finish, both in feel, and also re my opinion on how it positively affects the resonance and tone of guitar, so I am biased in that regard. (Having owned a pretty broad range of Core, WL and PS guitars over the past 12 years, over 100 of them, I feel pretty qualified to weigh in with an opinion on that.)

    Also, the TCI pickups are the "Real Deal", and also these new 5815 LT+ pickups specially wound for the SCs are amazing. (I will go more into the pickups on a subsequent post.)

    I have come to really love the tuners, everything about them - well, except that they aren't locking tuners. [​IMG] I dislike restringing a guitar with vintage tuners as much as the next guy, but these tuners just look so "right" to me on the 594s, so much so that the Phase III tuners now look "wrong" to me. Also, they look and feel high quality IMO, despite being some sort of plastic. They are more solid mechanically in feel than the Phase IIIs. Significantly more so. If I were to spec a Private Stock 594, there is no question in my mind that I would spec it with these versus the Phase IIIs.

    When some of the Chicago crew came over on Feb 15, we did an A/B of the 2016 and 2020 Prototypes, and the gang unanimously declared the 2016 one bested the 2020 one re Classic Singlecut tone, at least by a little. I think it is pretty close. Over time, I have come to like the 2020 one a little more, it certainly gets played more. The 2016 one is a keeper for sure, it is so special in what it is, but what an awesome discovery with regards to the magic of this first 2020, that it can be considered pretty much as good as the 2016 Prototype is amazing!



    Finally, if you haven't seen this video yet, check it out.

     
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  3. Screamingdaisy

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    PRS is a perpetual motion machine. The guitars sounded killer before, the guitars sounded killer after. It’s not like we all set our pre-2019 guitars on fire and ran out to buy new ones.

    PRS is very good at marketing incremental changes. I don’t say that negatively, he’s successful for a reason, and it’s enabled him to not be stuck in 1959 or 1964 like some other guitar manufacturers.

    But what’s important is that when you cut through all the hype and marketing, PRS has always made great guitars.
     
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  4. AP515

    AP515 Mostly Normal

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    Whether to get a TCI guitar, depends on the sound you want. I don't think folks understand what TCI is. The pickups in a TCI circuit and a non-TCI circuit are the same pickups. They will sound the same...until you apply the rest of the circuit. I'll explain.

    Every guitar already has some inductance, resistance and capacitance in it. We are used to capacitors added to the pickups since the bumblebee caps in LP's, and after the DGT, we are used to resistors being added. What we don't see are inductors. That is because the inductance is already present in the windings of the pickups. So all of the components of an LRC (Inductance, Resistance, Capacitance) circuit are present in the guitar's electrical stuff. What is new in TCI is that PRS is applying the electrical concepts to pickups to affect the tone of the guitar. There is nothing magic about TCI. In the electronics world we have been designing LRC circuits for many years. We have been "tuning" circuits to a frequency since the beginning. Applying the concept to pickups is the new part that PRS has done. It allows them to "tune" the response of the pickups to a set of frequencies they want to emphasize. The result will be pickups that favor some frequencies at the expense of others. The result is a guitar tone that you might love, hate, or not really hear a difference. It all depends on what you like to hear, or maybe the frequencies your ear can or can't hear. The thing is, you are hearing what PRS thinks is a superior set of frequencies. That may or may not be what YOU think is a superior set of frequencies.
     
  5. Drew

    Drew New Member

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    I think post #4 sums everything up perfectly, but I'm going to add the process is as much about ensuring a uniformity and predictability in how each guitar will sound instead of having to dig through 10 of them to find the one that sweet one.
     
  6. Simon Says

    Simon Says New Member

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    I will agree with you. I have decided to change pots and capacitors on my 2020 Custom 24 and as much as guitar sound more less the same, the splits (its 35th anniversary) are nothing as before. I will be putting old caps and pots back in - hopefully tomorrow - and will report back

    Caps / pots are same value but they all have a different tolerance and I think this is where I messed up the TCI
     
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  7. Ovibos

    Ovibos Naughty Wood Librarian

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    Makes sense. My understanding of TCI is that it's more about consistency and getting all guitars much closer to specs by correcting for variances in components.
     
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  8. Moondog Wily

    Moondog Wily Howlin' At The Moon!

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    Thanks for that explanation @AP515 ! Is it possible then, at some point in the future, to have TCI tuning be something that can be done by the end user? In other words, adjust the tuning after the pickup is built. Then, everyone could tune the pickups to their own liking, or jump back to factory settings for a fresh start. If that is what TCI tuning is doing, then putting it in the hands of the end user would be the next step IMO, but I am uncertain if that would be possible. Interested in your thoughts on that ;~))

    Happy tuning~
    MW
     
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  9. Simon Says

    Simon Says New Member

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    I did the full cavity shielding too. That could also contribute. All goes off tomorrow
     
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  10. AP515

    AP515 Mostly Normal

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    With a circuit analyzer and a little knowledge of LRC circuits, you can do it to the guitars you have now. The human ear can hear frequencies from just about 20 Hz to around 20,000 Hz until we get old and start losing the top end. If you wanted you could analyze where your guitar is now in frequency response, and change it by adding resistance or capacitance to it to change the response to certain frequencies. I think, but am not certain, that PRS just tunes for as flat a response as possible across the full range. That would seem to make the most sense, so that all the frequencies in the range can be heard as you play and you can EQ out what you don't want. But he may have learned that we humans like a portion of the range to be prominent and so he tweaks the frequency response to be favorable to some portion of the range. Only PRSH knows without an analyzer and a TCI circuit.
     
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  11. Em7

    Em7 deus ex machina

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    It is actually an RLC circuit. What appears to be new and I may be wrong is that Paul and PRS are attempting to tune L and C such that there is a consistent resonant peak from guitar to guitar. R plays a minor role in the response of a pickup because a pickup generates an AC signal. Impedance is not a synonym for DC resistance. Impedance (Z) = SQUARE-ROOT(R^2 + (Xl-Xc)^2), where the symbol "^" denotes raised to the power of. L and C are reactive components in an RLC circuit. When reactive inductive reactance (Xl) equals capacitive reactance (Xc), the frequency (resonant frequency) at which the circuit becomes purely resistance has been reached. The resonant frequency is that the frequency at which a pickup circuit is loudest. Pickups that are more breathy usually have a higher resonant frequency. With respect to humbucking pickups, pickups that are breathy also have coils that are asymmetrically wound to limit phase cancellation.
     
    #11 Em7, Jul 16, 2021
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2021
  12. Screamingdaisy

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    People have been “tuning” their pickups (mostly by accident) with different length/quality cables since the electric guitar was invented.
     
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  13. Moondog Wily

    Moondog Wily Howlin' At The Moon!

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    Thanks @AP515 and @Screamingdaisy for sharing your knowledge. I have never delved into this topic, but it is intriguing and it could become a hobby (although I am much more interested in writing new music than I am in chasing a specific tone)! Anyway, I very much appreciate you lifting some of my ignorance on this matter!
     
  14. Em7

    Em7 deus ex machina

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    Unlike active pickups where a buffer is inserted between one's guitar and one's amp, the cable and its length play a part in the tone of the guitar with passive pickups because a guitar cable inserts capacitance into the circuit (it is formed between the center conductor and the shield). Adding capacitance to an RLC circuit shifts the resonant frequency of the circuit down in frequency. That is how the tone control works on a guitar. Contrary to what most guitarists believe, the tone capacitor does not bleed signal to ground. If it did that, there would be loss in volume. What the tone capacitor does is combine with the inductance and self-capacitance of the coil as the tone control is rolled down to lower the resonant peak of the circuit. That is why there is not only a loss of highs, but also an increase in midrange as the length of the guitar cable is increased. The increase in midrange is due the resonant peak being shifted down in frequency.

    We have all head of scatter-wound pickups. It is just a fancy name for pickups where the turns of wire are not laid down perfectly (old Fender pickups were scatter wound because the wire was fed onto the bobbin by hand). Scatter winding reduces a pickup coil's self-capacitance, making the pickup brighter than one where the turns of are were laid down in perfect rows. The difference is due to more air/space being in the coil, which places the individual turns of the wire slightly further apart. The problem with true scatter-wound pickups is that they are all different.
     
  15. RickP

    RickP Established 1960, Still Not Dead

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    I’ve had both versions, though not at the same time where I could test them side by side. My personal view was that the non-TCI pickup sounded great, and the TCI pickup used on the same amp at the same settings sounded… great. I wouldn’t sell one to get the other, in either direction.

    I haven’t heard of anyone getting the TCI pickup and saying it sounded worse, so if you have a same-money option, why not? Get the new and improved model. But if I had a great deal on a non-TCI pickup-equipped guitar, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it. They didn’t suddenly start sounding less good when the new one came out.
     
  16. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Seconded.

    I have a 2020 McCarty, and it's fantastic sounding. Then again, so are my PRSes with non-TCI pickups.

    Given the choice, I'll take TCI, but wouldn't turn my nose up at a great deal on an earlier model that also sounded superb.
     
  17. ViperDoc

    ViperDoc Plugged In.

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    The TCI pickups do not make the 594 sound better. They are an attempt to make each 594 guitar sound like the next in the 594 lineup. It's a way of homogenizing the 594 sound, which is the best sounding guitar ever made. Go, therefore, and buy one. Best axe you'll ever sling, dude.
     
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  18. chicagoslim

    chicagoslim New Member

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    PRSH, tends to really know how he wants his pickups to sound and goes to great lengths, with consistent factory settings. The trouble is, the first thing i do with a new guitar, is re-adjust the pickups for my sound. It's nothing like Paul's, but the pickups are versatile and easily adjustable. I really like my PRS guitars, with other pickups. I'm tempted to only keep a couple of best sounding, original and MOD the rest.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  19. RevBillyG

    RevBillyG New Member

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    I think they measured the inductance of the pickup they wanted to "clone" then reverse engineered it from their.
     
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  20. chicagoslim

    chicagoslim New Member

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    As a follow up, I once again compared my guitars. It's nice to have a Gibson like, sounding PRS. But if I had to choose one, my 85'15 pickups, with 5-way slide switching, is my favorite. 85/15S pickups with 3-way push/pull, beating out my 58/15S LT's.
     

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