TCI pickups don't exist ...... say what ??

SinSir

Mad Scientist
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PRS does make it confusing. Their website says the SE Custom 24-08 has TCI pickups but the Sweetwater catalog that just arrived says TCI tuned. I've also seen from several sources that the SE Custom 24-08 has 81/15s TCI tuned.
 

Mozzi

https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy/posts
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Found this on the SW site. This is the verbiage used on a $4000 USA Custom 24-08. Notice they are 'tuned" not TCI pickups

"TCI-tuned 85/15 pickups: vintage character and modern clarity
PRS 85/15 pickups balance vintage character with modern clarity to deliver the sweet — yet articulate — sound and rich harmonic overtones of vintage humbuckers. Featuring a powerful bridge pickup and neck pickup with the perfect amount of brightness, the 85/15 set packs a real sonic punch, from chimey cleans to full shred. The pickups are treated to PRS’s TCI (Tuned Capacitance and Inductance) tuning, which means the team at PRS has used their years of know-how to sculpt the sound to be perfect to their ears. The end result is a very musical pickup that’s true to its lineage, but updated for the modern player."

The Core does have 85/15 pickups and like ALL core models now, have had the TCI Process done - the Pauls Guitar has 'TCI' Pickups and its 'these' that were the pickups used to create the TCI 'S' pickups that were originally used for the SE version of the Pauls Guitar. Santana heard those pickups, and used them in the Santana Singlecut SE. When they did the 35th Anniversary SE and now with the SE 24-08, they are using the TCI 'S' pickups.

The video for the SE 24-08 said 85/15's by mistake - Bryan Ewald has since stated that the pickups are the TCI pickups not 85/15's.

The issue is that there are some pickups that are called TCI and also a process too. When Paul updated the Pauls guitar, creating a 'new' pickup, albeit a tweak on the 408 neck pickup that was used before, they opted to call the pickups 'TCI'.

I have seen shops list 594's with TCI pickups instead of saying they are 58/15 LT's with the TCI process so I am not surprised that they too get confused as to whether a model has TCI (name) pickups or just been through the TCI process. If you go to the actual PRS website, the regular Custom 24 has 85/15 'S' pickups where as the SE 24-08 has TCI 'S' pickups - like the Pauls guitar and Santana Singlecut - basically the same as the SE 35th Anniversary Cu24 too. The Core does have 85/15's but the SE has the TCI pickups...
 

waswell

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I'm glad PRS made the clarification in their Bryan Ewald demo of the SE Custom 24-08 that the pups are indeed TCIs. This makes me extremely happy as I loved the sound of the SE version of Paul's Guitar. It was a major selling point for me when purchasing my SE 24-08 sight unseen. I admit I was taken back when PRS advised me they were 85/15s and was somewhat disappointed.

Here is what PRS said in their comments regarding that video:

"Hi everyone, thanks for taking the time to check out this demo! We made one spec error in this video: the pickups in the SE Custom 24-08 are the TCI "S" pickups NOT 85/15 "S" pickups."

Thanks to everyone who joined in on this conversation, it has truly been an adventure.
 

singularity6

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I made a similar post a while back... I'm pretty sure the pickups in my 35th Anniversa6SE are 85/15 S pickups.
 

Em7

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I posted this response in another thread a while ago, enjoy.

The pot resistance in a guitar circuit does not actually make a pickup brighter or darker. What it does is affect the q-factor of the circuit. The q-factor defines the sharpness of the resonant peak. Q-factor is the ratio of inductive reactance (XL) to resistance (R).

Q = XL / R

As R goes up, Q goes down, resulting in a more even frequency response.

Most guitarists confuse a pickup's output with its DC resistance, but that is not how a pickup works. In fact, DC resistance is a poor measure of a pickup's output. What matters is the inductance and self-capacitance of the coil(s) as well as the strength and shape of the magnetic field. Inductance is a factor of the number of turns of wire on a pickup bobbin. Self-capacitance is a function of the number of turns and how the wire is laid down on the bobbin. There are two ways to increase the output of a pickup. The first way to increase output is to use a permanent magnet with a stronger magnetic field (i.e., a magnet with a higher gauss rating). That is why pickup manufacturers eventually switch over to using ceramic instead of alnico when attempting to boost pickup output. Ceramic magnets are available with higher gauss ratings than alinico magnets and unlike alnico magnets, ceramic magnets do not lose strength over time. The second way to increase output is to put more turns of wire on the bobbin. In order to do that with a stock bobbin, the pickup designer has to resort to using thinner wire. Thinner wire has a higher per foot DC resistance rating than thicker wire. That is the only clue DC resistance gives one when attempting to determine the output of a pickup. Higher DC resistance usually means more turns of wire, but more turns of wire also means more resistance per foot of wire due to the physical limitations of stock pickup bobbins.

Now, you have probably heard about wire with magical insulation. There is nothing magical about a wire's insulation other than its thickness. A wire's overall thickness is important when attempting to wind a higher output pickup with lower self-capacitance. A buzzword in the pickup industry is "scatter winding." Scatter winding is little more than imprecisely wound coils. A scatter-wound pickup bobbin usually has a lower self-capacitance than a perfectly wound bobbin. That is due to the fact that individual turns on the bobbin are farther apart (i.e., there is more air in a scatter-wound bobbin). A pickup with a lower self-capacitance usually has a higher resonant peak than a pickup with the same number of turns, but higher self-capacitance. The resonant peak is the frequency at which a pickup is loudest. It is easier to get more wire on bobbin that is perfectly wound by a machine than one that is scatter wound by hand or pseudo-scatter wound by a machine. However, perfect winding equals more self-capacitance, which equals lower resonant frequency (i.e., a darker sounding pickup).

Where the value of the volume pot comes into play is by lowering the q-factor of the circuit. As mentioned earlier, q-factor goes down as resistance with respect to inductance goes up. What happens is the frequency response of a pickup flattens out as the size of the volume pot is increased. In essence, the pickup does not get brighter, it gets less bassy because the resonant peak has been lowered, which widens the frequency response, making it sound brighter.

With that said, has anyone ever wondered why a Strat quacks in positions two and four? It is due to the fact that Strat pickups have a high resonant peak and inductances add in parallel while resistances divide, which means that the q-factor increases, resulting in an sharper resonant peak around which the frequency response drops off at an even faster rate.

In a nutshell, that is why TCI is called TCI, which stands for Tuned Capacitance and Inductance. The only time that resistance comes into play when tuning a pickup is adjusting the q-factor of the circuit.
 

John F

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Many years ago I worked at a tachometer manufacturer. They fabricated their own meter movements, which have strong magnets and bobbins of wire not too dissimilar from a guitar pickup. The electronics on a circuit board converted frequency (RPM) to micro amps to drive the pointer. Using 20% tolerance components that included resistors, capacitors and inductors each board had a different output over the input frequency spectrum. Each board was placed on a test jig, and a range of adjustability was documented in numerical values written on the board. Each meter movement was simillarly range checked on a test stand and documented with a numerical value. Boards and meters were hand picked from a bin so that the meter was selected to match within the range of the board. They were mated and assembled. Next each meter was calibrated by using a degaussing coil to lower the strength of the magnets until the readings were spot on and accurate.

My point is, the factory may be similarly grading and numbering pickups, and hand selecting them based upon graded pots, caps, wiring, and using a final resistor value to complete the tuning process. Magnets could also be degaussed to set their strength precisely. So no two pickups or other parts could be identical, yet the pickups are the same model, and the guitar TCI Tuned.

Remember that original Gibson PAF pickups are considered magical and fetch astronomical prices. Owners state than not all PAF have the magic. I’m making an educated guess and thinking that the Q and frequency response was sometimes making magic, and other times not.

I give Paul credit for finding a method of analysis and adjustment to put the magic in a TCI tuned guitar. Both mine are spectacular.
 

gpdb

Guitar Pickup Database
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Well, not exactly. TCI is a process for making pickups, an electronics system, and an actual pickup model name. The TCI "S" pickup is a real pickup simply because that's literally what it is called. It was modeled after the core-line TCI pickup that debuted in the Paul's Guitar in 2019. As for the 85/15 "S" and the TCI "S" being the same, that is also incorrect. First, here's the specs of each model that I've collected personally:

DCRInductance (@ 100Hz)Capacitance (@ 100kHz)
85/15 "S" Bridge8.27 Ohms5.4 H82.2 pF
85/15 "S" Neck7.5 Ohms4.6 H96.7 pF
TCI "S" Bridge8.65 Ohms5.83 H37.2 pF
TCI "S" Neck8.75 Ohms5.85 H48.5 pF

Now for the really fun part. Here's the resonance curve of each pickup compared, measured with a dummy load representing 2 x 500k pots and cable/amp capacitance (250k, 470pF):
TCI-S-vs.-85-15-S.png


This chart shows how each pickup responds at each frequency. When Paul mentions things like "pickups have a whistle", this is what he's talking about. All pickups have this curve, and the character of the peak is what defines that whistle note. You can probably barely tell, but the TCI "S" bridge and neck overlap exactly. This is a testament to the TCI-processes consistency, they've chosen the inductance and capacitance and are hitting it. When you match the overall output between the TCI "S" and the 85/15 "S" bridge, the curves are actually identical. So more or less the TCI "S" and 85/15 "S" bridge will sound the same. But the 85/15 "S" neck is not the same as the TCI "S".

Lastly, though it's not crucially important, both models use different baseplate materials. The 85/15 "S" uses brass, while the TCI "S" uses nickel silver. Also they have different model names, showing they are indeed different.
img_6150.jpg


I've written an article I'm about to publish on TCI, but I need to have a few more posts here before I can share it. I'm also working on a website called Guitar Pickup Database which collects all the public specs available for pickups, and I'm purchasing every pickup on my own and measuring and recording them.
 
Last edited:

Birdsofprey

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Just a general question would it be a true statement to say that even the same pickup let’s use a PRS 59/09 would have a different measured impedance/ resistance for each pickup but perhaps have an acceptable range? I would think no matter how your manufacturing process works it would be impossible to get two pickups to have the same value. Also I’m sure it matters how and with what equipment is used to come to these values. Just thinking out loud hear.
 

jak3af3r

Jake
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Well, not exactly. TCI is a process for making pickups, an electronics system, and an actual pickup model name. The TCI "S" pickup is a real pickup simply because that's literally what it is called. It was modeled after the core-line TCI pickup that debuted in the Paul's Guitar in 2019. As for the 85/15 "S" and the TCI "S" being the same, that is also incorrect. First, here's the specs of each model that I've collected personally:

DCRInductance (@ 100Hz)Capacitance (@ 100kHz)
85/15 "S" Bridge8.27 Ohms5.4 H82.2 pF
85/15 "S" Neck7.5 Ohms4.6 H96.7 pF
TCI "S" Bridge8.65 Ohms5.83 H37.2 pF
TCI "S" Neck8.75 Ohms5.85 H48.5 pF

Now for the really fun part. Here's the resonance curve of each pickup compared, measured with a dummy load representing 2 x 500k pots and cable/amp capacitance (250k, 470pF):
TCI-S-vs.-85-15-S.png


This chart shows how each pickup responds at each frequency. When Paul mentions things like "pickups have a whistle", this is what he's talking about. All pickups have this curve, and the character of the peak is what defines that whistle note. You can probably barely tell, but the TCI "S" bridge and neck overlap exactly. This is a testament to the TCI-processes consistency, they've chosen the inductance and capacitance and are hitting it. When you match the overall output between the TCI "S" and the 85/15 "S" bridge, the curves are actually identical. So more or less the TCI "S" and 85/15 "S" bridge will sound the same. But the 85/15 "S" neck is not the same as the TCI "S".

Lastly, though it's not crucially important, both models use different baseplate materials. The 85/15 "S" uses brass, while the 58/15 "S" uses nickel silver. Also they have different model names, showing they are indeed different.
img_6150.jpg


I've written an article I'm about to publish on TCI, but I need to have a few more posts here before I can share it. I'm also working on a website called Guitar Pickup Database which collects all the public specs available for pickups, and I'm purchasing every pickup on my own and measuring and recording them.


This is fascinating stuff. So much so that I bought an LCR meter a few months ago to catalog all my pickups to see if what I think I hear is accurate. I'd be happy to share some of the data I got with you.
 

jak3af3r

Jake
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Just a general question would it be a true statement to say that even the same pickup let’s use a PRS 59/09 would have a different measured impedance/ resistance for each pickup but perhaps have an acceptable range? I would think no matter how your manufacturing process works it would be impossible to get two pickups to have the same value. Also I’m sure it matters how and with what equipment is used to come to these values. Just thinking out loud hear.

I'd say yes to the range of impedance/resistance. I've always suspected they've been targeting a resonant frequency. So the constant there would be the frequency and the variables the capacitance, resistance, and inductance. Which would explain the confusion behind the marketing aspect and the actuality of what I believe they've been doing because when you put a meter and only get the DC resistance, it could be vastly different and without enough understanding of how the system as a whole works many people would be inclined to think based on one variable the pickups aren't the same or quality control is bad.

If all your pickups are made to have the same resonant peak and Q then they'll all sound the same which aligns with their consistency in everything else they do and then every guitar of the same model is more or less guaranteed to electronically sound the same.
 

gpdb

Guitar Pickup Database
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This is fascinating stuff. So much so that I bought an LCR meter a few months ago to catalog all my pickups to see if what I think I hear is accurate. I'd be happy to share some of the data I got with you.

Nice! Yeah I would love to see what your readings are. I still have to have the pickups myself since I need to keep all my measurements internally consistent, as well as create these resonance curves. I'm also recording audio tracks with every pickup I get, making sure to use the same guitars (strat and les paul), same amp, the same pickup height, the same cable, etc. The goal is that you can go to the website and really understand what pickup you need if you want to change it.
 

gpdb

Guitar Pickup Database
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Messages
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Just a general question would it be a true statement to say that even the same pickup let’s use a PRS 59/09 would have a different measured impedance/ resistance for each pickup but perhaps have an acceptable range? I would think no matter how your manufacturing process works it would be impossible to get two pickups to have the same value. Also I’m sure it matters how and with what equipment is used to come to these values. Just thinking out loud hear.

Absolutely, and especially when you start looking at more hand-made pickups, scatterwound pickups, etc, all of those little details cause changes. Most pickup manufacturers make a pickup by using the same parts and a consistent turn count. Resistance, inductance, and capacitance are all measurements that happen after the pickup is put together. If the pickup industry was really being transparent, they would tell you the wire gauge, coating, and turn count, along with other specs and that would be what a pickup is. But since that effectively is giving away the secret formula, they use DCR.
There's no way that I'm aware of currently to be able to wind and measure inductance/capacitance at the same time, but this is what I suspect PRS might be doing. Instead of stopping at a certain number of turns, they stop at a certain measurement. This is important because wire is not always consistent, coating is not always consistent, and one example that required 5000 turns to reach 5 Henries might require 5025 turns with a different spool of wire. So consistency is a big thing, but I think the other thing they did was create resonance curves of the best pickup examples they could find, and then replicate the specs consistently. This is where Paul's second company Digital Harmonic comes in. To be clear though, using turn count doesn't make a bad pickup. They might be a little inconsistent but nothing that would make one sound a ton worse vs. another.

I posted my article on TCI, but I think I'm still too new to post a link. If you want to check it out, it's on my website Guitar Pickup Database, if you go to Articles in the top menu you'll see it on that page.
 

gpdb

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Coral Sky Music

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You. Can. Hear. The. Difference.
Bodia For The Win!!
If you have any sense of decent hearing ( I am not saying this to put anyone down) there is no arguing that the TCI version of any PRS pickup sounds different than the non TCI version in any guitar model. Not saying they sound better or worse to stir up any controversy but you can hear the difference and its not just a subtle difference
.
 

gtrman100

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Apr 21, 2022
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Well, not exactly. TCI is a process for making pickups, an electronics system, and an actual pickup model name. The TCI "S" pickup is a real pickup simply because that's literally what it is called. It was modeled after the core-line TCI pickup that debuted in the Paul's Guitar in 2019. As for the 85/15 "S" and the TCI "S" being the same, that is also incorrect. First, here's the specs of each model that I've collected personally:

DCRInductance (@ 100Hz)Capacitance (@ 100kHz)
85/15 "S" Bridge8.27 Ohms5.4 H82.2 pF
85/15 "S" Neck7.5 Ohms4.6 H96.7 pF
TCI "S" Bridge8.65 Ohms5.83 H37.2 pF
TCI "S" Neck8.75 Ohms5.85 H48.5 pF

Now for the really fun part. Here's the resonance curve of each pickup compared, measured with a dummy load representing 2 x 500k pots and cable/amp capacitance (250k, 470pF):
TCI-S-vs.-85-15-S.png


This chart shows how each pickup responds at each frequency. When Paul mentions things like "pickups have a whistle", this is what he's talking about. All pickups have this curve, and the character of the peak is what defines that whistle note. You can probably barely tell, but the TCI "S" bridge and neck overlap exactly. This is a testament to the TCI-processes consistency, they've chosen the inductance and capacitance and are hitting it. When you match the overall output between the TCI "S" and the 85/15 "S" bridge, the curves are actually identical. So more or less the TCI "S" and 85/15 "S" bridge will sound the same. But the 85/15 "S" neck is not the same as the TCI "S".

Lastly, though it's not crucially important, both models use different baseplate materials. The 85/15 "S" uses brass, while the TCI "S" uses nickel silver. Also they have different model names, showing they are indeed different.
img_6150.jpg


I've written an article I'm about to publish on TCI, but I need to have a few more posts here before I can share it. I'm also working on a website called Guitar Pickup Database which collects all the public specs available for pickups, and I'm purchasing every pickup on my own and measuring and recording them.
Thanks for posting the specs of the TCI-S pickups. I bought an SE Paul's guitar, and have read articles that state the pickups' DCR is over 11k ohms. In the article they wonder why the tone of the pickups is more vintage-like, and I questioned the accuracy of the specs they quoted. The SE Paul's guitar TCI-S pickups are extremely articulate, have great string definition, besides sounding like real single coil pickups (and nominal volume drop) when split. In my mind they are a real game changer in pickup evolution.
 

Echohb83

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TCI is clearly a marketing ploy. Take an existing design, make a small change (ex: more winds/less winds = increased/reduced capacitance and inductance) and call it "new".

I think the biggest fallacy is that they imply, at least in some of the initial videos for the Core series, that the TCI pickups are tuned for each guitar, but I 100% guarantee that they are not. It's true that every guitar has its own qualities and it would be amazing if they were fine-tuning each pickup to each specific instrument, but that's not the case.

These are tweaks on current pickup designs and nothing more. Nothing to get overly excited about. If you were to try the regular 85/15 next to a "TCI" 85/15 in the SAME guitar, I bet not a single person could hear a difference that warrants the marketing hype.
Hi there ! I just wanted to know if you knew what process was supposed to be involve in the tuning of the pickups in relation to the wooden body of the guitar ? Do they have specific benchtests (like a dynometer for a car but for a guitar instead) ?

In fact, I'm really interested about how useful it is to fine-tune a pickup to the variances you will encounter between different prototypes of the same model of guitar, with the same kind of wood and the almost exact shape (Let's say 4 mm and/or 1/8 of an inch between the biggest and the smallest prototype...).

It feels like somebody is pretending to play god with soundwaves theory. The dyno-guitar-meter wouldn't even worth the money.
 

tonosity

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Nov 16, 2022
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Paul can (in my experience) play fast and loose with facts and truth. For example, when the first acoustic guitars were introduced, I was at NAMM in LA, and the PRS booth was just finished. There were about 10 acoustics on display. Obviously, they were finished with clear nitro, and had been subjected to swings in temperature on the transport from Maryland. The finish on the tops were not just checked, but shattered. I tried to commiserate with him on this unfortunate event. Nope. He proceeded to go on about how it was intentional; that they were introducing a new look to the finish of acoustics. I looked for some sign of sarcasm on his face. But no, that was his story, and was sticking to it.

So, I can't help but take this TCI process with a grain of salt. I love PRS guitars, but if and when I buy another, it won't because I have to have TCI. Unless and until PRS lays out what TCI actually does to improve a guitar's electronics via "the process."
 

John F

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Messages
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Capacitors, inductors and resistors are used to make filters for AC signals. These filters are known as hi pass, low pass, notch and band pass. Each slider or knob on a graphic equalizer is controlling the amplitude of a slim band pass filter. This gives you the operator the ability to make the narrow band of frequencies louder or quieter to suit your listening pleasure.

The pickups, potentiometers, resistors, switches, wiring and guitar lead have varying levels of capacitance, inductance and resistance. The combinations of each contribute to making various hi pass, low pass, notch and band pass filters inside the guitar, which are also unique to every guitar. The metals in the pickup and cover including the magnet also affect the resulting filter effects.

Guitar and pickup fabrication has been trial and error to get a pleasing frequency response from a guitar. Some guitars are magic, others are blah.

Paul and his engineers have developed a way to account for and tune these resulting filters to make the guitars sound consistent guitar to guitar, and more pleasing to Paul because of the tuning. This way, every guitar can be a magic guitar, with predictable and repeatable sound.

If you doubt the merits of Paul’s TCI process, go pickup multiple guitars of the same model, plug them in, and listen if they sound the same. Now do the same with multiple TCI PRS guitars of the same model and get back to us with your findings. My personal findings with my pair of Silver Sky guitars convinced me TCI is real, and I love the sound.
 
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