Why do I not like the sound of my beautiful McCarty?

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by David O'Brien, Jul 29, 2020.

?

This tone issue is:

  1. Caused by the way the guitar is built

    13.3%
  2. Caused by the pickups

    70.0%
  3. Operator error (I just haven't learned how to coax good sounds out of it)

    23.3%
  4. Just the way PRS guitars sound

    13.3%
  5. Other

    13.3%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. David O'Brien

    David O'Brien Tumbling Dice

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    I have a beautiful 2007 McCarty with an amber sunburst finish. I bought it new back in 2007 or 2008. The guitar is perfectly built, stays in tune, intonates well, has good sustain, etc. I want to love the guitar, but there is something about the tone of the guitar that has always left me feeling unsatisfied. I have a 59 RI Les Paul Standard and I love the tone of that guitar, even though it's hard to keep it in tune and it is not as well built as my McCarty. However, it's not that the McCarty sounds different from the Les Paul. I understand it's a different animal (especially since it's not a 594 McCarty), and I'm okay with that (and in fact would like the ability to get some different sounds than my Les Paul can). So it's not that the tone is different from the LP that leaves me feeling unsatisfied. The issue is that the tone is harsh and lacking in subtlety and nuance. It's almost like the pickups are microphonic or have some weird aggressive buzz in the upper midrange/lower treble end. Also, I can't phrase notes with dynamics and subtle nuances. The guitar seems to want to honk in a sort of a harsh and aggressive manner no matter how I pluck the strings. It feels like there is no way to phrase notes softly or with care. It's difficult to dig into notes and to get them to sing with warmth or creaminess. Instead the sounds come out with a harsh, hollow, edgy sound lacking in warmth and richness. The bridge pickup is very trebly of course, but the neck pickup is dark while still lacking in warmth somehow. For a long time I thought it was the guitar itself - with it's thinner body and neck compared to my Les Paul, different bridge, taller frets, etc. However, now I'm wondering if the pickups are a big part of it, because the guitar sounds pretty nice unplugged and has great natural sustain. I can hear some of the edginess and honkiness when the guitar is unplugged but it still sounds better than when it's plugged in and I can coax nice subtle, expressive tones from it unplugged. Has anyone had similar issues with their McCarty? Any thoughts on why the guitar sounds the way I'm describing? I'm not a PRS guy generally (mainly Gibsons and Fenders), so maybe I just don't know how PRS guitars are supposed to sound.
     
  2. jxe

    jxe babe en der wood

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    13 years i would have traded it in already. no horrible sounding clip?
     
    veinbuster likes this.
  3. Frank McNerney

    Frank McNerney New Member

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    I'm looking forward to the responses you get on this. I'm certain I'm going to learn something and be entertained. In the meantime, I can't add much except to say I have a 2006 McCarty and I personally love the sound (opinion) . I've played it through a bunch of amps and it always sounds like itself. Very rich, warm tone. I especially like the bridge PU

    I've never played a really nice Les Paul but I've heard them many times and the tone is usually great. Here is the thing that always gets me about Les Paul discussions:
    ("hard to keep in tune")
    I hear it all the time WTF. ??? Not knocking Gibson per se but really - won't stay in tune???

    I've had 3 PRS guitars (the McCarty and Two SE's) and they almost Never go out of tune.
    I'd have to love the sound a feel of a guitar one hell of a lot to put up with "hard to keep in tune".

    One more thing - the best sounding guitar I've ever heard (my opinion) is the McCarty 594. Those pickups sound as good as any LP I've heard
     
  4. Tonart

    Tonart Tone of the Art......or is that backwards?

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    If the guitar sounds good unplugged, it could be the pickups.
     
  5. Stephen J.

    Stephen J. New Member

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    Probably a combination of all of your poll choices. You have had it long enough to have played with all the variables. I am sure someone else would love to have it. Trade it towards something that gives you something different than your LP, but also makes you want to keep playing it. If you are in an area that you can do a hands on trial you can have a lot of fun sampling the wares.
     
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  6. veinbuster

    veinbuster Zombie Three, DFZ

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    13 years is a long time to keep a guitar you don’t like.
    Have you never liked how it sounded?
     
    ScottR and Bill SAS 513 like this.
  7. HANGAR18

    HANGAR18 What Would Evel Knievel Do?

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    I would not be able to provide an opinion without knowing what kind of pickups were installed and what kind of amp you are using. (I say this while ignoring the troll alarm going off behind my head.)
     
  8. AP515

    AP515 Mostly Normal

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    Two words, Seth Lovers
     
    David O'Brien likes this.
  9. ]-[@n$0Ma☩!©

    ]-[@n$0Ma☩!© ▲▼▲▼▲▼▲▼▲

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    Assuming this thread isn't just a troll (I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here), I'll vote in your poll if you send me the guitar.

    I'll inspect everything set it up for my style, install the strings I like, plug it into my rig, and tell you if *I* like it or if *I* do not. But asking me (or anyone else) to tell you why you don't like your own guitar -- your phrasing - your inability to coax nuance - or diagnosing something as subjective as your tone using your ears as the measure of 'good' - is a fool's errand.

    I'm gunna pass.
     
  10. 11top

    11top Cousin Eddie's cousin

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    Damn dude; you’re up late. :D
     
  11. 11top

    11top Cousin Eddie's cousin

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    Regardless of the image, I’ve never had an R9 with tuning issues. Core-yes. Reissue-no.
     
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  12. danktat

    danktat Award winning tattoo artist ... Amateur guitarist

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    Sometimes, you can't bond with a particular guitar. And it often isn't something you can put your finger on. It is just a lack of that "something" that makes you love it. I have only owned "older" cu22s. There was ONE that I didn't really bond with. And it was the one with dragon 1s in it that everyone said I would like more than the others with the D 2s. I "liked" it....but I didn't "love" it. Some of it was that the color was a bit dark to see my wood on that 10 top. But it "felt" a little different than my others. (I have had both wide/thin and wide/fat neck carves).

    But you could say the same about cars. Two different Mustangs can drive and feel very differently from each other. I have had tattoo machines that ran WELL, but I just couldn't bond with them in a way that made me feel creative even though they were from the same manufacturer. But, I gave one to another artist that I worked with and she absolutely loves it and uses it every day now.

    I'd say try to find a couple of more McCartys and play them. See if they feel/sound any different to your ears. I am not sure any PRS is a "dud"....but sometimes, there is one that doesn't do it for an individual player.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
    VirginiaAve likes this.
  13. RickP

    RickP Established 1960, Still Not Dead

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    Lower the pickups.
     
    Tim S, TwelfthTangent, Henry2 and 4 others like this.
  14. jxe

    jxe babe en der wood

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    what a snake nest this guy walked into.
     
    David O'Brien likes this.
  15. 11top

    11top Cousin Eddie's cousin

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  16. Kiwi

    Kiwi New Member

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    David - what pickups are in it? If it's a 2007, I'm thinking the stock McCarty pickups?

    If so:

    I had a 2000 McCarty with the stock McCarty pickups that I just never warmed up to. I swapped them out for Duncan Alnico IIs, which helped, but it still wasnt' "there" for me, and I sold it. Wonderful guitar, but it just never sounded like I wanted it to.

    Fast forward some years later: I got a clean used 2009 McCarty with the magical 57/08s and that was the key to the whole thing. Ohhhh, it's a keeper, forever.

    =K
     
  17. gush

    gush She said "huge bag of dibs".

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    The answer is simple my friend, 5909 bridge..............you're welcome.
     
  18. gush

    gush She said "huge bag of dibs".

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    I will add this. I never bonded with McCarty bridge PU but did like the neck.

    I went through several different PU choices but ended up with 5909s.

    I LOVED the way those pickups sounded in that guitar.

    Since then I've had it sent to prs to have taps put on both tone and vol pots but it made 5909 sound different. Not sure why.

    I still have 5909 bridge but installed 8515 neck. This 8515 neck pickup is THE BEST neck pickup I've ever played hands down BUT it over powers my 5909.

    I've been waiting ever so patiently but I finally scored what I was looking for.
    I have in my hands a square bobbin dragon 1and it's going in my McCarty.

    I can't wait to get that bad boy in there!!!!!!!
     
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  19. gush

    gush She said "huge bag of dibs".

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    Hope nobody here was bidding on that dragon 1.........
     
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  20. VHTStark

    VHTStark New Member

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    Never been a huge fan of the McCarty pickups. If it were my guitar, and acoustically it resonated and responded well, I would definitely try a pickup swap. Lots to choose from, but sticking with PRS, 57/08's, 59/09's or 58/15's (if you can find a set someone removed) will all smoke in a McCarty.
     
    TwelfthTangent, 11top and Tone-y like this.

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