Why the 85/15 S hate?

How do you feel about the 85/15 S pickups?

  • Too muddy!

    Votes: 5 11.1%
  • To bright/brittle!

    Votes: 6 13.3%
  • Lifeless!

    Votes: 2 4.4%
  • Good enough for me!

    Votes: 8 17.8%
  • They're great!

    Votes: 24 53.3%

  • Total voters
    45

singularity6

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I recently purchased a PRS SE Custom 24 25th Anniversary Edition guitar, and I'm loving it so far! While researching my purchase, I found that the biggest complaint about SE Custom 24's were the pickups (yes, I realize this is subjective.) There were conflicting opinions of them, too. Either "lifeless" or "too muddy" or "too brittle/bright." When I got it, I plugged it into my Peavey Bandit 112. Overall, I was very pleased with the sound. I found the pickups to be quite clear and articulate. The bridge pickup was on the bright side, but rolling back the treble on my amp a bit took care of that pretty quickly.

The following video helped me out quite a bit, as I've had the same Duncan pickups in an Epiphone G-400:


Is there a difference? Sure! Is it a $150-$200 difference? Not to my ears. At this point, it seems like we're in some cork-sniffing territory to me. But that's just me! :)
 

dcm_guitar

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Sep 13, 2016
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There's an entire thought process that stock pickups are inferior because they're only selected for a price point and not for a tone. I can see how people think that, but close your eyes and listen with your ears (not eyes).

Some folks just have to tinker and need to make changes to an instrument to make it "theirs". I get it. Even if the sonic difference is minuscule, the change makes them feel better about the instrument and want to play more. That's a good outcome.

Listen to the guitar, and if it sounds great stock then fantastic!! If a pickup change sounds better to you, then that's also fantastic. The only issue I have are the people that speak in absolutes....."The stock pickups are garbage and need to be changed. If you can't her that then you're just not informed." That type of attitude is worthless.
 

NBW

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Mar 25, 2019
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I have heard them sound good in some guitars, in particular the SE 22semi-hollow. I replaced them in my SE Custom 24, but that was more because I love the BK Stormy Mondays. Not that I hate the 85/15.
 

alex1fly

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May 12, 2020
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I love 'em. Done dozens of pickup swaps in my day and I have zero plans to take these out of my SE Custom. Everyone wants different tones, but I gotta say that the 85/15 just sound incredible to my ears. Very responsive to my playing style - I can make them sound fat, chunky, gritty, clear, "modern", "vintage", whatever I want just based on how I interact with the strings.

Picks and strings affect your tone, too. Pickup height. Polepiece height. The room you're in. The type of amp and speaker. If you like them, keep them. There are plenty of guitars with crap stock pickups, but the 85/15 aren't in that category IMO.
 

Dirty_Boogie

Still got the ol' tagger on it
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They are what they were designed to be - a bright, modern sounding (higher gain) humbucker. If you're looking for a more vintage, PAF-sounding pup, then these aren't the best choice. Definitely not lifeless or muddy. I love them.
 

Gie663

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They are more than good enough for me, I bought my SE Custom 24 for the humbuckers in the first place. Compared to my Telecaster I think the single coil mode sounds a bit lean, it doesn’t really get into that whining twangy sound my tele can provide.
But hey, this is very subjective, and I don’t complain. I think the SE Custom is a a thing of beauty and a joy to play !
 

singularity6

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Jun 9, 2020
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Listen to the guitar, and if it sounds great stock then fantastic!! If a pickup change sounds better to you, then that's also fantastic. The only issue I have are the people that speak in absolutes....."The stock pickups are garbage and need to be changed. If you can't her that then you're just not informed." That type of attitude is worthless.

Picks and strings affect your tone, too. Pickup height. Polepiece height. The room you're in. The type of amp and speaker. If you like them, keep them. There are plenty of guitars with crap stock pickups, but the 85/15 aren't in that category IMO.

They are what they were designed to be - a bright, modern sounding (higher gain) humbucker. If you're looking for a more vintage, PAF-sounding pup, then these aren't the best choice.

Pretty much right on for all these points! Thanks, folks!

They are more than good enough for me, I bought my SE Custom 24 for the humbuckers in the first place. Compared to my Telecaster I think the single coil mode sounds a bit lean, it doesn’t really get into that whining twangy sound my tele can provide.

Yeah, well a Tele is a Tele for a reason! :) My Carvin Bolt-T Kit has a switch that turns on the bridge pickup (it has the stock AP11's still.) It gets close with the neck and bridge on at the same time, but it's still not a Tele.
 

Tim S

King of the barre chord
Joined
Aug 1, 2018
Messages
543
I recently purchased a PRS SE Custom 24 25th Anniversary Edition guitar, and I'm loving it so far! While researching my purchase, I found that the biggest complaint about SE Custom 24's were the pickups (yes, I realize this is subjective.) There were conflicting opinions of them, too. Either "lifeless" or "too muddy" or "too brittle/bright."

Are you sure all those opinions were about 85/15 “S” pickups? PRS used other model pickups before they settled on the 85/15 pickups. It’s possible some of those opinions applied to the previous ones.

I, for one, can’t imagine 85/15 “S” pickups being described as muddy.​
 

singularity6

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Are you sure all those opinions were about 85/15 “S” pickups? PRS used other model pickups before they settled on the 85/15 pickups. It’s possible some of those opinions applied to the previous ones.

I, for one, can’t imagine 85/15 “S” pickups being described as muddy.​

Yeah, most people didn't like the pre-2017 pickups. I've not tried them myself. If they were anything like what you'd find in old Epiphone or lower end Ibanez guitars, then yeah... I'd swap'em. The "muddy" comments threw me, too. But yeah, folks seem to not like stock pickups.
 

68reissue

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Feb 19, 2018
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The 35th Anniversary SE Custom 24 has TCIs, not 85/15s, doesn't it? In any case, I love the 85/15s in my SE Custom 24s, and my S2 Standard 24. GREAT pickups for me, because I love clarity and definition.
 

Mozzi

https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy/posts
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Jun 2, 2018
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They're 85/15 S pickups with a treble bleed on the tone cap.

The PRS 35th Anniversary SE Custom 24 is here to celebrate 35 years of guitar making and innovation. Designed around the one that started it all, the Custom 24, this limited-edition model captures the foundational elements of an iconic model and adds the musical functionality of the Paul’s Guitar, creating a new, versatile platform. The 35th Anniversary SE Custom 24 features TCI “S” treble and bass pickups with two mini-toggle switches that allow players to put either or both pickups in humbucking or true single-coil mode. The clarity and unique tones of these vintage-inspired pickups are both big and nuanced, so players can easily find their sweet spot.

Taken from https://www.prsguitars.com/index.php/electrics/model/35th_anniversary_se_custom_24_2020
 

Black-Viper75

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I've been really surprised with the pickups on the 35th Anniversary SE. Before I bought it, I was asking for info about the guitar and people on various forums were telling me that the pickups on it can't handle metal and that I should get a regular CU SE and maybe swap the pickups if I find them not hot enough. I went ahead and bought the 35th SE and these pickups have given me the metal tone I've been hearing in my head for decades. They give a tone with an underlying warmth that I find so inspiring whether I'm playing with gain, crunch or just clean. I love these pickups and seriously doubt I'll ever consider swapping them.
 
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singularity6

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Really? Is that the only difference? Same deal with the TCIs in the SE Paul's Guitar?

The PRS 35th Anniversary SE Custom 24 is here to celebrate 35 years of guitar making and innovation. Designed around the one that started it all, the Custom 24, this limited-edition model captures the foundational elements of an iconic model and adds the musical functionality of the Paul’s Guitar, creating a new, versatile platform. The 35th Anniversary SE Custom 24 features TCI “S” treble and bass pickups with two mini-toggle switches that allow players to put either or both pickups in humbucking or true single-coil mode. The clarity and unique tones of these vintage-inspired pickups are both big and nuanced, so players can easily find their sweet spot.

Taken from https://www.prsguitars.com/index.php/electrics/model/35th_anniversary_se_custom_24_2020

I'm not sure about the American lines of guitars... PRS doesn't really spare any expense when it comes to anything Core and up. I would not expect a new line of SE pickups that are to only be used in the SE Pauls guitar and this one-off limited edition. It doesn't make financial sense, to me. One of the things that this company has been extremely successful at is branding. Is it really a stretch to think that they put in stock pickups with a treble bleed under a new name? Regardless - they sound great to me!
 

Mozzi

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I'm not sure about the American lines of guitars... PRS doesn't really spare any expense when it comes to anything Core and up. I would not expect a new line of SE pickups that are to only be used in the SE Pauls guitar and this one-off limited edition. It doesn't make financial sense, to me. One of the things that this company has been extremely successful at is branding. Is it really a stretch to think that they put in stock pickups with a treble bleed under a new name? Regardless - they sound great to me!

The TCI 'S' Pickups are also in the Singlecut Santana model too and could well find themselves being utilised for S2 models in the future. It makes much more sense to use a newly developed pick-up that also uses the same 'electronic' switching as the Pauls guitar in a 'limited' edition SE - something that the Indonesian factory would be used to wiring up and offer the 'TCI' option at an SE level rather than keep it just for a 'single' model. Eventually the TCI process will be throughout the entire range - inc SE but to offer that for a one off limited edition, it makes more sense to me.

I can ONLY go by the OFFICIAL PRS website and the information they have put out. Regardless of how 'good' they are, it still makes sense to ensure that the right information is also spread on the forums rather than 'argue' back and forth and potentially mislead others who may read your post - particularly your review of the 35th Anniversary model as prospective buyers will read that.
 

singularity6

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The TCI 'S' Pickups are also in the Singlecut Santana model too and could well find themselves being utilised for S2 models in the future. It makes much more sense to use a newly developed pick-up that also uses the same 'electronic' switching as the Pauls guitar in a 'limited' edition SE - something that the Indonesian factory would be used to wiring up and offer the 'TCI' option at an SE level rather than keep it just for a 'single' model. Eventually the TCI process will be throughout the entire range - inc SE but to offer that for a one off limited edition, it makes more sense to me.

I can ONLY go by the OFFICIAL PRS website and the information they have put out. Regardless of how 'good' they are, it still makes sense to ensure that the right information is also spread on the forums rather than 'argue' back and forth and potentially mislead others who may read your post - particularly your review of the 35th Anniversary model as prospective buyers will read that.

I'm not trying to mislead anyone. I'm simply stating what I think is under the hood here.
 
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