But about 2003 I settled into a 2-3 guitar groove. I had 3 at one point in 2011, too; a CU22 SH, a CU22 Soapy, and the Artist V. Three is really my limit.
But every player is different.
I actually spent the day yesterday with my amp set up for the SC58 with 53/10 pickups that most people think is a fairly dark pickup, so...I dunno! I didn't find the 408s too bright even this way.
Bright works well for recording with a ribbon mic, and I mostly record with a Royer R-121.
I don't mind twisting a knob or three on the amp, as I find it's important to set the amp's gain for the different pickups once I learn what works best for each guitar. I've always done it this way since getting onto PRSes: I set the gain for the tone to be as gainy as I think I need it with the guitar volume around 9, and as clean as I need it with the guitar volume around 4-5. Then if I find I want a little extra oomph, I've got the ability to roll the volume up to 10 and go over the top.
Tone controls, same thing in relation to the guitar's tone control.
I do this for each guitar in the studio. Live, I've never brought more than one guitar, but I'd mark the spots with dot stickers if I did, different colored dots for each instrument. Or I'd use an EQ pedal.
I wanted to add a few comments, as I heard from a friend on another forum about the difficulty he had hearing differences when splitting the 408s, and asked me what I thought.
On most humbucker PRSes, the "coil split" settings actually combine more than one pickup, e.g. position 2 on the Custom, is Bridge humbucker with neck singlecoil, in parallel. This is typically the way PRS pickups are usually split in the various positions. The so called splits are actually two-pickup combinations.
When you add another pickup to the equation beyond simply splitting the coils, you're sensing different parts of the string at the same time, you're adding different timbres, and you're going to experience phase cancellations that affect the timbre, as with a studio EQ that uses phase to address different parts of the frequency response.
So you're going to hear these differences much more plainly than by simply splitting the coils on one pickup.
With the 408, you're splitting the coils, and you can select one or both pickups to do that. Select one, and the pickup is very nearly sensing the same narrow piece of the string as the bucker, and there aren't phase cancellations in the same way as with two-pickup combinations. So the differences between single coil and bucker operation are necessarily going to be more subtle.
PRS said the differences are subtle in the video on the PRS site that introduced the Sig Ltd. So this shouldn't be a surprise.
That said, if you're in single coil mode, and switch down to humbucker mode on a 408 pickup, you hear differences in the lower midrange, the high end overtones, clarity and so on. But the basic timbre of the pickup stays with the pickup. It's just a matter of frequency curve emphasis, overtones, and a minor amount of phase cancellation between the two coils sensing different parts of the string and being in adjacent locations.
It's unlike the so-called "splits" typical of PRSes and most bucker guitars, because it's not a combination of pickups you're hearing, where the differences are far more obvious.
Admittedly, I've got 22 plus years in the studio listening for this kind of stuff, so maybe I'm biased, but I find the differences with the coil tapped 408s very useful and true to the sound of bucker or good single coils. In fact, more useful in some instances.
Are they perfect for every single thing you might want to do? Well, what is? I think they're darned useful in any case.
The 408 pickups are remarkable. I really liked the sig limited I used to own. Wish I still had it, as it's a great instrument. The splits, while not the most drastic, are pleasantly subtle to my ears. The neck pickup is really one of my favorites for lead tones as I like how it's a bit focused on bucker mode. Yet retains a nice woodiness throughout (at least imo).
I've recently added a sweet switch to my gigging PS Sig and that really works great with 408s - sweet switch on for humbucker mode, off for splits. This emphasises the difference between the modes and you get some real spank in the single coil mode, and a nice honk in 'bucker mode.
Markie to the white courtesy phone...
Update - recorded a bunch of single coil tracks for an ad with the Sig today, and yeah, it's great.
As an aside, I'm getting so used to the unusual look of the 408s, that the regular 'buckers on my other guitars are starting to look strange! Ha!
Great report, and congrats on the Sig Ltd!
Yes, I dig them too. I have been without a 408 equipped guitar for a while, but have two Private Stocks on the way with 408's, one coming this month.
As for me, played the Sig on 2 ads today, and it is really working out well. Not that the others wouldn't have been good, but these ads really needed a pure single coil sound, and the guitar nailed it.
I wanted a Hog 408 before reading this post. Now I fear I'll become obsessed. Great write up Les!
As an aside, after some experimenting I set up my amp differently for the 408s now...
Usually I blend the DA and the HX, but with 408s I like it with DA-only, and more bass gain than on the other settings. The DA setting is a bit cleaner, and a titch darker, but with a really smooth warmth to the tone that goes nicely with the 408s in 'bucker mode, plus cleans up nicely in single coil mode.
It's nice to be able to have a single amp that I can run 3 very different-sounding guitars with, and love all the tones I get, as I set the amp up differently for each instrument.
After playing this afternoon, I'm truly happy about the rig! Between the SC58, the Sig, and the A-V, my studio has the ability to get all the tones I need and then some. I have three different body thicknesses, three great pickup types, and three different bridges. There isn't too much overlap.
There's a good balance, and I'm stoked. ;)
I love my 408's for their versatility. I can get strat tones, Filter-tron tones, Les Paul 'bucker tones and *almost* P90 tones out of my Signature Limited.