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Thread: Need advice for pickup replacements for my Custom 24

  1. #1

    Need advice for pickup replacements for my Custom 24

    Hey I'm new to this forum but have been playing PRS guitars for at least 5 years now.

    Let me explain my situation. My #1 guitar is my pre-factory PRS CE-24. It's beat up badly but it just sounds so amazing and has a clear character. I bought a Navarro Custom 24 a few years back and thought it'd be even better but somehow it doesn't come close to the older PRS that I've got. It's got less output, less clarity and a muddy low end. Sort of a mumbly tone. Also the split coil settings don't really sound like I want them to sound and on the prefactory one they are amazing.

    Both guitars have the same pickups unless they changed the pickups somewhere along the way. Is the bolt-on vs glue neck factor supposed to be this big?

    If so, I'd love to get some recommendations for pickup replacements to make my Custom 24 on par with the prefactory PRS. What I want is to have extremely good tones when the pickups are split because I want that versatility. Ofcourse I love the PRS tone and so I don't want to have active pickups. I play everything from funky poprock to metal but not "the brootz". Is there a replacement people usually go for on Custom 24s?

    Thanks in advance guys!

  2. #2
    Senior Member VHTStark's Avatar
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    Hey man. The fact that the CE has a bolt on maple neck vs the glued in mahogany neck of the custom will certainly make a difference. That said, every guitar is different and I have played some pretty bright sounding customs. Normally the difference between a CE and Custom is noticeable, yet subtle. It is possible you have yourself a very clear and bright sounding CE and a dark sounding Custom!

    Anyway, I am a big 'duncan fan and I am familiar with many of their pickups. My fave is an S-Deco, which is essentially a slightly overwound PAF style pickup from the custom shop. It would DEFINITELY un-muddy that guitar, as it has a very tight and quick low end, broad mids and clear, but not overbearing highs. Another to check out would be the new custom/59 hybrid.

    Another GREAT pickup that would fit the bill for you would be the Bareknuckle Rebel yell. All Bareknuckle pickups are very tight and present sounding, and the rebel yell is very versatile.

  3. #3
    Senior Member swede71's Avatar
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    What i did to my custom 22 was swapping the original brass inertia block to a steelblock.That gave my guitar a more uppermid character i guess you are looking for.In my guitar there is 3 P-90s and they differ of course from humbuckers.I had the same concerns as you,felt the sound was muddy.Now with the steelblock in the trem the low end is tighter,highs more crisp and the midrange sings perfectly.

  4. #4
    Recovering Bass Player ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! 's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clark Kent View Post
    Hey I'm new to this forum but have been playing PRS guitars for at least 5 years now.
    Welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark Kent View Post
    Let me explain my situation. My #1 guitar is my pre-factory PRS CE-24.
    I think you mean 1st factory (Virginia Avenue). If it has a serial number it isn't one of the few pre-factory guitars (which were made prior to the Summer NAMM Show in 1985). This is a common misunderstanding propagated by eBay marketeers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark Kent View Post
    It's beat up badly but it just sounds so amazing and has a clear character. I bought a Navarro Custom 24 a few years back and thought it'd be even better but somehow it doesn't come close to the older PRS that I've got. It's got less output, less clarity and a muddy low end. Sort of a mumbly tone. Also the split coil settings don't really sound like I want them to sound and on the [CE-24] they are amazing.
    Your CE24 (fantastic guitars, by the way) has a maple neck. Some have a maple fretboard too. Electronics aside, maple neck guitars often have a snappier/cleaner (or as you put it "clear") character. The Navarro has a mahogany neck, which is a notably darker/warmer sound compared to maple.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark Kent View Post
    Both guitars have the same pickups unless they changed the pickups somewhere along the way. Is the bolt-on vs glue neck factor supposed to be this big?
    I would be surprised if both guitars have the same pickups. Even if they did, these two guitars will still sound quite different due to the wood selection. I think we can help steer you closer to what you want but wouldn't bother trying to make them sound identical. That's a fruitless endeavor. Besides, two guitars with different tonal character gives you more options.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark Kent View Post
    If so, I'd love to get some recommendations for pickup replacements to make my Custom 24 on par with the [CE24] PRS.
    Before we get into recommended changes, we should establish a baseline. We don't fully understand what you have now. Suggesting chnges doesn't make any sense yet. Would you please provide the following:
    1) A photo of the front of both guitars (so we can visually verify some details).
    2) A clear and close-up photo of the control cavity of both guitars (wiring has a lot to do with this discussion). Going from a 250k pot to a 500k pot, as an example, will add "brighter" characteristic to your tone. If your guitars already has 500k pots, you can get a 1Meg pots.
    3) Unscrew the 4 little screws that hold the pickup rings, lift the pickups out, snap a photo of the back of the pickups (and look for cool info in the pup cavity while you're there), and then screw them back in. You'll have to remove the strings on both guitars. if you bought the Navarro new, we can make some assumptions about the pickups but this is an easy step to be sure of things before you spend your hard-earned cash.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark Kent View Post
    What I want is to have extremely good tones when the pickups are split because I want that versatility.
    This often has as much to do with your amp as it does your guitar. What amp(s) are you using and what do YOU consider "good" tone? Can you provide a sample song from YouTube?

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark Kent View Post
    Of course I love the PRS tone and so I don't want to have active pickups. I play everything from funky poprock to metal but not "the brootz". Is there a replacement people usually go for on Custom 24s?
    One step at a time. The results will be worth a little extra effort up front.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark Kent View Post
    Thanks in advance guys!
    You are most welcome.
    Last edited by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ; 06-30-2012 at 11:50 AM.
    One Life

  5. #5
    Thank you all, especially Hans! The CE24 has a serial number on it so I guess it's from the older factory. 379132 is what it says. The pickups have rust on them and everything but it's got character for sure. You were right that I was jumping the gun on thinking about switching the pickups. Truth be told I always feel like my guitars become worse after a pickup switch.

    I started reading more on the subject online and found that some guys were struggling with their Custom 24s also sounding muddy. Their solution was to drop the pickups way down. So I put on a fresh set of strings and lowered the pickups to "just barely above the pickup rings" and now my Custom 24 is even brighter than the CE24!! I guess the problem I was having was that the Custom 24 pickups were maybe a bit too hot and my picking style is pretty heavy so it wasn't a good match but now I feel like the Custom 24 is my favorite guitar.

    I recorded a clip for you guys. And ofcourse in the PRS way... no amp tweaking, everything in the same guitar and amp setting: http://soundcloud.com/clark-kent-job...-prs-custom-24

    And also once I did this I felt inspired to write a new song: http://soundcloud.com/clark-kent-job/im-done-fishin

    Thanks for the help anyways!

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