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Thread: Silouhette Special - really low output

  1. #1

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    Silouhette Special - really low output

    Hi there. I've read on other threads about how some people don't love the standard Silo pickups and some have said that output is on the low side. I bought mine new in May. I have 10 guitars and it has by far the lowest output pickups of them all, which include an American Strat and a Yamaha Pacifica which I'd expect to be fairly similar. When gigging I have to wind up the gain to approx twice that of my Strat, and for clean playing I have to turn the volume up considerably. I measured DC resistance through the jack socket and it's coming out at between 16k and 20k across the pickups - irrespective of whether the silent circuit in engaged. The Strat measurements are more like 6k. I measured pd output which seemed OK (difficult to read but between 100-200 mv). Does this sound to you like a guitar with an electrical problem or are these characteristics as expected? Any tecchies out there? Thanks in advance.

  2. #2

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    Measuring DC resistance on a fully wired guitar with a silent circuit is not useful information. Also, DC resistance alone does not tell you anything useful (because with different thickness and gauge coil wires and different magnet choices you can get a big range of output for identical DC resistances).

    But YES the stock Silo Special is a low output guitar and I also used to wonder if I had a problem. The answer is no. The single coils are closest to the old DiMarzio Blue Velvet, or to the current Area 67, 58, and true Velvet single coils, which are all some of the lowest output pickups DiMarzio make. The Virtual PAF humbucker is also low output, lower output than the 36th Anniversary PAF and similar to the Air Classic.

    For comparison with other DiMarzio pickups, they listed the blue velvet singles as 130mV output, 6.1 kΩ DC, and the Virtual PAF Humbucker was 230 mV, 8.32 kΩ DC.

    Edit: just to add that with the silent circuit, the circuit values you measured may be perfectly fine as the silent circuit will affect the values you read compared to other guitars.
    Last edited by DrKev; 08-28-2018 at 05:08 PM.
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  3. #3

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    I know we,re all different,and play different styles,etc,which will probably change as the years tick on...I have had my silsp..hss for 17 yrs,now..and I used to think the single coil pickups were kinda weenie sounding..but guess what..it,s been my go to guitar for almost everything I do...blues,rock,country,jazz...I also thought about the EBMM team that makes these fine instruments...they know what they,re doing..I,m really glad I left the guitar as it was made.....just sayin....

  4. #4

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    Thanks for the responses guys and I'm almost convinced. I just don't understand why any manufacturer would choose to manufacture a quality instrument which has significantly lower output across all pickup selections than anything comparable. Or is there something comparable??

  5. #5

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    It’s hard to know. As I said the SS stock pickups are similar output to DiMarzio vintage-modelled pickups and therefore I assume are equivalent to true vintage output. A lot of cheap guitars on the market have overpowered ceramic pickups, and yes there are a lot of great guitars out there thanks to SRV and 80s high gain rock that are much higher output. So true vintage output pickups have not been the norm for some time.

    Many years ago an EBMM staffer said here on the forum that the silhouettes special’s stock pickups that we currently see (that have been in there since the late 90s or early 2000s IIRC) we’re chosen specifically for a vintage vibe. And they do it so well!
    Last edited by DrKev; 08-29-2018 at 05:36 PM.
    Silhouette Special (2005 Buttercream Limited Edition)
    Cutlass HSS (2018 Roasted Special, Ivory White)

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  6. #6

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    Higher output has nothing to do with quality. It's just a difference in sound.

    Which is not to say that a lower output pickup will not sound as good as a high-output pickup; they are just different. Both can sound good, but some may prefer one over the other.

    Personally, I think high-output pickups sound like garbage, but that is not an objective opinion as it reflects my preferences. A metal player might think the Silo Special humbucker sounds like garbage.
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  7. #7

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    Thought this may be of interest to some - some months on and I've gigged the Silhouette numerous times but it has never cut it sound-wise. I accepted this on the basis that it's fantastic to play and that I might upgrade the pickups at some stage. Until last night - after playing around at home I experimented with turning the mids up on the amp which seemed to make a difference - but of course you can't really tell till you're on stage competing for sonic space with the rest of the band. And it made THE BIGGEST difference. Even my bass player was gushing about the improvement. So there it is - the guitar is, compared to its peers, deficient in the midrange but it's easily compensated for by amp adjustment. Is it designed to sound this way or does mine have a minor defect? To me it no longer matters as it's sounding SWEET!

  8. #8

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    Every time I hear someone say they "can't cut through" that's my answer as well. (I crank the mids on my amp as well.)

    I find I have to EQ my amps differently depending on which guitar I play. The ole' "adjust with your eyes, not your ears" advice. Not sure what your amp it, but sounds like you found the sweet spot, congrats.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by beej View Post
    Every time I hear someone say they "can't cut through" that's my answer as well. (I crank the mids on my amp as well.)

    I find I have to EQ my amps differently depending on which guitar I play. The ole' "adjust with your eyes, not your ears" advice. Not sure what your amp it, but sounds like you found the sweet spot, congrats.
    I also play in the mid-heavy zone. I'm in a band with another guitar player so I am seeking my own sonic space. He is more scooped in the mids , so I think we compliment each other and each fill our own space in the mix. Plus, I try to find the sound that I hear in my head, and it's mid-heavy.

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