*EDIT* per wickid's request, I shall put a link to the original Pickup FAQ page here:
*EDIT* REMEMBER, if your guitar is older than I believe 2000, these descriptions may not match what your guitar sounds like. This is ESPECIALLY true for Carvin's M series. Please realize this...
These are the only single coil pickups made with Alnico Vs so it has a VERY classic strat sound just with more output and a PINCH more clarity. It has raw blues, great vintage spank, and pretty good cleans (not bell-like mind you but very acceptable) all when placed on a Bolt-On guitar. On a neck-through, I WANT to say that it has a similar sound (if you guys would like to input on that, go for it) so you can put it on a DC guitar and it'll give you this sound pretty easy. This pickup is actually great in all positions: raw vintagy blues sound in the bridge, brightness in the center, and a good blend on the neck. No wonder why Carvin has this as their standard single coil. However, it's not as popular as the other ones from what I've seen. *EDIT* It can be bell-like but in a more classical way. I guess it's more for the vintage strat player than the modern one if I can say it that way.
This has to be Carvin's most popular single coil. While the S60A is Alnico V with mainly classic sound, AP11 is made of ceramic and achieves a much more smoother, fuller strat tone. It sacrifices the country and spank the S60As have to have a smooth blues, smooth jazz, and REALLY bell-like cleans. That last part is pretty much why people love this pickup. This pickup is VERY popular in the Neck and the Middle (ESPECIALLY middle) but on the bridge, it does not get that much love. I've heard talk that it gets muffled to potentially muddy on the bridge. Not a big deal honestly since H-S and H-S-S are the most popular configurations for a lot of the guitarists here. It gets very bright in the center pickup so if you're looking for acoustic-like cleans, this pickup WILL do it on the middle.
Ever heard of the Seymour Duncan Cool Rails? Yea, take that and skyrocket the clarity and low end and this is what you have. This is Carvin's most BRUTAL single coil (that does NOT mean it should be played in drop B mind you...). It has very twangy vintage spank, rippin' raw blues, and can actually pull hard rock off pretty well. This pickup is popular on the neck and bridge but it's actually a little...meh...on the center. Center pickup is usually for brightness and that is not what the Twinblades are. Maybe it can do middle but it's not better than the AP11 or even the S60A on that position. Great Humbucker in single coil form. Why is this NOT available in white...?
Single coil tips
All in all, people use these pickups all the time on even their aftermarket guitars (sorry Fender, you lose. ). However, these are some good pickup combinations that can achieve some good tones depending on what you're looking for:
[from neck to bridge]
This is my favorite combo. Raw blues in the neck, smooth cleans and jazz in the center, and SICK overdrive on the bridge. This is your typical hard rock combination for any strat. It's very versatile.
Same thing only if you're not looking for blues, this will give you acoustic cleans with smooth, even strat tone in the neck. Bridge serves the same purpose.
Fantastic strat tone coming out of this one. You have smooth jazz in the neck, crisp cleans in the center, and raw blues with vintage spank in the bridge. If you like anything in the genre of rock, for the love of GOD don't go here please. This is for everything else.
You...can't....lose with this combination. Vintage Twang and bright country from the neck, smooth jazz and even blues in the center, major twang and up to hard rock capabilities in the bridge. If you play nearly EVERYTHING in the musical spectrum, your strat will go nuts with this combination.
Now for those humbuckers!
Carvin's standard neck pickup and for a good reason. This is one of Carvin's most recent pickups that was made for smooth, bass-y jazz and great cleans. I say bass-y because some people have been commenting that this pickup is muddy. I've personally played it on a CT and it does sound very smooth. With a little EQ, you can work with this pickup and make it sound nearly glassy. This pickup MAY sound better in a denser wood but I'll need you guys' input on that.
Carvin's ex-standard neck pickup, compared to the C22J, is more of a vintage-like neck pickup made for that spank and for country tone. It has a little less output than the C22J but for those that have tried it, it's never bothered them! Think of this as a Telecaster Humbucker (if you've ever played one) but, like with all Carvin pickups, just better.
MAJOR blues in this bridge pickup. There is no rock or jazz essence in this pickup so this is for the person that wants ANOTHER telecaster pickup, there you go! lol. It's not that popular because of this description but hey, someone on Youtube actually does love this pickup when he played nothing but blues on it.
*EDIT* Let me rephrase, it can do rock but we're talking classic/vintage rock. Definitely not 'hard rock' but can do 'alternative rock' like John Mayer, Sugar Ray (when they cleaned up), and Smash Mouth. It's just softer than the next pickup below.
Carvin's most trusted bridge pickup is standard for a great reason. This 'vintage' pickup actually can pull off almost ANY genre of music. It does Blues, it does Hard rock, it does vintage spank, and (this is questionable in the modern world) metal. It's incredibly loud but has such a great string response. Not ice picky. The ONLY complaint some people have is that the high end sounds pretty thin. I mean, that's to support the cleaner sounds that it produces. Either way, this is a fan-favorite amongst Carvin guitarists and even some aftermarket guitarists. It's free with every Carvin guitar so give it a shot.
These are labeled as 'vintage' humbuckers but they do more than that. There are plenty of combinations that fit very well. SUCH AS:
Oh yea, the standard combo. Jazzy neck (which has some good cleans) and a powerful bridge that does blues, classic, and hard rock. When split, you can get a decent strat sound (even for humbuckers) so this combination will help you with any of your needs.
The classic combination that substitutes jazz for country and vintage spank. That really is all you're doing different but if you don't care for jazz, you might like this combo too.
This is a great combination that treblizes (copyright. lol) what could've been the C22J and adds a crisp clean center pickup. A lot of people love this combination because it's still versatile. This is really good for Carvin's Bolt series and DC135.
Neck makes this even more versatile. Raw blues in the neck along with chunky rhythm tones with the smooth cleans for the center, and the great versatile bridge pickup. I don't know why I don't hear more people going for this combination. It's an awesome combo.
I threw this *other* standard because it literally does EVERY genre you can imagine. Blues, Jazz, Vintage twang, Country, Alternative Rock, and Hard Rock with TOTAL ease. The only swap people make with this is the AP11 just for that smooth response in the center but this is still a versatile combination.
Now for the M series!!
This is a metal guitarist's favorite neck pickup to clean up the brutality of the bridge pickup. This is the AP11 in humbucker form but it's mainly used for cleans and, according to the FAQ page, it can do distortion but with more 'manners'.
This is a metal guitarist's...brutal neck pickup. It's Carvin's loudest neck pickup but not many people have really described it (I've looked EVERYWHERE for a description of this thing). It has a darker sound on the low end so I'm assuming it sounds like a darker D-Activator Neck. Just what I think.
EDIT: FINALLY! A description from someone of this pickup! Thank you ScottFN308 for the PM!
That being said, the M22N is a little lower output, has a somewhat more civilized attack, and a bit more lows to my ear anyway. I can roll off the volume and tone, a get a very good "Clapton-esque" woman-tone out of my ST-300 with my Egnater or my Carvin SX-300.
As for clean, the N does clean tones very well. I use my middle position on my ST, (both pickups) for my "strumming" type stuff in my live shows, and it can get a very close approximation of an acoustic guitar sound.
I do not do drop tunings in reality, but I have done a half-step tuning and drop D tunings, and the M22's done't get muddy or loose definition.
So a lower-end M22V for those that like a true rhythm guitar pickup. Not too shabby! I still would want to try this in a drop C/C#/B situation at some point...
*EDIT 2* Found another quote about it!
baqirq wrote::The M22N! Tons of overtones and harmonics without even trying. Such a big full crushing sound. Very loud pickup too, is it even louder than the SD in the bridge? Very clear despite the massive distortion I have been putting on it. What a surprise to be using it as a lead tone, I have come to love it for that purpose, particularly a sort of round, wah, lyrical tone.
I...am so confused as to what this pickup...is. It has a great amount of output yet...nowhere NEAR as much tone as any of the other M series pickups. It seems to be a hard rock/alternative rock/progressive rock pickup with barely ANY harmonics. That's right, a very non-ice picky pickup that barely pulls off harmonics. It's great for classic metal/hard rock players actually so...don't knock it until you try it. *EDIT* It's a good pickup but...not AS popular as one would hope.
*EDIT 2* With people commenting on experience here, I will explain a little further to what I found to be quite the underdog pickup! lol. Turns out that the M22T can pull off harmonics just not AS easily as the C22B or M22SD but it means, as I said before, it's not ice-picky so this can rip through as a solid hard rock to progressive metal to classic metal pickup. It's a more tame M22SD in terms of tone and has a slightly beefier sound than the C22B. I would love to see a tone report on this thing in Drop D# to lower tunings.
This is called many names. "Flamethrower", "Ballsy", "Super Distortion with more treble", "Evolution with beefier low end", and "X2N with more clarity". Yep, it's Carvin's most powerful metal pickup known to Carvin. It has brutal low end (although shockingly the same bass and low mids as the C22B), great amount of mids, and SCORCHING and PIERCING highs that will make your hair grow or (if already grown) stand up. Now, I've heard that THIS pickup is thin too and I really don't agree. I've played this pickup on a used Alder/Maple Ultra V with Floyd Rose and it wasn't thin at all. Imagine this thing on a denser wood like Mahogany...GOOD LORD. Tapping is clear, harmonics FLY, and the low end can be brutal. It can even pull off cleans if you roll back the volume/tone knob. This is the perfect metal pickup for your custom guitar. Only thing I don't know is...does it work with drop C, C#, and drop B? I wish I could answer that...
Alright, here goes the popular combinations!
Ok, we ALL saw this coming. But why not? While the M22SD slaughters the amp with BRUTAL sound, the M22V can clean up the mess with its sparkling cleans and slight rhythm distortion. Many people in this forum can tell you how great this combination is.
This is just roadkill. Until I do this:
At LEAST the AP11 can clean this up. Either way, the M22N is a pretty dark pickup so if you're a rhythm guitarist in a metal band, this could actually help in the neck to let you let the bassist be heard while you add the distorted rhythm to the music (...I think...lol). The SD...we all know what it does. lol.
A great hard rock combination. The soloing can come from the M22N while the clear cut not-so-thin chords can come from the M22T. Tool, Godsmack, and Disturbed fans rejoice!
WHAT!? Very few have tried this one. If you want your guitar to be loud, welcome home. The C22B in the neck is NOT for everyone (sorry wickid) but it does give you a dark tone in the neck that is like having a Tone Zone or even Seymour Duncan JB (thanks Zacky Vengeance) in the neck. Has plenty of harmonics and this is definitely for those that play metal and ONLY metal. If you want the C22B to be clean, dial-down your tone knob. Otherwise, adjusting the pickup height can actually help you here. Throw in the AP11 in the center and you got cleans. S60A in the center and you got spank. Twinblade...what's wrong with you!? lol.
This is a little more sensible with the lower amount of tone the M22T has. It gives you a dark but cleaner tone in the neck. The soloing could actually be pretty darn good here...why haven't we heard much of this pickup in the neck?
Thank you Treg for providing these soundclips which showcase the M22T in the Neck.
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default ... tent=music
It does show the M22N on the bridge as well so, for those thinking about it, it can sound like a true classic rock and even jazz pickup. Can get you that old-school Gibson pickup.
This is the C22J...seriously...oh alright...it's warmer because of the covering that it has so it resembles a jazzy Gibson pickup. It has a very thick tone that won't necessarily sound glassy like the AP11 or even C22J but its jazz tone is VERY traditional. It has a great amount of bass that resembles what I think is a semi-modern jazz tone. Its cleans, again not so glassy, are still very crisp and nice.
This is the C22T...seriously...oh alright...it's warmer...lol. This is a very underrated pickup. I think it was Mooseboy that raved about its tone in the bridge and neck since it is designated as a pickup for all positions. Just wait until we get the DC/CT/CS 3 humbucker guitar and this will be great for it! Gives you great blues and crunch if you want this instead of jazz in the neck or instead of what the S22B is in the bridge!
This is the C22B...ok I really better stop. lol. This is a warmer version of the pickup. Since, as I stated earlier, some people see the C22B as 'thin', the S22B has been a great replacement for it. It's a Burstbucker with much more output. Harmonics galore, smooth response, and pretty good overdriven tones. Like its C series counterpart, it can cover plenty of different genres of music but I HAVE to add that it covers classic/oldies guitar tones MUCH better than the C22B (Steve Fister showed pretty well that it can even cover Elvis and other rockabilly music). This is what I would love to call: THE classic bridge humbucker.
Alright, let's face it: The S series is basically the C (except for C22N) series but with a metal cover to make the tone warmer. Not that it doesn't make a difference. It really does. It's not just for the 'Gibson-esque' looks with the pickup cover but it actually resembles a ton like a Les Paul that you would almost forget (if it weren't for the quality and string height anyway...) that you're playing with a Carvin (or...also unless you actually replaced your Les Paul pickups for these). The S series pickups are a force to be reckoned with and, as I said under the S22T description, if Carvin releases a 3 humbucker guitar, it's over...
The obvious combo because it's like the C22J-C22B. It gives you a jazzy, P.A.F.-like tone in the neck, crunchy and overdriven tones in the bridge. Very simple. If you're making a CS, consider this combo. It's the closest, if not better, thing to a Gibson Les Paul with that style of tone.
This is only if you want to substitute P.A.F. and Jazz tones for a crunchy blues tone in the neck. It's still versatile but it definitely won't be as clean as the last combo I just typed in.
Like the C22N-C22T combo, if you're looking into anything Rock or more brutal, skip this paragraph now. This is mainly to cover every Blues craving you could ask for. In the bridge, you get more of a crunch to really feel that classic tone. In the neck, you have that smooth blues tone you might want if you don't want to go overboard.
This is only if you want to substitute overdriven tones for a crunchy blues tone in the bridge. Again, if you want rock, don't go here. If you want jazz, country, vintage, and ESPECIALLY blues, you've come to the right combo.
For some reason, Frank Gambale only needed Carvin to make a neck pickup for his semi-hollow guitar to pair with the C22B. I guess it makes Gambale very different from other guitarists at the fact that he's using the neck for a lot of his soloing (good for him). Looking at the comparison chart, it has a TON of emphasis on the low mids but still has an all-around tone. Peter J Cruz (look him up) loves this pickup and I'm surprised he can get that classic thin metal tone from this thing. It's supposed to be a bass-y neck pickup to support a smooth, warm tone. Elfdude, I would love for you to pitch in on this section!
Unlike Frank Gambale, Allan Holdsworth got both a neck and a bridge pickup made for him. The neck pickup covers a warm tone but is more low-middy than the C22J so it can achieve a traditional jazz tone (you know...the not so trebly or bass-y one...). I wish I could say more, but I can't find any good videos on it...
A lot of people are fans of this pickup. It's made for Progressive, fusion, and EXTREME jazz. We're talking very old-school jazz. Distorted can actually impress some people (again, Tool fans, rejoice!). It can achieve the grind of progressive rock but not be over-the-top for drop-tuning metal and not even trebly for classic metal. It's...just right...for the modern guitarist. I wonder why they lowered the bass and treble going from the neck to the bridge...
...ha. Didn't see that coming...lol. Allan Holdsworth's choice of sound. You get rippin' good progressive fusion on this and great jazz tone as well. For the jazz enthusiasts, you will want this combo. I guarantee it. Again, the bridge may surprise you on a distorted level because of it's medium output and not as much tone. *EDIT* Splits incredibly well.
Frank Gambale's weapons of choice. The neck gives him wide mid support while the trebly with bass chug bridge pickup balances each other well. Jazz and overdrive...sound familiar?
This is interesting...taking fusion and fusing it (hehe...) with metal. Definitely a combination with class. I guess if you're a jazz enthusiast with a metal alter ego, this could work very well especially since the H22N has that smooth middy soloing that can definitely bring something different to the table.
Hi, are you a fan of Holdsworth and Gambale and you REALLY want BOTH their tones on the same guitar? Well, you're in luck because that's exactly what this does (since Holdsworth plays usually his bridge pickup anyway). This combo is mids, mids, and more mids. This is a jazz guitarist's DREAM! One can only imagine how much more it can improve in terms of jazz...
O__O; Jazz...from the heavens. That's all I have to say.
So...these signatures are mainly jazz...and more jazz...what about the C22J? This could be a good topic of discussion but my guess is that Both Allan and Frank wanted some heavy-duty mids (and for Allan, that same effect on the bridge). Do realize that these pickups cost more and if you've never heard of these guys or don't like them or the genre much, you might not want to spend the extra money unless you KNOW those pickups can cover the tone you are really aiming for.
I'm gonna put actives in the same spot because you HAVE to get them together anyway. This is Carvin's destructive counter to EMGs. These things run on 18v (Woooooooooah...mama...) and have the brutality of the 85/81 combo EASY. The neck however is cleaner than the 85 (trust me, I can barely get a good clean tone out of an EMG 85...don't bash me...just from experience). The bridge pickup is a sledgehammer. It chugs like crazy, has squealing harmonics, and enough highs to cover from classical Dave Mustaine to modern-day screaming Phil Sgrosso or Matt Heafy. Metal enthusiasts, if you don't mind actives and the DC600 is ok for you, DO IT.
*well...you kind of don't have a choice in these pickups but I'll explain anyway*
The description states that this is the seven string version of the C22N; incredibly misleading. This neck pickup can launch Jazz, Blues, and great cleans with a great response and emphasis on the low B string. A great seven-string P.A.F. pickup really. A lot of people love soloing on this; even for metal. Very convincing.
As the name clearly suggests, it's a seven-string version of the AP11. Trebly jazz, raw-ish blues, and acoustic-like cleans. Couldn't ask for a better center seven string pickup. All I can say is, unless you're a Steve Vai fan, you have to be a moron to replace this with one of the only 2 pickups you CAN replace this with...
Now this being a seven-string version of the C22B is more believable. This can pull off raw blues, alternative rock, and hard rock. In terms of metal, ask these guys:
I have to admit that, at first, not a single person showed a good metal tone out of this pickup until I heard this. Like most Carvin pickups, all it takes is the right amp and the right EQ and you'll be surprised what you can do with this pickup. It's middy, but it's incredibly loud and punchy; full of harmonics and sustain. Also remember, Carvin's V3 has a Mid-Scoop function...I BET you your metal tone will SOAR with the combination of that and this pickup.
This is pretty much the same thing as the six-string counterparts. I don't think Shane Gibson's video shows 100% what these pickups are capable of doing so don't base your judgement on that video. These actives are brutal. Like the six-string version, it can pull drop-tunings off easy. Drop A, G#, or even F#? No problem. Neck pickup can add to the soloing and produce moderate cleans to sooth the brutality the bridge pickup has to offer.
...if you're looking for combinations, really? lol. Now I will say this though:
Multiple people claim that the D26 pickups just aren't doing it for them and instantly want to replace them with the Liquifire/CrunchLab7 pickups, Bareknuckles, and Sentient/Nazgul pickups. As I stated earlier, these pickups, with a little EQ'ing and the right amp, you can achieve ALL those sounds that you're looking for. Some people (even in this forum) can tell you stories on how they replaced their Carvin pickups only to find out that they got the exact same sound as the other ones. Wasted money on extra pickups, labor, and new strings. Give the pickups a REAL spin and if you REALLY can't find that tone, fine. At least you tried but be open. These aren't Ibanez stock pickups. These are CARVINS.
Somehow...these pickups became worse than the 7-string actives...weird right? To some people like this guy:
They found their sound. For those that like metal (especially modern), they might not hear this as crisp enough for their taste (hooray djent...). Then again, I HAVE heard the difference between the A80 pickups and the 8-string versions of the Sentient/Nazgul combo and...I had to say that the difference was there (although some may argue that that's actives vs passives).. These are not, in any way, bad pickups. They sure beat the crap out of the EMG 808 pickups (those things are muddy as freak...). If Carvin can come out with a passive neck pickup for jazz/blues (like a P.A.F.) that can be put on the bridge for that same purpose and a bridge pickup for overdriven insanity, then most 8-string Carvin owners will be very happy!
EDIT: Again, this was not BASHING the pickup but I've unfortunately encountered a lot of people swapping out these pickups. Like all Carvin pickups, at it takes is a little EQ and you'll find a pretty good sound coming out of the A80s. For one thing, did you know that these pickups were not just made for metal? Jazz and Progressive were being thought of when making them as well as metal. They're great pickups. I honestly just can't wait for Carvin to give us Passive 8-string pickups.
The Kiesel pickups
I put this as an entire section because these pickups practically revolutionized the way Carvin/Kiesel voiced their pickups. Evidently, it also changed the look to the standard pole pieces...more-or-less to cater to the folks that despised (for some reason...) the look of the 22-pole-piece system.
LITHIUMS (6/7/8 string pickups
Before I even add input, here are a few links:
and finally: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ump5N0m18EA
Ok, what happens when too many people get Carvin/Kiesel guitars and swap out the pickups? Kiesel gets angry and spawns out these standard pole-piece powerful pickups of INSANITY! (Just kidding...Jeff wasn't mad as far as I know...lol). Honestly, these pickups were made to counter DiMarzios, Seymour Duncans, BareKnuckles, Lace, AND Lundgren pickups alike to make these surprisingly cheap 'boutique' pickups. These pickups, as you heard in these videos, were made for practically EVERY style of music; whether it'd be from BRUTALITY, to hard rock, to blues, to even jazz. When you look at the stats, you'd almost think that these pickups would be way too loud or noisy; not the case here. Also REALLY good for down-tuners; still punchy, crisp, and clear.
Here's the thing I've noticed from the pickups that players HAVE to understand: these pickups DO NOT replace the sound of your guitar (it sounds weird but bare with me). Jeff said it himself:
"these pickups are made to blend with the guitar."
In other words, the knobs that some players don't use can actually impact the tone of those pickups HEAVILY. That and the amp settings could actually change the voice of these pickups completely. It's not always JUST the pickups. Why do you think DiMarzio and SD make SO MANY pickups? They all have different voicing characteristics (that, and of course signature guitarists got their own pickups) but these Kiesels were made to allow the player to re-adjust their knobs and amp settings to REALLY test out the voicing of these pickups. Am I saying that EVERYONE should find their voicing in these pickups? Of course not but what I'm saying is that these pickups have the rare ability of actually portraying MANY different voices for your guitar. It's like getting an amp: ya gotta play around with it and make sure if you find your favorite tone out of them.
For the record, when split from the neck, that's where there's a good sweet vintage spot while splitting the bridge can give you a much warmer single coil tone that sounds REALLY pleasant. Also, you'd be surprised, even the F# string is INCREDIBLY clear and punchy with these things on an 8-string; I only mention this because that was one of the top 3 things that impressed me the most about these pickups.
Parallax (Greg Howe's signature model)
For those who thought: "OMG...more metal pickups...really?", well...it wasn't ALL 'metal' but this bridge pickup is for the players that want a bridge pickup that slaps Fender pickups in the face (wha-PA!). This is a pure vintage pickup that has great spank and has a pretty darn good rockability/classic rock vibe; perfect for classic players. Sure the pickup was for Greg Howe mainly but, in a way, this was definitely a good way to cater to the players that wanted a Kiesel guitar with standard pole pieces but thought the Lithium bridge pickup was too loud for them.
Kiesel Allan Holdsworth Kiesel Pickups
I don't have a review for them yet because they've unofficially come out but not...shared with the public if that makes sense. A couple of people here got those pickups and I couldn't tell you a description of these things based on what I've seen yet. All I can tell you is that Allan loved these things so much that he's looking to finally swap out his Seymour Duncans for these. If you don't know Holdsworth, he is a mastermind of Jazz and Progressive rock/fusion. The reason why these pickups are finished yet not necessarily released? He did borrow a Vader 8 once...tehehehehe.
Well, I hope this helps guys. I want this to be a sticky or even added to the Guitar pickup FAQ page! I could (and possibly am...) be wrong about some of these descriptions but I wanted to help out new Carvinites with descriptions of all the pickups. The FAQ page was written so long ago that these pickups change. This can at least be an update on them! Thanks for reading!