This is a very new thing for me. My custom guitar by Adrian at Ash Customworks has pickups that are much lower output than I have previously used. I have a Rio Grande Texas in the bridge position, and a Rio Grande Buffalo in the neck position. Prior to this guitar, I’ve not had experience with lower output pickups. Maybe the standard pickups in some of my guitars might have been low(ish) output, but I honestly wouldn’t know, as I don’t leave standard pickups in guitars
My first replacement pickup experience was changing the standard bridge single coil in my Samick stratocaster copy for a DiMarzio Super Distortion humbucker. That must have quadrupled the output. Then I replaced the middle pickup with a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails…. Then I wired them in series with each other I’m kind of surprised I didn’t split the earth open with that level of output
After that, the DiMarzio Breed and PAF Pro in my Ibanez S470 didn’t seem particularly hot Nor did even the DiMarzio Evo I put in my Yamaha RGX-112 when I did it up. Basically, I’ve never “done” low output pickups.
I had my first direct comparison today, when after playing the Ash custom through my Rat, I plugged in my S470. None of the settings were changed at all, but the tone was dark, and muddy, and over-distorted and breaking up – and really a bit unpleasant. And that’s a guitar (and pickup) that usually sounds really nice … when using the right settings, clearly.
It must be said, I’m not driving the front end of an amp, and maybe for that the high output pickups would come into their own. I’m using distortion pedals, and impulse responses on my iMac However, the extra clarity of the Rio Grandes was really marked – and it allowed much more depth and complexity to come through, compared to the high output Breed.
I would put here my latest video with the Ash custom (a cover of “I Need You Tonight” by ZZ Top), but YouTube seems to be taking 16 aeons to upload anything – and it’s not there yet. So I’ll make do with the last one that I have uploaded: a cover of ZZ Top’s “Rough Boy”.