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Thread: What will be better with 2 SA1's: HC1+ or HC3 (which I owns)?

  1. #1
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    What will be better with 2 SA1's: HC1+ or HC3 (which I owns)?

    I have a new HSS Anderson Drop Top (flame maple top on alder body) that came with 2 SC2's & HC3 pickups. I love vintage, so I replaced them with 2 SC1-'s & HC1+ and It sounds great. But to be sure I want to try also 2 SA1's that I have, because I think that maybe they are more fenderish... I think that the SA1's are hotter than the SC1-'s.
    So what will be a better fit with 2 SA1's: HC1+ or HC3 ? I prefer not to buy another one beyond the ones I have....

  2. #2
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    The SA1s sound best in single coil mode (which is quite a bit louder than the hum-cancelling mode - opposite to a split side by side humbucker). So if you like that mode (and I love it), then it will very likely overpower the HF1+/HC1+. The HC2 is probably a better match in output, but you'd probably be ok with the HC3. But, if you like the humcancelling mode, you'd probably get away with a HC1+. Raise the HC1+ and lower the SA1s and you'd probably be there.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by pipedwho View Post
    The SA1s sound best in single coil mode (which is quite a bit louder than the hum-cancelling mode - opposite to a split side by side humbucker). So if you like that mode (and I love it), then it will very likely overpower the HF1+/HC1+. The HC2 is probably a better match in output, but you'd probably be ok with the HC3. But, if you like the humcancelling mode, you'd probably get away with a HC1+. Raise the HC1+ and lower the SA1s and you'd probably be there.
    thanks Pipedwho! yes, I like the SA1 split mode and I now it is louder. So maybe you are right and the HC3 will fit better, but I m afraid it will be too dark... Is a raised HC1+ can also fit to the split mod?

  4. #4
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    I think the SA would overpower the HC1+ slightly. But, it might be close if you just lower them down with the HC1+ up higher.

    There's a couple of things going for the HC3. First a darker bridge is sometimes handy, as I tend to always roll off the bridge tone anyway for bridge only tones. Also, the HC3 should split really well and be fairly close match to the SAs in unsplit mode. That means your position 2 should be humcancelling if your wiring combines the middle with the split bridge.

    I'm with you on trying everything possible to get the HC1+ in the guitar. I have an HF1+ that is my favourite bridge pickup sound. I have a Hollow Cobra S that has M1s in the neck and middle, and the H2+ balances well with them. Even the H2 and HC2 worked well. But, that HF1+ sounded gorgeous. However, I was able to get it to mostly balance with the M1s, but the tonal character was too different. Almost like it went from modern to vintage with the flick of the pickup selector.

    It sounds like your tonal nirvana might be the SAs with the HC1+. By the sound of what you're asking, you really want that to be the case. And it just well might be with a bit of judicious height adjustment. The split SAs do sound like nice single coils, and lowered down will drop some level (and naturally the humcancelling mode will be quieter too - but less chimey). The HC1+ is just tonal heaven. So leave that in the guitar and put in the SAs and see how it goes. Worst case is you end up trying the HC3, but there's no reason that the SA1s can't work with the HC1+.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by pipedwho View Post
    I think the SA would overpower the HC1+ slightly. But, it might be close if you just lower them down with the HC1+ up higher.

    There's a couple of things going for the HC3. First a darker bridge is sometimes handy, as I tend to always roll off the bridge tone anyway for bridge only tones. Also, the HC3 should split really well and be fairly close match to the SAs in unsplit mode. That means your position 2 should be humcancelling if your wiring combines the middle with the split bridge.

    I'm with you on trying everything possible to get the HC1+ in the guitar. I have an HF1+ that is my favourite bridge pickup sound. I have a Hollow Cobra S that has M1s in the neck and middle, and the H2+ balances well with them. Even the H2 and HC2 worked well. But, that HF1+ sounded gorgeous. However, I was able to get it to mostly balance with the M1s, but the tonal character was too different. Almost like it went from modern to vintage with the flick of the pickup selector.

    It sounds like your tonal nirvana might be the SAs with the HC1+. By the sound of what you're asking, you really want that to be the case. And it just well might be with a bit of judicious height adjustment. The split SAs do sound like nice single coils, and lowered down will drop some level (and naturally the humcancelling mode will be quieter too - but less chimey). The HC1+ is just tonal heaven. So leave that in the guitar and put in the SAs and see how it goes. Worst case is you end up trying the HC3, but there's no reason that the SA1s can't work with the HC1+.
    Thank you very much! I'll take your advice and first I will instal only the SA1's and see what is going on with the HC1+. I have a very good luthier that I think can make it work.

  6. #6
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    I understand, PIPEDWHO that you have a lot of experience and knowledge about Tom Anderson's guitar & pickups and I'll be very grateful if you could share your thoughts about the SA1's vs the SC1-. I used to play once with the SA1's and found them pretty Fenderish and I loved it. Although the SC1-'s sound excellent, beautiful and with a lot of character, but a little bit dark and less Fenderish, which I miss...

  7. #7
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    I used a set of SD1s for ages (which are extremely close to the SA1s). A tech ruined one of the SDs, so I found an SA1 to replace it, and the SA basically sounded the same as the SD in the guitar I had it in (a Maple/Basswood Drop Top w/ Floyd and an HW2 in the bridge). I LOVE the single coil chime and tone of the split SD1 pickups (and SA1). It was very 'Fendery' and sounded like an excellent vintage single coil (maybe a bit hotter, but definitely in the vintage camp and a top class tone that copped Knopfler with ease). Unfortunately I really didn't like the hum cancelling mode; it was very thin, soft, lacked chime and presence, and I felt it got lost in the mix. So I replaced the SD1/SA1 with two SF1s.

    The SF1s are basically like the SC1s, but with a fibre bobbin, but splittable with 4 conductor wiring. The SF1s sounded MUCH better in humcancelling mode than the SD/SAs did. The SF1 split mode is a bit brash (nowhere near as nice as the SD1/SA1 split), but sounds good in position 4 with split neck and middle combined (which is also quiet since the split neck/middle are reverse wound from eachother). Definitely chimed way more in pos 4 when split than with both pickups in humcancelling mode.

    However, hum cancelling mode comes at a price. The tone is definitely usable and doesn't get lost in the mix, but like all the other humcancelling 'singles' I've used in the past, they just don't quite have the sparkle, spank and 'life' of a true single coil unless split (and therefore no longer humcancelling). I had the same problem on a vintage Strat type guitar when I was trying to solve the hum problem with Dimarzio Areas, Fender Noiseless, Lace Sensors, Duncan stacks, Duncan cool rails, Bill Lawrence L200s, and a bunch of others - nothing I tried got that chime that any of my true single coils brought to the table.

    So basically, the SA1 in split mode has a great sparkly single coil tone (because it is a single coil), and far better than any of the humcancelling options of any of the pickups I tried. The SF1/SC1 are some of the best and do an excellent job in humcancelling mode, but more modern/bland sounding that split/true singles. I much prefer the SA1/SD1 in single coil mode to the SF1 in either mode - while the SF1/SC1 humcancelling mode is way better than the SA1/SD1 humcancelling mode.

    I also tried a set of Anderson VA5s (true single coils), and they sounded excellent, even more vintage and a little quieter than the SD/SAs split, and they were fantastic. But, I was happier with the SDs at the time, because the SDs not only sounded great, but they also gave me the emergency option of humcancelling when I needed it - which was critically necessary when playing in a local church with a hearing aid induction loop. Better an anaemic neck tone than a screaming feedbacking unusable mess. Didn't like using pos4/pos2 all the time just to get around the induction loop feedback.

    I haven't tried the SC1- or any of the SD1-/SA1- options to compare. But I imagine they have a similar issue, just a little lower output and little more glassy.
    Last edited by pipedwho; 07-17-2019 at 01:03 PM.

  8. #8
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    Thanks Pipedwho for the detailed answer! You made me being more sure about my decision to try the SA1's

  9. #9
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    I tried for a while the 2 SA1's but I came to a conclusion that I like more the SC1-'s and I reinstalled them...They have more unique character and are more focused and rich sounding. So I am also staying with the HC1+, which is a perfect match to them.
    The endless way of finding the exact right sound....

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