Pickup volumes all over the place?

I notice this with Alter Switch systems the most. I was looking to pick up an Ibanez LB-1 but when I was playing it and switching between pickups and the Alter Switch, the volumes were all over the place.

Some pickups are hotter but maybe .1db louder. Other pickups are .5 db louder but not hotter. By hotter, I mean your playing will have more distortion at the same volume.

Is there any way to fix this? Id like to have it where all the volumes are consistent when I switch between pickups, without changing the volume. Is this possible, or is this just a natural feature of pickups?

This guitar has very complex switching options (yay, Ibanez!), so it would seem unlikely that everything would have a similar volume. Therefore, would there be some electronics that could help on the outside to even the volume to a sufficient degree, perhaps a gain pedal, a compressor, or something else?


Natural feature unless you are using active systems that can be calibrated electronically in each position, The reason you see that is because of the configurations in general. The pickups themselves are not what’s causing the distorted hot on their own, it is mostly the amp and how it is responding to the frequency response of them and the various configurations and output of those positions both are really important for this. By the same merit, they can sort of give you the impression of loudness, but only to an extent, and once what ever you are driving is no longer capable of reproducing what ever you are feeding it, there is no where really for it to go. You may be able to balance it a bit with external devices but more often than not you will most come to the point where you are just adding more of the distorted.

Also to do it really well and balance every position would be a little complicated for what it would be worth if it would even work well or dynamically. Computerized VCA at the very least.

I’m all for keeping the pickup selector switch, etc., but I’m surprised that there isn’t another cable that shows each pickup individually, so one can record them all; that would be really easy to do with an active system.


  1. Lower the pickup for less output; heighten it for more.

You might find that you comprise one position when doing this, but this is how you can do it.

  1. You can also consider using less bass on your sound in general. The neck pickup will be louder when having lots of bass on your amp compared to the bridge.

1 & 2 in conjunction is what I do to balance things out. Everything is a compromise on guitar setup though.

Some settings use only one coil and others use four, so it will be difficult to adjust for uniform output under every circumstance.

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Exactly, especially with any easy method. You can only really hope for good enough. Especially because these combinations are picking up in various places of the guitar. Even with a precise method to constantly sample and adjust for amplitude in real time, some of these combos are just going to sound louder due to the frequencies involved even if they looked equal in amplitude.

This honestly is not a bad thing at all and many would prefer that for this exact reason. It tends to add a bit more versatility.

I’m not sure I know of many who would use something like this let alone on a typical switch type interface though. There was that JP Musicman electronic switching system a while back, where I could see someone like JP using it due the ability I think to save presets with it. I could have been mistaken on that part though. Seems kind of like a lot of trouble with not much practical use for most people.