How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup - Jemsite
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-16-2010, 05:50 AM Thread Starter
 
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How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

Thanks for the advice from people back in the setting up a Tone Zone thread I started earlier this week. Much appreciated.

In light of the discussion regarding the "half-air" modification that a number of people have done to Tone Zones and other pickups, I decided to try the mod myself, albeit to a Mighty Mite Motherbucker, rather than a Tone Zone. I may try it on the Tone Zone soon if I'm still not happy with it. I wrote a DIY on my blog:

http://www.lonephantom.com/?p=1125
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-16-2010, 12:06 PM
 
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Re: How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

slightly crazy IMO, you would do much better to just replace the tone pot with a 1 meg, makes a world of difference.. or get rid of it altogeher and change the volume pot to 1 meg, that really does sound amazing.
taking pickups apart... why not sell it and buy a different pickup ?
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-16-2010, 01:18 PM
 
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Re: How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

To be honest changing pots, caps, wiring, etc... will not change the pickups 'essential' tone. Try the air mod first, then if your not satisfied try changing the magnet, then go on from there.

Changing the tires of your car won't make your engine any better! Getting a better amp won't make you play better!

Gotta start from the core! Try the mods first!

Good Luck!
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-16-2010, 02:42 PM
 
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Re: How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

wrong.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-16-2010, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

What's wrong with modifying pickups? Jaden I'm really surprised by your response, especially since you are a custom guitar builder.

You can get some really cool results from this sort of modifying. Don't knock it until you've tried it!
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-16-2010, 06:05 PM
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Re: How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeroCool7 View Post
To be honest changing pots, caps, wiring, etc... will not change the pickups 'essential' tone. Try the air mod first, then if your not satisfied try changing the magnet, then go on from there.

Changing the tires of your car won't make your engine any better! Getting a better amp won't make you play better!

Gotta start from the core! Try the mods first!

Good Luck!
I have to say that trying mods on a pickup seems a lot of fun, but surely it's easier to just drop in a new pickup??!?! Which is also probably closer to the "core" than swapping magnets - ie swapping the whole thing?!?!?

If the tone is "wrong", the tone is "wrong". If your Tone Zone is too boomy, drop in a Norton, if that's too fat, drop in a Fred.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-16-2010, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

But what if the tone is not "wrong" as you put it? What if you would just like it a little brighter, or a little more open?

Most pickup makers don't offer customized versions of their pickups to the general public. Case in point the custom EVH pickups DiMarzio did. They came up with two final designs for Eddie, the one in his EBMMs, and what became the Tone Zone. Half-airing a Tone Zone sounds pretty much like the custom DiMarzios that became EVHs EBMM pickups.

You can't buy them anywhere except used on e(vil)Bay for high prices. Buy a used Tone Zone, mod it, and you've got it a lot cheaper.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-16-2010, 06:43 PM
 
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Re: How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

i dont need to modify pickups, there is a good reason that there are so many models made, being a guitar maker has nothing to do with it other than the fact that I have tried most every pickup in many different chassis.

if you want to "brighten it up" or "tone it down" thats where you can use the control values to change the overall tone of the guitar.

I have made guitars with the tone zone and air norton fitted where no one would guess they had been used, fitted to mahogany bodied guitars where the output tone is so "not the tone zone" but at the same time it is because I really do work hard to create a chassis that is complimentary to the pickups i plan to fit, this does not always work the way that people think that it does.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-16-2010, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaden View Post
i dont need to modify pickups, there is a good reason that there are so many models made, being a guitar maker has nothing to do with it other than the fact that I have tried most every pickup in many different chassis.

if you want to "brighten it up" or "tone it down" thats where you can use the control values to change the overall tone of the guitar.

I have made guitars with the tone zone and air norton fitted where no one would guess they had been used, fitted to mahogany bodied guitars where the output tone is so "not the tone zone" but at the same time it is because I really do work hard to create a chassis that is complimentary to the pickups i plan to fit, this does not always work the way that people think that it does.
OK, fair enough. No need to just say "wrong" though.

So what do you do to tone down on the boomy-ness of the Tone Zone? 1meg tone pot, anything else? I'm curious as I like dabbling with these things.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-16-2010, 07:45 PM
 
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Re: How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

haha, clearly

definitely start by simply disconnecting your tone control, you will hear the difference, then try a 1 meg tone pot.. see what you think.
after that, ive you want more definition, use a 1 meg volume pot and no tone pot, then add a 500k tone, then 1 meg tone.

etc etc..
you will find the sweet spot of the guitar like this, once you have got the pots sorted you can look at the caps, its an RC network calulation.
beats taking pickups to bits
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-16-2010, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

Thanks, I might try disconnecting the tone pot today for starters.

It's cheaper taking them to bits though.
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-17-2010, 12:35 AM
 
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Re: How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

If ppl did things the clear cut way everytime.........we wouldn't have the Jem Guitar....this web site or "The Brown Sound". I say hack the pups all you want...I do it and it's different than changing control pots around. I have yet to swap full coils but have swapped magnets and done half air/Air mods. Have fun and be careful.
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-17-2010, 03:14 AM
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Re: How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

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Originally Posted by LonePhantom View Post
But what if the tone is not "wrong" as you put it? What if you would just like it a little brighter, or a little more open?

Most pickup makers don't offer customized versions of their pickups to the general public. Case in point the custom EVH pickups DiMarzio did. They came up with two final designs for Eddie, the one in his EBMMs, and what became the Tone Zone. Half-airing a Tone Zone sounds pretty much like the custom DiMarzios that became EVHs EBMM pickups.

You can't buy them anywhere except used on e(vil)Bay for high prices. Buy a used Tone Zone, mod it, and you've got it a lot cheaper.
If your tone isn't right, it's wrong that's all I'm saying. I just think it's interesting that cracking a pickup for "tonal difference" when there're so many different ones on the market is for me a time-wasting method of a new sound. However I do recognise that it's probably a lot of fun to "make" your own tone. I just think it's got to be easier and more reliable to buy a new pickup and drop it in.

I'm also amazed that folks have to crack pickups to get their exact sound and that exising pickups aren't close enough...

I guess Eric Johnson's ears are nothing special after all
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-17-2010, 08:19 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

Talk about cynicism!

You would be surprised by the difference. I mean the modding isn't very difficult at all, and as long as you are careful you are not going to break anything.

Go ahead and try it on a cheap stock pickup or something you might have lying around, and see what happens. It's not like any of it is snake oil or something. DiMarzio have an "Air" range of pickups, which are like pickups they already have (Tone Zone, Norton, etc) where they set them up so the magnet does not touch any pole-pieces. You can definitely tell the difference between, say a Tone Zone and an Air Zone. Surely you can imagine that the half-air mod would produce noticeable results?

Like I said earlier, EVH was deciding between the pickup that eventually ended up in his EBMMs and what became the Tone Zone. The difference ended up being that the one in the EBMMs were essentially the Tone Zone with a half-air setup.

If the EVH EBMM pickups are hard to come by and expensive, you can surely pick up a used Tone Zone and do the mod. I'm thinking I might do the Tone Zone specifically just to show this now, with before and after samples.

Unless, ZeroCool7, you have already done this. Can you record some samples of both stock and modded Tone Zones for people to hear?
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-17-2010, 12:38 PM
 
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Re: How to perform the "half-air" mod to a Tone Zone or similar pickup

Wow! I didn't think this thread would get this heated lol!!

All I was saying is that sometimes cash might be a problem, even $20-$30. Hell, I've been through times where i've only had $10 in my pocket.

I think LonePhantoms points is similar to EVHs' back in the days. He didn't have cash either or just wanted to work with what he had, that's why he made his own guitar and did all those mods! I'm sure people around EVH said the same thing "buy a new pickup or whatever!" but he did his own thing and now 100s of thousands of people are trying to cop his tone! Go figure huh?!

Just cuz your neck might be bowed doesnt mean you have to buy a new guitar...Just cuz your guitars jack might be out doesn't mean you have to buy a $10 jack...
Just cuz your strap screw keeps falling out doesn't mean you have to spend $20 to get it fixed...

Anyways, LonePhantom i'll try to record some samples and I'm with you bro!

Sorry not trying to cause problems lol!
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