Submitted at: 10:11, 9/11/2003
Pickup features: Humbucker
Impedence or other specs:
Price Paid: US $59
Purchased from: replacement from DiMarzio for Tone Zone
Model of guitar or bass: Gibson SG 62 re-issue
Pickup being replaced: DiMarzio Tone Zone
Other pickups on guitar: Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates
Artists using this pickup: Steve Vai
You musical style(s): Jamband, funk, fusion, reggae, rock, bluegrass, latin, etc
Reason for pickup change: Tone Zone was horrible. Needed more warmth and clarity.
Perceived output level: Powerful, but not too powerful. Not a distortion class pickup, but definitley more ballsy than a vintage pickup. Perfect for an anemic bridge slot to balance with the neck.
Tone: Warm, solid and clear. Much clearer and warmer than the Tone Zone. Less distortion and more mids. Much more natural sounding. Less treble as well.
Sonic evaluation: My main gigging rig is my SG through a Fender Blues Jr. and a whole bunch of vintage Boss effects. I use clean sounds much of the time (at least half). Amp set "clean with edge" (pre-amp on 4). Distortion currently provided by an old vintage Boss SD-1. I use my volume knobs a lot to control everything.
For which styles and positions is this pickup (un)suitable: I play jam band stuff (Deady, Phishy, Allmansy, reggae funk fusion soul stuff). There is LOTS of improv and single notes, so I like a very full bodied tone both clean and distorted.
Comments: I agree with the reviewer who said that this pickup deserves to be more popular than it is. This is one amazing pickup. And I am 100% a guitar geek who has tried everything.
I originally wanted to warm up the anemic bridge slot in a 62 re-issue SG. For those of us who know, the SG's bridge can get quite bright and shrill. Also the neck pickup always seems louder and bigger because of the positioning and extra bass. So I wanted a bridge pickup that was louder (but clear) with much more bass, more lower mids, and rounded off treble (I always found myself lowering the tone control).
I am a proud member of the Seymour Duncan forum and 1st tried a Duncan Custom 5 (alnico V magnet) due to all the hype on the boards. I was bitterly dissapointed. It was totally lacking in mids and it was WAAAAY too bright. The lack of mids made the brightness seem worse, and the guitar got much "smaller sounding". So so so thin. Ugh.
So someone suggested the Duncan Custom, which is the same pickup with a ceramic magnet (which adds mids over the alnico V). It definitley added mids, but there was a lack of low end, and even MORE treble (ouch). Still, due to the added mids the pickup sounded "bigger" in the mix. But no go.
Next tried the DiMarzio Air Zone after checking out the chart. That was very very good. A very nice pickup. Much warmer than both Duncans, more mids, more audible in the mix. Sinlge note solos sound wonderful. Beautiful singing voice. Great pickup. But there was still slightly too much treble for my taste (the SG's bridge position is RIGHT by the bridge, so it is REALLY bright).
Next tried the DiMarzio Tone Zone. Don't know why. Absolutely horrible. Like an Air Zone with a cheap overdrive pedal on it all the time. Not clear at the same settings that all the other pickups were clear at. Boo. Seemed even brighter due to the "edge" factor. No way. I can't believe this pickup is as popular as it is. The Air Zone is SO much clearer and "high quality" sounding.
Next I threw in an old pre-logo Duncan JB I had lying around. That was actually VERY nice. The JB is a very "mid voiced" pickup, so the guitar instantly became bigger in the mix of the band. Many people slag the Duncan for being too bright, but it isn't nearly as bright as the Duncan Customs. JBs tend to have more mids and less bass and treble. The JB sounded really nice, but I still wanted more bass and even a little less treble (I threw that JB in another SG where it remains).
.....AND I knew that I still hadn't tried the DiMarzio Breed. So I sent back the Tone Zone (DiMarzio's return policy is top notch), and got a Breed.
Problems solved....almost. The Breed has slightly more mids and slightly less treble than the Air Zone. I liked it. A lot. Solos sounded great. Much of the same qualities as the Air Zone. Very similar pickups. As a matter of fact, the Breed and Duncan JB are very very similar as well. They both have very strong mid content that makes the guitar "bigger sounding" with a band. Great for single notes. The Breed is more powerful than both the Air Zone and JB. A bit more "umph".
.....but I found that my high end woes were still there. So being that the Breed is pretty mcuh the warmest pickup you can get (that I know of), I changed the volume and tone pots on the bridge postion to 250k pots (and kept the 500k's at the neck). Problem SOLVED. Awesome (for those of you who don't know, a lower value pot will bleed off more treble to ground). That shaved that extra treble right off the top, and the pickup is full bodied, warm and rich. Blends perfectly with the Duncan Pearly Gates at the neck (my favorite neck humbucker by the way). There is still plenty of treble and the pickup still sounds like a bridge position. :-)
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this pickup a: 10 Fantastic value
Submitted by: Mac-P <[email protected]