Seven string pickup shootout: Air Norton/Tone Zone, Pegasus/Sentient, Jazz/Wolfe JB - Jemsite
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-06-2016, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Somerville, MA
Posts: 6,200
Seven string pickup shootout: Air Norton/Tone Zone, Pegasus/Sentient, Jazz/Wolfe JB

My Saturday afternoon project:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc69MNSCltM

I've had a Wolfetone rewound JB sitting around to try out forever now (really, more than a year), and a buddy who was curious to see how that compared to a Sentient/Pegasus set sent me over a spare pair to A/B it against while I did the swap.I finally had a free afternoon where I had the time to install them, shoot some A/B video, and edit it, so I spent yesterday afternoon doing this.

These pickups really aren't all THAT dissimilar- I always suspected the Tone Zone and JB should be pretty similar, and based on the popularity of the Air Norton and Jazz with Dimarzio and Duncan fans I figured they might have a bit in common as well. Which, they did, though the Jazz was a fair amount brighter.

After playing with the Jazz/JB set a bit last night, I threw the Sentient/Pegasus set back in this morning, and then after playing THAT a bit longer swapped the Pegasus for the JB. I have a feeling that'll be the set I stick with for a while now.

Wolfe rewound the JB, as I understand, pretty close to his TimbreWolf, which is essentially a vintage-spec JB, as I understand, and not the hotter one for sale today. The seven string JBs I've played in the past have a very distinctive chainsaw-like snarl to them; that's almost entirely gone, and what's left is a midrange-y pickup with a lot of burnished harmonic overtones in the high end. It's very liquid and vocal.

The Sentient was a surprise - I didn't know much abouyt it before instaling it, but it's evidently supposed to split the difference between a Jazz and a 59. Whatever the case, it does a good job of it - the Jazz is probably a little more single-coil-y (especially in the high end, clean, and is kind of gorgeous in this respect), while the Sentient seemed more like a modern singlecoil, a lot thicker. Under gain it's clear but punchy and responds well to a picking attack. I'm still in the honeymoon phase right now, but so far this may be my favorite neck pickup that isn't a PAF Pro. It's warm yet kind of stratty clean, and handles gain very well.

The Pegasus was a surprise, too - similar output as the JB (I've heard this was also intended to be more of a vintage spec JB in some ways), though with a smoother high end and it seemed clearer to me, with fewer harmonic overtones. Not a bad pickup at all, and it may end up in my 752. The Sentient/Pegasus, incidently, look awesome - matte bobbins, more like a Dimarzio, with a black Seymour Duncan logo and black chrome polepieces.

I hadn't played an Air Norton/Tone Zone set since... 2005, probably? So it was interesting to hear these two again. The Suhr is a pretty bright guitar, so the Tone Zone worked well in there, though keeping it a little farther back off the strings really helped. The Air Norton was nice, too - orienting it for a "brighter" sound (check the Dimarzio website) was critical, since it's a pretty dark pickup, but it has a well-deserved reputation as a great alternate picker's pickup - it remains very even.

Now, the only problem is, I've got a set of pickups in my Suhr that sound great together (and sound great individually), and my fingertips are shot because I've been working to much and playing too little.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-13-2016, 10:04 AM
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 62
Re: Seven string pickup shootout: Air Norton/Tone Zone, Pegasus/Sentient, Jazz/Wolfe

i liked air norton/Tz the best in this guitar

btw i have air norton in my mahogany j custom and its very dark muddy
the adjustable pole pieces are facing the neck, should i reverse it so that they will face the bridge and this will give me a brighter sound?
thanks
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-16-2016, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Somerville, MA
Posts: 6,200
Re: Seven string pickup shootout: Air Norton/Tone Zone, Pegasus/Sentient, Jazz/Wolfe

The Air Norton is a pretty dark pickup to begin with - it may not be the best for a mahogany guitar if you want something brighter. Dimarzio suggests it's brighter with the cable exit towards the neck:

http://www.dimarzio.com/faq#55/62/283

...so check, and if it's not installed that way, you could try flipping it. It's not night and day, though.

I ended up with the Sentient in the neck and the JB rewind in the bridge. The Sentient is awesome, the clarity, articulation, and responsiveness of a singlecoil, but in a thicker, rounder, humbucker package. This is probably my favorite seven string neck pickup I've tried yet. And the JB is great - tons of great harmonic overtones on sustained notes, without the raw chainsaw-like snarl I've heard in stock JB seven string pickups. They even compliment each other very nicely - the Pegasus is a closer "match" for the Sentient in the neck, but the JB does some different things there in ways that I think they work well together.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-16-2016, 01:20 PM
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 62
Re: Seven string pickup shootout: Air Norton/Tone Zone, Pegasus/Sentient, Jazz/Wolfe

Hey Drew
i'm not sure about the cable exit
pls let me know if the "brighter" setting for air norton is when the adjustable polepieces face the bridge?
like here, mine air norton's orientation is like this now


or it should be oriented the opposite way for a bright setting?
thanks
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-21-2016, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Somerville, MA
Posts: 6,200
Re: Seven string pickup shootout: Air Norton/Tone Zone, Pegasus/Sentient, Jazz/Wolfe

I'm not sure, I'm afraid - I can look at mine when I get home (though I'd have to pull the pickup out of storage), but it might be easier to just pop out your trem, and unscrew the pickup height adjustment screws to look at the underside of it.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-20-2016, 11:32 AM
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Ukraine(for now)
Posts: 13
Re: Seven string pickup shootout: Air Norton/Tone Zone, Pegasus/Sentient, Jazz/Wolfe

i did some testing and can cocnlude that the brighter setup for AN is when the adjustable polepieces face the neck(and the pickup's cable exit is closer to the neck)

the opposite orientation is not necessarily darker but rather rounder sounding and a little more compressed - not dramatically different but a bit easier to play solos)

and here's the answer from dimarzio tech support regarding this(and the JPM):

"Reversing the installation direction of the AN won’t make much (if any) difference in the tone. Mahogany is generally a warm-sounding wood, and the AN is a warm-sounding pickup. The reason the pickup was installed in the reverse direction on the JPM was to allow the coil-split in the middle position to go to the inside coils. It had nothing to do with the pickup’s performance as a humbucker.

DiMarzio Inc."
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