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Hi all, I have a new project guitar with poplar body in HSS configuration. Looking for a good bridge humbucker that will provide decent clean but also handle heavy thick distortion. T
I play heavy modern rock, alternative and grunge mostly (no blues/jazz/death metal/thrash/80's hair metal). I've been listening to pickup comparisons on Dimarzio and Duncan's sites. Been listening to compares on YouTube. Thinking about sticking to these two brands as I have history with each. Currently have an RG470 with ToneZone bridge and Air Norton Neck.
So far after listening to a ton of compares, the top 3 seem to be Dimarzio PAF Pro, Duncan Invader and Black Winter, just not sure how they will sound in a poplar guitar.
I've read conflicting things on poplar, that it's muted and dull, that it's like Mahogany (dark), that it's like Alder (bright) that it's like Basswood (mid focused), all which contradict each other.
I don't want to end up with something ice picky or a one trick pony.
Thoughts and suggestions appreciated.
Hawk
 

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If you can get your hands on one, a DiMarzio made IBZ/USA F2 is amazing, it is similar to a Tone Zone. Tone Zone is great too, and if it's a little muddy in that specific guitar then soldering a 0.047uF capacitor between the red wire and pickup selector will filter out some of the low end. Switching the screw poles to shorter hex head poles tighten things up a little too. PAF Pro in the neck is perfect too.

I have an IBZ/USA F2 in the bridge and a PAF Pro in the neck of my Yamaha RGX121, which is an alder body, tuned to drop Db, and it's amazing for thick heavy distortion, perfect for doomy/grungy heavy stuff. Maybe a Pro Track rail pickup will work in the neck for a similar vibe, or a SD Cool Rails.
 

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Irrespective of what wood species you choose, there can be significant tonal difference between two slabs even from the same tree. General consensus / past experience gives you an idea of the ballpark, but you might want to consider borrowing the Tone Zone from your RG470 to see how that sounds. You'd then have a reference point to work with, so you'd know how the new pickups need to differ from the Tone Zone (e.g. tighter bass, more high mids etc.)

Assuming you want something similar output to your Tone Zone + Air Norton, but want something slightly different for your new guitar, I'd suggest you look into the following:
Dominion set
Dominion bridge + PAF Pro neck
Norton bridge + PAF Pro neck
Crunch Lab + Liquifire
 

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A lot of people consider the Liquifire to be an improved / perfected Air Norton, so if you really like your existing Air Norton, that would be an obvious choice.

The PAF Pro would sound more different, which could be a good or a bad thing, depending whether you want your new guitar to sound similar or different. There's a reason that the PAF Pro has been a popular neck pickup for decades, so I'm not surprised it made your initial shortlist. Not as smooth / liquidy as the Air Norton or Liquifire, but that's a good thing imo.
 

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I actually just got the 470 all put back together, but might pull the TZ out and see.
As you live in the US, perhaps it would be more convenient to make use of DiMarzio's exchange policy then, rather than ripping out the pickups from your 470.
Not something I have the luxury of (live in UK), but I believe you can install a set, but return them in exchange for a different set (within something like 30 days) if you're not satisfied. I believe the only cost you'd incur for an exchange is the shipping.
 
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