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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I'm looking for pickup advice for my all flamed maple Jackson Dinky with maple neck and ebony fretboard, and Floyd Rose. It sounds quite ok acoustically, but dull and sterile with the pickups I have tried so far.
It's an HSS configuration. It came with a Bill Lawrence XL500 bridge humbucker and 2 Jackson (stacked) single coils. The XL500 was way too bright. I originally replaced it with a SD Distortion, and later with a SD Invader. They were too sterile and lacked definition. I currently have a SD Custom, which is the best up to now, but perhaps still too sterile sounding. So a warmer version of this, perhaps.
The neck and middle SC were replaced by a Hot Rails and Cool Rails, respectively. The Hot Rails is too bassy/muddy and not articulate enough. The Cool Rails I hardly use, but, yeah, rather 'cool' sounding ...
No surprise, I use this guitar for metal and shred. I want to reappraise this guitar, and use it more.
I was thinking of trying an Air Norton S in the neck. I've had one in a swamp ash Hamer, where the mids, I found, were a little overemphasized.



I want smooth leads (neck), warm sounding (but not over the top mids, just well balanced). Nice cleans are a plus. Relatively aggressive bridge, tight bottom but some 'smoothness' for lead playing is appreciated. I guess some kind of Petrucci sound would be ok, or an early Steve Vai (cf. the Jack Butler Jackson/Crossroads sound). I just wonder if those pickups (say Tone Zone, Air Norton, Super Distortion) would be ok for a maple body? Are there alternatives? Vai's Passion & Warfare sound is also ok :)grin2:), but I tried a PAF Pro, and it misses some bite, and will perhaps sound too
sterile/cold in maple?


No idea for the middle SC. I like true single coils, so perhaps a higher output SC here? Thinking of Bare Knuckle Sinner (though stacked I think?) or Irish Tours?

So, any suggestions of any brand that might go well in a maple body, please!

Thanks!
 

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From the description of the construction I would expect that to be a naturally very bright guitar, so I'd go for something to counter that. I'm not a fan of the tone zone myself but I suspect it will work for what you are after.
The BKPs are not stacked, they are real single coils, however they are brilliant sounding. I use a pair of Irish Tours in an HSS guitar along with a Holy Diver humbucker. https://www.jemsite.com/forums/f18/rt240-rebuild-166119.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
From the description of the construction I would expect that to be a naturally very bright guitar, so I'd go for something to counter that. I'm not a fan of the tone zone myself but I suspect it will work for what you are after.
The BKPs are not stacked, they are real single coils, however they are brilliant sounding. I use a pair of Irish Tours in an HSS guitar along with a Holy Diver humbucker. https://www.jemsite.com/forums/f18/rt240-rebuild-166119.html
Brilliant as in 'great' or trebly? :smile_big:
 

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I dont buy into the whole tonewood thing to the distance you're going but I do know what you're saying; your synopsis of those pickups is what I find to be true on guitars I've tried those on. This is actually a rather easy recommendation though :)

Bridge -> Either dimarzio breed or tone zone. The breed has a lot of "definition" and this may be construed as "brightness". Very controllable with EQ, unlike say the Evo or that bill lawrence though. I think the breed is the most under rated pickup ever made. Something I've only found on Dimarzio Breed's and Fred's, these two pickups have some bizarre thing where harmonics JUMP out. Im not sure why, its honestly wonderful. That said, the breed might be too notched in the mids for what you're looking for... the "obvious" pickup here is the Tone Zone. Bottom? Oh yeah. Smoothness? Oh yeah.... people call them muddy, but its probably just in reference to whatever other pickups they are comparing it to; because you can dial the midrange out very effectively.

Heres how I would differentiate the recommendations -> What AMP are you using? If you're using a naturally bright rig and setup; running into a marshall plexi, or a mesa mark series; definitely tone zone. If youre going into a naturally dark amp like a 5150, 6505, mesa rec, what have you, then the breed.

Mid -> If you actually USE your mid (this is honestly extremely uncommon though) then toss this recommendation out of the window! So; I like to split the neck and bridge to the mid. I like the "quack" tones. I basically NEVER use the middle pickup on its own, so I gravitate towards low output, clarity of sound single coils for middle pickups. So for this, an easy recommendation would be either the dimarzio true velvet middle, or a fender fat 50s middle. I have absolutely no problem buying used pickups, so getting a fat 50s can *usually* be cheaper that way, but buying one new the true velvet is going to be considerably cheaper and very similar anyway.

Neck -> Actually made this recommendation yesterday too lol, easy recommendation is the dimarzio BC-1. The BC-1 basically started as an air norton; air norton's are almost universally loved for their open clarity and depth of sound. The BC-1 has less "bite" and more bass response than the air norton s. The "over emphasis" of mids on the air norton are taken out in this pickup; so it sounds perfect. It's fairly high output so balances very nicely with hot bridge pickups like the tone zone or breed.

So thats the "standard" recommendation that going to be easy to swallow, but I have another oddball recommendation thats going to sound extremely... "strange". A while back I bought a Dimarzio Titan set. I wound up REALLY disliking the bridge pickup; I didnt understand it. I would never entertain that pickup again. The NECK pickup though... thats a completely different animal; and I tried something interesting.... I put the neck pickup in the bridge.... ITS AMAZING. I think I have a fairly good idea of what youre going for; so this is something I would have to say I know its gonna sound weird, but putting a Dimarzio titan NECK as your bridge pickup works EXTREMELY well. Unfortunately I wound up selling the titans as a set to a friend of mine that was looking for both, so I dont currently have it; but Im absolutely going to be getting one for my new saber I just got for down tuned metal/djent/prog stuff. Its a really amazing pickup, because no matter how hard you slam it, how much gain you have, its always CLEAR. Im not talking about the "tone" here, its a hair on the dark side, but not muddy, but when I say "clear", running into a hexdrive into a high gain 5150 dialed in with thick downtuned strings... things get rough for most pickups. This thing, no matter what you do to it, you can hear each string as if it had its own pickup. [[NOTE! The tone zone is going to lose that clarity, the breed will keep it, but into say a marshall style amp, its going to be a bit too top heavy for my tastes. I wouldnt call it "shrill", thats definitely what the Evo bridge does, but its more the tone zone just works better here. Thats why I split recommendations based on the amp you use. I LOVE tone zones, but you couldnt pay me to run one of those into a dual rectifier for instance.]] So if you're looking for a unique experience, and willing to trust me on this, grab a Titan NECK for your BRIDGE.

Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I have an Engl 570 pre-amp and VHT 2/50/2 (G-Major effects). The clean is rather disappointing, shrill and quiet, but I love the high gain channels.

I'm not very familiar with Dimarzio, but I'll check out the advices. I do use the middle SC, but I have my Hamer (with BKP Crawler and 2 Veneer 63 SC, been doubting about Mother's Milk and Irish Tours ...) for SC-stuff. I do like the 2 and 4 positions very much as well. Next week I have an EBMM Silhouette arriving. The SC should be similar to the True Velvet.
 

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I think the breed is the most under rated pickup ever made. Something I've only found on Dimarzio Breed's and Fred's, these two pickups have some bizarre thing where harmonics JUMP out. Im not sure why, its honestly wonderful.
Cheers.
What do you mean with "harmonics jump out" ? I have a DNA with breeds and want to figure that out.
Cheers !
 

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What do you mean with "harmonics jump out" ? I have a DNA with breeds and want to figure that out.
Cheers !
I really wish I had a good way to explain it using things other than "tone voodoo" lol. I dont really understand what the reasoning would be, but both Fred and Breed's have some frequency response thing that really accentuates harmonics and overtones. So things like natural harmonics and pinch harmonics seem to be more "forward" sounding or more on top of your tone... I REALLY hate "explaining" things like this haha. Like I said, I really dont have a great explanation for it; theres probably a reason but I dont know it.

The best "analogy" I can think of perhaps, when you hit a harmonic it does the tone; if you were to A/B the tone from a Breed to say a PAF Pro, when you do harmonics it will be like youre turning the presence knob of your amp up on the Breed compared to the PAF pro. Its a lame explanation but thats all I can think of lol.
 
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