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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey guys,

I hate to be asking this, because I know people ask it all the time. But I've looked around and done a bunch of research already, and I just need some help on what would be best for me, as I know there are a lot of very knowledgeable posters here.

I'm looking to replace the NECK pickup of my Ibanez Blazer (H-S-H), an ALDER bodied guitar, which currently holds an Air Norton in that spot.

I orginally got the Air Norton, because Dream Theater a lot, and I love John's tone when he uses that pickup. Unfortunately, after having it for about a year and a half, I've realized that I've never really been all that satisfied with it. I say this win no disrespect to the pickup or anyone who uses it, but it's just not vesatile enough for ME. I think it's fantastic pickup, it just doesn't work for me with the current setup I have:

Carvin Legacy Half Stack...for those who are not familiar, it's already an inherently MIDRANGEY amp to begin with, (which is understandable when you think about it, as it is Steve Vai's amp and he needs to be out in front, so he needs more midrange).

Well the problem I have with the Air Norton as you can imagine, is that combined with the Legacy, and in my guitar it's too thick. It's not muddy, it's just too thick in the middle for my tastes. I use my neck pickup primarily for cleans, and a solo here or there. In any event, I want a pickup that's more OPEN, that has some space in the middle. I'm not saying I want something really scooped, but I want something that's more balanced and has a little sparkle. I want the Bass notes to be clean, and the top notes to be warm.

For cleans, I want a more OPEN, WIDER, BIGGER, and BRIGHTER w/ a little Sparkle (not to the point where it's harsh and too much though) sound-Think Eric Johnson's or Joe's Satriani's cleans. The Air Norton to me sounds more focused, and while it's great for jazz cleans because it is very dark, no matter how I EQ the Legacy I can't seem to get rid of that really "fat" midrange and open and brighten it up a bit.

For leads, I again want something more open sounding, yet balanced. The one thing I did love about the Air Norton was how the notes on the higher frets were very articulate, and WARM and SMOOTH. If there's a pickup that's like the Air Norton in this respect, only more open, that's what I want.

Here's some things to remember and help further narrow it down:

-I play A LOT of different styles. I play Jazz, Fusion, solo stuff like Satriani, Vai, etc, Dream Theater, Blues, etc. So I need something that is VERSATILE.
-It's going in an ALDER body
-The amp I play is already inherently VERY MIDRANGEY
-It would be going along side a Blue Velvet in the middle and a SD Custom 5 in the bridge.
-CLEANS are more important than lead sounds. I want to use it for both, but cleans are more important.

So, I've looked at a bunch of possible choices (in no particular order):

1.) Virtual PAF
2.) PAF Joe
3.) PAF Pro
4.) Humbucker from Hell (although I think it might be a tad too bright for my tastes, and too one dimensional. What do you guys think?)

I'm leaning more towards the first 2, the Virtual PAF and the PAF Joe.

What would the pros and cons be of each?

Thanks in advance guys!

Mike
 

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I don't know abt options 1 and 3, never tried them... but...

Humbucker From Hell (HFH) is like what you say, one dimensional. I'm not too concerned about the brightness becuase the HFH is in the neck and instead of shattering yoru windows, the brightness helps with clarity A LOT. I had it in my S520EX thru a pedalboard (tech21 TRI AC with mids at 2oclock) and it never mud out. And with the mids you have, its going to have good body. Cleans are well... stratty. Problem is, its just 1 dimensional... sounds like a single coil and when split, it still sounds like a single coil just softer.

The PAF Joe is what I got to replace the HFH. I like it... on clean its got this warm (not as in bassy) warm warm tone. Not overly fat like a Tonezone in the neck (My S520 became a Les Paul) but warm... plus when split, the cleans are very nice, not thin and brittle. I'd say, jazz is cool with it... and split, its nice for strumming.
On distortion... no mud... note the bass is slightly loose, unlike the tightness of the HFH... there is the wet pick attack which you can hear from Joe Satriani. Otherwise... HELL YEAH. Its more versatile than the HFH, when spilt it really sounds like a single coil... on series, its nice... warm and sweet. In comparison with a Breed neck, the PAF Joe is less prone to mud, has more pronouced wet pick attack, less power, but better clarity/dynamics. I feel its more dynamic than the HFH.

Hope the untidy help helps! :)
 

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The thing that I really like about PAF-7, is it's clean tone. Which is a "woody/George Benson-ish" neck pickup tone. This is something that I didn't find in Air Norton.

Also, the highs are warm, and the lows are nice and clear.
 

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i'd say the fred would sound the best for your guitar. from the list you gave, i would say the virtual paf would "sound" the most appropriate. i have never hear or used one...from your list i have used the other 3, but i know that a fred in the neck will give you exactly what your looking for. not as fat as the air norton by any means, but a more character filled version of the paf pro. the paf joe is a cool pickup, i just haven't had alot of experience with it. i do remember liking it in the js1200 i setup for one of my students, but not as much as a fred or air norton. those were in basswood, tho. frankly, for an alder guitar, i would look into the seymour duncan stag mag. its basically 2 staggered strat single coils as a humbucker and when tapped sounds exactly like a strat single. killer for a blazer...and fattens up in humbucker mode. just another alternative.


rich
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
rty13ibz98 said:
i'd say the fred would sound the best for your guitar. from the list you gave, i would say the virtual paf would "sound" the most appropriate. i have never hear or used one...from your list i have used the other 3, but i know that a fred in the neck will give you exactly what your looking for. not as fat as the air norton by any means, but a more character filled version of the paf pro. the paf joe is a cool pickup, i just haven't had alot of experience with it. i do remember liking it in the js1200 i setup for one of my students, but not as much as a fred or air norton. those were in basswood, tho. frankly, for an alder guitar, i would look into the seymour duncan stag mag. its basically 2 staggered strat single coils as a humbucker and when tapped sounds exactly like a strat single. killer for a blazer...and fattens up in humbucker mode. just another alternative.

rich
Thanks to everyone for the replies!

Hey Rich, you have experience with Ibanez Blazers? Most people I talk to have never seen one or even heard of Ibanez making such a thing. I guess that's because they don't make them anymore (stopped production in 1998 I believe).

Noone has suggested I try the duncan stag mag. That's an interesting choice, because my blazer does have a coil tap mode, and I never really use it because my Air Norton to me just doesn't sound good split. So that is a very interesting idea if it sounds as good split as you say it does. B/c then I could have both a humbucker sound and a more true single coil sound in one pickup. Thanks for the advice!

Also since you seem to be somewhat familiar with Duncan, what do you think of the Full Shred or Jazz in the neck of a Blazer?

How would it compare to say the Fred and your suggestion of the stag mag?
 
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