Q-tuners: World's first neodymium guitar and bass pickups.
so i've had these pickups in my RG7420 for roughly 6 months now and i've formed some definitive opinions to share.
- i have a hi-z in the neck position.
it's an absolute dream. i can get every tone i want out of it and very easily. it sounds great no matter what i do on the amp/EQ settings.
these are the only pickups i've tried where messing with the tone knob doesn't add any mud at all--the tone control does nothing more than act as a variable low pass filter (which is what it's supposed to do). the clarity of the pickup extends across the full frequency range, so there's never any mud.
with the tone knob wide open, it gets a beautiful clean sound. articulate and full bodied.
with the tone knob all the way down, the cleans are very lush and warm and jazzy.
with distortion on, it's easy to go anywhere from high speed shredding tones to blues jam tones.
chording or single notes, distortion or clean, it always remains rich *AND* articulate (two words that usually don't go together when reviewing neck pickups).
- i have a super-z in the bridge position.
once again, the cleans are phenomenal. i rarely like the sound of cleans in the bridge position. usually they're too twangy and shrill for my tastes, but these are rich and clear and have more body than most bridge cleans. the bridge position clean sound from these is actually comparable to what a middle pickup on 3 pickup guitar sounds like.
distorted, i can't say i'm 100% pleased with them. to put that into context, most of my distorted playing is metal (and a little bit of rock).
i think the failure is in all the other equipment instead of the pickups. distortions have been made with the behavior of typical pickups in mind. typical pickups have all kinds of peaks and valleys in the frequency response. these q-tuners, however, are very high fidelity and give a pretty even response across the full spectrum. and that's more of an issue for bridge pickups than neck pickups. so it's very hard to dial in a good distortion sound without having to do all kinds of EQing in order to compensate for what the distortions are "expecting" out of the pickup.
also, the pickup is lower in volume than i was expecting. it isn't as hot of a pickup as the "super-z" name leads one to think (i know impedance isn't a direct indicator of output, but the name "super" still makes it sound like it'll be really hot). i've tried it out at various heights and i always have to use an external booster before running it into my POD or amp in order to bring it up to the level of a typical guitar.
after months of fiddling with it, i've only been able to get tones that are usable but nothing i'm willing to actually record with. i get a lot of high end hiss that's difficult to EQ out, and the mids and lows are too even so palm mutes seem to be missing certain aspects that give that wonderful crunch and chug that's so essential to metal.
the only way i've gotten genuinely good metal tones from the bridge pickup is to record the clean signal fed straight in (no DI box, no POD, just instrument straight into the interface), then boost the level, then re-amp it. not very convenient at all and useless for live playing (using an external booster before feeding into the amp/POD is functional, but doesn't yield a genuinely good sound as what i just described).
i can't say enough good things about using one in the neck position. whether you want clean tones or distorted, this will do it all, and with such clarity that you hear everything that there is to hear in your tone.
however, i don't think they're ideally suited for the bridge position if you like to play with higher gain. the nature of amps and effects is such that they are ill suited to a bridge pickup with such even output.
that said, i don't feel the super-z was a waste of money. i'm going to put it in the neck position of my project guitar where i know it will give me some amazing neck tones, both clean and distorted.
...now i need to find a new bridge pickup!