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Unread 05-04-2012, 12:00 PM   #1
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Video comparison - Dimarzio Area '61 and Fender Texas Special singlecoils



This is just a neck pickup comparison - this one was kind of interesting in that the Texas Special is Fender's take on the bright, somewhat overwound singlecoil sound that Stevie Ray Vaughan used to great effect, while the Area '61 is Dimarzio's Virtual Vintage answer to that same sound.

I put these in last night and still haven't logged enough playtime to make anything close to a final judgement, but right off the bat the cleans are a little sweeter on the Texas Specials, a little more bell-like and with a bit more chime. They're also noticably brighter, especially on the bass strings, and have a more open dynamic response.

That said, the Area '61 really isn't bad - it's arguably more balanced, and with some gain on them it's actually remarkably hard to tell them apart (there are quick links in my description to where I kick in the overdrive on both pickups, and I play fundamentally the same lock with each at the opening, and it's really awfully similar). And, the modern polepiece stagger on the Area '61 is definitely nice -by comparison, the B string sounds a little weak on the Texas Specials, and as I'm primarily a legato guy who also dabbles in blues, it took some getting used to.

If I was just playing clean and low-to-mid gain blues, this would be no contest. However, the Area '61 holds its own much better than I would have expected on the Texas Special's turf, and for more contemporary techniques and levels of saturation, it's silent output and better string-to-string balance is nice. This one's a tough call, I'm not sure yet where I'm going to end up going here.

EDIT - yes, and I realize that with the djent-heavy crowd here, the amount of interest in low-gain singlecoil pickups is essentially nil, but whatever.

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Unread 05-04-2012, 12:14 PM   #2
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Damn you are on a pickup swapping rampage I need to find time to listen to these on some real speakers, as the laptop I'm on sucks.

So are you leaving it HS or just didn't want to bother with the middle until you make a decision?

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EDIT - yes, and I realize that with the djent-heavy crowd here, the amount of interest in low-gain singlecoil pickups is essentially nil, but whatever.
meh .... 'em that's some nice playing

You're also re-igniting my Strat GAS you bastard

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Unread 05-04-2012, 12:27 PM   #3
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I'm here for you, man.

Well, I swapped the two HB2s I had in there with Mordcain here for a pair of Texas Specials, and while I'd already put an Area '61 in the neck, I hadn't changed the middle yet. So, as part of the trade I temporarily pulled out the middle pickup and wired her back up S-blank-H.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do next - I like these, but my first impression is I think I'd like a set of these in a second Strat dedicated for blues playing. Sounds like a Warmoth project. I'm eying maybe an Area '67 in the neck and my extra '61 in the bridge, but I'm a little worried about the output - as it is, with the Texas Specials I had to back off my AT-1 a little bit to make this set work.

Decisions, Decisions... I'm looking at this as a great opportunity to practice wiring up guitars.

Now, everyone needs a good Strat. G shopping, even if you just end up snagging a nicer Mexican Strat off the wall at GC and throwing a better set of pickups into it. Hell, half the fun of owning a Strat is all the modding you get to do.

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Unread 05-04-2012, 12:46 PM   #4
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So many pickups, so few guitars

I'm fighting the urge to run over to a local shop as they've got a couple NOS American Standards on closeout and I have a cabinet I've been meaning to get rid of sitting in my living room. If I can get them to give me a decent credit / break because they've got 4 or 5 of them they're trying to move I may have to go for it... maybe get some Duncan Quarter Pounders and get my Blackmore on

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Unread 05-04-2012, 01:06 PM   #5
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Do it!

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Unread 05-04-2012, 01:20 PM   #6
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You, sir, are a bad influence

On the plus side getting the cab out of the living room will make my wife happy

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Unread 05-04-2012, 01:37 PM   #7
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Nice comparison vid, Drew! Personally I think the Texas Special neck sounds a bit nicer overall, but I agree with you on the Area being more versatile. That's really why I have a couple of different strats (aside from different wood choices) is to have a more modern-friendly version and to have a more vintage version.

True singles will always have a bit more shimmer and chime (those frequencies seem to get cancelled out along with the noise).

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Unread 05-04-2012, 01:42 PM   #8
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I think I prefer the Area '61. It sounds warmer to me. I kinda hate blues tone so I'm mostly comparing the cleans that you did haha that might be why I prefer the Area '61.

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Unread 05-05-2012, 08:45 PM   #9
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Thanks Mordacain! Yeah, I'm kind of coming around to the belief that I need two strats, one for contemporary tones and another for vintage sounds. The only question is which way to go -to make this my "modern" guitar and sacrifice a bit of sweetness and chime for punch and output, and then do a totally retro Warmoth partscaster, or to wire this back up SSS with a fairly traditional "vintage" set like these, and then do something a little more outrageous with Warmoth parts. Tough call...

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I kinda hate blues tone...
I love that you talk about "blues tone" like there's just one. Anyway, don't mistake a couple blues riffs and singlecoils for blues tone, this is my normal "shred" lead sound, and is voiced to cut over the more typical "heavy" Recto rhythm sound.

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Unread 05-05-2012, 08:50 PM   #10
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Haha sorry I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to blues and I'll admit it. The cleans sound good though.

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Unread 05-05-2012, 09:02 PM   #11
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No worries, man. It's worth getting familiar if you play lead guitar at all, since so much of the guitar solo canon is drawn from the blues. And there are some spectacular blues players - Joe Bonamassa is a modern guy who doesn't fit neatly into a lot of the stereotypes, and can absolutely tear it up when he wants to, so he might be a good place to start.

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Unread 05-05-2012, 09:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Thanks Mordacain! Yeah, I'm kind of coming around to the belief that I need two strats, one for contemporary tones and another for vintage sounds. The only question is which way to go -to make this my "modern" guitar and sacrifice a bit of sweetness and chime for punch and output, and then do a totally retro Warmoth partscaster, or to wire this back up SSS with a fairly traditional "vintage" set like these, and then do something a little more outrageous with Warmoth parts. Tough call...
I found that the Ash w/ Maple board in my new strat has given the best cleans and vintage tones I've heard (that's with the stock Fat 50's).

The Alder w/ Rosewood combo in my other American Standard gives a more full-bodied tone and the Areas work better in that than any other strat I've tried, including other Alder/Maple combos and Basswood/Maple/Rosewood combos.

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Unread 05-05-2012, 09:11 PM   #13
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I liked the Area 61 a bit better. Not saying I think it's better, just that for the kind of tones I like, I'd rather have that one.

And very sweet playing man!

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Unread 05-05-2012, 11:26 PM   #14
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The jury's still out, but I may prefer the Areas too, though the Texas Specials are growing on me.

The other variable here though is that I've got 500k pots in the Strat, and the Texas Specials would probably sound a little more balanced with 250k pots.

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Unread 05-06-2012, 12:05 AM   #15
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Quote:
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The jury's still out, but I may prefer the Areas too, though the Texas Specials are growing on me.

The other variable here though is that I've got 500k pots in the Strat, and the Texas Specials would probably sound a little more balanced with 250k pots.
Yea, switching to 250k pots would help even things out and tame them a bit. I had pretty good results with 250k pots for Vol & Neck/Mid Tone with a 500k for bridge humbucker Tone pot.

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Unread 05-06-2012, 02:59 PM   #16
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I`m running a Area 58-67-61 set and just love them.I took out SD Antiquity texas hots for them.

Nice vid & playing and I did prefer the Area over the TS.
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Unread 05-06-2012, 03:41 PM   #17
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I`m running a Area 58-67-61 set and just love them.I took out SD Antiquity texas hots for them.

Nice vid & playing and I did prefer the Area over the TS.
Did you swap them around much when you installed them, or did you grab a pre-wired 'guard? If the former, I'd be curious to know how they compared to each other... I really liked the '61 as a neck pickup (I've got another vid posted here with just that pickup), but something a little sweeter sounding coupled with a '61 in the middle position could be a pretty solid combination, too. I'd just be a little concerned about how well the '58 or '67 could keep up with a bridge humbucker.

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Unread 05-06-2012, 05:30 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Did you swap them around much when you installed them, or did you grab a pre-wired 'guard? If the former, I'd be curious to know how they compared to each other... I really liked the '61 as a neck pickup (I've got another vid posted here with just that pickup), but something a little sweeter sounding coupled with a '61 in the middle position could be a pretty solid combination, too. I'd just be a little concerned about how well the '58 or '67 could keep up with a bridge humbucker.
Not pre wired but I put them in the 58 N 67 M 61 B spots.I have thought about trying them in other positions.I would think they would do fine with paf to low med output humbucker in the bridge.Then again I`ve never cared about volume mis matches as long as they are not too extreme.
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Unread 05-06-2012, 05:36 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Did you swap them around much when you installed them, or did you grab a pre-wired 'guard? If the former, I'd be curious to know how they compared to each other... I really liked the '61 as a neck pickup (I've got another vid posted here with just that pickup), but something a little sweeter sounding coupled with a '61 in the middle position could be a pretty solid combination, too. I'd just be a little concerned about how well the '58 or '67 could keep up with a bridge humbucker.
I also have a 58 neck and 67 middle and had that matched with a Tonezone S in the bridge and was apple to volume match pretty easily. Height adjustments make a much more dramatic impact on volume with the Areas than with side by side or traditional humbuckers I've found.

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Unread 05-06-2012, 10:27 PM   #20
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Hmm, interesting. I took the Texas Specials out to a blues jam tonight, and admittedly was playing through a pretty shitty Fender Champion solid state amp that I couldn't dial in because most of the knobs were broken off, but it was set for a pretty generic blues sound, and I'm not sure these are for me. The Area '61 was a little thicker, so I'm gonna give it some more time I think but I might grab a 67 or another 61 and switch back in a week or two.

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Unread 05-08-2012, 06:03 PM   #21
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Hmm, interesting. I took the Texas Specials out to a blues jam tonight, and admittedly was playing through a pretty shitty Fender Champion solid state amp that I couldn't dial in because most of the knobs were broken off, but it was set for a pretty generic blues sound, and I'm not sure these are for me. The Area '61 was a little thicker, so I'm gonna give it some more time I think but I might grab a 67 or another 61 and switch back in a week or two.


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Unread 05-11-2012, 10:34 AM   #22
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Unread 05-11-2012, 02:12 PM   #23
 
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Texas Special, no contest. On its own merit the Area '61 sounds good. But it barely even sounds like a single coil next to the TS. You should try Dimarzio's Red Velvet and Duncan's YJM.
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Unread 05-12-2012, 09:34 PM   #24
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I actually think all things considered they sound remarkably similar - the dynamic response suffers a bit and the Texas Special has a more open, pronounced high end, but the Area '61 captures the same basic flavor and holds up to gain quite a bit better than the Fender, IMO. If I just wanted a guitar for clean or low gain lead playing it'd be no contest but the Area '61 is IMO the more versatile pickup.

That said, the Texas Special is now sitting on my computer desk with a Fender Custom '69 in its place, and my first impression is I like it loads more. I did another video comparison, but it'd be a PITA to post it from my phone do when I get back to my place tomorrow night I'll put it up here as well.

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