Experiences with Subzero guitars?

Discussion in 'Sevenstring Guitars' started by LostTheTone, Jan 15, 2021.

  1. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    Will do!
    it arrives tomorrow.

    That couch pic is just someone elses I found online :)
     
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  2. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    That's a nice demo and does help with my confidence.

    It's slightly frustrating to listen to him because his tone is close to being what my ear would love, but not quite... But then if it's a guitar at that point, where I kinda just want to twiddle the knobs then I'm not worried about the quality of the wood or the neck at all. Sure, he has Fishmanns in there, but I can do that too...

    Also, I respect any man who unashamedly wears PJs while working.
     
  3. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    @Hollowway its arrived.
    Because of the cold and storage conditions it has an incredible amount of moisture all over it. Ive sat it aside to try and get to room temp before I dick with it.

    Straight off the bat ive spotted the frets need a polish. This moisture has presumably added some corrosion to them.
    The masked off black binding area is abit ropey. I have some odd finish flaws around the headstock And the very end of the fretboard where it meets the body is a touch sketchy.

    fretboard seems ok as do fret ends. Will update further tonight when its acclimated and ive played it and inspected it more. The weight isnt bad and the neck seems like it will be easier enough to play.

    these small finish imperfections im assuming will be on all of them so probably pointless keep returning in the hopes i get a flawless one.
     
  4. cip 123

    cip 123 Vendor

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    I was told the 8 fan will be in stock at the end of this year, November/December.

    for what it’s worth I might just throw in an order see what happens.
     
  5. p88

    p88 SS.org Regular

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    This fanned fret 7 string looks amazing, and it looks even better with white pickups.

    I was tempted to buy this guitar, however I noticed that a) the bridge pickup appears to be angled a little further away from the bridge on the bass side, than the treble and b) the whole pickup appears to be further away from the saddles than on the standard 27" scale black guitar.

    I don't know if this is normal for fan fret guitars, but this is a problem for me.

    I'm sure everyone know that the further a pickup is from the bridge, the looser and rounder the tone is - hence why neck pickups sound the way they do.

    I love tight, clear rhythm tones - so I'm concerned (maybe needlessly so) that the angling and the distance of the pickup from the bridge may effect tone in a way that I don't want.

    See my crude Microsoft Paint illustration to see what I mean.
     

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  6. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    My SubZero arrived this morning :D

    [​IMG]

    I have only had maybe half an hour to play around with it but I am feeling pretty satisfied with my purchase thus far. I will do a proper write up to round this thread off in a couple of days (and some clips once I have properly learned some 7 string riffs) but to give some immediate thoughts :-

    The neck is good. It is a new sensation for me to be playing on a 27" scale, and on a 7 string neck, but the neck itself feels good. There's no fret buzz or other issues as far as I can feel. It's just pretty good. There are one or two tells that this is a cheaper guitar, like little specks of grain filler in the fingerboard, and the edging isn't perfectly finished. They aren't noticeable at all when I play, but I don't want to make out this is some miracle of craftsmanship.

    The pickups are also fairly good. By the standards of unbranded stock pickups they are actually some of the better ones I've played. Playing within the standard range bits of the fretboard the pickups sound alright. Not as good as my Invader or Distortion equipped guitars, but good enough. Down on the 7th string, the pickups actually keep up quite well. Playing on my existing distortion set up they were a little bit muddy, but with two minutes of tweaks (more treble, more presence, less bass) they sound solid. I like the neck pickup more myself, but they are both alright.

    As for the rest; everything works. Much like my ex, the body is fatter than you'd like but it is nicely contoured and it's very playable. The set-up is also fine out of the box. Action is a little high for me, but very playable. It came strung with a 10-59 set, which feels alright but I would prefer the next set up for A-standard.

    In conclusion - Yeah, its pretty good.
     
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  7. p88

    p88 SS.org Regular

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    awesome! glad to see you pulled the trigger and didn't regret it.

    i quite liked the stock pickups too - i almost questioned why i was upgrading them...but then all those doubts disappeared once i installed the fishman fluence's.

    how were the frets? mine felt fine out of the box, but once the guitar acclimatised, a few suddenly felt sharp.
     
  8. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    After a bit more time playing it (and fiddling with amp settings) I can say that I agree with your assessment. There are times when I feel like the pickups are fine as they are, but then when I plug in to a different set-up I am reminded that they are limited.

    That's most obvious playing through my HoTone Nano Heart Attack. It's supposed to sound like a M/B Dual Rectifier, and it mostly does a good job, but it's not as tight as the real deal, and it only has a very basic EQ. Through that, the SubZero pickups' little bit of flubbiness is much more obvious and is hard to get rid of without extra tools.

    Through an amp sim, or through my Valeton GP-100, you can just dial it in and pull out some of the super-low end which cleans it up quite well. You can make some good noises, and it's absolutely good enough that I'm happy playing it for the moment. Judicial use of the tone knob goes a long way to get it sounding good.

    However, getting beyond "pretty good" is hard, and I think it's really a job for a high pass filter, a proper parametric EQ and possibly dynamic compression. I think it can be done, but I don't want to be the guy who has to do it.

    For a very cheap guitar, I don't think you can ask for much more than it gives. However, I do think this guitar is just begging for some tastier pickups. Throwing Fishmanns or EMGs in there should make it a seven that I can play for years.

    As for the frets - I haven't felt any problems at all. I can't say I've done an exhaustive search, but I had a bit of a feel around and everything feels fine.
     
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  9. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    I've had this guitar for a week now, and I've arrived at a sound I'm really quite happy with it.

    I figure I'll just throw up some clips and let you all have a listen.

    DISCLAIMER – I am a mediocre guitarist and audio engineer. I'm primarily a singer, my playing isn’t spectacular, and the recordings aren’t wonderful either. They have a bit of weird reverb/feedback in them, but that's not the pickups, it's my terrible audio interface. I’m only posting snippets too, because frankly I can’t play the whole way through any songs on a 7 yet.

    With that said – Here is the sound that I’ve settled on:

    The Industrialist

    Recharger

    Loco

    And it sounds... Actually yeah, I'm pretty happy with this. It's not super special, but it's a good solid modern metal tone. For a £180 guitar into about £300 of various pedals and a 5w micro amp it's a lot better than I had expected.

    7/10, would djent again.

    That said, the pickups are not very cooperative. I am not an expert by any means, but to me the real problem is that the pickups are too hot for their somewhat flabby response. It's the age old problem of audio engineering - It's easy to add more to a signal, it's really hard to slurp it out if there's too much.

    If they were less hot we would get more out of normal EQing, and could then boost the gain to make up for it. But we can't, and the result is that the input is over-gassed and saturated in a non-musical way. When you add distortion, those unwanted bits of frequency just turn to white noise.

    Fortunately, we do have the technology. And it's really old technology.

    So, “The RAT” is an old distortion pedal. Kurt Cobain had one. It is known to many people for its (apparently) nice fuzzy sound, but known to most metal players for sounding terrible. However, the RAT also has an unusual, and quite powerful, EQ which contributes to it's tight sound.

    Making use of that Filter knob can really tighten up these not wonderful pickups. Sadly we can't just run it at zero gain, because it does odd things to the rest to the rest of the circuit, but we can run it at almost nothing and with the filter up at about 90%. That really tightens it up, and also gives us more control over the hotness. And when you stick that in front of the amp, then you’re well away.

    So what is the whole signal chain?

    Guitar -> Tuner -> “Dark Mouse” RAT Clone -> HoToNe Nano Heart Attack -> Noise gate -> Cab Sim -> Audio interface

    Like I say, there is no expensive gear in here. I'm sure having a real Mesa/Boogie would help, or indeed a real heavy high gain amp of your choice. The Heart Attack is doing a good job though, and I dare say that whatever amp sim or amp you have would work alright. All I’m working with is bass/mid/treble and nothing else.

    The only unexpected bit of gear here is the hardware cab sim I have, which is a CabDryVR. I only really have it for playing through headphones, and if you have a decent cab you won't need it.

    The conclusion is that you can absolutely get a good sound out of this guitar, and while the pickups aren't amazing, they are fine. You do need to fiddle around to get the best out of them, and you may need to invest £30 in a RAT clone, but if you do then you can make it shred.

    The big question remains - Am I still going to upgrade the pickups?

    Yes, I am. But I don't feel like it's an urgent need. The sound here is pretty good, good enough that I'm happy to play it for a little while as I'm learning to play a seven. Sure, it matters to sound good, but for right now it's good enough. For a guitar this cheap, this is a good sound.

    I do still want Fishman's or EMG707s in there. There is (just about) enough room in the control cavity to fit a 9v without modification (if you stick it to the cavity cover) so it would be a seriously easy swap.

    I am feeling positive enough about the SubZero to just stick with it instead of buying a more exciting 7 string. I think the SubZero with upgraded pickups will easily equal a more expensive 7 with stock pickups.

    I may come back again when I've ironed out my audio interface bugs and post up some longer and more varied recordings.
     
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  10. p88

    p88 SS.org Regular

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    Glad you're liking it! And cool clips!

    FYI on the cavity - if you go EMG, with all the quick connect stuff, you'll likely have to enlarge the cavity by a fair amount, or create a separate one for the battery. Quick connect is great, but it comes at a space premium.

    Fortunately, Fishman is a standard pots, wires and solder affair - so it doesn't take much space and the tech was (just) able to fit everything in the cavity (after some minimal routing to the walls of the cavity - all within the footprint of the original cover).
     

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