Good options other than SD/DM/BKP for 80's metal pups?

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by JediMasterThrash, Aug 28, 2021.

  1. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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    I'm just in a pickup trying mood recently.

    My preferred tone is soaring 80's leads and palm mute thump. Low-mid punch, easy pinch and A/N harmonics. Swirly growl, great color.

    Things I don't like, complete lack of lows or low-mids, too much bees/razors on the top end. Can't get a good clean tone. "lifeless" or "sterile" (often attributed to active pickups).

    I've been enjoying most dimarzio pickups. Tone zone, paf pro, x2n. And there's lots of DM/SD pickups designed for this kind of metal. BKP also has several. I've got a new guitar coming with holy divers, and thinking of an alnico nailbomb + coldsweat on another.

    But in my quest to just find new good tones, I'm wondering if I should try out something from one of the other brands, Lundgren, Fishman, EMG, suhr, guitarforce, bill lawrence, lace. (must make 7/8string versions too).

    Something that's like "wow", not just the same as what I could get from a DM/SD.
     
  2. Marked Man

    Marked Man SS.org Regular

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    It's a little lacking in natural lows, although it can be compensated for with EQ:

    Wylde L500XL. Both Nuno and Dime, among others, picked this one. It has a uniquely Rock N Roll feel (feels alive) and amazing clarity. Looks uber cool, too. :agreed:

    Pairs perfectly with the Duncan '59N or I'm sure a L500R would be fine, although I haven't heard that one in person. I'm glad I put the 500/'59 in my ash Charvel.

    Ash.jpg
     
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  3. jl-austin

    jl-austin SS.org Regular

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    80's + Metal = Dimarzio Super Distortion. Period.

    There are other choices, and other really good pickups, but don't bother, the Super Distortion nails it.

    But if you don't want Dimarzio for some reason....... uggh.
     
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  4. Zhysick

    Zhysick SS.org Regular

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    If you can get the original 80s metal sound of of those brands then... Why look elsewhere? I mean...

    Dokken? Duncan distortion.
    Early van Halen? Duncan Custom.
    Latter van Halen? DiMarzio ToneZone is close enough to his custom DiMarzios.
    Iron maiden? DiMarzio superdistortion.
    Judas priest? DiMarzio superdistortion.
    Jake e lee? Duncan JB
    Randy Rhoads? Duncan distortion or some stock Gibson PAFs of the era

    What do you want more 80s than that?
     
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  5. efiltsohg

    efiltsohg SS.org Regular

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    Peavey Wolfgang
     
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  6. Marked Man

    Marked Man SS.org Regular

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    Nothing does Eddie like the Wolfgang USA. Forgot all about that one! This is my #1 recommendation.

    I absolutely LOVE it in my Bumblebee. That guitar and pickup have a unique mojo among my collection. I was so impressed, I decided to buy a nice natural Wolfie I had been stalking, mostly to experience the neck pickup and thicker body. I made on an offer just under BIN, but the seller claims not to have seen it. He re-upped it the day King Edward passed and someone else snatched it. And since then, they have been absurdly priced.

    A Wild Card would be the EVH Frankenstein, said to have more mids and attitude than the standard Wolfgang.
     
  7. Zhysick

    Zhysick SS.org Regular

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    Yep, wolfgangs are amazing pickups but actually on the VH1 record Eddie was using a Duncan Custom hence my comment, later with the ernie ball wolfgang guitars the pickup was basically a tonezone but with symmetrical windings instead of the dual resonance thing... I was just trying to make a point of "why looking elsewhere if you already have the real 80s sound there" but actually the EVH Wolfgang pickups are really really amazing, even the korean made ones and you can get those very cheap sometimes when someone thinks that "this korean shit is not good I better get a duncan" and there you have it, best bang for the buck on pickups ever.
     
  8. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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    As to why not just use those pups, I'd say that even though I have tones I chase after, I like to be my own thing. I don't want to specifically copy or emulate anyone. I kind of like finding my tone out of the less common options. If there's something that "everyone" uses (like a 5150, sm57, V30's, TS9, etc), I just intentionally want to find something else.

    And also, I like to think that in 30 years, maybe something better has come out. Something that doesn't just copy the 80's tone, but is 80's + bettter, or 80's + more, 80's turned to 11, etc. Kind of like my thread about strings. I could just use d'addario xls forever. But there's got to be new/better string tech in the past 30 years.
     
  9. Zhysick

    Zhysick SS.org Regular

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    Well, fair enough, if you just want something different for the sake of trying something different... I mean, guitarist will always be guitarist, aren't we?

    You could try new Fishman with their "hot rod" voice which is based on the "holy grail" Duncan JB or the EMG57 which is a more "passive feeling" active pickup. Bill Lawrence pickups as suggested are different from the rest with their own thing or you could try also the aluma line from Lace (alumitone, deathbucker...)

    Those pickups sound different so maybe you will get a different sound for the same purpose as with your already well known 80s standards.

    But you won't be the only one going after those kind of tones with those pickups anyway...
     
  10. Hoss632

    Hoss632 SS.org Regular

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    EVH Wolfgang pups. Kiesel MD12 bridge/beryllium neck combo. Fishman classics. EMG Hot 70's or super 77 retroactive sets.
     
  11. TheBolivianSniper

    TheBolivianSniper SS.org Regular

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    Hee hee hee hee

    check my comment history

    sounds like you need some 57 in your life
     
  12. potency

    potency SS.org Regular

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  13. yan12

    yan12 SS.org Regular

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    Schecter Apocalypse
     
  14. jarledge

    jarledge SS.org Regular

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    I would hardly ever recommend Kiesel pickups as replacement options but the Greg Howe model sounds like something you might like. It is a medium output pickup, that is bright and full sounding like a hot PAF style pickup. the carvin/kiesel M22SD would be a good option for cheap as well.
     
  15. Hoss632

    Hoss632 SS.org Regular

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    I would not recommend the Howe for high gain stuff.
     
  16. BabUShka

    BabUShka SS.org Regular

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    I havent tried those myself, but I know that a couple of members from another forum that swear to Tonerider and Iron Gear pickups.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2021
  17. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    Get vineham pickups to wind you something. Fast turnaround and like $140usd for a set.
     
  18. Wrecklyss

    Wrecklyss Custom Speaker Cabinet Builder

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    Tom Anderson H1, H2+, H3. A bit on the pricey side, but they cover hair and thrash quite easily (and a lot of other styles too).
     
  19. Neon_Knight_

    Neon_Knight_ SS.org Regular

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    Early 80s metal was largely Super Distortion and JB, as other have mentioned, but the EMG 81/85 combo became increasingly popular from the mid-80s onwards. Judas Priest and most thrash bands made the switch. Most '80s power metal (Helloween, Blind Guardian etc.) use EMGs and they continue to be the pickups of choice for power metal.

    Actives certainly aren't for everyone, but EMG 81/85 is the obvious omission from the OP's list of tried pickups for '80s metal.

    My personal choice is DiMarzio D Activators.
    Great for '80s tones (Chris Broderick used them in Megadeth), death metal (they were designed in collaboration with Muhammed from Necrophagist) and pretty much everything in between. Far more dynamic than actives, have amazing harmonics, and offer more scope for amp shaping than most pickups.
    If you haven't tried them, you really should ;)
     
  20. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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    I have an ibaneze xiphos that came stock with d-activators. Though they aren't specifically labelled, so I'm assuming it's an OEM/cheaper version. They did have some great growl and harmonics, but seemed to lack 'something", and couldn't clean up well. I ended up replacing them with the X2N and PAF Pro combo.

    I'm not sure if the "missing something" was due to them being cheaper/oem versions. I've also found that this mahagony body instills some kind of tone shape that exists in any pickup I put in it.

    d-activators is definitely something i could try again, especially the 7. If they don't clean up well it probably doesn't matter for the bridge, I pretty much use the neck exclusively for clean tones.

    Of course anyone could ruin a great pickup/guitar tone with bad amp or post-EQ settings. I personally find megadeth guitar tone to grate on my nerves (even though I'm still a big fan of the band). Same with metallica. It's hard to listen to MOP and Justice without getting ear fatigue after a couple songs. And any of their post-alternative area albums the guitar sounds like distorted farts.

    Probaly the best modern guitar tone I've heard is the new Primal Fear Apocalypse album. I hear they used an engl savage 120 album and rack engl's live. I'm probably biased since i could tell it reminded me of my own amp (e530). And also the Silent Force albums. Alex Beyrodt of course went from silent force to primal fear as well.

    it's so hard in the last 20 years to actually hear a powerful electric guitar tone. It's all just a little hair ontop of overwhelming double-bass drums and bass lines that just double the guitar rhythm.
     
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