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. Neon_Knight_

    Neon_Knight_ SS.org Regular

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    @JediMasterThrash
    Out of interest, what model of Xiphos do you have? I have a 2007 XPT700 in red chameleon.

    D Activators are most definitely not OEM, but some models of Xiphos (300 series) came with Ibanez INF pickups. Assuming they were D Activators in your Xiphos, they will be embossed with 'DiMarzio'. Did you play about with the pickups heights at all before swapping them out?

    "I've also found that this mahagony body instills some kind of tone shape that exists in any pickup I put in it."
    Assuming you have a neck-thru model, the maple will have far more impact on the tone compared to a bolt-on / set neck. It make the guitar brighter.
     
  2. pahulkster

    pahulkster SS.org Regular

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    I used Evolutions for years and still love them. From reading this thread you may love or hate them lol. They are very clear and punchy and very hot.
     
  3. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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    It's an XPT700, green-blue chameleon. The pickups do say "F", dimarzio, made in the usa stamped on the back, and dimarzio embossed on the top. And someone wrote neck and bridge in black sharpie on the backs. But there isn't any actual model # written anyway. Every google hit on the blue-green chameleon xpt700 says they're d-activators. Looking at pictures on the web, it looks like the model # isn't embossed, it's just a label. I'm surprised they wouldn't make it stamped. If you dumped a bunch of these pickups in a box you'd never know what was what anymore.

    Yeah i played with height. But it was like 6.5 years ago. At that point I was still playing an amp modeler with "all the gain" and "no mids" so it's entirely possible I might love them now with my better understanding of tone and a tube amp.

    I do remember that I Felt like there was almost no difference switching from bridge to neck pickup. That was the main reason in my replacement pups I wanted to intentionally make a contrast, getting something crazy in the bridge and smooth in the neck.

    The "hole in the tone" or "something missing", like a gap in the low mids, could just be that maple neck thru.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
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  4. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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    Yes, actually I've been thinking of swapping my X2N bridge for an Evo just to see how I like it.

    Part of this thread (or all of this thread) is just to see if there's any really great choices i've been missing out on.

    Dimarzio is definitely my comfort zone. Generally good stuff. Most of my favorite artist tones seem to use them. Plenty of options. But what else out there might just blow me away.
     
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  5. Neon_Knight_

    Neon_Knight_ SS.org Regular

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    I would guess the lack of 'stamp' for the model is to make the parts interchangeable for different models as a cost saving mechanism (like Ibanez and the black headstocks they often pair with any body finish).
    From my experience, DiMarzio pickups sold as stock in a guitar have the logo embossed on the front, but the after-market pickups of the same models aren't embossed. I have stock D Activators in my Xiphos plus two sets of after-market D Activators. They all have a sticker label, as you've described, for the model number.

    I would describe the neck and bridge models as being extremely well matched, rather than there being "almost no difference", but I can see why someone might want more contrast between their neck and bridge pickups. I consider that a matter of preference rather than a shortcoming of the D Activator set. Personally, I find most popular neck pickups to be darker and lower output than I'd like. Super 2 (neck) with a Super Distortion (bridge) is another pairing that I really like, but others would much prefer a PAF Pro, which offers greater contrast. Something I don't think I'll ever buy into though is using the same pickup in neck and bridge (e.g. a pair Super Distortions or a pair of PAF Pros, which were both relatively popular at one time).
     
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  6. JediMasterThrash

    JediMasterThrash SS.org Regular

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    I've always wondered, what makes a neck pickup a neck pickup? How much of the "neck" tone is just due to being farther up the strings, picking up more string movement, versus the pickup design itself. I hear lots of talk of putting pafs in the bridge and tone zones in the neck, etc, the kind of backwards placement that yields supposedly great results.
     
  7. eaeolian

    eaeolian Pictures of guitars I don't even own anymore! Super Moderator

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    If you just want to try something different, the Wolfetone Timber Wolfe and Fenris and the Suhr Aldrich can really dial up the hair tone, but a little less, well, "blurry".

    Unless you want the latter '80s hair tone, then it doesn't matter, just smother it in chorus.
     
  8. Neon_Knight_

    Neon_Knight_ SS.org Regular

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    The position makes it darker and louder, so "neck" pickups are designed to partially compensate for that.

    Some people have a strong preference for 24 fret or 22 fret guitars because of the difference in placement neck pickup. I've never compared similar enough guitars in 22/24 fret versions to experience the actual difference though (my 22 fret Ibanez S is different to my 24 fret RGs and Xiphos in too many other ways, but maybe one day I'll own a 24 fret S).

    To match the volume of a bridge humbucker, the neck pickups needs to be lower output and/or further from the strings.

    To avoid sounding overly dark compared to the bridge, the neck needs to be brighter.

    Therefore, on average a "neck" pickup used in the bridge is going to sound weaker and more trebly than you're likely to want.

    For any instance I'm aware of a Tone Zone being use in the neck, it has been paired with an X2N (e.g. Michael Romeo & Buckethead). I believe (but don't know from experience) that the X2N is relatively dark, so this would help to mitigate the Tone Zone's massive low-mid presence. X2N is about 30% higher output than the Tone Zone (500mv vs. 370mv), so in terms of volume it should be a good match - whereas most neck" pickups would give a huge volume drop compared to the X2N.

    A PAF Pro (300mv) in the bridge probably works well for plenty of rock, but is far weaker than I would ever consider using for metal. Carcass use vintage output PAFs, but I believe that's with a dimed Boss HM-2 distortion pedal (the key ingredient for "Swedish chainsaw" riffage).
     
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  9. Neon_Knight_

    Neon_Knight_ SS.org Regular

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    Your perceived "hole in tone" or "something missing" could be due to the maple neck-thru construction, but it could also be because D Activators have less low end than other pickups you use (Super D, Tone Zone, JB, Crunch Lab etc have more low end).
    That said, I would argue it is relative, rather than literally being less low end:

    The D Activator bridge model has a very neutral EQ, but a very high output...meaning it has lots of every frequency. The lower output Tone Zone could theoretically have equal/less low end, despite sounding far darker, because it has so much less treble and high-mids.
    If you were to optimise your amp settings for a Tone Zone and then plug in a D Activator, the D Activator will sound lacking in low end with too much highs and high-mids (plus way louder). Turning down the treble on your amp (without touching the bass pot) would create the perception of more bass.
    Conversely, if you were to optimise your amp for a D Activator and then plug in a Tone Zone, it would sound too boomy and muddy...rather than sounding like it has something that was missing from the D Activator.
     
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