Pickup Choices for Thickening the Sound of a Floyd Rose-Equipped Guitar

hamoftruth

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Let's say you have something like a superstrat guitar - Floyd Rose, bolt on maple neck, in this case basswood body with maple cap. Music Man Axis/EVH style guitar.

The stock bridge pickup is not that dissimilar to a JB - midrange peak, very little bass (in this context anyway), smooth trebles. It's awesome when paired with the right sound for the EVH tone, but I have a hard time making it work in other contexts.

This guitar, like many other Music Man instruments, is routed for those triangular Dimarzio tabs so I'm really trying to stick with Dimarzios or another manufacturer that offers those mounting tabs in a pickup format of similar dimension.

I tried a Tone Zone for kicks, because of the Larry Dimarzio article about it being one of the two final pickup prototypes to go in the EVH model. It's really not my jam - it's higher output than the stock pickup, the bass frequencies weren't bad if a bit too fat/loose but the trebles were hairy and hissy, very unpleasing in this guitar. Maybe it's the lack of a tone control? Single 500k volume pot.

I wish the Dimarzio pickup picker offered the choice for "tighter/more aggressive" bridge pickups. Something with a bit more body in the lows/low mids but still staying tight, not quite such a large midrange hump, and some nice bite in the treble frequencies for when you really want to dig in and hear the pick scraping against the string. And some of that vocal Dimarzio "wow" thing going on, only some of their pickups seem to do it but it's a cool trick. Something suitable for hard rock all the way thru to extreme metal depending on one's amp situation.

The neck pickup is honestly pretty fine but I'm growing fond of the sound of the Petrucci neck pickups at the 24 fret position, which I don't think can realistically be approximated in a 22-fret neck pickup position. The pickup might just need to be raised higher actually, and it might be a more preferable balance (pickups are screwed directly into the wood).

The Dimarzio pickup picker seems to suggest the Gravity Storm set a lot for both positions. A Floyd Rose really is a distinct thing tonally and pickups can sound very different in that context compared to a hardtail instrument. I haven't had a Floyd-equipped guitar for many years so I'm curious as to any suggestions folks might have!
 

aWoodenShip

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Without giving much advice on DiMarzios bc I don't typically use them, it's definitely not a task at all to take some tin snips or a metal file to the square tabs to make them work.
 

TheWarAgainstTime

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For rock/hard rock/metal without a giant mid hump, the D-Activator bridge is a safe bet. I've had one in several Floyd/trem guitars over the years and have actually found myself missing a bit of mids when I use it. I tend to prefer pickups with a lot of mids, though, so it would probably be a good balance in this case.

The Gravity Storm neck does a great job of adding some body to brighter/thinner guitars, but it may be a bit more mid-forward than you're wanting. If you like the Petrucci-style sound from a neck pickup, you might try an Air Norton since it's not as rounded off on the top end and has a bit less lower mids than the Liquifire. I think the PAF Pro may be a good choice too. Super vocal since it's focused mostly on upper mids/treble and would probably do well in a 22-fret guitar since it doesn't have a particularly big low end.
 

Lemonbaby

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I wouldn't use the Gravity Storm in the bridge position, it's way too bassy and will screw up your distorted sound. How about a Titan?
 

BrutalRob

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Other things to consider to fatten up a floyd rose guitar´s tone: Use a big block on your floyd.

And if you actually kinda like the pickup that is already in it, just want it to be a bit fatter in lows/low mids: swap the magnet for alnico 8. that will do the trick
 

Edika

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Other things to consider to fatten up a floyd rose guitar´s tone: Use a big block on your floyd.

And if you actually kinda like the pickup that is already in it, just want it to be a bit fatter in lows/low mids: swap the magnet for alnico 8. that will do the trick
I actually put an Alnico 8 magnet to a ToneZone and was pleased with the results. It tightened the bass and smoothed the highs a bi, plus it gave it a bit more kick in the output, so it's something for the OP to consider. And I do have it on an Ibanez with an Edge trem.
 

Lorcan Ward

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Dimarzio Dominion is a tighter, less hot, more aggressive tone zone. It still has lot of mids(Mostly lows) and Dimarzios rounded off but hairy treble/presence. I found the tone zone had smooth highs but exaggerated the pick attack and was quite noisy which gave the illusion of a brighter pickup when you played with it.
 

bigcupholder

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The Crunch Lab would definitely thicken up the sound. It's got a lot of low mids rather than a deep bass response, which helps keep it tight. You probably don't want too much bass if you're looking for a tight tone because you'd likely end up trying to cut it before the amp anyways.

Regarding the lack of a tone control: you can try a lower value for the volume pot to compensate, or wire up a tone control but leave it inside the cavity
 

kmanick

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if you want to think outside the box the Rio Grand BBQ is exactly what you've described. I have a les paul traditional pro exclusive 2011, that sounded very thin and almost "shrill" with the stock Gibson pickup in the bridge. The neck sounded great so I just needed a better bridge tone. I put one of these in and it's loaded with low mids and sounds huge. taps really well and handles gain great, doesn't mush out, saved me from selling the guitar. Rio grande . The Motor City 2nd degree black belt is also in the same camp tonally. duncans and Dimarzio's are not the do all end all of pickups, lots of good options out there. the Suhr Aldrich is also one to think about, kind of like a JB but thicker and smoother upper mids.
 
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BabUShka

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Check out the Super Distortion and see if it seems like something you would want. Definitely bigger in the bass, but tighter and less dark than the Tone Zone.

Thats would be a good option. My RG550 Genesis has a Breed in neck and Super Distortion in bridge. Super Distortion sounds great! Its not as extreme as BKP models, but definately great for rock and metal. A very versatile option.
 

eaeolian

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It's like a better Super Distortion.
 

Legion

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I'd concur with the Super Distortion suggestion. It was literally designed with that purpose in mind: thickening up RG's in the shred era. There's a reason literally every Sunset Strip shredder had an RG with Super Distortions in it.


I'd be cautious with the Dominion, my experience with it in an RG652FX was negative. The insane tightness made it feel anemic, and the topend rolloff made the pickup put out just mids and nothing else.
 

eaeolian

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that looks pretty interesting , have you had the chance to try one?
Matt the Other Division Guitarist has one in the Charvel Roundhorn V parts mutt he just built. Sounds freakin' great - thick and crunchy like I hear the Super Distortion in my head.
 

elkoki

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You should try a brass block . I know there’s skepticism at first , but the difference in tone is pretty dramatic especially in bright guitars. I’d get the thickest one you can physically fit in your guitar .

For pickups maybe a Super D or Super 3
 

akinari

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Not a lot of folks talk about it but my vote goes to the Dimarzio Norton.
 

hamoftruth

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So far some convincing suggestions for
N - Air Norton, PAF Pro
B - Dominion, Crunch Lab, Super Distortion, Motor City 2DBB, Suhr Aldrich

Any thoughts on the PAF 36th Bridge for this application?

The Suhr Aldrich is a good shout that I hadn't though of in a while, and it has the right feet to boot. I know I can take tin snips to the mounting feet, but that sometimes impacts resale and I'm not skilled enough to make it look anywhere near professional.

I have the Titan in a fixed bridge guitar and it's lean and mean, but I fear it would be too lean in a floyd guitar.

Suggestions for a big block, which I have definitely considered. What kind of tonal changes do folks hear with the swap? Does it change the transient attack at all? (ie saggier vs snappier note attack)

And if you actually kinda like the pickup that is already in it, just want it to be a bit fatter in lows/low mids: swap the magnet for alnico 8. that will do the trick

I actually put an Alnico 8 magnet to a ToneZone and was pleased with the results. It tightened the bass and smoothed the highs a bi, plus it gave it a bit more kick in the output, so it's something for the OP to consider. And I do have it on an Ibanez with an Edge trem.

I thought Dimarzio glued their magnets in place on their pickups? I've done plenty a magnet swap with Duncans but never a Dimarzio, is there anything I should be aware of?

I'd concur with the Super Distortion suggestion. It was literally designed with that purpose in mind: thickening up RG's in the shred era. There's a reason literally every Sunset Strip shredder had an RG with Super Distortions in it.


I'd be cautious with the Dominion, my experience with it in an RG652FX was negative. The insane tightness made it feel anemic, and the topend rolloff made the pickup put out just mids and nothing else.

I think of the Super Distortion as a firmly 70s arena rock pickup, less so the sunset strip 80s even though it was maybe the most common pickup in prepro Charvels and still had a strong presence throughout the 80s. I don't know how it responds in a high gain heavy metal scenario, as I grew up hearing them on the first couple Megadeth/Slayer records and was never super impressed with the tone (quality of music nonwithstanding). I've become somewhat convinced EVH made use of them at various points, at least Pete Thorn's videos on the topic sound fantastic with the ol' Super D.
 

hamoftruth

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Not a lot of folks talk about it but my vote goes to the Dimarzio Norton.
I never hear anyone mention it, what are your perceptions? I know Bill Nash likes the Air Norton in the bridge for Les Pauls.
 

HeHasTheJazzHands

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Something else to keep in mind: If the bridge is a lower-end Floyd Rose Special/LFR, also look into upgrading that. An OFR, Schaller, or Gotoh FR, and replace the block with a brass one if it's not one. I did that upgrade and it was a night and day difference.
 


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