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

hamoftruth

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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.
It's a quality Gotoh GE1996T, I believe the block is brass but it's not super chunky or anything.
 

KnightBrolaire

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I'd say an Imperium. It's quite responsive on the low end, not overly mid spiky, plenty of clarity on the high end, and can cover huge swathes of tones easily.


Dominion has very tight low end, tons of mids warm high end, and probably isn't what you want. It's not overly versatile tbh.


If you're looking at Motor City, then the afwayu is an awesome option. It's got a big low end but never felt flubby, grindy mids and tons of clarity/high end on tap. Cleans up really well and covers a ton of tones ime.
 

Edika

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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?
It's been a while but from what I remember it was just the magnet and the wax that was holding it in place, it didn't seem to be glued. I took of the baseplate and pried off the magnet carefully. It didn't come off super easy but it wasn't a big struggle.
You could even try the EVH pickup with Alnico 8, as suggested. Good thing is that they are cheap and if you actually like the sound, then it'll be less of a hassle and less cost. It won't completely change the character of the pickup of course but it's worth a try.
 

Neon_Knight_

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I love the D Activator bridge, but suspect you may prefer something with more low mids.

I think Super D would be an improvement on the Tone Zone for you, but that Super 3 might be even better (tighter bass & smoother highs).

One of the Petrucci signature pups may also work well for you (i.e. Crunch Lab, Illuminator, Sonic Ecstasy or Dreamcatcher). They're all fairly warm, but without being loose and flubby in the lows. As you like Petrucci neck pickups, this seems a very logical avenue. Have you tried any of them?
 

EdgeCrusher

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I've been on a similar tone quest with my RG570; it's just naturally a bit thinner than my fixed bridge guitars. I had a Tone Zone/Air Norton in it first, which I did really enjoy. I ended up swapping in a D-Sonic in the bridge to help tighten up the low end, as I found it a bit too loose for my liking. This fixed that issue, but I think the D-Sonic may actually be too tight for my liking at times in this guitar. I think somewhere in between would be ideal. Illuminator may fit the bill. I will be trying a brass block at some point as well.

I then ended up swapping the Air Norton in the neck, as I then found it too dark compared to the tight and cutting D-Sonic; felt to drastic to me when switching positions. I put a Humbucker From Hell in the neck, as it's supposed to be really bright. It mostly did what I wanted, but was lower output than I liked, therefore also a bit mismatched with the bridge. I now have a Gravity Storm in the neck, and it is pretty balanced out now.

I'm surprised to hear you thought the Tone Zone was too hairy/fizzy, as it's supposed to have lots of bass and mids with chopped treble. Could be the huge amounts of mids as Lorcan mentioned. Breeds may be a good choice, as they were also designed to fatten up Vai's JEMs.

D-Activators are pretty high output. If you found the Tone Zone too hairy, I don't think you'd like the D-Activator.
 

elkoki

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It's a quality Gotoh GE1996T, I believe the block is brass but it's not super chunky or anything.

Gotoh GE1996t's have a thin brass block. But using a thicker one will get you different results. I have the same bridge in my main Schecter and experimented with it, a thicker/ heavier block will add some girth to your tone, but overall it just makes your guitar sound fuller, better, especially if it sounds thin and lacking. I can't really describe it, but I always refer people to this video. He's using an OFR but same stuff applies .. Just note that FR blocks won't fit your bridge, https://www.fu-tone.com/product-category/big-blocks/big-blocks-gotoh/
 

Choop

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The D-Sonic is great as well.

Talking about thickening up a guitar's tone, I'd love to try plopping a Super Distortion into an SG, or an Ibanez S series. I'd do it to my SG, if I weren't already so content with the SH-5/SH1n in there. :X
 

John

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Super 3 comes to mind. Has the characteristics of a Super Distortion, but with the high end chopped off.
If you're willing to splurge more, BKP Warpig.

As an additional alternative, Dominger pickups come to mind. I recently got a Warlord set for this, as well.
 

dspellman

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It's a quality Gotoh GE1996T, I believe the block is brass but it's not super chunky or anything.
I have big old FU-Tone brass blocks in several of my Floyd-equipped guitars, and they've made a significant difference in the tone (you're going to have to decide if it's "tone" in the direction you want to go) and in the inertia of the Floyd as well. I tried most of the materials available (copper, stone, titanium, etc.) and settled on brass. You might also check into a set of the noiseless springs (most choose the red ones, which have more resistance than stock).

I'm using both Super Distortions and Suhr Aldrich pickups in the bridge position (I don't care for the Aldrich neck pickup). YMMV, of course.
 

Emperoff

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I hate those black "noiseless springs". They're very far from being quiet, and they're a pain in the ass to deal with due to the extra tension. If you want real quiet springs, just dampen them from the inside (I stuff a piece of foam inside each spring).

As mentioned, besides the pickups take a look at the sustain block. This is the only video I've seen that clearly showcases the tone changes. And yes, the claw also makes a difference:

 
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Ross82

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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.
I recommend the Super Distortion too, very thick sounding pickup.

If you’re not adverse to modifying the mounting legs (or maybe they have triangle tabs) then my next suggestion is BKP Nailbombs, they sound killer on my Floyd equipped guitar, which also has a brass trem block as someone else mentioned. More chunk than a Goonies movie.
 

elkoki

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I hate those black "noiseless springs". They're very far from being quiet, and they're a pain in the ass to deal with due to the extra tension. If you want real quiet springs, just dampen them from the inside (I stuff a piece of foam inside each spring).

As mentioned, besides the pickups take a look at the sustain block. This is the only video I've seen that clearly showcases the tone changes. And yes, the claw also makes a difference:


I have a brass claw as well , not sure if I noticed a tonal change though , initially I thought I might’ve heard more brightness.. But I never recorded an a/b.

Still worth a try for most people, they are very cheap , Floyd Rose sells them for $11 , I would not use the brass screws though, I have read they’ve snapped in some peoples guitars.
 

Hoss632

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If you are staying in anything D on up to standard I'd say a Tone zone or maybe a Liquifire will thicken it up a good amount. Also any of Steve Vai's pick up sets as well since he plays exactly what you described, Superstrats with floyd's, basswood and maple necks.
 

hamoftruth

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It's been a while but from what I remember it was just the magnet and the wax that was holding it in place, it didn't seem to be glued. I took of the baseplate and pried off the magnet carefully. It didn't come off super easy but it wasn't a big struggle.
You could even try the EVH pickup with Alnico 8, as suggested. Good thing is that they are cheap and if you actually like the sound, then it'll be less of a hassle and less cost. It won't completely change the character of the pickup of course but it's worth a try.
That's good to know. I probably wouldn't dissect the Dimarzio EVH pickups since they're not available anywhere else and I'd hate to jack up an old set.

Updated considerations for my reference,
N - Air Norton, PAF Pro, Gravity Storm, Liquifire/Illuminator
B - Imperium, D-Sonic/Crunch Lab/Illuminator, Norton, Super Distortion/Manlius Super D, Motor City 2DBB/Afwayu, Suhr Aldrich, BKP Nailbomb

For those recommending pickups with "chopped off/warmer highs," that's definitely not the goal I'm after. I like an articulate defined treble on the bridge pickup, something about the trebles or maybe high mids in the Tone Zone just felt abrasive to me.

I did wind up splurging for an FU Tone big ol brass block so I will try that first here and see how I do with it. What's the benefit for the noiseless springs though? I've never really run into any issue with trem springs ringing out and causing issues, but maybe I'm just not playing loud enough. It seems the block is what makes the most obvious tonal difference out of the available Floyd "upgrades," I had considered stainless hardware screws and brass claw/screws but didn't want to go all out straight away. I also already installed titanium saddle blocks since the previous owner cranked the blocks on this guitar and they were absolutely wrecked. Removing warped saddle blocks from a Floyd is one of the most annoying pieces of guitar maintenance I've ever had to do :noplease:
 

bigcupholder

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For those recommending pickups with "chopped off/warmer highs," that's definitely not the goal I'm after. I like an articulate defined treble on the bridge pickup, something about the trebles or maybe high mids in the Tone Zone just felt abrasive to me.
I'd remove the Crunch Lab from consideration then, maybe the Liquifire too if you also want more treble in the neck. The Crunch Lab treble is quite chopped.

If you still have the tone zone and the only problem with it was harsh highs, I'd recommend either wiring a tone control inside the cavity OR trying a 250k volume pot. Either of those approaches would only cost ~$10 and less time than a full pickup swap. Worst case, if you don't like it, you have a spare pot in your parts drawer for later.
 

lost_horizon

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Tone Zone is the everything on 11 pickup. I find the Super Distortion to be more balanced and the sustain is insane.

I have tried the Air Norton in neck and bridge, I think it sounds exactly the same in the neck, too trebly and mid heavy. It sounds sludgy like you just entered another dimension where all you lines seem slowed down.

The PAF 36th is great and loud but definitely more trebly than you would expect:


Super 3 has ten billion good mids, no bass and smooth treble. Bridge pickup comparison with PRS HFS, SD DDJ and others here. PRS HFS, Suhr SSH+ feel like too much treble, when I palm mute, you can hear the strings i'm not even playing ringing out! Suhr SSV or SSV+ are better in the bridge.


Suhr DSH+ has the treble rolled off and still sounds super hot and tight. String separation is something else.


Suhr Doug Aldrich is a Suhr Tone Zone.

I think the Dimarzio FRED sounds great in the bridge, as does the Double Whammy if you can find it. Satch was using the Double Whammy back in the day with his floyd guitars and they sound so thick and articulate. They were OEM on some Ibanez:




Dimarzio Steve's Special? Sounds great in a Floyd Guitar and the treble is so good.
 

Drew

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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.
That's a huge range of tones ou're looking for, and I'm not sure theres a single pickup that really lends itself to both sides of that spectrum - a vocal "wow" thing with more low/low-mids, as well as a tighter more percussive extreme metal.

I guess, though, if I had to steer you in a few directions -

*Steve's Special. Basically a 6 string Blaze bridge, and that's a vocal-sounding pickup with a lot of low/low-mid energy and ample but not "hairy" high end.
*AT-1 - probably not a good extreme metal pickup, and I vastly preferred it for lead than for rhythm. But extremely vocal, thick, with a lot of low-midrange to it. Andy Timmon's signature model.
*Duncan Custom - this one's kind of an anomaly, but the first thing that came to mind when you mentioned bite in the treble frequencies for when you want to dig in, low notes on this one are VERY percussive, oddly so, but it still has a vocal high end and the same sort of harmonic haze on sustain that I love about the Blaze. It would definitely hit the extreme metal tones well, but at least in Alder I dug the shit out of it.
*Tone Zone. I know, you tried it, you dind't like the high end... but this pickup's high end is very sensitive to how close to the strings it is. Back it off a bit, and it gets a lot smoother in the high end. If you still have it, it's worth a shot.
 

hamoftruth

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Well I got the FU Tone brass 42mm block in my Gotoh. It is certainly a change, more bass response, a bit fatter sound. Interesting, not completely sure which I prefer, it really depends what tone I'm seeking. It's nice for variety at least, since I have two Axis guitars that would otherwise be identical spec-wise. It's a hefty piece of hardware! Quality looks very good.
 


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