#1
Hello everyone,

I've been owning my American Special HSS Strat for quite a while now and I've become unsatisfied with the Fender Atomic humbucker. It's quite flubby and weak on the low end and not very open on the top end, making it sound dull and weak while it's actually a quite hot pickup. This dullness even continues when split, pretty much ruining the bridge + middle position tone.

Specs of the guitar:
- Alder body
- Maple neck, Rosewood fretboard
- Vintage style tremolo
- other 2 pickups are Fender Texas Specials

What I want:
- open top end
- rather big but tight/defined bottom end (good 'chugging' sound would be nice as well, but not the main priority)
- good amount of output (should still be usable for ballsy classic rock tones)
- good split tone
- budget: <100€

What I play:
Mostly classic rock, hard/heavy rock, grunge and metal, like:
ACDC, Airbourne, RATM, Iron Maiden, King's X, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Muse, Volbeat, Van Halen, Wolfmother, ....


What do you guys recommend?
Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster
Ibanez 1987 Roadstar II Deluxe
Yamaha THR10X
Marshall JCM900 SL-X
Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah
TC Electronic Polytune
Seymour Duncan Tweakfuzz
#3
I play thru a very similar rig; various guitars>tuner>sd1>rebel 20>1x12.
The Seymour Duncan JB works well for classic rock tone. I'm pondering sd p-rails, have you checked them out?
#4
The JB is not exactly what I'm looking for, from the pickups I played so far it's not exactly one of my favorites, it has that nasally midrange tone that I just don't like.

P-Rails look interesting but no idea how they sound, unfortunately they are hardly on any production model guitars, so trying without buying is kind of difficult...
Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster
Ibanez 1987 Roadstar II Deluxe
Yamaha THR10X
Marshall JCM900 SL-X
Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah
TC Electronic Polytune
Seymour Duncan Tweakfuzz
#5
Anyone?
Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster
Ibanez 1987 Roadstar II Deluxe
Yamaha THR10X
Marshall JCM900 SL-X
Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah
TC Electronic Polytune
Seymour Duncan Tweakfuzz
#7
I would have said a Duncan Custom of some sort, but I can't for the life of me remember which one would be best, cos there's about 5 different ones. Possibly a Bare Knuckle Nailbomb too, I know Matt from Muse uses them and they're supposed to be versatile, but I can't say whether they would be really expensive imported into Austria.
Guitars & Gear:
Parker Nitefly M
Sumer Metal Driver
Ibanez RGD2120Z
AMT SS-11B
Two Notes Torpedo CAB
#8
DiMarzio super distortion. I heard a guy playing a HSS strat with one of those in the bridge on youtube. Great for Iron Maiden!
"You're not hardcore unless you live hardcore"
#9
Well, the Pearly Gates is not what I'm looking for.
Good rock pickup, but not ideal for the heavy stuff IMO.

Duncan Custom, well, I guess it depends which one.
The Duncans I played so far were not exactly what I was looking for - which doesn't mean that I want to rule out Duncans completely. The JB reminded me too much of my Atomic (more like what the Atomic wants to be but still...), the Pearly Gates is not what I'm looking for either. Good rock pickup, but not ideal for the heavy stuff IMO.
Also played a Duncan Distortion, which was more what I wanted but the split tone was pretty dull.

I really liked the Dimarzio Tone Zone so far - a guy in the guitar store recommended it for what I want. Played it on an Ibanez Prestige RG. Smooth, fat yet present, clear and tight, good output, singing lead tones, splits very well compared to the Distortion. Only problem is that an RG is a thinner, brighter sounding guitar with more attack than a Strat and therefore the TZ might sound a bit flubby or even muddy, especially through the Rebel without the SD-1 engaged.

I'll definately consider the Super Distortion as well.
Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster
Ibanez 1987 Roadstar II Deluxe
Yamaha THR10X
Marshall JCM900 SL-X
Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah
TC Electronic Polytune
Seymour Duncan Tweakfuzz
#10
Quote by JesusCrisp
Well, the Pearly Gates is not what I'm looking for.
Good rock pickup, but not ideal for the heavy stuff IMO.

It's easily got enough oomph for the heavy stuff you listed. Absolutely nails Maiden and early Metallica with a decent amp/pedal. But then again I'm sort of person that plays metal on a telecaster...
#11
Quote by korinaflyingv
It's easily got enough oomph for the heavy stuff you listed. Absolutely nails Maiden and early Metallica with a decent amp/pedal. But then again I'm sort of person that plays metal on a telecaster...

Nothing wrong with that, but I need something more aggressive that really gives my amp a kick for punchier non-boosted tones. I want it to sound ballsier, which my current pickup doesn't do.
Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster
Ibanez 1987 Roadstar II Deluxe
Yamaha THR10X
Marshall JCM900 SL-X
Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah
TC Electronic Polytune
Seymour Duncan Tweakfuzz
#12
from what you're saying i don't think i'd want a tone zone. out of what i've tried from the big two, i'd say either custom 5 from duncan or paf pro (if it's hot enough and not too bright) from dimarzio

there are some eu-based handwinders whoo seem to be decent value, too- leosounds, catswhisker etc. i haven't tried them, though.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#13
How are those 2 when split?

The Custom 5 is one I've already thought about.
No idea if the PAF Pro is hot enough (the current Atomic is about as hot as a JB AFAIK), brightness would not be a huge issue though, probably going to use the stock 250K pots anyway unless I find a way to use 500K for the HB and 250k for the SCs.
Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster
Ibanez 1987 Roadstar II Deluxe
Yamaha THR10X
Marshall JCM900 SL-X
Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah
TC Electronic Polytune
Seymour Duncan Tweakfuzz
#14
i don't think i've tried the custom 5 split

can't remember much about the paf pro split tones either

paf pro is a fair bit less hot than a jb, i'd say. noticeably so. even the custom 5 isn't just as hot (or at least not as compressed), but it's closer.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#15
From the description and tone clips I'm kind of leaning more towards the PAF Pro so far.
However, I might also add a Mo'Joe to the list.

EDIT: Is there a pickup that sings like the Tone Zone on the high frets but is less dark and bassy (as far as this is possible)?
Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster
Ibanez 1987 Roadstar II Deluxe
Yamaha THR10X
Marshall JCM900 SL-X
Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah
TC Electronic Polytune
Seymour Duncan Tweakfuzz
Last edited by JesusCrisp at Apr 4, 2012,
#16
I can picture the sound of your current pickup as it sounds like your describing the Duncan Designed pickup in my Jackson, sonds like a JB being played through a tin can with a blanket over it.

Dimarzio Breed might do it, although the Super Distortion is a pretty good fit too, depends on your priorities...basically in terms of what they do best

SD -open top end
B -rather big but tight/defined bottom end
both - good amount of output (should still be usable for ballsy classic rock tones)
both - good split tone

Breed is fatter, warmer, tighter and probably punchier for leads.
SD isn't as heavy in the low mids, has a bit more of an open voicing and sounds a little more cutting and fizzy in comparison. For singing, sustained leads on the higher frets the Breed would definitely edge it due to the fuller tone.
Actually called Mark!

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#17
Thanks Steven, that's very helpful actually.

Open top end would be nice, fizz on the other hand not so much.
I think by open top end I mainly want harmonics, I mean I also liked the Tone Zone, which people often call too bassy or muddy, but it has those cool harmonics on top, giving it kind of an open feel, at least compared to my current pickup.

The Breed sounds more like 'it', especially since I have no neck humbucker for the singing leads on my guitar.

However, will it sound more punchy/aggressive/ballsy than what I currently have?
Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster
Ibanez 1987 Roadstar II Deluxe
Yamaha THR10X
Marshall JCM900 SL-X
Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah
TC Electronic Polytune
Seymour Duncan Tweakfuzz
#18
Quote by JesusCrisp
Thanks Steven, that's very helpful actually.

Open top end would be nice, fizz on the other hand not so much.
I think by open top end I mainly want harmonics, I mean I also liked the Tone Zone, which people often call too bassy or muddy, but it has those cool harmonics on top, giving it kind of an open feel, at least compared to my current pickup.

The Breed sounds more like 'it', especially since I have no neck humbucker for the singing leads on my guitar.

However, will it sound more punchy/aggressive/ballsy than what I currently have?

Definitely - don't get me wrong, it's not a "closed" sounding pickup by any means, just that it's less open than the Super. It's fine with harmonics, I have it in a mahogany guitar but it's actually arguably better suited to a brighter wood.
Actually called Mark!

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#19
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDw3uHzNw1I

If this is a good representation of the SD in an alder body strat, although it's quite thick and open without the harsh attack I remember from the Duncan Distortion, it sounds almost too grainy/hairy to me.

I think I'll go with the Breed then.
Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster
Ibanez 1987 Roadstar II Deluxe
Yamaha THR10X
Marshall JCM900 SL-X
Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah
TC Electronic Polytune
Seymour Duncan Tweakfuzz
#20
listen to mark

i can't remember much about the breed (only tried one once, i think). And can't remember all that much about a super d either, even though i had one for a couple of weeks But i remember i quite liked it.
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#21
Quote by Wisthekiller
DiMarzio Super Distortion, Seymour Duncan Custom 5. One of those.


.... These are made for darker sounding guitars aren't they? Tone Zone Or Evolution fro dimarzio, or SH-6 or JB-4 from SD
#22
Quote by cemges
.... These are made for darker sounding guitars aren't they? Tone Zone Or Evolution fro dimarzio, or SH-6 or JB-4 from SD

I don't see the Custom 5 on many guitars, the Super Distortion however is used in many kind of woods, including alder (Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden used one).

The Tone Zone is probably too dark and bass heavy, loved it in the Ibanez RG I played though. I quite dislike the JB as it reminds me too much of the Atomic, the SH-6's split sound is rather dull and the attack a bit too hard/sharp.

How does the Evo compare to the Breed?
Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster
Ibanez 1987 Roadstar II Deluxe
Yamaha THR10X
Marshall JCM900 SL-X
Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah
TC Electronic Polytune
Seymour Duncan Tweakfuzz
#23
way brighter and hotter, from what i remember
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#24
Duncan Custom Custom. TB11

I've got the same strat basically and pretty much have/want what you want. Duncan recommended that one to me after explaining what I want. I don't think the TB5 or 6 or the JB are what you want. I did a clip in Drop C called 'Death March to Crater 5'. Check it. Even with a Big Muff turned on I was getting a fair amount of definition and no bottom out. It does the classic rock stuff even better.
#25
Quote by JesusCrisp
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDw3uHzNw1I

If this is a good representation of the SD in an alder body strat, although it's quite thick and open without the harsh attack I remember from the Duncan Distortion, it sounds almost too grainy/hairy to me.

I think I'll go with the Breed then.

That's that top end fizz I was talking about, it gets balanced out a bit more in mahogany but really bites in a strat, it's great if you want that kind of tone but I don't get the impression that's quite what you're after.
Actually called Mark!

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#26
Quote by steven seagull
That's that top end fizz I was talking about, it gets balanced out a bit more in mahogany but really bites in a strat, it's great if you want that kind of tone but I don't get the impression that's quite what you're after.

I see.

Well, I think Breed or maybe PAF Pro then.

EDIT: BTW Duncan recommends a '59/Custom Hybrid, Dimarzio a Norton.
Fender American Special HSS Stratocaster
Ibanez 1987 Roadstar II Deluxe
Yamaha THR10X
Marshall JCM900 SL-X
Ibanez WD-7 Weeping Demon Wah
TC Electronic Polytune
Seymour Duncan Tweakfuzz
Last edited by JesusCrisp at Apr 6, 2012,
#27
paf pro might be too bright
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#28
Quote by JesusCrisp
I see.

Well, I think Breed or maybe PAF Pro then.

EDIT: BTW Duncan recommends a '59/Custom Hybrid, Dimarzio a Norton.

Yeah, the Norton shold be a good fit as well.
Actually called Mark!

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People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

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#29
For all the comments that said about the Super Distortion and how it sounds split, I would say to look at the Dual Sound. I would go with Mr Seagull and say that the Breed would be suitable
Current Gear
-----------------
Washburn WI66 Pro //
Ibanez Prestige SA1260 //
Schecter C1 Blackjack //
Fernandes Ravelle Elite //
Wahburn HB35 Semi-Hollowbody
Blackstar HT40
#30
Quote by barnesybaby
For all the comments that said about the Super Distortion and how it sounds split, I would say to look at the Dual Sound. I would go with Mr Seagull and say that the Breed would be suitable

The Dual Sound IS a Super Distortion, they're identical - it's just that the original Super Distortions were 2-conductor.
Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
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...it's a seagull

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i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


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#31
Quote by steven seagull
The Dual Sound IS a Super Distortion, they're identical - it's just that the original Super Distortions were 2-conductor.


My apologies I didn't know they had changed the design to a 4 conductor version. Well played
Current Gear
-----------------
Washburn WI66 Pro //
Ibanez Prestige SA1260 //
Schecter C1 Blackjack //
Fernandes Ravelle Elite //
Wahburn HB35 Semi-Hollowbody
Blackstar HT40
#32
Well I suppose you do get a free push/pull pot with the Dual Sound...
Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

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i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


stuffmycatswatchontv.tumblr.com
#33
I'm gonna agree with SD's rec of a 59/custom hybrid. That coil mismatch makes them sound very open.
Current Gear:
LTD MH-400 with Gotoh GE1996T (EMG 85/60)
PRS SE Custom 24 (Suhr SSH+/SSV)
Ibanez RG3120 Prestige (Dimarzio Titans)
Squier Vintage Modified 70s Jazz V
Audient iD22 interface
Peavey Revalver 4, UAD Friedman BE100/DS40
Adam S3A monitors
Quote by Anonden
You CAN play anything with anything....but some guitars sound right for some things, and not for others. Single coils sound retarded for metal, though those who are apeshit about harpsichord probably beg to differ.