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Author Topic: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?  (Read 3420 times)

1reeper

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Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« on: November 09, 2013, 03:11:58 AM »
Like the title states, I'm seeking note definition.

The guitar that needs this is a '93 Ibanez S540, mahogany body, maple neck (original Wizard), and rosewood fretboard.
Bridge is a Lo-Pro Edge with a brass block.  No tone, and (kind of) no volume pots.

I somehow cannot achieve clear notes with my bridge pickup at the low strings.  It just sounds fuzzy/muddy to me, it's especially bad at the lower frets (nut till about 7th fret on the 2 lowest strings).

I have a Dimarzio Evolution in the bridge and a SD Full Shred in the neck (they don't argue with each other nearly as much as you'd think) and a Qtuner medium in the middle position.

I've tried a Painkiller, an Aftermath, a MM, and a CPig in the bridge.  After about a year with the Dimarzio, I've decided to return to BK's warm and spiky embrace.

I'm looking at the Holy Diver or a CS bridge.  Anyone else know which BK's are good for note clarity?
And to clarify, my tone is fairly medium to high gain.

(I'm also looking at a SD distortion bridge, but I figure since this is the BK forums...)

Thanks in advance!
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Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2013, 04:07:20 AM »
I'm at a loss to be honest! In my experience, all Bare Knuckles have excellent note definition so I'm not sure what would be an improvement on a Painkiller, Aftermath or Miracle Man etc. On a positive note, they'd all be a vast improvement over any Seymour Duncan I've ever tried, which all seem to have more of a tendency to sound 'fuzzy/muddy' under gain. In that respect both the Holydiver and Cold Sweat would work fine, with the Cold Sweat being tighter, brighter and more open and the Holydiver being thicker, smoother and more fluid. Another option might be the A-Bomb, which is a meaty pickup and tight as a badger's backside so you get incredible note definition even with the highest levels of gain.

Another thing I would normally suggest for your problem would be installing BKP 550k pots and Jensen BKP caps but I'm unsure just what you've done to your guitar if you have no tone or volume pot as the S540 came standard with both. Perhaps that's your problem?

I take it you changed the trem too as didn't that guitar originally have the ZR system?
BKP owned:

Bridge - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; A-Bomb; Holydiver; Miracle Man; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Neck - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; Holydiver; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

1reeper

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Re: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2013, 04:28:09 AM »
First, thanks for the detailed reply.

I was actually looking at a HD when I was first browsing through pickups, but I was still thinking in the vein of "moar outputs = goods".  The HD's always intrigued me tonally.  So I'll be sure to keep that in mind.  I considered a Cold Sweat mainly because I'm fairly sure I have a CS neck kicking around a drawer somewhere.  And I didn't even think about the A-Bomb, so I'll take another look at that one.

My control wiring is: no tone, 4-way pickup switch (neck, neck split for single, Qtuner, and bridge), and I have a ON-OFF-ON switch instead of a tone pot.  The OFF position is a kill switch, and I can have the volume pot in the circuit, or out entirely for a straightforward connection.

And the Lo-Pro is original, 1993 S540's had these stock:
http://www.ibanezrules.com/catalogs/us/1993/s_3.jpg
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Dave Sloven

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Re: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2013, 04:48:59 AM »
If you have a Cold Sweat neck pickup and you like it I can recommend the matching bridge. It is pretty much the way Slart describes it, and it matches very nicely with the CS neck in the middle position.
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Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2013, 04:53:47 AM »
I always really liked the 'S' series. Lovely guitars without being as overtly 'Metal' as some Ibanez products.

Back to pickups  :D

For Metal, the Holydiver is my favourite bridge pickup and will certainly work beautifully with a Cold Sweat in the neck, though I prefer it with the Emerald in the neck. The extra thickness you get in the Holydiver compared to many 'Metal' pickups helps to give the tone real body, which will help with your guitar as it's so thin the mahogany will be having little effect. I also tend to like things smooth and fluid with a bit of aggression, which is exactly what the Holydiver gives you. The focus on mids also means it cuts through really well. If you think of Doug Aldrich and Jake E Lee era Ozzy, you'll be in the right ballpark. Leads are fantastic and really sweet with plenty versatility thanks to the alnico V magnet. For a 'Metal' pickup, it has surprisingly good cleans. I see you've already had a Miracle Man, which is another of my favourite pickups and has a number of things in common with the Holydiver. Both are thick, smooth and fluid, it's just that while the Holydiver is all mids, the Miracle Man sounds a bit more scooped as the mids are more low mids than anything else though they're nothing like as far apart as the EQ on the website would suggest. Think of the Miracle Man as a Holydiver with more botom end, more screaming highs, tighter and with worse cleans. The Holydiver is certainly more versatile and with the help of an overdrive pedal, will get you into very similar territory to the Miracle Man.

The Cold Sweat is a different beast entirely. Being ceramic, it's a much tighter pickup and given its Metal application, I always found it surprisingly open. It's a lot brighter than the Holydiver and that would be my concern in relation to your guitar. If you like things brighter anyway, it will be fine. I had mine in an RGT42 but in those days I liked things brighter and tighter than I do now. The cleans are remarkably good for a ceramic pickup but not in the same league as the Holydiver.

The A-Bomb tends to split opinion a bit. I sent mine back because it didn't suit the guitar I was using it in (Jackson Soloist) yet I still find I think about it as an option for future projects. It's a really hot pickup yet somehow retains an element of PAF openness. I have no idea how they achieve that because it does sound very modern in style. It's a big tone but bear in mind the upper mids are very aggressive sounding. It's a really hairy sounding pickup with a distinct edginess to its tone and not only is it the tightest alnico pickup I've tried by some margin; it's also pretty much the tightest pickup of any kind I've ever tried. If you like things to sound very tight and aggressive, this could well be for you.
BKP owned:

Bridge - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; A-Bomb; Holydiver; Miracle Man; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Neck - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; Holydiver; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

1reeper

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Re: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2013, 05:11:07 AM »
Alright, so the way I see it, I can keep the CS as the last resort, more or less, since I have the neck already and can just complete the set.

I do like the MM sound, and I actually have a set of MM's on my other Ibanez, and that's been in there for a couple of years, now that I think about it.

The HD sounds more and more like the pup for me (thickness seems like just the cure for a thin Sabre), but I'm just wondering, what's the connection between tightness and note definition?  Tightness, as far as I understand it, indicates that you can play them faster without the notes blurring together.  But that seems like the same as note definition?  I don't know anymore.

One last question, would a better audio interface help with clarity at all?  My current one is dying a bit, and I'm thinking of getting a new one at Christmas, what with the sales and all.
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Dave Sloven

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Re: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2013, 06:34:05 AM »
I don't find the CS bridge especially bright in my SG, in fact it doesn't seem much brighter than the A-Bomb I had in it previously with the same wiring harness etc.  Where it is very different is in the overall tonality (the CS is a lot 'smoother' and not 'hairy' like the A-Bomb) and the scooped mids, which in an SG is a definite plus given their low mid hump.

Given that you clearly play metal (given your previous pickup choices) it might be easiest to use the following example to give you an idea of the relative brightness of the Cold Sweat bridge pickup.

I have 0.022uf WD Music PIO capacitors and 500K CTS volume and tone pots, wired '50s style

When I play hardcore music I have the volume and tone both right up (even then it doesn't sound as hardcore as the A-Bomb on 8 or 7).  When I play '70s metal I roll the volume off to around 9, maybe the tone to 9 as well, sometimes on full, depending on what I want to achieve.  When I play Celtic Frost, which is a notoriously dark sound, I leave the volume on full and roll the tone knob back to around 6 or 7.  That is not much different from where I would set it playing the same material through my SG Junior with the Stockholm P-90.  With the A-Pig in my Explorer (a darker guitar) I might roll it back just a little to 9 to get that sort of sound.  I couldn't get it at all with the A-Bomb.  It was just too brash

Now if I were to try to get that tone with my guitars through your amp it might be a little different.  Still although I have a relatively dark sounding amp (Peavey 6534+) there is still a long way to go from 6 to 0.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2013, 06:38:48 AM by Agent Orange »
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Alex

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Re: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2013, 09:45:21 AM »
Are you sure it's not an issue with the guitar, such as bad setup, too low locking nut or something else?
Current BKPs: Miracle Man, Nailbomb, Juggernaut, VHII
Past BKPS: Holy Diver, Trilogy Suite, Sinner, Black Dog

1reeper

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Re: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2013, 11:30:05 AM »
@Agent Orange
Thanks for the info, that's actually quite interesting.  I'm fairly sure that a smoother pup will help with my issue.  A "fuzzier" pup like the Nailbomb sounds like I'd get less clarity, tbh.

@Alex
That's more or less the first thing I checked (if you can fix it for free, then why spend money?).  But no, the only way the guitar could be the issue is if the string height was too low and choking the strings.  But my string height is about 3 or 4mm and I've got 3 shims under my nut.  The neck (being a Wizard) has a tiny bit of S-bend, so I have to have high strings to prevent buzzing.
I'm not good enough, technically, to be a classic musician. I lack discipline.

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richard

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Re: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2013, 11:53:50 AM »
What are you playing through ?
PRS Bernie Marsden Abraxas set
Gibson Firebird Studio  Rebel Yells
JV Strat  IT Bridge
Gibson SG Junior JB bridge
Cornford Roadhouse 30 combo
Yamaha THR 100 Dual

1reeper

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Re: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2013, 12:02:19 PM »
Ah... yes, the slightly embarrassing part.  My main amp is a Peavey Bandit 112, but that's at home and I'm at university.  So, I run Guitar Rig through my laptop into a pair of monitor headphones.  The interface is a knockoff of the Behringer UCG102:
http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/UCG102.aspx
That thing, but a knockoff I bought off Ebay for 10 bucks so I could have a mobile rig.

I thought about whether or not that could be causing the issue, but the lack of definition is localized to the lower strings at the lower frets, so I'm not sure.

I do plan on getting a new interface for Christmas or something though.  Looking at a MOTU Microbook II.
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Telerocker

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Re: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2013, 01:17:49 PM »
Ah... yes, the slightly embarrassing part.  My main amp is a Peavey Bandit 112, but that's at home and I'm at university.  So, I run Guitar Rig through my laptop into a pair of monitor headphones.  The interface is a knockoff of the Behringer UCG102:
http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/UCG102.aspx
That thing, but a knockoff I bought off Ebay for 10 bucks so I could have a mobile rig.

I thought about whether or not that could be causing the issue, but the lack of definition is localized to the lower strings at the lower frets, so I'm not sure.

I do plan on getting a new interface for Christmas or something though.  Looking at a MOTU Microbook II.

No offence, but it certainly has to do with the chain after the guitar. Another BKP in your Ibbie would be something like placing an Rolls Royce-engine into a Lada. I think you're better of with a tubeamp.
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

Dave Sloven

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Re: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2013, 02:34:46 PM »
If you are in the UK I'd say have a look at one of these.  It might be perfect for you at this time.

http://www.laney.co.uk/products/product_details/158
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STOCKHOLM
COLD SWEATS
MIRACLE MAN

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Jimmy E Moorby

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Re: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2013, 05:04:59 PM »
Like the title states, I'm seeking note definition.

The guitar that needs this is a '93 Ibanez S540, mahogany body, maple neck (original Wizard), and rosewood fretboard.
Bridge is a Lo-Pro Edge with a brass block.  No tone, and (kind of) no volume pots.

I somehow cannot achieve clear notes with my bridge pickup at the low strings.  It just sounds fuzzy/muddy to me, it's especially bad at the lower frets (nut till about 7th fret on the 2 lowest strings).

I have a Dimarzio Evolution in the bridge and a SD Full Shred in the neck (they don't argue with each other nearly as much as you'd think) and a Qtuner medium in the middle position.

I've tried a Painkiller, an Aftermath, a MM, and a CPig in the bridge.  After about a year with the Dimarzio, I've decided to return to BK's warm and spiky embrace.

I'm looking at the Holy Diver or a CS bridge.  Anyone else know which BK's are good for note clarity?
And to clarify, my tone is fairly medium to high gain.

(I'm also looking at a SD distortion bridge, but I figure since this is the BK forums...)

Thanks in advance!

The nailbomb is much clearer with high gain than all of the pickups youve tried so far and subsequently clearer under any amount of gain.  You could also opt for the rebel yell or vhii for clarity for fairly hot pickups.

(Although i havent tried the painkiller but every thing points to the nailbomb being clearer)
« Last Edit: November 09, 2013, 05:15:28 PM by JimmyMoorby »

Slartibartfarst42

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Re: Note Definition... with a bridge pickup?
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2013, 05:13:39 PM »
I'd agree that getting a better amp would make far more difference than a new pickup.
BKP owned:

Bridge - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; A-Bomb; Holydiver; Miracle Man; Sinner; Trilogy Suite

Neck - Emerald; Cold Sweat; Crawler; Holydiver; Sinner; Trilogy Suite