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Author Topic: Played VHII Bridge and 59 Slab Boards for the 1st Time  (Read 2521 times)

fdesalvo

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Played VHII Bridge and 59 Slab Boards for the 1st Time
« on: December 14, 2015, 04:00:01 PM »
Guitar: Strat w/2-point trem, chambered Alder body, all maple neck (borrowed from my tele).  Characteristics: loud and rich acoustic quality.  Strings have a sparkling presence and rich low end unplugged.
Amp: My tweaked, scratch-built 57 Bandmaster 3x10




VHII:
I'm not sure how to approach this review, because I have polarizing emotions about this humbucker.  On one hand it splits like no other BK humbucker I've owned.  For me, the Abraxas was the end all-be all of split buckers.  The #4 position split with the middle 59 Slab was stunning - there were no humbucker artifacts here.  It sounded like two stellar singlecoils. 

Clean, with both coils on, yielded a really bright and clean tone.  Very nice cleans to be had without the nasty midrange hump the most humbuckers present with no overdrive. 

My joy ended abruptly as soon as I started kicking on my OD pedals (2 x Xotic SL Drives).  My amp is gloriously clean and it blows the 66 Super Reverb that sits next to it out of the water all up and down the volume pot.  It can be fat or cutting, with a really nice midrange that makes tweeds so juicy.  Sadly, through my rig the VHII doesn't have the low end or mids that I need.  In all fairness, this is the tone that I hear on the early VH records, so it's not like I wasn't expecting that.  I was expecting my rig to be able to make up for any lack across its freq spectrum, but I just can't get on with it.

The reported harmonics and overtones are all there.  The touch sensitivity and uncompressed feel are all there, too.  Regardless of pickup height and amp settings, I just couldn't fall in love.  I will say this - if it's the tone you dig, I've yet to hear a more natural extension of the two single coils that are already on a Strat.  Flipping from the 1st position back to the 5th presents no outrageous jump in volume or low end.  I'd therefore say that this pickup really loves to play with single coils.  I've never heard its match in this area.  It's just a bit short of usable midrange and compression in my current rig.

I ended up putting my trusty Abraxas back into the bridge slot, feeling rather burned by the VHII.  Instantly the girth and fluid, singing tones were back in spades and she was ready to roll.  I'm tempted to shelf this pickup in the event that I wind up with a fat and blurry hunk of wood.  Based upon my exp, this pickup would live well in a set neck guitar with a fixed bridge.  That's just one man's opinion.


59 Slab Board Neck/Middle:
Wow....just..wow?  Yes.  Wow.

Just when you think you've found the Holy Grail with the 63 Veneers...bam!  Another Home run from BK.  I still LOVE the 63's in my Tele - and they ain't getting pulled, but dammit, these 59's are just stunning in a different way.  The 63's in my mind have a fat and juicy Texas vibe, but they seem to do everything well.  These 59's....if the 63's are Jimmy, then these 59's are Mayer, Stevie, ad then some.  They just absolutely nail the SRV/Mayer clean and breakup tones.  They sound amazing with drive, too.  All along the volume pot, there are classically stunning tones to be had!  It's just heavenly mated up to my tweaked 5E7 clone.  OH - set low in the pickguard, it will NAIL old Dire Straits.  You know the one.


So - is the Abraxas right for this guitar?  It is right now.  I'm going to spend some quality time with this config once the proper neck for this partscaster arrives and I'll move on from there.  I have yet to own a BK that could unseat the Abraxas from any of my guitars bridge positions and that says a lot about this pickup.  It's been in Mahogany, Ash, and Alder guitars with various trems and fixed bridges.  I've yet to find a place where it doesn't inspire.  Still, that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best possible choice for this particular guitar.    I've already been through the Crawler, VHII, and the Holy Diver and in my exp, these seemed to be fairly purpose built per a specific genre.  The Abraxas has been able to blur lines in every rig I've run it through. 

Maybe I'm in denial that this is the one.  I'm still curious about the rest of the BK lineup, however.  Like my exp with the 59 - there may be another pickup that just blows my mind.  I'm not able to express what I want, only what I don't and that's made most of my life very difficult; I never know until I get there.  With gear it's the same and it's expensive.  I've still got my eyes out for another BK humbucker to go into the bridge slot of this Strat, but for now, the Abraxas is it.  I'm open to suggestions for another hb that can do vintage to heavy rock with a little compression and nice mids/bass - something that plays well split.




darkbluemurder

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Re: Played VHII Bridge and 59 Slab Boards for the 1st Time
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2015, 04:13:49 PM »
It seems I was not the only one not getting on with the VHII bridge. To this date it remains the only BKP humbucker I was not happy with. Since I had to send it back within the 14 days exchange policy I have not had the chance to test it in another guitar - it may have worked well there.

Cheers Stephan

fdesalvo

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Re: Played VHII Bridge and 59 Slab Boards for the 1st Time
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2015, 04:30:17 PM »
It seems I was not the only one not getting on with the VHII bridge. To this date it remains the only BKP humbucker I was not happy with. Since I had to send it back within the 14 days exchange policy I have not had the chance to test it in another guitar - it may have worked well there.

Cheers Stephan

Yah, unfortunately, I always end up buying the pickups before the body arrives, so there goes my return window.  I've got the same vibe about the VHII - it's probably the only one I haven't liked from BK, so far.   The Abraxas always seems to make the cut and the Emerald still has me fascinated. 

Telerocker

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Re: Played VHII Bridge and 59 Slab Boards for the 1st Time
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2015, 07:10:20 PM »
Yeah, you have to adjust the ampsettings with this bugger. I like the VHII for certain styles, but in a strat it's not my all purpose pickup at all.
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

Kiichi

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Re: Played VHII Bridge and 59 Slab Boards for the 1st Time
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2015, 01:57:29 PM »
Man, I really want a strat with 59ers....thanks for writing this up.

I, as usual, also added it to the sticky collection.
BKPs in use: 10th set / RY set / Holy Diver b, Emerald n / Crawler bridge, Slowhand mid MQ neck/ Manhattan n
On the sidelines: Stockholm b / Suppermassive n, Mule n, AM set, IT mid

fdesalvo

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Re: Played VHII Bridge and 59 Slab Boards for the 1st Time
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2015, 04:47:14 PM »
TeleRocker - Yeah, I'm going to give these another shot in another guitar.  Hate to give up on them.

Kiichi - Brother, I wish I could bless you with a set of these 59's.  They are really amazing.  The 63 - they are equally amazing, but in a different way.  I'd hate to have to choose lol.

fdesalvo

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Re: Played VHII Bridge and 59 Slab Boards for the 1st Time
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2015, 04:44:33 PM »
Alright - here are some more seasoned observations about the 59s.

As noted in the description, they are a bit brighter than their Veneer Board counterparts.  I do find them a bit bright in my current guitar, but there's something about them that I really like.  While the 63s have more bottom end and grease to the tone, these have a bit of air about them.  They can do TX style blues tones for days, but they also really nail the old James Brown tones, too, lol.  This set makes for one utterly classic sounding Strat in my mind. 

A similarly bright sounding pickup in the BK line would be the Mother's Milk set, which I had in another guitar.  One of the distinguishing characteristics of the 59s - and the point that pushes them ahead of the MMs in my mind - is an organic depth.  Not that the MMs are lacking in that department, but I find that they have a newer feel about them.  They have a more modern edge, whereas the 59s come across as a bit aged, for lack of better words.

I'm not going to be taking these out of this guitar; they play so well with the Abraxas in the bridge.  The middle/bridge split tones are really authentic Strat.  A caveat about the brightness is this - I am not running a tone control.  I have a single volume pot @ 500K running Suhr wiring, which allows the single coils to push through a 250K ohm pot on their way out.  I'm tempted to try mocking up a R/C network in the guitar to see how the tone would change with a simulated tone pot in the mix.