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Author Topic: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320  (Read 954 times)

Distortion_101

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Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« on: November 22, 2019, 08:19:49 AM »
Hey guys

I've been trawling the forums reading what i can and now finally joined as I'm looking to buy my first set of BKP's!

A few months ago, i bought a Dimarzio Air Zone and Air Norton to fit to my guitar. At the time, it seemed to be what i wanted, med high power bridge, medium power neck, both have great split tones according to users, air tech helps with sustain and i thought the extra bass is something i wanted as everyone still said they remained clear. Plus i wanted nickel covers but adding them to my stock humbuckers just made them sound weak.

Turns out the bass response is not how i pictured in my head, and the split sounds are truly not that great. My Duncan designed HB101 (59N clone) and HB103 (Distortion clone) were better in every way except for sustain. Split my neck used to really sound like a strat (in fact i sold my strat because of that, now it just sounds thin and weak). Wiring was done correctly.

The main reason why i dont like the pickups though is the mushy, smooth (some say creamy) overdrive/distortion that they both achieve. Its made my amp sound solid state in a way. The response also feels slow and the attack seems muted. In addition, my string separation is now non-existent unless i add some treble via my EQ pedal.
My HB101/HB103 used to have some grit and grind, some jaggedness to the distortion, and now it just sounds like those edges have been completely smoothed out. I'm looking for AC/DC type OD, not Santana. I'm also looking for more dynamics.

My Guitar is made of mahogany with a maple cap.

I think I want a medium output bridge, and a vintage neck to have a hot blues/classic rock rig, that can handle hard rock and the occasional metal side of things but that isn't my priority. Diming the gain with some EQ adjustments usually is enough for my metal needs. I'm mainly looking for something with the overdrive sound i'm looking for, something with some edge and grit. Alnico 5 would be my first choice but not necessary and 4C wiring is necessary.

Im looking for something like the 59 neck, just with a touch less bass and a touch more mids (but still scooped). I enjoyed the distortion in the bridge but something with a little more bass (tight) would be welcome. Definitely want something articulate, that you can hear each string being struck in a chord, and something that splits well (I will partial split to retain some power)

After some back and forth with Ben, these are the sets recommended:

VHII Bridge, Black dog Neck (more classic)
Black Dog Set (Classic
A or C-Bomb bridge, Black Dog Neck. (For a bit more power)

I initially wanted the VHII set, but from what ive read, it seems to be a smoother, creamy overdrive which is not what i want.

I appreciate your assistance in helping me get the tone thats in my head.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2019, 08:30:15 AM by Distortion_101 »
Ibanez SZ320BK
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Telerocker

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Re: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2019, 08:44:25 AM »
Hi and welcome!

I'm inclined to say RiffRaffs, but the split might be a bit weak. The neckpickup is one of the brightest BKP's.
I think you should look along the lines of Emeralds and Rebell Yells, maybe with a Holy Diver neck.


Here's a thread about brighter BKP neckpickups.

https://forum.bareknucklepickups.co.uk/index.php?topic=33428.0
« Last Edit: November 22, 2019, 08:46:47 AM by Telerocker »
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Distortion_101

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Re: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2019, 09:09:53 AM »
Im not necessarily looking for the brightest pickups. I want a nice full, fairly even EQ, but with good string articulation.

My guitar also hasa 25.1 scale length, so its  bit clearer than a les paul.

THe HB101 (SH1-59N clone) was good, just had a touch too much bass, and could use a little more mids. The treble was good. The scooped nature gave cleans a lovely glassy touch. Mids could be added by use of EQ or booster.

As for the bridge, the Air zone could use a bit more articulation,and a faster attack. The HB103 (Distortion clone) needed just a little more bass, and needed to be more dynamic/less hot.

Ibanez SZ320BK
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Telerocker

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Re: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2019, 11:10:42 AM »
Im not necessarily looking for the brightest pickups. I want a nice full, fairly even EQ, but with good string articulation.

My guitar also hasa 25.1 scale length, so its  bit clearer than a les paul.

THe HB101 (SH1-59N clone) was good, just had a touch too much bass, and could use a little more mids. The treble was good. The scooped nature gave cleans a lovely glassy touch. Mids could be added by use of EQ or booster.

As for the bridge, the Air zone could use a bit more articulation,and a faster attack. The HB103 (Distortion clone) needed just a little more bass, and needed to be more dynamic/less hot.

You can send the BKP-team an email. Their recommendations are usually spot on. I had a SZ520 btw (for a while).
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

Distortion_101

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Re: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2019, 04:31:17 PM »
I have emailed BKP and spoke to Ben. Must say, really prompt service, and he even responds over the weekend! Really appreciate that level of service!

I initially i asked him about the VHII as that made the most sense in my mind judging by the write up and EQ graph. I liked the idea of the open sound, good split sound, the mismatched coils for wider sound and clearer notes with a higher resonant peak/more treble. I told him the Air Norton/Air Zone was too smooth with no articulation, that the overdrive sounded mushy, with a fizzy, undefined character.

I asked for something with a gritty AC/DC type overdrive rather than a smooth overdrive, as well as something with a more articulation than the Air norton/Air zone, or similar to SH-6 and Sh1.

With that, he recommended a Black Dog set for classic tones, or an A-Bomb bridge with a Black Dog Neck for something a bit more versatile.

I asked him a couple of questions as per below:

1, Which pickups in your range, other than Black Dog (Vintage to lower gain contemporary), would have that gritty AC/DC type overdrive and not smooth creamy overdrive? I'm interested to get a better idea of your range for myself.

His response was Riff Raff set

2. If you had to compare any Bare Knuckle pairing to a Dimarzio Air Zone/Air Norton set and Seymour Duncan Distortion SH-6/59N SH-1 set, which would it be? This is to get a better idea of your offerings compared to my personal experiences

His response was:
Airzone is powerful and alnico - we don't offer anything quite like that spec. It's in between the Holydiver and alnico Warpig.

Air Norton - probably the Aftermath neck or maybe Nailbomb neck.

SD SH6 - ceramic Nailbomb or maybe Painkiller.

SD SH1 - probably Riff Raff neck

How accurate is that roughly in your own experiences?

Im just trying to understand the tone spectrum of BKP pickups

Im looking for something like the 59 neck, just with a touch less bass and a touch more mids (but still scooped). I enjoyed the distortion in the bridge but something with a little more bass (tight) would be welcome. Definitely want something articulate, that you can hear each string being struck in a chord, and something that splits well (I will partial split to retain some power)

Seeing as this is the kind of tone im looking for, i would say a C-Bomb bridge and Riff Raff neck would be my close to ideal set?

Im just scared with the Black dogs that they have too much mids, and they have a vowel-y sound. Plus i prefer the glassier cleans of a slightly scooped sound.
Ibanez SZ320BK
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Telerocker

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Re: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2019, 06:06:50 PM »
C-Bomb is modern metal, good for rhythm  but the leadtones are not happening imho.
Black Dogs has enough topend, but also a lot of centermids.
The VHII is quite dry and noncompressed. A lot to play with only with your pickattack. I have a VHII in an ash strat.
A-bomb has a 90's metal sizzle which you have to like. It's quite hairy with dominant uppermids. Lots of output too.

My recommendation would be RiffRaffs (and use a booster) and in case you're looking for a V-typ of eq = Cold Sweats.

(edit: sorry, totally overlooked some lines in your initial post. You had contact with BKP before this topic... duhh  )
« Last Edit: November 24, 2019, 11:33:18 PM by Telerocker »
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ericsabbath

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Re: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2019, 08:39:12 AM »
vhII's aren't creamy
they're like louder, bassier and more midscooped riff raffs
I like raffs better, though

if you want something hotter for the bridge, the rebel yell will still cover the AC/DC thing
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Telerocker

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Re: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2019, 09:31:26 AM »

if you want something hotter for the bridge, the rebel yell will still cover the AC/DC thing

I mentioned the RY in my first response. I think it would be a great choice.
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Distortion_101

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Re: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2019, 10:35:26 AM »
vhII's aren't creamy
they're like louder, bassier and more midscooped riff raffs
I like raffs better, though

if you want something hotter for the bridge, the rebel yell will still cover the AC/DC thing

How does the VHII neck sound when overdriven? Is it not a very creamy, smooth OD or does it have some grit to it? Can I play some barre chords lower down the neck and still retain clarity or does it mush up?

I want a neck pickup that has some low end (as neck pickups should) but must still have some presence, and note separation/clarity. The Air Norton is definitely not that.

I may just give the Rebel Yell bridge a try instead of the C-Bomb.

I feel the BKP website really should differentiate between the neck and bridge models within a set, and provide an EQ for each as this really has caused so much confusion for me and im assuming others as well.

Searching through other threads, I have found a thread with the following list:

Alnico V necks by brightness (brightest to darkest):
Riff Raff
Cold Sweat
Holydiver
VHII
Rebel Yell
Black Dog

By bass response (most to least):
VHII
Cold Sweat
Black Dog
Rebel Yell
Holydiver
Riff Raff

Is this right? Should you have any experience with more pickups, please add to the list.

The neck tones for me need to be more “right” than the bridge. I’m looking for that clear, yet full neck, with good string separation, and gritty overdriven tone instead of a smooth creamy one.

At this stage I feel lost for this neck pickup
« Last Edit: December 08, 2019, 10:28:36 PM by Distortion_101 »
Ibanez SZ320BK
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Distortion_101

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Re: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2020, 08:08:47 PM »
Okay guys, after a little soul searching (and being MIA online) i have a few final questions as ive realised ive been asking the wrong ones.

Please bear with me, as my first purchase was really the wrong direction and buying pickups is not as easy or cheap here as it is in the USA or UK. So i really want to make sure of my purchase. Plus my mate will be in the UK by the end of this month so would like to have my decision down soon.

Playing with my guitar more, ive narrowed down want i want. Styles i play are (in order of preference) Blues Rock, Hard Blues, Blues, Hard Rock, Classic Rock and Metal. For Metal im happy to boost my Rocker 15 for more old school or use a Distortion pedal to get the saturation and buzzier tone needed for more modern tones.

1. I'm looking for something with an overdrive character that is a bit gritty more than fuzzy/buzzy. The AN/AZ combo i have sounds very buzzy (think Pantera, overdrive sounds more gzzz than grrr). Im looking for something like AC/DC with more push and bass as i play a wide style of music. Im assuming the buzzy vs gritty is more a modern vs vintage character? I always get confused with those terms so im assuming im looking for something more vintage.

2. Needs to split well. Ill be using a resistor to partially split the coils so vintage spec is welcome

3. For the bridge, I'm looking for something full, i don't want it to be too bright/cutting as i dont want a huge EQ difference with the neck but I do want it to be noticeably a bridge tone. 

4. For the neck, I want something similar to my SD 59 Neck. Open, not compressed, Bassy but not overbearing, Slight scoop to give glassy tones (and greater splits) and a bright top end that is clear, and each string is articulate. Not interested in very smooth as i feel the very nature of the neck is to be smooth anyways

I think most important for me is 1. as the others can kind of be EQ'd out (although prefer to supplement my tone with the EQ pedal on not base it off of it)

With this in mind, these are the the pickups that come to mind
Riff Raff Neck
VHII Neck
Nailbomb Bridge or Set
Rebel Yell Bridge

Looking at this clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFth4SYc3TE, the RY Bridge needs a bit more bass to sound a bit punchier, but i like the general tone, and its a MUCH clearer pickup. With that, and judging by the description on the Website, im looking for a Nailbomb (Ceramic for a tighter tone, and Alnico for a more rounder tone), im yet to decide.

Neck is where it gets tricky. Ive read that the Riff Raff Neck is similar to the SH-1 59 Neck. Seeing as i want something with a bit more punch but still open and not compressed, (as per ericsabbath's post above) the VHII is the one to look for.
 
Im just thinking how does the NB neck compare to the VHII neck? ive also heard its bright, and being a hotter wound pickup, it should be strong and bassy too. RY neck sounds quite dull compared to VHII on the BKP clips so thats out.

My only thing with the Nailbomb that im scared of is if it has that buzzy type overdrive character or if it has a gritty AC/DC type with MUCH more punch? Is this what is meant by hairy top end?

Thanks for all the help!
« Last Edit: February 02, 2020, 08:46:38 PM by Distortion_101 »
Ibanez SZ320BK
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Dave Sloven

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Re: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2020, 12:30:06 AM »
The alnico Nailbomb is quite hairy (a lot of treble detail), and I found that in my SG it could do AC/DC but it sounded really exaggerated, very aggressive, more like Poison Idea than AC/DC

In a darker guitar that is toned down a bit but the brighter and more middy your guitar is acoustically the more this characteristic will be apparent

There is a pickup between the Holy Diver and the Warpig in terms of alnico pickups, the alnico Black Hawk, but it doesn't have a very AC/DC style sound, and might be too smooth and fluid for what you want.  It does split nicely though and the matching neck pickup is divine. The main thing that people seem to dislike about it is its looks, which are not classic at all, and it sounds pretty modern in character. I am lucky that they look great in my Schecters but for a more classic guitar I would want to order the covered set (with the radiator covers) rather than the open sets I have used.

When I think of smooth and creamy necks in the BKP range I think of the Emerald neck and maybe the VHII neck. Glassy sounds more like the Rebel Yell neck.  A RY set might not be a bad choice if you decide against the Black Dog set.  I haven't heard much about the split tones on the RY though

BLACK HAWKS
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Distortion_101

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Re: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2020, 02:04:40 PM »
Well im not after the Tight, Bright and cutting AC/DC sound per se, just the type of overdrive character, where it sounds more like a grrr noise instead of a gzzz noise (i dont know how else to explain it other than like a 3 year old  :tongue:, the AN and AZ just sounds buzzy)

Oasis is another good example.

It seems like the nailbomb may be a good option, as my guitar is quite like a les paul, just a bit more evenly balanced. Im just worried about its dynamics considering i play mainly blues/blues rock/harder blues type music with others thrown in as well
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lamp

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Re: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2020, 05:11:31 PM »
I love my Nailbomb bridge (Alnico) in my les paul, and also have one in a Fender Mustang. It can cover a lot of ground, I think it might do the job you’re looking for. Not sure it would suit you exactly but my favourite pairings in the neck have been either the Rebel Yell or the Mississippi Queen.
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Dave Sloven

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Re: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2020, 01:44:45 AM »
I tend to think that the suggestion of the Black Dog set is probably the safest bet
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richard

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Re: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2020, 10:43:23 AM »
Sounds like you should be looking at the Abraxas set. The bridge is great for blues and classic rock and, because the treble is attenuated a little, you can set your amp for a nice bright neck sound.
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