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Author Topic: Looking for new pickups for my Ibanez SZ320  (Read 275 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
Orange Rocker 15 Terror
Orange PPC112
Various pedals

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 »
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 #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
Orange Rocker 15 Terror
Orange PPC112
Various pedals

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
Orange Rocker 15 Terror
Orange PPC112
Various pedals

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 »
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.

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
Riff Raff, Mules, Black Dog, VHII's, Cold Sweat

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.
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 #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
Orange Rocker 15 Terror
Orange PPC112
Various pedals