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Author Topic: My guitar's a dull slab of basswood. What 7-string pickups?  (Read 203 times)

cdondoros

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Hey y'all, I've been a BKP fan for quite some time but I'm thinking of pulling the trigger on a set.

I've got somewhat of a "problem" guitar - a Music Man JP7 with a basswood body. Being left-handed, you learn quickly to hold on to every piece of gear that isn't a $200 Ibanez, so I don't want to give up on it yet. The problem is, I'm on my third bridge pickup (and second neck pickup) and no matter the EQ or rig (typically, a Line 6 Helix, but also a Mesa Rectoverb 25 or Marshall JCM800 2203), I can't dial out a "stuffy" sounding lower-midrange on the bridge or dial in enough brightness on the neck.

For reference, I play metal. I'm about a decade late to the party, but I started to djent sometime last year. I love articulate single-note riffs on a low A or B string that have some bite and snarl to them while not sounding completely anemic.

The stock pair of pickups (DiMarzio Crunch Lab and Liquifire) gave me little in terms of clarity, bite and twang - whatever you want to call it. I have a backup guitar loaded with the Duncan Nazgul/Sentient combo (Schecter KM-7) that's much tighter and brighter. I tried a DiMarzio Titan bridge and absolutely hated it; with modeling gear it was easy to tweak but had little attack or brightness through my tube amps. Currently, I'm using a DiMarzio Ionizer in the bridge, which sounds great - much brighter and focused on upper midrange, but still has somewhat of a wooly bass and lower midrange. I switched to a PAF 7 in the neck and again, it's a little dark.

I've been digging what I've heard from the Aftermath, because of course, but also the Painkiller. But given the sterile, dark tone of my guitar, I figured I'd join the forum and see what more experienced BKP users would suggest. Any help is appreciated!

Dave Sloven

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Re: My guitar's a dull slab of basswood. What 7-string pickups?
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2020, 04:51:05 AM »
I would say try the Impulse set.

It is the least likely to have mid-range issues in the bridge pickup, has a brighter neck pickup than say the Black Hawk set, and will give you that kind of modern metal sound that you are looking for.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_LG7_5AE8U

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-5Ysauhjw4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KW_TnyNcC6o (a lot of talking, playing starts after five minutes or so)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kot1vCp0IQ

Is this the same model of guitar, or different woods?  This has a ceramic Black Hawk set

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nIOMWHcqzI
« Last Edit: May 09, 2020, 04:57:25 AM by Dave Sloven »
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ericsabbath

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Re: My guitar's a dull slab of basswood. What 7-string pickups?
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2020, 06:41:11 PM »
The bridge Miracle Man sounds great in basswoood and although it doesn't have an intense upper midrange, it delivers a strong low midrange and generous amount of treble
I like it even better in B or A tunings than in E tuning guitars

Not sure you would enjoy the Aftermath, since it has a very lean low end and a lot less compression than your previous pickups
It's very middy and aggressive but dry sounding

I love the Painkiller but I'd pick the MM over it in your case
Maybe the neck PK over the neck MM
I love the strong presence of the Painkiller, but the Miracle Man has more depth, if that's what you're looking for
« Last Edit: May 09, 2020, 06:50:05 PM by ericsabbath »
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cdondoros

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Re: My guitar's a dull slab of basswood. What 7-string pickups?
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2020, 04:41:16 PM »
Thanks, guys. To answer your questions - Dave - my guitar's slightly different. I'm no expert on the EBMM JP line, but I think the guitar in the video is mahogany/neck-through while my guitar is basswood with a maple neck/rosewood fretboard.

Thanks for the insights. Far as the Impulse/BlackHawk series go, I've been a little leery of choosing a pickup that's marketed as having a "balanced" EQ. The DiMarzio Titan was my attempt at just that (per DiMarzio, it's relatively even-voiced with a noticeable, but not overwhelming, mid spike). The reason that the Aftermath piqued my curiosity involved comparisons with the Duncan Nazgul - both are considered "dry" and, to some, even lacking low end; the consensus seems to be that the upper mids/high end of the Aftermath are a little less harsh.

But that's my experience with a pair of manufacturers that aren't BKP, which at a high level, seem to inherently offer a particular "sound" of their own.

The Painkiller piqued my interest due to the description of its high mids; in theory, it seems somewhat close to my DiMarzio Ionizer but perhaps with a little less low end. But with many people saying it doesn't work well in basswood, I feel like the Miracle Man or the above Impulse/Blackhawk series might be a good fit, so long as the Miracle Man's low mids aren't overwhelming (this seems to be the inherent issue with my guitar).

Dave Sloven

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Re: My guitar's a dull slab of basswood. What 7-string pickups?
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2020, 08:47:49 AM »
The Impulse has a very flat, balanced EQ, the Black Hawk doesn't, at least the alnico version that I have has a very thick lower midrange

Here's a comparison of the two different BH bridges in the same guitar to demonstrate the tonal differences caused by the magnet change:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qacdnnbe2k

This one demonstrates the neck as well as the ceramic bridge in a Les Paul:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKw1F1Bd1-w

This one is the alnico bridge and the neck in a 7-string PRS:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JllQbKd_7U

The middle position is very nice for a lot of lead work.

I specifically bought the alnico sets because I wanted that thick mid range like in the first video, I play in a blackened death doom band, you can hear these pickups in the two Schecter six-strings used on our new album, the tuning is C standard and the capacitors, pots, switches, and jacks in the two guitars were all sourced via BKP.

https://slovendoom.bandcamp.com/releases
« Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 08:52:19 AM by Dave Sloven »
BLACK HAWKS
NAILBOMBS
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MIRACLE MAN

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ericsabbath

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Re: My guitar's a dull slab of basswood. What 7-string pickups?
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2020, 03:12:12 AM »
But with many people saying it doesn't work well in basswood, I feel like the Miracle Man or the above Impulse/Blackhawk series might be a good fit, so long as the Miracle Man's low mids aren't overwhelming (this seems to be the inherent issue with my guitar).

The Miracle Man lower mids aren't all over the place like Warpigs (that are still manageable by adjusting pickup height)
I'd say low tunings bring it to its comfort zone for modern metal
Growly, but focused and delivers a beautiful singing tone for both leads and single note heavy riffs
Riff Raff, Mules, Black Dog, VHII's, Cold Sweat

Dave Sloven

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Re: My guitar's a dull slab of basswood. What 7-string pickups?
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2020, 06:55:05 AM »
If you are worried about low mids I'd say go for the ceramic, rather than alnico, version of the Black Hawk.  The alnico version has thicker low mids.  As mentioned above the Impulse is another option, probably a sweeter high end than the ceramic Black Hawk or the Miracle Man but less output than either of those.

I have the Miracle Man, it works well in my SG and has plenty of output.
BLACK HAWKS
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Yellowjacket

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Re: My guitar's a dull slab of basswood. What 7-string pickups?
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2020, 07:35:50 AM »
Stupid question:  Are you boosting for the modern metal tones?  Think TS9 style overdrive and turn up the gain just a hair past zero.  Tone should go up to noon.  Set volume (output) until it tightens up the lows.  A lot of the players are using a boost pedal as well as a gate to get these really modern tones. 

cdondoros

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Re: My guitar's a dull slab of basswood. What 7-string pickups?
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2020, 07:59:43 PM »
Thanks for the tips! Seems like the Black Hawk (ceramic), Impulse and Miracle Man are the top picks.

As for my signal chain, to accommodate heavy/percussive riffage on the low A string, I always run a boost. With the Line 6 Helix, I typically run one of their TS-808 variants with gain set at 0 and level maxed. When using one of my amps (Mesa Rectoverb, Marshall JCM-800), same story except with an actual pedal (Fortin Grind, Maxon 808, Horizon Precision Drive, Boss SD-1). Typically, I never run amp gain above 4 and keep my bass set at 2-3 at most.

Even with a boost to suck out some of those low mids, using my old EVH 5153 for gigs and using my Rectoverb 25 for recording, the DiMarzio Titan I previously installed was a disaster in this guitar. Even with treble and/or presence set at 7-8 and bass/mids/resonance controls set low, there was no "cut" to the sound. No percussiveness. A/B'ed against my Schecter loaded with a Duncan Nazgul and my rhythm guitarist's Solar with Duncan Designed pickups, clarity and attack suffered in favor of warmth I frankly didn't expect.

I'm using a DiMarzio Ionizer right now. Per DiMarzio, the EQ curve on that particular pickup is 6/7/5.5 (B/M/T) as compared to the Titan's 5/6/5. The jump in presence alone made the guitar more usable - but that presence CAN get harsh in this guitar and be difficult to dial out. The bass frequencies definitely seem to "jump" a bit more, too, but there's still a bit of a spike in the lower mids, around 300k, that easily tends to overpower the sound.

I like it just fine, but I don't love it. My goal with the Ionizer was to analyze the guitar's response to pickups. Basswood's known as a pretty sterile wood that tends to accurately reflect the tonal properties outlined by manufacturers, and I find that to be fairly accurate; I suppose the warmth of this guitar can also be attributed to a rosewood neck.

Appreciate all the suggestions, but slightly surprised that the Aftermath and Painkiller haven't come up in conversation - outside of Juggs, aren't those the two that get the most love from those who djent?

Dave Sloven

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Re: My guitar's a dull slab of basswood. What 7-string pickups?
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2020, 07:17:08 AM »
The djent pickups you mention are all quite middy.  If you have a lot of problem mids already you would be better off with a flat or scooped pickup, such as the top picks you have mentioned.  Out of those the two blade options would be the most 'modern' sounding.

If you know Northlane's music that's the Black Hawk and Impulse sets

This Northlane back when they were just using Black Hawks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIajmLP46b4

Later Josh developed the Impulse and they used both for a while.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kn3c5i-gW6s

Obviously though these are versatile pickups.  My own band's new album is recorded completely with Black Hawk sets, but with the A5 bridge.  I don't think the difference between A5 and ceramic is massive though.  A5 just has thicker mids and softer highs.

https://open.spotify.com/album/2uz3kL7YLJkXFLTGQixXwk

https://slovendoom.bandcamp.com/album/drowning
« Last Edit: May 24, 2020, 07:27:37 AM by Dave Sloven »
BLACK HAWKS
NAILBOMBS
WARPIGS
STOCKHOLM
COLD SWEATS
MIRACLE MAN

https://slovendoom.bandcamp.com/releases