Ok, so I love the pickups in my Suhr. Absolutely love them. I was a little worried the last couple weeks because the more I play my Warmoth, the more I was beginning to think the swamp ash body and maple top (admittedly, chambered here) were a little TOO bright, but here it works perfectly.
Thus, I probably need to swap pickups in my Warmoth. The neck isn't bad (PAF Pro) at all so for now I'm just looking at bridge pickups.
The current pickup (Dimarzio Fred) is very responsive to harmonics, which I like, but seems to be focused mostly in the mids and highs, with an overabundance of midrange and upper-mid/high end sizzle, which I thought I'd like but I'm finding whenever I listen to it in a mix I want to cut something out. I think it's probably a pickup that works better with more preamp gain than I usually use - I love Joe's playing and tone, but there's no denying I'm a little lower-gain than he is.
Tonight I'll post a quick clip of the Warmoth with a Fred in the bridge vs the Suhr with a 7-Plus in the bridge, to give an idea of the direction I'm looking to move.
I figure I have the following options:
Try a different Dimarzio. I know I like the AT-1 in my Strat, which would be a little hotter and darker. Also, on paper the Tone Zone sounds like it'd be promising - I wasn't enamoured with it in a 7, but the six is supposed to be quite a bit better and would round out a bright guitar well. A Steve's Special would be interesting in the other direction - clear out some of the midrange and maybe tame the highs a little, but not extremely. Anything else that comes to mind?
Try a Duncan. The guitar this one replaced had a JB in the bridge, which I rather liked - it was like an AT-1 with a little more hair and snarl. Other than that, how do you think the Custom would work in a bright guitar for lead work, and is there anything else you'd try? I'm guessing a Distortion isn't the right pickup for a fat, singing lead sound, which is the other suggestion I see a lot around here.
Try something more esoteric. Bareknuckles, Wolfetones/rewinds, whatever Suhr pickup is closest to a 7-Plus (which has obvious appeal), etc. Wide open here, though I want to be at least somewhat reasonable.
Tonally, I'm after something between Andy Timmons' tone and classic Petrucci playing more ballad-y stuff (rather than his more aggressive Erotomania-type full shred lead sound). Round, thick, smooth, and clear. Doesn't need to be an aggressive rhythm pickup, doesn't need to sound good at low tunings, certainly doesn't need to djent, whatever - I just want something that kicks all sorts of ass as a solo voice.
The Suhr Aldrich is going to be pretty close to the 7-Plus.
The Custom will be thicker than the Distortion, but for singing leads, I think you want an Alnico mag, not a ceramic.
For the Duncan, I'd really look at the 78/EVH it's a great pickup, and does really sing. Also, the BKP VHII is a great mid-output pickup.