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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So in the other recent pickup thread I posted (trolled ?) my dislike for the JB, which seems to get a lot of love. Honestly, I've heard guitars with JBs sound really good, just not amazing. The warmth that a lot of people like about them sounds like mush to me (don't want to start a debate about that, just setting up my questions...).

I think it comes down to the magnet. All my 6ers have EMG 81s in them, and I am generally happy with them, other than the slight "plastic" sheen to the upper mids. I really like the Duncan Distortion and Custom as well, which are both ceramics, but I've never tried them in my guitars. I am thinking about putting a passive in one of my 6ers, and I am debating which one...

So, my questions are...

1 - what are the differences in the general tone between an alnico and a ceramic pickup. Say, you put the different magnet in the same pickup, what would the differences be?

2 - what are some other ceramics to investigate besides the distortion, custom, miricle man and painkiller?
 

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I think your first question might be oversimplifying a bit. I still remember a massive Guitar Player pickup shootout from the early nineties, where Seymour Duncan said that the differences between ceramic and alnico were greatly exaggerated, and that you have to understand the differences between them when you are designing a pickup.

Having said that, Duncan is the greatest purveyor of one design, multiple pickups of anyone out there. :lol: The Distortion is ceramic, and the JB is alnico 5, but everything else is the same. The Custom is ceramic, the Custom 5 is alnico 5, and the Custom Custom is alnico 2.

So, having said that, I've noticed that as you go cycle through alnico 2, 5, 8, and ceramic, the lows tighten up and the uppper mids become more pronounced. However, with modern high gain amps, there really is no longer a need for a super hot pickup to get the amount of distortion you are looking for. It is a far better idea to find the pickup with the tonal response you are looking for, since you're just going to raise it as close to the strings as you can before it starts to over-compress.

I think your problem with the JB is the modern version of it, although I don't want to hazard a guess, since I know you've been around long enough to have played the originals. The modern JB is 16.4K, while the "vintage" spec is closer to 12.5K. Ever since I got my Wolfetone JB7 rewind, the stock sounds brittle up top, and muddy on the bottom to me. They definitely suffer from being overwound in the race to high output.

I think your problem is similar to mine: the big guys aren't mass producing anything that really suits your needs, which makes perfect sense, since they weren't mass producing any guitars that suited your needs, either. However, considering that you have EMGs in your sevens, I'd start with a set of Duncan Blackouts first, since I think they are a great middle ground between the somewhat cold EMG, and the mush you don't want to live with. I know you are mainly playing sixes these days, but the quick connects make it a fast swap, and if you like them, then there is no messing with the complete electronics replacement in your sixes.

If I had to pick a passive for you, it would be the Lungren, hands down. It has that EMG-like searing top end, but without that artificial midrange.
 

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The first question has an easy example: A Duncan Distortion is a JB with a ceramic magnet. That's the only difference. (In fact, I believe it's the only difference between an EMG81 and 85, as well.)

As for two, you had the best one I've heard - the Lundgren M7 (they make a M6, as well). You also might try a Wolfetone Timbre Wolf in ceramic, or the WCF Ironman or Ice Bucker...
 

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I think your problem with the JB is the modern version of it, although I don't want to hazard a guess, since I know you've been around long enough to have played the originals. The modern JB is 16.4K, while the "vintage" spec is closer to 12.5K. Ever since I got my Wolfetone JB7 rewind, the stock sounds brittle up top, and muddy on the bottom to me. They definitely suffer from being overwound in the race to high output.
Nah, he's heard plenty of vintage JB, and he didn't like that, either. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, Dave, that makes a lot of sense to me.

What I like about the EMGs is the upper mid range and the tight (lack of?) low end, so me liking the ceramics makes a lot of sense. I'm also talking about slight differences in tone. I have my tone to the point where slight differences are all I am changing (e.g. I am using 10s now instead of 11s because I like the slightly brighter sound).

As for the new vs. old JBs... I've never spent time critically listening to the old ones. I know the new ones aren't my thing, and based on the description of the old ones, they are probably closer, but not it either.

For lungren, I had one in the Death Warrior and did not like it (though it was better than the blaze :lol:). Way, way too much bass and output for me. Using the same settings as with the EMG guitars, the DW clipped the DI box.

Also, I'm just looking to replace a pickup in a 6er (the tribal RR). I'm going to hold off on changing the 7s for now, as that could get pricey quickly (getting a passive in a 707 shell). Also, the 6er is getting a lot more use than the 7s, at least for the foreseeable future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So buy a Custom. Actually, that Rich sounded good with everything I put in it - even the DiMarzio Super III.

I agree with Dave. Start with a Blackout. It might be the ticket.
My only concern with the Custom is that SD says it has even more bass than the JB, which I don't think I need. The blackout would just drop in, so that might be an option, but I think what I am hearing is an quality of the pickup being active, not of the voicing of the pickup.

I'll report back with findings, but if there are any other ideas, I'm still researching!
 

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Also, I'm just looking to replace a pickup in a 6er (the tribal RR). I'm going to hold off on changing the 7s for now, as that could get pricey quickly (getting a passive in a 707 shell). Also, the 6er is getting a lot more use than the 7s, at least for the foreseeable future.
I'd still start with a Duncan Blackout. It's going to give you a similar sound to what you have now, but will be a bit warmer and more dynamic. Make sure to get the ceramic model.

My biggest problem with EMG is the weak magnets and strong preamp, which just suck all the dynamics out of the pickup. Duncan beefed up the magnet and dropped the preamp output, so you get a similar sound and better response. The tribal Rhoads should be new enough to have quick connects, so it will take you five minutes.
 

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I put the Blackouts in my Loomis and I like the EMGs better. The Blackouts just seemed too forced to me. The EMG pickups don't have the greatest dynamics in the world but I liked them better than the Blackouts.

Of course I eagerly await my Drop Bears from Oni Guitars so I can kick the active habit all together.
 

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My only concern with the Custom is that SD says it has even more bass than the JB, which I don't think I need. The blackout would just drop in, so that might be an option, but I think what I am hearing is an quality of the pickup being active, not of the voicing of the pickup.
I'm really not enamored with the way that Duncan rates pickups. I think the Custom does have a bit more bass, but it is focused higher up than the JB, making it incredibly tight. I've found that I have to roll the bass knob on the amp down a touch, but I never felt that it was something that I couldn't get rid of. The JB has less, but rolling back the bass on the amp thins the pickup out. The JB barks, while the Custom roars.

Duncan's EQ system never seems to tell you where things peak at. The Custom 5 is rated at less bass, but in my experience, it has this lower mid resonance that you can't get rid of, making the pickup dark and woofy.
 

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My only concern with the Custom is that SD says it has even more bass than the JB, which I don't think I need. The blackout would just drop in, so that might be an option, but I think what I am hearing is an quality of the pickup being active, not of the voicing of the pickup.

I'll report back with findings, but if there are any other ideas, I'm still researching!
Let me check when I get home - I may still have a Custom laying around, which makes it really cheap for you to try. ;)
 

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:lol:.

i've heard a custom 5 with an A8 replacement (7-string model). tight, focused, pronounced midrange.. that dean EVO 7 sings :D.

perhaps a custom 5 with an A8 replacement would fit your bill of tight lows with pronounced upper mids?
 
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