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Thread: Pickup mods: Magnet-Swaps and the "Half-Air" mod demystified

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    Quote Originally Posted by jhale667 View Post
    I'm convinced they pretty much are; I intentionally left my amp settings dialed in to what works for the Koa Warmoth to see how the new guitar reacted to the same gain structure and EQ - best way to know if they're pretty much interchangeable for gigs - and it sounded great with the ceramic, though a little harsh on the top-end...but I'm STILL flipping out over how good the A8 sounds...cranked it again last night, my opinion has not changed, if anything it's been reinforced..


    My dad owned a house in Maui in the early to mid 70's. I can remember they still had guys making outrigger canoes by hand the old fashioned way. There was a place right on the beach they made them and I remember seeing them go and and come in riding the surf. Very cool. You just don't see that in Hawaii hardly anymore. Anyways, they were making an entire outrigger out of koa wood. They left the finish natural. It was a beautiful thing to see. It would cost a fortune now.

    I can also remember there would be a line of cute Hawaiian girls when you got off the plane and they would put a lai of real orchids around your neck and kiss you. I always used to run because I didn't want to be kissed. I was a little kid then and that shit was still gross. I also remember the Dole pineapple packing plant had a drinking fountain of pure pineapple juice. Now they grow the pineapple mostly in Asia because the labor is cheap. Last time I was in Hawaii I couldn't believe the pineapple fields were gone.
    Last edited by Nitro Express; 12-14-2011 at 02:35 AM.
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    Totally off-topic, but yeah, couldn't build that Koa Strat again these days if I wanted to... even if the wood itself wasn't on the endangered species list (last I checked, at least), a 1-piece body would be prohibitively expensive...too bad, because the thing sounds amazing. I'd probably change out the A2 in the CC that resides in it were I not concerned with being able to go back and nail some of the tones I recorded once the studio is back up & running. Once I don't think I'll need to do that anymore, it's likely to get the A8 swap as well!
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    Talking Think I feel the urge to swap coming on again...

    Since I'm about to have 4 days off for the holiday, if I get bored I still have the UOA5 to try out...might pull the ceramic magnet out of the Duncan Custom in my original 80s Charvel Strat mutt. I also want to find a JB Trembucker on Ebay and try that, and then slap an A8 in it, as I hear the JB8 is nearly as cool as the Custom8.



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    Good to hear you just aren't going to stay constantly drunk for four days. But then, some of the greatest sounding guitars weren't built by anyone who was sober at the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitro Express View Post
    Good to hear you just aren't going to stay constantly drunk for four days. But then, some of the greatest sounding guitars weren't built by anyone who was sober at the time.
    Just ask EVH...
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    Pickup mods: Magnet-Swaps and the "Half-Air" mod demystified

    Mag-swap BUMP

    I did the A8 swap with the ceramic Duncan Custom in the bomber Charvel, it was EASY - and after playing around with it for a coupla months, I like it better than the ceramic OR the A2! It has nearly if not all the low-end whack of the ceramic (not flubby like an A2), better mids, and the highs aren't jagged or spikey sounding, they're more pleasing like an A2. It cleans up well, the split sound is excellent, and under high gain it's awesome. Great rhythm and lead tones. I still wanna try the UOA5 someday, but I can't imagine it sounding better than the A8!

    Sent from my BlackBerry 9800 using Tapatalk

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    Another pickup mod that's catching on is "hybrids" - taking one coil each from pickups with mismatched output to combine the best tonal features of each. Dimarzio's been doing it calling it "dual-resonance coils" for a bit, but Seymour Duncan just came out with one popularized on their own user forum...the '59/Custom hybrid. Word has it that it NAILS VH tones as well. Here's Lone Phantom's review:

    Seymour Duncan 59/Custom Hybrid Ė review

    by Stephen Smith

    http://www.lonephantom.com/2012/04/s...hybrid-review/


    Seymour Duncan 59/Custom Hybrid Ė review

    An awesome blend of vintage and modern humbucker tone.
    The new Seymour Duncan 59/Custom Hybrid has an interesting beginning compared to many other humbucker designs. First created by a member of the Seymour Duncan community forum, it was born from two different pickups. The classic 59 Bridge screw coil, with thicker 42 gauge wire, and the modern Custom slug coil, utilising the thinner 43 gauge wire. The end result of this is a bridge pickup with the vintage warmth of a classic PAF style pickup, and the modern edge of a modern high output pickup.
    Once again I installed this in my test guitar, the Japanese-made Ibanez RG450DX. Itís basswood body and maple neck/rosewood fretboard provide a fairly neutral tone, great for testing pickups. In the neck I currently have a DiMarzio Dominion neck humbucker. Iíll be testing 59/Custom Hybrid with the Dominion in split and series modes.

    The 59/Custom Hybrid is a medium output bridge pickup, with a tight bass, a rich midrange, and crisp, but not piercing treble. It is a harmonically rich pickup, thanks to its mis-matched coil winds, and sounds particularly amazing with some dirt. With a resistance of 11.5KOhms the 59/Custom Hybrid is a very dynamic pickup, responding nicely to a players touch. Natural and artificial harmonics pop out with ease with this pickup.

    Distorted, rhythm playing sounds great with the 59/Custom Hybrid. The tight bass response, and rich mid-range offers a great tight crunch, while still retaining a full woody tone. Lead work at the low end of the fretboard really cuts through the mix, and pick attack and angle can clearly be heard and used to its full potential. Things may get a little too shrill for some higher up the fretboard, but blending the 59/Custom Hybrid with a suitable neck pickups reduces the high end, and still retains some of the bridge pickupís great tone.

    Switch to a clean tone and the 59/Custom Hybrid provides a dynamic range in which to really express yourself. Play softly and a beautiful warm tone is present, dig in hard and everything gets brighter and more focussed. Hit the strings really hard and things start to crunch just enough to give you some edge to your tone without it being overdriven. If you find that the clean tone of the 59/Custom Hybrid is a bit too bright and gritty it sounds great combined with a neck humbucker. A great thick rhythm tone which never gets to muddy can be found here. Itís also useful for clean leads at the lower end of the fretboard.

    Splitting to the Custom slug coil, and the inside coil of the neck humbucker yields great strat-like tones with some nice twang. This works nicely with clean and slightly overdriven tones. It might also suit some country players.

    Seymour Duncan recommend the 59/Custom Hybrid for blues, rock, pop and classic rock, but I think this is selling the pickup a bit short. Sure itís all good for these genres, but the pickup is capable of offering a fantastic platform for heavier rock, and some less extreme styles of metal. Eddie Van Halen tone chasers may dig this pickup quite a bit as a middle ground to cover his earlier and later guitar tones. I also found the 59/Custom Hybrid a great tool for great modern punk rock tones.

    Overall the Seymour Duncan 59/Custom Hybrid is an extremely versatile bridge pickup, capable of covering many styles. Itís blend of vintage warmth and openness, combined with a modern edge makes it quite a unique pickup that should become very popular. We have to thank both the members of the Seymour Duncan community forums for creating and popularising the design amongst DIY types, and Seymour Duncan for recognising this for what it is, a really fantastic pickup.






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    Yeah I can remember reading that was Ed's big secret. You wind one coil hotter than the other one and you get the best of both worlds. You get more single coil type dynamics with more humbucker beef. Then of course no 60 cycle hum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jhale667 View Post


    The 59/Custom Hybrid is a medium output bridge pickup, with a tight bass, a rich midrange, and crisp, but not piercing treble. It is a harmonically rich pickup, thanks to its mis-matched coil winds, and sounds particularly amazing with some dirt. With a resistance of 11.5KOhms the 59/Custom Hybrid is a very dynamic pickup, responding nicely to a players touch. Natural and artificial harmonics pop out with ease with this pickup.

    Distorted, rhythm playing sounds great with the 59/Custom Hybrid. The tight bass response, and rich mid-range offers a great tight crunch, while still retaining a full woody tone. Lead work at the low end of the fretboard really cuts through the mix, and pick attack and angle can clearly be heard and used to its full potential. Things may get a little too shrill for some higher up the fretboard, but blending the 59/Custom Hybrid with a suitable neck pickups reduces the high end, and still retains some of the bridge pickup’s great tone.

    Switch to a clean tone and the 59/Custom Hybrid provides a dynamic range in which to really express yourself. Play softly and a beautiful warm tone is present, dig in hard and everything gets brighter and more focussed. Hit the strings really hard and things start to crunch just enough to give you some edge to your tone without it being overdriven. If you find that the clean tone of the 59/Custom Hybrid is a bit too bright and gritty it sounds great combined with a neck humbucker. A great thick rhythm tone which never gets to muddy can be found here. It’s also useful for clean leads at the lower end of the fretboard.

    Splitting to the Custom slug coil, and the inside coil of the neck humbucker yields great strat-like tones with some nice twang. This works nicely with clean and slightly overdriven tones. It might also suit some country players.

    Aaand, I'm intrigued...

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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Nitro Express View Post
    Yeah I can remember reading that was Ed's big secret. You wind one coil hotter than the other one and you get the best of both worlds. You get more single coil type dynamics with more humbucker beef. Then of course no 60 cycle hum.
    That'd depend on HOW mismatched the coils were...apparently if they're too far off you will still get some hum....



    Quote Originally Posted by Coyote View Post
    Aaand, I'm intrigued...
    Me too! Jon from Guitarnoize.com was kind enough to do a quick demo clip for me last night, sounds pretty killer...nice combo of vintage-y woodiness and BEEF.


    http://t.co/eNFM3ODe




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    Quote Originally Posted by jhale667 View Post
    Me too! Jon from Guitarnoize.com was kind enough to do a quick demo clip for me last night, sounds pretty killer...nice combo of vintage-y woodiness and BEEF.


    http://t.co/eNFM3ODe


    Right, I'm saving up for this one. Starting NOW.

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    Same here... almost finished with PC rebuild hell, then it's on to the next build...a new S/H Floyded Strat to replace my No.1 Charvel mutt I'm finally retiring after 25 years...was thinking I was going to put another Custom 8 in it, but I seriously wanna check this one out first.

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    Thumbs up

    Here's another demo video...




    It comes stock with an A5, but I can't help wondering what it'd sound like with an A8, just because I'm loving that mag these days...
    Last edited by jhale667; 04-18-2012 at 02:54 PM.

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    Based on what I'm hearing (and liking), I'll take one as is...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coyote View Post
    Based on what I'm hearing (and liking), I'll take one as is...
    Oh, I'll definitely try it with the A5 first! Betcha a UOA5 would be a similar to, but slightly cooler vibe than stock...I have one of those I've yet to try...now that I know how easy it is to do a swap, I may just make an afternoon of it one day and do an A/B/C test.





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    Here's another '59/Custom hybrid demo vid by Frank Falbo of Seymour Duncan...


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    OK, took a couple of months since I'm currently not gigging, but finally, thanks to getting invited to do a demo for Lang Amplification (which can pretty much nail the VH Brown Sound, btw) - the Custom8 at LOUD volume kicks ass! Harmonics were jumping out, and feedback/sustain is easily obtainable, even at low volumes! I couldn't have been happier with it. There was another GIT guy there also alternating playing VH riffs( and a plethora of other riffs we touched on) with me, video to follow...

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    Yet ANOTHER '59/Custom hybrid demo video, this one from Jon @guitarnoize.


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    Just did a 2nd ceramic-to-A8 conversion on the Duncan Custom in my black Charvel mutt...2 for 2 total satisfaction on this pickup mod. All the low-end tightness of the ceramic, thick mids, and the pleasing, more rounded highs of an Alnico magnet, no trace of harshness...total improvement in that guitar just like it was in the Bomber. #WIN.



    I was really tempted to try the UOA5 instead, but for what I was looking for with this guitar, the A8 was the way to go, so I'll save that mag for another project.






    Last edited by jhale667; 05-20-2012 at 02:18 AM.

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    Here's a cool high-output pickup comparison vid...



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    Thumbs up Still writing the formal review, but here's some first impressions...

    OK, as of today I have to say my two favorite "modded" pickups are the Duncan 59/Custom Hybrid and the Custom 8. The hybrid has the vintage undertone mixed in with the awesome, and the Custom 8 is all awesome all the time. They both clean up well, don't get me wrong - but mid-to-low volume settings are where the Hybrid really shines, due to the complexity of its tone. If the Custom 8 cleans up well, the Hybrid cleans up amazingly well. It really is the best of everything - serious Custom-type wallop with the classic PAF-early VH vibe going too. So if I had to describe the two - the Hybrid is for the guy that wants to cover all the bases, and the Custom 8 for the guy that wants to KILL everyone at all the bases.





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    Cool Screamin' Demon demo...




    Think my next project is going to be testing a variety of magnets in the 59/Custom Hybrid... it sounds AWESOME with the A5, but I'm curious to hear what it sounds like with an A8, and I also have UOA5 and ceramic mags kickin' about, so why not?





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    Probably the coolest "How to swap a Mag" tutorial vid I've seen yet, done by the Duncan forums ConvoysToNothingness.



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    I'm reeeeally digging the 59/Custom Hybrid (still with the stock A5). There's something about the two coils doing completely different things that just gives it this mojo that's something to behold. No matter how much gain you pile on, open chords still have this cool AC/DC vintage vibe going on via the 59 coil, but it doesn't fully tub out due to the extra beef from the Custom coil. The lead sound is AWESOME, singing w/total clarity and balls, but it does make you stay on top of your picking, as it's a little unforgiving of mistakes. Pretty F*ing brilliant overall!



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    M'kay, next up - going slightly more old-school in the bridge... testing the TB-4 JB and the STK-S6 in the Koa Warmoth Strat...excited!

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    Thumbs up 2 for 2 pickup review.

    Wow, the JB pisses all over the Custom Custom in the Koa Strat...no contest, really. And I loved the CC in it!

    STK-S66 is awesome. Great neck pickup.



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    So, how would you describe it?

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    I put a new scratch plate on yesterday and just noticed that the shop put the Tone Zone bridge pickup in upside down last year when I got them to put it in!

    I'm very tempted to leave it as the wiring is cut short and it sounds fine to me. Is it likely to improve much if I get it sorted?
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    Thumbs up Nice!

    Quote Originally Posted by Coyote View Post
    So, how would you describe it?
    It's cool. Funny, I've always heard how the JB is "finicky" in certain guitars/woods etc. if so not the case here. None of the rumored "icepick" highs or nasal mid-spike. I'd ordered a 250K pot because that's recommended to tame the highs (the JB is one of the few humbuckers designed TO work on 250K pots), but I don't think I'll need it. It has way more personality than the A2 CC did in here; just sounds more "rock". Similiar not-quite-as-tight as I'd like low-end, but it could be lived with.



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    Wink If only there was some... visual representation of this tone...oh, wait!

    Yeah, the more I listen to it in the guitar, it's seriously kinda got this bridge vibe:



    Seriously, in a good "big rock" way. Huge power chord stuff - done. Great lead tone. Bet it sits really well in a band mix too. Excellent for 80s and 90s rock tunes. And if ya think about it, people like Jerry Cantrell have used them (up until he got a MCP sig pickup). But I downloaded "Balls Out" by SP over the weekend (EPIC production btw, get it) , and it's that kinda rhythm tone. No wonder it comes standard in so many guitars, in the right one, it's pretty cool.

    Thought about direct-mounting it but it would've required a trip to the Home Depot to get some small wood blocks to build up the mouting leg routs on the Warmoth body...it's like they're routed for taller than standard legs. Even with a mounting ring can't imagine the pickup mounting screw ever needing that much clearance, but oh well. So not happening with that body any time soon, too much of a pain. Really makes it questionable with this stashed Musikraft body. Routs aren't as deep, but what a PITA.

    The JB's totally fine with the stock A5, but if an A8 swap (the JB8) does for it what it does for a Custom, ...and tightened up the lows even a smidge (which it might), it'd pretty much rule alongside the C8.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seshmeister View Post
    I put a new scratch plate on yesterday and just noticed that the shop put the Tone Zone bridge pickup in upside down last year when I got them to put it in!

    I'm very tempted to leave it as the wiring is cut short and it sounds fine to me. Is it likely to improve much if I get it sorted?
    ...Only in that it'll change which coil is sensing the string where. But generally speaking standard slug/screw-coil pickup bridge mount is screw-coil closest to the bridge. Got pic? If you like the way it sounds, leave it. Why would it involve the wiring if you're just reversing the way the pickup is oriented... are the wires cut that short? :confused:

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    Oh maybe I'm ok then the screw coils are closest to the bridge it's just in some pics of other guitars they weren't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seshmeister View Post
    NAaaah, you're fine. Only able to view the pic on my BB at the moment, but they look like they're oriented correctly.


    *EDIT* Double-check notice: They are. You're fine. Don't change 'em unless you just wanna hear them upside-down.
    Last edited by jhale667; 08-21-2012 at 07:57 PM.

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    Thanks!

    I'm not mad it's just that I did a google image search for DiMarzio Tone Zone and it came up with lots of pics like these and got paranoid...




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    I have rotated a few pickups over the years experimentally... To these ears there's no discernable difference. You get far more of a tonal change by raising or lowering pole pieces imho.
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    I can see you being potentially able to hear the difference in a Hybrid pickup's orientation, where it'd be a completely different coil sensing the string in that location if you flipped it, but matched coils? Wonder if even the cork-sniffers could tell the difference between a slug and a screw-coil in a blind test...



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    Hey more questions.

    Found a guitar today I'm toying with getting but it's almost impossible in a busy shop through a practice amp to tell what it sounds like.

    It's got

    Bridge Pickup: Seymour Duncan Custom Custom
    Neck Pickup; Seymour '57 Pickups

    Decent options?

    It's got a coil tap and plays nice - 70% off the retail price, I'm thinking I'll get it tomorrow.

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    Thumbs up If the price is reasonable, go for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seshmeister View Post
    Hey more questions.

    Found a guitar today I'm toying with getting but it's almost impossible in a busy shop through a practice amp to tell what it sounds like.

    It's got

    Bridge Pickup: Seymour Duncan Custom Custom
    Neck Pickup; Seymour '57 Pickups

    Decent options?

    It's got a coil tap and plays nice - 70% off the retail price, I'm thinking I'll get it tomorrow.
    Uh, yeah...you like the way it plays, sure - or even if maybe there's other parts you can salvage off it and re-sell -hell the pickups are worth dropping minimal $ on the guitar to scavenge 'em...lol
    I was using a Custom Custom in my Koa Strat one of my main (pre-"Bomber" at least) guitars until weekend before last when I slapped the JB in for the review. I loved it, still do. Great pickup, unless you're doing down-tuned metal stuff, the A2's low-end seems to be a little loose for serious palm-muting IMO. Great vintage rock sound though, and splits well, so a coil-tap is a bonus. And it's probably a '59 in the neck, also a great, classic pickup. What kind of guitar is it?


    You wanna hear a Custom Custom do metal riffage and palm-muting, though? 'Cuz don't get me wrong, it still will... I was gonna post this in "Show Your Work" but whatevs...

    http://soundcloud.com/jayhaleguitar/...dess-main-riff

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    It's a Schecter V-1 Classic

    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/guita...lectric-guitar

    I don't have anything like it and thought it would be a nice thing to have around.

    No trem, not convinced by the color and I find V's a bit awkward sitting down but apart from that...

    As you say I think the hardware is worth more than they are asking for it.
    Last edited by Seshmeister; 08-22-2012 at 09:22 PM.

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