Author Topic: The Steve Morse Set (DP 200 and DP 205)  (Read 3600 times)

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Offline darkbluemurder

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The Steve Morse Set (DP 200 and DP 205)
« on: July 29, 2016, 01:17:53 pm »
I had always wanted to try the bridge pickup since it came out. So when a set popped up on the bay I purchased it. I put them in a dual humbucker "Frankenstein" tele partscaster with a poplar body (which was sold as alder - thankfully so since I may not have bought it had I known it was poplar but I am glad I did), a maple neck w/ rosewood board that was left over from a parted out strat (but magically it fit the tele body) and a Callaham Amercian Standard Hardtail bridge. Electronics are two 500k log pots for volume and tone, a 0.0015uf tone cap and a 3 way toggle switch to give b, b+n and n - no splits, series, out-of phase, local parallel selections whatsoever.

I was surprised to see quite a lot of negative comments about these pickups, mostly saying that these are rather bland pickups and are there just for the sake of being there. Well - I have not yet tried any other pickups in that guitar, and I am not sure why I should. The guitar sounds great with them. So far I tested it through two self-modded Marshalls for higher gain, a Bassman modified to a *umble style circuit and a Bandmaster for the Fender clean tones plus various overdrive pedals.

The bridge pickup is powerful, yet tight in the low end. Don't let the relatively low DC resistance of 9.5k fool you, this one is really loud - I guess it's due to the strong ceramic magnet. The pickup has a strong mid peak but at the same time it has a certain element of spank to it. It's a tonal combination that I never heard from any other pickup. The closest thing I can think of would be a wide range humbucker but the Morse bridge is more powerful. High notes sound fat, low notes sound articulate and clear. It sounds good clean (for a bridge humbucker which is not my preferred choice for clean tones) and can take any gain I throw at it. I am sure this pickup will cut through easily in a band mix.

I was not sure whether I would like the neck pickup given the fact that I find most neck humbuckers too muddy. But I had to take it to get the bridge pickup, thinking I can always swap it for something else if I don't like it. At a DC resistance of over 20k one would guess that it's a very loud pickup but it isn't. Probably DiMarzio used a very thin wire for this one - AWG 44 or even 45, I don't know. Whatever - this pickup in this guitar is giving me some of the fattest neck tones I ever had. On the high notes it is a thing of beauty - fat and fluid. Sure it can get muddy in the lower register, especially when the gain goes up but not really worse than most other neck humbuckers. 

The middle position (both humbuckers together in parallel) sound very good as well, both clean and dirty. It's a sound I don't use too often but it's a nice extra.

Since both pickups are bright enough I don't really miss extra pickup combinations.

It took a while to dial them in to get them balanced since the bridge pickup is a good deal louder than the neck. I have backed off the bridge pickup a little farther than I usually set them (which is very close to the strings) and adjusted the neck pickup as high as it reasonably went (which is higher than I set them usually) but I achieved a suitable balance in the end. The bridge pickup benefitted from setting it a bit lower as that tamed any excessive brightness.

As I said I used a 500k volume pot, knowing that Steve Morse uses 250k pots in his signature guitar. I can imagine that the bridge pickup would get more warmth with the lower pot value but the neck pickup would definitely suffer so I will keep the 500k. Maybe I will experiment with additional resistors to check lower impedances for the bridge pickup but at the moment I am happy with the tone at 500k for both pickups.

I have not put a treble bleed on the volume control. I tend to like this on guitars with single coils but don't care much for it with humbuckers. So far I am satisfied with my choice - both pickups clean up beautifully.

For the tone control I started out with a 0.0022uf cap but surprisingly that made the neck pickup sound too dark and the bridge pickup too much like a cocked wha. 0.0015uf did the trick on both pickups, making them even warmer and fatter than they are already. 

In conclusion I can say I am very happy with the guitar and pickups. I have read that these pickups were designed to work in guitars with poplar bodies. If so, then the designer succeeded.

Cheers Stephan

 
Area 67, Area 58, VV Pro 54, Injector neck, HB2, Cruisers, Virtual Solo, SDS-1, Area T set, Area Hot T, Area T 615, Virtual Hot T, Chopper, Chopper T, Bluesbucker, Breed set, Air Norton, SD, DLX+, DLX-90, DP240, DP198, VHPAF, AT-1, Morse set, Super Distortion S; Norton

Offline damonstewart70

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Re: The Steve Morse Set (DP 200 and DP 205)
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2016, 11:45:55 pm »
Man great review for two extremely underrated creations of awesome...STEVE MORSE & HIS PICKUPS!!! Having seen Steve live with DP & his band,his tone is just as you described,tight,heavy articulate & spanky at times in the same riff.So this was alder how do you think it do in basswood or mahogany???

Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: The Steve Morse Set (DP 200 and DP 205)
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2016, 04:01:09 am »
I have little experience with basswood. I have sold my only guitar with a basswood body long (a super strat with a Floyd) long ago. I had a PAF Pro and a Fred in the bridge position and both worked well. The Steve Morse set may be a good match for such a guitar.

Mahogany has a wide range of tonal colors ranging from dark to fairly bright so it is more difficult to predict.

BTW: my guitar with the Steve Morse set has a poplar body, not alder.

Cheers Stephan
Area 67, Area 58, VV Pro 54, Injector neck, HB2, Cruisers, Virtual Solo, SDS-1, Area T set, Area Hot T, Area T 615, Virtual Hot T, Chopper, Chopper T, Bluesbucker, Breed set, Air Norton, SD, DLX+, DLX-90, DP240, DP198, VHPAF, AT-1, Morse set, Super Distortion S; Norton

Offline damonstewart70

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Re: The Steve Morse Set (DP 200 and DP 205)
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2016, 02:43:06 pm »
Thanks man!!! Now I have a reason to buy a poplar guitar from guitar fetish.com & put these in  8)

Offline RayBarbeeMusic

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Re: The Steve Morse Set (DP 200 and DP 205)
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2016, 10:50:46 am »
Given the stated EQ curve, I've always been curious about the neck model used in the bridge.  If the curve is anywhere near accurate (and god knows it might not be), it should sound like a PAF with less obnoxious high end.

Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: The Steve Morse Set (DP 200 and DP 205)
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2016, 03:46:12 am »
I cannot give an accurate comparison since I have not tried other pickups in this guitar but the neck pickup has some PAF elements to the tone but I feel the highs are smoother, the midrange more vocal and the low end a bit tighter.

Cheers Stephan
Area 67, Area 58, VV Pro 54, Injector neck, HB2, Cruisers, Virtual Solo, SDS-1, Area T set, Area Hot T, Area T 615, Virtual Hot T, Chopper, Chopper T, Bluesbucker, Breed set, Air Norton, SD, DLX+, DLX-90, DP240, DP198, VHPAF, AT-1, Morse set, Super Distortion S; Norton

Offline RayBarbeeMusic

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Re: The Steve Morse Set (DP 200 and DP 205)
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2016, 01:38:41 pm »
That's exactly why I'm curious about it's use as a smoother PAF Bridge.

Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: The Steve Morse Set (DP 200 and DP 205)
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2019, 04:21:51 am »
Further experimentation showed that the bridge pickup benefits from a lower load. This should not surprise anyone as Steve used it in his tele originally which probably had 250k pots. With 500k it can be harsh sometimes. Going down to approx. 280k (a 560k resistor in parallel with the 500k pot) made it very warm but a bit too smooth. Adding a 1 meg resistor to the pot for a load of about 330k is just right - adds enough warmth but retains enough bite.

Interestingly all pickups I tried this with showed different results. The Steve Morse bridge pickup retained the principal character and just lost the harsh edge. Doing the same on say an Air Norton in the bridge changed the entire character of the pickup in the way that it got a lot fatter with approx. 280k to 300k compared to 500k, so this is a worthwile field of experimenting.

Cheers Stephan
Area 67, Area 58, VV Pro 54, Injector neck, HB2, Cruisers, Virtual Solo, SDS-1, Area T set, Area Hot T, Area T 615, Virtual Hot T, Chopper, Chopper T, Bluesbucker, Breed set, Air Norton, SD, DLX+, DLX-90, DP240, DP198, VHPAF, AT-1, Morse set, Super Distortion S; Norton

Offline RayBarbeeMusic

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Re: The Steve Morse Set (DP 200 and DP 205)
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2019, 08:44:59 am »
"Doing the same on say an Air Norton in the bridge changed the entire character of the pickup in the way that it got a lot fatter with approx. 280k to 300k compared to 500k, so this is a worthwile field of experimenting. "

What guitar did you have the AN in the bridge?  I've heard they can work in the bridge of an LP, but haven't tried it yet.

Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: The Steve Morse Set (DP 200 and DP 205)
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2019, 04:23:58 am »
The specs of that guitar (built by a local builder) are:

- body shape is a mixture of an Erlewine and a Jackson Archtop soloist
- body wood: mahogany with flamed maple top
- neck wood: mahogany with rosewood board
- bridge: tune-o-matic and stop tailpiece
- neck pickup at the moment is a DiMarzio Mini (DP-168) which is OK but I preferred the Lollar Firebird I had in there before.

Now I have a Duncan C-5 in it with a 500k load, which also sounds great but not as fat as the Air Norton with the lower load. However, with 500k as load the Air Norton sounded much brighter and thinner in that guitar. I would say the basic sound of that guitar is somewhat middy, and of the many pickups I tried in it took midscooped ones quite well (this is not to say that the C-5 is midscooped :))

I have moved the Air Norton (which BTW is an F-spaced model) to a HSS strat where it runs with a 250k load and also sounds quite fat there.

HTH,
Stephan
Area 67, Area 58, VV Pro 54, Injector neck, HB2, Cruisers, Virtual Solo, SDS-1, Area T set, Area Hot T, Area T 615, Virtual Hot T, Chopper, Chopper T, Bluesbucker, Breed set, Air Norton, SD, DLX+, DLX-90, DP240, DP198, VHPAF, AT-1, Morse set, Super Distortion S; Norton