Author Topic: PAF Pro/Air Zone not quite doing it for me  (Read 427 times)

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Offline NothingLeftInside

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PAF Pro/Air Zone not quite doing it for me
« on: January 30, 2019, 03:23:44 pm »
Hello Forum,

I recently put the PAF pro and the Air Zone in my guitar and while they sound great, I don't think they are 100% what I am looking for. It's an Ibanez ST105 from 1979. 25.5" scale, what seems like a neck through of maple with mahogany wings. I got a PAF Pro in the neck and Air Zone in the bridge. The PAF pro is just about right but it could be a little more dynamic, and the Air Zone breaks up a bit too early and is overly bright for my rig.

Also, they both have this vowel quality to some of the notes that I associated with shorter scale lengths like Gibson guitars, but I now think it might be PAF style pickups that have that sort of sound to them and it's not the scale length. It sounds like the coils are out of phase with each other a little bit- a touch hollow and quacky. I don't know if it's common for pickups like these to be scatterwound but maybe that's what it is.

I use several drive pedals- a rockett klon, ocd, amptweaker tightrock, and a ds-1 into a relatively high-gain amp (Peavey VTM). I'm looking for a relatively high gain sound out of the bridge, but with the ability to be dynamic- cleaner on single notes or arpeggios if I want. I think what I did wrong was go with a pickup that was too high gain, considering the pedals and amp that I have. The neck could be a touch brighter and more dynamic but raising it would probably fix that. However, it would still have that "aw" or "eu" sound to it and I'd rather it have a more neutral, fender-like "ah" or "er" type sound to in. I think what I need to do is go for more modern voiced pickups that are lower gain. I would like alt rock tones ranging from a dynamic clean-sh sound to something large like nirvana or weezer when I use the pedals.

Here's what I've considered:

Moving the PAF pro to the bridge
Duncan custom or custom 5
Duncan Slash bridge or the set
Duncan Perpetual Burn (maybe too high gain?)
Dimarzio Norton
Dimarzio Air classic
Dimarzio 36th anniversary bridge or set
Steve's Special
Mo Joe
EMG Hot 70s

Thanks all

Offline Strangeman86

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Re: PAF Pro/Air Zone not quite doing it for me
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2019, 05:35:50 pm »
I can't help you with the neck (haven't had a neck pickup in years) but as far as the bridge goes... that vocal quality you're talking about is a common quality in dimarzios (at least all the ones i've come across).  The duncan custom (with an a2 or unoriented a5 magnet in it) would probably help tame the brightness you're hearing although the output would still be in the same ballpark.  Another option would be to email Jeff from HighOrder Pickups and tell him what you need (he's great at taking abstract tonal descriptions and turning them into fantastic humbuckers. Just my two cents.
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Offline corypheus

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Re: PAF Pro/Air Zone not quite doing it for me
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2019, 06:28:33 pm »

Here's what I've considered:

Moving the PAF pro to the bridge
Duncan custom or custom 5
Duncan Slash bridge or the set
Duncan Perpetual Burn (maybe too high gain?)
Dimarzio Norton
Dimarzio Air classic
Dimarzio 36th anniversary bridge or set
Steve's Special
Mo Joe
EMG Hot 70s

Thanks all

Howdy,

Welcome to the forums. First off, there's not a lot of people that tried AZ in mahogany guitar and thought "bright", my experience with it was it's pretty undefined in the low register but smooth in the mids. It definitely had less highs then, say, a Norton (which, IMO works wonders for alt/indie rock sound in a mahogany axe), and much less then a Paf PRO on the bridge - which, honestly, is pretty bright. Steve Special is a pretty mid scooped and bright pickup, I personally wouldn't use it for the stuff you want to play, except if you plan on boosting the mids.

In terms of bridge:

36th anniversary will work with anything really, but you're gonna trade some output in the process (or rather, some mids). You'll also have to dig in a bit more to get the same attack/spank out of them, as they're more sensitive to picking differences. They have a very melodic mids, but they don't exhibit the cocked waah sound the many DMZs do (ToneZone perhaps being the most obvious and, in extent, it's aired version). 36's a kind of modern take on PAFs by DMZ, with light picking hand sounds vintage with heavier playing sounds punchier and more authoritative. Would definitely works wonders for alt rock (or rock of any kind).

IMO, it's not worth the added money to go for Slash siggy, when you can get A2Pros cheaper, specially used (Slash siggys are harder to find), when it's essentially the same pickup. By fiddling with the eq, adding some mids, taking some presence and adding a touch gain, the A2Pros sound pretty much like Slash, at least to my ears. They're good pickups, surprisingly versatile, and probably the closest Duncan to 36th anny, or at least to my ears. Having both in a, practicly the same guitar, for few months I sold the Duncans and kept the 36th anniversary.

Custom family pickups are super versatile pickups, but I'd personally steer clear of ceramic custom if you think AZ is bright. A2 or A8 would probably be more up your alley in that case.

I haven't tried perpetual burn from Duncan (well, majority of their custom shop pickups, really) so can't offer you much help there.

I tried EMG Fat 55s and Hot 70s, and while they were pretty good pickups, I didn't personally care that much for them. They have that certain broad frequency curve quality which makes them sound a bit bland, without a character. This is of course my opinion. I liked the Hot 70s more (it's a ceramic bridge from Super 77, a SuperD copy, if you will, and a Fat 55 neck, which is a pretty overwound PAF kind of sound), then the "Fat" 55s, probably because the bridge actually resembled a SuperDee, in a louder, more even, without a fuzzy top kind of way.

In terms of EMGs, I really liked 58 on the bridge (something between a loud p90 and an big paf sound), 60A (very similar to mini humbucker sounding, just bigger) and an 89 which is a splittable 85/SA, however does sound a bit different to 85 as it's tighter and has a touch more upper mids. That said, honestly, if you feel AZ is a "too high output", any EMG will feel way over powered.


Now in terms of the qualities you mentioned... the only "higher output" pickup I'd steer you towards is the Titan, it's open, clear, vocal, modern in voice and warm enough for any kind of rock.

Neck:

I'd stay with Paf Pro on the neck, or if you want a sweeter clean tones, and don't mind a small loss of output, 36th anny, as that thing really delivers and matches nicely to any style of playing, style of music and to pretty much any bridge pickup.

HTH,
Cory
« Last Edit: January 30, 2019, 06:33:21 pm by corypheus »

Offline NothingLeftInside

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Re: PAF Pro/Air Zone not quite doing it for me
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2019, 03:21:23 pm »
Thanks for the insight. I'm thinking of getting the 36th anniversary bridge and trying it in the neck with the PAF pro in the bridge, and then vice versa. If I go with it in the bridge I'll probably buy the matching neck version. I almost bought a set of 36'es but I thought they wouldn't be "modern" sounding or hot enough.

Offline DarthPhineas

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Re: PAF Pro/Air Zone not quite doing it for me
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2019, 05:04:00 pm »
Gain is going to come from the amp.  Iommi is The Godfather of doom metal, used P90s, and for a super high gain saturated tone...for example .


 
Also, what speakers are you using?
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Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: PAF Pro/Air Zone not quite doing it for me
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2019, 10:18:36 am »
I would have suggested to put the PAF Pro in the bridge and go with something lighter in the neck until I read that you found the Air Zone too bright. I never played one but everything I read about it led me to believe it is anything but bright. I would consider the Breed bridge as an alternative if you want "warm", even though it is probably in the same output category as the AZ.

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

Offline NothingLeftInside

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Re: PAF Pro/Air Zone not quite doing it for me
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2019, 01:31:27 pm »
I think the problem is that the whole rig is bright. No matter what guitar I use, the bridge is always very bright compared to the neck. I'm going to try using a 250k pot for the bridge on this guitar before doing anything else.

The speakers are Peavey Sheffield from what looks like the late 80s. I don't know if this is the matching cab for the VTM, but it is certainly a contemporary of it- possibly for a Butcher or Roadmaster (it does not have the silver panels, but a black metal grille).

Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: PAF Pro/Air Zone not quite doing it for me
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2019, 03:56:08 am »
Good call on the 250k pot for the bridge - it is an inexpensive thing to try.

I am not familiar with the Peavey speakers. The only way to find out if the brightness comes from them is to try a different cabinet.

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

Offline greenlion

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Re: PAF Pro/Air Zone not quite doing it for me
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2019, 05:12:06 pm »
From my experience, the Duncan custom, custom 5, Slash bridge, Perpetual Burn, Air classic, 36th anniversary,
Steve's Special, and Mo Joe are all going to be brighter than the Air Zone.

Offline buddroyce

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Re: PAF Pro/Air Zone not quite doing it for me
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2019, 06:05:50 am »
I'm going to go out on a limb and say Norton... just cause you all know I love the pickup.
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