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Messages - Strobe

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Guitar Lounge / Re: Tuning problems with Les Pauls
« on: December 06, 2018, 09:33:28 am »
Lubing the nut helps, as does having a good self lubricating nut that is well cut. I have two Les Pauls, neither of which has a big issue with this, but they also do not have quite the tuning stability of my strat or tele in their stock state. I can, however, vouch for something I am using on my Les Paul Standard - it's called a string butler. Essentially, you attach it to your bottom two tuning pegs. It makes the strings break straight out of the nut and not bend towards the tuners until further up the head stock. It looks like this. They cost more than they probably should at around $50, but it works well.


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Gear Closet / Re: In ear monitors.
« on: November 13, 2018, 10:38:13 am »
I personally think they are a godsend. They function both as ear plugs to reduce the stage volume while piping your preferred mix directly into your ears. As long as your sound guy can handle it, they really help. I primarily just use them when doing vocals - those can get lost on a lot of stages, and if you are too quiet you can end up blowing out your voice by trying to sing louder.

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One worth mentioning - I have changed it out on a couple guitars as it is a little too dark for my tastes, but the Gibson 490R neck pickup is a very warm, dark sounding neck pickup. It kind of sounds like a lot of other neck pickups with the tone rolled off. If you want something that is fairly dark, but also liquidy even with the  tone fully on, this could be a good option for you. My opinion is that it is exceptional for leads, and takes gain very well. I do not like how it sounds clean or for rhythm - like I said, darker than I prefer but it sounds exactly like what you are describing.

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The Pickup Place / Re: RICHIE KOTZEN STRAT® REPLACEMENT PICKGUARD
« on: October 08, 2018, 09:27:32 am »
Are these new custom pickups, or is it an existing model in this pickguard? Anyone know more about these pickups?

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Guitar Lounge / Re: ESP guitars
« on: May 25, 2018, 08:55:48 am »
The eclipse models are thinner than a Les Paul, and have a different neck profile (usually a thin U). They have large frets and most models have a different control layout than the 2 volume, 2 tone on the Les Paul. The made in Japan Navigator series is a lot closer to a Les Paul - those are more in the replica territory. The shape is a little similar, but they are not very much like a Les Paul to me when you consider the overall feel.

The LTD models are good bang for the buck, but it's the MIJ stuff that really shines. My MIJ ESP E-II Horizon III in Reindeer Blue is stunning and the fretwork is immaculate. It's more of a super strat, but the shape of the horns is novel to ESP.

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The Pickup Place / Re: Air Norton/Tone Zone opinion request
« on: April 27, 2018, 09:48:47 am »
I've got the AN / TZ set (true velvet single in HSH configuration) in an Ibanez RG655. For those not aware, it's a basswood bodied RG (the pointy horned super strat shape), maple super wizard bolt on neck, rosewood board, with an edge tremolo. This is the only guitar I have a lot of experience with them in, so I cannot really comment about how it would be in mahogany. First off, what folks say about them being dark is at least true of the tone zone. It's dark - that said, I have found that with most amps you can just adjust the EQ to get it less dark to great effect, and the overall darkness does have the benefit of leads sounding good on this pickup all the way up the neck. If you really gravitate towards very bright pickups, this probably is not the best choice for you, but if you ever find your bright pickups to sound kind of harsh, then this will likely fix it. Regarding the Air Norton, it's not that dark to my ears. A Gibson 490R - that's dark. The Air Norton seems to have a fair amount more high end compared to that. It is not nearly as bright compared to a Jazz, but it has a lot more body to it, and seems to sustain better. A Seymour Duncan Jazz has the edge clean and is super clear, it just can sound plinky sometimes. The Air Norton can get a lot more fluid. I would say it's bright enough, especially with some gain where I feel it outperforms the Jazz.

Back to the tone zone, I did a little comparison yesterday. I ran both the Tone Zone in my RG655 and the SD Custom 5 in my ESP Horizon 3 (maple neck through, alder wings, carved maple top, ebony board). The custom 5 is a very tight pickup. It's a bit scooped with a PAF-ish kind of EQ profile. It has a lot of highs, and a lot of attack. For a medium to high output pickup, it's very clear. I chose these two to A/B because they are both Alnico 5 medium-high output pickups, but with a *very* different EQ profile. The Tone Zone is described as having a 8.5 bass / 8.5 mids / 5 treble EQ curve, whereas the Custom 5 is more like a 6 bass / 3 mids / 8 treble pickup. Back to back, the Custom 5 is definitely clearer on chugging rhythms. The Tone Zone definitely sounds huge in comparison. The chugs are less defined, but they have more of a gut punch than the scalpel of the custom 5. When it comes to lead work, they both sound great to my ears, albeit very different - the tone zone being thick with an "awww" sound to it, and the custom 5 being more focused with a nice singing quality. What really surprised me, and part of the reason I am writing this is when it came to more complex chords. The custom 5 has a clearer attack, but the Tone Zone actually has way more note separation than the custom 5 when playing beyond two note power chords. This is why I disagree with some assessments of the Tone Zone as being muddy. It's actually the opposite when set up at the right height. The custom 5 is a very clear pickup (for a passive). The tone zone is clearer than that under high gain (I was using a 5153 on blue channel). I heard all the notes on the tone zone whereas it actually started to get a little bit muddy on the custom 5 (gain was pretty saturated). Props to Dimarzio for designing a passive pickup that can do this.

AN / TZ set is definitely not for everyone, and it's a little annoying how nearly every high end Ibanez has this set and only this set as an option, but if you don't mind some EQ changes on your amp, and don't gravitate towards the brightest of the bright tones, it can be a very nice set.

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