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Topics - Strangeman86

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1
The Pickup Place / More surgery...
« on: January 16, 2019, 11:07:20 am »
Yes, I did it again, I'm an addict and I can't leave well enough alone.  I've been playing the Imperium in my guitar ... for a while, it's pretty well tied with my favorite Duncan (a hack job) for time spent between pickup changes.  But I began to desire a slightly more even EQ with a bit more power.  So I bought an Illuminator and tried that.  A nice round-snap quality to the notes, but a bit boxy and too screamy (yes, I know, Mr. Petrucci likes those blistering leads) but the EQ was close to what I was hearing and the extra power was nice.  So into the O.R. I went... The first incarnation I tried was the screw coil (or southern coil) of the Illuminator and the northern coil of the Imperium.  NEGATIVE.  That sounded ridiculously boxy and kind of choked off if that makes sense.  So I tried the opposite (the slug or northern coil from the Illuminator and the southern coil of the Imperium).  Now we're cookin'!  This was ... mostly, what I was trying to achieve.  The low end is still very tight (as both donor pickups were already) and is, to my ears, just a hair more than the Imperium has on its own.  The mids shifted frequencies a bit (lots of that nice Dimarzio vocal quality to lead work, but it isn't really boxy like the Illuminator can be) and are backed off compared to the Imperium.  The high end is what I wanted, more than the Imperium, less than the Illuminator.  Resistance is in the 12k range, overall output sounds ... probably 350+mV?  So far, I'm enjoying the fruits of my labors, but more to follow.  Happy mod'ing to all!

2
Gear Closet / Abasi Pathos...
« on: January 03, 2019, 08:14:12 am »
A tiny bit of history, I have terrible luck with distortion pedals.  Most of them have some sort of audible quirk or a harsh frequency or two that I can't stand, etc...  That being said, the Pathos is very refined sounding.  Mr. Abasi tends to like brighter, clearer tone from his guitars (based on what I hear) and the Pathos is more full and warm sounding to compensate for that.  It is very articulate and surprisingly quiet for a dirt box.  To my ears it likes big chords and lead work just a bit more than chugging away or fast palm-muting.  I've seen a couple of reviewers that didn't like the sweep of the gain knob, it's certainly not the most linear I've heard but it isn't terrible.  The EQ is phenomenal.  The midrange is the most powerful of the three frequencies (by design if I remember what Mr. Abasi said in an interview), but the treble and bass are no slouches.  Overall the circuit remains 'tight' and note separation is excellent no matter the settings.  The smooth/edge switch is very powerful as well.  Leaving the smooth setting on doesn't seem to affect the gain or output of the circuit, but it makes it the smoothest distortion I've heard, period.  Not dark or wooly or murky in any fashion, just SMOOTH. 

Is this pedal for everyone?  Nope, not even close.  It was built as a very specific tool for a very unique player.  But if you want something that jives a little off center, the Pathos is worth a try.

3
Gear Closet / Nobels ODR Mini
« on: December 27, 2018, 08:37:00 am »
Pros:
- Sounds 99% like the original (of which there are a plethora of demos).
- A smaller, arguably sturdier housing.
- 'Tighter' low end than the original to my ears.
- CHEAP.

Cons:
- None for me, although I imagine some folks will be unhappy with even slight changes to such a beloved piece of gear.

A stellar, affordable pedal that punches WAY above its class.

4
The Pickup Place / Another weird mod'...
« on: November 27, 2018, 04:28:08 pm »
Warning, the following modification, if performed incorrectly, can easily cause damage to your (specifically) Dimarzio humbucker!  It involves cannibalizing parts from another pickup as well, so now you know.  Also, if someone has done something with the same ideas, I'm sorry in advance.

I took some cylindrical hex-top pole pieces (like the ones that are in the Imperium and I believe the Super Distortion as well) and used those in the holes for the virtual vintage pieces in an Al DiMeola bridge humbucker.  The trick was to get them all the same distance into the bobbins without causing the top of the bobbins to bulge, then to balance them properly while screwing them in place on the base plate.  I used a home-made pad of layers of bobbin tape to keep the standard 1/8" magnet flush with the bottom of the bobbins.  Since the ADM uses regular screw-like pole pieces, this setup created the good ol' air-bucker mod' but also the virtual vintage mod' at the same time (but the thicker cylindrical pieces still touch the magnet). 

Sound-wise, there is a bit of extra warmth, but there's almost no discernible drop in output thanks to the increased inductance (those cylindrical pieces are quite a bit larger than the standard pieces dimarzio uses; I also believe they're a different alloy, but I'm not sure about that).  I'll likely try this on a different 'bucker as well, just to satisfy my curiosity, more results to follow.  Good luck and happy mod'ing!!

5
Gear Closet / Keeley El Rey Dorado
« on: October 31, 2018, 07:54:19 pm »
Pros:
- At the right settings it does certainly evoke shades of the plexi variety.
- Large range of gain from mild grit to some legit distortion.
- If you look closely you can see the LED's light up through the power toggle's hole while playing.

Cons:
- It has a quality similar to some tube-screamer styled circuits where it sounds like there's some clean signal blended into the drive.  I imagine most of that would go away with a slightly more driven amp, but I like my cleans clean.
- To my ears it lacks some of the singing quality that other Keeley circuits possess. 

Overall, not a bad drive.  It just isn't my thing and will soon be sold. 

6
Gear Closet / Dragon's Heart Original pick...
« on: October 17, 2018, 12:13:33 pm »
A short expositional onslaught:  Dragon's Heart picks (in this case the 'original' formulation) are made of an extremely tough thermoplastic called polyamide-imide with a 12% graphite filler for reduced friction.  They have three distinct picking surfaces for different timbres (a super pointy edge, a more 'traditional' edge and one that's completely rounded off) and because it was easier to make one model than three (and because the polyamide-imide apparently takes a ridiculous amount of time to melt down and form). 

Pros:
- Three distinct options for how you want to pick (I prefer the more traditional edge as I like the mix of speed and attack).
- Super low friction strikes (I had to adjust my picking technique a bit, but now that I'm used to it I don't want to use any other pick).
- Supposed 1000-ish playing-hour durability (each player's results will likely vary).
- Beveled edges help it feel/perform more like a thinner pick.

Cons:
- The graphite rubs off little by little as you play and gets on the strings and ones fingers (not a terrible thing, but certainly not desirable either).
- It's 2.5mm thick and not everyone player enjoys such a stiff pick.
- At $12 plus shipping (almost $4) it's not cheap.

Overall, a great pick and concept.  Super fast with a nice round attack that doesn't hold on to the strings (it essentially just 'gets out of the way' of the strings vibrating, lets notes sing a bit more).  I haven't sampled the other models, which have slightly different formulas (the Pure is just the polyamide-imide and is supposedly warmer sounding, the hardened model has glass fibers in it and is supposedly brighter and the GT model has carbon in it, is the most durable and has a feel/attack somewhere between the original and the hardened models).  I'm reasonably sure I won't get anywhere near 1000 hours out of this pick (I've got about 1.5 hours on it now and can see the primary downward strike area starting to slightly change shape), but it can easily be flipped over and used that way as well.  It's still stupidly more durable than any other nylon or plastic-ish pick I've ever used (that includes cellulose, tortex, ultex, nylon, dunlop's stubby picks, etc...).  Certainly not for every player, but certainly worth a try if you routinely tear up regular picks.

7
Gear Closet / Keeley Retro Super Germanium Phat Mod
« on: September 15, 2018, 05:41:57 pm »
I've previously owned the 'regular' Germanium Super Phat Mod before, and I thought it was brilliant.  It just didn't have that... extra special something for me.  Then when Keeley announced the 'Retro' version I was curious what the differences were and how it would be better.  According to Keeley's website a germanium amplifier stage has been added to the front end of the SPM to take the circuit to '11'.  That being said...

Pros:
- Touch sensitive and articulate like a great tube amp (just as great with volume knob adjustments and doesn't lose your pick attack when palm muting)!!
- Evenly overdriven across all frequencies/strings no matter how dirty or clean your amp is set (some drives NEED a slightly driven amp to work their best, this one does not).
- Essentially as thick or thin sounding as you like via the flat/phat switch and tone knob (I love it in the phat mode with the tone around 1 o'clock).
- It's not meant to emulate an amplifier, but it has many of the sonic qualities of my favorite small combo (the Fender Musicmaster Bass amp with 6v6's).
- The drive range goes from smokey crunch to grunty fuzz (I enjoy the knob at about 9 o'clock) and that covers a lot of sonic ground for me.
- Mike Hermans has done a spectacular video demo on youtube, but I think it sounds BETTER in real life.
- Is easily the best overdrive I've used by a wide margin and is now my favorite.

Cons:
- Limited to 250 pieces (for now; I imagine with enough demand it may make a comeback one day).
- Paint job is likely a bit over the top for some, though well done.
- The input/output jacks are still on the left and right sides of the pedal (I know, this is likely much easier to manufacture, but it still makes pedalboard real estate more fun to manage).



8
The Pickup Place / High Order Pickups Custom Humbucker
« on: September 10, 2018, 01:59:42 pm »
Custom humbucker from High Order pickups.  A little over 14k, standard-thick ceramic magnet.  Requested to be dark/thick.  Tonal references were the Norton and the Dominion.

Pros:
- Clarity on par or better than most 'fancier' pickups I've heard/tried.
- Not compressed at all.
- EQ sounds pretty close to a Custom Custom or a Steve Morse the way I hear it.
- Smooth and sweet highs, just the tiniest bit of vocal/expressive quality in the mids and a pleasantly tight/round bottom.
- Less than $100 after shipping.

Cons:
- Not quite as dynamically responsive as other pickups, but certainly not devoid of them.
- Can't get it in double cream.
- Jeff IS High Order Pickups and it takes around a month to get your order out.

Overall, a beautiful pickup.  Probably more vintage than modern, but will certainly chug when I ask it to.  It's very happy being clean or dirty, soloing or chords of any variety.  Jeff builds wonderful pickups that allow you to (in my experience; this is the fifth pickup I've ordered from him) express more of your playing than simply the voice of the pickup.

9
The Pickup Place / Another new direction...
« on: July 30, 2018, 05:10:08 pm »
Big edit and simplification.  I'd love some suggestions for something voiced like a slightly higher output and more aggressive Norton with a tighter bottom end and all the harmonic content.  Any help is greatly appreciated.

10
The Pickup Place / Direct mounting...
« on: July 24, 2018, 04:37:09 pm »
Just curious what folks' experiences are with direct mounting vs mounting rings?  Also, what method of mounting did you use?

11
The Pickup Place / Public Service Announcement...
« on: July 10, 2018, 05:48:53 pm »
If you've ever pondered about using two ceramic spacers as individual magnets for a humbucker (thereby leaving a gap in the middle of the pickup), let me discourage that line of thinking.  It sounds like complete dog snot, I don't care what 'bucker you try it on.  Happy mod'ing to all.

12
The Pickup Place / Norton mod...
« on: July 06, 2018, 08:15:58 am »
So at the suggestion of another forum member (corypheus) I grabbed a Norton.  Freaking love it, but stock it's not quite as articulate as I'd like and it's a bit too dark on the high end.  I've got some other things on order to possibly/probably modify it a bit more in the future, but for now... I removed the stock 3/4" screws and put in some Mojotone 1/2" screws and SHAZAM!!  Quite a bit more articulation (or note separation, whatever you prefer), the high end opened up a bit (gave it a bit more 'sing') and the low end is tighter as well.  I suspect the change in tone/timbre is related to two subjects: the length of the screws and likely the difference in alloys between the stock screws and Mojo's.  But, in the past, I've swapped out SD's screws for Mojo's as well and had 99% positive results.  Just food for thought.

13
Gear Closet / Barber Gain Changer SR
« on: July 05, 2018, 10:39:14 pm »
Up front, I love the standard Gain Changer and the GCX (really just a gain changer with expanded tone controls).  They're stupidly versatile and, although I despise this term for its overuse, about as transparent as you can find in an OD box.  The SR (special recipe for those not familiar with David's pedals), however, is a whole lot better.  It is quite a bit more refined than its predecessors.  To my ears it's a tad warmer with greater clarity, takes higher output pickups MUCH better and is sweeter overall.  I feel like it cleans up better as well.  My favorite aspect though is that I actually enjoy the lower gain toggle setting now (on the GC and GCX I never enjoyed the feel/timbre of it).  If you're in the market for an OD that is very versatile and will respond to your playing/guitar/setup with all the nuance you could want, shoot David an email.  I hope the day finds you all well.

14
The Pickup Place / I'm so sorry...
« on: June 19, 2018, 05:08:57 pm »
I can never leave well-enough alone.  I put the old neck back on my guitar (new neck is a little skinny, maple/pau ferro with stainless frets; old neck is very fat, roasted maple/bocote with nickel frets) just to see what would happen ... I miss the fat neck.  But I digress, to the point.  I tried my ADM and my Imperium (both with multiple magnets) and neither of them like my guitar with my old neck.  I was forced to put my SD Custom Shop Gryphon back in (Custom slug coil, Pegasus screw coil) and it was like using a comfortable, well-worn blanket.  I'm so sorry for betraying you fine folks here in this forum!   :'( :'( :'( :'( :'(

15
The Pickup Place / Gravity Storm Revisited...
« on: June 12, 2018, 03:45:15 pm »
Newer guitar, time to retry something.  This is what I wanted the Breed to sound like.  Great growl, some serious low end thunder (I know some folks have found the GS's low end flubby, it's just BIG in my guitar), rounded top end and smooth.  Good response to pick attack (it gets.... bubbly for lack of a better word).  I feel like this is a happy/major-chord sounding pickup; and by contrast I feel like the Imperium is a more serious/minor-chord sounding pickup.  I haven't had a chance to put some real volume on it yet (sleeping wife and baby) but I feel like this might be tied for my favorite Dimarzio now (with the Al Di Meola).  I hope the day finds you all well.

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