JP Neck Pickups

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Offline Octacoil

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JP Neck Pickups
« on: February 19, 2020, 12:30:57 pm »
Air Norton
Liquifire
Illuminator
Sonic Ecstasy
Rainmaker

Anyone kind enough to share your experiences with those? I'd like to know the differences as well as the direction of his tonequest.
7 String: Blaze, Illuminator, IBZ
Humbucker: Breed, Evolution, Fred, Norton, PAF Joe, Humbucker from Hell, PAF Master, CrunchLab, Illuminator, Titan, Transition, Gravity Storm, Dark Matter 2.
Single: Fast Track 2, VV Heavy Blues 2, Injector, ISCV2, HS2, Cruiser
P.S. I only use Dimarzio pickups :P

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Offline HarlowTheFish

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Re: JP Neck Pickups
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2020, 04:25:58 pm »
Air Norton to me sounds like a jazz box - it's warm, thick, a little boomy, and somehow produces a godly lead tone when you give it a bunch of gain. Not my favorite personally, but really good when paired with something equally thick like a Tone Zone so you can set your amp up with less bass and compensate for both.

Liquifire was kinda like an AN with a bunch of the low end just chopped off, so you can still get that godly lead tone paired with a brighter bridge pickup. Still not super my thing, but IMO it works in a lot more situations than the AN.

The Illuminator and Sonic Ecstasy set are my favorites of the bunch - a lot of mids, sweet but present treble, and a very controllable low end (despite how much of it there is). The Illuminator is a bit brighter and snarlier, while the Sonic Ecstasy is a bit thicker and gruntier, with a touch less treble - think cranked AC15 (Illuminator) vs. cranked Tweed Junior (Sonic Ecstasy).

Haven't had a chance to try out anything with the Rainmaker yet, so I don't wanna give you bad advice on that, but the samples I've heard sound kinda disappointing to me, like a step backwards.

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Offline Octacoil

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Re: JP Neck Pickups
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2020, 04:53:44 pm »
Cool. So far I have only tried the illuminator. Sure I have heard samples online but also want to hear it from players that have experience with those.

+1 karma!!!
7 String: Blaze, Illuminator, IBZ
Humbucker: Breed, Evolution, Fred, Norton, PAF Joe, Humbucker from Hell, PAF Master, CrunchLab, Illuminator, Titan, Transition, Gravity Storm, Dark Matter 2.
Single: Fast Track 2, VV Heavy Blues 2, Injector, ISCV2, HS2, Cruiser
P.S. I only use Dimarzio pickups :P

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Offline Mew

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Re: JP Neck Pickups
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2020, 02:50:53 am »
I had something similar to Air Norton .... Complete mudfest.

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Offline Schneidas

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Re: JP Neck Pickups
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2020, 03:27:15 am »
Also not a fan of the Air Norton. Was just too "airy", warm and muddy.
I half-Air modded mine and it improved to the point where I really liked it. The output increased, and the flutey-ness and airyness was gone with much improved pick-attack.
I prefer the stock Liquifire over the stock Air Norton. But for me the Liquifire needs to be wired straight to the volumepot with no tone pot connected and there it's usable. Otherwise it's again, a tad too warm.
Haven't tried the other JP pickups yet.

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Offline Strobe

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Re: JP Neck Pickups
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2020, 11:29:53 am »
Air Norton to me sounds like a jazz box - it's warm, thick, a little boomy, and somehow produces a godly lead tone when you give it a bunch of gain. Not my favorite personally, but really good when paired with something equally thick like a Tone Zone so you can set your amp up with less bass and compensate for both.

Liquifire was kinda like an AN with a bunch of the low end just chopped off, so you can still get that godly lead tone paired with a brighter bridge pickup. Still not super my thing, but IMO it works in a lot more situations than the AN.

The Illuminator and Sonic Ecstasy set are my favorites of the bunch - a lot of mids, sweet but present treble, and a very controllable low end (despite how much of it there is). The Illuminator is a bit brighter and snarlier, while the Sonic Ecstasy is a bit thicker and gruntier, with a touch less treble - think cranked AC15 (Illuminator) vs. cranked Tweed Junior (Sonic Ecstasy).

Haven't had a chance to try out anything with the Rainmaker yet, so I don't wanna give you bad advice on that, but the samples I've heard sound kinda disappointing to me, like a step backwards.

I think Harlow summed this up very well from someone who also owns an Illuminator, CF/LF, and TZ/AN set. The one thing I will say in defense of the Air Norton. Yes, it has plenty of bass, but it seems to work perfectly in a basswood guitar with a double locking trem. To my ears, those both tend to shift the EQ to a little more trebly and less bassy, and both the Tone Zone and Air Norton just compensate for that perfectly to my ears. This is, in my opinion, the explanation for why there is so much TZ/AN hate. It is also the explanation for why the set is put into so many Ibanez Guitars - because it just kind of works.

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Offline HarlowTheFish

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Re: JP Neck Pickups
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2020, 12:48:02 pm »
The one thing I will say in defense of the Air Norton. Yes, it has plenty of bass, but it seems to work perfectly in a basswood guitar with a double locking trem. To my ears, those both tend to shift the EQ to a little more trebly and less bassy, and both the Tone Zone and Air Norton just compensate for that perfectly to my ears.
I'm not a TZ/AN hater, I just prefer a brighter neck pickup. Hell, give me a TZ/Norton combo or double Nortons and I'm very happy. The TZ/AN combo works great for a beefy rock tone, but my favorite place for them is in a hollow-body or semi-hollow because they take these guitars that have a rich sound but lack punch and make them super grunty and muscular in a way that works really well for both cleans and higher-gain stuff (though the usual feedback caveats apply).

They do sound pretty killer in an Ibby Prestige though. The RG655 is one of my favorite-sounding superstrats and I still want one.

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Offline electricbhakti

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Re: JP Neck Pickups
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2020, 09:30:02 pm »
I had the JP6 with the Crunch Lab/Liquifire combo.   It was a great set, sold the guitar because I didn't like the neck.    I use the Air Norton in the Bridge and a Bluesbucker in the Neck - Bill Nash trick.   Sounds incredible.   I did this combo in a Fender Blacktop Strat.   I enjoyed the Illuminators, but sold the Schecter they were in so they are no longer in my inventory.   Ultimately it depends on what style of music you play, amp set up, etc.    I noticed that the original Norton (not the air norton)  is awesome in the bridge with my injectors in neck and middle position.  I have that in one of my strats and its amazing.   

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Offline DarthPhineas

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Re: JP Neck Pickups
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2020, 08:25:56 am »
Air Norton
Liquifire
Illuminator
Sonic Ecstasy
Rainmaker

Anyone kind enough to share your experiences with those? I'd like to know the differences as well as the direction of his tonequest.


have tried:
Liquifire
Illuminator
Sonic Ecstasy
Rainmaker

but not:
Air Norton



I'd suggest not sweating the differences.  all variations of the same goal.  tweaking amp settings and playing technique can get them all in the same ballpark.
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Offline Octacoil

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Re: JP Neck Pickups
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2020, 08:05:24 pm »
Air Norton
Liquifire
Illuminator
Sonic Ecstasy
Rainmaker

Anyone kind enough to share your experiences with those? I'd like to know the differences as well as the direction of his tonequest.


have tried:
Liquifire
Illuminator
Sonic Ecstasy
Rainmaker

but not:
Air Norton



I'd suggest not sweating the differences.  all variations of the same goal.  tweaking amp settings and playing technique can get them all in the same ballpark.

I know that but this is a forum about pickups. We are supposed "want" to know the differences between those. All the details. Does that makes sense to you?
7 String: Blaze, Illuminator, IBZ
Humbucker: Breed, Evolution, Fred, Norton, PAF Joe, Humbucker from Hell, PAF Master, CrunchLab, Illuminator, Titan, Transition, Gravity Storm, Dark Matter 2.
Single: Fast Track 2, VV Heavy Blues 2, Injector, ISCV2, HS2, Cruiser
P.S. I only use Dimarzio pickups :P

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Offline HarlowTheFish

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Re: JP Neck Pickups
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2020, 08:44:01 pm »
I know that but this is a forum about pickups. We are supposed "want" to know the differences between those. All the details. Does that makes sense to you?
I mean yeah but Darth Phin is right - these are pretty minor changes in pickups that feel and sound very similar. The CL/LF is has the most treble and is the most aggressive overall, the Illuminator has a bit more low-mids and less low bass than that and a brighter but less extended treble (so a growlier rather than snarlier attack under gain), and the Sonic Ecstasy is basically the same tonal recipe as the Illuminator but a bit sweeter on the treble. They're all a great steak, so to speak, it's just a matter of whether you're a skirt steak (CL/LF), NY strip (Illuminator), or ribeye (SE) kinda person. Even JP seems to take them as just evolutionary steps bc every time a new pickup comes out, all of the guitars he still plays switch over to them (JP 15 started with CL/LF, got Illuminators, JP16 started with Illuminators and switched to SE, Majesty did the same).

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Offline Octacoil

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Re: JP Neck Pickups
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2020, 09:47:13 pm »
I know that but this is a forum about pickups. We are supposed "want" to know the differences between those. All the details. Does that makes sense to you?
I mean yeah but Darth Phin is right - these are pretty minor changes in pickups that feel and sound very similar. The CL/LF is has the most treble and is the most aggressive overall, the Illuminator has a bit more low-mids and less low bass than that and a brighter but less extended treble (so a growlier rather than snarlier attack under gain), and the Sonic Ecstasy is basically the same tonal recipe as the Illuminator but a bit sweeter on the treble. They're all a great steak, so to speak, it's just a matter of whether you're a skirt steak (CL/LF), NY strip (Illuminator), or ribeye (SE) kinda person. Even JP seems to take them as just evolutionary steps bc every time a new pickup comes out, all of the guitars he still plays switch over to them (JP 15 started with CL/LF, got Illuminators, JP16 started with Illuminators and switched to SE, Majesty did the same).

Welp maybe right about the minor changes but for the record I own both Crunchlab and Illuminator bridge. Tested both on several guitars. Similar but not "that" close.

What I disagree with is telling someone not to sweat the details. Pickup forum bro. Stay curious.
7 String: Blaze, Illuminator, IBZ
Humbucker: Breed, Evolution, Fred, Norton, PAF Joe, Humbucker from Hell, PAF Master, CrunchLab, Illuminator, Titan, Transition, Gravity Storm, Dark Matter 2.
Single: Fast Track 2, VV Heavy Blues 2, Injector, ISCV2, HS2, Cruiser
P.S. I only use Dimarzio pickups :P

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Offline HarlowTheFish

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Re: JP Neck Pickups
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2020, 02:44:28 am »
I've played the CL/LF, Illuminators, and SEs in the same guitar - a friend's 2HB parts tele - and to my ear they sound damn near identical, with the general trend that I wrote in my other post: I've genuinely heard SD JBs that sound more different because of the differences between the 80s and modern models, or just between individual pickups, and you could easily make up this ground with about half a degree turn on your amp's EQ.

They feel pretty different though (the bridges more so than the necks - those just feel like you have a cranked MXR compressor on all the time). The CL feels way stiff and to my hand kinda harsh - I pick pretty hard and I have a bass background, so I tend to push the strings in towards the pickup a bit more than most guitarists, while the owner of this tele (who picks more normally) doesn't get that harshness so much. The Illuminator is less stiff but IMO it's a bit tubby in the low mids, so especially if you play kinda hard you get this really strange response where the treble and upper mids take a sec to come up in the sound. SE IMO is less stiff like the Illuminator but doesn't do this so it's my favorite one for the bridge.
As far as neck, my big issue with them (and why I kinda agree with Darth Phin) is that they sound different in the same way that the matching bridge pickups do, but they all feel so compressed that I could frankly not tell them apart when playing. Just off of hearing the sound, the SE is my favorite because I prefer brighter amps and it works well with that, Illuminator is so-so and the LF I really don't dig because it feels really indistinct. As far as playing feel I'd rather go for an Air Norton, which is just as fat but retains some dynamics, or a D-Activator X set to do something kinda like Michael Romeo thing (Tone Zone neck/X2n bridge) which sounds similar but IMO responds to my playing a lot better despite still being way too OTT for me.

I'm still curious, it's just that in my experience this particular line of pickups is a pretty shallow rabbit hole to dive into - OSHA wouldn't be too keen on that.

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Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: JP Neck Pickups
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2020, 03:12:42 am »
Harlow, I really like your descriptions as they not only cover sound but also feel and are put in context. I think this is really helpful.

Cheers Stephan
Area 67, Area 58, Area 61, VV Pro 54, Injector neck, VV HB2, Virtual Solo, SDS-1, Area T, Area Hot T, Area T 615, Virtual Hot T, Chopper T, Bluesbucker, Breed set, Air Norton, Super Distortion, DLX+, DLX-90, DP240, DP198, VHPAF, AT-1, Norton, Injector bridge

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Offline Octacoil

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Re: JP Neck Pickups
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2020, 10:40:53 am »
I've played the CL/LF, Illuminators, and SEs in the same guitar - a friend's 2HB parts tele - and to my ear they sound damn near identical, with the general trend that I wrote in my other post: I've genuinely heard SD JBs that sound more different because of the differences between the 80s and modern models, or just between individual pickups, and you could easily make up this ground with about half a degree turn on your amp's EQ.

They feel pretty different though (the bridges more so than the necks - those just feel like you have a cranked MXR compressor on all the time). The CL feels way stiff and to my hand kinda harsh - I pick pretty hard and I have a bass background, so I tend to push the strings in towards the pickup a bit more than most guitarists, while the owner of this tele (who picks more normally) doesn't get that harshness so much. The Illuminator is less stiff but IMO it's a bit tubby in the low mids, so especially if you play kinda hard you get this really strange response where the treble and upper mids take a sec to come up in the sound. SE IMO is less stiff like the Illuminator but doesn't do this so it's my favorite one for the bridge.
As far as neck, my big issue with them (and why I kinda agree with Darth Phin) is that they sound different in the same way that the matching bridge pickups do, but they all feel so compressed that I could frankly not tell them apart when playing. Just off of hearing the sound, the SE is my favorite because I prefer brighter amps and it works well with that, Illuminator is so-so and the LF I really don't dig because it feels really indistinct. As far as playing feel I'd rather go for an Air Norton, which is just as fat but retains some dynamics, or a D-Activator X set to do something kinda like Michael Romeo thing (Tone Zone neck/X2n bridge) which sounds similar but IMO responds to my playing a lot better despite still being way too OTT for me.

I'm still curious, it's just that in my experience this particular line of pickups is a pretty shallow rabbit hole to dive into - OSHA wouldn't be too keen on that.

See this is very helpful.

+1 karma.
7 String: Blaze, Illuminator, IBZ
Humbucker: Breed, Evolution, Fred, Norton, PAF Joe, Humbucker from Hell, PAF Master, CrunchLab, Illuminator, Titan, Transition, Gravity Storm, Dark Matter 2.
Single: Fast Track 2, VV Heavy Blues 2, Injector, ISCV2, HS2, Cruiser
P.S. I only use Dimarzio pickups :P