The feel and response of air pickups

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Offline effectsman

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The feel and response of air pickups
« on: April 19, 2021, 07:11:09 AM »
I’m about ready to buy an Air Classic neck and an Air Zone bridge for my alder HH Tele with maple rosewood neck.

I’ve chosen these pickups for a clean and clear neck sound which is lower gain, with a stronger more muscular bridge pickup which is EQ’d to deal with the brightness and thinness of the bridge position in bolt on guitars.

First any concerns with my choices?

Second, what difference does the “air-ing” that Dimarzio does to a pickup make to the feel and response of the pickup? I know they use A5 in the neck but the air process gives it slightly less attack and lower string pull similar to A2 magnets.

Does it also give it the real compressed attack and softness that A2 has? I don’t want that. I want a fairly direct translation of what my pick does to what the pickup outputs. I don’t want it to be too squishy or soft and too low output.

The same applies to the Air Zone bridge. Does it give it a mushy attack or is it still fairly uncompressed like A5s are?

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Offline RayBarbeeMusic

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Re: The feel and response of air pickups
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2021, 01:37:41 PM »
No concerns. 

Air tech doesn't really make them sound like A2.  It does lower the output, and for a given pickup, take the extreme humps out of the response.  Mushy attack?  No sir. 

For instance, if you put A2 in a pickup that has the same specs as the 36th bridge, it would be dull sounding with slow attack.  The 36th bridge is neither.  It has very fast tracking of pick attack and it's tight, but it has a lot more midrange than if you stuck A5 in a pickup like that and didn't have the Air tech involved.  See for instance, Duncan Whole Lotta Humbucker, which is bright AF and lacks the vocal mids. 

I've used a lot of the air buckers and really like that, and I'm a fast picker so I'm very sensitive to fast attack from a pickup, and generally prefer A5 for that, or at least A4, and really only like A2 in very low winds, 8k or less.  Air Classic, 36th, Air Norton (in bridge), Air Zone, all track quickly and do not have mushy A2 low end.  Like I said, if you compare a regular Norton or Tone Zone to the air version, the air version lowers output and rounds off the big bumps in frequency, and actually makes the lows tighter IMO because there isn't such a massive hump there like there is on the unaired versions.

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Offline effectsman

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Re: The feel and response of air pickups
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2021, 05:21:38 AM »
No concerns. 

Air tech doesn't really make them sound like A2.  It does lower the output, and for a given pickup, take the extreme humps out of the response.  Mushy attack?  No sir. 

For instance, if you put A2 in a pickup that has the same specs as the 36th bridge, it would be dull sounding with slow attack.  The 36th bridge is neither.  It has very fast tracking of pick attack and it's tight, but it has a lot more midrange than if you stuck A5 in a pickup like that and didn't have the Air tech involved.  See for instance, Duncan Whole Lotta Humbucker, which is bright AF and lacks the vocal mids. 

I've used a lot of the air buckers and really like that, and I'm a fast picker so I'm very sensitive to fast attack from a pickup, and generally prefer A5 for that, or at least A4, and really only like A2 in very low winds, 8k or less.  Air Classic, 36th, Air Norton (in bridge), Air Zone, all track quickly and do not have mushy A2 low end.  Like I said, if you compare a regular Norton or Tone Zone to the air version, the air version lowers output and rounds off the big bumps in frequency, and actually makes the lows tighter IMO because there isn't such a massive hump there like there is on the unaired versions.

Thanks for that reply. Its really helpful. I was considering the 36th Anniversary for the neck, but I think I'll just go ahead and order the Air Classic for the neck and Air Zone for the bridge, both with nickel covers. I'll report back once I get them installed.

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Offline DavidSchwab

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The feel and response of air pickups
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2021, 10:15:57 AM »
The 36th also has increased inductance due to small iron slugs installed into the bottom of the bobbin between the pole screws. That warms up the tone.

And the slugs in the slug coil are actually shaped like the screws, with a wide “head” and thin shaft. This was probably to make room for the air spacers. But it also makes both coils have a more similar steel load. It looks like a regular humbucker, but is built very differently. Especially compared to the Duncan.


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Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: The feel and response of air pickups
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2021, 03:59:35 PM »
The 36th also has increased inductance due to small iron slugs installed into the bottom of the bobbin between the pole screws. That warms up the tone.

Yes, that is the Virtual Vintage technology. From the top side it is invisible.

Cheers Stephan
Area 67, Area 58, Area 61, VV Pro 54, Injectors, 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, DP168, VHPAF, AT-1, Norton

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Offline Audiowonderland

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Re: The feel and response of air pickups
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2021, 09:31:04 PM »
I have an air zone in an ash RG hardtail that seems quite bright acoustically. The air zone is a touch dull. Not really a fan to be honest.  The air classic in the neck is better but I think a set of 36 anniversary PAFS might be a better option. The gravity storms in a mahogany RG hardtail seem dark too