On the search for Optimal pickup combo for Low-Tuned Guitars

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Offline Boyan Bo

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On the search for Optimal pickup combo for Low-Tuned Guitars
« on: October 12, 2020, 02:56:13 pm »
Hi guys,

The band I recently joined plays in a very unusual 7-string tuning. It's 1 1/2 steps down, double dropped.
This translates to: C#, G#, E, B, F#, B, E. The lowest string is a whopping .074.

I bought a wonderful JP-70 guitar to handle this hefty tuning and sounds, however the stock pickups can only go so far.

I am considering many options, chief among them being: D-Activator 7 in the Bridge / Liquifire 7 in the Neck.
All my other guitars are DiMarzio-equipped MM guitars, I know how to dial in a tone with that combo.
I have checked out the competition and decided that it's not really my thing.

Any opinions on the D-A 7 Bridge and Liquifire 7 Neck combination?
Am I wrong to think that those two will handle the tuning well?

Any thoughts and opinions welcome.

Thank you,
Bo

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Offline HarlowTheFish

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Re: On the search for Optimal pickup combo for Low-Tuned Guitars
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2020, 04:24:12 pm »
I'd say a Titan set or a D-Activator set for something that low. The LF is a bit too warm for that kind of tuning, especially because the JP-70 is a 25.5" scale. Something brighter will give you a lot more clarity, especially with a .74 on the low end - thicker strings are a bit warmer and will fill out the EQ overall, so it won't be shrill. The Titan will get you the tightness and clarity but a more grunty low-mid focused tone, whereas the D-Act will be a bit thinner and sharper with more of a high-mid and treble bite.

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Offline Boyan Bo

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Re: On the search for Optimal pickup combo for Low-Tuned Guitars
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2020, 08:06:34 pm »
Hi Harlow,

I really appreciate the sound board.

Believe it or not, the JP-70's stock pickups over surprising clarity over the LF of the E2 tuning. It did take some tweaking, but brightness can be found even in this situation.
Judging by the one profile of the current pickups, D-Activators would indeed be a little too thin (for my taste anyway), while the Crunch Lab could be too boomey.

One of the wrinkles is that I am stationed in Europe, and Titan's are not sold everywhere. Many of DiMarzio line are currently on backorder as well, so one has to make due with whatever is available.  I looked into other brands as well, anything available, but any 7-string tuned even to a drop A, seems to call for active / glassy pickup tone in order to get any clarity.

Perhaps anything high-output with a High Pass filter and mid focused EQ will get the job done? The current configuration doesn't sound poorly, but is a little one-dimensions when setting multiple patches for less-distorted and cleaner tones.

Cheers,
Bo

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Offline HarlowTheFish

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Re: On the search for Optimal pickup combo for Low-Tuned Guitars
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2020, 09:15:01 pm »
Yeah I mean just running a TS-style overdrive (not something transparent, but that has that high-pass and upper-mids thing) will get you there with just about any pickup. If you're in Europe, I'd say check out the Bare Knuckle lineup - the flagship stuff is pricey but really exceptional (not my favorite vibe personally, but the quality is there for sure), and their Boot Camp line is decently affordable - around £170, however that converts to eurobucks - and sounds really good. Rabea Massad did the demos for them and has an overview on his channel, and they're pretty spectacular.

The issue with the kinda flat timbre you're getting is because with kinda bright but kinda nasally pickups (like the stock Sterling pickups in the JPs I've tried), and the massaging you need to do to get them working well for you, you lose a lot of character that the pickups can't necessarily spare. For something tuned that low, you need to have a very tactical approach to managing frequencies (my personal pick is a bright pickup without a lot of bass, thick strings, and a very balanced amp that can go either dark or bright and gives you the flexibility to dial in your tone just right). My $0.02, if you're getting usable sounds out of the stock pickups, dig around for samples and clips of a bunch of different things - including pickups you might not necessarily expect to be what you're after - get a good grasp of the qualities and characteristics that would work well for your specific sound, playing styles, and music, and even if you have to wait to pick something up, you'll  get a better end result.

Speaking of - what's your rig like, and what kind of riffs & tones are you looking to get? There's a lot of variety out there for very low-tuned stuff.

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Offline Boyan Bo

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Re: On the search for Optimal pickup combo for Low-Tuned Guitars
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2020, 05:50:53 am »
Hiya,

Thanks for the ongoing feedback.

My lightweight digi rig is pod hd pro x via power amp to a V30 Celestion 1x12.
A TS-style block is placed before the amp block (Boogie-type); The tweak options within amp, especially toggling the bias and resonance got me where I need to be.
You are very correct to say that, while I can get clarity and punch in this configuration, especially when I put some elbow grease into it (not my style or playing, at all btw)
But any nuance and subtleties with regards to palm muting are simply not there.

I listened to any and all samples with guitars being tuned that low, but I simply couldn't find anything as low as E2, w/o approaching bass territory.
Bright pickup (tremble bump), without a lot of bass, w/o a mid scoop reads like a D-Activator Bridge to me. The D-Activator Neck can also be an option, though I think that treble bump would make is sound like a tight wire rope, instead of a string in the end.

I did look into Bare Knuckle - they are both pricey and reliable. I'll shoot them a quick email maybe to see what their take is.
The band Jinjer plays 6 strings in A tuning, with a low .068. That's as close of a reference as I could find so far.

I will poke around and see what comes out. I would also prefer to wait for DiMarzio to come back in stock, before exploring other avenues.

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Offline HarlowTheFish

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Re: On the search for Optimal pickup combo for Low-Tuned Guitars
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2020, 06:31:24 pm »
Here's a couple of thoughts just to dialing in that might get you somewhere usable while you wait for pickups:

Try a couple of the different amp models - the Treadplate is alright, but when I had my Pod (and currently when I'm using my GT-100's models), I lean a bit more Euro for my high gain tones - either the 800 model (add some compression after your noise gate before your TS to fine-tune the response) for something a bit brighter and looser, or the F-Ball (sans the comp, it really doesn't need it). The Uber is pretty alright but I personally find it a bit too grainy in the top end for me. Try to dial it in without the TS so that a big strum gets you the amount of gain you want when palm muting and it's both a bit darker and looser (not flubby, just loose) in the low end than you'd ideally want - playing some Iron Maiden or pop-punk riffs should be pretty spot-on here. The idea is that the general profile of your tone mimics what you're doing with your right hand really well, and that the bass response feels kinda like your string does.

After this, kick in the TS and dial in the volume for it so you're getting the same amount of gain while palm-muting with it on as you do when strumming with it off. I like adding a little bit of pedal gain as well, but it's your call here as to what works well tonally for your preference. Keep the tone setting on it rolled all the way down while you're balancing the gain/volume between the amp and OD (and pushing the Master on the amp model can get you a bit more chew which is nice), but once that's dialed in, start rolling up the tone until the brightness you want is there. If you're having a hard time balancing the EQ, run two cabs - one that's really bright and a bit scooped, and one that's really dark but with a ton of mids - so you can pan between them and dial in the right balance. I personally like a Fender-type open-back cab for the bright/scooped one, and something Marshall (with Greenbacks, I don't know if that's an option on the Pod?) or ENGL for the dark/midrangey.

Just try this on a new patch to not mess up the stuff you already have. This is the process I do when I'm dialing in a heavy tone (though I don't really go below D1 for anything, and I lean a bit less heavy when tuned that low), and it usually gets me pretty good results even with less-than-stellar gear (like that GT-100).

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Offline DarthPhineas

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Re: On the search for Optimal pickup combo for Low-Tuned Guitars
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2020, 07:28:34 am »
Tosin Abasi plays 7 and 8 strings.  not sure if his 8th string tuning goes as low as your detuned 7th string.  but he is known for clarity in his tones.

he was using the Ionizer sets when he was with DiMarzio.  I'm selling my Ionizer 7 set.  if interested, you can reach me through my FB, Twitter, or IG, which are all checked daily.
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Offline HarlowTheFish

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Re: On the search for Optimal pickup combo for Low-Tuned Guitars
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2020, 08:17:25 pm »
Tosin Abasi plays 7 and 8 strings.  not sure if his 8th string tuning goes as low as your detuned 7th string.  but he is known for clarity in his tones.

he was using the Ionizer sets when he was with DiMarzio.  I'm selling my Ionizer 7 set.  if interested, you can reach me through my FB, Twitter, or IG, which are all checked daily.
Tosin does Drop E (down to E1) as his regular tuning, but goes down to C#1 with the 8th string for a couple of tunes IIRC.

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Offline Boyan Bo

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Re: On the search for Optimal pickup combo for Low-Tuned Guitars
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2020, 10:24:58 am »
Hi guys,

Thanks very much for your input, again! :)

@Harlow --> I used your guidance to dial in a more focused tone going for clarity and heft in order to make things work better.

Yes, the tone is an E1 - and one has to be a steady hand with the high pass filter.

@Darth --> Sadly, those pickups are no available locally (I am currently half-way around the world) and postal or delivery services are not reliable.

All this has led me down the road to test the Fishman Fluence pickups - the general humbucker, rather than Tosin's signature models.

Even though the wiring is tricky, I've got my local luthier on the job and we'll see how that goes. Maybe that E1 will now stand out even more.

I'll be glad to report results.