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We went to work measuring the pile of vintage pickups. We measured all of the standard pickup metrics plus plus moon phase, relative humidity, and the solar cycle!  Just kidding on the last three...or are we?

What we found:  Slapping a so-called ALNICO 8 magnet you got on eBay into a cheap PAF clone will not give you Super 70 tone by a long shot.  Don't be fooled by the experts who order a pickup kit from StewMac and convince you it is a custom Super 70.

We built ten different prototypes before the specs matched in a repeatable way.  There was an incredible amount of head-scratching in the pickup shop!  The cover was particularly tough.  The covers available from the big supply houses were too thick.  We had to go to a local, custom supplier to get covers close the originals.  We finally settled on a formula to match the Super 70s and installed it in the Epiphone.  We were not ready for what we were about to hear.

Here are the plots for the Ibanez vs. Epiphone with the new pickup.  The Blue Line is the Ibanez, and the Red Line is the Epiphone.  Check this out before you listen to the sound clip.


Above:  The mighty A chord.  This was taken with the Ibanez panned hard left (Blue), and Epiphone panned hard right (Red), with John playing the same part.  A couple of notes:  (1) The Epiphone has a little bump at 220 Hz and a little dip at about 400 and 550 Hz, and (2) Above 600 Hz they are almost exactly - and I mean exactly - the same.


Here is a screen shot of the "medley" sound file below.  Note that the plots are even more similar in this case, and, as you will hear, the guitars sound almost identical.  Most of the difference is between 300 and 500 Hz, based on what was played.  Remember -- this is how the Brown Sound is judged:  Big power chords and Rhythm!

Let's check out the sound file.  The first guitar is the Ibanez Destroyer, second is the Epiphone Explorer with the new bridge pickup.  All of the settings are identical and sound file was posted directly from ProTools 10 to SoundCloud - no mastering, EQ, or plugins.  The sound is a combination of hardware and a good old SM-57 microphone.

We encourage you to jump back and forth between the two guitars in the sound file.  You'll hear how alike they sound.  Based on hours of playing, we declare our experiment a success.  You can make an acceptable Destroyer substitute from a readily available, late-model Epiphone Explorer...if you have the right pickup.
We've decided to make the pickup built for this story available to all.  Not only will it provide a tone injection for that Explorer, but it will also probably work wonders for that Epiphone Les Paul you picked up on Craigslist. 

We've dubbed the pickup the "Super Duper"...more to follow soon on more tone testing. Email if you are interested in having one -- or a pair -- built for you.

Thanks for checking out this story.  We look forward to hearing from you and keep checking back for updates on the Super Duper.

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