|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
|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.
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.
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
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.