HSS humbucker upgrade

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by Strat_Dad, Nov 26, 2020.

  1. Strat_Dad

    Strat_Dad New Member!

    Age:
    49
    Messages:
    2
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2020
    Location:
    Bakersfield CA
    Hi all, nice to join your forum. Anyone have any input regarding upgrading humbucker in MIM HSS? Love all 70’s/80’s rock, nothing too heavy but still plenty of gain desirable, thanks!
     
  2. systolsys

    systolsys Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    48
    Messages:
    967
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2020
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    80s Rock -> Seymour Duncan JB. The Pickup that defined an entire genre.

    https://www.seymourduncan.com/blog/latest-updates/the-jb-the-sound-of-rock

    The "Trembucker" model (TB-4) has the "correct" string spacing so the strings pass over the centre of the slugs, but the diffenence in sound is negligible. There are a stack of these floating around on the used market, so can be picked up for a bargain (pun intended). It will at least tell you if you like it more or less, and you can probably on-sell it for what you paid for it.

    The JB works great with the standard 250k pots in a strat. You could also look for a PGP+ or any of the Fender USA Humbuckers. Also wound for 250k pots.

    Note that the mounting holes may be different: Most Non-fender humbuckers have two mounting holes. Some Fenders have 3.

    If want to lean more to the 70s, perhaps look for a Humbucker with an Alnico 2 magnet, and google for one of the wiring schemes presents 500ohms to the humbucker while keeping 250k to the singles. You may or may not need a new pot or two to get the best from the pickup.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2020
    93-Strat likes this.
  3. sam_in_cali

    sam_in_cali Scream for me Strat-Talk! Silver Member

    Messages:
    14,643
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2014
    Location:
    Santa Maria, CA
    Currently rocking a super distortion and Seymour Duncan Duncan Custom in my HSS strats (alder and mahogany respectively). No complaints here on either for pulling off 80s hard rock stuff.
     
    Stonetone and diogoguitar like this.
  4. stevierayfan91

    stevierayfan91 DEEPLY SHY.

    Messages:
    11,955
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2011
    Location:
    Private.
    Welcome @Strat_Dad !


    Maybe a Trembucker(for Fender bridge spacing) Duncan JB or 59 ?

    Or a Dimarzio F-spaced(Also for Fender bridge spacing)Tone Zone or Air Norton. ?
     
  5. Baelzebub

    Baelzebub Dr. Stratster

    Messages:
    11,441
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2019
    Location:
    State of Disbelief
    What are you using for the singles?
     
  6. 93-Strat

    93-Strat Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    792
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2016
    Location:
    Jeffersonville, OH
    The Duncan JB would be my go to for that, works good with 250k volume control too.
     
  7. Ace38

    Ace38 Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    50
    Messages:
    1,159
    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2016
    Location:
    Tulsa, OK.
    Super Distortion, in the 80's EVERYONE used it. The original replacement pickup, the only way to go.
     
    Stonetone likes this.
  8. WelhavenT

    WelhavenT Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    47
    Messages:
    1,082
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2017
    Location:
    Norway
    JB is safe, but my favourite these days are SD Pearly Gates.

    Not a big fan of super distortion, though.
     
    Cali Dude likes this.
  9. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    3,774
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    Location:
    NY
    A big +1 on either the JB or the Super Distortion. Rock classics both. I concur with the above characterizations that the JB is instant 80s tone, while the Super D spans the 70s and 80s.

    Another great choice for Strats is the AT-1 from DiMarzio. Nice body on leads up the neck, even the high strings. Similar in output to a JB yet tighter in the lows. JB has a slightly nasal upper-mid peak; AT-1 has a more vowel-ish mid peak and its highs are less harsh than the Super D.
     
    Baelzebub likes this.
  10. Cali Dude

    Cali Dude Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    58
    Messages:
    1,230
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2020
    Location:
    California
    I like the Duncan Custom custom for heavy rock, and the Pearly gates for a paf style pickup.
     
  11. Strat_Dad

    Strat_Dad New Member!

    Age:
    49
    Messages:
    2
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2020
    Location:
    Bakersfield CA
    Everything stock now
     
  12. freddy

    freddy Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    43
    Messages:
    28
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2018
    Location:
    Belgium
    +1 for the Super distortion , great pickup for the tone that you are after .
     
  13. systolsys

    systolsys Strat-O-Master

    Age:
    48
    Messages:
    967
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2020
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Jump on ebay - you'll find the Dimarzio Super Distortion in almost any color from purple to lime green to glow pink... so you can really channel that 1980s feel.
     
  14. ChrisD

    ChrisD Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    1,846
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2011
    Location:
    Ireland
    I have a Bare knuckle Holy Diver in one HSS guitar and a Rebel Yell in another. Honestly though I can't argue with those saying Super Distortion. That pickup has never let me down!
     
  15. Rudedawg

    Rudedawg Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    68
    Messages:
    1,874
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Location:
    Pine Belt of MS
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
  16. stratmatt777

    stratmatt777 Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    686
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2015
    Location:
    Seattle
    Duncan Custom Custom TB-11 It's got an Alnico magnet of some kind (2 or 5?) so it isn't as bright or hard sounding as a ceramic Custom TB-5.
    Custom Custom does all 80 rock nicely (Rush, Queensryche etc.) and also pulls off a VERY nice Eddie Van Halen.
    If you wanted to play Metallica, then you'd want the plain 'ol custom for that defined crunch.
    There is a fantastic comparison vid of all the Duncans for metal on YouTube... The plain 'ol Custom definitely beats everything _for metal_, but you're not looking for metal, so that's no help. The TB-11 Custom Custom is fantastic. The only negative thing I've read about it is that the bass isn't real super tight since it is an alnico magnet. This is _not_ a problem I have experienced for myself! All the pickups in a strat are alnico. Keep it that way! :)

    Not sure if he still uses it, but Michael Wilton of Queensryche uses or used it. And their stuff is as heavy as metal these days.

    Seymour Duncan replied to me on this forum or possibly that other one to say that the Custom Custom splits really nicely, so it could actually somewhat mix in with your single coils perhaps if you get a pot with a switch or wire it up for auto split on position 4.

    If you want Jerry Cantrell's sound exactly, that would be the JB, but they seem a bit nasally in comparisons I've heard.

    I've never heard of anyone NOT liking the Custom Custom. There are some youtube demo vids (not that it will tell you anything- other than, people like it!)

    A Dimarzio Super Distortion may be what people used in the 1980s (like Phil Collen of Def Leppard), but if the output is way higher than the Custom Custom its not going to mix well, volume-wise.
     
    Cali Dude likes this.
  17. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    4,956
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    Location:
    Michigan
    .

    +1 Dimarzio Super Distortion is high output.

    Are you playing a MIM Standard or the newer/replacement Player Series MIM? I believe the Player Series has the bridge pickup connected to the tone control. The older Standards followed typical convention of neck and middle tone controls where you need to add a jumper on the switch to get the bridge included on the second tone control (or rework either so you have neck and middle on the first tone and the bridge all to its self on the second tone.

    Are you focusing the guitar on most often playing the bridge humbucker with minor use of the single coils?

    How much have you fiddled with pickup heights on your current HSS? I'd suggest starting there. Screw poles on your humbucker? Use that to set an EQ.

    Generally, I'll set my neck and middle pickups flush with the pickguard (an eighth inch can mean a lot of difference between good/great tone), then raise the bridge pickup until volume parity when switching to the neck pickup. Then tip the pickup(s) to get more/less bass/treble.

    One thing I have done with a LP Junior I have is rotate the humbucker so the screw poles are on the neck side not the bridge side, then raised the screw poles an eighth inch to get more note clarity and more of the growl of a P90. Fender sometimes uses a three screw humbucker so rotating is a 'hole' problem. You might be able to control the tip and achieve something similar.

    You can also mess with pots 'n caps swapping to push the tone around.

    All of that before swapping pickups.

    .
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020