Two years later, the problems presented in the previous two posts have been solved with:
1. an Ibanez GB-10- I should have gotten one of these 15 years ago when I decided that I wanted to play jazz. It’s probably the best playing guitar I’ve ever had, and really an amazing design acoustically. It’s much more of an electric sound than my other two archops, but when you pick harder the archtop character really starts to come out through the pickup. With the bridge pickup engaged, this guitar can sound really funky, too. The body shape and tobacco sunburst remind me of my old Epiphone Les Paul that I played through high school. The only reason I wouldn’t have gotten one back then was because it said “George Benson” on it, so anyone who saw that would have thought I was just copying my idol. So what? Everyone has to copy their idols, and when your idol is George Benson, accomplishing this is no small feat. Maybe if everytime I played the guitar and saw his name on the 12th fret, I would have been inspired to practice harder. I certainly am now!
2. a Dimarzio SDS-1 (Super Distortion) pickup- again, I almost cheated myself out of a piece of great gear. If you looke at Dimarzion’s catologue, almost all their products have awful names like, “The Chopper”, “Cruiser” “Humbucker from Hell” and “Red Velvet,” “Class of ’55,” and “Humbucker from Hell” (which I put in my old Epi Les Paul), but the concepts and sound are solid. The SDS-1 has massive bar magnets in the base, so it’s a powerful pickup without causing a lot of string pull. Whenever I picked hard on the top strings, it sounded like a second slightly sharp note was coming through the amp. The phenomenon went away if I lowered the old pickup, but then the output was too weak to drive the amp into good distortion. The SDS-1 solved this problem, with a slightly darker sound that the original Seymour Duncan pickup. It still sounds open and bright like a strat should, but not harsh. However, initially the strings sounded very unbalanced. I was able to solve this problem by adjusting the pole-pieces, something you can’t do with most strat pickups. I’ve only seen two other strat-pickups with this design on the market — Lindy Fralin’s Steel Pole model, and these:
…which seem to me an exception a value in terms of materials, application and gaining understanding of how different magents sound in pickups.