Tell me about the Super Distortion humbucker

ErictheRed

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Dude. You’re the one that went all poncho in the thread...

Turn the other cheek? You were cut some slack being new to these parts. Need to hang around a bit and learn who some of these folks are, what they do and have done... Me, I’m a nobody, but some of these folks ain’t what they might seem at first gander....
I'm more on the side of @Michael Matyas . He made a good post and didn't need to be lectured, in my opinion. He could have been "corrected" more gently, if he needed correcting at all.

Anyway I only bring this up because all parties have been chastised or apologized, no need to pile on, let's just move on. Clearly cooljuk has been here longer and is more a favorite of the people, but that doesn't mean that a newer member needs to jumped on over and over.
 
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ehb

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I'm more on the side of @Michael Matyas . He made a good post and didn't need to be lectured, in my opinion. He could have been "corrected" more gently, if he needed correcting at all.

Anyway I only bring this up because all parties have been chastised or apologized, no need to pile on, let's just move on. Clearly cooljuk has been here longer and is more a favorite of the people, but that doesn't mean that a newer member needs to jumped on over and over.
Not piling on, Eric. Simply illuminating that he went poochie lipped with ‘weird’ and especially the turn the other cheek statement which insinuated...well, it stands for itself. I wasn’t piling on, however. Clearly he has something to offer the Mule and has technical interest beyond the norm. Other posts I’ve read were quite interesting.

I was sincere in my statement re: getting to know who folks are and their knowledge base which is both vast and sometimes very specific...I have no ill will at all toward him or anybody else and my post was not intended to be interpreted as such.

:thumb:
 

Antigua

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I think you are weird. Read what I wrote about those pickups. I never attributed their great output to their DCR. I merely said that in spite of being overwound to 13.6K they had a good frequency response. And they were overwound, as a matter of fact. Donald Brosnac, in his 1983 book Guitar Electronics for Musicians, had a short section on DiMarzio pickups. In his introduction Mr. Brosnac acknowledged the personal contributions of , among others, Larry DiMarzio, Steve Blucher, and Steve Kauffman of DiMarzio pickups, as well as David Schecter of Schecter Guitar Research. On page 23 Mr. Brosnac states that the high output of the SDHP was achieved by more windings and stronger magnets. (I paraphrase and do not quote directly from the book because it is a copyrighted work.). This information came to Mr. Brosnac directly from the men who developed the SDHP and created the replacement pickup industry. And in the section on Schecter pickups Mr. Brosnac, who did some technical writingfor Schecter Guitar Research, describes Schecter tapped single coil pickups. Once again I paraphrase in order to not lift directly from Mr. Brosnac's work. The inner tap of the coil gives a clean sound like a Stratocaster pickup, but when the full coil is engaged the sound is fatter, dirtier and LOUDER, more like a P-90. The only difference when you work the push-pull Omni-Pot is the number of turns of wire are engaged. Everything else, including magnet type and strength, is exactly the same, but the pickup is fatter, dirtier and louder--yes, LOUDER--when the additional windings are included in the circuit. (That is an increase in the DCR, in case you were wondering). Again, Mr. Brosnac worked for SGR and got his information directly from David Schecter. So I would advise you that before you infer things I did not say or go pontificating to me or anybody else, you had better get your facts straight. And if you still have a problem with what I have written here, why don't you take it up with Mssrs. Brosnac, DiMarzio, Kauffman, Blucher and Schecter?
I apreciate the citation of original source material, a rare occurrence in guitar forums, although in this case "more windings" could mean two more windings, I don't think we can infer that it was a significant number or not, since no numbers or values were given.

The Super Distortion I have on hand has an inductance of about 6.5 henries, that is hotter than the typical PAF replica, most that I've measured are somewhere between 4 and 5 henrires. But in this case, I wouldn't attribute that to more turns of wire, because if you look at this picture below, the Super D is on the left, and a PAF Pro on the right, and you can see that the Super D has large diameter hex screws, which will increase the inductance over a PAF's set of slugs and screws. I haven't ripped apart a Super D bobbin, but it's possible that there is less space for wire, due to the larger hex screws, so they might need to use finer wire for that reason, too. Those larger hew screws will definitely increase the output voltage, by some unknown amount, because it results in a lower reluctance path, which increases both the magnetism at the strings, as well as the reception of the changing magnetism of the moving strings.

So the Super Distortion may or may not have more turns of wire, but as a point of contrast, a Seymour Duncan JB has an inductance around 8 henries, despite having regular screws and poles, essentially it really is a highly overwound PAF. 8 henries for the JB versus 6.5 for the Super D, I'd wager that the Super D is not especially overwound, and probably owes most of this inductance boost to the larger hex screws. It should be appreciated though, that along with higher inductance, not matter how it's achieved, comes a lower resonant peak and less treble response.



Also it was cited in this thread, not by yourself, that ceramic magnets are plastic, that's not the case, ceramic is not a plastic, and ceramic magnets do in fact contain iron oxide.
 

ErictheRed

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Also it was cited in this thread, not by yourself, that ceramic magnets are plastic, that's not the case, ceramic is not a plastic, and ceramic magnets do in fact contain iron oxide.
"Ceramic" only means (as far as I know, there is probably a more proper definition out there) that the material has been shaped and then sintered (essentially baked at extremely high temperature) to create a solid, like in making pottery. Most (maybe all?) ceramic magnets used in guitar pickups are iron oxide and strontium carbonate, though I imagine that other salts (strontium carbonate is a salt) could work. I don't know much about the manufacture of magnets, I admit!

But yeah, ceramic magnets are definitely not plastics, which are organic polymers. This is one of many reasons that I don't like seeing someone getting jumped on and told that they should shut up and listen to someone else, because that someone else is clearly not infallible and should be open to having a discussion...

...anyhow we're again far afield from the original point of this thread. I personally don't have a lot of experience with the Super Distortion, but I do like them in a Les Paul bridge.
 

LP1865

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Aren't ceramic mags some sort of ferrite?
 

freefrog

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In another thread, I posted about an '89 Burny Les Paul Custom that I just grabbed. I like the stock pickups fine, but I have a major itch to try a Super Distortion (in this case the Manlius 70's Super D, because Mick's pickups rule and all of my main guitars use them) in the bridge position of the guitar. Typically I tend to go the PAF-style pickup route. My '75 Gibson Deluxe has a Manlius Fat Diane bridge/Landmark neck combo that sounds unreal. I want this Burny to be the hotter of the two, voiced a little more for harder 70's rock (Kiss and Aerosmith when they were good) and early metal (especially stuff like Accept, Saxon, etc.). My current amp setup is a Ceriatone '73 circuit Super Lead clone and a '66 Fender Bassman, run together in stereo.

Would love to hear from people who have used the SD in their Les Pauls (especially Customs). Am I on the right track in leaning towards the SD, or should I consider other options like hotter PAF's, T-Tops, etc.? Thanks!
I think that Ace Frehley and the early Adrian Smith would give you a good idea of how a Super dist sounds in a LP... Or at least a better idea than the too long answer below. :)

That said: my own (and indifferent) experience with DM Super Dist's is "mitigated".

4 decades ago, this pickup was the one to have. i've played my first big gig with it as a bridge pickup in a SG like guitar and I had previously owned a dual sound in neck position for a while in a LP copy.
I remember of if as a raunchy high mids focused pickup, whose apparently high output level was in fact rather relative. A friend of mine had a Bill Lawrence L550 in a Strat : albeit it was clearer sounding, the Lawrence was smoking the Super Dist in output and shugga shugga bass.

Nowadays, I've still these kinds of pickups in different guitars and they give me... different results, even when I play them through classic effects and amps: the (recent) Super Dist that I've in a home made Strat is certainly "typical" sounding but not really interesting to my ears. For the moment it's on a shelf: I've temporarily replaced it with a Bare Knuckles that I find more pleasing.

Also: in the early 80's, I was playing a 3 PU's Norlin Custom with stock T-Tops and had no problem to obtain satisfying gainy tones with a basic Boss SD1 between guitar and amp... it had this Neal Schon tone that I loved:

Which leads me to these two conclusive thoughts:

-The Super Dist was a solution for high gain when the palate of gainy tools was not yet really developped: there was not a wide choice of high gain pedals and amps or, at least, not many were "natural sounding". Today, it appears more as the one trick pony that it is, although the Dual Sound possibilities are still interesting IMHO / IME;

-the tone of a Super Dist or of any other PU will be interesting or not depending on the guitar hosting it and it's not a quesiton of quality IMHO/IME: some pickups and guitars are made to match and to sound powerful, others aren't. Personal experience appears to me as the only way to know.. YMMV.

@James (Cooljuk): Thx to have shared the pics below.



I also like your pics about this one:


this last series underlines something obvious but not so often underlined: how the big names of pickups kept the same name for models whose construction has sometimes totally changed in several decades. In my indifferent opinion, it's another element to throw in the equation when it comes to talk about the sound of "a" pickup model... :cool:
 

Antigua

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Aren't ceramic mags some sort of ferrite?
A powdered mixture of strontium carbonate and iron oxide is injected into a wet or dry press for forming. During this process, a magnetic field is applied in the direction of preferred magnetization to orient the material and increase the magnet’s performance potential. This magnet is considered “oriented” (anisotropic). If not exposed to a magnetic field at time of formation, it is called “non-oriented” (isotropic).

After the molding process, the magnetic material is then sintered at about 2,000°F. The sintering process is similar to that of kilning ceramic pottery, thus the popular name “ceramic” magnet.

Lastly, the magnet is finish-ground to size with a diamond-bladed grinding wheel, magnetized, and inspected for shipment.
Then there's "rubber ferrite" where they mix that ferrite powder with rubber so that it will be flexible. The only pickups I know of that uses that are Lace Sensors, and supposedly DeArmond Gold Foils, but I haven't seen that for myself.
 

TonyAsh

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Well, I did it. I was really enjoying the Manlius Hot Rod 59, but my curiosity got the best of me and I purchased one of Mick's 70's Super D pickups. While I've only had a few hours of playing with it so far, I have to say I'm really liking it. It's definitely a different animal than the PAF style pickups I've grown used to. It's perfect for NWOBHM stuff and hard rock, with seemingly more emphasis in both the low and high mids than the HR59, Fat Diane or Landmarks that I also have. I am noticing that the notes in chords blur together more than with the aforementioned others, but I also haven't played with the pole piece or pickup height yet. Anyway, it's really cool, but I still haven't decided if I'm going to put the HR59 back in yet or not.

Photo:
 

Laars

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Being an old guy that started playing guitar in the 70s, I can give you some insight as to why we liked the Super Distortion pickups when they first came out. The Marshall amps like my 1971 super lead didn't have the gain that amps do today. You had to turn them up loud, and it still wasn't enough. Some guys use an MXR Distortion Plus to push the front of the amp. I heard that Richey Blackmore put cuts in his speakers. Guys were trying anything to get more gain. After seeing KISS talk about Larry Dimarzio making them pickups that pushed the amps harder, I went out and bought one for one of my guitars. It was exactly what I was looking for. It really pushed the input of the amp hard.

It was around that time that I met Paul Rivera, who had just left Fender, and was modding Marshall amps. I told him what I was looking for, and he modded my 71 super lead, by adding an additional pre amp tube. That combo with the Super Distortion was THE TONE and I kept that combo for years. The tone was identical to what George Lynch got on Dokkens under lock and key.

Once amps started having more gain, like the Marshall JMP, and the JCM 800s came out, my pickup choice changed, and I went from the Super Distortion to the Seymore Duncan Custom. Which was just a slightly hotter PAF. This allowed you to back off on the volume and the pickup would clean up, unlike the Super Distortion which still pushed the front end too much.

Today I use Bare Knuckle Black Dogs which are very much like that old Duncan Custom. At the time, the Super Distortion was a very important and great pickup. Its very outdated today, and not a pickup I would recommend to a lot of guitar players. I'm sure there are a few players that still want that front of the amp pushed harder tone, but most don't need it anymore with all the great amps available today.

My 2005 LP Standard with Bare Knuckle Black Dog in the bridge and a Mule in the Neck.

 
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NotScott

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Being an old guy that started playing guitar in the 70s, I can give you some insight as to why we liked the Super Distortion pickups when they first came out. The Marshall amps like my 1971 super lead didn't have the gain that amps do today. You had to turn them up loud, and it still wasn't enough. Some guys use an MXR Distortion Plus to push the front of the amp. I heard that Richey Blackmore put cuts in his speakers. Guys were trying anything to get more gain. After seeing KISS talk about Larry Dimarzio making them pickups that pushed the amps harder, I went out and bought one for one of my guitars. It was exactly what I was looking for. It really pushed the input of the amp hard.

It was around that time that I met Paul Rivera, who had just left Fender, and was modding Marshall amps. I told him what I was looking for, and he modded my 71 super lead, by adding an additional pre amp tube. That combo with the Super Distortion was THE TONE and I kept that combo for years. The tone was identical to what George Lynch got on Dokkens under lock and key.

Once amps started having more gain, like the Marshall JMP, and the JCM 800s came out, my pickup choice changed, and I went from the Super Distortion to the Seymore Duncan Custom. Which was just a slightly hotter PAF. This allowed you to back off on the volume and the pickup would clean up, unlike the Super Distortion which still pushed the front end too much.

Today I use Bare Knuckle Black Dogs which are very much like that old Duncan Custom. At the time, the Super Distortion was a very important and great pickup. Its very outdated today, and not a pickup I would recommend to a lot of guitar players. I'm sure there are a few players that still want that front of the amp pushed harder tone, but most don't need it anymore with all the great amps available today.
This was my experience as well back in the day. Back then, you either went with Gibson pickups or you went with DiMarzios and if you wanted to rock, the SDs were the top of the food chain.

I had an SD in the bridge of a Custom with a Dual Sound in the neck. The pairing had balls and really hit the front end of my Marshalls and Hiwatts.I think Ace Frehley is the best example of the the typical SD sound through a Marshall, hot and nasty but with balls and clarity.
 

TonyAsh

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I'm using a Ceriatone Plexi 100 (mine is the '73 circuit) with added master volume. The SD does seem to be a really good fit for that amp.

I also found an actual Dimarzio Super Distortion (newer one) used for cheap at a local shop, so I had that one installed into the bridge position of my '77 Greco. I really like it in that guitar.

 

BRMarshall

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I have a DiMarzio Super Distortion in the bridge of a Jackson JS11 Dinky. I know, completely different guitar than a Les Paul, but I like the tones a lot running through a tube screamer into an Origin20h - sounds like the late 70’s to me. A little chorus through effects loop and has a Boston vibe.
 
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AJK1

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Here's a little more info about DiMarzio Super Distortions. They were one of the first popular pickups with ceramic magnets, and despite being overwound to about 13.6 K they had a natural sound and good high end. Early users of the pickups were Al DiMeola, Wishbone Ash and Tom Johnston of The Doobie Brothers. Shortly after that Gibson jumped on the high-output bandwagon with their Super Humbuckers and Dirty Fingers pickups. IMHO these pickups never came close to the quality of sound of the Super D. Eric the Red is quite right about the versatility of this pickup. I have a few of these in my more recent builds, and they clean up nicely with the volume rolled back. One last thing--this was the era (late 1970s/early 80s) when wax potting and resin encapsulation of pickups started to become common.
A little known guy called Ace Frehley used them with moderate success lol
 

AJK1

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I'm more on the side of @Michael Matyas . He made a good post and didn't need to be lectured, in my opinion. He could have been "corrected" more gently, if he needed correcting at all.

Anyway I only bring this up because all parties have been chastised or apologized, no need to pile on, let's just move on. Clearly cooljuk has been here longer and is more a favorite of the people, but that doesn't mean that a newer member needs to jumped on over and over.
To not mention SpaceAce in his post about SD users is just plain disgraceful
Shame !!
 

robalx9

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Can the SD get usable clean tones running into a clean amp, without using a coil tap?
 

Antigua

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Can the SD get usable clean tones running into a clean amp, without using a coil tap?
I would say so. I think the ceramic magnet helps the high end come through well. It's not so hot that it will drive any clean amp into clipping, the amp would have to be near break up to begin with.
 

freefrog

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Can the SD get usable clean tones running into a clean amp, without using a coil tap?
Not the kind of question susceptible to receive a general answer IMHO. Depends on the guitar, amp, pots, cable, settings, strings, "touch"...

In MY subjective experience, the reply is rather "no". But I've never set any DMSD to be a versatile pickup: I've most often played them close to the strings, without treble bleed circuit, and tended to avoid low capacitance cables with them.

In these defined conditions, I've never obtained from a DMSD a clean tone without hair, grit or unrequested unclear warmth.

Setting it lower under the strings would kill a good part of its interest and signature sound IMHO.

But a seasoned guitar tech would surely be able to obtain a good clean tone from a DMSD without split.

BTW, there's other solutions than splitting a HB to make it sound cleaner. Parallel wiring works well with a Dual Sound.
DiMarzio advertising was evoking this option in the 1978 catalog:

DiMarzio Dual Sound humbucker ad 1978.jpg


NOTE - the specs mentioned above are those of the pickup in parallel. In series, it becomes a Super Dist.

For clean tones, there's also "fat tap" wirings etc.

Personally, I put passive inductors in parallel of "hot" humbuckers. As long as the inductor itself features humbucking dual coils, has the proper specs and is paired with the proper resistive/capacitive load, it's efficient to clean up a tone without loosing too much power.

If you want this, go with the X2N
The things a beast
+1. In the early 80, I had a 80W amp with 6L6's based on a Fender circuit. Even with the volume @ less than 1/10, the X2N was making it sound "fuzzy", like in the opening gimmick of this tune:

But the Super Dist was not clean through it either.


Sorry for the way too long rambling. Last recreation before a long week of work... :)
 
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bluesoul

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Being an old guy that started playing guitar in the 70s, I can give you some insight as to why we liked the Super Distortion pickups when they first came out. The Marshall amps like my 1971 super lead didn't have the gain that amps do today. You had to turn them up loud, and it still wasn't enough. Some guys use an MXR Distortion Plus to push the front of the amp. I heard that Richey Blackmore put cuts in his speakers. Guys were trying anything to get more gain. After seeing KISS talk about Larry Dimarzio making them pickups that pushed the amps harder, I went out and bought one for one of my guitars. It was exactly what I was looking for. It really pushed the input of the amp hard.
Yep, very true. Popping in a super D was as I recall the most popular pickup swap back many years ago. The front end of the amp was hit a little harder and more crunch (gain).
'The SD's are still great sounding pickups...underrated I would say. I did have an old set in my R7 for a while and really liked them. I would describe them as a hotter humbucker that still has some vintage PAF vibe. They will respond to the volume knob and clean up nicely.
A couple other artists who got great sounds from them...Don Barnes and Jeff Carlisi of 38 Special.
 

Freddy G

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I have a new old stock Super Distortion. The early three wire job. Never been used! I have not installed it in any of my guitars because the pole spacing is too narrow for my superstrat types. But damn, I'm dying to hear it....I guess I'll throw it in my LP.
SD and dual sound are the pickups I had in my guitars when I was knee high to a grasshopper. Big bossy tones....and oh yeah, Ace Frehley was the SD ambassador as far as I was concerned.
 


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