Tell me about the Super Distortion humbucker

Doublea1269

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Can't say I have a lot of experience with this, but I was involved on this thread a while back...

I ended up with the Super D in the bridge of my Epi Flying V, and the Super 2 in the neck...LOVE them! The Super D is bright, but I don't find it to be brash or uncontrollable. Quite the opposite. When I start playing, I just hear the great rock tones that I grew up with. I don't find it muddy at all, it has good crisp articulation. Basically, it's not loud noise, it's very musical. That has made me focus on my playing accuracy more, because mistakes do become more noticeable.

The Super 2 is as advertised...it's voiced to be like the Super D in the neck. Similar output, but retains it's clarity and crispness, even while it's in the neck. So you'll have a brightness that you may not typically associate with the neck, but again, it's not at all shrill.

Because my other guitars all have very moderate pups (Gibson 57 Classics, Slash signature, Duncan 59, K Line Strat style, etc), I wanted this to be a unique, classic hard rock guitar, and that's exactly what I got. I didn't want anything that was instant modern metal, though you could probably get there if you want.

The V with those DiMarzios was phenomenal when my band played a set that included side 1 from the KISS album, "Hotter than Hell." Perfect sound.

The Super D, as I'm sure you saw in earlier posts, is also shockingly versatile. You're talking about a pickup used by guitarists ranging from Ace Frehley to jazz legend Al DiMeola to Jerry Garcia. It's astounding what you can do with these pups once you dial in your amp and then use your volume and tone controls.

Finally, I can't say how it works on brighter guitars, but I know it's often been used in Strats, which certainly fit that description. It's been the bridge pup for Adrian Smith for a long time in his Strats and Jackson's, although I think one of his newer models has a JB-4.

Maybe see if you know anyone who has one and see if you can try it. That's what I did, and I was sold in less than 5 minutes!
 

David Garner

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Bringing back an old thread...I'm looking for a bridge pickup for my Les Paul Custom. Currently I have Brandenwound T-Tops in both the bridge and neck.

The bridge is the pickup I'm mostly interested in swapping. It has a very sweet sound to it that I like, but it is a bit light on the attack, and I feel like I just want a bit more. Also, my Les Paul Custom is a pretty bright guitar and sometimes I find it can sound a little bit shrill in a band mix setting.

In the neck, although I would like a bit more punchiness, it is ok, but I would not be against trying out new things here either.

I was considering two bridge pickups:

1) Manlius Vinyl (which is a T-top with just a bit "more" which seems perfect) or
2) DiMarzio Super Distortion

Does anyone know if the DiMarzio will work well in a guitar with a brighter tone? Or does anyone have experience with both of these pickups that can shed some light? I play with a group of guys and we cover Ozzy, Guns N' Roses, Scorpions, Iron Maiden, etc... so you get it.
I haven't tried the Vinyl, but the Super Distortion in my Les Paul Standard is warmer than most comparable pickups. Warmer than the 498t, warmer than the JB. Probably not warmer than the Custom Custom in my Superstrat, but I haven't tried it in my LPs at all.

I think it will work great in a brighter guitar. It's a very balanced pickup, and is warm with clarity, which is an odd combination, but that's how I hear it. It just cuts nicely in a mix without being piercing or shrill. This video is me using the Super D into a 5150 iii (blue channel). No pedals until the solo, but I switch to the 36th Anniversary neck pickup for the solo anyway. I'm working the volume knob between the heavier parts and the quieter parts, so I think it's a good representation of what a "hard rock pickup" and a "heavy metal amp" can do in a classic rock setting.

 

jbash

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The Super D is heavy on mids and low end, and has a restrained/compressed top end- It's clear on top, but not trebly or bright, so it generally works well on a bright or "thin" guitar.

However, if your bright guitar borders on, or absolutely is, harsh due to the brightness, the SuperD's ceramic mag can actually accentuate that characteristic.
 

crazytrain513

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@David Garner that sounds fantastic - thank you for sharing! And thanks @jbash for your input as well. I wouldn't characterize my LPC as shrill, just bright, so this seems like a very valid option.

Has anyone had any experience with a covered Super Distortion? I am pretty bent on continuing to have gold covers on my pickups. Does that ruin the tone at all of the DiMarzio? In another guitar, I had tried covered Slash APH II's and I remember it really blunted the sound of the pickup in a negative way. But in some other pickups, I have found it to make little difference.
 

jbash

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@David Garner that sounds fantastic - thank you for sharing! And thanks @jbash for your input as well. I wouldn't characterize my LPC as shrill, just bright, so this seems like a very valid option.

Has anyone had any experience with a covered Super Distortion? I am pretty bent on continuing to have gold covers on my pickups. Does that ruin the tone at all of the DiMarzio? In another guitar, I had tried covered Slash APH II's and I remember it really blunted the sound of the pickup in a negative way. But in some other pickups, I have found it to make little difference.
Dimarzio makes some double row covers but I have never tried them. I don't believe "stifling" them with normal covers would be a good idea due to the two rows of hex poles. It will reduce some clarity and could be significant as you have found.

You can normally order gold hex poles from Dimarzio which is a nice look with a Custom, but DiMarzio have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic due to where they are (essentially, NYC). They have had a tough time getting parts/getting pickups out.
 

crazytrain513

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Dimarzio makes some double row covers but I have never tried them. I don't believe "stifling" them with normal covers would be a good idea due to the two rows of hex poles. It will reduce some clarity and could be significant as you have found.

You can normally order gold hex poles from Dimarzio which is a nice look with a Custom, but DiMarzio have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic due to where they are (essentially, NYC). They have had a tough time getting parts/getting pickups out.
Thanks for the info - I do see they are available here. Just wondering about the sound difference. I normally don't ever see them covered so would be interesting to hear the difference.
 

jbash

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Thanks for the info - I do see they are available here. Just wondering about the sound difference. I normally don't ever see them covered so would be interesting to hear the difference.
Just keep in mind, there are none in stock (unless you got the last one) @ Sweetwater. Most online retailers have 1/10th their normal stock of Dimarzios. So I would recommend grabbing any color if you find one in stock and going to put a cover on it (you can buy them aftermarket too- just need the right size). You might try bankomikez on Ebay- He is a Dimarzio dealer and often has the more hard to find colors/covers/pickups.
 

crazytrain513

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Just keep in mind, there are none in stock (unless you got the last one) @ Sweetwater. Most online retailers have 1/10th their normal stock of Dimarzios. So I would recommend grabbing any color if you find one in stock and going to put a cover on it (you can buy them aftermarket too- just need the right size). You might try bankomikez on Ebay- He is a Dimarzio dealer and often has the more hard to find colors/covers/pickups.
Nope, they must have just gone out of stock. Pity. Well, I will keep a lookout and check out the ebay seller you mentioned. Thanks again for the wealth of info.
 

cooljuk

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Has anyone had any experience with a covered Super Distortion? I am pretty bent on continuing to have gold covers on my pickups. Does that ruin the tone at all of the DiMarzio? In another guitar, I had tried covered Slash APH II's and I remember it really blunted the sound of the pickup in a negative way. But in some other pickups, I have found it to make little difference.



Interestingly, I was experimenting with this exact same situation for customer, earlier this week. Even gold cover related.

I tried a bunch of cover options on both vintage Super Distortions and also my own Super Distinction / VH pickups to see what each one did to the sound.

Short answer is they ALL hurt the sound in treble and volume. Much more than I expected, as it was far more significant than with PAF-style pickups. It was really noticeable. Enough of a problem that I didn't want to ship anything with my name on it without a better solution.

This was my bench, just a few days ago (tried some old DM PAFs, too, just for kicks).
i.php


I didn't have a 12-hole cover but I had a few types of 6 hole covers, plated and unplated, nickel/gold/chrome/raw, copper / no copper, solid covers, and an entirely open cover with only sides and no top. Since the entirely open cover still messed with the sound too much, I think it's safe to say the 12 hole cover would also.

At the end of the day, what I ended up doing to get that treble back, keep a traditional look, and still have the sound of an early 70s Super Dist was to replace one of the bobbins on my build with a typical PAF-style screw bobbin, use actual pole screws and a steel keeper, but keep the pickup otherwise a SD-style build, with the large ceramic magnet, coil patterns, wire, etc. all as they should be (unlike the modern DM version, which has half the magnet and several other important changes away from originals).

The combination of the brighter pole screw coil, the increased inductance from the additional steel, presumably the changed shape of the magnetic field, and the option to use a copperless PAF-replica cover were all enough to get the frequency response back and harm the output the least. The two pickups in the front row (gold and black) sound almost entirely the same (and the black one sounds at least as good as my best vintage example from the back row). I didn't expect any of this to go as it did. Happy coincidence that the PAF-look is a solution and not a further compromise!

Getting a little nerdy, I wonder if the fact that the ceramic magnet's field is much tighter and closer to the magnet, despite being much denser/stronger, is what allows covers to alter the treble and volume so much more than it does in the weaker but broader fields of AlNiCos? ...a very loose theory, though.


My result:

I think it's best to run SD designs uncovered.

If you MUST cover one, some changes to the physical design of the pickup to compensate will help retain the classic sound better, and also give a totally stealth PAF-style look. Those will probably be my only options, going forward.
 

1allspub

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Bringing back an old thread...I'm looking for a bridge pickup for my Les Paul Custom. Currently I have Brandenwound T-Tops in both the bridge and neck.

The bridge is the pickup I'm mostly interested in swapping. It has a very sweet sound to it that I like, but it is a bit light on the attack, and I feel like I just want a bit more. Also, my Les Paul Custom is a pretty bright guitar and sometimes I find it can sound a little bit shrill in a band mix setting.

In the neck, although I would like a bit more punchiness, it is ok, but I would not be against trying out new things here either.

I was considering two bridge pickups:

1) Manlius Vinyl (which is a T-top with just a bit "more" which seems perfect) or
2) DiMarzio Super Distortion

Does anyone know if the DiMarzio will work well in a guitar with a brighter tone? Or does anyone have experience with both of these pickups that can shed some light? I play with a group of guys and we cover Ozzy, Guns N' Roses, Scorpions, Iron Maiden, etc... so you get it.


This post definitely caught my eye as well, given I currently run the Brandenwound T-Tops as well. How do you have your neck pickup set? Did you adjust pole pieces substantially, or do you run it screwed very low down into the body? I am struggling still to get a "sweet" tone out of mine in my guitar. I consider a "sweet" neck pickup tone to be that of the Seymour Duncan Slash APHII if that helps explain what I am looking for out of mine.
I run the BWTT neck in my SB down about flush with the pickup rings And I have the screws radiused to match the fingerboard radius (more or less). Just a lot of experimentation to find its sweet spot. Mine has an almost single coil-like chime to it that really sings under gain. I've tried Vineham T-tops as well (not in this guitar, but in another) and they didn't have the same vibe that this particular BW one does. In fact, this particular pickup is easily nicer than its bridge counterpart in set (which I traded away to a buddy).
 

crazytrain513

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I run the BWTT neck in my SB down about flush with the pickup rings And I have the screws radiused to match the fingerboard radius (more or less). Just a lot of experimentation to find its sweet spot. Mine has an almost single coil-like chime to it that really sings under gain. I've tried Vineham T-tops as well (not in this guitar, but in another) and they didn't have the same vibe that this particular BW one does. In fact, this particular pickup is easily nicer than its bridge counterpart in set (which I traded away to a buddy).
Thank you for the info! Last question - you say flush with the pickup rings - are these modern pickup rings or the vintage tall pickup rings?
 

LPTDMSV

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Interestingly, I was experimenting with this exact same situation for customer, earlier this week. Even gold cover related.

I tried a bunch of cover options on both vintage Super Distortions and also my own Super Distinction / VH pickups to see what each one did to the sound.

Short answer is they ALL hurt the sound in treble and volume. Much more than I expected, as it was far more significant than with PAF-style pickups. It was really noticeable. Enough of a problem that I didn't want to ship anything with my name on it without a better solution.

This was my bench, just a few days ago (tried some old DM PAFs, too, just for kicks).
i.php


I didn't have a 12-hole cover but I had a few types of 6 hole covers, plated and unplated, nickel/gold/chrome/raw, copper / no copper, solid covers, and an entirely open cover with only sides and no top. Since the entirely open cover still messed with the sound too much, I think it's safe to say the 12 hole cover would also.

At the end of the day, what I ended up doing to get that treble back, keep a traditional look, and still have the sound of an early 70s Super Dist was to replace one of the bobbins on my build with a typical PAF-style screw bobbin, use actual pole screws and a steel keeper, but keep the pickup otherwise a SD-style build, with the large ceramic magnet, coil patterns, wire, etc. all as they should be (unlike the modern DM version, which has half the magnet and several other important changes away from originals).

The combination of the brighter pole screw coil, the increased inductance from the additional steel, presumably the changed shape of the magnetic field, and the option to use a copperless PAF-replica cover were all enough to get the frequency response back and harm the output the least. The two pickups in the front row (gold and black) sound almost entirely the same (and the black one sounds at least as good as my best vintage example from the back row). I didn't expect any of this to go as it did. Happy coincidence that the PAF-look is a solution and not a further compromise!

Getting a little nerdy, I wonder if the fact that the ceramic magnet's field is much tighter and closer to the magnet, despite being much denser/stronger, is what allows covers to alter the treble and volume so much more than it does in the weaker but broader fields of AlNiCos? ...a very loose theory, though.


My result:

I think it's best to run SD designs uncovered.

If you MUST cover one, some changes to the physical design of the pickup to compensate will help retain the classic sound better, and also give a totally stealth PAF-style look. Those will probably be my only options, going forward.
Great information, thanks for sharing.
 

robalx9

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Been a bit curious to see if there are any mods or tweaks to the SD, in order to tame the somewhat stiff and brittle character of the pickup when played clean. I'm fairly certain that's due to the ceramic magnet, even though the SD doesn't necessarily sound like a stereotypical ceramic pickup. I do wonder if it's possible to get a less spiky clean sound with adding an Alnico mag, or maybe doing the "air" mod...
 

TonyAsh

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Bringing back an old thread...I'm looking for a bridge pickup for my Les Paul Custom. Currently I have Brandenwound T-Tops in both the bridge and neck.

The bridge is the pickup I'm mostly interested in swapping. It has a very sweet sound to it that I like, but it is a bit light on the attack, and I feel like I just want a bit more. Also, my Les Paul Custom is a pretty bright guitar and sometimes I find it can sound a little bit shrill in a band mix setting.

In the neck, although I would like a bit more punchiness, it is ok, but I would not be against trying out new things here either.

I was considering two bridge pickups:

1) Manlius Vinyl (which is a T-top with just a bit "more" which seems perfect) or
2) DiMarzio Super Distortion

OP chiming back in. So, I'm a big Manlius pickups fan. I do have a Vinyl bridge pickup, though it's in an SG. I like it in there, as it's a very 70's AC/DC sort of sound. But if you're even remotely considering a Dimarzio Super Distortion, do yourself a favor and try Mick's 70's Super D pickup. That's what I ended up putting in the bridge of my Les Paul Custom (paired with his Landmark PAF in the neck) and that is the best sounding guitar I've ever owned or played, hands down. I'm not great at describing tones, but trust me when I say that it is an amazing bridge pickup for a LP and I'll never swap it out for anything else.
 

crazytrain513

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Thanks @TonyAsh for the recommendation. I actually did speak to Mick last week and we decided that, based upon what I told him, the Vinyl seemed like the way to go so we are giving that a shot but, if for some reason, it still isn't what I am looking for, the 70s Super D or the Super Distortion will definitely be the next pickup that I put in for sure.
 

LeftyF2003

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I put one in the bridge of my '74 SG standard with a Dimarzio PAF in the neck back around '78, so that pickup would be vintage now. I expected the SD to be hotter, but it sounded great and reacted well to being rolled off for cleans. Great combination of pickups, and the double whites were very cool!
 

Musha Ring

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I have a pair from about 77' that I love. I'm currently on the hunt for a Dimarzio Paf of that same era to use in the neck.

I've tried modern Super Distortions and they just don't sound the same. Close, but different. Could be that my originals are unpotted.
 

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