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DiMarzio Virtual Vintage pickups?

Krank

Member
Messages
170
I think I'm ready to give these a try. But the models seem to have changed over the years - some preferring the earlier, with DM naturally claiming the technology to have evolved. Figure I'd go used anyway.

Your thoughts? Sound clips?

And any comparisons to the Area series? I know the Areas have lower, vintage-like output, which isn't all that important for me; I'm an eclectic player (fancy term for noodling in all styles, ha) and could use a bit of beef to the tone, as long as there's still a good amount of single-coil twang to the bridge.

Advice much appreciated.
 

Krank

Member
Messages
170
I just came across this link: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov98/articles/pickup.htm

So back in '98 these guys preferred Kinman's. I gotta research these. Anyone know off hand what changes were made to both companies' noiseless models since then?

Edit - sorry, hadn't seen this recent thread here with basically the same question: https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/501618&highlight=kinman&page=3 Though I'd rather avoid getting into the whole legal/ethical aspect of it all; I simply wanna know what developments were made to the products since the SOS review.
 
Last edited:

Marty s Horne

Member
Messages
2,894
My only experience with VV was a Tyler I had with 2 VV pickups and a Tyler/Duncan humbucker in the bridge position. The VV pickups sounded excellent; vintage strat tone with no noise.
 

ShredHeadJHJ

Member
Messages
199
These sound like they would be pretty cool. I'm planning on doing a progect guitar for my next piece & I will be putting Rio Grande's into it. I would like to check these out if they start to put these into any production guitars so I can try them out :) I always thought of Dimarzio as the kings of modern pups, so this might be interesting.
 

Blue4Now

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,029
I chose the older VV strat pickups over the newer Areas. I thought the VV's sounded better and were more quiet than the areas. Just one man's opinion of course. But I am very happy with my VV 2.1 setup in my strat.
 

Krank

Member
Messages
170
I chose the older VV strat pickups over the newer Areas. I thought the VV's sounded better and were more quiet than the areas. Just one man's opinion of course. But I am very happy with my VV 2.1 setup in my strat.
Thanks! I've heard others prefer the VVs to the Areas. If anyone have compared the two types in the same guitar and can explain the perceived difference in tone, please do.
 

gtrnstuff

Member
Messages
2,519
I just came across this link: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov98/articles/pickup.htm

So back in '98 these guys preferred Kinman's. I gotta research these. Anyone know off hand what changes were made to both companies' noiseless models since then?

Edit - sorry, hadn't seen this recent thread here with basically the same question: https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/501618&highlight=kinman&page=3 Though I'd rather avoid getting into the whole legal/ethical aspect of it all; I simply wanna know what developments were made to the products since the SOS review.
Back in '98 I preferred Kinmans. The VV (and I tried almost all of them) at the time sounded good individually, but the combinations sounded fake. The old VV needed 500k to 1meg pots, and didn't work as well with fuzz face-type pedals. The Kinmans always worked with the stock 250k. My experience tells me that Chris developed something different and better at the time, and was probably a case of parallel discovery. The legal dispute notwithstanding.
My advice, get some of each and see what you think. That's the only way we really find out, right?
Or get a Suhr SSC backplate. Amazing.
 

shallbe

Deputy Plankspanker
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
11,816
Thanks! I've heard others prefer the VVs to the Areas. If anyone have compared the two types in the same guitar and can explain the perceived difference in tone, please do.
I have both the VV Hot T and new Area Hot T in my two Suht T-types. I wrote a very recent review on this board if you want to do a search.

In summary, teh VV Hot T has more bottom and top, more volume and more cut. The Area is smoother, with a tad more low mids and not as loud, but still twangs extremely well. I use these in a club with ****** wiring---regular single coils are just awful and nearly useless there. Both of these pickups are very quiet and offer the same noise reduction. They also sound great, IMO.

The VV Hot T has staggered mags while the Area is flat. Both are alnico II. I think the VV is the more versatile of the two pickups, but I am happy with them in my guitars.
 

eyeball987

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,413
I put a VV Heavy Blues and a VV Solo into a MIM strat somewhere around 1999 and gigged with them for about 7 years before I had to sell the guitar. I loved them. FWIW. I have not tried the Area's.
 

Bunny101412

Member
Messages
346
I have Area 61's in my strat ... they sound suberb. From what I have tread, the Dimarzio Area 67's are outstanding replica's of Hendrix-era single coil with no noise at all.
 

wleeds

Member
Messages
603
Hi there,
I just saw your post on Dimarzio VV's.
I have a bunch for sale:
VV - DP401 - original Virtual Vinatge
VV BLUES - DP402
VV HEAVY BLUES - DP403

mark
 

saintpatrick

Member
Messages
70
I have a VV 54'pro in the neck, an Area 58 middle, and Virtual solo bridge position. Additionally, I have also tried out an old VV 2.1 for the neck and went back to the newer VV '54 pro. Here is my opinion. The Area 58 is great, very old school strat. I originally bought that one to brighten up the 2&4 positions on my guitar. It turned out sounding absolutely incredible. I actually spend time on that pickup on it's own now. The VV 2.1 I had in the neck sounded great but there was a difference in the dynamics of the pickups between the area 58 and VV 2.1. The VV just seemed less expressive. I noticed it when I was playing at performance level through my tube amp. At the louder sound pressures, there was an actual feel difference in switching between them where it seemed that the area was just hearing more of the subleties of the guitar. I switched back to the VV '54 pro and it was a great match again. I don't think that I would have noticed it at home playing volumes. I feel the the newer VV technology does a better job at picking up the nuances of the guitar below the initial note. My 2 cents.
 

swangdb

Member
Messages
104
I have a VV 2.2 in the bridge and VV 2.1's in the middle and neck. This is with a Japanese 60s reissue strat.

I have them wired like a regular strat, except the middle pickup has no tone control while the bridge pickup has a tone control.

It's a good-sounding guitar, though the neck pickup is slightly dark-sounding compared to the other two.

With 250k pots, the guitar wasn't quite as "stratty" sounding as I would have liked though the middle pickup sounds great to me with no tone control. I replaced the two tone pots with 300k pots and changed the cap to .02 microfarads and suddenly the guitar sounds very stratty.

The bridge pickup now sounds big and twangy, which I like. The neck pickup is still a little dark-sounding.

I emailed Dimarzio recently and they were very helpful. They suggested I try an Area 67 in the neck and I will soon (I need to pay off some bills first).

They also pointed out "Your pickups are several generations old..." They are right, the pickups are around nine years old. I thought the term "generations" was interesting, it sounded like they were talking about software, that the latest version is automatically presumed to be better than earlier versions. In their case maybe they're right, I don't really know.

Dimarzio has and has had a lot of noise-canceling strat pickups. I haven't heard them all but I would like to. I'd like to hear all of the VV and Area pickups in my guitar but I know that's not practical. I am happy with two of the three pickups and I don't hate the neck pickup, I'm definitely in a tweaking mode. I do wonder if I would like some of these pickups more than I like the middle and bridge pickups that I have now.
 

wizard333

Member
Messages
2,208
Short answer: The older VVs have NOTHING on the New Area series. If you want THE BOMB, get the Areas. You wont notice any difference in output.

Long answer:
I've been using single coils since I started playing guitar in the late 70s. I tried the first generation "stacks" and they were horrible (Duncan stacks, Dimarzio HS series). The rail types came out next and they didn't do it either. I was on the phone with DiMarzio just before the release of the original VVs and they gave me a heads up that these were coming out, so I special ordered a couple sets and probably got some of the first ones available to the public.

The key to the VVs (and the Kinman's, who stole the design) is that, unlike the first stacks which use a "dummy coil" that is nearly identical to the active coil and robs a HUGe amount of dynamics, output, and high end, the VVs use a very low wind dummy coil to preserve as much of the tone of the active single coil as possible. Fender Noiseless, Duncan's, Lawrence, etc.; are still using the old design, so fuhgettaboutit, no comparison. DiMarzio sued Kinman over the patent infringement; I never read the case but I'd guess Kinman gets away with what he does because unlike the others mentioned above, he is not based in the US and has no "nexus" here, so its extremely difficult to enforce. Its unfortunate because Steve Blucher at DiMarzio is responsible for that idea.

The first VVs were noticeably better than the side-by-sides and the old style stacks. They were Alnico 5 so they still had string pull issues, but they sounded pretty good. I particularly liked the VV Blues; which was biting, quacky, and had solid output.

Kinmans came out shortly thereafter and I tried various sets and combinations thereof of his offerings. Again, much better than the older designs, somewhat different sounding than the DiMarzios, but I think of that first generation the DiMarzios edged out the Kinmans on tone.

Both companies started using Alnico 2 next in order to lower the string pull of the pickup, so you could get it closer to the strings for near alnico 5 type output, but wouldnt get the strat 'warble' and sustain losses from a focused alnico 5 magnetic field. I checked both company's offerings out then as well. I liked the tone of the DiMarzio blues set the best still, but the increase in sustain and much better intonation of the alnico 2s made me switch over and start using the newer DiMarzio V2 series in most of my guitars, and a set of Kinmans in one guitar.

The things I felt were lacking in both company's original offerings of those first few designs was 1) Proper "quack" in the parallel positions; they sounded dull there 2) that upper presence single coil 'breath'. Both claimed to have those things, neither did. I still used them though because 60 cycle hum is just unacceptably loud most places you play if you play out, and before these I always ended up in only positions 2 & 4 because I couldnt stand the hum otherwise.

Kinman made some revisions to his stuff after a few years so I tried them out again. Still didnt like most of them, but the Woodstock set was head and shoulders above anything else that either he or DiMarzio were putting out in terms of proper quack and bite. On top of that, the output was solid. So I switched from various DiMarzios I was using and the one Kinman set I had to exclusively Woodstocks. That was an expensive move when you are talking about 7 or 8 guitars, but the difference was enough to make it worth it. It left a bad taste in my mouth because Chris Kinman is a pain in the ass to deal with and the guys at DiMarzio are gems, but tone is tone. I also tried his revision 2 vintage set, but found it was all hype and still didnt hold a candle to he woodstocks on quack and bite in the parallel positions. Exchanged them for woodstocks and Kinman took 3 months and many emails to follow through on the exchange.....

Fast forward to the release of the Area series. These are DiMarzio's latest design. I was very skeptical when they were released, so much so that I didnt really try them at first. The main thing the Kinman's lack is some of the high end 'breath' that real singles have, and the Suhr BPSSC came out around the same time, so I decided to experiment with that.

The BPSSC by the way does what it claims; it made single coils as quiet as your average PAF. That is still several orders of magnitude more noisy than the VVs or Kinmans, which are deadly quiet, but its a huge improvement in the noise floor of a single coil pickup. I tried a couple Suhr offerings (his descriptions are dead on accurate by the way), a couple Lollar offerings, a set if Fralins, a few other things, but I found that, while each of those pickups had certain things I missed when I used noiseless, I didnt like any of them overall as well as the Woodstock set I was using. The difference came down to 1) They were still noisier, 2) They lacked a certain singing quality the woodstocks had under gain, 3) Output: even the 'hot' models were no where near the output of the Woodstocks. I don't know why; I was using alnico 5 single coils in the 6k plus range for the most part, and a Woodstock is in that range if you exclude the dummy coil, but the Kinmans were just much louder and worked better in a mix under gain.

When I decided to ditch the bpssc because I just couldnt find pickups I really loved, instead of tossing another set of woodstocks in that guitar I decided to give the Areas a try and see how they held up. I wasn't expecting much; maybe a slightly different sounding vv2.1 or VV neck.

WRONG..

After installing them in what is really not my best sounding guitar and A/Bing them with the woodstocks in other guitars, I have to say, the Areas are the ****. I'm using a 58 in the middle and a 67 in the neck, with a VV hot PAF in the bridge. The bridge/middle position splits both the 58 and the PAF bridge (screw coil active) so its 2 singles in parallel/hum cancelling in that position. They not only out-quack the woodstocks, they match them on volume and have more of that real single coil high end breath. They also sound better than ANY of the boutique single coils I tried when overdrive is used.

So Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the best noiseless (and maybe otherwise overall) single of all.....DiMarzio Areas. They edge out the Kinman woodstocks on the issues that previously have been the shortcomings of noiseless designs, and they DESTROY all the older designs. They are also about HALF the street price of a set of Kinmans, are made in the US, and DiMarzio's exchange policy and customer service are absolutely top notch. So you get a better set than the Kinmans without his boutique price or attitude.

What I can't figure out is how they do it. I mean, these things sound REALLY good, and have very solid output in spit of a DCR rating that would make you think they were weak..........The woodstocks are around 8k on average with a sub-2k dummy coil. The Area 67 is an alnico 2 pickup with a DCR in the sub 6k range; the 58 is right around 6k, INCLUDING the dummy coil, and the output is in the woodstock range and LOUDER than the 6-6.5k alnico 5 boutique single coils I was using. The output is similar to the older V2 neck model that was a 7.5k plus pickup, and functionally the same as the original VV blues pickups that were over 8k.

I havent pulled one apart but I'm curious what they are doing; there is some serious voodoo going on in these things to produce those results. Maybe some larger than usual gauge wire (almost has to be) and a more refined dummy coil design to get those low DCR readings combined with that output. Whatever it is, the sound is for real and Blucher really pulled of something special with these. Anyone that thinks Blucher doesn't stand along side Lollar, Fralin, etc as a designer just isn't paying attention or giving the guy his due.

For reference I use very heavy strings (13-62) at standard pitch (no detuning to Eb nonsense) and not a lot of gain when I do use gain (think Barber DD with gain at 11 O'Clock), a lot of midrange and a warm rather than very bright sound. If you're using thin strings you can expect more bite and high end with less fundamental, so you might go for a higher wind model unless you want a pretty bright tone. I also pick pretty much every note, sometimes at a pretty high rate of speed....my style is sort of a Robben Ford/Larry Carlton fusion-y blues with some DiMeola & Gambale techniques thrown in (no I'm not saying I'm as good as them....those guys are the best! but that gives you an idea what I do). The point there is that if you are a player who is picky (!) about how a pickup responds to your pick attack, have no fear: the Areas respond beautifully.

Also note: Use 500k pots with any noiseless pickup.
 

Bobby D

Member
Messages
11,820
wizard, great post!

i have HS 2 and 3 in neck and middle, and VV solo pro in bridge....

was considering kinman woodstocks, but maybe i need to take a look at the areas.....hmmm.......:beer
 

wizard333

Member
Messages
2,208
I guess it depends on your setup. Kinman also says 250k pots but I've never heard any noiseless sound its best without 500k pots. Note the strings I use though; you get more fundamental with heavier strings so if your using 9/10/11s, you may need the 250k to take some screech out.

My impression is they both say that because of the marketing war that occured between them in the early days. DiMarzio said 500k pots or a 250k volume with 1meg tone; Kinman tried to claim "oh well mine are better because they work with 250 pots you dont need higher values to make 'fake' high end reponse......" all of which was BS because both companies' pickups had the same response to the pot value used; I can tell you that for sure since I owned and A/B'd all of both their offerings in those lines.

Pot value is just one element in tone shaping; you can use 250k pots with humbuckers to, or 1meg with anything, or whatever you want if thats what sounds good given everything else in your signal chain, how you set your amp, and personal preference. Everyone has different ears; I remember seeing Gambale at a sound check and his clean tone was like an icepick through the forehead plus one through each eyeball to boot, but thats what he liked obviously since I was hearing his stage sound and not the mixer messing it up.

I've found in my setup and based on work I do for other people that pretty much everyone I've dealt with finds the sound better with 500k pots. Nothing wrong with experimenting though if thats what you want to do.
 

beej

Senior Member
Messages
824
My two cents here- I've had VVs, Areas, Kinmans, Lawrences.

To me, the Areas were quite a bit better than the VVs, more convincing. They were also better than the Kinmans.

Problem with the Areas is that with a bit of gain they don't sound quite right. They also tend to compress a lot- you can really hear it when you dig in.

I prefer the Lawrence L200s. Think they're a step above the Areas, in that they sound much more natural, esp with a bit of gain on them. Great sounding pickups. Also less expensive. They also sound great with 250k pots- you do not need 500ks with them. It's a different kind of design.

I've since sold off my other noiseless and replaced them with the Lawrences. Lousy marketing, but great pickups.
 

1973Marshall

Member
Messages
6,799
I know the Dimarzio stigma around here but I will chime with this...


have used a few of the silent options out there and I got the Dimarzio Areas for my Strat, had Virtual Hot T for my Tele and it was the BEST PRICED and BEST SOUNDING option I have ever used. You can sit there and over analyze them, or get in a studio and record or go gig with them and you will see why they are they real deal.
 

teletran1175

Member
Messages
1,700
I never bonded with the Area series because they seemed too stiff to me.
I use a VV Blues for neck, mid and a VV Solo bridge at I'm pleased with them.
I run 500k pots with a .047uf capacitor and would do the same for the Areas, unless the guitar was extraordinarily bright.
 




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