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For Teles--Dimarzio VV Hot T vs. Area Hot T

shallbe

Deputy Plankspanker
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
11,829
I have two Suhr T types I take to gigs. One was custom built for me with a Dimarzio Virtual Vintage Hot T in the bridge position. The other is actually an Esquire type, and came with the Suhr bridge pickup.

My dilemma is that I dearly love the Suhr Esquire, but needed it to be noiseless for some of the clubs we play regularly. I hate noise, strive for all of my guitars to have similar output. I don't touch my amp at gigs, don't need to and don't want to. Since I have the VV Hot T in one guitar, I went for the brand new Area Hot T for the Esquire. I gig tested it this weekend in a great club that has crappy wiring. Here is the comparison, FWIW.

Both guitars are very similar (scale length, shape, bridge, frets, wiring), yet different. The custom black T has a swamp ash body and a quartersawn maple neck. This guitar is loud and punchy as hell. The Esquire is alder with a maple/rosewood neck--also has a very loud acoustic sound, but not as punchy with more sweetness/compression when played hard vs. the clang of the black T.

I played both guitars, strung with D'Addario 11's, into a Matchless King Cobra over two nights.

First off, both pickups truly are noiseless. Even in this club and running a lot of gain, you don't hear buzz or noise any more than a traditional humbucker, meaning you will not notice anything. This place's wiring is so bad that a regular single coils buzz very loud even with the amp running relatively low and clean.

The VV Hot T (staggered magnets) is a louder pickup overall. It has more bottom and more top end. Dimarzio's website hints at this when you look at the sonic charts/descriptions, but it is bigger than indicated there. I love loud, clear guitars. The VV Hot T set close to the strings is easily as loud as my loudest Les Paul, and that is saying something. I have to roll off the tone knob just a bit to get the best sounds for my ear, but it really is perfect in this guitar, and more than keeps up with the full-size humbucker in the neck. It does not sound "overwound" at all. It really is loud and clear, and very sensitive to pick attack.

The new Area Hot T (flat magnets) adjusted very close to the strings in the Esquire had less bottom and sweeter highs, compared to the VV. I did not roll off treble as much live, and in fact had it full up quite a bit. Overall, it sounded great----like a muscular vintage Esquire, but not as big or loud as the VV black T. Only when kicked in to the "no tone control" setting did it really compete with the VV Hot T in terms of volume, cut and sensitivity. Even there, it was not quite as loud or big, but it sounded and felt great. The natural sound of the guitar was really translated to the amp, and I had a blast playing it.

In summary, both are great pickups with the same degree of noise reduction and no overwound/dark/flat response. I got many compliments over the weekend regarding my playing and sound. However, it was a challenge playng two straight sets with a one pickup guitar. I tweaked the pickup height between sets on the Esquire because little things at home stand out more with the band.

Overall, The VV Hot T is louder and overall bigger sounding, with more cut. The Area Hot T is much more vintage sounding---it sounds like a hot vintage Tele pickup with a bit of P-90 without the noise. Both have alnico 2 magnets, and are a bargain, IMO, for players looking for volume, good tone, traditional looks and no noise.

Here is a pic of the two guitars.....
 

CitizenCain

Member
Messages
4,821
Thanks for the comparo. These are two pickups I've considered heavily for my custom Esquire. It has a super light 1 1/2" swamp ash body with all the contours which, I think, makes for a body without a lot of body in the sound. From your review, I'm leaning toward the VV Hot T now. I need the bottom end enhancement and I figure I can always roll back the tone to cut the highs.
 

shallbe

Deputy Plankspanker
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
11,829
Thanks for the comparo. These are two pickups I've considered heavily for my custom Esquire. It has a super light 1 1/2" swamp ash body with all the contours which, I think, makes for a body without a lot of body in the sound. From your review, I'm leaning toward the VV Hot T now. I need the bottom end enhancement and I figure I can always roll back the tone to cut the highs.
Sounds like a good fit. The VV Hot T has a big, tight bottom end, perfect for Esquire wiring. I have a 5 way switch in my black T---the 5th position bypasses the tone control on the VV ala Esquire. It is like "going to 11" on your guitar. I love it.
 

shallbe

Deputy Plankspanker
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
11,829
One more thing I want to add about these pickups. We play a wide range of music--funk, soul, R&B, classic rock, some pop and modern country. These are well suited to cover a lot of styles. In fact, when I used the Esquire for two straight sets, not one of my bandmates noticed I was only using one pickup for hours.
 

fr8_trane

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,982
Can either pickup provide traditional tele twang and clang?

I have an area T (not hot) and it twangs like a traditional tele without the noise but for dirtier sounds I might want to split the difference by using a hotter pickup. However, I don't want to sacrifce TOO much bite.

The description of the area hot T as having a PAF tonal curve tells me that it's probably not going to give me what I want but the VV hot seems like it may still deliver twang along with some added beef.

Thoughts?
 

shallbe

Deputy Plankspanker
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
11,829
Can either pickup provide traditional tele twang and clang?

I have an area T (not hot) and it twangs like a traditional tele without the noise but for dirtier sounds I might want to split the difference by using a hotter pickup. However, I don't want to sacrifce TOO much bite.

The description of the area hot T as having a PAF tonal curve tells me that it's probably not going to give me what I want but the VV hot seems like it may still deliver twang along with some added beef.

Thoughts?
Both of them deliver the twang. I have five Les Pauls and I cannot honestly say I hear any real PAF tonality in the Area Hot T. It does have a sweet top end that is not too biting, like a PAF, but it sounds like a hot vintage tele pickup to me. It does not really have the midrange response of a PAF, so it still twangs well. The VV certainly has more bite and beef though, and REALLY clangs when played hard.
 




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