Versatile, higher output pickup set that cleans up


Loving my Charvel So Cal but the Duncan Distortions are little too much of everything. They kinda push every amp into a dirty clean no matter what I do. They don't back off that well with volume.

I already have PAF sounds covered so this guitar is my hot-rodded choice. The DD's positives are thick tone (BOTH neck and bridge), decent highs (which is harder to find in a higher output setup) and MOSt importantly they split amazingly well.

Is there a versatile pickup set that leans to rock and harder rock/80s metal that can also push an amp. Maybe something with sweeter highs A2 or A5 highs that won't break the bank?

Some ideas under Consideration:
Dimarzio Air Zone or AT-1 / Air Norton - this is probably close to the EVH Set
Dimarzio Super Distortion / Super 2 or PAF (yeah, I know I said NO ceramic lol)
Dimarzio PAF Pro or PAF Pro / Fred
Seymour Duncan Full Shred / Jazz - very impressive in the DK24 models
Seymour Duncan JB / Jazz
EVH Wolfgang
EVH Frankenstein
Bare Knuckle Cold Sweat (pricey, tried my friend's and it seemed clear and punchy while being able to be tamed, however this was through a Yamaha THR10)
Bare Knuckle VHII - also tried them. Seemed more PAF with b*lls type of tone. Not sure they would be the best for splitting.

What say you?
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Dimarzio at-1/ air norton is great, clean or dirty. If you want a little brighter neck try the 36th there instead. I've been very happy with these setups in my prs.


Well the Jazz & Full Shred are all high end. I'd go for something like a 59/Custom Hybrid, and a Whole Lotta Humbucker neck, which both split well, and will push the amp, but not in a harsh way like the Distortions.
I like the '59 in the neck of my San Dimas.

Or you could go CRAZY and try a Gibson 498T/490R set. They're kinda pricey, but since you mentioned BareKnuckle....

Anyway, they do everything you're looking for. Gotta be careful with the height adjustments though, although I guess that's true of almost every pickup. These may be more finicky though.


Silver Supporting Member
My $.02 on the ones you listed that I have experience with:
  • AT-1/Air Norton = nope, not for me. I've bought & installed the AT-1 three times, and every time there is this weird thing going on with the D string that makes it a no-go. I won't try that one again.
  • Fred/PAF Pro = money. Two thumbs way up.
  • Super Distortion/Super 2 = no, if you want something that cleans up well. Plus, ceramic is not typically my bag.
  • JB/Jazz = tried and true combo. Do this and you can sound like everyone else.
  • BK VHII set = a fantastic pickup set...if you want humbuckers that think they are single coils. If you are looking for something high power that cleans up, nope.
And here are some suggestions I have experience with all by my own self:
  • Suhr Aldrich/SSV = Great high output set that never gets too crazy. Highly dependent on the axe, IMO. Alive in some, vanilla in others. In my bright LP, it kills. Had them in a few superstrats, and bland.
  • BK Holy Diver set = money. Juicy, crunchy 80's goodness. One of my fav's.
  • BK Crawler set = dig 'em. Juicy, creamy 80's goodness.
  • BK Rebel Yell set = Similar to the Holy Diver, but a higher resonant freq that I don't dig as much. In a dark LP they might be cool. In a superstrat they will shave your eyebrows off.
  • Dimarzio Breed/PAF Pro = high output beefy goodness. Cleans up well. Two thumbs up.
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Silver Supporting Member
Run into a small, transparent sounding, preamp pedal and reduce your signal level with that.
OR lower the gain of the first stage of your amp to retain more headroom there.


Gold Supporting Member
Wilde L500XL. It’s hands down one of THE greatest pickups ever made. Can be paired with almost anything; the Duncan 59n makes a very versatile companion. See the Washburn N4.

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