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You know, it depends on the guitar, but I could see a Dimarzio Bluesbucker being right up your alley...

I used one in a neck pickup for a sort-of-P90 vibe in an HSH superstrat, and it was awesome.

For a darker / warmer sounding guitar, I could see it being an awesome bridge pickup.

It has ceramic magnets, but asymmetrical winding... the slug is basically there for noise cancellation. For this reason, it keeps the output when you coil split. It takes gain really well.

 

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For low output try Seth Lovers by SD.

I had one (bridge) in an 2017 LP Classic.
Pure magic and capable of Maiden, Metallica, but also early Clapton and AC/DC.
Regretfully sold the guitar to GC member

BUT:
I installed a set in 2015 Les Paul Deluxe and the magic was not there
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
For now, I ended up ordering these pickups;

  • Wolfetone Marshallhead
  • Vineham custom pickup (Entirely based on what I asked, Craig seemed to understand right away what I wanted)
  • Jalen Origin 78

Thanks for your recommendations! \m/
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
My « metal » guitar is an early ‘90s SG Special that now sports a set of Wolfe Tones (I got them used & believe they are Grey Wolfs). TONS of bottom end, almost too much when they were in an SG Std. but are the perfect fit in the brighter maple neck/ebony board Special. Marshallhead or Marshallhead II might be good too, e-mail Wolfe & ask his advice. 25% off right now.
Thanks for pointing me in the direction of Wolfetone. I received my Marshallhead Yesterday and it's just amazing. So much punch, clarity, a good output with a big body without being too much. Not muddy a single bit. Exactly in the range of what I was looking for
 

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Great to see some vinehams on here. He does make great pickups.

As far as great metal paf style pickups, I'm kind of on the same train as you. I don't want super high output pickups, what I really want is the right eq curve pickup, for my guitar, and for what I want to play most of the time. That changes quite a bit between super strats and Les Paul style guitars. I've found the basic pafs from Duncan and dimarzio to mostly cover things, but they don't quite do it.

My favorite pickup for what you are asking was a bare knuckle black dog. Tite, pushed mids, just the right amount of Highs. 9.5k ish

Next would be the slash alnico ii's. For a gibsony guitar.

If you're playing lower tuning and want really tight metal sounds then Duncan pegasus is lowish output but the right eq. And next for me would be the bare knuckle juggernaut. Not super high output, but the ceramic / alnico magnets are complex,with the right amount of cut for a d standard or lower guitar.

Just my two cents.

Good luck out there.
 

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I started using PAFs for metal sometime back around 2008. I wanted to gain some dynamics and let the amp do the heavy lifting.

I think I started with Lollar Imperials, bounced through some SDs (59, Jazz, A2P) Burstbuckers, 57s, PRS 58/15 and 85/15…. maybe some others?

In hindsight, while they all worked but I do wish I hadn’t gone all in on the PAF thing. A couple years ago i started using high output again and it was both eye opening and (IMO) an improvement. I still really like PAFs for low to mid gain kind of stuff where they’re more lively and a lot less stiff sounding, but as the gain gets poured on I find PAFs hollow midrange starts to show its weakness, particularly in a mix where the reduction in mids made for less cut. In theory you could EQ around this, but I find a pickup that generates more midrange produces a lot more harmonic complexity when distorted, something that just isn’t there in a PAF and can’t be added after the fact.

On the other side, I find the trick to making any PAF work is the tone knob. Rolling off a bit of top end helps reduce the fizz and tightens up the sound, plus a well tuned tone control should give a bit of a bump to the mids as you roll it off. You can also bump it with an OD, but I prefer to plug straight into the amp.
 

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Also worth mentioning while I’m thinking about it, cable length. Long cable bleeds off top end, but it also loads down a passive pickup and shifts the resonant peak down in frequency, which changes the sound of your pickup and isn’t something you can simulate by turning the treble down on your amp or something.

If you look around at guys that use old school pickups into higher gain you’ll see a trend towards 40+ foot long cables.
 
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