Best Guitar & Pickup combo for a IIc+?

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Best Guitar & Pickup combo for a IIc+?

Post by Elpelotero » Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:46 am

What guitar and pickup combination do you feel is best suited to make a C+ truly shine? I use a PRScu24 with original HFS pickup and it absolutely slays with the Rectifier RevD. It sounds amazing with the C+, but I'm often left tweaking too much and looking for something more. I tried a JP guitar in a store once through a mesa rectoverb and hated it. But whenever I hear Petrucci guitars on youtube or elsewhere they sound great. Metallica EMG gibson/esp is a no brainer. What experiences have you all had?
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Re: Best Guitar & Pickup combo for a IIc+?

Post by Markedman » Tue Oct 02, 2018 1:55 pm

I have two identical Steinberger GR guitars with SD hot rails in the neck and middle positions and a Tom Anderson H3+ in the bridge. The guitars couldn't sound more different, like a Les Paul v. Stratocaster. My Les Paul sounds great also, but different. It sounds like a Les Paul even unplugged!
What I'm implying is that it all depends on what you consider good tone. I personally love Yngwie's tone, the guy's from KORN's tone and Eric Johnson's tone but I sound like Hetfield/Hendrix when I play and if I started to sound like KORN, Johnson or Yngwie, it just wouldn't work. For metallica metal tone, the H3+ in a Jackson guitar is what Hetfield used for Master of Puppets.
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Re: Best Guitar & Pickup combo for a IIc+?

Post by gts » Wed Oct 03, 2018 11:37 am

Good insights Markedman.
One thing I found worthy of considering is what gear was available to Mesa at the time of the development of the C+.
For example what guitar(s) and pickup(s) did they use during the testing and tweaking to get the C+ to get the sound/ tone they were trying to achieve.
So much goes into finding ones "tone". An amp alone doesn't do it. The whole picture including guitar and pick-ups as well as speakers, cabinet, tubes (pre am and power) ALL goes into finding ones "tone".

That said when Mesa was developing and testing the C+, Doug White was playing gear equipped with what was available in the early 80's. High output pick-ups may not have been part of his arsenal of humbucker and single coil equipped guitars that he used.

The reason I bring this up is due to certain older style PAF humbuckers and single coil pups that I've put in my guitars. One in particular was modeled after a PAF humbucker that came out of an old Gibson 335 from the late 50's/ early 60's. No doubt this type was available during the C+'s development and used. In any case I randomly installed these PAF pups in a "back up" guitar and put it away. One day My main guitar wasn't available and I ended up using this back-up guitar with my C+. The end result was 'holy sh*t'!! The output was such that it seem to match well with all the C+ could do. It didn't overwhelm the C+ but mated with it perfectly. I was getting tones that previously I was unaware the C+ was capable of putting out!

Now each of us has their ideal tone, be that like Metallica, or Slayer, or whoever that we're looking to achieve.
Not sure this lower output PAF would work for you but for me it was such an eye opener for me when playing the C+
Fwiw the pick-up I'm talking about above (should you like to check out it's specs) is the model call the "Landmark" made by "Manlius Pickups".

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Re: Best Guitar & Pickup combo for a IIc+?

Post by woodbutcher65 » Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:52 pm

It's personal preference. There's no right answer except for the right answer to YOU.

Personally I can't stand single coil pickups in an overdriven/distorted situation. So forget the strat. That sound sets my teeth on edge.

I'm of the opinion that a PAF style pickup, but a fairly hot one, is a choice you can't go wrong with. So long as it's not anything made by DiMarzio, that is. (Never liked any DiMarzio pickup, plus I have an unburied grudge against Larry D.)

Seymour Duncan JB. (SH4-JB) It's my overall favorite bridge pickup.

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Re: Best Guitar & Pickup combo for a IIc+?

Post by MkIII Renegade » Sat Dec 22, 2018 5:01 pm

I have a MkIII no stripe + and a Quad, which are both close enough in character to the IIC+ lead channel.

I haven't found anything that doesn't sound GREAT through them. But I tend to venture most between '80s metal tones ranging from the original Bay Area Bangers (pioneering thrash, early Metallica, Slayer, Exodus) to the Sunset Strip sound (DeMartini) to NWOBHM (Maiden, Priest) and Jake E. Lee on with Ozzy and Badlands.

Anything along the lines of a Charvel San Dimas, Jackson Soloist, ESP Horizon or MIII or Eclipse with a Duncan Distortion/DiMarzio Evo 2/Bare Knuckle Nailbomb nails it. The Marks can get wooly with high gain, so clarity and edge are essential! DiMarzio makes my favorite passive neck pickups, especially the Air Norton and it's slightly mutated younger brother, the Liquifire. And the EMG 81 or 85 or 60 are simply fantastic with the subtle chorusing effect from the preamp, especially when you use 4x12s in stereo as I do. I can't decide which I like best, so I have variations of all of these. :P

If I had to pick one that makes me feel like I'm in God Mode, that would have to be a Jackson Soloist or equivalent with EMG 85 at the BRIDGE (highly underrated, but ask Steve Lukather about this concept) and just a touch of EMG SPC mid boost. The 81 is even more aggressive and the ultimate crunch pickup in my view, although not as full and satisfying for leads. So again, I have both. The 60 is EMG's best neck pickup for me.
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ESP Eclipse EMG 81/60
Ibanez UV7BK
Charvel 475 Exotic
Fender Tele USA

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Re: Best Guitar & Pickup combo for a IIc+?

Post by woodbutcher65 » Wed Dec 26, 2018 1:12 am

Guitar and pickup choice is so much a matter of personal taste that there's no guaranteed right answer except what's right for you.

Some people love strats. I think they're decent for playing clean but despite having tried not less than four or five times with four or five different strats, I've never ever been able to get an overdrive tone with a strat that I like when it's under my fingertips.

I'm just a humbucker guy, end of story. My personal favorite combination is always a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge and Jazz in the neck. Second favorite is a JB in the bridge and 59 in the neck. Does't matter what the amp settings are, these are my pickup preferences. I do full option wiring on my guitars so I have access to regular humbucker, single coil, and parallel humbucker modes. So I have lots of tones to choose from but one constant is that for heavy overdrive I always go for full (regular series coils) humbucker mode.

In overdrive the only single coils I can stand are P90s and even then the tone has to be just right. It can be tricky to get that balance between a warm full tone and just the right amount of hair on the top end that comes from a single coil.

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Re: Best Guitar & Pickup combo for a IIc+?

Post by zebpedersen » Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:11 pm

From a non-metal perspective – I play Telecasters 90% of the time, my guitars are all very different in character but the C+ adapts very well to each of them.

One of the things I think it does very well in general is bring a great deal of its own character to the tone without stepping on the sound of the guitar. So for example it smooths out along with the more rounded tone of my Am. Deluxe Tele (noiseless p'ups), and gets super dynamic with the much weaker pickups in my main guitar.

I've got an Esquire with an EMG noiseless single coil in the bridge, which does bring out a certain fire in the amp—so maybe it does prefer higher output pickups, if anything? But I never feel like it's wanting for anything with my other (passive) single coils.
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