HH2 pickup upgrades?

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brooks.kaplan
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HH2 pickup upgrades?

Postby brooks.kaplan » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:16 pm

Your experience w/ HH2 pickup upgrades (non Kiesel pups) ?

PS - I play mostly clean jazzy stuff on the neck pup, and occasional heavy stuff on the bridge pup. I want smoother richer jazz tone from neck, more gain and chunk from bridge. Rigs right now are a PV Classic 20 head into large 1x12 Mesa cab w/ Celestion V30 speaker (for 90s hard rock gigs doing AIC/STP/RATM, etc), & Boss Katana 50 combo w/ Celestion Neo speaker (using a looper & onboard compression/delay, for solo jazzy gigs doing Sco/Wes/Beatles. etc). The HH2 is primarily for the jazz gigs, but I'd like to use it as a spare on rock gigs.

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Re: HH2 pickup upgrades?

Postby GuitFiddle » Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:39 am

Sounds like what you are after is a PAF clone in the neck and something slightly overwound with an A5 in the bridge. When you say smoother....what do you mean exactly? Less bright? Still bright but glassier/less peaky? Mid forward or more flat or scooped mids?

I have a Dimarzio 36th in the neck of one of my guitars, and it retains the smooth, bright character of a good PAF but with a bit more midrange. Another has an Alnico Pro II, which is similar but a little more scooped. A third has a Jazz, and that's nice but has a little more high end though it's smooth. Another choice is Suhr Thornbuckers, when it comes to bad reviews these things seem to be the Teflon Don of the pickup world, everyone loves them.

For the bridge, there are so many choices for what you are describing it's impossible to even scratch the surface. Something like a Custom Custom or even a 59 (which is like a slightly hot PAF and holds up well under gain) seems like it would work well.
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Re: HH2 pickup upgrades?

Postby brooks.kaplan » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:49 am

Yes, smoother = glassy & less peaky. I am indeed leaning towards a Duncan Jazz in the neck, I have has these in many guitars w/ good results. Also looking at Duncan Alnico Pro 5, and believe it or not a Dimebucker; both have a bunch of gain and a "smile" EQ curve to boost lows and tame mids (I had Dimes in a few guitars w/ good results, never tried the Alnico 5).

Hoping some folks here have swapped pups in their HH2s and could share their experiences. Its a brighter guitar w/ stock ebony board, maple top, and stainless steel frets; mine is very mid-y sounding. I do love playing it, and its probably ideal for Holdsworths music, but my playing tends to go between trad jazz or heavy rock tones.

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UnexplodedCow
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Re: HH2 pickup upgrades?

Postby UnexplodedCow » Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:36 am

I'll chime in with some thoughts, some of which may not be popular opinion.

If you want to change the pickup sound, try a different value of volume pot, or at least put a resistor in parallel with the grounded leg and the wiper on the pot. 500k is normal value, so if you put a 500k resistor in parallel, it loads the pickups differently (250k), and will cut down on their resonant peak, which is part of the treble response. The Holdsworth Lithium is mild enough that it should work pretty well. A resistor would cost pennies, and give someone $5 to install if you're unable to solder. It's seriously a few seconds to solder that kind of mod in.

If you like the sound of the Dimebucker, try a Wilde L500XL (if you're using at least 500k pots). With 250K pots, try the L500L, which is a little milder, and works better with the heavier load a 250k volume pot provides. Despite the lower amount of winds, I find the output volume very close to the XL model, with less compression. The R version (hot for a neck pickup), can also do jazz with the tone rolled back, or a fantastic-sounding, slightly bright neck pickup (reminds me of the M22V, but more output). Anyway, they're cheaper from Wilde than Seymour, plus you get to support the little guy who is the original designer.

If you've tried the older H22N, it sounds darker than what I've heard of the Holdsworth Lithium. The C22T also makes for a decently dark/versatile neck pickup. The M22N is dark, but not super muddy. Turn the tone control down, and it'll do jazz (IMO) no problem. The Frank Gambale also has a nice jazzy feel to it. There are options.

I don't believe much in tonewood at all in an electric, based on experiences, and I don't care one bit about how it sounds unplugged, since that isn't the tone plugged in. What I do know is that manipulating the loads on the pickups will make a change. Even using a very long cable will decrease and/or shift the pickup resonant peak due to capacitance. These are all cheaper than buying new pickups, though if a certain sound is already desired, then go with the pickup that does that.

Just some thoughts.
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Re: HH2 pickup upgrades?

Postby Doctor Turn » Fri Jun 22, 2018 10:48 am

He took the words right out of my mouth, I think the M22N will do you right fine in the neck. It's a touch more expansive than your typical PAF, it's like a PAF only broader, very alive.. it's a very palpable neck pickup that's very responsive to adjustments (and splits like a champion), it's extremely smooth while being so vibrant, it completely eliminates the fizzy mud we've come to expect from PAF style neck pickups, which are so thick with phlegmatic foam that clot up the mid range and stifle your high end.

It's what I have loved about that pickup for decades and keeps that DC150K Stereo my #1 all these years. For decades like you I was 100% a neck pickup guy, I almost never went to my bridge pickup, when I wanted to thin out my sound I would just split the M22 in the neck position and push my amp a little more. It's about as clearly defined and melodic a neck pickup you can find, very musical. If you roll off the high end w your tone control on the axe you get your standard jazz bubble, but clean and very well rounded.

The "PAF problem" of undifferentiated mud that Mark Kiesel and his father were looking to solve in the late seventies with this pickup is just as much of an issue today as it was back then, although there are far more choices these days than there were back when this pickup came out.

And the problem always presents itself most on the neck position, since a bridge PAF sounds, always sounded, magnifique! The neck is another story. And the way the midrange has been dealt with on this original M22, along with the signal maintenance across 11 poles instead of 6 to keep the definition crisp and clear no matter what you're doing w your string... the pickup is as relevant today as it was when it first came out. I hope it never goes away, and they make an exception with this one vs the retiring of the 22 pole line.
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Re: HH2 pickup upgrades?

Postby brooks.kaplan » Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:15 am

Thx for your comments. I was messing w/ my Katana 50s onboard "fat comp", gain, and EQ this morning and have found a much better jazzy neck tone, which splits nicely for chimey licks too. I will live w/ it for awhile. Def gonna swap the bridge pup for something higher gain at some point. I need to fire up some high gain tones w/ my tube rig this weekend, I usually only drag it out for band gigs.

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Re: HH2 pickup upgrades?

Postby brooks.kaplan » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:23 am

Put a Dimebucker in today, nice improvement for high gain tones, more lows and highs, the harmonics leap out.

here's a pic;
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Re: HH2 pickup upgrades?

Postby SilkyHotLicks » Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:50 pm

You don't want an upgrade. The HH2 is a jazz guitar in every sense of the word. I've watched some YouTube videos of some very proficient players and the HH2 is awesome.

What you want is NOT a jazz guitar. What you want is an SH550 with Lithiums that can liquefy jazz fusion and imitate a semi-hollow body jazz guitar 8) JMHO 8)

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Re: HH2 pickup upgrades?

Postby brooks.kaplan » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:06 pm

Respectfully disagree. My HH2 is now versatile enough for my restaurant gigs or my rock band gigs. It is classy looking enough for wedding gigs. It plays effortlessly, and its so light that I can play for hours without my bad back giving me pain. The SH550 looks sweet, but I just sold a really nice Gibson Midtown because of the weight. My HH2 is perfect. And, I'd argue it is more of a fusion guitar, as I consider a hollow jazzbox a true "jazz guitar".

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