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  1. #1
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    10.26.16 @ 03:37 PM
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    Default Dimarzio Tone Zone Half-Air Mod

    Anyone else tried this? The mod involves taking the bottom plate off, removing a metal spacer, sliding the magnet over, putting in a new non-metallic spacer, and making it so the magnet in the pickup only touches one set of pole pieces instead of touching both sets. Hence the name, "Half-Air". It's half way between a Dimarzio Air _______ pickup (in which the magnet has plastic spacers on either side and doesn't touch any pole pieces directly), and a regular humbucker (in which the magnet directly touches all 6 pole pieces on each side.

    Not having the magnet-on-polepiece direct contact definitely alters the magnetic field of the pickup; the effected pole pieces pull noticeably less hard on the strings, which is the idea behind the Air _____ of pickups. I had 2 stock Tone Zones laying around, so I decided to mod one. Before the mod they both stuck equally to a piece of iron when placed face down onto it, then rotated so they were hanging. After the mod, the modded TZ did not stick to the piece of iron as well at all -- in fact, it kept sliding off of it, so I know the string pull must also be effected.

    I had no idea what effect all this would have on sound, but thus far, I've been pleased. With the modded Tone Zone swapped in, the guitar has significantly more natural sustain and harmonics are much easier to hit (think catching up-dive harmonics on the G string, 2nd fret... those just got a whole lot easier). Tap harmonics also seem to be WAY easier -- it is not even a subtle difference. I believe the decreased string pull is letting the strings ring out a little longer, especially due to the 'weakened' coil side. (For example, think cheap single coil pickups that pull so hard on strings that they choke out the sustain -- the stock TZ is not nearly that bad, but any less amount of magnetic downforce is gonna let the string vibrate more freely). I've recorded some samples of the 2 pickups too using identical settings, and although the overall tone is very similar, the modded Tone Zone definitely has less low-mid to bass frequencies that usually are a bit overpowering when using the Tone Zone.

    Rumor has it the famed EBMM Axis pickup is a half-air version of the Tone Zone.... not sure I'm convinced of that yet, but for those of you that have a Tone Zone sitting around that you tried and didn't like, this might make it work for you.
    Last edited by mrjstudios; 07.02.11 at 03:32 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjstudios View Post
    Rumor has it the famed EBMM Axis pickup is a half-air version of the Tone Zone.... not sure I'm convinced of that yet, but for those of you that have a Tone Zone sitting around that you tried and didn't like, this might make it work for you.
    The Axis pickup has symmetrically wound coils with identical resonance, which differentiates it from the Tone Zone. You may be right about the "half air-ed" aspect, I wouldn't know.

    To my knowledge, and I quit stalking Duncan's forums (DiMarzio doesn't have one) years ago, is that the Tone Zone has dual resonance, with each coil being wound to slightly different peaks. In other words, it's the Axis pickup, but with Dual Resonance. The Axis pickup has identical peaks, last I read. Again, we're talking 2 or 3 years ago.

  3. #3
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    10.04.16 @ 10:31 AM
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    save yourself the trouble and time and just get the dimarzio AT-1 which is a symetrical tone zone

  4. #4
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    Verified, and justified!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Majestic View Post
    The Axis pickup has symmetrically wound coils with identical resonance, which differentiates it from the Tone Zone. You may be right about the "half air-ed" aspect, I wouldn't know.

    To my knowledge, and I quit stalking Duncan's forums (DiMarzio doesn't have one) years ago, is that the Tone Zone has dual resonance, with each coil being wound to slightly different peaks. In other words, it's the Axis pickup, but with Dual Resonance. The Axis pickup has identical peaks, last I read. Again, we're talking 2 or 3 years ago.
    Sounds right to me -- You can visibly see that the Tone Zone is NOT symmetrically wound. One of the coils is fatter. Not as lopsided as, for example, a Steve's Special (which has hugely different coils), but still definitely wound a bit different. Actually, I believe the half-air mod weakens the stronger of the 2 coils in the tone zone, which is probably why it makes it sound a little closer to an Axis pickup.

    Either way, I know a lot of us have tried the tone zone and gotten various results, so if you've got an old TZ laying around that you can't sell, this mod definitely seems to make it sound a little closer to the coveted Axis pickup.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjstudios View Post
    Sounds right to me -- You can visibly see that the Tone Zone is NOT symmetrically wound. One of the coils is fatter. Not as lopsided as, for example, a Steve's Special (which has hugely different coils), but still definitely wound a bit different. Actually, I believe the half-air mod weakens the stronger of the 2 coils in the tone zone, which is probably why it makes it sound a little closer to an Axis pickup.

    Either way, I know a lot of us have tried the tone zone and gotten various results, so if you've got an old TZ laying around that you can't sell, this mod definitely seems to make it sound a little closer to the coveted Axis pickup.
    One easy mod to a TZ to make it sound much closer is to use a 0.01uf cap is series with the hot wire,this bleeds off a good amount of bass and if you lower your TZ with this mod it is pretty close in tone to the axisi

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charvelstrat_81 View Post
    One easy mod to a TZ to make it sound much closer is to use a 0.01uf cap is series with the hot wire,this bleeds off a good amount of bass and if you lower your TZ with this mod it is pretty close in tone to the axisi
    Ya, this works too. Although I'd use a .047uF cap.... seems to work pretty well. I'm building a guitar right now with a stock TZ in it -- it's gonna have a separately switchable .01uF, .047uF, and possibly a ~.022uF cap in the circuit, so I can record some sound samples of what they do to the TZ.

    I think I'm gonna do something similar to whatever neck pickup I end up using... all of the neck pickups I've used lately were too bassy for my taste, and the small capacitor trick can work extremely well on pickups like that.

 

 

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