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I have two guitars, one Ibanez RG 550 with a Dimarzio tone zone and a Jackson RR5 with a Dimarzio X2N. Both the guitars as well as the pickups are of great quality.

I have noticed that the pinch harmonics on the Ibanez sound just better. By 'better', I mean they sound louder and more clear, with kind of the frequency that I want. With the Jackson it seems as though I am 'muting' it too much with my thumb. As a result, they don't sound loud enough.

So now I am wondering to which variable I can attribute this difference.

  1. guitar: When it comes to the guitar construction, they are both quality instruments, made in Japan, and the Jackson has been professionally setup.
  2. technique: it is the same, it is me playing, and I am comparing the exact same notes
  3. pickups: Although they are both quality pickups, I am wondering if a clear difference in pinch harmonic 'quality' can be observed when using two different pickups.

I am tempted to believe it is the pickups mainly because, when the guitar is unplugged, they (Jackson vs. Ibanez) sound quite the same.

Do you have any experience with that? Do you think the difference in the quality of the pinch harmonic (frequency, and how loud/ not muted it sounds), in my case, can be attributed to the pickup?

3 Answers 3

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While pickup construction plays some role (in particular single coil vs full size humbucker), as Tim mentioned, pickup position is crucial. Ibanez RG 550 is a 24-fret instrument, and both bridge and neck pickups are relatively closer to the bridge than in the 22-fret Jackson RR5. This lets Ibanez capture more higher harmonic components in general, and will make harmonics sound stronger on Ibanez.

Please see below the two guitars aligned on top of each other (the top photo shows Jackson RRT5, I assume it's similar to RR5). Please note different position of the bridge and neck pickups.

Ibanez RG550 and Jackson RR5 next to each other

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  • I have just checked and indeed the distance between the saddle i.e. where the strings rests and the closest pole piece is shorter on the Ibanez. I did not know that this would have an effect on the harmonics, but the number of upvotes corroborate this theory I reckon
    – BCArg
    Commented May 16 at 12:50
  • Not sure I am convinced by this theory anymore. If pickup distance from the bridge would play a role, then I would struggle bigtime to get nice harmonics on my neck pickup (very far from the bridge), which is not the case
    – BCArg
    Commented May 28 at 16:08
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Pickups are the most likely culprit here as these two are voiced quite differently. There is that old DiMarzio tone guide:

https://www.jemsite.com/d3/tech/img/t_pu_d97.jpg

and it seems to be describing Tone Zone as a pickup with the good quality harmonics

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  • I also think it is related to the pickups. Tried also on my other guitar with an EMG81 and it also sounds clearly better than that with Dimarzio X2N. Increasing the X2N height clearly helps
    – BCArg
    Commented May 15 at 9:26
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It may well be the pup/s, whether single coil or humbuckers. That will make some difference. The other factor that springs to mind, if you're pinching exactly the same harmonic nodes, is the placement of those pups. If they're close to another node (with pinched, there are plenty of them!), then the sound picked up from the vibrations won't be as loud as if they're in the middle of two nodes.

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  • they are both humbuckers and the distance from the poles to the saddle of the sixth string, where I am hitting the harmonic is pretty much the same
    – BCArg
    Commented May 15 at 7:25
  • Do both guitars have the same strings, gauge, make, construction?
    – Tim
    Commented May 15 at 7:36
  • they are different guitars, Ibanez is floating bridge, Jackson is hard tail string through
    – BCArg
    Commented May 15 at 7:46
  • seems like increasing the pickup height i.e. decreasing the distance between the strings and the pole pieces of the pickup on the bass side helped
    – BCArg
    Commented May 15 at 8:37

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