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The Nazgul saved my Strat - My review

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  • The Nazgul saved my Strat - My review

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    So ever since I got this guitar, I've had a few different pickups in it, none of which I've been happy with. This guitar sounds way too smooth and polite, and I couldn't find the right pickup for it. I've had the Pearly Gates Plus, Black Winter, Distortion, DiMarzio Super 2, and D Activator, and while some of them have things that I liked (the Distortion and the D Activator were *almost* there), none of them got it quite there. The attack was always too polite, smooth, and well-behaved.

    Well, I figured I'd give the Nazgul a try. All of the reviews I read and the clips I heard seemed to suggest it had a very modern clank upper-mid emphasis.

    It does! It's a fantastic pickup. It's almost as hot as the Duncan Distortion, which I like. It's hotter than the D Activator for sure. It's tighter than the Distortion and about as tight as the D-Activator. The high-end is not dark, but the emphasis falls lower towards the high-mids for sure. It has a very emphatic clank and twang to the sound. It's not like the 'Winter, which has more of a scratchy attack. This is more modern and polished, but still very aggressive, much like you'd expect from a Ceramic pickup. The Nazgul is more clanky and more polished, and the 'Winter is more over-the-top and nastier. The Distortion is fatter and sizzlier than either.

    Comparing my Strat to my Les Paul with the 500T, the Strat with the Nazgul is more modern and tighter. More mid-focused overall. The 500T has more of a high-end rasp and a dirty low-end, kinda like the Duncan Distortion, but it's not the same. It's a bit different. I went into detail about that on another thread. But comparing my Strat to the Les Paul, I like where the Strat is sitting right now. It's got its own personality, while still working using the same amp settings that I have dialed in for the Les Paul.

    So I guess I'll report back once the honey moon period has worn off. But my initial impression is that I definitely like this better than the Distortion and the D Activator, which were the best I had in the guitar so far, but I still was not 100% happy with them.

  • #2
    Glad to hear this one worked out! Sounded like exactly what you needed. No other pickup does exactly what the Nazgul does and when it works, it REALLY works!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Rex_Rocker View Post
      This guitar sounds way too smooth and polite, and I couldn't find the right pickup for it.
      I tried the Nazgul once, and didn't like it. "Smooth and polite" is what I was going for. Just shows there's pups for everyone's taste. Glad you got yours dialed in.

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      • #4
        What's in the neck?
        Administrator of the SDUGF

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Mincer View Post
          What's in the neck?
          It's a DiMarzio SDS-1. It's supposedly a hot P90-ish sound in a Fender single coil housing.

          To be completely honest, once the new pickup period wore off, I don't love it. It's interesting, and it's not a weak, thin, average single coil. I'll give it that. I just wished it was hotter and smoother to balance better. Slightly reminds me of the Super 2, actually. I guess if I had to describe it, imagine how an average P90 compares to an average PAF. This is how this compares to a Super 2. They're even around the same DCR and running on more or less the same magnet. But I don't really hate it to want to swap it out either.
          Last edited by Rex_Rocker; 03-06-2024, 11:44 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ArtieToo View Post

            I tried the Nazgul once, and didn't like it. "Smooth and polite" is what I was going for. Just shows there's pups for everyone's taste. Glad you got yours dialed in.
            You'd love this Strat, LOL. It's funny how my Les Paul is brighter and more aggressive. Well, brighter is not the right word. This Strat isn't dark. It's just smooth. It lacks aggression.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Masta' C View Post
              Glad to hear this one worked out! Sounded like exactly what you needed. No other pickup does exactly what the Nazgul does and when it works, it REALLY works!
              Thank you! Honestly, I could see the Nazgul working in a couple differen tscenarios given you could tame it with pot values. It's running wide open with a 1 Meg pot right now to offset how the Strat naturally sounds, and it's nice and bright. But I bet on a guitar with more natural aggression like my Les Paul, 500 or 250K could make it work too.

              What I like about the Nazgul is it has a similar low-end rolloff like the Black Winter does, and that makes for some tightness as well as further emphasizing the twangy nature of the pickup.

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              • #8
                BTW, I also very briefly had the 500T in the guitar as well until I realized the adjustability of the height was really limited because of the pickup's long legs in the shallow Fender route.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Rex_Rocker View Post
                  It's a DiMarzio SDS-1. It's supposedly a hot P90-ish sound in a Fender single coil housing.

                  To be completely honest, once the new pickup period wore off, I don't love it. It's interesting, and it's not a weak, thin, average single coil. I'll give it that. I just wished it was hotter and smoother to balance better. Slightly reminds me of the Super 2, actually. I guess if I had to describe it, imagine how an average P90 compares to an average PAF. This is how this compares to a Super 2. They're even around the same DCR and running on more or less the same magnet. But I don't really hate it to want to swap it out either.
                  Maybe a Hot Rails?
                  Administrator of the SDUGF

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Mincer View Post

                    Maybe a Hot Rails?
                    Yeah, I think I'd be happier with a SC-sized humbucker in there. Hot Rails or something DiMarzio. But like I said, I don't hate it enough to want to swap it out. It's pretty usable, and has a cool clean tone in the middle position with the Nazgul.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Rex_Rocker View Post
                      . . . and has a cool clean tone in the middle position with the Nazgul.
                      Maybe try a Cool Rails. There's a reason they called it that.

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                      • #12
                        you're welcome

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ArtieToo View Post

                          Maybe try a Cool Rails. There's a reason they called it that.
                          Isn't the Cool Rails based on the Jazz? I really dislike the Jazz, LOL.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Rex_Rocker View Post
                            Isn't the Cool Rails based on the Jazz? I really dislike the Jazz, LOL.
                            I don't have Nazgul experience, but its EQ curve looks like the HR would be a better EQ match than the CR. I wouldn't say the Cool Rails is based on the Jazz, but it's in similar territory .I recall the Jazz being a little brighter than the CR, but it's been 15+ years since I had them back-to-back in the same guitar. CRn can get plenty warm in the neck of a strat. It fits the "smooth and balanced" that you stated you were looking for in a neck pickup. I've not heard the SDS-1 so I can't make the direct comparison.
                            Duncan Pickups in currently in use: '59 (rewound to PATB-3)/'59, Custom/AP2H, Tapped QP set for Tele, Crazy 8/Cool Rails, Screamin' Demon/Stra-Bro 90, Custom 5/Phat Cat, SP90-1/SP90-2, SMB-5D

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                            • #15
                              I was going to drop a BW in my Schecter but I think I’m sold on the Naz. The big mahogany body ought to stop it from being too harsh.
                              The opinions expressed above do not necessarily represent those of the poster and are to be considered suspect at best.

                              Lead guitarist and vocalist of...



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