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Thread: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

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    Default Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    Just a quick review (as I myself did not find much in terms of information comparing these 2 pickups specifically).

    A while ago I got myself a used MIK Tokai (LP Custom style). Very nice playing and looking guitar, pickups were not too bad, but not suited to what I'm playing.
    Put a Dimarzio Super Distortion that I had lying around in the bridge position and it was a nice uprade at first.
    Became a big fan of the SD overall: Huge, fat, rough tone with nice low end but enough cut. Did not replace the neck HB to match the SD though to get a more long-term impression of the SD.

    Now I had the chance to pick up a used Duncan Alternative 8 with gold cover (the SD was open black) for a good price, so I just went for it for mostly shallow/superficial reasons and because I've been intrigued by the pickup for a long time.
    The previous owner warned me that it's a very loud and "present" pickup, which did not exactly match what I found about it online ... or my experience after putting it in my guitar in the end.
    So I swapped the SD for the Alt8 now and I'm pretty happy. The mids are filled out more nicely (SD sounded kind of dark/almost scoopy in comparison), the highs are not as sharp, it's less rough/hairy sounding. A bit less "open" sounding and maybe not as good for heavier classic rock tones compared to the SD, but from 80's metal (something in the midrange makes me think 80's) and beyond the Alt8 does higher gain tones very well. And in the end downtuned (D-Standard and Drop C) high gain tones is what I'm going for.
    Overall more refined, maybe more "modern", a bit tighter, smoother. I like its lead tone more and it fits the stock neck pickup pretty well (I guess it would pair well with most low-to-medium-output PAF-ish pickups).
    The SD has its qualities and character, but looking back I'm more happy with the Alt8 in this guitar. It seems more appropriate for the lack of a better description, especially since I liked the neck pickup pretty well. Switching from bridge to neck PU does not sound like switching to a different instrument anymore.

    The SD will go into an LTD EX together with a Super 2, let's see how that goes.

    Summing up:

    • Great pickup for a warm/dark sounding guitar
    • Recommended for anything from 80's metal tones up to modern high gain and everything inbetween
    • Big, tight low end, present midrange, smooth highs, very articulate
    • Good clarity for a high gain pickup, not overly compressed
    • Great allrounder for both rythm and lead playing
    • Works well paired with a PAF-type neck pickup (from my limited experience so far)
    • Not the most aggressive, in-your-face sounding pickup, but still very loud and powerful
    • Good clarity for a high gain pickup, not overly compressed
    • Great allrounder for both rythm and lead playing
    • Works well paired with a PAF-type neck pickup (from my limited experience so far)


    If you are in the market for a high-gain pickup in a mahagony guitar that doesn't sound too aggressive and hairy, doesn't have too sharp attack as some (ceramic) metal pickups tend to have, doesn't sound dark, has a big but tight low end, mids to cut through the mix but without any honkyness, works well for both lead-tones and rythm chugging, the Alternative 8 is most likely a good bet.

  2. #2
    Bacteriaolgoist GuitarDoc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    Good review, great pup.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

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    Mojo's Minions Masta' C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    Thank you for the review and comparison!

    Agreed, the Alt8 is a great pickup. Arguably the best "Alnico 8" pickup out there

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    Default Re: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    I think the Alternative 8 is a fantastic all-around pickup for metal. Used it for all rhythm and lead guitars on this track:


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    Default Re: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    Quote Originally Posted by hioctane View Post
    I think the Alternative 8 is a fantastic all-around pickup for metal. Used it for all rhythm and lead guitars on this track:


    That's quite a good representation of the pickup. You really hear that its powerful and tight, but still smooth without sounding dark. Cool song btw!

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    Default Re: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    Quote Originally Posted by JesusCrisp View Post
    That's quite a good representation of the pickup. You really hear that its powerful and tight, but still smooth without sounding dark. Cool song btw!
    Great summary of the Alternative 8 in this kind of musical application. In simple terms, I think of it as a refined version of the Distortion (which has been a mainstay for me for years - great pickup).

    It has a similar eq curve, but tames some of the frequencies that can be perceived as a bit harsher by some and provides a very pleasing and useful tone.

    Many thanks, glad you like the song.

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    Default Re: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    I have to agree with all things said here. There are some characteristics of the Alt8 that remind me of the JB, mostly the midrange, but it doesnt have that upper-mid spike that we all dont like about the JB. I have an Alt8 in an Edwards John Sykes (LP Custom copy) and its perfect for that guitar. I have a APH1 in the neck and it actually melds well with it. I previously had an 80s Tim Shaw Dirty Fingers (As a true John Sykes clone), which was massive, loud but lacked precision and articulation. The Alt8 is almost as hot but has more character and articulation.
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    PenultimateTone Member Demanic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    I like the upper mid Spike in the JB.

    Sent from my Alcatel_5044C using Tapatalk

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    Default Re: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    Agreed! I like the fact that the Alternative 8 has the drive but retains good articulation and clarity.

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    PenultimateTone Member Demanic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    Just to add, I'm also a fan of the Alt8.

    Sent from my Alcatel_5044C using Tapatalk

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    Default Re: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    I love the Alternative 8! Especially with a Jazz neck. But I'm on to a new quest. What single cool to pair with it?

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    Default Re: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    Quote Originally Posted by Crusher2202 View Post
    I love the Alternative 8! Especially with a Jazz neck. But I'm on to a new quest. What single cool to pair with it?
    I'd say the Stra-Bro 90!
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    Ultimate Tone Member Nagisa's Avatar
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    Default Re: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    Questions for you Alt8 enthusiasts:

    1) Is there any "clanginess" or stiffness to it? Tried A8 in a 498t and Custom and it sounded harsh.
    2) How is it for single note wheedly deedly shreddy soloing?

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    Default Re: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    In the pups I've used it in I had no harshness, stiffness, or clanginess.
    Good note separation.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

  15. #15
    Mojo's Minions Ascension's Avatar
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    Default Re: Got myself an Alternative 8 (aka Alternative 8 vs Dimarzio Super Distortion)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nagisa View Post
    Questions for you Alt8 enthusiasts:

    1) Is there any "clanginess" or stiffness to it? Tried A8 in a 498t and Custom and it sounded harsh.
    2) How is it for single note wheedly deedly shreddy soloing?
    One thing with the Alt 8 is finding that sweet spot in distance to the strings. Has been consistent wit every Alnico 8 pickup I have used that this is a factor. Reason is the strong pull of the A8 mag and how it effects the strings. To close and it's dead sustain wise and has weird over tones to far thin and harsh but ht that sweet spot and they are magic. One of my all time favorite pickups that I find quite versatile in partular with teh volume rolled back and split in how responsive it is. The Alt 8 has a much different feel from a Crazy 8 or Custom 8 warmer and bigger.Its sort of like a JB with an A2 mag on a big dose of steroids.
    This is a Alt 8 in my 1993 all KOA Carvin DC 127 hard tail. Love how expressive and harmonically explosive it is!
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