Taming the Tone Zone

The mighty Tone Zone

The DiMarzio Tone Zone is a polarising pickup, people either love it or hate it. The issue some people have with the Tone Zone is that the low-end can be quite muddy and overbearing in some guitars.

One way to try and resolve this is to lower the height of the pickup, and to raise the pole-pieces under the low E, A and D strings. This is what I did on my RFR RG 550.

I still found the low-end a little overbearing though, and I was using an overdrive to boost the mids and highs, and drop the bass a little.

I had been considering performing the ‘half-air’ modification to my Tone Zone, as per my DIY article but hadn’t yet got around to trying it with the Tone Zone.

Filtering out low-end through a capacitor.

This week I found a blog post on the Seymour Duncan website about lowering the bass on neck pickups. I figured that this modification may work nicely on the Tone Zone, even though it’s a bridge pickup.

As the article suggests installing a 0.047uf capacitor between the ‘hot’ wire on the pickup (red wire with DiMarzios) and the pickup selector filters out some of the bass of a pickup. I used a spare MKT capacitor, but any film or ceramic non-polarised capacitor should be fine.

The resulting tone was exactly what I hoped for. The tone was still that distinct Tone Zone chunk and grind, but with less overbearing low end. I think I might still play around with a few more capacitor values to see what results I get though.

If you love the Tone Zone, but find that it’s too muddy at times then this is definitely a simple modification for you to try out. If you have basic soldering skills then bust out the iron and get cracking.

I have recorded audio samples of these modifications. You can find them in my second part Taming the Tone Zone – continued.

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