Basically it's self explanatory... but not really. Okay, so I have a really thick bodied Epi Les Paul Custom that weighs a ton. I swapped the bridge for a Pearly Gates and stuck an APH-1 in the neck. Was I going for a Billy Gibbons tone in the bridge and a Sweet Child tone in the neck. Yes. Did it work. NO! Haha, of course not, but hey that's fine my guitar still sounds better than most other guys in town anyway so whatever...
One thing I've never liked about the PG is that my pinch harmonics die out too soon. They don't sustain. They ping, and weee, and squeal for like a second, and then it's just string noise rubbing against the fretboard. I thought to myself, okay, maybe I'm not hitting the right spot (that's what she said) and should practice more. I'm a Randy Rhoads kid. I picked up on Zakk Wylde's and EVH's (and Billy G's) tendency to really wrangle and wiggle harmonics out like a sonic seesaw - the notes bounce up and down like a ball whenever they hit those squeals. Guys like that, and guys like Dimebag Darrell could hit one and make it vibrato from here till sunday. Of course those guys played through heavily overdriven, cranked stacks of plexis JCM 800s and walls of thick distortion. Now, I know that the level of distortion plays a big role in the lasting effect of a pinch harmonic, and while I'm not a "gain on 10 + treble on 11 = good sound", which usually isn't the case, I do use a fair amount of distortion. I try to sit between an early EVH meets GNR 80s sort of distortion. Midrangy, jangly, still warm, if I can be. I play through a Marshall JCM 2000 DSL 50, and before anybody goes on hating on that amp, mine isn't too bad, actually. I play smaller gigs in a smaller town and have decided that until I get famous and filthy stinking rich and can afford hot-rodded plexis and Silver Jubilees and huge stacks of 150watt Mesas like my favorite bands The Darkness, I'll settle for my lower watt monster. She's the Wicked Witch of the West anyway (I have a little witch on my decal to separate me from the other wannabees in town).
Yes, but how do you run your amp?
If you're familiar with the JCM 2000, it has two channels. Clean and Ultra. Clean has a little switch option to boost it to Crunch. Not too much gain as the Ultra, but I've never liked my Ultra Channel anyway, or rather because of this problem. I run my mids way the hell up because this amp is a fairly sterile, tinny, ice picky beeotch. My treble usually sits on 3 or 4. It never goes past noon. Bass knob stays pretty high and since I play it through a 2x12 open back with whichever 75w Celestions are the opposite of Vintage 30s, (I think they are G12T 75's) I'm prone to using the JCM 2000's "Deep Switch" which really throws some bottom end on the mix (I have to back the bass off as this will muddy the hell out of my sound). Presence knob? Nope. I barely use it. The amp set up this way already is almost a trebley ice pick in your ear.
Since I do not use the red channel I have found ways to make my clean channel pretty entertaining and raunchy. I read somewhere that Gary Moore used DSLs' clean (green) channels and hit them with overdrive pedals. I found that to get me the best sounding distortion out of the amp. And since Gary Moore is basically like the best guitar player ever I figured, hey if it worked for him, maybe it work for me. While it's certainly not, plug into a JCM 800 and automatically have instant gratification, and while it does involve tap dancing and volume knob persuasion to get the clean sound vs the heavy sound when my band plays/changes songs, it seems to work for my broke ass.
So what does it do when it doesn't do what it's supposed to already be doing that isn't being done right???
Okay, so I plug in my one Les Paul with the SeyDunc hot rodded humbucker set. The JB wails. Pinch harmonics are as angry as Zakk Wylde's. I have another Les Paul with a matched '59 set in which I absolutely love to death. That guitar sounds great, it sounds so good. And whenever I hit harmonics on it, it sings really great. This particular guitar I've let another friend of mine borrow for his 80s band gig, and he uses a really hot JCM 800 Lead series from 1987. When he's played it, it's wicked harmonics have rivaled his JB Les Paul and his other Custom loaded with EMGs.
It's the PG guitar that has the issue. It's the one that contains the pickup that you buy specifically so you can do crazy pinch harmonics. Whenever I hit a note, it sustains greatly. Whenever I hit that same note on a pinch harmonic spot, it weee's for a second and then nothing. As a matter of fact, when I'm playing in 5th position A major and hit my G string harmonics like Randy does in "I Don't Know" my note dies. I thought, maybe it's because my guitar is tuned in standard (my other two are a half step down and dont have this issue.) I notice that many times when I do this particular trick the guitar actually translates my note into immediate "controlled feedback." You guys know about that right? You touch a note and it makes some sweet feedback come atcha at the drop of a dime? Yeah that's great... except when I just want a frickin long lasting harmonic.
This is the process, if I can't spell it out any clearer.
I hit the harmonic. The harmonic sings for a second. The harmonic dies quickly. Short teeny pause of silence followed by a growing bit of feedback I that can have its pitch controlled by how I move the strings.
So did I get a crappy PG pickup? Where do I assess this problem? My dad's was a luthier at Guitarcenter once and even he is dumbfounded as to why this guitar basically shuts down my pinch harmonics.
Ya failed me, Billy G!! lol