I have been lurking on here for a few years and have gotten some amazing information on Jerry's tone over the years, among other great Dead-related info. I live in Deadland after moving from NY four years ago and have been playing for about 35 years. Playing the Dead and Garcia is only a sub-set of what I play, but a really important one. I see a lot of great bands at Sweetwater and at Phil's place Terrapin Crossroads as both are only 10 minutes away from where I live. I think Stu Allen is the greatest Jerry player around and have seen him a ton of times....but I digress.
After mainly playing an '85 Strat with Rio Grande Tall Boys and a Wald TCP-1 Preamp-Buffer, I have been looking to attempt my first build/modification that specifically is trying to achieve the Jerry sound. For the most part, I am focusing on the Tiger tone. I have built from various parts and modified a few guitars over the years...mainly Fender Teles and am no craftsman, but I can handle the basic electronics, painting and finishing reasonably well enough.
To this end, I got a pretty ideal inexpensive guitar recently, which was inspired by the guy who runs Shakedown Amps. I saw some youtubes of his Cort guitar with a Dimarzio Super Distortion II added to the middle spot on the same guitar. And setting aside the great tone of the amps he was using (I/we can revisit the Amp/speaker/cabs, etc very important questions later), it seemed to me to be a great choice. The guitar was only $200 and is linked here https://reverb.com/item/1053767-cort-m-520-double-cut-brn-sunburst
To start, I just made some slight headstock mods (sanded off the cheap "Cort" label...plan to put something Jerry/Dead/Personal related instead), but more importantly, I ordered a SD II (DP104) for the Bridge and an SDS 1 (DP 111) for the neck. I put these PuPs in today. Though I am still waiting on the mailman for the new push/pull pot for the coil splitting for the humbucker in the bridge, as it is currently wired (very basic), I am very disappointed with how it sounds so far. Not to get too crazy, as I just put the thing together, have not added any buffer or preamp (will gladly do as I get closer, I can move the Wald TCP-1 from my strat anytime to start), do not plan to want/need OBEL, but I would love to get some opinions on:1. The pups are (not surprisingly perhaps) very unbalanced volume-wise. The SD II is really loud and the middle (both) position and the SDS1 alone (neck) are much lower volume). I am wondering how much of that can be addressed or if this is typical of this kind of config (I don't have that problem in my Tele that has a HB in the neck...they are well balanced, but were designed to be together by the guy at Dawg Town pickups who made them to get the Keith Richards Macawber sound on my main Tele).
2. I know enough to know that a really common clean, Tiger/Jerry sound I want first and foremost, involves coil-splitting and I have not even tried that yet (as I said above, waiting for push/pull pot to arrive). So my issue/question #2 is, how much will that make a difference on chasing the tone I want ? Obviously it can vary based on whether the split SD II is blended with the SDS 1 on the middle-position or on it's own.
3. And perhaps the biggest question I have at this point is: Am I re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic without routing and adding a second SD II in the middle position ? I was hoping to avoid doing that, but it's not a huge expense either way. I just didn't want to go completely crazy if I didn't have to.
Just to try and do a better job articulating my goal(s), I am really looking for the classic Jerry Tiger sound and not trying to reach the holy grail, but get very close. I know we can all argue/discuss what is needed to get the last 10% or whatever, but I don't want to necessarily get into technique/hands/strings/picks, etc. I have gotten close enough to know that on my Strat, using my Fender HR Deville 4x10 (or sometimes the Twin Modeling on my Super Champ X2 Head w/Mesa Black Shadow Cab), along with the pedals I currently have, that I am getting pretty close and can live with it not reaching the level that many here are trying to achieve. I will likely look to upgrade my amp part of the equation down the road, but I just bought a sick Vox AC15 for my main amp and it might be a while before I can do anything about the amp.
Thanks to anyone making the effort to read and especially if you can respond with some guidance. You folks are fantastic !