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Thread: PRS Dragon II vs. Duncan 59/JB vs ??? for CE-22

  1. #1
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    PRS Dragon II vs. Duncan 59/JB vs ??? for CE-22

    I recently scored a PRS CE-22 that the owner changed out the Dragon II pickups to a Seymour Duncan 59/JB set. He also changed the 5-way rotary switch to a 3-way toggle and wired it without any coil splitting options.

    As part of my deal in buying the guitar, the seller included the stock 5-way rotary switch and the Dragon II pickups.

    I've only had the CE-22 briefly and while I'm happy with the way it sounds, I'm curious as to whether I'd like the Dragon II's more or less. I should mention that I usually play with gain (modern rock to 80's hair metal levels).

    I know I could just try it, but the problem is that while I've changed out a pickup in the past, it was drastically more simple than the full 5-way setup that I would need to do in order to restore the CE-22 to stock. With time being at a premium these days, I thought I'd ask for some opinions first!

    So long story short, who has had the chance to compare Dragon II's with a Duncan 59/JB set in a CE-22 or any other guitar?

    Also thinking of trying out a Rio Grande BBQ or something else instead of the JB in the bridge, partly because I already have a JB in my Edwards Les Paul and partly because the bridge is double-black and the neck zebra (shallow I know )

    Has anyone tried these in a CE-22? Are there any other pickups that work particularly well in a CE-22 or that anyone can recommend?

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    My Y2K Standard 22 came with the Dragon 2 pickups. They were OK, but the Duncans I installed were much more clear and detailed ('59 neck and a Custom C5 Bridge). I've also removed the coil tapping option on my PRSs - when I want single coil tones I grab my Strat or Tele.
    Something else to consider - the toggle switch that replaced the 5-way has a larger diameter shaft, so the hole would have been reemed out a little larger than stock. Returning the guitar to stock would require filling the space around the shaft of the 5-way with a bushing of some sort.
    Last edited by Taller; 07-18-2012 at 02:20 PM.

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    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    I just bought a used pair of DII's to put in my SE "O" last month, and while they don't get a lot of love most places, I am extremely happy with split coil tone from the neck pickup.

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    Junior Member aPeRSon's Avatar
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    When I first got my Cu22, I was immediately struck by how dull the D2's sounded, but I do prefer a bright tone. I did think about taking the covers off them, but I also wanted zebra coils (I'm shallow too), so I ended up buying and fitting a Jazz / JB pair. I have the rotary 5-way, so I had to flip one of the magnets, but following the advice of a few Jim Collins posts, it all went fine and I'm more than happy with the tone now. One man's "dull" is another man's "warm", so why not swap back to the D2's the next time you do a string change and see what you prefer?
    '06 Custom 22
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  5. #5
    Bridge constructor MykeWright's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taller View Post
    My Y2K Standard 22 came with the Dragon 2 pickups. They were OK, but the Duncans I installed were much more clear and detailed ('59 neck and a Custom C5 Bridge). I've also removed the coil tapping option on my PRSs - when I want single coil tones I grab my Strat or Tele.
    Something else to consider - the toggle switch that replaced the 5-way has a larger diameter shaft, so the hole would have been reemed out a little larger than stock. Returning the guitar to stock would require filling the space around the shaft of the 5-way with a bushing of some sort.
    There will usually be a large washer on the top side of the pot which should easily cover the slightly enlarged hole. If there enough room it should be easy to add a similar washer to the other side of the hole - between the body of the pot and top of the guitar.
    2Tek'd to the MAX

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    Quote Originally Posted by MykeWright View Post
    There will usually be a large washer on the top side of the pot which should easily cover the slightly enlarged hole. If there enough room it should be easy to add a similar washer to the other side of the hole - between the body of the pot and top of the guitar.
    Covering the hole isn't the issue. The fact that the hole is larger than the switch shaft will cause the nut securing the switch to continually come loose - especially with the twisting motion of the 5-way.

  7. #7
    Bridge constructor MykeWright's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taller View Post
    Covering the hole isn't the issue. The fact that the hole is larger than the switch shaft will cause the nut securing the switch to continually come loose - especially with the twisting motion of the 5-way.
    Good point - I hadn't considered that.
    2Tek'd to the MAX

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    I also know that DIIs don't get a lot of love, but I like 'em. Neck is in McCarty territory. I really like the single coils in series for blues. Articulate and full sounding.

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    Senior Member slev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ultramog View Post
    I also know that DIIs don't get a lot of love, but I like 'em.
    +1.

    Try them, throw them in there and if you don't like them without the coil tap then drop the Duncans back in there. If you're confident with a soldering gun it's a 20 minute job. If you like them then you can worry about changing the wiring to handle the coil tap. If I'm not mistaken you can keep the three way switch and then replace the tone pot with a PRS push-pull tone pot (McCarty style wiring) and you will not need to worry about the larger hole diameter on the switch.
    Gear: Fender, PRS, Orange, Budda

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    I actually honestly like the Dragon II's. If you have a push/pull pot (I believe you said you were splitting your duncans somehow) in addition to the 3 way, you can simply do "mccarty wiring" with them. PRS has good schematics on this in pdf format. I had the Jazz/JB, but always felt it didn't sound like a PRS to me. At least not the sound in my head. Yeah, there is a little more high end, but if you want that type of response and the PRS tonality, you're moving toward 59/09 pickups and a lot of dough. Maybe Paul an I have the same idea about tone in a lot of ways. I liked the original dragons as well, but there was way too much power to get a clean sound with my set up (Budda superdrive 30 II head/cab only loves a 19kohm pickup for heavy grind!). Anyway, getting off topic. It isn't really that different, you just run the single split wire to the same place that you run the two combined wires to with the duncan. NOTE, the wiring color scheme is totally different with PRS versus Duncan, so pay attention and use a schematic based on PRS color codes or you won't get everything sounding like you expect!
    Looking for any stupid, little thing to make my tone better... even if it's a placebo.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member gush's Avatar
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    My cu22 has dragon 2s and I really like those p-ups in that guitar. I feel like they are a slightly hotter version of Gibson 57 classics. Fits real wellwith classic rock tones. M2CW

  12. #12
    Senior Member Sage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gush View Post
    My cu22 has dragon 2s and I really like those p-ups in that guitar. I feel like they are a slightly hotter version of Gibson 57 classics. Fits real wellwith classic rock tones. M2CW
    Agreed, gush. My #1 is a Custom 24 with Dragon II pickups and I love the sound. The PRS store says:

    Not as “Vintage" sounding as a McCarty and not as “Modern” sounding as an HFS.
    and in my experience, that description is dead on.

  13. #13
    Member RichardJ's Avatar
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    Actually really like the D2s in my CE22. They do have a more modern edge to them but I am honestly not tempted to change either them or the 5-way rotary. The whole setup seems to sit very nicely between Strat and LP so just find myself picking up the CE and my Parker Nitefly these days.

  14. #14
    Opaque John Beef's Avatar
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    I liked my D2s just fine. I had no plans to change them, but on a whim one day I installed some DGTs I had picked up on the used market. There wasn't any going back. That said, I wouldn't hesitate to own another guitar with D2s in the future.
    The Bovine Fury <-- stream and download our album "Eleven by Twelve" for free.
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  15. #15
    Still Strummin! auriemma's Avatar
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    The D2s in my CE22 aren't going anywhere.
    Joe ... They say having a dark side will lead to no good... I certainly hope so!
    PRS: '11 MC58 Artist; '07 CE22 || Ovation: '06 Elite-T 1868T || Martin: '12 GPCPA4 RW || Epiphone: '12 ES-339 Pro || Bradley: '77 Les Paul Custom || Squier: '99 Precision Bass

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    Junior Member zorak's Avatar
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    I love the DII's in my CU22. Most guys I spoke with before I purchased all said that I would probably need to replace them. And guess what? I didn't. Sounded just fine with that guitar. I've got the 5-way and I can get a nice variety of tones. Nothing too hot, nothing too thin. Not mushy or muddy. Covers a lot of frequency range. I've never understood why peeps don't like that pup?....

  17. #17
    Senior Member Sage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zorak View Post
    I love the DII's in my CU22. Most guys I spoke with before I purchased all said that I would probably need to replace them. And guess what? I didn't. Sounded just fine with that guitar. I've got the 5-way and I can get a nice variety of tones. Nothing too hot, nothing too thin. Not mushy or muddy. Covers a lot of frequency range. I've never understood why peeps don't like that pup?....
    The mids are really hot and it doesn't have a lot of dynamic range. Great for classic rock and hard rock but not very versatile. Of course, since I play mostly classic and hard rock, it's my pickup of choice.

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