Mr. Foxen wrote:
I still want to know what the paperclip trick is, guess its feeling out where pickups get grabby.
So it would appear.http://youtu.be/ure4RqWP2EA
Dunno, judging from that video the pup is backed way out of the meat range. I wholly endorse messing with pick up height, but it's best done by ear and not some metric. I've basically nudged mine into the strings to the point at which the sustain started to drop and backed them off from there (kind of the opposite from the paper clip). With enough amp any "damping" the magnetic field from the pup does not snub sustain.
I guess I should mention I do play a strat, with single coil passives (you can all stop laughing now), so losing some HF harmonics is the last of my worries.
So I guess my question is if a more powerful pickup would remedy this, or if I should look into either modifying the amplifiers I have or even looking into a different one altogether.
Have you tried swapping tubes? I take it you've messed with the DIP switches on the VTM and it didn't get you there.
My initial reaction was more boost on the front end, but I re-read that you're trying to pare back on pedals, so... might not be helpful.