Help! Need new guitar (not JPM) for Dream Theater songs - Jemsite
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-05-2002, 02:51 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 140
Help! Need new guitar (not JPM) for Dream Theater songs

Hey guys,

I need some recommendations on a new guitar. I play mostly progressive metal and things of the shredder vein. My utlimate tone quest is the clean and dirty stuff that Petrucci got in the studio for "Images and Words". I have a Mesa Boogie TriAxis, ADA MP-1, Digitech GSP-2101, Line 6 POD 2.0 and unpurchased power amp and cabs. Here are my current guitars:

1990 Ibanez S540LTD (HSH) - stock IBZ/USA pickups (F2, C2, F1)

1991 Fender HM Strat (HSH) (Made In Japan) - DiMarzio Tone Zone (bridge), HS-3 (middle), PAF PRo (neck)

???? Strat Copy (SSH) tuned down to 'B' ala 7 seven string - DiMarzio Megadrive (bridge), POS Stock Single Coil (middle), Fast Track-2 (neck)

I currently have an ASSLOAD of new DiMarzio pickups that I bought to re-fit into the first two guitars, and one, as yet, unpurchased NEW guitar.
The pickups I have to decide what goes WHERE are:

Tone Zone
PAF PRo
Steve's Special
Humbucker From hell
Air Norton
Megadrive
Al DiMeola Neck
Super III

Here's my guitar wish-list, as it were:

24 Frets
H-H or H-S-H Pickup configuration
Wizard Neck (not Wizard II and not the JPM thing (Viper?))
Must be Made in Japan or USA

I am pretty dead set on an Ibanez... the EB/MM Petrucci models make me want to wretch both from a looks and a feel aspect.

The USRG series appears to be a good candidate at first glance, although reading through this forum lately, it appears that going with the Tone Zone and Humbucker From Hell combo in a USRG30 might not be that great. I have heard that the TZ gets kinda muddy in these guitars... TRUE? FALSE?

Anyone have any suggestions or thoughts on getting an early Petrucci tone out of a particular guitar? Anyone using an RG770 with any of these pickups with good results?

Thanks for any help you can throw my way,
Jeff
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-05-2002, 03:55 PM
 
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RGT3120....
Can't go wrong with that one (and please pick the purple one ).

just my EUR 0.02

Greetz,

Jay
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-05-2002, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Cal
RGT3120....
Can't go wrong with that one (and please pick the purple one ).

just my EUR 0.02

Greetz,

Jay
Jay,

I haven't played one of these, but I may try to find one at my local shop. My concern is over the neck, which appears to be the same (or similar) to the JPM model. I am STRICTLY a lover of the Wizard neck. I HATE the JPM Viper(?) neck... too fat and round for me. How does this neck relate to the Wizard? Also, did you keep the stock pickups or replace those PAF Pro's with something else?

Thanks,
Jeff
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-05-2002, 04:34 PM
 
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Jeff-
The RGT3120 has what's called the Ultra neck...indeed a bit fatter than a Wizard. If you like flamed maple and mahogany, try the RG3120...standard skinny Wizard.

The USRG came stock with Tone Zone/PAF Pro. Mine came with a Steve's Special in the bridge (must have been swapped by previous owner). From my expeience and impressions, I don't think the TZ would be muddy in this guitar, which tends to be a little on the brighter side and had excellent note clarity.

BTW, the USRG is great guitar. The tension-free neck is the most rock solid feeling neck I've found...which you may or may not like.

As far as JPM tone, you probably already realize that Air Norton/Steve's Special is a good place to start for pups. Then you might consider a basswood body, like an RG570, etc.
Greg
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-05-2002, 04:46 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gkelm
Jeff-
The RGT3120 has what's called the Ultra neck...indeed a bit fatter than a Wizard. If you like flamed maple and mahogany, try the RG3120...standard skinny Wizard.

The USRG came stock with Tone Zone/PAF Pro. Mine came with a Steve's Special in the bridge (must have been swapped by previous owner). From my expeience and impressions, I don't think the TZ would be muddy in this guitar, which tends to be a little on the brighter side and had excellent note clarity.

BTW, the USRG is great guitar. The tension-free neck is the most rock solid feeling neck I've found...which you may or may not like.

As far as JPM tone, you probably already realize that Air Norton/Steve's Special is a good place to start for pups. Then you might consider a basswood body, like an RG570, etc.
Greg
Greg,
Thanks for the incite. So in terms of YOUR overall opinon, you dig the 3120 MORE than the USRG? Have you played a 3120? Thoughts on it compared to the USRG30?

How do you like the SS in your USRG30? I have a SS and an AN that need a home right now. Actually, I have a crapload of pickups that I am trying to find a home for including a Megadrive, Tone Zone, PAF Pro, Al DiMeola Neck, Humbucker From Hell and the SS and Air Norton. Any thoughts on these in a USRG30?

Thanks again,
Jeff

PS - I know that the AN/SS combo is good for Petrucci's post-I&W tone, but he used the TZ and HFH on "Images and Words". Any idea about those two in either the USRG30 or 3120?
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-05-2002, 04:52 PM
 
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Location: Cincinnati, OH USA
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Try the RG3120 (non neck-thru)... it's got a mahogany body w/ a maple top, wizard neck, PAF Pro/Tone Zone. My favorite guitar, based on feel & look & sound, is either the JPM or RG3120... I can't really decide. I think that the RG3120 has a somewhat JPM-ish sound--just a little more muddy, but tonally similar. I'm sure it could be cleaned up with different pickups (maybe an Air Norton in the neck and Super 3 in the bridge).

The USRG, although nice, has the ultra neck on it, and also (I personally believe) sounds much muddier than the RG3120.

Good luck!
--Brent
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-05-2002, 08:49 PM
 
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I, at one point, had the usrg30, jpm, and rg3120 side by side. I would say that the RG3120 is what you are looking for.
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-05-2002, 08:58 PM
 
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Jeff- Personally, so far at least (only had the USRG for a couple weeks), I prefer the USRG30...feel, tone, etc. Maybe it's the alder body that has a distinctive tone, and/or possibly that rod of steel in the neck.

I've had three RG3120s and ended up selling them since i prefered the tone and feel of my other RGs...I never changed pups on the 3120s, so that is something to consider. Brent loves 'em, and he's had plenty of Ibanez guitars, so it really is personal preference. They're a great value and I certainly recommend giving them one chance.

I noticed in the specs on the USRG...

http://jemsite.com/usa/index.htm#usrg

...that it says "Wizard" but gives measurements more like an Ultra. Not sure what's up here (no, confusion with Ibanez neck specs?!? The 3 USRGs I've played feel more like Wizards (not chuncky at all like my RGT, TX Prestiges, etc), but I may be out in left field.

If you don't want a figured maple top, just get a used RG570/550 with a Wizard & basswood (like the JPM) for around $300 and experiment with your pups. If you like pretty woods, try a 3120 or USRG. You could always contact one of the Jemsite sponsors that makes bodies and have a custom body made with a JPM layout. Endless possibilities.

As far as pups, I have not had the time to do much swapping. I like the SS in the USRG...lots of bark and bite, but I think I'd like the TZ better (again, personal pref)...I generally graviate to warmer, thicker bucker tones. Maybe I'll change it out this weekend. I'll be interested to hear your comments once you've had a chance to some experimentation with that pile of pups!

Enjoy the journey.
Greg
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-05-2002, 09:50 PM
 
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woods

well guys think of the woods, too.

usrg-alder w/ maple cap
jpm100-basswood
rg3120-mahogany w/ maple cap

these are gonna affect the tone immensely...especially with direct mounted dimarzios. i personally love mahogany...my old rbm1 sold me on that, as did my sc420. i am not a big fan of basswood at all, good wood, but to my ears...just good. alder to me will always be associated with strat wood. excellent wood, good upper midrange bite and solid bottom, but i like a bold bottom end and a darker tone. the alder will brighten up, not as much as say ash, but brighter than mahogany without a doubt. the tone zone is going to sound great in all the body woods, but i feel it will be maximized in the RG3120 over the alder. i have a tone zone in my sc420(mah.) and my rt650(alder). as both sound very similar, the sc420 has more meat and is way more agressive. the rt650 seems to be working to hard to get a more agressive tone. don't get me wrong, it sounds wonderful, but not nearly as good as the sc420.

as far as necks go, aren't the ultra, jpm, and rbm neck shapes the same identical neck. i mean the specs are identical. the viper is the one that is "different" and only because it has a different radius. the RG3120 neck is different from the standard wizard neck. its the prestige wizard neck. just slightly fatter than the regular production wizards because of the hand finishing right? i mean, they play like butter, but the rg3120 neck is slighty fatter than my old early 90s rg550.


rich
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-06-2002, 09:14 AM
 
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I'd have to jump on the 3120 bandwagon here, the non-neck thru version. Those play like a greased hog. If you dig on the wizard neck, you're gonna love it.

THe mahogany is going to give it more of a midrangey tone, and it's going to weigh more, but each guitar will be a little different. WIth the pickups that come stock, TZ and PAF, it screams...squealies til the cows come home. I love mahogany and maple guitars, but even if you didn't like the body, you could use the neck and hardware and have eddie make you a basswood body for it. The neck is worth the price of admission anyway. You would have no problem selling that body that's for sure.
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-07-2002, 03:51 PM
 
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Im not sure if anyone has mentioned it yet, but maybe you want an RGT3120?

i think they are THE SINGLE BEST deal ibanez has to offer.
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-07-2002, 07:27 PM
 
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I will second Greg on the 3120 or an rg 30. If nothing else put a Steve's Special in the bridge position. A Steve's special is about as close as you're going to get being that THAT is the pup that JP used.
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-12-2002, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Houston, TX
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Played an RG3120 over the weekend... not impressed

Hey guys,

Well I went out and played a non-neck thru RG3120 over the weekend at my local Guitar Center. It was a Twilight Blue one. I really liked the looks of the flamed maple, but I don't really care for the off-white edges or whatever. Also, whoever said that this is a Wizard neck is on crack. I have a 1990 S540LTD... THAT is a Wizard neck. This sucker was WIDE. It was not fast at all. I had a tough time just fretting some minor 7th chords on it. Yuck. What gives??? I checked the Ibanez website and it too says that it uses a Wizard neck??? This isn't any Wizard.

Anyway, I was playing this sucker through a Line 6 Spyder... I dialed in a decent enough tone on the INSANE setting. I thought the tone was really dark... perhaps it's the combination of the overly dark Tone Zone with the Mahogany... not sure. Needless to say I wasn't very impressed. Squealies were practically impossible... or when they DID come through... they were pretty understated.

The PAF Pro in the neck was ok, but I prefer something a little less warm. Overall the guitar had an oppressively dark character. NOT something you could bust out "Under a Glass Moon" or "Pull Me Under" on and sound even remotely similar. My understanding is that the RGT version of this guitar has a thicker neck on it. And I think the neck-thru is supposed to make the sound even warmer??? Dear God, no thank you. If it got any warmer you may as well put a blanket over your speaker cab.

What gives? Did I just get a dud? Is the Spyder just not something I want to be using to evaluate this guitar? I mean, I have a Line 6 POD 2.0 for recording... but I plan on using my TriAxis, ADA MP-1, Marshall JMP1 and Digitech GSP-2101 Artist as well. Can anybody clue me in?

Thanks for the opinions so far,
Jeff
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-12-2002, 01:47 PM
 
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I actually like the neck on the 3120- reminds me of my DBK's neck. The USRG30 has a thinner (width of fretboard) neck, so that may do well for you. To me, it feels like it has a similar fretboard width compared to my Parker NiteFly.
Also, regarding the tone, I find that my USRG30 sounds crystalline and transparent (esp. in the notch settings). Very Petrucci-clean-Images and Words. The guitar has such a snap and twang, but with a round / fullness, without being dark or muddy (a la 3120). Granted, I like dark and muddy- it's a nice warm and fuzzy sound; but sometimes you want that clear, sharp, full and well-defined sound. I think my USRG30 pulls that off really REALLY well.

Remember, it all depends on your rig, too. I'm running through a Fender DeVille 2x12, and my DBK sounds big, warm, and fat. Lots o' midrange and sustains well. Through a friend's JC-120, it sounds a LOT thinner and more strat-like.

-Ben
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-12-2002, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeastofLove
I actually like the neck on the 3120- reminds me of my DBK's neck. The USRG30 has a thinner (width of fretboard) neck, so that may do well for you. To me, it feels like it has a similar fretboard width compared to my Parker NiteFly.
Also, regarding the tone, I find that my USRG30 sounds crystalline and transparent (esp. in the notch settings). Very Petrucci-clean-Images and Words. The guitar has such a snap and twang, but with a round / fullness, without being dark or muddy (a la 3120). Granted, I like dark and muddy- it's a nice warm and fuzzy sound; but sometimes you want that clear, sharp, full and well-defined sound. I think my USRG30 pulls that off really REALLY well.

Remember, it all depends on your rig, too. I'm running through a Fender DeVille 2x12, and my DBK sounds big, warm, and fat. Lots o' midrange and sustains well. Through a friend's JC-120, it sounds a LOT thinner and more strat-like.

-Ben
Thanks, Ben

The more I hear about the USRG series, the more it seems that I will like that sucker better. As for my rig, other than the preamps I talked about in my other post, I haven't decided on which power amp and cab to go with. Any suggestions? I will be recording both direct and mic'ed cab to Hard Disk through my M-Audio Omni Studio in my house... so the power amp most likely will NEVER ever go past "2'... or possible even "1" unless I want to get a divorce.

Do you have any frame of reference to compare your USRG30's "wizard" neck to that of an early 90's model with a "wizard" neck? I mean, I LOVE the neck on my 1990 S540. THAT is the neck for me. The 3120 just felt too darn wide comparatively speaking. And the warmth just wasn't my cup of tea.

Thanks, dude,
Jeff
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