Pickup advice for J Custom - Jemsite
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 11:14 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 87
Pickup advice for J Custom

Hi everyone, I need some advice, insight, personal experience stories, etc. First off I have two "main" guitars I am using right now. The trusty Jem 7VWH and a 2013 J Custom (6 string). I have tried and tried and tried to like how the J Custom sounds, and though compared to most guitars it sounds really good, I can't help but feel that it sounds thin and weak compared to the Jem 7VWH.

I guess the J Custom has a great metal tone, but I'm not playing a whole lot of that these days, I'm more into rock, hard rock, and blues which the Jem 7VWH absolutely excels at. Now I know pickups and sounds can be subjective, but here is an example. I am playing a live set a couple weeks ago using the Jem as usual, for our last set I decide to bust out the J Custom just to get some live experience with it. I plug it in and the clean tone that sounded so rich and warm with the Jem sounds thin and crap with the J Custom, the difference wasnt subtle it was significant. That has been my experience with the guitar so far pretty much across the board. I don't think the fault lies in the guitar itself, its beautifully crafted and is practically a work of art. I think my problem is just the pickups. At first I thought they sounded good, but with every passing week I'm liking them less and less. It uses:

Dimarzio Air Norton in the Neck
Dimarzio True Velvet single coil middle
Dimarzio Tone Zone bridge

Now as we all know the Jem uses Evolution pickups. Here is my question. First for those of you that own J Customs, have you had similar problems with the pickups it came with? Secondly a part of me wants to just replace them with the same pickups that are in the Jem, but I'm afraid that will just lead to two guitars that sound almost identical which kind of defeats the purpose, I would rather they compliment each other as opposed to sound exactly alike. Any suggestions? Thanks so much for your time everyone, I respect everyone's opinion here very much!
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 12:15 PM
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 73
Re: Pickup advice for J Custom

Is it a mahogany J-Custom? If so, I also found Tone Zone/mahogany a bad match for rock/metal. But I wouldn't have called it 'thin' - quite the opposite - too flabby and muffled for me. I ended up swapping it out for a D-Sonic. I did a pickup test video comparing various J-customs with various pickups for metal rhythm - maybe that will help you narrow it down a little... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFcAXCVpoj0

Cheers
Dan
Dan_H is offline  
post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 01:13 PM
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: izmir
Posts: 407
Re: Pickup advice for J Custom

The new j.custom's use Air Classic bridge in the neck and paf 36.th on bridge, in theory it should work well as an alternative to your Jem.

http://www.ibanez.co.jp/japan/jcusto...G13BEM-OA.html
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 87
Re: Pickup advice for J Custom

Hi Dan_H thanks for the response. Yes it is a Mahogany body so it could be we experienced similar issues. Maybe thin isn't the right word for what I'm hearing, it definitely sounds less up front so muffled is a good word for it. I checked out your video thanks for that. I wonder if there is a similar video for clean tone comparisons?

Hi Mertay, wow the new J Customs are beautiful. That is an interesting choice for pickups I dont believe I have heard the air classic bridge pickup before, I'll have to see if I can find some sound samples.

Has anyone tried putting the evolution pickups in a J Custom? I'm wondering if the differences in woods in the guitars would create enough of a difference for the Jem and the J Custom to have distinct sounds even with the same pickups in them. I know that is a debate as old as time lol.
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 03:28 PM
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 797
Re: Pickup advice for J Custom

Ok....I've had a pile of different pickups in my J Custom RRG4 because like yourself. I actually had 3 J Customs at one point and I tried various pickups in them and got to a point where I was satisfied. I sold the other two as I wanted 4 somewhat distinctly different Ibby guitars. I now have a 2627ZE, RRG4, Jem FP2 (with Gravity Storms) and a JS2410.

On my J Custom I had tried the following pickups with description:
-Super 3 - holy mid heavy. I didn't realize it until I put it in there. Not a good match for the mahogany body/maple top.
-Crunch Lab/Liquifire - this pickup was crunchy. I've tried it on a few times in this guitar and I tried to like it but really, not happening. Did not like the Liquifire in the neck either.
-PAF Pro in the neck - not bad, not great.
-Evolution - this did work ok in that guitar but again, I found it to have a certain honk in the frequency that I didn't like. The neck pickup worked nicely, the bridge, not as much but still manageable with some deeper eq'ing on the amp. Plenty of heat in those pickups but I found them to get muddy or muffled with this wood setup.

what I settled on?

Dimarzio Transitions. Really, they are a beautiful balance of having enough beef to them for the heavier stuff but are really a great pickup with an all around great sound. I get great clarity with lead work, they clean up nicely and sound great when switched.

Since you are in the U.S., I believe with Dimarzio, you can try them and if you aren't happy, send them back for something else?

Mertay's suggestions are a good starting point as well. Those particular J Customs are a special model, though. I don't think that they will be offering those pickup sets on the J Customs that are for sale on this side of the pond. But then again....until the catalog comes out....

Best of luck with your choices! If you have any other questions...please ask!
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 03:51 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 87
Re: Pickup advice for J Custom

PBGas Thanks for the response much appreciated! I have not tried Dimarzio transitions I will definitely check those out. Sounds like you did like the Evolution in the neck position. I wonder what a neck and middle Evolution with a Transition in the bridge would sound like? Remember I'm not playing a whole lot of metal these days so I'm not too worried about mud from lots of gain, though I do use a good bit of gain when soloing over certain songs. Hmmmm.... Something to think about anyway... How would you compare the neck Evolution and the neck Transition when it comes to clean tone?
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 06:09 PM
 
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Location: Adelaide , Australia
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Re: Pickup advice for J Custom

Evos are designed for alder and i find the only other wood they work well for is basswood.

Same with crunch labs,designed for basswood.

I also think tone zones suck in mahogany too flubby and muddy,my go to replacement is an IBZ USA F2 if i want to retain the TZ tone with less bass and more gain.

For mahogany i would avoid all EVO's period.

If you like classic tone the the paf pro is fantastic in mahogany,i have a JC with a paf pro and its awesome at everything even brutal metal,but for me i am a lower gain p/up guy even for extreme metal. Paf pros are a great all round p/up for many applications.

I too am on a quest to find some p/ups for my other mahogany JC.....i am still undecided at which direction to go as there are so many p/ups out there....maybe Bareknuckles for me.

Moral of the story,search out only p/ups designed for mahogany......c/lab,liquid fire,evo's,paf joes...etc etc are NOT designed for mahogany.

Not to say they wont work for you,but they are not a match made in heaven.
corey j grieve is offline  
post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 06:33 PM
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Sao Paulo
Posts: 508
Re: Pickup advice for J Custom

J Customs demand ceramic pickups, man. My main guitars are a 2010 JC and a 7VWH which is pretty close to what you have.

Both are set up with an Evo 2 in the bridge and a Gravity Storm in the neck. Just to give you an idea, I don't even have the original Evolutions, Tone Zone and Air Norton anymore.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 07:12 PM
 
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Re: Pickup advice for J Custom

I think what's happening is that the TZ is getting lost in the mix because it doesn't have the high-mid response that the EVO's have.

Instead of looking at pickup names, maybe you should try looking at their response frequencies? In that train of thought, I think the D-activator bridge (DP220) is a great choice for you. At 470Mv it's hotter than the EVO bridge but still retains the highs and mids of the EVO rather well. It's also significantly hotter than a TZ (@375Mv). In this scenario I would use a Super 2 (DP104) in the neck to balance with the output of the DP220. The Super 2 is a bit treble heavy, but makes a GREAT soloing pickup in the neck position. It can cut through ANY bass/mid heavy mix.

I would also change out the middle pup to a Virtual Solo (DP420) for the added output it gives over the EVO single. It doesn't sound any better than the ISCV, but the extra output will help positions 2,3,and 4 sound more evenly balanced with 1 and 5.

Another thing you can do is switch to 1meg pots. They will help retain more of your high-end when you roll the volume or tone down at all (if you do use them?)
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 07:37 PM
 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
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Re: Pickup advice for J Custom

Quote:
Originally Posted by scalelokt View Post
PBGas Thanks for the response much appreciated! I have not tried Dimarzio transitions I will definitely check those out. Sounds like you did like the Evolution in the neck position. I wonder what a neck and middle Evolution with a Transition in the bridge would sound like? Remember I'm not playing a whole lot of metal these days so I'm not too worried about mud from lots of gain, though I do use a good bit of gain when soloing over certain songs. Hmmmm.... Something to think about anyway... How would you compare the neck Evolution and the neck Transition when it comes to clean tone?
The neck Evolution was fine with the J Custom but the Transition one is far better. I find that it is a very clear pickup, especially on the clean. It still has some decent output @ 258mV. The Evo neck on a Mahogany body almost has what I would describe as an artificial high end to it? Strange but that is what I was hearing.
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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-07-2014, 08:15 PM
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 73
Re: Pickup advice for J Custom

Since doing the video above, I picked up an RG8420ZD (mahogany) with an Evo2 bridge and an Evo neck. Haven't played with it much yet, but I can tell you it's by far the most trebly sounding guitar I've got. Pretty good for 80s rock in standard tuning. I'm heading a different direction than your playing - more modern crunchy metal with tight sounds - so maybe not the best to advise you. But the Evo2 has an 'interesting' mid hump while being overall hot and trebly - still sounds pretty 'Vai' when soloing. Jury's out on whether I'll keep it. The Evo neck is clear and glassy, despite being in mahogany, but a bit lacking in character for me - but bear in mind the Vai tone is not really what I'm going for.
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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 11:09 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 87
Re: Pickup advice for J Custom

Lots of great replies here thanks so much everyone! It sounds like Mahogany is a little temperamental with many of the pickups I've had in mind. I wish it were easy to just go to a guitar store and try all kinds of pickups until you find what you like, as it is there is a lot of guesswork involved in making a selection. Anyway you all have given me several different choices so at least I have it narrowed down. Thanks so much everyone, sincerely appreciate all of your input!
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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-08-2014, 06:09 PM
 
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Re: Pickup advice for J Custom

A few more findings but again they veer towards what works on distortion more than clean:
1. I don't consider myself an active pickup person, but out of my mahogany 6 strings, my favourite sounding one uses the EMG85 in bridge and neck. The 81 was too thin for me, but the 85 is gritty and bluesy as well as being hot and metallic in the bridge. In the neck, it's one of my favourite pickups - warm, juicy and full of character. The EMG-SA is also a nice sounding single coil. (I do like the Air Norton in mahogany though, so if you're not sold on that disregard my neck pickup choices.)
2. I'd agree with PBGas on the Crunch Lab. I love it in my alder J-Custom. Bought a CL7 to try in mahogany and did not get on with it at all. Tempted to try a D-Activator.
3. To hear a ton of Seymour Duncan pickups in what I think is a mahogany RG-type guitar try this Keith Merrow vid. IMHO The SD Distortion is a great match for mahogany. I'm finding my Distortion-7 a little trebly for recording, but the sound is so damn inspiring every time I pick it up, the new riffs end up flowing... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryzie8mham8.
4. I've got a 7 string pickup test on the way with clean, dirty and solo sections but it won't be up for a while yet... will cover Crunch Lab, Distortion, JB, New7, PAF7, Tone Zone in mahogany.
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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 02:06 AM
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: mn.
Posts: 808
Re: Pickup advice for J Custom

I have a similar experience with my J custom. The stock TZ-air Norton was a little
too ill defined on the low end, the Evo set had a weird mid range thing. I tried to like it
but couldn't. I put a Paf 36th in the bridge and air classic in the neck with a super switch to get some coil splits. They are lower output but sound great in this guitar. They
will do any style of music. I tried some transitions in an alder Charvel and they were great
sounding pickups too.
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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-09-2014, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 87
Re: Pickup advice for J Custom

Lots of great advice here thanks so much. At the moment I'm looking at the transitions, the Paf, and the Gravity Storm. Anyone else tried a Gravity Storm with Mahogany? The SD Distortion really interested me in my metal days, but I'm not sure how much it would fit my style now. These days I'm doing a lot of clean and "Vai tone" leads. I'll always love the metal there's no doubt, but I'm more interested in a beautiful clean and a great lead tone at the moment.
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