EDIT: I just updated this opening post to add the following photoshopped images of different pickup colors. The TOP-LEFT corner is the original v7/v8 pickups. The other images are all "fake" photoshopped images of black/creme color combos. Use the poll above to vote for which one you think is best.
...And here's the original post (before I added the images):
Background: I have a RG520. It's a dark brown-colored quilted sapele top with mahogany back. I've had it since I bought it brand new in 1997-98, and it's been my main guitar until I bought a JPM100 P3 few years ago (from someone on this board, actually). That guitar is superior to the RG520 in every way (which is to be expected), so going back to the RG has been, well, disappointing, to say the least. But, considering I can't really afford another guitar in that range, I've started thinking about investing a little bit more into the RG. I use both of them in my current band. JPM is tuned to drop-C while the RG is in standard-D, going into Mesa Boogie Mark V.
Don't get me wrong, the RG520 is a fine guitar, and probably the best bang for the buck. But next to the JPM, and especially now played through Mark V, I think the V7/V8 pickups are just not cutting it. So I thought that would be the next meaningful upgrade.
The JPM has Steve's Special in bridge and Air Norton in neck position. I like how they sound but the JPM is also a basswood guitar, so I can't just assume that those two would work great in the RG520. I've been searching on the forum and I see a lot of recommendations for ToneZone for the bridge. It's probably my main candidate right now. Not sure about the neck one yet.
As far as the style of music.... In my current band I play mostly metal. Nothing too brutal, mostly melodic stuff. We cover things like Dream Theater, Metallica, Killswitch Engage, Avenged Sevenfold, Tool, etc. But I'd say that I wouldn't want pickups that are exclusive to metal, because I like to play some rock, blues, and other stuff from time time. So I like the idea of versatility, with that sort of Dream Theater type "progressive metal" being the main focus. So the pickups have to be able to handle some mean sounds, but they don't have to be the most "metal" they can be. I mean, I'm happy with how "metal" my JPM sounds. And the V7/V8 haven't been bad, either. They just don't have that nice, tamed growl of the DiMarzios in JPM, I'm finding...
I don't think I'd like to go "active," by the way...
Oh and another thing... I liked the versatility of the V7/V8 configuration with the 5 way switch, where you can get single-coil-ish sounds in position 2 and 4. So if possible, I'd like to maintain ability to do that with new pickups. But if that's asking too much, I'd be fine without that feature.
So there ya go... What would you guys recommend? Is ToneZone still a good choice? Yes no? What about Neck?