RG5121 Review and Comparison - Jemsite
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-06-2019, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2017
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RG5121 Review and Comparison

Sup metalheads!

Just picked up a used RG5121 and thought I'd offer up some opinions and comparisons.


I want to start with the neck profile. I have an Uppercut RG6UCS. Both guitars say they have Super Wizard HP's, but they are definitely not the same profile. I believe they have moved to a new profile as this one is similar to the RG5020M I played at GC. After playing the Uppercut and RG5121 back to back I can say without a doubt I like the new shape better. It's slightly meatier and has more of an elliptical shape than a D shape. The offset fret inlays and the luminous black ringed side dots make these fret markers the easiest to see out of any guitar I've tried.

In my opinion, the new neck profile and fret markers are a huge improvement over previous Prestige RG's. Unfortunately, the maple neck models still have barely visible fretboard inlays. I'm not sure if the new profile made it to the regular Prestige lineup, but hopefully it did.


With the fixed bridge, African mahogany body, and Fishman Fluence pickups, I expected a nicely resonant guitar with great sustain. I was surprised to find that it was only slightly more resonant than the bassword/LoPro equipped Uppercut and the sustain was about the same. My JS1600 is about three times louder unplugged and has a great unplugged tone. I was hoping for more of that tone with this one, but I guess I can't have everything I want. I assume the JS1600's thicker neck, different neck construction, and tilt joint have a lot to do with that. It seems the thin, stiff Super Wizard necks just aren't going to resonate as well.

I didn't find any significant improvement with the African mahogany fixed bridge combination over others, but I do prefer the tone of mahogany body guitars over basswood. I've yet to have an ash body, but I want to try one.


The Fishman pickups are fun. I was hoping for more versatility, but you just don't find metal pickups that do cleans well, so my hopes were a bit high. Fishman does seem to have some other offerings that may fill that request. I left my amp set the same as for my other guitars for initial testing. Voicing 1 is a nice balanced high gain and Voicing 2 is a darker slightly less gain, but still high gain. The cleans were acceptable, but left me wanting to see if I could coil split them. Chords ring out in a unique sort of hifi, holographic, layered way that sounds very cool. I found that lead work didn't make me want to move to the neck pickup like it does on some guitars. I could play the bridge pickup on voice 1 all day long. They also look completely BA, so they have that going for them as well.

These pickups do provide a significant improvement over stock. Whether or not they're your cup of tea is another story.

On one hand it's just a Prestige RG with Fishman pickups. But on the other, the new neck profile I find to be more comfortable and playable. It also has the best fret markings on any guitar I've seen which has been a complaint of mine. I really like it.

If I had any request, I'd say let's get that Frozen Ocean treatment in a Dark Tide Blue or some other more menacing color and offer a LoPro version with the Mahogany and Ebony.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-07-2019, 07:31 AM
 
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My personal opinion is that all the various "tone woods" really have little if any effect on sustain. Sustain is a combination of how long the string maintains the vibration & the drop off point of the pickups sensitivity. The signal path from pick up to amp is also a factor.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-07-2019, 08:54 AM
 
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Re: RG5121 Review and Comparison

I have agree about the neck with the OP. I got an RGR5220M a month ago which I find really nice in my hands because of the neck. I think it's a bit beefier than the other wizard necks I have experience, including an HP wizard neck in an S series prestige I used to have. Not much difference but still...

In general, a good guitar but not flawless. Haven't heard too many comments on these new 5000 series guitars but it seems that they need a proper fret leveling right off the bat in order to achieve low or even medium
action without buzz. Maybe the SS frets play a role in the buzzing as they seem to have a certain zing in the sound which (maybe?) can cause some unwanted overtones. I've noticed this with an AZ, too, which now
plays fine with a little higher action than that I normally would have.

The neck pickup (Brute Force) seems to be quite sensitive about the height and it seems that keeping them "lower than one might expect" is better than closer to the strings, seems to affect sustain. BTW, the neck has a typical B string 14th fret overtone/ G 18th dead spot that to me is what HP wizard necks feature in general (at least the S that I sold), but it can be affected with the lower pickup height.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-07-2019, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: RG5121 Review and Comparison

Yeah, I wouldn't expect the body wood type to effect sustain, but I thought the fixed bridge and active pickups would have more than what the LoPro with passive pickups did. I do think it is slightly better, but it's not significant.

I played it some more last night and I will say those are some quiet pickups. Almost feels like I have a noise gate on. Will probably add the coil tap and/or swap out the neck for the Classic model.

I'll check the 14th fret B and 18th G and get back to you. I haven't noticed it on any of my Ibby's, but I'm not a great guitar player. I probably would've chalked it up to just not hitting the note well.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 10:42 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: RG5121 Review and Comparison

So I did checked the 14th fret B and 18th fret G string and didn't detect any differences so perhaps this isn't something that is par for the course with Ibanez necks.

Also looked up a little about the Fishman Fluence Modern pickups. They can be coil tapped quite easily and they also have a gain selector on the bottom of the pickup. I'm going to be turning mine down cause right now they are really hot. I have other high gain passive pickups and these feel like they are twice as hot as those.

Did a tone comparison between the Uppercut with Bare Knuckle Aftermath's and the these while I was messing around with Amplitube4. Through my regular amp the tone is noticeably different, but on Amplitube4 it is significantly different. Amp4 is pretty dry so it seems to magnify the differences and playing mistakes. I find that the Aftermath's require significantly different amp settings to get to a tone I like with the Fishman's being easier to dial in. I'm not using the Aftermath's for the really low tunings they were designed for so they're at a bit of a disadvantage. Not saying the Fishman's are perfect. To my ear's they have too much gain and right now that is jacking with the clarity. Going to make an adjustment on the pickup and see what happens.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 01:19 AM
 
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Re: RG5121 Review and Comparison

These reviews are appreciated. The 5000 series have not been discussed much.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-18-2019, 07:33 PM
 
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Re: RG5121 Review and Comparison

Hi guys, how was the fret work on the 5121?
I found the fret ends not smoothen out like the az224, which reflects poorly for a prestige model.
Are the rg5121 made in fugigen?
I expected better.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-19-2019, 12:02 AM
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Re: RG5121 Review and Comparison

The AZ's are a little better finished than the standard RG line. Stainless gets as much time as nickel but because it's so much harder it has little actual effect. They all need some predelivery help if you want them really comfortable.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 02:40 PM
 
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Re: RG5121 Review and Comparison

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frankhenrylee View Post
Sup metalheads!

Just picked up a used RG5121 and thought I'd offer up some opinions and comparisons.

The Fishman pickups are fun. I was hoping for more versatility, but you just don't find metal pickups that do cleans well, so my hopes were a bit high. Fishman does seem to have some other offerings that may fill that request. I left my amp set the same as for my other guitars for initial testing. Voicing 1 is a nice balanced high gain and Voicing 2 is a darker slightly less gain, but still high gain. The cleans were acceptable, but left me wanting to see if I could coil split them. Chords ring out in a unique sort of hifi, holographic, layered way that sounds very cool. I found that lead work didn't make me want to move to the neck pickup like it does on some guitars. I could play the bridge pickup on voice 1 all day long. They also look completely BA, so they have that going for them as well.

These pickups do provide a significant improvement over stock. Whether or not they're your cup of tea is another story.
There is a problem here with your guitar which is not adequately addressed in these posts. The problem is that Ibanez has not implemented all of the features within those pickups -- and the lack of choices is affecting your perception of the Fishman Fluence Modern pickups and what they can do.

The Fishman Modern Humbuckers offer FOUR selectable features to modify and control their output. On the RG5121, Ibanez seems to have implemented only ONE of those options. This is skewing your perception of what these pickups can do. Your opinion isn't wrong based on the guitar you are trying them in, but these pickups have been crippled by Ibanez in the RG5121.

When purchased as a pickup set, the Fishman Fluence Modern Humbuckers come bundled as two pickups, one Alnico ,the other Ceramic, together with 4 x 25k pots. Two of them are push/pull 25k pots, the other are non-push pull 25k pots. All of these pots are 25k. The pickups will not work properly with 250k or 500k pots.

The options on the Fishman Fluence Modern Humbuckers are:

1- Voice 1/ Voice 2 -
normally selected via push-pull;
2- HF Tilt - This is a key feature of the pickups when used for more classic rock and is absolutely essential to enable on the Fishman Fluence Classic Humbuckers. You should do it as well on the Moderns. This brightens your tone and makes the cleans sound even cleaner. Normally activated via Push-pull pot;
3- V1 Gain - This is a nice feature on the Moderns and it adds a darker, shreddier tone to the pickups when put on Voice 1. You can enable this via push-pull, or via a SPDT/SPDT toggle switch. You can jumper the pickups so that it is always on, but this will muddy up the pickups on the clean tones. You want this to be switchable, especially as when the HF Tilt is on, you will want V1 gain off.
4- Coil Tapping - the Fishman Moderns allow you to solder leads to the back of the pickup and choose whether to tap the coils to single coil mode, either choosing the outer coils or the inner coils. You can implement this via push-pull, or via 5 way or 7 way switch.

The bottom line is that all of these features cannot be enabled using just the pots provided in their Modern pickup set. It's missing the two additional push-pull pots you would need to to this. The 25k push-pull pots are available directly from Fishman for $19.99 each; (or you can source another push-pull 25k pot somewhere online).

Alternatively, you can implement the V1 gain with a toggle switch and try to wire the 5 way switch to handle some of your coil-tapping wants.

If you contact Fishman directly and ask them about this, they will send to you the following response:

Quote:
Hello,
The voicing, coil tapping, gain reduction, and HF tilt are all options that are available with our pickups. There is plenty of info on these in the user guide (linked below). These are OPTIONS and are not required to be wired when installing the pickups. The modern pickups come with a singe wire plug that will allow you to activate the gain reduction when connected to ground (in the same fashion as the voice 2 push pull pot). The coil tapping is not incorporated into the harness and needs to be done differently on the modern pickups (see link below). There are different options when coil tapping. be sure you are using the proper switch when wiring it. If you want to wire all of these options to push pull pots you will need to order 2 additional pots from our parts store. Thanks.
-Mike-
Which brings us to the problem with Ibanez's implementation of the Fishman Fluence Moderns in the RG5121 (and to a lesser extent, in the Axion S61AL)

The problem is that there are not enough switches and pots on these guitars to implement every feature. Add to that the problem that the thin design of these guitars is such that the much taller push-pull pot won't all easily fit in the control cavity of the guitar and you begin to see the issue more clearly.

Lastly, the pickups are active pickups and, depending on your model, you will need to install a battery in the guitar to make the Fishman Fluence pickups work. There is a universal battery pack meant for this purpose for installation in Ibanez and PRS guitars (LPs. SGs, Strats and Teles all have custom battery solutions particular to their specific layout and design) but they won't necessarily fit in every control cavity. The Univ Batter pack tapes on to the inside back of the control cavity cover (you drill a 1/2" hole in the cover to your control cavity to allow the micro USB port to poke through the cover and be always accessible.)

This is a neat idea, but the battery is .43" deep. On a lot of S and SA series guitars, this can be too tight a fit -- especially when the additional height of push-pull pots crowds out the cavity. You need to plan and dry fit this battery carefully before drilling anything.

So what's the take-away on all of this? Simple. These pickups are awesome and they offer a great deal of flexibility. They shine brightest when they are pushed with heavy distortion -- where their clarity cuts through the competition and makes any EMGs or Seymour Duncan sound muddy AF.

But in order to get the best out of them, you need a wiring harness that exploits all of their features at the same time and makes them selectable on your guitar. There are not many (is there even 1?) guitar produced by Ibanez where everything on the Fishman Fluence Moderns have been implemented. The issue is number of pots, cavity size, switches, and thickness of the guitar. Ibanez's design mantra -- a thin minimalist design in terms of its controls -- runs contrary to the Fishman Fluence's technical design and its demand for more active control tweaking. The result is a compromise and half-hearted implementation that misses the mark and fails to show off all that the Fishman Fluence Modern Humbuckers can do.

Last edited by Steel_Wind; 11-13-2019 at 02:58 PM.
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