yeah, that's a volute. Umm, about the pickups, I guess it depends what you're playing it through. I just tried out a 1527 today through a Peavey XXX and the thing sounded beyond amazing. Then again, if I bought one and played it through my little Fender Princton Chorus, it wouldn't sound nearly as good. The EMG-Hz pickups don't sound nearly as good as the active EMG's, but I wouldn't bother changing the V-7 and V-8 for EMGs because they already sound good. It's mostly personal preference...but wait, you can't try them huh? Well, if I were you, I'd just leave the V series pickups in. Either that or go for the active EMG's if that's your thing, or (this is what I'd do if I didn't already like the V's) put in some Dimarzio Blazes or Evolution 7's. It's all a thing about opinion.