J Custom RG8550 pickup advice (help!) - Jemsite
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-17-2017, 07:01 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Australia
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J Custom RG8550 pickup advice (help!)

Hey guys,

The Problem:

A few months ago I bought an RG8550MZ (one of three in spinal red that came to Australia apparently) and I love everything about this beautiful guitar except one very important thing - tone!

My issue is that the neck and bridge sound quite muddy and dull (Air Norton and Tone Zone), the middle pup (True Velvet) is very bright and a bit thin, and positions 2 and 4 are more tinny than quacky...

I should note that under heavy gain the humbuckers sound very good, but for just about anything else (i.e. I've played a few covers gigs with this axe) the humbuckers tones are a bit dull / muddy and the middle position too bright and thin, so it's very hard to EQ out any of the deficiencies.

My experience with this Dimarzio set in other guitars - particularly the tone zone in basswood guitars, is that it has sounded much better. However, given this J Custom is mahogany with a maple cap, I'm thinking the TZ / AN buckers are not a very good match. I can see how this happened given Ibanez throws this set in all their basswood prestige models and it works well, but I'm a bit disappointed they didn't better match the pups in such an expensive, top end instrument.

Either that, or this guitar is made purely for 80's hard rock and metal, and nothing else...

My Solution:

I'm thinking a Seymour Duncan JB / Jazz set, with a Duckbucker in the middle position might be the fix. I've used JB's in other guitars and I like the general EQ and flavour of that pup much better.

I'm also thinking the duckbucker in the middle will mean greater balance across all positions while also retaining a decent clean / almost single coil clean tone in positions 2,3,4.

Does anybody have any input on my problem and whether my theory about this humbucker set in a mahogany-bodies guitar seems about right?

And what of my problem Seymour Duncan set to fix the problem?

Thanks very much guys... I'm a bit stressed that I've paid circa $AUD4000 for a 'dull' sounding guitar (particularly after I sold a Tremonti PRS to fund it), so I'm really hoping a better sounding match of pups will fix this right up!
Reidy87 is offline  
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-17-2017, 10:32 AM
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: France - Strasbourg
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Re: J Custom RG8550 pickup advice (help!)

check the tone and volume pots values (should be 500k), check that the tone cap is not always in the circuit = tone knob always at 0. Regarding the 2 and 4 positions, the quick way to solve it is to invert the polarities of the middle pickup between the 5-way switch and the ground.
satch_jr is offline  
post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-17-2017, 08:13 PM
 
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Re: J Custom RG8550 pickup advice (help!)

The Tone Zone probably isn't the best pick for mahogany guitars, and I never quite understood why Ibanez went with it in them. the question is, what style(s) of music do you plan to play on the guitar? That will determine pickup choices.
LonePhantom is offline  
post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-17-2017, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Australia
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Re: J Custom RG8550 pickup advice (help!)

Thanks for the replies guys.

I'll check out the pots but I'm pretty sure its all working as it should, it's just a pickup set that either doesn't sound how I like my humbucker guitars to sound, and / or isn't the right match for this wood combination.

Currently in there is minimal clarity and high end. The bridge has a lot of bass and mids and sounds pretty good under heaps of gain but not much else. The neck pup is fantastic for leads, but mushy for overdriven rhythm and too powerful and bass heavy for cleans.

I'd like it to be a more versatile rock guitar... perhaps leaning towards a hard rock / alternative / metal guitar, but very good at more mainstream stuff. I play in a covers band doing a wide range of music, and my American Strat with SSS, suits much better at pretty much everything except metal.

Therefore my theory is that the JB bridge will be much clearer, with more upper mids and less boomy bass. And the Jazz neck will be a bit lower output, clearer and better for cleans. Overall better suited for mahogany.

Putting a single sized Humbucker in the middle (splitting the pups in positions 2 and 4) should retain pretty good clean sounds, but be better balanced with the other pups as opposed to a true single.

Does this sound about right? Would a pickup swap make this much difference to overall tone?
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 12:35 AM
 
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Re: J Custom RG8550 pickup advice (help!)

The JB can sound a bit off in Mahogany too, so it may not be the best bet. If you want clear but still capable of versatility and gain maybe a full shred set will suit you nicely. The DiMarzio option is the Dominion bridge and neck. I felt that the Dominion bridge was almost like a Tone Zone perfected for guitars that aren't as bright. Both of these combos are seriously good and capable of a multitude of stuff.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-18-2017, 05:42 PM
 
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Re: J Custom RG8550 pickup advice (help!)

+1 for the Dominions. I've been using a Dominion bridge/Gravity Storm neck in a mahogany JC and could not be happier with them.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: J Custom RG8550 pickup advice (help!)

Thanks for the advice Burtallica. Could you describe the general EQ / tone you get with this set? Is it bright, clear, defined tone? (i.e. the opposite of the TZ / AN).

This is basically what I'm after, with the ability to get compressed and punchy with gain.

Thanks buddy.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 11:30 AM
 
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Re: J Custom RG8550 pickup advice (help!)

For the Dominion bridge I'd say the first word that comes to mind is clarity. Even at higher gain levels I feel like you can hear the individual notes much better than the muddiness of the TZ. It's bright, but not in your face or piercing like I felt the Illuminators can be... I've found it to sit well in a mix.
To my ears I didn't hear as big of a difference when going from the AN neck to the Gravity Storm but then again I like the AN in most guitars I've used it in.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 08:14 AM
 
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Re: J Custom RG8550 pickup advice (help!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reidy87 View Post
Currently in there is minimal clarity and high end. The bridge has a lot of bass and mids and sounds pretty good under heaps of gain but not much else. The neck pup is fantastic for leads, but mushy for overdriven rhythm and too powerful and bass heavy for cleans.
This is my exact experience with the Tone Zone/Air Norton combo in mahogany/maple J Customs. Your guitar with a maple board should be reasonably similar tone wise to my '03 RG8670 that has an ebony board.

I have not tried the Dominions mentioned but I cannot say enough good things about the EVO 2 that I use in the bridge position on my guitar. Lots of clarity to the notes and it really cuts through a mix, but it isn't harsh at all, which if you read the description of the pickup is what it's designed to do. I'm not sure I'd like this pickup in other guitars but in this heavy mahogany beast, it sounds great.

Neck pickup I'm really struggling to find something I like. I felt just as you did about the stock Air Norton. I next tried the Liquifire which I absolutely love in basswood guitars but it just didn't work in the 8670. Currently I have an Evolution in there, which I don't like. Too percussive.

I've been debating going to a PAF Pro for the neck. That's what was in the neck of my old RG3120 and I thought it was a great sounding neck pickup. I probably should have just done that to start with rather than messing around with all these others.
Takin' a Ride is offline  
post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 10:08 AM
 
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Re: J Custom RG8550 pickup advice (help!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Takin' a Ride View Post
This is my exact experience with the Tone Zone/Air Norton combo in mahogany/maple J Customs. Your guitar with a maple board should be reasonably similar tone wise to my '03 RG8670 that has an ebony board.

I have not tried the Dominions mentioned but I cannot say enough good things about the EVO 2 that I use in the bridge position on my guitar. Lots of clarity to the notes and it really cuts through a mix, but it isn't harsh at all, which if you read the description of the pickup is what it's designed to do. I'm not sure I'd like this pickup in other guitars but in this heavy mahogany beast, it sounds great.

Neck pickup I'm really struggling to find something I like. I felt just as you did about the stock Air Norton. I next tried the Liquifire which I absolutely love in basswood guitars but it just didn't work in the 8670. Currently I have an Evolution in there, which I don't like. Too percussive.

I've been debating going to a PAF Pro for the neck. That's what was in the neck of my old RG3120 and I thought it was a great sounding neck pickup. I probably should have just done that to start with rather than messing around with all these others.
I changed from the paf pro to the EVO neck on my basswood RG, to get a more percussive sound and that was a good choice.
Trying to the paf pro should solve your quest!
If the PP is too muddy/boomy, a paf joe would make it.
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