Ibanez/DiMarzio Neck Pickup comparisons in 24 fret RG guitars
24 fret RG guitars have a unique neck pickup sound due primarily to a few factors...
1) The neck humbucker is positioned a little closer to the bridge compared to most 22-fret guitars, to make room for the 2 extra frets. The small change in location imparts a slightly brighter tone with a bit more harmonic content.
2) The 25.5" Fender scale length used on Ibanez RG's provides more tension on the strings than the 24.75" Gibson scale length. So compared to a Gibson, the RG has snappier attack and brighter overtones.
3) The Tremolo (if equipped) imparts a twangy sound along with a subtle reverberation. At high amp gain settings it can yield microphonics that may be prone to feedback. This is caused by the tremolo springs and can be suppressed or eliminated by damping them. The springs can easily be damped by inserting rubber tubing inside the coils, adding padding material in the spring cavity, or applying heat shrink tubing to the outside of the coils.
Note: body/neck woods & thickness also effects the tone. The pickup mounting method has a subtle but noticeable effect too.
On to the Neck pickup trials...
2001 Ibanez RG570:
1) Stock Ibanez V7 - very bright & tight, lacks body, sounds thin for a humbucker.
2) DiMarzio Air Norton - relatively low output & mellow tone. Cleans are dull, leads are very warm & smooth.
3) DiMarzio PAF Pro - decent pickup, but sounds a little thin in this guitar.
4) Ibanez V1 (from 1992 RG550) - a little louder & warmer than the PAF Pro. I really like this pickup because it gives the RG570 a Gibson-like neck tone. It's warm & open sounding with nice clarity too. At first it seemed a little muddy on the lowest notes with high gain, but that was easily remedied by slightly lowering the pickup at the low-E side. Also, it seems to sound brighter with the screw poles oriented towards the bridge.
2005 Ibanez Prestige RG3120F-ANT:
1) Stock DiMarzio/IBZ-N - tight lows, strong mids & bright highs that aren't shrill. This is a nice pickup for modern rock & metal, and would probably work well with a Crunch Lab or Super Distortion at the bridge. (I would have kept it, but I replaced the shrill sounding DiMarzio/IBZ-B bridge pickup with a Tonezone & this pickup doesn't blend so well with the TZ.)
2) DiMarzio Air Norton - again I find this pickup to be a little too weak & mellow sounding.
3) DiMarzio Breed Neck - lows are too boomy & muddy in this guitar. Highs are somewhat shrill.
4) DiMarzio PAF 36th Anniversary Bridge model - this pickup was recommended by DiMarzio, via their 30-day pickup exchange program, after I explained what I disliked about the Breed Neck & Air Norton. It's a relatively low output pickup that sounds like an Air Norton with reduced bass and slightly extended highs. It has a pretty neutral response, but there's something about the character of it that I don't like, as if it compresses the signal.
5) DiMarzio PAF Pro - this pickup works well in this guitar, where it's direct-mounted to mahogany. It has a warm, articulate clean tone, & a pretty convincing single coil tapped tone. It combines well with the Tonezone at the bridge. The humbucking combination has a nice tone reminiscent of the Telecaster middle position, only fatter. The tapped combo (inside coils) is very Strat-like. The Lead sound is well balanced & has good definition, even with high amp gain settings. Based on DiMarzio's EQ ratings you'd think this is a bright pickup, but it's actually smoother/warmer than the Breed Neck at the 12th fret & up.