Hey guys... looking for a little input before I pull the trigger on a Jem overhaul.
Spec details first:
Guitar: Jem 7v (Alder body, Edge Lo-Pro trem, rosewood fingerboard)
Current Pups: Original EVOs (H-S-H)
Amp: Original 5150 full stack
Style: 70's-90's hard/prog rock (heros: Vai, Petrucci, Randy Rhodes, Van Halen, Lifeson, Zappa, Satch, Johnson, Beck, etc - yeah I know thats kinda all over the place
Complaint: For the record, I do love this guitar... feel-wise its my favorite axe to play. I would like to tweak its tone just a smidge though... I actually really like the EVO bridge pup, and even put one in another Iby of mine (which it sounds PERFECT in). But I feel my Jem is just a bit thin/trebly sounding. I know that is kinda Vai's tone, and I don't wanna stray too far from it (obviously I don't expect this to sound like a Les Paul, nor do I want it to), I just wanna warm & fatten things up a bit. Also, I personally found the EVO (15
in neck position a little hot as well as a little trebly sounding.
Goal: A warmer, smoother, more "buttery" tone, particularly in the neck position. I have a Duncan Pearly Gates in another Iby (paired with an original EVO in bridge pos) and it sounds AWESOME. But that is a bubinga body RG and a totally different animal...
Research: I am currently leaning toward swapping the bridge from an EVO to an EVO2. Specs & reviews agree this is a slightly warmer pup with just slightly less output, making it a little more versatile. However, I still want a thick, heavy "crunchy" palm-muted rhythm sound on heavy distortion & full vol... will the EVO2's lower output compromise this a lot?
I am probably gonna drop the center pos single coil comletely as I VERY rarely use it and prefer using a 5-pos switch utilizing coil splitting between 2 humbuckers.
My hardest decision is neck pos. I am ordering custom colors so would like to stay with the same manufacturer for cosmetic as well as tonal consistency, so I am trying to avoid the SD's & stick with DiMarzios. After all, I do really like the EVO bridge pup. But since I'm not crazy about the EVO neck pup, what to replace it with? My research into DiMarzio (including talking to a tech on the phone) has led me to the following possibilities to achieve a tone like I described previously: Air Norton, LiquiFire, Air Zone, or Breed. All choices would cut the treble some so based on EQ alone <should> be warmer. Some are a little hotter than the EVO and some are slightly lower output. Again, I am shoothing for a warm, smooth, articulate sound. I want it clean, warm & bright for chord work on a clean amp (Yes, I know the 5150 doesn't have the best clean tone but I also have other low-gain apmlification gear I use in the studio for clean work), but tight & articulate for solos, sweeping arpegios, etc. Based on description alone it seems the LiquiFire would be a good choice but I've read in here they don't actually sound great in Alder Jems? The tech thought the Air Norton would be comparable to the SD Peraly Gates but a little warmer... anyone in here have experience with one in the neck pos of an alder body Jem? The Breed is another Vai pup, and looks like it should be a little warmer, but as a Vai pup I'm concerned it may still be a little too trebly. Anyone have 1st hand comparison experience with a Breed vs. an EVO neck pup? The Air Zone is described as more of a jazz pup and based on description seems like it could be an excellent choice, but I haven't been able to find much on it review-wise. Any experience with it in here?
Ultimately if I put in a pup & decide I don't like it, I'll just replace it & try to Ebay the one I didn't like. But I'd obviously rather get it right the 1st time...
I'm open minded and really appreciate your input - good or bad. Thanks everyone!