Versatile - pickup selection advice - Jemsite
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-10-2014, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Kansas
Posts: 2,058
Versatile - pickup selection advice

I'm a beginner/intermediate guitar player that just got back into it after quite a while off and raising kids. Picked up a guitar last summer and love playing it, but now that I'm getting back into the groove (and having bigtime fun with backing tracks) I just can't seem to get a good sound... Looking into better pickups as a possibility.

The guitar is a stock Ibanez RG5EX1 with the Inf3 neck, Infs3 middle, and Inf4 bridge. Basswood body, Edge 3 tremolo, and Wizard II 24 fret neck. Played into a very old Carvin x100b w/2x12 cabinet. Gets a decent clean sound, but I like to play mostly 80's metal (Maiden, Priest, Dokken) and classic rock/blues (Allman Bros, Skynyrd, SRV). Sounds very muddled when driven hard with the TS9DX or a distortion pedal. Seems to lack any decent tone when gently overdriven for classic rock lead. Hard for me to describe with my lack of knowledge.

My question regarding pickups - My goal is to set up the guitar as versatile as possible, so I can get a decent sound for just about anything (trying to avoid having a battery to deal with too) Is there a good happy medium pickup that is versatile enough to switch between metal and blues to smooth jazz or whatever? Or would I be better off buying a higher gain pickup for the bridge and lower gain for the neck or middle single coil? Seems like right now I never use the horrible neck pickup and just switch between the bridge humbucker and middle single coil (or both w/5-way switch). I have been looking at DiMarzio's website and have read good things about their pickups.

Any recommendations? I see they have gain and EQ numbers associated with each pickup. Any advice on how high or low for the individual pickups to make a good versatile guitar? Any other brands recommended?

I can do the work myself as an experienced electronics tech... and I'm willing to spend a few bucks to get decent pickups, but I'm hesitant to take the plunge with my limited knowledge.

Sorry for the rambling... Any help would be much appreciated!!

FireEagle is offline  
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-11-2014, 10:11 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Kansas
Posts: 2,058
Re: Versatile - pickup selection advice

I found out that active pickups don't drain the battery too fast... so looking into them too. Any opinions on an EMG 89 in the bridge or neck position? Hot humbucker, but coil tapped seem pretty versatile... Hmmm....
FireEagle is offline  
post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-11-2014, 03:43 PM
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Location: Canberra, Australia
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Re: Versatile - pickup selection advice

In the DiMarzio camp you may find the Transitions just perfect for what you want to do. They are Steve Lukather's signature pickups, and they will do fine for classic rock, blues, through to old school metal. They sound great clean and split too.

In the Seymour Duncan camp the 59/Custom Hybrid will knock your socks off in the bridge position. A 59 Neck or Pearly Gates Neck will be beautiful in the neck too.

Either of these options will give you exactly what you want.

If you're not planning on using the single that much stick with the stock one.
LonePhantom is offline  
post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-11-2014, 06:07 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: El Paso, TX
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Re: Versatile - pickup selection advice

the transitions are indeed a good medium for all qualities associated with pickups.

if you like the idea of active the transitions are again a good alternative. They were meant as replacement for steve's emg 89/SA setup.

If you like duncan then i would say a JB 59 combo or JB Jazz combo would work well. Again if you want active you have the Live wire set which is an active version of the JB and Jazz.

It is a bit of an out there suggestion but lace alumitones are great full range neutral pickups. The dethbucker is warmer but not as brutal/metal as the name makes it out to be. If you go this way you will probably want to use 250k pots. They are recommended and with 500k pots you will get a very bright sound.
j.arledge is offline  
post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-11-2014, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Kansas
Posts: 2,058
Re: Versatile - pickup selection advice

Thanks for the recommendations! I'll definitely look into the Transitions and the JB59's. Do you think the stock pots would work ok with these? I'll have to see what pots are in the RG5EX1.

A coworker suggested Carvin pickups... but he is a Carvin guy, so I'm not surprised. They are reasonably priced at $45 or $50, but I haven't heard much about their pickups.

Thanks again... I appreciate the info!
FireEagle is offline  
post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-11-2014, 08:22 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Canberra, Australia
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Reviews: 120
Re: Versatile - pickup selection advice

The stock pots will be fine.

And the comments on the JB, it's a little too high output and compressed to be really good for the blues or jazz stuff. The 59/Custom Hybrid is much better for it.
LonePhantom is offline  


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