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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok guys, per your advice last month, I saved my money and bought at 655 from Rich (and he delivered a great instrument set up beautifully) versus killing the budget and purchasing a JEM.

But since I didn't purchase a JEM, I did not get either the Evo's or Gravity Storm pickups but instead the Tone Zone (which are great). Now I'd like to upgrade my RG 550, probably with some EVO's or Gravity Storm's to see if I can get some of that JEM sound.

That said, I'm curious where people see these three pickup brands. I like to play Van Halen, Rush, Scorpions, etc.

And if I bought the EVO's, do I really need the three piece set? (I never use my middle pickup). How do you compare them in the bridge versus the neck?

Any comments or other pickup suggestions greatly appreciated.
 

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To be honest, you're not going to get the Steve Vai sound from replacing the pickups alone. (Assuming that's what you mean by the "JEM sound"?

Steve Vai has a rare guitar tone which at high gain sounds more like a smooth wailing violin than a fuzzy tone. Frankly, no pickup will give you that. The Steve Vai sound we all know and love essentially comes from his Legacy amp series.

However, if you do want a breakdown of the three sets:

Evos - They scream. Some find them difficult to tame and too harsh with no real versatility. Some find them perfect for cutting through the mix. If you think you're going to find the Evo Bridge too harsh, consider the Evo 2.

Breed - A totally different beast. Warmer, smoother, less scream and a lot more versatile.

Gravity Storm - Somewhere inbetween the Evos and Breeds.

My two cents is keep the pickups you have. In my opinion, they're the best, most versatile pickups. Ibanez think they're great too as they install them in their J-Custom range.

I tries a set of Evos and hated them. Now I install the Tone Zone and Air Norton in my high end guitars.
 

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The evo bridge along with the super 3 tie for my least favorite dimarzio bridge pickups.

The tone zone is ok, I had a few different Ibanez guitars with tone zones.

I really love the gravity storm set. To me it takes the best of the evo and mixes it with the best of the breeds. You get a pickup that has really vocal mids, but isn't chopped on the bass. It cuts very well, and is bright but without being too in your face.

personally i'd install the gravity storm set over any of the others you suggested. The evo bass is way too tight, and high end too much of an ice pick . You already have a tone zone too.
 

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Every single J Custom I have owned, I have pulled the Tone Zone and Air Norton from. I truly don't like either pickup in a Mahogany/maple top. That being said, in my JemFP2, I took out the Evo's and put in a pair of Gravity storm pickups and they sounded great in there. That was a basswood guitar as well. I currently have them in one of my J Customs and they won't be leaving those cavities any time soon.

What amp are you running the guitar through?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I appreciate the comments guys. The 655 with the Tone Zone I run through a Helix with powered speakers under a distorted Van Halen/Scorpions type setup. A have a few other guitars so I've got things to compare to using the same amplification setup.

My general impression after playing the ToneZone now for about two-months is that the chords sound excellent, especially open string distortion stuff. Probably my best pickup for low on the neck chords.

Where I'm struggling with the TZ is playing on the high frets from 12-24. I find I'm having to constantly adapt my playing style to try and keep the other strings from howling with the TZ. I've never had that problem before frankly. Yes I palm mute all the time to dampen the strings, but if I just let up even slightly, the TZ just seems to pick up everything on the five strings I'm not playing and she starts sounding bad with the feedback.

So I'm trying to figure out if replacing that bridge pickup with a gravity storm or evo or evo2 would give solo notes high on the neck more definition and not pick up the crap like the TZ seems to do.

And I'd add that the TZ does sound really nice on some high note string bends above fret 12. I just find I need to fight the guitar more than I want to on faster leads.
 

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I got rid of the EVO’s on my RG550LTD and replace them with Gravity Storm. I prefer the Gravity Storm because I can get leads with more sweetness on the mid-range. The EVO’s were too harsh, as mahogany_sabre has mentioned.

I also have a j-custom RG8550MZ with the Tone Zone. If you like to play staff like Scorpions, the Tone Zone is perfect. I would keep it

With the Axe-FX I can make both the Tone Zone and the Gravity Storm to sound relatively similar by adding parametric EQ at the front of the signal chain, but not exactly the same (perhaps due to the basswood Vs Mahogany?). One of these days I'll swap the pickups of both guitars to make a fare comparison.
 
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