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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys! You need to help me out making my Jackson Kelly sound great. Now it doesn't sound bad at all, but I feel it can be better. The guitar is quite bright: Alder body with a thin maple cap, hard rock maple neck with ebony fretboard and an Original FR. It's currently equipped with the stock pickups: The JB (TB-4) in bridge and the Jazz (SH-2) in neck. Both are very trebly and lacks in the middle department.

The guitar sounds good (not great) for rhythm playing but lacks smoothness and thickness for leads. Over all I guess I'd like it to be more middy and less trebly, making it smoother and fuller sounding. I like the Petrucci tones (especially SFAM) and I use a Mesa Mark IV.

I've checked out the tone wizards for SD and DiMarzio. SD recommends Custom Custom (TB-11) or JB (TB-4) for bridge, and Alnico II Pro (APH-1N) or '59 (SH-1N) for neck. Personally I've used Duncan Distortion (TB-6) in the bridge of a similar guitar with great results.

DiMarzio recommends Tone Zone, Super 3 or AT-1 for bridge, and LiquiFire, Air Norton or Breed for neck. I've heard great things about the D-Activator though.

Other tones I dig: Steve Vai - PAW, Metallica - MOP, AJFA, BA, Megadeth - RIP, CTE, Paul Gilbert - SFBADR, Van Halen - Fair Warning.

All help appreciated!
 

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I have a Jackson soloist that is similar,ebony/alder/maple that I replaced EMG81,85 with a Crunch Lab and Liqufire set. I can't believe how good it sounds with these, it's like I just won the mega buck tone lottery ;) Also found the crunchlab sounds better with the bar towards the bridge in this guitar.
 

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Surprised that you aren't satisfied with the JB in the bridge but i can understand if you want a thicker lead neck sound that you might want to swap the SD jazz out. For a really articulate neck sound that is typically "warm" etc. an air norton is never a bad choice and would be my first port of call. The JB is supposed to be boosted in the mids department to a point where it sounds a bit nasal with it's EQ, if you don't like the JB then i definitely don't suggest going for a tonezone.

Plenty of bright sounding guitars have the pickups you mentioned in them, i really suggest you go to a store and try some out.

I don't know if you gig or what volumes you play at but these sorts of things can be helped via attenuating or cranking an amp. But if you want a "fuller" sound i suggest that you instead use an overdrive pedal, a great place to go would be either a maxon OD808 or OD9. Pair this with the fact you use a mark IV you should be able to tweak something ridiculously nice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Stupidly, when I wrote this thread, I was playing through a Marshall. Today I switched to the Mesa, and suddenly it sounds much smoother (duh!). Although the Jazz is very top end friendly, it still sounds smooth through the Mark. The JB is like you say, nasal, but it sounds very aggressive through this amp (in a good way), and the leads are great. For palm mutes, the JB may not be the best to give you a brutal bottom end though. Maybe I'll give the set a new chance. I'm certain that this guitar can cut though in any mix, in a good way:) I actually have a Ibanez 808. Guess I'll be doing some experimenting today;)

I'm still open to other suggestions though. Don't be shy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yeah, the heavy chugging bottom end can't be dialed in with the JB in the bridge. At the same time the harshness from the Marshall couldn't be dialed out.
 

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a good EQ pedal is by far the best friend you can have in your rig, it allows you to dial in and out all the frequencies that your amp simply doesn't have access to (unless you own a Mark IV I guess)
 

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I assume people do the EQ before they start contemplating pup changes....I guess that's where the A$$-U-ME thing comes in.
No, that's wrong (as far as i know and do).
You always need EQ. Even it would be better to use EQ pedals as brackets
for OD/Distortion and for everything that can change the way you sound. For example i use EQs before and after as brackets for all my distorion pedals.

Your pickups, wood, hardware defines the character of your guitars sound but not the right frequencies. So the sound may lack something minor even with a great setup. Now it's time for some EQ tricks where you can edit a little some frequencies of your sound.

My steps to get the best sound are:
1. Set all EQs to twelve o'clock.
2. Plug in everything, dial your sound on your guitar and amp.
3. Play and define what your sound misses.
4. Use EQ to dial in missing frequencies.
It's not so difficult, use your ears. If you play in a band then do it at home and repeat with your band. I believe that settings will be a little different ;)
 

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You may have misunderstood what I said. It seems to me a person would try to get their tone with different EQ settings before resorting to replacing pickups. If EQ fails to get you there and you are reasonably satisfied with all other variables in your rig THEN maybe some pup experimenting is in order.
 
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