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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can anyone recommend a pickup set that will help me wake up my RG520QS? It's arguably the best quality and best playing guitar I own, but I don't use it very often because it sounds so dull and muddy. I tried the V7/V8, then did the V7/V8 magnet swap, then a Tone Zone w/V7 neck, then went for radical change and installed an EMG 81/85 set in it. The EMG's sound better, but I'm just not a fan of them... plus the huge volume jump when going to the neck. I'm looking for a brighter sound in the mahogany RG and play 80's rock/metal and classic rock too. Hot but versatile?


I really want to try a set of D-Activators bridge/neck... but also thought about the CrunchLab/Liquifire combo. Would these brighten up a mahogany RG?


Any recommendations? Just want to get this guitar back in the game... It's pretty and all, but I'd rather be playing it than just keep looking at it hanging on the wall!


Thanks...
 

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I HATED the DActivators - very bright, compressed, and overall EMG-sounding. If you didn't like the EMGs, I'd steer clear.

The Evo kicks ass in mahogany, and Evo2 probably would as well if you wanted something with a little less of a full-bore scream to it. It'll liven up the top end of that guitar, for sure, and won't really cloud up the lower mids and lows. Evo2 might be where I'd start if you want a hot pickup that will do classic rock. In the neck, honestly, I'd try a PAF Pro - it's bright, warm but not tubby, and vocal. I've never played it in anything that I HAVEN'T liked it in. I'd be happy to provide you a clip or two of it in my 3120 - I guess if I flipped back and forth between it and the Tone Zone in the bridge you could kinda get a sense how it compares to that pickup in mahogany, which you already know in your 520...
 

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Like you're reading my mind, Drew.

EVO2 you can't go wrong in a mahogany guitar that's what I use and it sounds great. Also PAF Pro neck. It's a bit more treble-biased and should sound good in mahogany.

Finding a good neck pickup is harder than finding a good bridge pickup. I've played around with a bunch and think I'm arriving back at the PAF Pro. Currently trying out a FRED in the neck of a 3120 for something different and I kind of wish it was just a PAF Pro. The Air Norton and things derived from it like the Liquifire sound great in other guitars but not mahogany in my experience. Liquifire is usually my go to neck pickup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I HATED the DActivators - very bright, compressed, and overall EMG-sounding. If you didn't like the EMGs, I'd steer clear.

The Evo kicks ass in mahogany, and Evo2 probably would as well if you wanted something with a little less of a full-bore scream to it. It'll liven up the top end of that guitar, for sure, and won't really cloud up the lower mids and lows. Evo2 might be where I'd start if you want a hot pickup that will do classic rock. In the neck, honestly, I'd try a PAF Pro - it's bright, warm but not tubby, and vocal. I've never played it in anything that I HAVEN'T liked it in. I'd be happy to provide you a clip or two of it in my 3120 - I guess if I flipped back and forth between it and the Tone Zone in the bridge you could kinda get a sense how it compares to that pickup in mahogany, which you already know in your 520...
Thanks Drew... I liked the D Activator bridge in an RG3XXV I used to have. Sounded great, but that was a bright sounding guitar anyway. Kind of like an EMG, but more expressive being passive... So I keep thinking about trying it.

Never had an Evo in anything, but I'll check it out. Never had a Paf Pro either... thanks for the recommendations!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Like you're reading my mind, Drew.

EVO2 you can't go wrong in a mahogany guitar that's what I use and it sounds great. Also PAF Pro neck. It's a bit more treble-biased and should sound good in mahogany.

Finding a good neck pickup is harder than finding a good bridge pickup. I've played around with a bunch and think I'm arriving back at the PAF Pro. Currently trying out a FRED in the neck of a 3120 for something different and I kind of wish it was just a PAF Pro. The Air Norton and things derived from it like the Liquifire sound great in other guitars but not mahogany in my experience. Liquifire is usually my go to neck pickup.
Thanks for seconding Drew's advice... Must be a good combo for a mahogany guitar!

I've used an Air Norton single neck before, that's what was matched up with the D Activator bridge in the RG3XXV and it was awesome... Have a Fred in a JS1200, but its in the bridge, and its basswood like the RG3XXV. Hard to know what they would sound like in the RG520. Thanks for saving me some trial and error!
 

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I'll chime in here as I've actually become a fan of the FRED in the neck position, I think... I bought a mahogany bodied superstrat last year that was reputed to come with a FRED in the neck and I love the sound, especially on high gain (not so much clean), but I haven't opened up the guitar to see what is "actually" is.

I've heard that the Bare Knuckle Cold Sweat makes for a good neck pickup too, but I've not used one myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'll chime in here as I've actually become a fan of the FRED in the neck position, I think... I bought a mahogany bodied superstrat last year that was reputed to come with a FRED in the neck and I love the sound, especially on high gain (not so much clean), but I haven't opened up the guitar to see what is "actually" is.

I've heard that the Bare Knuckle Cold Sweat makes for a good neck pickup too, but I've not used one myself.
I really like the Fred in the JS bridge, but I'm hesitant to pull it out and try it in another guitar... lol. I just don't mess with that guitar! Probably the only guitar I own that I wouldn't change a thing sound-wise. I've heard of Bare Knuckle pickups, but they are just too pricey for a spare bedroom hobby guitarist to try. You never know though... maybe I'll come across one for a reasonable price someday? Thanks!
 

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Never had an Evo in anything, but I'll check it out. Never had a Paf Pro either... thanks for the recommendations!
So I'm not in love with the original Evolutions, but the EVO 2 bridge is a great pickup. Still has a ton of presence but it blends in just enough warmth. I have an Evolution Neck in the same guitar as the EVO 2 and am not in love with it.
Thanks for seconding Drew's advice... Must be a good combo for a mahogany guitar!

I've used an Air Norton single neck before, that's what was matched up with the D Activator bridge in the RG3XXV and it was awesome... Have a Fred in a JS1200, but its in the bridge, and its basswood like the RG3XXV. Hard to know what they would sound like in the RG520. Thanks for saving me some trial and error!
The 3XXV is a basswood guitar, which is a perfect use for an Air Norton. I do like that pickup, I just think that a Liquifire does a better job performing the same task.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Off the wall, could this be addressed [to some degree] by some EQ in your effects chain ?
Yeah... I can pick brighter presets and it does help some. I have my "go to" presets that work well with everything from an old Les Paul to an S-S-S Roadstar to 540S, etc... but this RG520 just won't cut through even when I try to brighten it up. I think it's easier to cut frequencies with EQ than it is to try to boost frequencies that just aren't there from the source. At least that's how it seems to be with my fairly low budget setup.. a Boss ME-80 and run it into the effects return in the back of a Blackstar HT5R and I'm happy with the sound and ease of use. Occasionally I'll go in the front of the amp with a pedal or two, but usually it's just guitar - ME-80 - amp - 1x12 cabinet.

I went ahead and pulled the trigger on a used Paf Pro from e-bay this morning after looking up the specs. DiMarzio's site said it works good with a Norton and I have a Norton bridge in a guitar I may sell, so I might give that combo a try before ordering an Evo2. I'm intrigued by the Evo2 for a bridge pickup after reading up on it and checking out some sound clips/videos/reviews.

Thanks for all the help!!
 

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Hey Drew, I just watched your stock vs Evo pickup test in your Genesis RG550. Was surprised but it seemed like the EVO 2 had a much fuller sound where the V2 was a bit more top end focused. You get that impression as well?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So I'm not in love with the original Evolutions, but the EVO 2 bridge is a great pickup. Still has a ton of presence but it blends in just enough warmth. I have an Evolution Neck in the same guitar as the EVO 2 and am not in love with it.

The 3XXV is a basswood guitar, which is a perfect use for an Air Norton. I do like that pickup, I just think that a Liquifire does a better job performing the same task.
After watching Drew's video I would agree on the Evo 2 bridge sounding great, but Evo neck was not so much.... Thanks for the info, I'll keep the Liquifire on the radar. I loved the sound of the RG3XXV... and would have kept it had it not needed some fret work and had I not been gassing for a JS. Wish I could get that sound again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Just poking around youtube on my afternoon break at work... Anyone ever use a Bill Lawrence L500XL?
 

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diverging from dimazio for a sec... :) and i own quite a few

I have a set of Kiesel lithium pickups in a Frankenstein'd rg2020
that are stellar.... they seem a little bright at first but deliver tone in spades
they are hybrid ceramic and alnico 5

just my 2 cents i managed a cheep set off of ebay so it was a random purchase
i have purchase another set since the cheep one if that says anything

for a dimarzio choice check out Mark Morton pickup "dominion"
it's not as loud but i love the tight low end and it cleans up awesome with a role of the volume check it out

thanks for listening
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
diverging from dimazio for a sec... :) and i own quite a few

I have a set of Kiesel lithium pickups in a Frankenstein'd rg2020
that are stellar.... they seem a little bright at first but deliver tone in spades
they are hybrid ceramic and alnico 5

just my 2 cents i managed a cheep set off of ebay so it was a random purchase
i have purchase another set since the cheep one if that says anything

for a dimarzio choice check out Mark Morton pickup "dominion"
it's not as loud but i love the tight low end and it cleans up awesome with a role of the volume check it out

thanks for listening
Thanks for the suggestion, I've heard of ceramic/alnico 5 hybrid pickups. I'll definitely check them out... I need to brighten up this guitar!
 

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Hey Drew, I just watched your stock vs Evo pickup test in your Genesis RG550. Was surprised but it seemed like the EVO 2 had a much fuller sound where the V2 was a bit more top end focused. You get that impression as well?
For me kind of the reverse, actually. The V1 and V2 were very thick, smooth pickups, whereas the Evos where brighter, but in return more articulate and had a bit more personality. A lot of upper-mid harmonic energy, though, so maybe that...?
After watching Drew's video I would agree on the Evo 2 bridge sounding great, but Evo neck was not so much.... Thanks for the info, I'll keep the Liquifire on the radar. I loved the sound of the RG3XXV... and would have kept it had it not needed some fret work and had I not been gassing for a JS. Wish I could get that sound again!
Ironically, within a day or two of playing those, I'd decided the Evo neck wasn't for me, either. Just waiting for the replacement PAF Pro to show up in the mail from Dimarzio - it wasn't *bad*, it just wasn't for me. I wanted something over the top for this guitar, and instead the Evo ended up being hot, but surprisingly muted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ironically, within a day or two of playing those, I'd decided the Evo neck wasn't for me, either. Just waiting for the replacement PAF Pro to show up in the mail from Dimarzio - it wasn't *bad*, it just wasn't for me. I wanted something over the top for this guitar, and instead the Evo ended up being hot, but surprisingly muted.
Got the Paf Pro last night... but couldn't find a cheap used Evo 2, so I ordered one through the local music store since they price match and I like to keep them in business. Must be a good bridge pickup if you don't see any used ones on ebay! I was asking the guitar tech if he had any used ones and he tried to talk me into the new "Satchur8" by Dimarzio... says it is awesome and will wake a up a guitar. The specs looked like it was not as bright as the Evo 2 so I went ahead and stuck with the recommendations.

Starting to wonder if I should have just sold the RG520 and bought a basswood RG instead... lol! I don't like spending my hard earned money on hobby stuff. Oh well...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
...isn't that the point of hobbies? :)
Ha ha... yeah, I guess you're right. Although if I had your level of talent I wouldn't feel guilty for shelling out $$ for music related things... lol! I was just listening to your cd a couple weeks ago. You been recording anything? Any new music in the works?
 
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