i've got some money, and i have a strong feeling im going to end up spending it on my guitar in some way or another

i dont know all that much about what is good and what to stay away from, so ill list what i would like to change and some parts i was looking at.

i think firstly i should look into changing my bridge saddles. the current bridge is on an ibanez ex series model (a low end 80's guitar). it is a strat copy bridge. is it a good/bad idea to change the saddles? they are somewhere around 20 years old i would think, so it seems like it might be a benefit to change them?

next i was looking at the EMG afterburner push/pull knob. i have a few questions about it, if anyone has used it themself:

-is the gain clean or distortion (20db of clean boost or works like gain knob on an amp?)
-hows the quality of it? i understand it will probably depend on the other electronics in the guitar to some extent.
-how difficult is it to install?

lastly, the black ice passive overdrive: http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Electronics,_pickups/Components:_Black_Ice_overdrive.html. this is one thing i would like an opinion on from anyone that has used it. basically, how's the quality of it.

thanks for any help, and suggestions are quite welcome. especially for the bridge saddles, as i looked through musiciansfriend and had no idea which i would buy if i was going to need some.
Last edited by SpeedLives at Jan 15, 2009,
Hey man! If I were you, I would PM a user here named LP Addict for your parts, he can give you a discount since he is a dealer for Allparts. Changing out your saddles may or may not help your guitar. If you are experiencing alot of broken strings at the saddles, have trouble tuning, or suffer from really soft saddle material and therefor a really dull tone, changing them might be worth it so long as you don't spend too much money. Keep in mind the cost of your guitar when you go to upgrade.

As for the EMG-AB Afterburner, I just wired one into one of my recent project:

click here!

Also, I have recorded some sound clips in my profile of that guitar, and one of them is a little demo of what the Afterburner can do as far as driving a clean sound into distortion. Feel free to check those clips out, and if you want, I can record some more clips of it doing different things. Here's some answers to your questions about it though:

- It provides 20 dB of GAIN, which is different from distortion, but as you know from working the gain knob on your amp, it can be used to get you into distortion. Just tell me and I'll type out a huge description of how gain, pre amp, and post amp works, but for now I'll just focus on the knob. Think of it as adding an additional master gain knob for your entire amp; if you're in the clean channel, you can use it as more volume, or to overdrive it. If you're in the distortion channel, you can make it way more distorted and add tons of sustain. For example, if you have dialed in a very clean sound, it will just make the sound louder. If you dial in a sound that is somewhere close to breakup, it will push your signal well beyond that point into overdrive/distortion. If you already have an overdriven/distorted sound, it will add to the distortion, producing a much heavier sound, and with way more sustain. Of course all of this is variable, as the thing is a knob. It's not like you flick a switch and some pre-set amount of gain appears; you can dial in as much or as little as you want.

- The quality of the Afterburner is excellent! If wired properly, it is quite as a mouse, and operates very smoothly. The gain is completely colorless, and will not change your tone whatsoever, it will simply add tons of gain.

- It is very easy to install if you are ok at soldering. It comes with tons of diagrams and instructions on how to do it.

Personally, as you can probably tell, I LOVE the thing. It's total genius! It can take any amp you've got, and make it SCREAM. It's really incredible, I will never build a guitar ( for myself anyways ) without wiring in one of these things again, they just add so much versatility it's ridiculous.

I've never used the Black Ice, though I have looked into it pretty seriously. Might be interesting, but just from the specs, it's clear to see that it will never do as much for you as the Afterburner will.
well about the saddles, i was having an intonation problem, but i think i fixed it by just moving the saddle forward (my tuner isn't that accurate though). about the saddles, i am just considering changing them because 1: i hear alotta bad things about cheaper ibanez bridges 2: again, the age 3: the way the replacement saddles are advertised (are they actually superior?).

for the afterburner, i know how gain works, i just wanted to be sure because i have seen "clean" boosters (which do xxdb of always clean/no breakup boost), and thats not something i need. regarding the install, what about adding the actual pot? should i replace the tone pot or try and make a new hole (body is NOT the type with a pickguard)? and what about making a spot for the battery?

assuming i can get the afterburner into my guitar, i probably should get one. i like high gain, and currently, on my amps highest gain channel, i have the gain turned up to 10. id probably turn up the afterburner and turn down the amp gain a notch, and hopefully make it alittle quieter.

and for the black ice, i haven't been able to get a decent overdriven sound out of my amp, but i do have decent high gain and clean settings. so i was thinking if the black ice is any good, i could use my clean setting with the black ice. of course, i guess i dont desperatly need an overdrive setting.

if i end up buying something, ill PM him first.
Last edited by SpeedLives at Jan 15, 2009,
Well, you could replace the tone knob or drill a new hole. As for space, I managed to fit the battery, the push pull pot, and the stereo switch along with two full sized push pull volume pots into a cavity designed to only house two mini-pots; where there's a will there's a way. You can just flop the battery in there, literally. Just lay it down wherever there's space, and if there's no space, lay it down on top of stuff. It might be ugly looking, but as long as it works, who cares? No one I know has X-ray vision, so it's totally hidden by the cavity cover. You don't need a padded enclosure or whatever like some guitars come with, just jam it in there man!

If you're like me and you never, ever, for any reason, EVER touch the tone knob, accept to bring it back up to full when you've accidentally knocked it, you might consider just replacing it. If you actually use your tone knob, then it might be a good idea to just drill a small new hole wherever you have the most room in your control cavity.

Also, I didn't mean to insult you or anything when I asked if you knew about how pre/post amps work, so I apologize if I came across as offensive.
hey dont forget nuthinbuttrubl8, PM him, im not sure whos parts are cheaper, his or LP Addicts. But i know they got cheap (good quality) stuff
i already said id PM the other guy first. if he can't deliver, ill ask your guy.

that is the ONLY reason i ever touch my tone pot . one of my friends said the battery should have its own spot to make it easier to change. i never thought that was really necessary though.

you didn't offend me, i just wanted to make it clear im not someone trying to buy something that does something other then what i think it does (if thats not too confusing)

so far im thinking yes on the afterburner, im not sure if the saddles are worth how much they cost, and i dont know the quality of the black ice (which means no way i am paying that much for one).
Well when you think about how often you will be replacing the battery ( which will be less than once a year, literally. I had a guitar on EMG's and I would replace it about once every 10 months, and the Afterburner undoubtedly uses less power than a full set of EMG humbuckers ), having it in the control cavity really won't be a hassle. Unless of course you consider unscrewed 4 screws and screwing them back in once every year or so a hassle.

As for the saddles, you'll just have to make the call. I generally don't replace something unless there is a problem with it, like "There aren't enough mids in this pickups, I want a different one." or "This nut binds the strings and causes tuning issues." or "This finish sucks big time, I'd like something different." but it's totally up to you. If you think the improvement in performance will be worth the money, then go for it.

Finally, I tried to find some demos and stuff on youtube of the black ice for you, but all that would come up is AC/DC stuff related to their latest album....generally youtube is a great resource for finding tests, demos, and whatever else on gear you're interested in. I go there a lot to supplement the written reviews on Hamony Central.
i never thought it seemed like that big of a deal either. but just wanted to make sure there wasn't a problem that was eluding me by putting the battery in the cavity.

i dont think there's much of a problem with my current saddles, its just the description of graph tecs replacement ones make it seem like there is an advantage to non stock ones. maybe thats just advertising actually working for once.

if anyone actually has used the black ice before...feel free to leave your impression of it here... ill be buying the afterburner i think

1 further question about the afterburner, whats this i saw about a different type of output jack? i believe a stereo output jack someone said was required, or else the battery would constantly be in use?

edit: regarding LP addict for parts, i searched allparts for emg afterburner and they dont appear to sell it?
Last edited by SpeedLives at Jan 15, 2009,