So, in the interest of contributing money to the "new speaker fund", and kind of wanting to go back to passives in my Explorer anyway, I've been thinking about removing the EMG's from it and putting the passives that came with it back in.

My question is, is it more complicated than removing a passive pickup? (which I've done before). I didn't install the EMG's myself, but am fairly confident with attempting to make the switch myself (from what I've heard, it's not a very difficult task).

Is there anything I will need other than a soldering iron, and a screwdriver or two? Also, should I cut the wire? or unsolder it?

And, I also have another question. Later down the road (I'm trying new speakers out before buying any new pickups), I will probably want to swap out the stock pickups for some other passive pickups. (I find the stock pups muddy, but at the same time, am shying away from EMG's)

What would be a good set of passives for metal? I don't have the budget for bareknuckles, or anything boutique/expensive like that, so do keep that in mind. I'd like something good for all styles of metal (80's - melodic death metal and some metalcore). Balls out rhythm and lead tones in the bridge, and smooth, shreddy leads in the neck. Good bridge cleans are not a priority. Something with more clarity and definition than the stock pups is a must, but preferably non-active.

Oh! And if it helps, the amp is a Mesa Boogie F-50.

- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff
You will need new pots too. Actives use 25k passives use 250k or 500k. Dimarzios are good for metal. D-sonic will be good for chunky bridge stuff and Air Norton for smooth shred leads. John Petrucci uses that combo.
Ah, ok. I still have all the old parts for the stock pickups too (including pots). Could I use the old pots again?
- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff
It's very likely that you could use the old pots. May I make a suggestion on pickups though. There's a gentleman in Florida who makes HighOrder Pickups. Now bear in mind, they're more on the vintage side of the house. But his highest output pickup is called the Maximus. I happen to have one of these puppies in my guitar. It's only about 10K resistance, but since all of this guy's pickups are HAND WOUND it has the most wonderful full frequency response and some 'air' in the tone. If you're looking at Seymour's or Dimarzio's I suggest you google HighOrder's and give the guy an email. He knows his stuff and can build you an amazing pickup at a not so amazing price (about $75 a pickup). His wait time is a little steep, but it's well worth it. I'd bet my left arm on it.
I appreciate the suggestions so far, and I did check out the Highorder's. They look nice, but they probably aren't what I'm looking for in this guitar.

I was kind of curious, does anybody have experience here with Swineshead pickups? I noticed that they're hand made, but much cheaper than Bareknuckles (not much more than an SD or Dimarzio). I was checking out the Venom and XBucker sets (kinda more interested in the Venom set).
I'm going to make a comment on High Order pickups.

Keep in mind that there is a reason why Jeff at High Order's wait time is so long, there is a waiting list. And I think that tells you something. Along with the fact that he hand winds them all himself, it's also because his pickups absolutely kick ass and blow everything in it's price range (along with many boutique pickups that cost twice as much) out of the water. He will wind anything, I've had a few talks with him about possibly winding me a pickup and I am still interested in getting a set of his A3 asymmetric winds when I get a new les paul. The man is a class act and his pickups sound incredible.

I highly suggest you email the guy behind the operation at High Order and discuss what you want first before writing them off as something that "probably" isn't what you're looking for. High Order doesn't really get much mention around here because most people around here only look at what gets all the press and what is always talked about. But go to a forum like TGP where people are super anal about their tone and are into higher end gear and run a search and you will get a much better impression.
Last edited by al112987 at Feb 24, 2009,
This guy's not kidding folks. My asymmetric A5 humbucker I had him wind is the most articulate pickup I've ever heard. I've thrown so much gain at that thing it's not funny and all it does is sound awesome and ask for more! lol The A5 neck pickup he built me gives me all those sweet tones you've always wanted, but could never get. I don't mean to sound fanatical, but ever since I bought and installed those pickups on my guitar I'll never look back. Jeff builds the best pickups I've ever heard, period. My brother in law has a set of bare knuckle miracle mans on his guitar, and even after playing them (they're very nice mind you, wonderful pickups) I'd still go with Jeff's pickups. No hesitation whatsoever. Jeff has a customer for life in me. Oh, and to al112987: you might want to reconsider having those A3's asymmetricaly wound my friend. A3's are already supposed to be bright, and having them asymmetric makes them so bright it's not funny. That's what I found with my bridge humbucker. I still love it, but I have to really tame the high end or it gets to me. It's not like an ice pick, it's smooth and bell like, but still a bit overwhelming at times. Just a suggestion.
Last edited by properpat at Feb 24, 2009,
I'm taking A3 suggestion based off of 1) the Tim Cox les paul clip on the HO page and the spec of Jimmy Page's pickup in his no. 1 les paul (with the PAF in the neck and t-top bridge). I really want to have a cleaner, more coherent and brighter tone in the neck main reason being that I'm looking for a Dickie Betts gold top, Jimmy Page-ish neck tone. And I've tried a tone of different A2 and A5 PAFs and they just do not do it for me. I just need thinner and brighter. I may do it in my current les paul now which has WCR Fillmores. The Fillmore neck is a little too hot for me I think, but the middle position gets me so close to that Fillmore east tone that I'm afraid to replace the neck.
Bareknuckle pickups. Check em out.
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Well, you have me convinced that Highorders are great, but the question is, are they for me? Aggressive, high gain tone is the goal with this guitar. Do you think he'd be willing to make a ceramic magnet pickup? (I know that's tone blasphemy to some of you, but please read on). Maybe I just haven't experienced a truly great passive pickup yet, but most of the vintage output pups I've played on sound great for the vintage stuff, but haven't really been what I'm after high-gain wise. They either don't have the bite I'm looking for, or start to sound shrill when the gain goes up.

For example, the SD Jazz pickup. Love the cleans, and the mid-gain ain't too shabby, but high gain on that thing = not what I'm looking for.

I know that' s just one example, but I don't want to make this post too long

You definitely have my attention on these pickups. But now I'm curious about these, and Swinesheads. Something tells me both are probably better than SD or Dimarzio.
- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff
Talk to CorduroyEW

He'll wind you something. I was speaking to him recently, but haven't had time to get back to him, he was recommending a Beefbucker to me, DC resistance rating is supposed to be 24k... that'll do high gain and then some.
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If the original pups you had in the Explorer are Gibson 500T & 498T then you're set.
Those pups kill for all kinds of metal and hard rock.
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