Hey guys,

Currently rocking an Epi SG Custom with a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge. I'm not really a fan of the stock Epi pickups (is anyone?), and so I'm looking to replace the other two. I play mostly rock and metal, sometimes some blues. I'm really diggin the sound samples of the SD '59, and I know that '59/JB is quite a common configuration. The question is what would be a good choice for the middle humbucker? I don't even know whether I should be looking for a neck or a bridge pickup. Any suggestions?
i think the middle can go either bridge or neck pickup, depending on the sound you want. i would go with a bridge pickup, but most guitars that come stock with 3 humbuckers go with a neck pickup. i think i'd go with a JB bridge, Jazz neck, and 59 middle. maybe a Jazz middle and 59 neck. could be a really cool combo!
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You'd want the middle pickup to be something flexible. If it's too much like the bridge, you won't get a good blend in the position with the middle and the bridge, and if it's too much like the neck, you won't get good blend in the position with the neck and the middle.

The '59 is a very organic pickup. The guitar's tonal qualities will shine through this pickup. The sound is incredibly warm (yet bright, but my guitar has a quilted maple top) and full. It's a great pickup, and with the bright JB, it makes a good combo mainly because it's a slightly more mellow pickup than the JB.

If anything, you're probably going to want to put the '59 in the middle and the Jazz in the neck.

Or you might want to put a SPH90 in it... it's just Seymour Duncan's humbucker sized P90 and put the Jazz in the neck:
ya i have this feeling like a 59 in the middle might be a good idea. i've never used an HHH for i have a 59 in my tele, and its certainly got an organic sound. i can imagine it sounding pretty cool in the middle. jazz for a warmer glassier neck tone,
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I'm a fan of having a Pearly Gates in the middle. It's such a great all-round pickup anyway that it will blend well with whatever other pickups you have and since it's such a good pickup in both the neck and bridge positions, why not have it in the middle too? I've been experimenting with a Pearly Gates Plus in the middle position of a friend's Epi BB and that works really well though it's just a touch too muddy - the regular Pearly Gates is clearer and brighter though so that's what I would go for.
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Any reason why a Jazz would be better than a '59 in the neck position? I've had the JB in the bridge for a couple years now and love it, so that's why I've only considered Seymour Duncans as replacements. Any other brands I should be looking at?
The Jazz pickup is much more articulate and smooth. The '59 is very full, organic and in my experience (looks down), is quite bright. IF you don't EQ this pickup right, it will sound awful. Also, if you don't use the tone knob, it will sound awful. It brings out the tonal characteristics of the wood more than the Jazz, too.
the Jazz is just articulate and smooth. It's better for "jazz riffs," but they're in like every randy rhoads without EMG's. The '59 is better if you're into blues and very full and sparkly cleans.
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The name is kind of offputting though, I never really play Jazz. Is it still good for hard rock/bluesy leads? Or is the '59 more up my alley?
The Jazz is actually highly unsuitable for jazz playing, ironically. It is much more popular as a shred pickup, though really it's good for any style and guitar where a more traditional neck pickup would get muddy.

I think it's important to clarify something; the Jazz is actually brighter than the '59. However, it is a specific kind of upper-mid brightness that doesn't get shrill, while the '59 skips over the upper-mids and has more treble instead. With a completely clean tone this means the '59 comes across as being more articulate and brighter while the Jazz can seem flat and confused (hence not being too great for jazz), but once you add any gain at all the '59 starts sounding thin and the Jazz then comes into its own. This is why it is so often paired with a JB in the bridge, since both the Jazz and JB have the same upper-mid spike.

Most pickups get rated for their bass, mids and treble. Really, that's not enough. At the very least you should think of pickups' tone being divided into bass, lower-mids, mids, upper-mids and treble. To that end, the '59 basically breaks down as having a lot of bass and lower-mids but then not much else until the treble; on the other hand the Jazz lacks bass but has strong lower-mids, decent mids, very strong upper-mids and average treble. So the '59 hits heavy at the extremes but that quickly gets both muddy and shrill once you add in any gain. The Jazz is more focused and sounds dulled clean but comes alive once you get some dirt going.

If you're a strict blues-rock player, I usually advise a Pearly Gates in the neck and a Custom 5 in the bridge; for a middle pickup I would also advise a Pearly Gates, as above. If you want a little more flexibility though I would back the idea of a Jazz in the neck, stick with the Pearly Gates in the middle and the JB in the bridge is fine. You did originally mention metal too though and to that end, I would honestly pick out a Jazz/Pearly Gates/Custom combination.
Either way, I wouldn't advise a '59 in the neck and I would probably stay away from it in the middle too.
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