#1
A good friend of mine recently left to tour with his band and live in another state and he left me one of his guitars, which is a Charvel Predator. I played it unplugged for abit and noticed right away how awesome the neck felt. It was just as good if not better than my Jackson Soloist. I decided right away that I wanted that to be my stage guitar, not only because of how smooth it felt to play it but because of the sentimental value it carries as well.

I plug it in to play one of my songs and it sounds great, until I get up to the solo! It turns out the pickup in the bridge was an active EMG, while the neck pickup is passive. Meaning I need to invest in a new pickup! Or possibly two new passive pickups.. Either way, I need some help figuring out what I need for it. I like the way the EMG in the bridge sounds, so I wouldn't mind getting an active pickup for the neck, but at the same time I don't know of any good ones, or any good active single coils...

I've read that the Charvel Predator has a humbucker in the bridge and single coil that's "split like a humbucker" in the neck. I don't exactly get what it means, but can anyone give me a reference or any advice as to what I may be looking for? Going to the nearest Guitar Center tomorrow to look for a neck pickup. I play in a technical melodic death metal/black metal band, along the lines of The Black Dahlia Murder, Enfold Darkness, and Vehemence. Most of my leads are jazz influenced and very melodic, and sound good through a warm clean tone as opposed to the crunchy high end I get from the EMG in the bridge, which is why I'm stressing over the neck pickup >.<

Thanks in advance to anyone that can help me out
#2
Sounds like the neck pickup is a stacked single coil, so it's basically more or less just a humbucker, sonically.

I find it hard to believe that it has a passive neck and an active bridge though, unless it has some pretty tricky wiring in there.

I'd say replace the bridge with something passive, since you like the neck and not the bridge.
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#3
Yeah, I think he wired it himself. I had a guy look at it because I thought it was a wiring problem, then we figured out it was just an active/passive issue. I haven't actually heard the neck pickup that's on the guitar, because it came on it already and it hasn't worked lol. But I know it's a stock pickup so I'm kinda looking to replace that with something snazzy, but I don't know much about single coil active pickups lol
#4
Pretty simple - EMG make active single coils. Seymour Duncan make a version too, as do DragonFire. Having tried them all, I honestly find the EMG version to sound the best (it's by far the most responsive). However, all of thse pickups are made ot sound as close to normal single ocil pickups as possible and from the sound of it you may want something thicker-toned than that, which is going to be a problem. To get a thicker tone in a single coil-sized space I would usually advise a single-sized passive humbucker like a Hot Rails or Cool Rails, but if you want to keep the active bridge pickup then that won't really be possible with the Charvel.

Basically your problem is the Charvel, I would asume, only has one volume control. Passive and active pickups require different control values otherwise they become extremely unbalanced - if you're running them through the same one control then you have to choose between a regular 250k/500k/1meg control pot which will allow the passive pickup to work normally but make the active pickup unbearably loud or you coudl use a 25k control pot which will make the active pickup sound as it shoudl but then the passive pickup will be very muddy and very, very low output (to the point of it being completely inaudible, in some cases).

So really you've got four options:
  • Go entirely active. Active single coils from EMG, Seymour Duncan or DragonFire will balance with the active bridge pickup just fine, but they are made to sound like regular single coils - very bright and very thin. This may not be the tone you want. You could install an EMG SPC control though, which can thicken up an active single coil pickup a lot.
  • Go entirely passive. You'll have a massive range of pickups to choose from and of course both pickups will be able to work properly, but if you really like the current active bridge pickup then you may not want to give that up.
  • Install a second volume control so you can balance the pickups separately (one 25k pot, one 250k500k/1meg pot) or an EMG PA-2 boost on the passive pickup to bring it in-line with the active.
  • Live with the pickups being entirely unbalanced and/or give up one of the positions and make the guitar a single-pickup guitar.


If it were me, I would go for #2. It would be the most simple option and give you the most control over the tone of both positions. Following that I'd go for #1 with the SPC control, then #4 and just use the bridge pickup. I personally would not bother with #3, it's a lot more effort than #1 or #2 but doesn't really offer any advanatge.
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#5
I've been in the market for a Predator for a while so I'm a bit versed on them. If he hasn't made any mods, the neck pickup is a stacked humbucker. Unlike the Charvel 3DR which is the same body but uses a regular single coil. You can tell the difference because the Predator has a Reverse toothpaste logo headstock while the 3DR has a regular pointed guitar logo headstock. Also the Predator has that sweet, sweet JT590 Floyd on there.

As for the bridge pickup, are you positive that it is an EMG? Jackson put covers on most of their guitars back then and its not uncommon for the Jackson logo to rub off sometimes. And they do look a lot like EMGs. If someone replaced it with EMGs you'll see a battery cavity.
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dwelling on past mishaps is for the weak. you must stride into the future, unabashed and prepared to fuck up yet again.
Last edited by itchy guitar at Jul 25, 2010,
#6
I wasn't expecting to get too much feedback on this thread, but I really appreciate what you guys have given me. Now that I see what options I have I'm totally leaning towards going with number 2 and going passive. It'd be better than being stuck with something active and mediocre (Thanks Flibb!). And yeah itchy, my friend installed the EMG and when I asked him about the guitar he explained it all to me. I kinda wish he had left the stock pickups on it lol, but I'm just gonna go passive. It makes alot more sense, I'm not looking forward to dropping extra cash on a pickup but I'm most likely just gonna pick up two of them > Thanks alot guys.

Btw, do you have any recommendations on a nice humbucker/stacked single coil set up? I'm a shredder at heart and plan on incorporating alot of technical lead work into my bands new material, so I'm kind of leaning towards Dimarzio's right now.
#7
Dimarzios are definitely the way to go unless you wanna shell out the big bucks and go Bare Knuckle. And then there is no substitute. With Dimarzios you can't go wrong with a Tone Zone in the Bridge and an Air Norton S in the neck.
Quote by MakinLattes
dwelling on past mishaps is for the weak. you must stride into the future, unabashed and prepared to fuck up yet again.
#8
in the neck, put a Dimarzio BC-1 or CHopper or Air Norton S.
In the bridge, put a d-activator if u want an active tone in a passive pickup. Or put a D-sonic.
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#9
I agree with a D-Activator in the bridge, and a Chopper in the neck.
Spin 'round carousel when your horse isn't screwed in.

My band:
Fractured Instinct
(For fans of Death/Groove/Prog Metal)

Ibanez RGA42E
Ibanez S420
LTD H-301
Ibanez RG520
Peavey Predator USA
Douglas Grendel 725
Line 6 Pod HD500X
#10
What amp do you have? Pickup recommendations don't mean anything if we don't know what amp you have.

Though I'll get this out there early: I wouldn't recommend any of the DiMarzio single-sized 'buckers. In my experience they are terribly unresponsive and overly-bright. For a single coil-sized humbucker I would strongly suggest either a SD Hot Rails if you use the volume control a lot to control your distortion or a Cool Rails if you tend to up the preamp gain and leave the guitar's volume control alone.
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