#1
So I feel like I have reached that point where I need to change my pick-ups. I have an Epiphone LP Standard and the stock pick-ups are not the greatest when playing with high gain. I use a Fender Mustang I (needs to be portable since I am moving into a dorm next year) to get a wide variety of tones.

Anyway, I play a wide variety of tunings, including Standard, C, Drop C, Drop D, and Drop A#. The majority of people I have asked at guitar stores recommended that I pick up the EMG Zakk Wylde set, which is the EMG 81/85 for $200. Would you guys recommend this set or a different one for playing metal in various tunings? Keep in mind I also play clean a lot.

Also, I talked to the guitar center tech, and he told me he can have my stock LP pick-ups removed and the EMG's put in (along with the tone/volume knobs) in 30 minutes, including restring time. Can you really change pick-ups that quickly? Anyway, he is charging $80 for it. I was going to do it myself but it seemed fairly difficult when reading the instruction manual online.

Thanks in advance for the help. I can't comment since I am at school but I will be reading through your comments thoroughly.
#2
is it a solderless pickup installation? Because my EMG DG-20s were and it barely took 10 mins to install
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#3
Quote by pawnluv
is it a solderless pickup installation? Because my EMG DG-20s were and it barely took 10 mins to install


Yeah, I looked at videos on YouTube and it is a solderless installation. But what about changing the tone/volume knobs that are included in the 81/85 box? That seems very hard to do. And if it is a solderless installation how do I connect my stock pickup switch to the pickups?
#4
Quote by ComradeNF
So I feel like I have reached that point where I need to change my pick-ups. I have an Epiphone LP Standard and the stock pick-ups are not the greatest when playing with high gain. I use a Fender Mustang I (needs to be portable since I am moving into a dorm next year) to get a wide variety of tones.

Anyway, I play a wide variety of tunings, including Standard, C, Drop C, Drop D, and Drop A#. The majority of people I have asked at guitar stores recommended that I pick up the EMG Zakk Wylde set, which is the EMG 81/85 for $200. Would you guys recommend this set or a different one for playing metal in various tunings? Keep in mind I also play clean a lot.

Also, I talked to the guitar center tech, and he told me he can have my stock LP pick-ups removed and the EMG's put in (along with the tone/volume knobs) in 30 minutes, including restring time. Can you really change pick-ups that quickly? Anyway, he is charging $80 for it. I was going to do it myself but it seemed fairly difficult when reading the instruction manual online.

Thanks in advance for the help. I can't comment since I am at school but I will be reading through your comments thoroughly.

Short answer is, you haven't.

The amp's going to be the problem here, not the pickups - you're certainly not going to get any benefit from actives with the amp you have. Actives have several advantages, low noise, clarity under high gain, maintaining signal integrity through a long effects chain, driving a tube preamp harder for more gain...none of which are going to apply with your current amp.

You might want to consider changing for some decent passives but even then I guarantee you'll be sorely disappointed - what you spend on pickups will not come close to justifying the subtle differences they'll make to your tone. If the amp's not doing it for you then you could shell out on a pedal which would be more cost effective, but even then it's stil a poor use of your cash. The simple fact is that your wanting recording and gig-quality tones from bedroom gear at bedroom volume levels - that's not going to happen however much money you throw at it until you start buying the same kind of gear that gigging musicians use, and pickups are way down on the list of priorities.
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#5
Quote by steven seagull
Short answer is, you haven't.

The amp's going to be the problem here, not the pickups - you're certainly not going to get any benefit from actives with the amp you have. Actives have several advantages, low noise, clarity under high gain, maintaining signal integrity through a long effects chain, driving a tube preamp harder for more gain...none of which are going to apply with your current amp.

You might want to consider changing for some decent passives but even then I guarantee you'll be sorely disappointed - what you spend on pickups will not come close to justifying the subtle differences they'll make to your tone. If the amp's not doing it for you then you could shell out on a pedal which would be more cost effective, but even then it's stil a poor use of your cash. The simple fact is that your wanting recording and gig-quality tones from bedroom gear at bedroom volume levels - that's not going to happen however much money you throw at it until you start buying the same kind of gear that gigging musicians use, and pickups are way down on the list of priorities.


Hmm, I don't know, when I was playing a guitar last week at GC that had the EMG 81/85's on them on the same amplifier and settings I have at home, I found that it was picking up every single detail that was being played. Also, palm mutes sounded much cleaner and crunchier. Another thing that was awesome was that hitting pinch harmonics was easier on the 81/85's. And I mean much easier.

So you don't think that I should invest in new pick-ups? The Epiphone stock ones sound really bad when I have gain set above 5.

Also, would a pedal really help? With the Fender Mustang application I can just hook up my guitar to my PC and use a bunch of different software pedals they have in the software. Would I get similar sound as buying a $100+ pedal?
#6
Amp choice aside do NOT get a pup swap done at GC. I can almost guarantee that you can look online and find a tech who will do it for less and do a better job. Their prices for most types of guitar work are outrageous. Charged me $70 to put my EMGs in my guitar and didn't even get it right the first time (a wire was put in backwards and pup height was not paid attention to at all). By contrast, my tech who runs his own shop did a full set-up, fret levelling (all frets), and cut deeper nut slots all for $60 and the guitar plays beautifully. Said he would have thrown in the pups for me for another $40.
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#7
Personally I like Seymour Duncan Blackouts over EMG's, but I never tried the Zakk Wylde EMG set out. If you live in AZ, I'll change your pickups out for free, I would recommend doing it yourself so you learn how to do it though.
#8
A few points worth making:
  • Everything steven seagull said is bang-on, 100% true. You have a modelling amp. What you run into it makes barely any difference, unless you're comparing extremes.
  • $80 to install EMG pickups is ridiculous. In fact $80 to install passive pickups would be ridiculous. EMGs have a quick connect, solderless install system. I can strip down an Epiphone Les Paul and wire in a full EMG set in <20 minutes, including restringing, and that's something I charge a fiver for (which equates to about $8, literally one tenth of the cost).
  • Even if you're hell-bent on changing pickups, active pickups are a terrible idea with that amp. Actvie pickups work great with mid-gain and high-gain valve amps, as well as some much more expensive and specialised solid state amplifiers. They are not designed for use with a small solid state, digital modelling amp. Doing so completely defeats the point of having active pickups.
  • You probably found the other guitar in the shop to sound better because it was either better set up or just better built than your Epiphone. Not that it's even hard to get pinch hamonics ringing out of stock Epi pickups - I would suggest that that point in particular is more a question of your technique than your gear.


Pickups do not effect your tone anywhere near as much as you think they do. Changing pickups is what you do once you've got a good core rig; a guitar and an amplifier that will really let you get your money's worth. A pickup is just a magnet with some wire wrapped around a piece of plastic. There's only so much that it can do. A pickup change won't make you play better. With your amp, at best you'll sound the same. What's more likely is that changing to higher quality pickups - especially active ones - will make you sound much worse, since more responsive pickups will show up every flaw in both your playing and in your rig.
A Mustang is a decent practise amp, but it is never going to give you recording-quality audio. It just isn't. Active pickups, which magnify both everything good but also everything bad about your tone, is only going to make it sound cheaper.
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