Got a new guitar arriving Monday, an Ibanez SZ520QM. I'm planning to upgrade the pups but not sure where to go with it. I am running a Peavey Classic VT100 amplifier at the minute and plan to upgrade that next year, but in all truth it's not too bad an amp.

I do have other guitars to play, so this doesn't have to be a jack of all trades set, but I do want lovely warm cleans that really ring out and a nice overdrive sound. I want crunch and clarity. I don't know play much of anyone else's stuff, as I am always mucking about writing, but bands I like the sound/tone of include Blink, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Bush, Metallica, Jimmy Eat World, early U2 stuff and so on.
I really love the sound the of the jazz in the neck. It's more smooth and mild sounding compared to the usual 59' that often goes with JB. This set is said to be Seymour's favorite set for versatility.

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Last edited by hminh87 at Nov 10, 2012,
what year is your SZ? depending on which year it was made, it might have some Duncan Designed pickups that are actually pretty decent- which would allow you to put the money towards the amp sooner.

anyways, the JB/Jazz combo is great. The JB is a good high-output bridge bucker, and the jazz is a nice smooth pickup. together, they give you a very wide range of tones to work with.
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It's a decent rock-oriented set. Not really my cup of tea. The cleans on both pickups are pretty bad, though. And the Jazz pickup is deceivingly named; it's absolutely horrible for jazz. It should work pretty well for the sounds you described, though.

(This is all based on my experiences with these pickups in a Schecter C-1 Classic, so they might be different in another guitar.)
I wouldn't get a JB. Get an SH-6.
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I put a JB in my Ibanez S470. It only sounds about 7000 times better than the stock pickup.
I have the JB/Jazz set in my Jackson Kelly. IMO they go with that guitar pretty well, it's an alder body. It's a good classic & speed metal tone. YMMV in your guitar. The Jazz is actually pretty hot but not too hot where cleans breaking up. The Jazz is a pretty smooth neck pickup, but as mattrusso said, not too great for jazz styles. Not flat enough, I guess.

A few small tweaks to the pole pieces really helps wake up both these pickups, though.

What other pickup options have you checked out?
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Not very many yet for this guitar. I've got some DiMarzio stuff in mind but they are going to go in another Ibby, so want to stick with Duncans on this one if I can.

The guitar is a 2005 but I'm not really bothered for keeping the stock pups as I've read lots of conflicting opinions on them. I've heard some nice demos on youtube of the JB but crappy cleans are a no no. Is that definitely the case?

I will take a look at the SH-6.

Regardless of buying new pups, I won't get an amp any sooner so no point holding off. That will be in about 6 months.
I have them on my les paul and I love them(some people LOATHE them on les pauls). They are in between vintage and modern to me.

JB: Cleans are trebbly and harsh(I roll off the volume and tone). Crunch till mid-gain classic rock tones is where it SHINES! It sounds tight and compressed if you put more gain(not really the wall of sound you get from EMGSs). Pinch harmonics squeaaaal. LOTS of high-mids. Also handles blues really well.

Jazz: I frankly hated it at first, but love it now. The pick-up is really articulate and is on the trebbly side. When I play a D chord with a clean tone, I can hear each string quite clearly. It's okay for jazz, with the tone and volume rolled off.. but it doesn't give me a fat clean solo tone.

I love them to death! Works well if you play with a one-channel amp and play a lot with your volume and tone pots a lot like I do.. you have a lot of tones at your disposal at anytime. My favorite tone is with both pickups on, with the bridge's tone level at 0, which gives you a FAT, FAT solo tone.

But if you play metal with an amp with lots of channels, or if you leave your volume and tone pots at 10 all the time, I wouldn't recommend them.

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Last edited by thetrueballs at Nov 11, 2012,
Cheers for the insight. I'm genuinely unsure about the combo now. Not sure it will be good enough to do what I want with the cleans, that's my concern. I don't want harsh, but I want clear but not overly trebly really... With the ability to switch to a nice, crisp crunch with great clarity.

The bridge pickup is the most important to me. The neck will be used just sparingly.