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#1
Hey Everyone,

I'm looking for good passive metal pickups for my Gibson SG Gothic. I have the EMG 81-85 combo right now and they're good pickups, but not quite the tone I'm looking for. I don't like the scratchy sound they get and they seem to have a flat tone. I want some passives that sound more lively and responsive.

I'm currently considering the Dimarzio D Activator, X2N, and Crunchlab. I'd love some feedback from people who have played those or anyone who as other recommendations. I'm looking for a really light low end and a lot of presence for fast rhythm chugging and some lead stuff. I play through a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, so I have more than enough bass on tap and a huge range of presence control as well.

Thanks in advance for the help!
#2
I would recommend looking into EMG X pickups first.
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
#4
I keep going back and forth between the 9 and 18v mod. It doesn't seem to make much of a difference. The 18v has a little more head room on the clean channel, but that's all I've noticed.
#5
Quote by Offworld92
I would recommend looking into EMG X pickups first.

These

Or Seymour Duncan Distortions or Dimarzio Crunch Lab/Liquifire.
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#7
Are the Crunchlab's tight in the low end and present enough? I hear good things about them, but according to Dimarzio's tone guide they're lacking in the high end.
#8
Also, are there any guitars that come stock with the EMG X pickups that I might be able to try out at guitar center?
#9
x's are honestly not improved enough over standard emgs, ive had both. in multiple guitars. sound incredibly simialr. if you dont like the emg tone. you wont like the x's. that being said. the emg 57/66 combo sound awsome in that vid with richie faulkner playing them. would love to try them
#10
I've tried the 57 and 66. Not in one of my own guitars and not through my own amp, sadly, so it would be wrong of me to draw any drastic conclusions, but I had enough time with them to get an idea of what they're about. They're very nice, but essentially they're just the James Hetfield model with alnico magnets instead of ceramic ones. This is not a bad thing - they sound exactly as EMG claim they do, a great hybrid of modern technology and more standard humbucker tone - but this is a trick they already did with the, in my opinion far superior...

EMG 60AX. That's what you want. The 60A always gets ignored and it's a total crime, because it solves every problem people bring up with active pickups. It's not as flat as the 81, it's not as muddy as the 85 and it's not as harsh as the 60; the regular version gives you a tighter sound than Blackouts if that is the response you like, while the X version gives you even looser response than Blackouts, if that's the feel you're after.
Compared to the passives that have been mentioned, the D Activators are basically like an EMG 81 with the lower-mids sucked out, the X2N is like an 85 with the mids pumped up even more to the point of no return and the Crunchlab is, as far as I'm concerned, an inferior take on the Duncan Custom tone.

I would like to point out that you can't get passive pickups that are "more lively and responsive" than active designs. It's a simple fact of the technology; active pickups are, inherently by design, always more responsive than any passive pickup can ever be. The idea of active pickups was originally to expand the response range for jazz players. If you don't find active pickups are responsive enough for you, then I'd suggest something is wrong with the set up of that guitar, its wiring, your amp or, dare I say it, your technique.
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#11
Quote by MrFlibble
the Crunchlab is, as far as I'm concerned, an inferior take on the Duncan Custom tone.


That's probably why I don't care for my Custom that much. The Crunch Lab does nothing for me.
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
#12
I guess responsive isn't the right word. I know most passives won't have as high of an output as actives. There just seems to be a lack of clarity and presence, which is probably because active pickup magnets are significantly weaker than passive pickup magnets. I was able to improve the tone of my EMGs quite a bit when I moved my pickups really close to the strings, but it still doesn't have the clarity of a good hot passive pickup.
Last edited by saxman42 at Dec 6, 2012,
#13
How long since you've replaced your battery?
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
#14
I just replaced it about two weeks ago. I usually swap it out pretty often. I'm not saying the EMGs don't sound like they should. I've been using them for about two years and they sound good. I just like the passive sound better. Besides, I have a schecter 7 string with EMGs that sound identical, so I wouldn't mind getting some versatility in sound between the two guitars.
Last edited by saxman42 at Dec 6, 2012,
#15
I'm quite fond of EMG's and have had them in a bunch of guitars. I decided to go with passives when I picked up my LP and went with a Duncan Distortion and haven't looked back. Great sounding pickup.
#17
Right well, sticking to passives then...

If clarity is how you define responsiveness, then the Duncan Distortion definitely is a good option. It's pretty much the most balanced of the high-output, ceramic magnet humbuckers commonly available. I've not used one in an SG before, but I've used them in enough Les Pauls and super-Strats to hazard an educated guess that you'll be happy enough with a Distortion.
If I may, though, there are other options from Seymour Duncan and DiMarzio that have particular advantages over the Distortion, if you fancy something that is as generic.

There's the SD Full Shred and DM Evo, both of which have just a touch less mids and a sharper response than the Duncan Distortion. If your SG happens to be one of the classic-sounding, mids-heavy SGs, these could help bring a little tightness to your bass and more cut to the treble. And, obviously, if you do lots of fast solos or complex riffing, these pickups will help define that.

The SD Custom has a slightly more classic, rounder sound than the Distortion. It fills out and reinforces the mix a little better, though arguably doesn't naturally stand out as well. It can balance a thin or bright-sounding guitar better than the Distortion does. If you're the only guitarist in a band, or if the other guitarist favours a thinner tone, the Custom can help add some width to your sound. Check out Nightwish for an example of how the Custom with a Mesa Dual Rectifier can give a big sound by itself.

A DM Evo 2 can be great if you play an even mix of rhythm and lead. It's not quite as piercing as the Evo/Full Shred are, it's not quite as classic as the Custom is and it's not as flat as the Distortion. It is probably the most sensitive passive pickup around, but it's an unusual kind of sensitive; it's bright without having the ice pick treble of most ceramic pickups and the bass is clear without simply being weak. In many ways it is the perfect high-output pickup, but it does have one major drawback: if you play well, this will be exaggerated and you will sound incredible. But if you make the slightest mistake, the Evo 2 will exaggerate that too and make you sound absolutely awful. It's an incredible pickup but you really need to have a lot of confidence in your ability. All your skill and all your flaws will be highlighted; the Duncan Distortion will cover both up a bit, which may be preferable.

There's also the SD Alternative 8. It's basically the next stage of Distortion; more mids, more bass, slightly less piercing treble but still as bright as any high-output pickup can be and slightly less compressed dynamics. If you like the idea of actives but want less laboratory-perfect, clinical response, the Alternative 8 is the way to go. The Alternative 8's EQ is more or less perfect for anything and everything, its only flaw being that the output is simply too much for many rigs and styles of music. You can turn this to your advantage though, by turning the gain on your amp down a little bit more than you'd usually have it, which then gives you more room to play with the guitar's volume control to clean up, which is always a nice option to have even when playing chuggy metal.
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#18
I like Duncan sh-6,sh-8. And have BKP holy divers in a mohog guitar .....love emmm, but I think Dimarzio super distortions would have worked just as well as for less $$$$$.


I play acdc ,Rush, Prong slayer, 80s hair metal, 70s rock with all of these pups.
What the hell!!!
#19
Quote by saxman42
... I want some passives that sound more lively and responsive.

... I play through a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, so I have more than enough bass on tap and a huge range of presence control as well.

Thanks in advance for the help!

It could be your Dual Rec and/or setting (I have the Triple Rec/2 ch and had a Dual). If you need responsive, you need something a bit tighter like a Fryette/VHT, a Rivera, etc. I bet you'll immediately notice a difference even through a Marshall.

If you need another set, the Crunchlab + Liquifire would be nice.
#20
Wow. Thanks for the detailed description MrFlibble. That's just the response I was looking for. So you're more of a fan of the Seymour Duncan's than the Dimarzios?
#21
i have probably recommended these a dozen times in the last month. BG pickups. all custom wound in california, cheaper than SD or DM and they kill on LP's. i will be getting a hell rails and a smokestack. i have talked to brian a few times and didn't order but i will soon, i tried them on a friend's guitar, i loved them. he just had the regular hellabucker and not the hell rails. probably a 8 to 10 week wait. but i haven't checked that for a month or two.

http://www.bg-pups.com/hb.html
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Quote by andersondb7
alright "king of the guitar forum"


Quote by trashedlostfdup
nope i am "GOD of the guitar forum" i think that fits me better.


Quote by andersondb7
youre just being a jerk man.


***"What Trashed Hoards"*** (updated 2016-11-27)
Resentments and Rambling from a Guitar Junkie
---> http://trashedengineering.blogspot.com/
#22
^ Still waiting for you to get those so you can give us a good review.

I'm interested, but wary.
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
#23
Quote by Offworld92
^ Still waiting for you to get those so you can give us a good review.

I'm interested, but wary.


why wary? go to HC. he used to be on there constantly has a great rep.

i just wish i knew somebody with a hellrail. i will buy them when i want them. i just have other priorities. i always try to buy different things, but it just seems like i happen to come home with amplifiers . the music man HD212 130watt was my 'accessory cash' also i am going to buy 150' of cable and tons of ends so i have patch cables. i had it in the cart for $180. pickups may come first though. or maybe a dual rec/tremoverb or even a dr. z. or even a budda superdrive i have wanted them for a while.

EDIT: i think AM had some at one point. he convinced me on the smokestack in the neck.
WTLT 2014 GG&A

Quote by andersondb7
alright "king of the guitar forum"


Quote by trashedlostfdup
nope i am "GOD of the guitar forum" i think that fits me better.


Quote by andersondb7
youre just being a jerk man.


***"What Trashed Hoards"*** (updated 2016-11-27)
Resentments and Rambling from a Guitar Junkie
---> http://trashedengineering.blogspot.com/
Last edited by trashedlostfdup at Dec 7, 2012,
#24
Not wary about him, wary about the tone of the pups.

I want a Tremoverb or a blackface 2 channel Dual Rec, but the main thing stopping me from selling my JSX and getting one is that I'm not looking forward to modding the shitty parallel loop to serial.

May end up holding out altogether and just going straight for my dream amp (Twin Jet). Kind of hard when it's 3x as much though.
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
Last edited by Offworld92 at Dec 7, 2012,
#25
Quote by Offworld92
Not wary about him, wary about the tone of the pups.

I want a Tremoverb or a blackface 2 channel Dual Rec, but the main thing stopping me from selling my JSX and getting one is that I'm not looking forward to modding the shitty parallel loop to serial.

May end up holding out altogether and just going straight for my dream amp (Twin Jet). Kind of hard when it's 3x as much though.


next thing i am going to buy is either another Prestige ibby (XX20) or one of the aforementioned amps.

except for i will be finishing a big job in march or april so i will probably go all out with recording gear. new computer (had two laptops die), 12 channel interface and protools and some good mics and preamps.

protools because a community college relatively close by that has a certificate program that is 12 credit hours (one semester).
WTLT 2014 GG&A

Quote by andersondb7
alright "king of the guitar forum"


Quote by trashedlostfdup
nope i am "GOD of the guitar forum" i think that fits me better.


Quote by andersondb7
youre just being a jerk man.


***"What Trashed Hoards"*** (updated 2016-11-27)
Resentments and Rambling from a Guitar Junkie
---> http://trashedengineering.blogspot.com/
#26
I really want Pro Tools, but there's no ****ing way I'm paying $700 for that ish. I started recording my EP with Reaper the other day, and it's very frustrating compared to when I used Pro Tools in the past. Just not sure how to get it. I don't really want to muck around with a pirated copy and try to get that to work.
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
#27
Quote by saxman42
Wow. Thanks for the detailed description MrFlibble. That's just the response I was looking for. So you're more of a fan of the Seymour Duncan's than the Dimarzios?
To paraphrase a user who's name I don't remember, Seymour Duncan enhance what you already have, DiMarzio give you what you don't.
I like DiMarzio in cases where I've got an unusually-constructed guitar and want to even it out. DiMarzio make great pickups for adding depth to a thin-sounding Strat or brightness to a dark-sounding PRS. However, I find they don't do a good job of working with your guitar and amp.
With Seymour Duncan pickups, I usually find that they don't completely overwrite the sound of the rest of your rig. If you've got a crap or simply inappropriate rig, this is bad. If you've got a good rig though, this is very good.

DiMarzio pickups always sound like DiMarzio pickups. To me, they are the modelling amp of the pickup world. Each one is designed for a specific sound and no matter what guitar you put it in and no matter what amp you use, that is the sound you will get. Seymour Duncan pickups simply blend in much better.

That said, in your case I think both brands are fairly evenly matched; Seymour Duncan have a few more options, but I wouldn't say either is better than the other. Playing metal on an SG through a Dual Rectifier is, luckily for you, pretty standard and well-catered for. I would have confidence in any of the pickups I mentioned before.
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#28
Gibson 57+

Great pickup.

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#30
Quote by trashedlostfdup
i have probably recommended these a dozen times in the last month. BG pickups. all custom wound in california, cheaper than SD or DM and they kill on LP's. i will be getting a hell rails and a smokestack. i have talked to brian a few times and didn't order but i will soon, i tried them on a friend's guitar, i loved them. he just had the regular hellabucker and not the hell rails. probably a 8 to 10 week wait. but i haven't checked that for a month or two.

http://www.bg-pups.com/hb.html



I really like the sound of the hellabucker and hellarail. I'm going to add those to my list of ones to consider.

I'm also debating trying to wind my own pickups. I'm a electrical engineering major and I'm definitely competent enough with electronics to give it a shot. I guess I'm just afraid of putting all of the work into building the pickups and having them sound like sh*t. Are there any companies that sell kits and/ or parts for making your own?
#31
Quote by saxman42
I really like the sound of the hellabucker and hellarail. I'm going to add those to my list of ones to consider.

I'm also debating trying to wind my own pickups. I'm a electrical engineering major and I'm definitely competent enough with electronics to give it a shot. I guess I'm just afraid of putting all of the work into building the pickups and having them sound like sh*t. Are there any companies that sell kits and/ or parts for making your own?


there is a lot more to it than you think. they will likely sound like shit.

there is a science to pickups. number of winds, gauge of the wire, type of magnet, wax potting or not. all of those can make a great pickup and more likely a shitty one if you don't know what you are doing.
WTLT 2014 GG&A

Quote by andersondb7
alright "king of the guitar forum"


Quote by trashedlostfdup
nope i am "GOD of the guitar forum" i think that fits me better.


Quote by andersondb7
youre just being a jerk man.


***"What Trashed Hoards"*** (updated 2016-11-27)
Resentments and Rambling from a Guitar Junkie
---> http://trashedengineering.blogspot.com/
#32
Quote by trashedlostfdup
there is a lot more to it than you think. they will likely sound like shit.

there is a science to pickups. number of winds, gauge of the wire, type of magnet, wax potting or not. all of those can make a great pickup and more likely a shitty one if you don't know what you are doing.


Ok. Yeah... I did some research after I posted that and came to the same conclusion. Besides, I don't have a pickup winder and there's no way I'm about to sit down and wind 4 coils with 5,000+ wraps by hand. That's definitely not worth it.

I guess I've narrowed it down to a small handful of pickups. It's mostly between the SD Distortion and DM D Activator for the bridge pickup. I'm still toying with the idea of the Crunch Lab Liquifire combo. Regardless, I think a Liquifire will be going in the neck.

For those who have tried those pickups, am I right in assuming that the D Activator and Duncan Distortion sound pretty close to the same, but the Duncan Distortion has a little bit beefier low end and the Crunch lab is a little more low end yet, but very tight and a little less present in the highs?
Last edited by saxman42 at Dec 8, 2012,
#33
If you're willing to shell out some cash, Bareknuckle pickups are absolutely incredible. Crunchlab/Liquidfire is also a really solid combo you can't go wrong with.
NOPE
#34
I've heard nothing but great things about Bare Knuckles, but they're just so expensive. I want to try a couple of less expensive options first. I REALLY like the sound clips I've heard of the BK Cold Sweat, though.
Last edited by saxman42 at Dec 8, 2012,
#35
FWIW, I'm planning on upgrading an old Dean with some Bareknuckles (a Stockholm and a Rebel Yell), I've used Lace pickups (Alumitones) for another past upgrade, and have been impressed by the sound of the Railhammers used in the Reverend Reeves Gabrels Sig II.

I also have liked the sound of the Golden Age pickups in one of my Jon Kammerer guitars- they deliver a classic HB sound that also sounds nice when split.

...but right now, I'm having a custom guitar built using a Tesla VR-Extreme HB and a pair of Tesla OPUS-S1 singlecoils. They sound great, and are reasonably priced.
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Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Dec 8, 2012,
#36
The BK Cold Sweat is more or less a SD Custom; if you fancy the idea of boutique pickups, try at-the-creamery.co.uk, he can wind you something unique just for you (a service BKP stopped a while back), he's cheaper and, since he's a smaller outfit and can pay more attention to each customer, you'll end up with a better product.

That said, though I have several sets of boutique, custom-wound pickups, at the end of the day if you can buy something off the shelf that does the same job just as well then you might as well go with that.

Quote by saxman42
What about the SD Screamin' Demon? Has anyone tried that one?
Yup. I found it to basically sound like a '59 with the EQ pushed just a little more towards the high-end; in a blind test I wouldn't be able to tell them apart. It's not really a 'metal' pickup; classic rock leads and hard rock rhythm is where it most comfortably sits. Many people liken it to a tamer, 'classic' version of the Full Shred (and DM Evo/Evo 2) and from my experience with it, I would agree with that.
Not a bad pickup by any means, I just don't know why anyone would use it. Lead metal players will prefer the Full Shred or Distortion, metal rhythm players would likely prefer the Custom or Distortion, and hard rock and classic rock players would probably be happiest with a plain '59 or Pearly Gates.

As far as the Crunch Lab goes, I've yet to hear it sound particularly good - to my ears - in any guitar or amp. It's pretty much a neutered SD Custom. Great if you want a fairly flat EQ and totally medium output, but I've yet to meet anybody who does. Of all the standard off-the-shelf pickups around, the Crunch Lab is pretty much the hardest one for me to recommend, perhaps equaled by the Humbucker From Hell and Dimebucker.
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#37
Quote by dannyalcatraz
...but right now, I'm having a custom guitar built using a Tesla VR-Extreme HB and a pair of Tesla OPUS-S1 singlecoils. They sound great, and are reasonably priced.


Right now, I'm thinking the SD Distortion is the pickup for me. That said, I forgot about Tesla pickups. I almost put a set of their single coils in my home made guitar a while back. I need to check out their humbuckers.
#38
I've been checking out the Tesla Opus 1. I think it sounds great. I'm not sure if I like it more than the SD Distortion, though. Has anyone had experience playing metal on any of the Tesla pickups?
#39
Quote by saxman42
I've been checking out the Tesla Opus 1. I think it sounds great. I'm not sure if I like it more than the SD Distortion, though. Has anyone had experience playing metal on any of the Tesla pickups?


search youtube. here is their YouTube channel. never played one.

http://www.youtube.com/user/teslapickups?feature=watch
WTLT 2014 GG&A

Quote by andersondb7
alright "king of the guitar forum"


Quote by trashedlostfdup
nope i am "GOD of the guitar forum" i think that fits me better.


Quote by andersondb7
youre just being a jerk man.


***"What Trashed Hoards"*** (updated 2016-11-27)
Resentments and Rambling from a Guitar Junkie
---> http://trashedengineering.blogspot.com/
Last edited by trashedlostfdup at Dec 9, 2012,
#40
I for one am very surprised nobody has recommended Bareknuckles yet.
The Aftermath is the tightest freaking pickup of all time. The more gain you throw at it, the clearer it gets. It's not forgiving at all, though.

Hm, might get some in active casings for my 7 at some point. I hate EMGs.
Current Gear:
LTD MH-400
PRS SE Custom 24 (Suhr SSH+/SSV)
ESP Horizon NT-7 (SD Full Shreds)
UA Apollo Twin Duo
Peavey Revalver 4, UAD Friedman BE100/DS40
Focal Alpha 65 monitors
Quote by Anonden
You CAN play anything with anything....but some guitars sound right for some things, and not for others. Single coils sound retarded for metal, though those who are apeshit about harpsichord probably beg to differ.
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