#1
Hey all,

So, although I told myself I'd leave the EMG 707's alone in my Agile Septor, looks like my GAS cannot be contained, and my need to experiment with tone continues! . I was originally planning to only swap the bridge 707 for an 81-7, as I prefer the razor sharp clarity of the 81-7 in the bridge, vs the somewhat smoother, but less clear tone of the 707 (though I do prefer the 707 lead tone), but part of me is considering going back to all passives (again), in my guitars.

How is the D-Activator set in a 7-string? One again, I love the clarity and tightness of EMG 81-7's, but I dig the naturalness of a passive set, and I've been told the D-Activator set offers the best of both worlds. I'm also curious about how the D-Sonic/Air Norton combo fares, as well as the X2N, with whatever would pair well with that in the neck! :p

As you may have figured, style-wise, this guitar is pretty much strictly a modern metal axe. My main concern is great, tight, heavy rhythm tones and screaming leads. I don't need good cleans, but something passable is always nice. I also want that liquid smooth, shreddy lead tone from the neck pup. Amp-wise, I'm running an ENGL Fireball through an Avatar 4x12 w/greenbacks (GB's sound great for metal w/ENGL, for whatever reason)

All help appreciated, as always!
- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff
#2
First up, regular passive 7-string pickups don't fit in the old EMG route. You're going to be left with gaps, tight fits, weird depths, etc. If you want a passive response then by far the easiest thing to do is get EMG X pickups.

If you're set on going passive, none of the DiMarzio pickups you've mentioned do the sound you're suggested. The X2N is built for plain output and nothing more, the D Sonic is basically a muddier Evolution, and the D Activators are what people who don't use active pickups think actives sound like, and are not actually like actives—let alone any kind of perfect hybrid of active and passive—at all.

The Evolution 7 is the "tight" bridge pickup with "screaming" leads that you want. For the neck, a Seymour Duncan Jazz is your pickup.

Seymour Duncan do a few passive 7-string pickups in the same mount as EMG's active 7-strings. There aren't many options to choose from and I've only had a short time to play with each, but the Distortion and Sentient would be good choices so long as you don't set them too close to the strings; the Pegasus is a touch clearer for the bridge but the wound strings were also a little softer-sounding, to me.
Yes, I know everything. No, I can't play worth a damn.
A child is trafficked and sold for sex slavery every 30 seconds. Support Love146.
#3
Considering the routing of your guitar I would say Lace Deathbar, it's not like you have much choices if you want a passive pickup in 707 size...
EGC Baritone | ESP M-I | Gibson LP Jr
BC Rich USA ST3 | Fender Telecaster
VHT/Fryette GP3 | Verellen Meatsmoke pre | Mesa 2:90
Soldano HR50+ | Marshall 2203KK | Krank RevJr 50 | Holden 50
Orange PPC412 | Laney GS412 | Mesa Thiele 112 | Alron 115
#4
Duncan is supposed to be releasing their passive pickups in the blackout housing that will fit the 707 route, as well as some new ones like the Pegasus. They should have been out all ready, but they aren't.
#5
MrFlibble - Hmm. So are the D-Activators more or less just a nice set of hot passives then? I'm pretty fond of the classic Super Distortion/PAF pro combo for metal on a 6-string, but thought D-Activators may be fun to try on a 7.

It sounds like the easiest route to go would be to stay active in this case - How much of a difference is there between an EMG 81-7X and the regular 81-7?
- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff
#6
The X pickups had a lot of headroom—more than the old 18v mod or SD Blackouts—lower impedance and they give a higher output reading whilst not actually hitting your amp as hard. You basically get a more 'dynamic' tone. It works better with the cooler-wound EMGs like the 60, 60A, 58 and 707, since when you use a hot coil wind there's a limit to how much more you can open them up, but the 81-7X does sound noticably different to the 81-7.
The main problem is if you like to really pile on the preamp gain then the difference in dynamics becomes minimal, since the output is still high overall. Personally, I use 60AXs with high gain (solid state high gain, no less) for alternative metal rhythm and can hear a difference; your milage may vary.

Second easiest option, again, would be EMG's passive 7-strings or the new Seymour Duncans that fit the EMG shape. Obviously you still need to change the pots, jack and ground the bridge, but it's a neater task than trying to fit normal humbucker-shape pickups in the EMG-shape hole.

And no, the D Activators are not "a nice set of hot passives". I may have put it too mildly before, so let me take another stab at explaining what D Activators are:
People who don't use active pickups think that active pickups are 'sterile', 'harsh', 'lifeless', lack dynamic response and are overpowering. D Activators are made to get all of these 'qualities' in a passive form. They are sterile. They are harsh. They are lifeless, don't respond to any kind of playing dynamics and they are ridiculously overpowered. The only times I would ever recommend anybody touches D Activators would be if they were playing industrial or black metal.

As I said before, out of all the passive 7-string production and boutique pickups I've had experience with, a DM Evo/SD Jazz or Distortion/Sentient set would be what I would go for for the kind of response you mentioned. Or for the truly lazy option, EMG Xs, which is basically like having Blackouts/18v mod EMGs and taking them another step further.
Yes, I know everything. No, I can't play worth a damn.
A child is trafficked and sold for sex slavery every 30 seconds. Support Love146.
#7
I believe BKP's are making their Black Hawk (maybe?) in the emg soapbar size. Short of going with the 'boutique' custom builders who'll make you a soapbar sized pickup, you don't have much in the way of choice.

Personally, i'd go with the 81-7. But I haven't heard how they are through the ENGL
Call me Brent
Quote by m33sta.

People would leave guitars for me in a box on the doorstep with a note "Please look after little Johnie, we just cant cope anymore, all he wants to do is hook up with Marshalls, We thought he would be a fender boy.

#8
If your main focus is precise clarity and modern metal tone, the Deathbar is a great way to go! very clear and very big bottom end, and the mid range holds true even in scooped settings. if you run with 250k pots you have a range and dynamic thats very sensitive but not overbearing when at full volume. Theres a sweet spot guys have found with them that give the power to run with any actives but will still play clean and clear and under control, like the shampoo commercials. ha good luck!
#9
My Iceman came with D-Activators and they're really not as bad as Flibble is saying. At first I didn't care for them too much and was planning on changing them, but after adjusting the EQ on my amp to compensate, they have really grown on me. But then again, I actually do play black metal so....
#10
Didn't notice that this thread actually got brought back up, but was wondering about this again anyway!

Still haven't got around to messing with the pickups on this guitar (Too busy experimenting w/various speaker swaps in my cab atm), but chances are, that I may end up yanking out the 707's, and going w/the active-route sized Duncan passives. Thinking of either trying a Distortion/Jazz or '59 combo, or possibly the new Nazgul/Sentient combo. 81-7 would be easier, yes. But I find myself somewhat straying away from the active sound....again
- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff