#1
Hey guys! Lately I've been considering swapping the Blackout AHB-1s in my Schecter V for something with a little lower output -- possibly even going passive. The guitar body is mahogany, fretboard is ebony if that makes any difference. It has a Floyd but I blocked it with with wood on both sides.

The reason I'm considering a change is NOT because of TONE, but rather the existing pickup's annoying tendency to push the amp too hard. I actually really like the tone. The problem is, without my noise gate (NS-2) set very aggressively, the preamp starts to howl the instant I stop playing (even with both hands muting the strings. Then, of course, there are other problems when the noise gate is set that aggressively.

Amp is a 6505+ 112, with all JJ tubes. Awhile back I described this problem and people said I might have a bad tube. However, most of my tubes are 1.2 years old AT THE OLDEST. I've got a 5751 in V1 that's only a couple months old. ALSO -- if it's a bad tube -- why does my Dimarzio D-sonic-equipped guitar not cause this problem??? I feel that with my TS-9 engaged, plus a super high gain amp -- the Blackouts just might be pushing it too hard.

Should I look into EMG X series? I've heard about the 18 volt mod, but I'm not sure what it would do for me. I'm almost thinking switching to passives might be the better route -- however, I don't really want to change the TONE too much. I like my D-Sonic in the other guitar, but it's got a very different tone....
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#2
The EMG X series aren't what you want Basically, regular EMGs are your most basic active design with wide response but a crap preamp, Blackouts added a better preamp but reduced frequency response and EMG Xs took a good preamp and put it with the wide response coils of the original EMGs. So swapping from Blackouts to EMG X, all you get is a little more bass, treble, output and headroom; if anything you'd be better off with standard EMGs.
The 18v mod simply allows the old preamps to work more better, giving you a little more headroom. It does nothing for the output.

Anyhoo.

Try lowering your pickups, first. This reduces output and brings back some clarity. If this doesn't solve your problem then you know it's something wrong with the guitar's wiring or the amp itself; getting a pickup which is lower in output or simply lowering the current pickup both result in the same thing so this is the best way to trouble-shoot the cause of your problems. Lowering your pickup height costs nothing and takes just a couple of minutes to test out at various heights.

If you find that lowering your pickup does help the problem a bit but not enough (don't just lower it once; try it set all the way down, if you need be) then you could try EMG's lighter pickups, the 60, 60A, 57 and 66. All of them are moderately high output but not a high as a Blackout, EMG 81, DiMarzio Super Distortion or any other such pickup. The 60 is very clear with a ceramic magnet, which keeps it tight but a bit harsh; the 60A is probably my favourite pickup in the world and keeps all the clarity of the 60 without the harsh plain strings, due to using an alnico magnet. The 57 and 66 are voiced more like common passive humbuckers with slightly reduced output again.
Again, set them not so close to your strings and you will find the output is reduced compared to a Blackout/81 at the same height.

For passives, a similar EQ balance to the basic Blackout would be the SD Custom or DM Evo 2. Since they have lower output too, though, they tend to sound a bit brighter and thinner than the Blackout as they're not pushing the amp so hard. An SD Duncan Distortion or DM Tone Zone will give you a thicker sound without driving the amp much more.
If you fancy dropping high-output pickups entirely, I'd recommend the SD 59/Custom Hybrid as a medium-output bridge pickup with an EQ balance similar to Blackouts and enough extra thickness to balance the ebony/Floyd combo (even blocked, that bridge is going to dominate your tone). An SD Jazz or DM PAF Pro will be a balanced match for the neck position.
To go passive, bear in mind you will need to change all the pots, the jack and ground the bridge.
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#4
Edit: missed your other guitar didn't do that.


When playing loudly with the 6505 I had the same problem with EMG and Seymour Duncan Invader.
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Last edited by R45VT at May 16, 2013,
#5
Thanks guys!

@Mr. Flibble:

I'll try lowering the height some more. I've done that in the past but it seems to affect the tone as well. Maybe I just need to re-EQ after adjusting them. I have found that I don't like the sound/effect when they are super-close to the strings like everybody says actives should be.

To be honest, I wasn't really excited about doing the necessary swaps to go with passives. It's likely I'll still need the noise gate no matter what, but when it's set too aggressively it really messes with me, especially on lead runs on the higher strings/frets.

I played "The Star Spangled Banner" at an assembly a few weeks ago and forgot to turn the NS-2 off (I play a version that's pretty much all-lead work). When I got to the end of the song where it gets to the higher notes -- the NS-2 started randomly filtering out some of my notes -- which completely threw me off and ruined the song. This was in front of about 200 people...
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#6
Update:

I tried lowering the bridge pup WAY down and it still didn't solve the squealing problem. So I adjusted it back up to where I had it. Is there anything else I can check, maybe at the pickups' wiring? I've only ever done one pickup swap, and it worked quite well. I've heard of shielding before but I'm unaware as to what it exactly entails.

Also, the sound only occurs when my TS-9 is kicked on. Preamp gain is always set to 3.5-4 (Lead channel). TS-9 gain almost zero, level maxed. I've got my MXR 10-band's (in the FX loop) gain and volume cut a little bit too -- so it's only shaping the EQ, not the gain and volume.

Try as I might, I can't do without the TS-9 in my tone. There's just something missing if it's turned off. Yet, it seems to be the one thing that's pushing the amp over the edge. But as I said in my original post -- it's only a problem with my guitar that has Blackouts...
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
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Pestilential Flood
#7
Just a note, tube life is not a quantifiable variable. Tubes can last a decade or a week. Just because you've only had them a year means nothing at all. They go whenever they decide to go.

Anyway, maybe look at the DiMarzio D Activator X.
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#8
Had the same problem with my Blackouts...uncontrollable squeal. Putting some foam under them helped dampen it some, but not completely. Eventually swapped in EMG 57/66 set and am extremely happy with them. Only sweet controllable feedback as it should be. The Het Set is nice also, but I found the 57/66s just a bit better for covering all genres. Both sets were a noticeable improvement though.
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#9
Quote by dkunick
Had the same problem with my Blackouts...uncontrollable squeal. Putting some foam under them helped dampen it some, but not completely. Eventually swapped in EMG 57/66 set and am extremely happy with them. Only sweet controllable feedback as it should be. The Het Set is nice also, but I found the 57/66s just a bit better for covering all genres. Both sets were a noticeable improvement though.


Thanks! I might give that foam idea a try. I do like the tone and response of the Blackouts -- I just don't like the "feedback" problem (it's not really feedback, because it happens even when both hands are muting).
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#10
Quote by Offworld92
Just a note, tube life is not a quantifiable variable. Tubes can last a decade or a week. Just because you've only had them a year means nothing at all. They go whenever they decide to go.

Anyway, maybe look at the DiMarzio D Activator X.


Yeah, I know. The only way to really tell though would be to replace them all. Because I've swapped a known good tube through every position and the problem persisted. Possibly several of my tubes are just slightly microphonic, and the result is what I'm hearing.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood