#1
Planning a DIY build and trying to decide on which pickups to install. It will be a 25.5" scale maple/walnut laminated neck-through with an alder body and ebony fretboard (for those of you wondering how the tonal properties of the wood might affect the sound).

I kinda want to try to build as close to an "all-around" guitar, able to recreate the tones of a broad spectrum of genres that I listen to (everything from blues & classic rock to thrash & shred to metalcore & death metal). I know this might be a pipe dream, but I still wanna feel it out.

The majority of my pup experience has been with Gibson 490R/498T in a LP and EMG 89/81TW in a Schecter Hellraiser FR. I liked the high output of the EMGs with a heavy distortion, and the pre-coil tapped capabilities of the models I had, but I am wondering if their clean-tone limitations and the overall limited tonal abilities of active pups is worth the trade off. Is there a good N/B pup combination that can give me bright, open cleans; crunchy blues and classic rock tones; smooth, open leads in the neck position with high gain; bright, responsive leads that scream in the bridge position; and that brutal "chug" when the gain is turned to 11? Pipe dream?

My current plan has been revolving around EMG 89R at the neck and 81TW at the bridge, with either the PA2 or Afterburner to provide onboard, variable 20dB gain boost. Looking for input from those of you with MUCH more experience than I have. Talk me into it, out of it, or make suggestions...or even let me know that I'm chasing the impossible.
#2
what amp(s) are you using?

where are you located (country)? that's gonna affect prices and availability a lot.
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I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

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Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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#3
Right now just a POS Crate 120W 2x10 combo. Have a tube preamp switch with 2 - 12AX7 tubes that improves the tone. The plan is to upgrade to nice tube amp soon(Laney, Mesa/Boogie, Krank, etc), but that will spark up a whole new thread. Live in Arizona, US so price and accessibility isn't an issue.
Last edited by medic82 at May 16, 2013,
#4
That's a very, very bright construction, so to get all-rounder response you're going to want something on the warmer side.

Personally, I would go for either a slightly higher-output pickup with extra clarity like the EMG 60AX, SD Custom or DM Evo 2; or one that offers reasonable switching options such as the SD P-Rails or EMG 89X & 89XR. All those pickups are balanced well with just a slight curbing of the highest treble, so even in a guitar that bright-toned, you should be able to get a wide variety of tones.

The P-Rails is the way to go if you want to be a real jack-of-all-trades. There's nothing those can't do, but they can't necessarily do everything well. Their hot humbucker and P-90 tones are the best things they can offer.

The 89X and 89XR you already know about. I'd keep away from the 81TW because it's such a high-gain monster, it's really not anywhere near as versatile as the 89. Do bear in mind that 89/81TWs eat up battery twice as fast as regular actives and the boost units EMG makes eat up battery ten times faster than a single EMG pickup does. Put the two together and you can be going through one battery every month, if you play often, or two months even if your playing is pretty casual. Considering how much output these pickups already have and how you don't know how the guitar will really interact with whatever amp you end up getting, I would ditch the boost switches. It's not like it's hard to get a boost pedal if you do decide you really want more power.
Take a look at EMG's EQ products, instead. The two mid boosts they sell offer almost as much of a jump in output as the PA2 can but with the added benefit of being able to shape your tone to stand out more even regardless of raw output. They also offer EQs to bring up the bass and treble or just the treble, giving you a wide-range sound and a single coil-like sound out of their single-mode humbuckers.

The 60AX is the best-of-all-worlds pickup EMG makes and really it has no downsides. It's clearer than an 85, not as harsh as a 60, has more character than an 81 and the X version gives you headroom, lower impedance and more output. It only has the one mode but there's no genre it doesn't fit into. With the EMG VMC control there is absolutely no sound it can't do.

The SD Custom and DM Evo 2 are very similar and are also great all-rounders, like the 60A is for EMG. The Custom is a high-output, ceramic magnet pickup with the treble rounded off just enough for it to provide a good classic rock sound and it splits well without getting overly harsh. The Evo 2 does the same thing but instead of using a warmer coil wind they changed the dimensions of the magnet to soften the magnetic field, giving the same overall effect. Both split well, both sound good out of phase, both are great for anything from heavy blues to the heaviest of chuggy metal. Most importantly, they're not going to sound too harsh with a maple neck-through guitar.
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#5
THX!!!!! I have been considering the 60 and 58 for the neck position, and did a little research into the X series. Andy James gets some amazing tones with an 85 at the bridge and a 57 or 58 at the neck as well. I kinda wondered if the tonewoods would be a little bright, and so have considered incorporating some mahogany into the body wings (the major reasons I chose Alder over Mahogany initially were because it seems most high end lead guitars from Jackson--i.e., RRV, King V, Kelly, and Warrior--are Maple/Alder Neck Thru...that and wood cost). In your opinion, would this help warm the tone sufficiently, or would it still be better to gravitate towards a lower output pup with more headroom?
#6
Quote by medic82
THX!!!!! I have been considering the 60 and 58 for the neck position, and did a little research into the X series. Andy James gets some amazing tones with an 85 at the bridge and a 57 or 58 at the neck as well. I kinda wondered if the tonewoods would be a little bright, and so have considered incorporating some mahogany into the body wings (the major reasons I chose Alder over Mahogany initially were because it seems most high end lead guitars from Jackson--i.e., RRV, King V, Kelly, and Warrior--are Maple/Alder Neck Thru...that and wood cost). In your opinion, would this help warm the tone sufficiently, or would it still be better to gravitate towards a lower output pup with more headroom?

Andy now uses the 57/66 set, the 57 is a bridge pup only, so he's not using it in the neck position. I highly recommend the 57/66s...PAF tone, articulate, great headroom, great all around pups for any genre.
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#7
I have a set of P rails. Love em. Series and parallel humbucker and P90 tones kill. I really have takin a liking to the parallel setting.
A super pickup for dropped tuning, jazz,metal,rock. The single, single coil tone is lacking, don't care much for that
What the hell!!!