#1
I just ordered an Ibanez RG3EXFM1 off of Guitar Center's site for $200 after tax and shipping. I've had one before and it honestly felt like the most easily playable guitar I've played so far. Anyway, I was wondering what some cheap fixes to upgrade the sound/tone and everything may be. I think I want to try out the Bare Knuckle Juggernaut pickups when I have a better cash flow going directly to myself, but until then just the smaller things. How effective is it to switch to a bone nut or a fossil ivory nut? Should I look into changing out the tone knobs, etc? Any advice would be appreciated.
Last edited by HappyBearDeath at Jan 31, 2015,
#2
cool guitar if it's the transparent black one. Usually I'm not a fan of Ibanez guitars but I've upgraded a ton of guitars to share some insight to help upgrade this guitar.

i wouldn't bother with pickups that are more expensive than the guitar honestly, I'm sure there's a periphery sound or 7 you can get without spending 200-300$ on a single pickup. Remember that not every guitar sounds the same even if you match woods and bridges.

but anywyas.. upgrades to consider
higher end tuners are a good start - gotoh, schaller, grover, sperzel ..etc
18:1 gear ratio is a must on them, they will hold tune better

a bone nut is a yes or a graphtech tusq nut , either are excellent choices

your pickups it's up to you, didn't Misha use dimarzios or something prior to his endorsement by BKP? I'm not a fan of their music so I have no idea. Google will help, that or when you get the guitar the best idea is to use your ears and see this guitar needs more "bottom end" this guitar needs more highs or whatever. Tone charts from Seymour Duncan and Dimarzio really help to determine what you need. But worry about pickups last honestly it's a new guitar break it in and take your time figuring out what you need. I hate and am annoyed by guys who swap pickups the micro second they get a guitar in.

if that is a super 5 way switch on the guitar it's a keeper, you can get hum cancelling tones out of the pickups in position 2 / 4. If not it's about 30$ and pretty expensive to re-wire so a pushpull pot or 2 come in handy (B500k is my pick). I can help with the wiring diagram if needed.

for the tone knob perhaps the Fender TBX, here's how it works
0-4.9 = regular tone knob , at 0 is your regular totally turned down tone
5 = bypass , no effect
5.1-10 = it clears up your pickups , tigthens the lows and all.
the TBX is about 12$ USD to get. It's a passive electronic as well, it's a more useful tone knob that shapes your guitars tone 2 ways instead of one.

some out of the box ideas
seymour duncan triple shot mounting rings to really push the guitar further
graphtech tusq saddles , or steel saddles
copper shielding for more clarity out of the guitar (3$ usd on ebay for 2-3m)
besides that find the right pick material and thickness as well as string material, for a darker heavier tone I suggest pure nickel strings.
Last edited by Tallwood13 at Jan 31, 2015,
#3
Yes, it's the transparent grey burst. I don't really care for the looks of the red one, myself.

I like the guitars that I have played with Dimarzio pickups, but another thing is I find it much more comfortable to play with covered pickups than uncovered pickups. I've read that uncovered pickups sound better/clearer. Should I try to get used to playing with uncovered pickups? I'm sure it wouldn't be that bad of an obstacle. Either way, I probably wont be changing my pickups for a while. The V7 and V8 Ibanez pickups weren't half bad if I remember correctly, I'm just thinking a bit ahead on this one.

I'm pretty sure it does come with the 5-way switch, which is good to know. All in all I'd say all of your advice is very affordable and helpful. I'll be looking into everything you just mentioned. Thank you!
#4
I like uncovered pickups, you can buy pickup covers very cheap for that EMG look on ebay for 2-3$ USD , but I totally agree without the holes you get this clearer sound like there isn't a blanket on your guitar amp or some stupid euphemism like that.

yeah the V7/V8 wasn't too bad, but remember brand is just a logo printed onto them. As long as you get that sound you're after you're all set. Say if my guitar was too bright I'd find a pickup with lots of bass, if there wasn't enough output I'd find something louder and so forth. The amp and all matter big time too. But yeah enjoy the guitar. Any questions feel free to send me a private message
#5
Quote by HappyBearDeath
I just ordered an Ibanez RG3EXFM1 off of Guitar Center's site for $200 after tax and shipping. I've had one before and it honestly felt like the most easily playable guitar I've played so far. Anyway, I was wondering what some cheap fixes to upgrade the sound/tone and everything may be. I think I want to try out the Bare Knuckle Juggernaut pickups when I have a better cash flow going directly to myself, but until then just the smaller things. How effective is it to switch to a bone nut or a fossil ivory nut? Should I look into changing out the tone knobs, etc? Any advice would be appreciated.


If you're absolutely determined to dink with the guitar, then Tallwood's suggestions are fine.

I'll be the Voice of Reason and suggest Leave It The Flock Alone. "Cheap Fixes" are not going to "upgrade the sound/tone and everything."

First, this is a cheap guitar and not one that you're going to keep as an heirloom or as a gigging piece. It's going to be sold on and you're not going to get one penny for anything you put into it when you do.

Two, nothing you can do "cheap" is going to make a difference with the possible exception of adding a Graphtech nut. Not bone, not mammoth ivory, etc. Nine-nine times out of one hundred, the tuners will be just fine. THEY won't be the reason your guitar goes out of tune (the nut is the usual culprit). Leave them alone. Nor will wiring or new knobs or new pots or a different output jack or a different switch make a noticeable difference in tone, tuning or playability. If you liked the guitar enough to buy it new, then leave it as is.

"Expensive fixes" can make a difference (which is why they're expensive, I suppose). You can have the guitar Pleked and set up properly. That will cost you as much or maybe even a bit more than the whole guitar cost you. I've actually done this to a guitar that was under $200, with case, delivered to my door. The Voice Of Reason told me I was nuts and I spit in its eye and did it anyway, and I'm still extremely glad that I did, and it's been at least four years since I did it and the guitar is a stellar player (it was choking out on double-stop bends at the 16th fret before I had it done) to this day. This is the best thing you can do for your guitar, period, end of story. You might also (before having your guitar Pleked) have the frets superglued. But first you have to learn what that is (Google "StewMac fret superglue") and then find a tech who's done it before and who won't screwup your fretboard in the process. This is key to KEEPING your guitar supremely playable over the next four or five years (perhaps more).

Swapping out pickups may make a difference, but it may NOT make a difference you particularly like.

There's a certain "Emperor's New Clothes" thing that happens when you spend a couple of hundred bucks on a set of new pickups. You're sort of bound to love them, having spent all those bucks, you know? Even if they don't really sound that great, you'll have it firmly in your mind that you're not idiot enough to buy something that's going to make the guitar sound bad and after all you've spent big money and it HAS to sound better, doesn't it?

Not necessarily. I have a guitar that came with a $185 (not counting installation) set of hand-wound P90 pickups. The original price on the guitar is $299, the hand-wound pickups added over $200 installed, and I bought the whole mess used for $130 US. It's in perfect, pristine condition and it looks exactly the same as when it was born in some Korean factory and it plays beautifully and sounds great. I had an opportunity to hear an original (as in...about 1958) version of the same guitar with its original pickups, but from the original "G" brand american builder, and I've had occasion to borrow the original $299 guitar with the original pickups (non-hand-wound, etc.). Of the three, my $130 guitar sounds the best. All three owners agree on that. But it's not THAT much better; it's an incremental thing. The "G" brand original (worth a very solid four figures) sounds very good, the original Korean one also sounds very good. They all play about the same, with the lead going to my guitar, partly because I just got done setting it up (I'd venture to say that I could easily have all three identical in a day or two). I think mine has fancy expensive pots and wiring as well, but the owner hasn't confirmed that. No notable differences due to that.

If you're going to tweak a guitar, know exactly why you're doing things and what it will do, and NOT because you got on an internet forum and heard a bunch of guys say the same thing...