#1
Hey everyone,

I'm in the process of building my own custom guitar; it's a Reverse Firebird body with matching neck, but with a standard Les Paul style headstock. I've had the body machined out to include 3 pickups instead of the standard 2, and to add a Floyd Rose Tremolo bridge instead of the standard Tune-O-Matic bridge with stopbar tailpiece. My biggest debate at this point is the pickups. At first I was dead set on installing a set of EMG Custom James Hetfield Signature pickups in the neck and bridge positions with a Gibson Dirty Fingers Humbucker in the middle position. I've since discovered a Seymore Duncan SH8 Invader Humbucking pickup. Everything I've read about it is nothing but positive. Now I'm contemplating using the SH8 over the Dirty Finger pickup or even using multiple SH8's with the Dirty Finger or mixing 1 of each beforementioned pickups. Do any of you guys and gals have personal experience with any of the pickups I mentioned? What are some pros and cons? I'm not in immediate need of purchasing pickups since the body is off having a custom paint/finish job being done. I appreciate any input. Rock on!! \m/
#2
If you plan to play a lot of very heavy music, then the Invader will probably suit your needs well. It is not what you would call a "nuanced" pickup. It is loud, aggressive, and designed for the most metal of metal styles. It seems to have lost a bit of its position in the Seymour Duncan Heavy Metal Hierarchy to the Nazgul, but it still thrashes and crushes with the best of them.

If you want to play something less apocalyptic, then you would be better served with a pickup with a bit more versatility. The Dirty Fingers is a pretty hot pickup as well; not in Invader or Nazgul territory, but not too far away from it. A Dirty Fingers in the bridge, combined with something like a Duncan Jazz in the neck might work well. The again, a matched set of Duncan Distortions might be the way to go.

What are the body and neck of this guitar made from? That could play a role in the overall tone as well.
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley
#3
Mixing active and passive pickups is a serious inconvenience when it comes to wiring. You can't use the same pots - passive humbuckers are generally used with 500k pots and actives with 25k pots.

It can be done, but... It's a lot of trouble, and the majority of people would agree that you're better off with an evenly matched set of pickups in each guitar, and then rather have two guitars - one with passives and one with actives. Mixing two cool sounds together may seem like a good idea in theory, but when it comes to reality, compromises of the kind will rather result in something that doesn't satisfy on either end.
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#4
I agree with HomerSGR. Probably not a good idea to mix active and passives. I love the Dirty Fingers pickup.
#5
Just came here to suggest trying the DiMarzio Crunch Lab, I put it in my Stratocaster, which was previously a very thin sounding guitar but the Crunch Lab immediately gave the sound beef and depth that I never imagined. Just a suggestion.
Fender MIM Strat HSS (DiMarzio Crunch Lab)
Peavey 6505+ 112

If you want, I can mix/master your tracks for free just so I can practice and who knows, maybe you'll love what you hear! Hit me up.
#6
Don't get the Invader. It sucks. Far too muddy and hot.

And mixing passive with active pickups is a pain in the ass. Its not worth the trouble.

If you want high gain pickups, a Duncan SH-6 in the bridge would be good, or even put the Dirtyfingers in in the bridge because that's a great bridge pickup in its own right. Very similar-sounding pickup to the SH-6, if a little darker sounding. For the middle I'd go for something like a Duncan Custom or a '59, and probably a Jazz for the neck. High output pickups anywhere near neck = mud. Lower output pickups generally have a lot more articulation (which is much needed in the neck position), and their lower output compensates for the much wider vibration pattern of the strings near the neck vs near the bridge.
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Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE at Mar 20, 2015,
#7
As a member of the Seymour Duncan user group forum, depending on what you're playing, there's a few choices for pickups. You could go with some vintage flavors in the form of three Alnico II Pros, 59's, or Jazz's.

For metal you might want a hotter pickup in the bridge like a SD SH-5 Custom.

If I was doing this, I'd use a Duncan SH-6 Distortion in the bridge, a 59 in the neck, and a Phat Cat in the middle pickup. This setup will give you an HSH setup with a P90 in the middle position. I don't know what kind of switch is on the guitar, but changing it to three toggle switches would give you a great level of tonal control over the guitar.
Last edited by tonello at Mar 24, 2015,
#8
Quote by tonello

If I was doing this, I'd use a Duncan SH-6 Distortion in the neck, a 59 in the bridge,

uuuuh, no.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Omae wa mou
Shindeiru



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Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
#9
I'd really suggest against the Invader (odd that you haven't seen any negative comments; where have you been looking). I pulled a pair of them from a custom V I own and subbed in Tom Andersons over a decade ago; they're still in the accessory pocket.
#10
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
uuuuh, no.


Why, what's wrong with what I suggested? I use it in my guitars and it's a great combination f good vintage cleans and full distortion mayhem.
#11
Quote by FatalGear41
If you plan to play a lot of very heavy music, then the Invader will probably suit your needs well. It is not what you would call a "nuanced" pickup. It is loud, aggressive, and designed for the most metal of metal styles. It seems to have lost a bit of its position in the Seymour Duncan Heavy Metal Hierarchy to the Nazgul, but it still thrashes and crushes with the best of them.

If you want to play something less apocalyptic, then you would be better served with a pickup with a bit more versatility. The Dirty Fingers is a pretty hot pickup as well; not in Invader or Nazgul territory, but not too far away from it. A Dirty Fingers in the bridge, combined with something like a Duncan Jazz in the neck might work well. The again, a matched set of Duncan Distortions might be the way to go.

What are the body and neck of this guitar made from? That could play a role in the overall tone as well.



Both the body and neck are made of mahogany. The only thing negative I've read about the Invader is that you'll have a hard time getting a clean sound out of it unless you drop the volume to that pickup. What about the EMG Hetfield Signatures? Any input on those? I'm not really too concerned with mixing passive and active pickups, as I'll probably have my local shop do the wiring. I'll have a 3-way toggle switch installed on the guitar so I should be able to mix and match things to my liking. With this build, I'm going to be using this guitar as my primary heavy metal style playing and also probably some hair metal playing. I appreciate all the input and advice everyone. Keep it coming!!
#12
Quote by tonello
Why, what's wrong with what I suggested? I use it in my guitars and it's a great combination f good vintage cleans and full distortion mayhem.

An SH-6 in the NECK?
A '59 in the BRIDGE?

Are you sure you haven't got the two mixed up?
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Omae wa mou
Shindeiru



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Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
#13
The invader in an all mahogany guitar is mud city. There are far better pickups as mentioned. If you go ahead and put in the JH set you will have an extremely difficult time finding a passive pickup that balances with both the neck and bridge JH pups. The JH pups are stupidly hot and very articulate without being too compressed like the regular 81. I personally recommend you stick with passive pups. If money is of no issue check out Bare Knuckle pickups and try to build a set of 3. If not email them and ask them how the pickups would balance out with each other. If you want to save money you can also do a SD distortion for bridge, JB for middle, and a '59 or custom for the neck.
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#14
Quote by ltdguy27
The invader in an all mahogany guitar is mud city. There are far better pickups as mentioned. If you go ahead and put in the JH set you will have an extremely difficult time finding a passive pickup that balances with both the neck and bridge JH pups. The JH pups are stupidly hot and very articulate without being too compressed like the regular 81. I personally recommend you stick with passive pups. If money is of no issue check out Bare Knuckle pickups and try to build a set of 3. If not email them and ask them how the pickups would balance out with each other. If you want to save money you can also do a SD distortion for bridge, JB for middle, and a '59 or custom for the neck.



Money really isn't an issue. I was looking at the JH Specs and trying to match a good EMG to accompany it. I play with a lot of distortion and gain, so I'm looking for a good set of 3 that would accompany that type of sound. I'll look into the Bare Knuckle pickups and see what I can come up with. Thanks again!
#15
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
An SH-6 in the NECK?
A '59 in the BRIDGE?

Are you sure you haven't got the two mixed up?


You're right, I did. Thanks for catching that.
#16
Quote by mkoback
Money really isn't an issue. I was looking at the JH Specs and trying to match a good EMG to accompany it. I play with a lot of distortion and gain, so I'm looking for a good set of 3 that would accompany that type of sound. I'll look into the Bare Knuckle pickups and see what I can come up with. Thanks again!


If you're looking at the JH set, look into putting an EMG H into the middle. It's a humbucker sized single coil.
#17
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Don't get the Invader. It sucks. Far too muddy and hot.

And mixing passive with active pickups is a pain in the ass. Its not worth the trouble.



You think the Invader is muddy? Did you wire it in right? I had put one in my old Godin and disliked it because I thought it was too bright and sterile... and I'm a single coil guy.
#18
Quote by JustRooster
You think the Invader is muddy? Did you wire it in right? I had put one in my old Godin and disliked it because I thought it was too bright and sterile... and I'm a single coil guy.

I Played a Schecter Syn Gates once with a 6505+, the same settings that I use for my other guitars, and it was muddy as hell.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Omae wa mou
Shindeiru



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#19
i would suggest you take a look at the Railhammer pickups. i have the hammer and chisel set in a guitar i built and they are very strong. Can't say enough good about them. Ran them with an orange drop .22 cap for tone and 500kOhm Pots.
Quote by BlackVoid
Every guitar and bass forum I've visited has some people chasing some magical tone that will shoot jizzing unicorns riding on a rainbow out of their amp.
#20
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
I Played a Schecter Syn Gates once with a 6505+, the same settings that I use for my other guitars, and it was muddy as hell.



That's a pretty different setup than I was throwing mine through. I've never tried them on anything other than Music Man or Fender amps.
#21
Quote by zenbone
i would suggest you take a look at the Railhammer pickups. i have the hammer and chisel set in a guitar i built and they are very strong. Can't say enough good about them. Ran them with an orange drop .22 cap for tone and 500kOhm Pots.



I checked them out and they are definitely a choice for me. I've been talking to the guys over at Bare Knuckle and they've actually offered to make me a calibrated set of 3 Holydiver pickups. They have some sound clips on their webpage, and those HD pickups sound pretty damn good. Exactly like the sound I'm looking for. I appreciate your input though.
#22
I would really rethink the decision to get three pickups while mixing actives and passives. What are you really looking to gain with a passive in the middle of two actives? You won't be able to use the passive with the actives without boosting the passive to an active level which defeats the purpose of getting a passive. And if you're not interested in using them together, you're not getting what you really want from a passive because it's not in the correct position. A middle pickup will the characteristics of a neck and bridge pickup. When compared bridge pickup, it will be muddier, it will have more output, and it will have a softer attack.
#23
I have an ibanez s520 (mahogany body) and iv been researching pickups to replace the stock ones.
I have yet to get an good answer but the top two are EMG 81's and BK warpigs that i have seen, and people say that mahogany sounds like crap with both or it sounds great.
The sound Im looking for is a dying fetus, jungle rot mix.
#24
I'm building my Firebird out of maple, with a maple/rosewood neck. I contacted the guys at BK and within 24 hours they were emailing me back with their suggestions, which included a custom calibrated 3rd pickup. I've contact EMG on 3 separate occasions, but no reply as of yet. I'm really losing faith in EMG...