#1
I have an Epiphone G-400 and a Line 6 Spider IV 15W. I haven't played electric guitar in quite a bit (been trying to get better at acoustic) and want to get back into it. Thing is, this combination sounds bad. The cleans are muddy, and the crunch sound is straight up bad. I'm considering upgrading, any advice on which component should I upgrade?
Last edited by jkim4007 at May 24, 2015,
#2
Just looking at pics of the G-400, I would say different pickups, uncovered vintage style to get rid of the mud, and a better amp for crunch.

EDIT - you could just try taking the covers off the current pickups before investing in new ones.
Last edited by Tony Done at May 24, 2015,
#3
Better amp will make a bigger difference in my opinion. What's the budget?
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#4
budget would be around $800-900 max. if i upgrade the amp, i'm probably gonna take the guitar to a GC somewhere and get it set up properly.

edit: also i don't think i'll be playing shows in the foreseeable future, so everything is just for home use
Last edited by jkim4007 at May 24, 2015,
#5
What kind of stuff do you play? Do you have any pedals/want any pedals?

I would definitely say get a new amp, and with that budget you could get a pretty decent bedroom set up, so then it's the question of what would work best for what you want to play?
#6
I think a new amp + pickup switch (although I haven't tried the pickups on this guitar, but I'm guessing stock pickups in this price range won't be jaw-dropping) could give you a huge improvement with this budget, and is probably the best option assuming you like the guitar overall. There's indeed just the question of what do you play.
#7
I have a G-400 and stock it is OK, your amp is the biggest culprit. You could get a used Peavey vypyr tube 60. Here is one and the Sanpera II foot controller for $250
www.guitarcenter.com/Peavey-Used-Peavey-Vypyr-Tube-1X12-60W-Guitar-Combo-Amp-110917456-i4225571.gc
This should cover any music style you want and can be 100% gig able also. It also sounds very good.

Then I'd throw a new bridge pickup in the G-400, I have a Seymour Duncan SH-4 in mine and it sounds great. You can then either save the rest of your money or get a new guitar and have 2 solid guitars and a solid amp.
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#8
Amp-wise, what you want for noodling around the house is not what you'd want for jamming. Generally speaking, it's better to upgrade the amp first. Mediocre guitars can sound good through a good amp. Good guitars can sound mediocre through a mediocre amp. Save your money until you're ready to jam with some peeps and then decide. Your current amp should easily be able to produce some clean tones. If you get a new amp and the issue is with how your guitar is setup, then the issue will remain.

Two other things to consider: How old are the strings? Old strings can severely affect the tone. When was the last time the guitar was setup? If the pickups are too close to the strings, it can cause muddiness. Too far, and it can produce a tinny sound. You can take it to a shop, and it will run you $40-50. Or you can spend $25 on some tools, learn to do it yourself, and be able to setup your guitars for the rest of your life. I've been doing my own setups for more than 25 years. When I first learned, it was a little intimidating. I was questioning everything I did and was scared that I was going to ruin something. When I finished, I was amazed at the difference. First time took me 1 1/2 hours to do. Now, they take me about 10 minutes. That's a good thing, as I have 7 basses and 4 guitars. I do setups twice a year, April and October, after the weather changes. Your owners manual has the steps, but not in the right order. Tune, truss rod, action, intonation, pickup height is the proper order. Adjusting the truss rod and action affects intonation, so you want to do intonation after those two. I've found it better to use the open string for intonation than the 12th harmonic. The reason being that if the intonation is off, the harmonic could be off as well. I also re-tune between every step. You will need: tuner, screwdrivers, a capo, and a finite measuring tool. I use a digital caliper that I bought on Amazon for $8. TIP: If you have to tighten the truss rod, loosen the strings some first, so you aren't fighting their tension.

If your strings are old, change them and follow up with a setup. If they're not old, still do a setup. I'm willing to bet that the difference is night and day. If you need help with it, just ask. Good luck!
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Last edited by deeptubes at May 24, 2015,
#9
Amp. Overall it will have the greatest impact on tone then fidgeting with little knick knacks on a guitar.
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#10
amp for sure. the G400 is a solid guitar so getting a new one can definitely wait. i'd look at the tube vypyr or perhaps a used Peavey Valveking.
#11
I would say if you are happy with the feel of the guitar then change the amp. I agree with the guys that suggested a Vypyr, it is pretty similar to the Spider but better in basically every way.

I would also caution against a pickup upgrade in a guitar like that. Pickups are not going to have as much impact as the amp, and generally speaking with modellers like the Vypyr and Spider pickup changes aren't as noticeable anyway. Plus the amount you would need to spend to get a reasonable upgrade would probably not be worth it on a £250 instrument.

The most important factor I would say though is what the guitar FEELS like. If you aren't sure about the feel of the guitar then I would consider changing it, otherwise I suggest changing the amp.
#12
Yep, I definitely agree that amp is #1 priority. It's just that, as I said I don't know how good the stock pickups in this guitar are, but if the OP likes the guitar but it turns out the pickups still seem to sound not too great even through a better amp, it might be a good idea to change the pickups as well, it's definitely within his budget to get a nice set of Seymour Duncans or DiMarzio's for example.

But still, best to try with a better amp first and see how that sounds. Maybe it will be just fine with the pickups as they are.
#13
Quote by TheLiberation
it might be a good idea to change the pickups as well, it's definitely within his budget to get a nice set of Seymour Duncans or DiMarzio's for example.


This I disagree with, a nice set of Duncans or DiMarzios would cost somewhere around $250, given that the guitar is worth $400 it would make more sense to sell the guitar and upgrade the whole thing. Otherwise you end up with a low-midrange instrument with high end pickups, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. This is even more relevent because through a modeller, upgrading the pickups will have less of an impact on tone than it would be worth.
#14
Quote by Random3
This I disagree with, a nice set of Duncans or DiMarzios would cost somewhere around $250, given that the guitar is worth $400 it would make more sense to sell the guitar and upgrade the whole thing. Otherwise you end up with a low-midrange instrument with high end pickups, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. This is even more relevent because through a modeller, upgrading the pickups will have less of an impact on tone than it would be worth.


dude where do you live? you can get either brand for $75 - 80 bucks @ and be just fine. ever play in a bar that kinda on the seedy side? bringing your $1500 Gibson SG standard may make way less sense than throwing decent pickups in your G400 and doing the gig with that. if you sell your epi you can always take the pups out and put the originas back in. you really aren't taking a loss thre.

agree that new pups going into a modeller (until you get to the high end ones) proably will be a waste as they really don't see subtle nuances all that well.
#15
Would you should do is take your guitar to a music store and try amps to begin with.

Then it is a matter of upgrading the pickups and do another amp testing round.

Fresh strings is essential to sound in my opinion so make sure you got that installed before going anywhere.
#17
Quote by Random3
This I disagree with, a nice set of Duncans or DiMarzios would cost somewhere around $250, given that the guitar is worth $400 it would make more sense to sell the guitar and upgrade the whole thing. Otherwise you end up with a low-midrange instrument with high end pickups, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. This is even more relevent because through a modeller, upgrading the pickups will have less of an impact on tone than it would be worth.


You really have no idea, $72 for a bridge pickup Duncan or Dimarzio, there are some brands that cost $30ish like GFS and they are pretty good.
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#18
Quote by Robbgnarly
You really have no idea, $72 for a bridge pickup Duncan or Dimarzio, there are some brands that cost $30ish like GFS and they are pretty good.


I have four different DiMarzios, each cost about £75. £75x2=£150. £150 in $ is about $230.

If that isn't the current price in the U.S. then I retract my comment, although I still advise against swapping out pups with a modeller.
Last edited by Random3 at May 24, 2015,
#19
Quote by Random3
I have four different DiMarzios, each cost about £75. £75x2=£150. £150 in $ is about $230.

If that isn't the current price in the U.S. then I retract my comment, although I still advise against swapping out pups with a modeller.

Yeah here it is $72USD which is ~48GBP

You can get the Duncan Hot rod set for $125 and that is for the SH-4 and SH2n set

Besides, I have a G400 that I paid $299 new for and I threw a $72 Duncan SH-4 in the bridge. It was originally just as a back-up, but I liked it so much it was my main guitar in my prog-rock/metal band and I have some really nice, much more expensive guitars. But having a cheap, well playing, great sounding guitar is not a bad thing at all
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
#20
Quote by Random3
I have four different DiMarzios, each cost about £75. £75x2=£150. £150 in $ is about $230.

If that isn't the current price in the U.S. then I retract my comment, although I still advise against swapping out pups with a modeller.


which ones though? sure some DiMarzios are more expensive and may well not be worth putting in a cheaper guitar. obviously american pups are more expensive in the UK. we pay a fortune for Bare Knuckles over here .

the other thing though is that just because a guitar is inexpensive doesn't mean it's crap overall. often the biggest difference between two models is the qualty of the electronics and perhaps tuners. i don't have an Epi SG but rather a Vintage, got it used for $150. i have no problem with the idea of putting better pickups in it (and will when i have the spare cash). the guitar plays great and looks sharp to boot.
#21
thanks so much for the suggestions so far everyone. I think I'm gonna go with the amp upgrade. re: music style, I mainly play indie rock (like Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, SSLYBY -type stuff) and occasionally post-rock, punk, and folk. getting a good warm clean tone is my priority. As for pedals, I don't use any at the moment but I think I might once I become a better player.

I'll get the strings installed this week. They haven't been changed in at least eight months.

edit: just looked up some prices on GC's website, looks like the Duncan pickups are about $100 and the DiMarzio pickups are around $80. I guess I could replace the pickups if they don't make a big difference, but I'd rather spend the $150 towards the best amp possible right now and then upgrade the guitar maybe two years or so down the line.
Last edited by jkim4007 at May 24, 2015,
#22
Then you might want to look at a Vox AC15 or a Fender HR deluxe

used they are $400ish

Then I'd suggest getting something like a Digitech Screamin Blues or Bad Monkey to use as a boost to get the punk tones and anything harder.

If you don't like changing strings a lot, look at Cleartone strings, they are coated and last a long time, but they don't have that coated feel like the Elixr's.
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
#23
Quote by jkim4007
thanks so much for the suggestions so far everyone. I think I'm gonna go with the amp upgrade. re: music style, I mainly play indie rock (like Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, SSLYBY -type stuff) and occasionally post-rock, punk, and folk. getting a good warm clean tone is my priority. As for pedals, I don't use any at the moment but I think I might once I become a better player.

I'll get the strings installed this week. They haven't been changed in at least eight months.

edit: just looked up some prices on GC's website, looks like the Duncan pickups are about $100 and the DiMarzio pickups are around $80. I guess I could replace the pickups if they don't make a big difference, but I'd rather spend the $150 towards the best amp possible right now and then upgrade the guitar maybe two years or so down the line.


again look at a used Peavey Valveking. the 1st version can be had for $200 or less. they benifit from a speaker change but the stock one isn't as aweful as some make it out. it has an excellent clean channel and the distortion channel will easily give you what you want as well.
#24
Quote by monwobobbo
which ones though? sure some DiMarzios are more expensive and may well not be worth putting in a cheaper guitar. obviously american pups are more expensive in the UK. we pay a fortune for Bare Knuckles over here.


I have a Crunch Lab and LiquiFire in one guitar and a Mo' Joe and a PAF Joe in the other. I was speaking generally as the post that I quoted stated nice DiMarzios so I assumed that to mean the higher end ones.
#25
I don't know if I'd go with a Fender HR deluxe. Those things will blast your ear drums out with a tiny adjustment of the volume knob. I don't know if the newer models have addressed that common complaint. The Vox AC15 is a good suggestion, and likely an amp you will keep for a long time. I think the Peavey Classic series (options of 30-50 watts, 1x12, 2x12, or 4x10) would work nicely as well for the style of music that you play, and that provides you more options depending upon need. They aren't too pricey on the used market, and they are built like tanks. The Epiphone is a solid player and is worth upgrading with new pickups - and as was mentioned, you won't lose money because you can always pull them out and put the old stock ones back in if you ever sell it.
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#26
Quote by Random3
I have a Crunch Lab and LiquiFire in one guitar and a Mo' Joe and a PAF Joe in the other. I was speaking generally as the post that I quoted stated nice DiMarzios so I assumed that to mean the higher end ones.


those petrucci pups are real nice. usually when someone says nice they mean better than stock. i generally wouldn't tell someone to spend big money on pickups to put in a $300 guitar either. once the mods exceed the value of the guitar (new)you do start to have to ask yourself if a better guitar may be in order. dumping $150-200 into a guitar i paid $150 used isn't to bad as that brings it up to the new price or a hair over. putting $500 in maybe a bit silly and better spent elsewhere.
#27
I have upgraded my G-400 entirely. Now, it uses a Hot Rodded Humbucker set from Seymour Duncan - Jazz on the neck and JB on the bridge.

For me, it was night and day difference. But this is a difference you will only notice with a good amp. If you can, I'd advise you to do both.

AC15 is a great amp, as is the Peavey Classic series. I'd also take a look on the Fender Blues Jr. III, or at the Tweaker 15 Combo.

As it was suggested, depending on the amp, you will want a pedal to give it a boost. I use a Bad Monkey, from Digitech, and really like it - besides, it is really inexpensive. But there are plenty other pedals you can consider.
#28
Quote by Random3
I have four different DiMarzios, each cost about £75. £75x2=£150. £150 in $ is about $230.

If that isn't the current price in the U.S. then I retract my comment, although I still advise against swapping out pups with a modeller.


to be fair, the guys saying to swap the pickups also said to get a new amp.

and yeah duncans and dimarzios are a fair bit cheaper in the USA. Even in the UK you can get them for a fair bit less than that from e.g. thomann.
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#29
Just wanted to answer:
Quote by Random3
This I disagree with, a nice set of Duncans or DiMarzios would cost somewhere around $250, given that the guitar is worth $400 it would make more sense to sell the guitar and upgrade the whole thing. Otherwise you end up with a low-midrange instrument with high end pickups, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. This is even more relevent because through a modeller, upgrading the pickups will have less of an impact on tone than it would be worth.

I didn't suggest getting high-end pickups though, by which I'd mean e.g. BKP pickups which are bloody expensive - SDs or DiMarzios are very nice, but they're at reasonable enough prices that it makes sense to put them in a not so expensive guitar if you like it. Also, I'm in Europe and in most cases a bridge + neck set of most SD or DiMarzio models would be around $150 (compared to $250+ for BKPs) by my calculations.

I honestly have no experiences with modelling amps so I won't argue, although I'm not sure how pickups could have a smaller impact in that case, as pickups simply affect the original signal going from the guitar - so I generally assumed that the type of amp itself doesn't make a difference, provided it's a decent enough amp.

Either way, I just thought that with a budget of $800 or so, it would make perfect sense to put less than 1/4 of that into upgrading pickups if they're not so great, as pickups also have a fairly significant impact on the sound (as long as the amp is decent enough to properly display that). As I said, it all comes down to testing your own guitar and others with different pickups through the same amp and deciding if the difference is big enough for you to decide a pickup swap might be worth it.