#1
Comparing my two guitars, which are:

1) An HSS Strat with Duncan SH-6 Distortion in the bridge and SSL-5's in middle and neck.

2) An Ibanez RG420, which I equipped with EMG 81 in the bridge, and EMG 60 in the neck. It also has an original Floyd Rose floating tremolo.

Playing through a Peavey 6505, preamp gain at about 2.5-3, but boosted with a Maxon OD808 in front (0 gain, full volume). Marshall 4x12 cab.

Talking strictly about the bridge pickups, chugga-chugga, comparing the two guitars:

Ibanez with EMG 81 sounds great, but the moment I switch to the Strat with SH-6---it's so much more open, full, powerful, organic...!

Is it the EMG 81 vs SH-6, or is it the guitars? Both guitars are with Diaddario .10's, and I can tell you that when I pluck the low E (amp off), I can feel the body of the Strat vibrating much much more than the Ibanez.
#2
Different guitars, different tone woods, different pickups, different trems. To me thats what you're feeling/hearing. I tend to describe passives as more organic and open, which is why i gravitate towards passives in most of my guitars. So to answer your question, is it pickups or guitar, the answer in my mind, is its both!
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#3
It will most likely be 90% the pickups. Wood makes only a very subtle difference in tone when plugged in, so if you play both with the same amp settings, it's the pickups that make it sound so different.

EMGs are very... unique-sounding, and especially the EMG 81 is probably the most extreme type of active pickups there is, so it's likely it will sound very different from the SH-6, which is a pretty well-rounded high-output pickup.
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#4
I have both of those pickups as well and they do sound different. I feel that both work fine for the music I enjoy playing most of the time.

You may want to try the 18V mod to your EMGs (2x 9V batteries in series). It makes them sound more passive but still high output and less compressed.

For what it's worth I have the SH-6 in the guitar with the stock Jackson 580 Floyd but it's a Kelly so still a ton of wood to vibrate and the 81 in a string through body Dinky.

I can hear the same differences you are describing and my mass ratio is opposite of yours.
Guitars:
Jackson Kelly KE3 - MIJ (Distortion/Jazz)
Jackson DKMGT Dinky (EMG 81/85)
ESP E-II Eclipse Custom (JB/'59)
ESP LTD EC-1001FR (EMG 81/60)
Fender MIM Strat

Amps:
Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster 212
Laney IronHeart IRT-Studio
Peavey Vypyr 30
Peavey ReValver Amp Sims
TOOOO many T.C. Electronic Pedals. . .
#5
Is the 18v mod a waste of time if you play heavy music?
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#6
I suspect it's a bit of both. What you're talking about is pretty much the stereotypical EMG thing, but at the same time the Ibanez has a Floyd, which sounds a bit different from a strat trem, and the Ibanez is basswood most likely while the strat is probably alder. Neither the floyd nor the basswood objectively likely sound "worse" than a strat trem or alder, but they probably sound worse for what you seem to like (more organic etc.). Plus as you said, you can feel the body of the strat vibrating a lot more.
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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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#7
Hey guys, thanks for the great replies! Well, I did try running the EMG at 18v, but it was when I had it all apart, wire hanging and all, so I cannot be sure of the results. From the few minutes at 18v, I don't think I noticed much difference (I never tried them clean, but clean is not not what I got the EMG's for anyway). Since there is no space in the cavity for 2 batteries, I'm stuck at 9v....until I get the 24v mod I ordered from eBay (a small holder for 2 x 12v batteries, total size less than a 9v bat).

Another thing I was considering is getting another body for the Ibanez. I also think the current one is made of basswood, but I really don't like the pattern (spider something). (I got it really cheap), so I'm thinking to pick up another body from somewhere, I found nice ones made of ...poplar?! The one I have is this spider one (not my picture, but it's the same), and I hate the looks.

#8
it'sup to you, really. if you can get a (decent quality) one cheap enough it might be worth considering. If you can't it'd be worth adding up how much you could sell the ibanez and the emgs for (separately) and see how much money you come up with when you add that to the price of the new body- you might just be able to get a better new guitar for that kind of money, which is normally a better idea, since you very rarely if ever recoup upgrade costs.
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
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.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#9
Quote by corsara
Comparing my two guitars, which are:

1) An HSS Strat with Duncan SH-6 Distortion in the bridge and SSL-5's in middle and neck.

2) An Ibanez RG420, which I equipped with EMG 81 in the bridge, and EMG 60 in the neck. It also has an original Floyd Rose floating tremolo.

Playing through a Peavey 6505, preamp gain at about 2.5-3, but boosted with a Maxon OD808 in front (0 gain, full volume). Marshall 4x12 cab.

Talking strictly about the bridge pickups, chugga-chugga, comparing the two guitars:

Ibanez with EMG 81 sounds great, but the moment I switch to the Strat with SH-6---it's so much more open, full, powerful, organic...!

Is it the EMG 81 vs SH-6, or is it the guitars? Both guitars are with Diaddario .10's, and I can tell you that when I pluck the low E (amp off), I can feel the body of the Strat vibrating much much more than the Ibanez.


Sometimes I want to agree with the "body woods don't make a difference" but for whatever reason my experience with basswood is usually muddier in the "chuggachugga" department. And I like my chugs TIGHT and percussive. I haven't tested a SH-6 but I played an SH-8 in the Synyster Gates Custom and found it to be spongy for my taste, but still nice and that could be what you're hearing in the "organic" and "full" department. You might be getting a tighter more punchy tone if the Strat is a hardtail (or at least planted firmly to the body.)
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#10
The bridge in the strat is indeed planted to the body (I can do only dive on it). I had an SH-8 Invader in it before (still own it), but I didn't like it for the same reasons---muddy and spongy. Changing that to SH-6 made me really happy with the guitar. I only wish the Ibanez was as satisfying too.. I've always used passives, this is the first time I get EMGs (or actives for that matter), and my experience is less than stellar. If I wasn't so lazy, I could take out the SH-6 and put it in the Ibanez just to test, but...u know
#11
Yeah, it's the pickups.

And for anyone saying that basswood doesn't handle the chugs, John Petrucci has been playing basswood guitars for about 15 years now. And his chugs are about as tight as it gets.

Point is, the wood hardly matters. If it even makes any difference at all, it's so subtle that even if you think you notice it, you're probably just hearing what you want to hear. The hardware, particularly trem vs hardtail, or different kinds of trems, can make a difference, but it's still nothing compared to the pickups. The pickups and amp is what makes an electric guitar sound the way it does. The rest is just there to hold the strings and the pickups. Tonewood matters with acoustics because the guitar box itself is the amp.
Guitars
Schecter Hellraiser C-1FR, C-1 Classic, Hellraiser Hybrid Solo-II, Special Edition E-1FR-S
Orange Rockerverb 50 212
Basses
Yamaha RBX374 and Washburn MB-6
#12
Well, I went ahead and ordered this body from eBay. Compared to my "spider" body, it does have more mass since there is no routing for the spider web.. Again, it's not for that, I just hate the looks of the spider crap. As an extra bonus, the spider body was a direct mount for the pickups, which I dislike. And since I drilled out the holes in the EMG's already, I'll have to figure out how to restore the treads. Maybe bolt metal plates to the pickups with treaded holes, we'll see.

#13
I don't know if you can attribute the sonic difference to just the pickups, since other aspects of each guitar are totally different. We are happy you like the Duncan-loaded one.
Dave @ Seymour Duncan
#14
Hey guys, just want to give you an update. Well, after playing it for about a month and a half with the EMG's, at 24 volts, I caved in and bought a set of Duncans TB-6 and SH-6n, which I installed, and finally I love the guitar! I guess I'm not an "active" type of guy..
#15
^ thanks for the update, glad you're happy
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
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.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#16
If you feel the body vibrating, it's obviously not the pickup. Even more so when it's not plugged into an amp. How the hell could that be the pickup?

I've made the same experience otherwise, EMG-81 is good for super-gain fiddling, but it's just too plasticky and lacking character and dynamics for my taste. I've used Duncan JB, Distortion and Black Winter, and all of them destroy the EMG imho, especially the BW which is just overkill for everything. I can't say if this is because the EMG is active because I haven't tried any other active. All I can say is that I don't like it at all. It's an extreme one-trick pony.
Last edited by Knarrenheino at Nov 1, 2015,