#1
Hi guys, I apologize for the long first post, but I have been having trouble choosing a humbucker set for my new guitar.

Some time ago I bought an LTD Viper 256. I truly love the guitar but the stock pickups that came with it are a bit dull for my taste. The neck humbucker is very dark and lacks clarity while the bridge humbucker is okay but can sound a little muddy at times when I crank the distortion up. On the other hand, If I don't dial in lots of bass on my amp (and lower the tone on the guitar to about half way), I won't get that modern metal sound I want... but doing this just adds to that somewhat muddy tone.

Unfortunately I cannot try out different pickups as I live on an island but here's what I'm looking for: I need a humbucker set capable of producing some mean modern metal distortion (think Deftones, Mastodon, Tool etc.) and that can stay nice and clear even when tuning to something like drop C. It will also need to perform nicely while on the clean channel. Hence I think I need something less aggressive for the neck pickup. The guitar is also coil splittable but I haven't really used that feature though.

Gear:
Guitar - Mahogany Body (SG style), mahogany set neck, rosewood fingerboard.
Amp - Peavey Valveking 50
Pedal - main pedal for metal is the Emma Pisdiyauwot

I really love the look of the covered stock pickups, so I'd like to stick with a nickel covered bucker. I currently looked into a heap of Duncan pickups like the duncan custom, Duncan distortion, JB, Pegasus and the Alt 8. And I also heard some good things about the Dimarzio D Activator. Then there's EMG, which is probably the most famous choice for modern metal. However, I don't want to go active as that would mean having to drill a cavity for the battery (something I'm not planning on doing). So for this reason, I'd like to stick to passive pups.
Then there's the dilemna about going ceramic or alnico: honestly, I don't know which I'd prefer. I have a Dimarzio Breed (alnico V) in one of my guitars and I love it! Mean, powerful and has all the low end I want. I also have another guitar with ceramic stock humbuckers which I thought were a little weak for my personal taste. I blame the pickups though and not saying ceramics are bad!

Of all of the SD options I mentioned, I keep coming back to the Alt 8, there's something appealing about the way SD describes it as being middle-of-the-road between an alnico V and ceramic. I just fear that it could make the guitar sound too trebly/ice picky? I've also heard good things about the SH-5, but have been wondering whether they have enough low end to do modern metal well. Has anyone tried one of these or both and can chime in?

I really appreciate any help I can get!
#2
Knowing how the pickups will sound with the rest of your setup is going to be a total crapshoot.

If you're going to be doing a lot of downtuning, then its generally a good idea to get a pickup that's quite bright sy they don't get muddy as quickly.

I can only speak from personal experience, but for downtuning, I've found the Duncan SH-6 to be great. I've also had some good experiences with the Duncan JB and it even has some decent cleans. It has a bit more sag in the low end and more upper mids than the SH-6, which I do like for certain things. It's Duncan's best selling pickup for a reason.

This video gives a decent comparison.



But like I said, if you're going to be doing downtuning a lot, I'd get the SH-6.
Quote by TheSennaj
And well yes, I'll enjoy the carpal tunnel and tendonitis, because trying to get one is clearly smarter than any word you have spoken thus far.
#3
Thanks for the reply! From clips I've heard I'm not a big fan of the JB. The SH-6 is a much better fit for the sound I'm going for. What would be a good neck pickup to pair it with?
#4
Depends on what exactly you're going for tonally for the neck pickup.

If you want something hot like the bridge pickup then you can buy the matched SH-6 set. But I prefer having really bright, low output neck pickups as they don't get muddy with gain so quickly and they don't consume so much of the amp's headroom on the clean channel. So I like the Jazz and the '59.

If coil splitting is something you're going to be doing a lot, you may want to get a hotter neck pickup as low output neck pickups that are split tend to be very anemic to the point that it actually becomes a problem. Some pickups are designed with this in mind like Duncan P-Rails though.
Quote by TheSennaj
And well yes, I'll enjoy the carpal tunnel and tendonitis, because trying to get one is clearly smarter than any word you have spoken thus far.
#5
I've used all different pickups, many I probably didn't give their fair shot before pulling them. But my go to pickups are usually the SH-4 and SH-6 for the bridge, depending on what type of music I'm building a guitar for.

For the style you're going to play I'd say SH-6b in the bridge and SH-4n in the neck.
#6
You can order any Seymour Duncan pickup with a cover. My thought is that you'd dig the Pegasus/Sentient set over the Alt 8. It is more versatile, and generally does more things better...it has great cleans, too, with percussive lows.
Dave @ Seymour Duncan
#7
You're also going to be hard pressed to get the aggressive tone you want out of a VK (IDK if you're using any gain pedals or not). I also tried the the Alt8 when it was first released. I had it in a alder body Jankson Dinky. I thought it was .... average sounding. Nothing special. But it worked very well for a 90's Alternative sound. So by name alone, it served it's purpose.
#8
Quote by Xander_X
You're also going to be hard pressed to get the aggressive tone you want out of a VK (IDK if you're using any gain pedals or not). I also tried the the Alt8 when it was first released. I had it in a alder body Jankson Dinky. I thought it was .... average sounding. Nothing special. But it worked very well for a 90's Alternative sound. So by name alone, it served it's purpose.


The VK is indeed no Marshall or Blackstar, but I'm pleased. See I also play alternative/grunge and I feel it does this quite nicely. This is actually the main reason I bought the VK.
Also, from the clips I've heard I feel the sh-6 has sooome characteristic quite similar with the Alt 8. I think it was the tight bass and the presence of the mids... or it could be just me!

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Depends on what exactly you're going for tonally for the neck pickup.

If you want something hot like the bridge pickup then you can buy the matched SH-6 set. But I prefer having really bright, low output neck pickups as they don't get muddy with gain so quickly and they don't consume so much of the amp's headroom on the clean channel. So I like the Jazz and the '59.


Spot on! I'm looking for a nice and clean sounding humbucker. Nothing twangy (like a single pup) or way too bright that would become pop-like. Think melodic, well-balanced yet clear.

Quote by Mincer
You can order any Seymour Duncan pickup with a cover. My thought is that you'd dig the Pegasus/Sentient set over the Alt 8. It is more versatile, and generally does more things better...it has great cleans, too, with percussive lows.


Mincer, are you on the Duncan forum too? I heard some clips on youtube and I'm intrigued! Very articulate sounding pickups! Why it's being marketed for progressive rock and/or 7 string guitars, I don't really get! Have you tried the Alt 8, if so, what according to you is the differences between these two, sound-wise? Also, what about the sentient? Clean enough like a 59 or a jazz neck? I do hope you're right about being able to order this with nickel cover because this is slowly becoming #1 on the list for possible new pickup.
#9
Quote by R3-AUA

Mincer, are you on the Duncan forum too? I heard some clips on youtube and I'm intrigued! Very articulate sounding pickups! Why it's being marketed for progressive rock and/or 7 string guitars, I don't really get! Have you tried the Alt 8, if so, what according to you is the differences between these two, sound-wise? Also, what about the sentient? Clean enough like a 59 or a jazz neck? I do hope you're right about being able to order this with nickel cover because this is slowly becoming #1 on the list for possible new pickup.


Yup. The Alt 8 is very aggressive, with a pretty strong highs and mids. It is compressed sounding, and wonderful with distortion, although if you ever want a clean sound, it might be too aggressive. The Pegasus is does more things better, although it has the low end needed for low tunings. I think it is marketed towards the progressive metal guys because it is good at that, too. The Sentient is tonally between a 59 and Jazz neck. Sort of the best of both.
Dave @ Seymour Duncan