#1
In a tiny bit of a dilemma. So, I've been playing guitar for a while but I hardly mod my guitars. As of late, I've been recording music and care about my tone a bit more.

I enjoy playing these guitar as well being an Epihpone SG G400 with stock pups and a PRS SE custom 24 with stock pups. Those are the two I really want to upgrade but that's where I run into my problem, I really don't know a whole lot about pickups.

I can go to GC and play a guitar to see if I like it and buy it right there, but I can't really go over and play a guitar with a set of pickups and see if I like them can I?

Forgive the vagueness, but I really am just looking for a fairly versatile set of pups, that preferably wont give much feedback as that's kind of a pain when recording. The only set of actives that I have considered are EMG 81/85 but I hear that EMG are pretty awful if you're not playing metal with them which I do play, but often I record clean and dirty often in the same song. Primarily looking for some nice passives, probably med output.

There are probably a TON of pickups that would fit my needs but like I said, I really don't know much about them. Mainly just want to upgrade from the stock pickups and really make sure I don't get feedback when recording.
#2
What genres? What amp?

Taking the covers off the Epi pickups might be enough to improve the tone to your liking, but it might be that your amp isn't the best or you aren't keen on the tone of a vintage-style humbuckers in general. How to you like the single coil sound of the PRS? Can You define what you think is wrong with the current pickups?
#3
FWIW, EMGs were designed for jazz guitarists, and you'll find that guys like Gilmour and Knopfler have used them to great effect. But those aren't usually the same type of active pickup as is used for metal.

Now that that's out of the way, Tony's starting down the right track. It would also help us know what kind of budget you have, whether you're willing to shop online, and where you are (since that can affect availability and price). Knowing a bit more about what tones you're chasing and what genres you're playing will help, too.

Last, but not least, what other gear is in your signal chain?

There's a metric ton of options out there; hope we can help!
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#4
Tony Done If I had to categorize I'd say progressive metal. Stuff like Sithu aye, polyphia, plini etc. I currently use a Vox AC15C1 as well as Bias FX so it's not the worst. I just find the Epi pickups to be a bit muddy. As far as the PRS, the pickups actually aren't stock, I bought it used and it came with P90s which are pretty nice but I find that they give me annoying feedback when recording especially in bias fx even with the noise gate on. The feedback is my biggest issue with that one. The one that I really want to upgrade is the Epiphone, probably change the pots too. I am just not really loving the stock pickups. Thanks for the reply man
#5
dannyalcatraz Thanks for the reply really appreciate it. As far as tone, I'm really into that djent progressive metal sound currently so stuff like Sithu aye, plini, polyphia, animals as leaders etc. Vox AC15C1 and Bias FX. Budget wise..I mean prob 200 on each guitar would be about it. I'm from SoCal and I don't mind online shopping at all, as a matter of fact it might be good to expand on other brands other than emg and seymour duncans which are all I really hear about

I like the idea of the emg 81/85 set on say, the epi and maybe a more versatile set on the PRS but I'd prob have to take the epi to a luthier as I'm not sure if the batteries will fit. 

The main issues I'm having is with the epi, I'm just really not impressed with the current pickups. The cleans are okay but when I put some OD for some riffs it just sounds really muddy. 

I love the feel of the PRS so that's usually what I record my solos on but the P90s just give me feedback that I can't seem to reduce much. I turn the noisegate on and I still get some feedback so I assume I'd just have to deal with it. If I could describe what I'd want on the PRS, just some high gain soloing that sort of cuts through the rhythm if that makes any sense. I also usually record cleans on the prs so if I could generalize..Epi for the heavier riff/rhythm stuff, PRS for the clean/solos. Thanks again
#6
Is that PRS using P90s or HB-sized P90s?
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#8
if you want a decent clean tone from emg get the 81/60, the 60 cleans up very well.
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#10
You mentioned the artists you liked. I went to see Plini play live on wednesday, he uses Suhr pickups. I went with a friend and to be honest It's not really my thing but I can't knock the guys technique he was flawless and oozed with confidence in his playing. A lot of his sound is clearly his amp (Axe FX he was using) where he has dialied in a very compressed fat sound (heavily mid focussed) that dominates and cuts through a mix very well, it's a very Vai type sound.

Now from a distance I had assumed it would have been some Dimarzio Evo style high output pickups with ceramic magnets but I was wrong, I checked and he uses Suhr pickups with alnico V magnets, and Suhr have no tone graphs to give you a rough comparison like you get with Seymour Duncan/Dimarzio/Bareknuckle.

That said if you're looking to make your Epiphone less muddy you should look at bright pickups. Bareknuckle Painkillers, Dimarzio Evos, Seymour Duncan JB or Full Shred in the bridge with perhaps a Jazz in the neck. I personally don't think the right choice for you is to butcher your guitar for some actives when passives will give you what you're after. And check out the Suhr pickups too!
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#11
Quote by remy12
dannyalcatraz HB-sized

If you want to keep the P90 sound, RailHammer's "humcutter" pickups are noiseless HB-sized P90s. They rangare in output from traditional P90s to pretty high output.

I also like the HB-sized P90s from Rio Grande, Bareknuckle, Vintage Vibe and The Creamery. However, I don't know if any of theirs are noiseless. Regardless, they sound great.

Lace's Alumitone family of pickups are noiseless- some of the quietest pickups I've ever used- unearthly clean tones. The unique pickup design is essentially the same regardless of the size, but the singlecoil-sized ones are physically too small to support coil splitting. The standard model is medium output, PAF voiced. It can get into lighter metal tones. The Deathbucker version can do most of the heaviest tones out there, but will still clean up nicely, though not quite as clean as a standard Alumitone, I'm personally planning on a custom build that will have a Deathbucker in the bridge and a standard Alumitone HB in the neck.

Here's a comparison between standar Alumitones and some Lundgrens:




Here's a guy comparing Deathbuckers to EMGs.




And Fluff's Deathbucker demo
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#12
The best thing, in my opinion, is to leave the pickups alone

Chances are good you already have all the pickup you really need; and if you don't, you picked the wrong guitar in the first place. I firmly believe that people change pickups more *because they can* (because it's a relatively easy and not particularly expensive process) rather than because it's needful or that it makes a major difference. 

You'll certainly get yards of opinions about what you should have for what specific music from what specific band playing through what specific amp setup, but the truth is you're not going to duplicate their recorded sound because the recording process has influenced that more than random bits and pieces on the guitar.  Most pickup choices are fanboi'd, and the changes make about as much sense as having your guitar painted satin black because it's "stealth" or "brootz". 

Just my not so humble opinion. Spend your money as you will.