Which pickups would be better (better tone, handles distortion well, very good quality)

SD JB and Jazz set
EMG 81/85 set.
EMGs if you only play metal.

Duncans if you like to play things other than metal, as well as metal.
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I personally hate EMGs so I'd take the SDs anyday, but it depends what sort of style you play....

For heavy metal and technique-driven styles EMGs are excellent as they accentuate every detail. However they have a very clinical souless feel at lower gain levels.
Alnico-magnet passives like the JB/Jazz/'59 etc. have a lot more warmth and an organic feel which is better for blues,rock,jazz and most other styles. The JB handles gain very well, but is much more versatile.

You really need to say what music you're playing, and the guitar you're fitting them to!
um...both have good tone, both handle distortion very well, both are very good quality.
they're also quite different. what kind of tone are you searching for?
If you want classic rock tones, try a EMG 60(n)/85(b) setup.
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Quote by utsapp89
^I'd let a pro look at it. Once you get into the technicalities of screws...well, it's just a place you don't want to be, friend.
I play Rock, Classic rock, Metal, Jazz, and Blues. I am thinking of putting them on a Schecter C-1 Plus, or an Ibanez RG3EXQM1.
Tone is subjective. The Pros to the EMG is they are great for straight ahead metal. Very tight sounding with excellent bass response. Even more versatile is the 60 neck, 85 bridge combo as suggested. the more versatile combo though are the JB/Jazz. They can do just about anything well. However, the JB, while tight, has a lot of presence and while still tight, is a bit lacking in bass response, especially in an alder body guitar. You also wouldn't need new pots and a jack with the JB/Jazz. In terms of quality, I think the EMGs are a lot more consistent then the Duncan pickups. the SDs aren't bad or poor quality, but I can notice some slight difference between one JB in a guitar and the next.
Quote by Say Ocean
Personally I don't like EMGs at all, not even for metal. They take the character out of the guitar, and even though they are saturated they are lifeless and boring.

Thats just my opinion though

try playing through something other than a 15 channel switchomatic ultra gain bass thumper rectum-frier. i think enough people havent played the 85 through the bridge. it really just kills in that position. alnico mags, warm, and open sounding. i equate the 81 to the "vintage 30" of pickups. okay for guys who just need to cut cut cut through a mix, but a big harsh and grainy on the upper mids/highs. but the 85 bridge through an old "grandpa" amp, just wonderful.