#1
Hey UGers,

New member here. Decided to join up after reading the members' responses in a number of threads. You guys seem knowledgeable and don't flame people for (sometimes obvious) retardedness.

That's why I've decided to ask a question I've been mulling over for a month or so.

I bought an Ibanez GRG170DX over Christmas. $175+tax at Long&McQuade. I had been looking around for one of these (I'm a beginner) and I thought $175 CDN for a new one was a good deal.

My personal opinion of it is that the guitar is well built, reliable so far, and looks good. But the materials are obviously not very high quality, the Powersound pups suck, and the trem is horrible (might improve if I get it set up properly/add another spring or something). It goes out of tune very every time you touch it (yes, I know I have no locking nut, but still), so I don't even bother attaching the whammy bar anymore. The guitar is very playable though, and I recommend other beginners like me to get one if you find a good deal.

Anyway, about the pickups,...yeah they're pretty bad (I'm a beginner and I can tell you that). If you have a good amp and crank up distortion, you may be able to get away with playing rhythm in a metal song, but you'll still need to hide behind a backing track or other band members if you don't want to embarrass yourself. Otherwise, the lows come out fairly well, which tends to cover up the trebles when you play chords. It just sounds like you hear the bass/foundations of the chord, then all the mid to higher EQ notes just get covered up and blend in, and every harmonic possible just jumps out of the guitar and you don't even hear the notes you've strummed anymore. Chords with more than 4 strings are a no-no. Hope that makes sense.

I was considering upgrading the pickups on this guitar and I need your help in answering some questions (for my other equipment, see below):

1) Is it worth the $75 for installation + cost of pickups to upgrade this guitar? The pickups I've been considering are Dimarzio Tone Zone, PAF Pro, Super 2, Super Distortion, The Breed. I want Satriani type singing/full tone for one pickup, but also for versatility when I turn up the gain to do some and bassier metal with the other pickup.

2) Are the pups in 1) a good choice for the sound I'm going for?

3) Will those pickups improve my sound (given the rest of my equipment below) to the direction that I want to take it? At this point, I'm convinced that the sound really can't get any worse, so the question is whether an upgrade is worth it for me (read rationale below)

4) If it won't make much of a difference because the guitar is too crappy, what cheaper/more suitable alternatives would you recommend that would still get rid of my current issues with the sound? I'm also looking at some Dimarzio IBZ pickups from recent Ibanez Prestige guitars that I can buy, depending on your recommendation.

5) What other passive pickups do you recommend that would offer similar tone as Satriani, Petrucci, that would be a suitable upgrade for my guitar. Please be specific with the model/type, not just the brand.

My rationale:

If I can get a deal on these dimarzio pickups (around $60 each), then I might as well buy them now, because I can transfer them to better guitars later on. As for my guitar, I can probably sell it used for around the same price I got it. So the only real investment here is the installation fee and the pup removal fee when I put the originals back in to sell the guitar. ($120-$150??)

On the other hand, since I'm happy with the playability of the guitar, if a pickup upgrade can solve the sound issues I'm having, and let me enjoy my practicing, then my investment is spread out over a longer time while I get the immediate pleasure from the benefits right now.

Sorry for the long post, but I feel like you can offer me better advice if you understand the situation. Let me know what you guys think.

Thanks.

======================
Other Equipment:

Digitech RP-80 ==> not always plugged into the amp, mostly used so I can learn effects and practice while I travel.

Vox AD30VT
#2
Get a used Ibanez S. You can get a decent used one for probably 300 or so, and you'll have the real deal.

You can put any kind of pickups you want in it, but a starter pack guitar is still a starter pack guitar, and chances are if you're at the point where you realize that the hardware is unreliable and the pickups/tone are awful, you're probably ready for a step up anyway. Aside from that, the pickups aren't the only thing that can affect a guitar's tone - body wood, shape, thickness, the material of the top, bridge position and depth, neck shape, and headstock angle all affect how a guitar sounds and plays.

My advice? Grab a used upgrade. This way, you're not killing your bank by paying for a flashy new one, but also not killing your bank by continually sinking money into a low end guitar that's going to die out anyway.
#3
Not too bad of a beginner guitar out of the box. Just tightening the screws that hold the strings on the whammy will improve it 327.8% as far as pickups, invest in some gibson dirty fingers.
#4
Normally I would also recommend saving up for a new guitar, but since you seem to like the one you have, except for the pickups, I think it might be a good idea for you to upgrade the pickups.

I would say the ones you mentioned are good choices. You should also get a lot of good sounds out of the rest of you gear, I'd say.
#5
Quote by strat0blaster
Get a used Ibanez S. You can get a decent used one for probably 300 or so, and you'll have the real deal.

You can put any kind of pickups you want in it, but a starter pack guitar is still a starter pack guitar, and chances are if you're at the point where you realize that the hardware is unreliable and the pickups/tone are awful, you're probably ready for a step up anyway. Aside from that, the pickups aren't the only thing that can affect a guitar's tone - body wood, shape, thickness, the material of the top, bridge position and depth, neck shape, and headstock angle all affect how a guitar sounds and plays.

My advice? Grab a used upgrade. This way, you're not killing your bank by paying for a flashy new one, but also not killing your bank by continually sinking money into a low end guitar that's going to die out anyway.



Thanks for your take. There is a good argument in there.

Yes, I've heard that S are good guitars. Well built, sound good, very fast and comfortable. I'll have to try one next time I go shopping.

One thing though: I am looking to stay with 24 frets. I know the S prestige has 24 frets, but it might be out of my price range.

How does ZR bridge compared to the Edge Pro though in terms of versatility, staying in tune, and longevity?

It seems too good to be true to have something comparable to an Edge Pro on a guitar in this price range.

Is there something out there that's around $300-400 used, 24 frets, similar quality to the Ibanez S/S470? Assuming I'll still throw in some Dimarzio pickups, and that I still want the same kind of tone as I've described above.

Thanks.
#6
Quote by whoismilan
Normally I would also recommend saving up for a new guitar, but since you seem to like the one you have, except for the pickups, I think it might be a good idea for you to upgrade the pickups.

I would say the ones you mentioned are good choices. You should also get a lot of good sounds out of the rest of you gear, I'd say.



Absolutely, a used guitar upgrade will definitely happen as soon as I feel like I have the skills that make a noticeable difference going from one guitar to another. Oh, and when I have the money.

At the moment though, I feel like the GRG 170 isn't holding back my skills, so I'm trying to address the sound issues which are frustrating me the most. If the quality of the guitar is such that a pickup like a PAF Pro makes very little difference, then I won't bother spending the money now. That's kinda what I'm not sure about.

Can I benefit more from investing the funds and making the same $75 + $60/pickup consumption in the future. Or is the marginal benefit (qualitative) of investing now greater than returns on investing at the (assumption) risk-free rate?

I guess its up to me to decide whether the sound benefit is worth it, but since I've never done such a pickup upgrade before, I wouldn't know the sound difference and I'm wondering what opinions you guys have.

Thanks and keep them coming!!