I need help for pickups on my two main guitars. Both have completely different specs and uses to me, so they both require a bit of their own rundown.

The First:

My Schecter Hellraiser (2008 model). It has EMG 81TW/89s in it, and they were pretty cool when I first got it, but I'm finding the tone of the EMGs more and more plain as days go on. Now I love how the guitar feels, but it's lacking the dynamics and sound I'm craving. So I'm thinking of either two things:

A) I've heard the EMG 18 volt mod helps make the EMGs sound A LOT better than normal. How hard is it to do in the guitar? where would I shove the extra battery? If it required extra routing, i'm immediately nixing the option.

B) Would passives solve my problem? I was thinking of going with either a Seymour Duncan JB or Custom 5 in the bridge and a 59 or Jazz in the neck.


- "Main" Guitar
- Stays in E Standard/Drop D
- Mainly a rock/metal guitar (but I do like blues and jazzier stuff)
- Music similar to what I play: Tool, Opeth, Underoath, Thrice, Glassjaw, Muse, Lamb of God, Protest the Hero, The Mars Volta, Converge

The Second:

My Schecter Spitfire (I believe from 2003). It has what I believe to be a basswood body, flame maple neck and rosewood fretboard. The stock pickups in it are Duncan Designed p.o.s', and they're only decent on standard tuning...I use the guitar for low tunings (C# and C Standard, and their respective Dropped Tunings). I tried playing it with Dropped B today and all I got was a ton of mush. I know it's not that the strings aren't tight enough since I just put on an EB 12 - 56 set, so it's definitely the pickups.


- Second "Main" Guitar
- Basically an all out heavy machine, but I do like using for more rock-ish stuff
- Stays in C# or C standard, and Drop B and A#
- Music similar to what I play: Isis, Tool, In Flames, Baroness Slipknot/Stone Sour, The Sword, Queens of the Stone Age

Now for what I NEED each guitar to have:

- GREAT Clean sound (shouldn't have to roll off my volume knob on the clean channel to get a clean sound)
- AMAZING crunchy tones (I should be able to hear all the notes in a chord, while pumping out enough chunk to kill small animals and having the ability to unless awesome harmonics)
- Coil-Tappable [for the Hellraiser, strictly cuz it's already got coil taps and I like the added dimension they give)
- CLARITY (which I can't stress enough)

So, any suggestions for what I need?

Thanks in advance,


Also forgot to mention budget.

For the Hellraiser: I don't want the pickups to go above 300. I bought the guitar for 600 bucks, so If i'm spending almost as much as the guitar itself, I may as well just get a new guitar.

For the Spitfire: Not to excede 150 since I bought the thing for 250 bucks.
That's a terrible amount of specifications.

Just get em custom from somewhere.
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the eighteen volt mod is easy, you just have to play a little Tetris to fit both batteries in there! I've done it on a Randy Rhoads and a Dean Vendetta 3.0 and it is awsome. For your second guitar, I love the Dimarzio Evo bridge and Fred neck! They do it all, just my opinion though!
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I hardly think that's a ton of specs. I'm not gunna settle for the blah sound i'm getting now, nor will I sacrifice great crunch for shit cleans (or vice versa) and i'm not paying 400 bucks for pickups.


Are there any instructions for the 18 volt mod? It seems like a cheap and somewhat simple fix for the EMGs, which i'd love to try first. And is the Evo capable of putting out chunky rhythms? Since it's used by Vai and Dragonforce, I always associated it more with shredding music, and i'm not really a shredder.
Duncan Custom 5 and 59 in the Hellraiser, Dimarzio D-Sonic and Breed in the Spitfire.

Job done.

Just bear in mind that you're generally wanting to go to the neck pickup for your cleans anyway - and if you have a hefty high output pickup in the bridge you're going to have to accept that the volume needs to be rolled of for cleans, or use your splits.
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Believe it or not those were the exact pickups I was leaning towards (last night I was thinking of the D-Sonic for uber brutal tunings). I generally do go for my neck for cleans, or split the bridge coil (in the Hellraiser's case).

Priority right now is the Spitfire since the Hellraiser doesn't sound TOO bad to me right now...the spitfire's the one that needs serious improvement.. So the D-Sonic/Breed combo would be good? Also, hard would it be to install a 5 way switch on the guitar, or install a global coil tap (like the Schecter C-1 Plus has)?


Also, I was just thinking of this; are EMGs universal, as in could you buy one and put it anywhere? I was looking into what EMGs the bands I like that use them use, and the majority use the 85 in the bridge (which the 89 is based on). I was wondering, since the 89 has added low end and output, and the 81TW has added treble detail and is lower output, could I just switch them around and see how that works? how hard would that be?
Last edited by RG_FANMAN at Oct 1, 2008,
Pickup switching is determined by the pickups, and both the D-Sonic and Breed are 4 conductor so you can do what you want....personally I'd wire the D-Sonic with a split but the Breed with a series/parallel toggle instead.

You could do that with a 5 way switch or keep the 3 way and install push/pull pots or mini toggles. The D-Sonic has a flattish EQ curve so it's great for heavy rhythm work but also does good lead stuff without having the exaggerated midrange spike that the shreddier Dimarzios have. The Breed is just big, fat and warm - it's powerful enough to balance with a hefty bridge pickup like the D-Sonic and adds a nice bit of character to a basswood guitar which is great for youe more restrained, soulful moments when you're not relying on your distortion so much.
Actually called Mark!

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I like the idea of the D-Sonic in the Spitfire, but it's the neck that is still up in the air. The stock pickup sounds horrible; it's so warm and bassy that is sounds like somewhat just rolled off the tone knob, then lowered the treble on their amp; it's this horrible mush that only sounds that horrible with the neck pickup, and my tone's full blow and the treble on my amp is around 7. I'm concerned that the breed, with it being a warmer pickup (having the low end and midrange focus) it'll encounter the same problem the stock pickup has with low tunings and a higher gain setting.

Also, how hard is it to not only change the pickups, but do the different wirings? It's my first attempt at changing pickups, so I have absolutely no experiance whatsoever. Also, how hard would it be to add a push/pull switch coil tap where my volume knob is, and add a series/switch where my tone is? I have absolutely no wiring experiance myself, but have two family members with experiance in electronics.

Additionally, any other thoughs on the EMG idea? Would switching them around be easy? Would the 18 volt mod be simple (and could have a diagram or something for that)?
any more info on the 18 volt mod? how to, etc? that's gunna be the first thing I do since it doesn't seem to cost much, if anything.

Also, how are the D-Sonic's cleans? I was thinking of just replacing the bridge right now since I'm low on cash, then doing the neck eventually.
since we're on a relatively similiar topic, how would the Seymour Duncan Jb do in a basswood w/ maple top at LOW tunings ( Drop C all the way to A standard)???????
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