Price paid: $ 189
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 8
My main guitar, a Schecter C-1, came with some pretty mediocre pickups from the factory. So I eventually got around to looking for a new set of pickups. Something with a little more clarity, and a little more bite. I didn't want to go with the usual active pickup choice of EMGs, because they had terrible cleans and just sounded a bit too thin for my taste. What I eventually stumbled upon were the Dave Mustaine signature LiveWires from Seymour Duncan. They're basically the same thing as regular LiveWires, just with a bit more gain. The great thing about LiveWires are that while they're active, they still retain the characteristics of their passive Seymour Duncan counterparts. According to the official website, "the resonant frequency of the bridge and neck pickup is matched with that of the SH-4 JB and SH-2n Jazz Model (neck) respectively". This means that even though you'll get ridiculous amounts of power, you won't lose that great SD tone. Unfortunately, my main amp is a solid state modeling amp (no names here). The problem with that is that the guitar itself has a smaller impact on the tone than normal. But, having tested my guitar on a wide variety of amps, tube and solid state, I can honestly say that these pickups have made a huge difference in my tone. They're not muddy, and they're relatively well balanced. Each note has the opportunity to Shine through. These pickups are literally on fire. Don't expect to get a clean tone out of these pickups unless you space them far away from the strings, though. My local guitar tech told me that he had to push the pickups way down, otherwise he couldn't play on the clean channel of his tube amp without the pickups pushing it into overdrive. The bridge position really brings the heat for riffs. It's incredibly chunky, and I don't even have to turn the overdrive on my amp up as high anymore. I play metal mostly, and I tune down pretty far sometimes with thick strings. Not once have I had a problem with the pickups sounding muddy. The neck position is great for leads and cleans. Not the best, but it's still a step up from what I used to have. At times I feel like the sound is a bit too hollow and the cleans are too cold, but that's probably my amp more than anything. When you put the Switch in the middle position and use both humbuckers at once, I think that gives you the best clean tone.
Overall Impression — 8
There isn't much negative to say about this set, unless you don't want ridiculously high gain. You'll have to fiddle around a bit for your clean tones, but if you're buying active pickups, chances are that clean tones don't really run too high on your priority list anyway. If you're looking to compose your own smyphony of destruction, these pickups are for you.
Reliability & Durability — 8
These pickups are rock solid. I actually think I dropped one once before installing it, but I've had no problems. They're nickel plated and they cant' be taken apart, so really the only thing you can manage to screw up is the wiring. In fact, I haven't had any problems with it at all, despite all the sweat that must have dripped inside the pickup rings. The input jack that came with it has been giving me problems though. It may be my cord (it usually is), but I can't tell. I had major problems with my last input jack too. Other than that, it seems pretty damn solid. The nickel plated pickups came with plastic covers over them, which really keep them shiny. I pulled the covers off as soon as I installed the pickups, and man, these things tarnish fast. But, that's just a cosmetic issue. They still sound great. Letting them rust just gives them that "Vintage" look. Overall though, I'd say very reliable pickups. Just change the battery out whenever you hear them getting weak. These pickups are rock solid, and they're ready to go down the killing road and take no prisoners.