Pickup upgrade for my Jackson JS30

Last week I decided to play around with the JS30 by throwing in the stock DiMarzio humbuckers from my RG2550E. I wasn’t very excited about how these pickups sounded in the RG so I didn’t expect much. It would obviously sound different in the JS30’s alder body (as opposed to the RG’s basswood) but what I did not expect is how these pickups really brought the guitar to life.

It’s given the JS30 a much warmer tone, dynamic at the same time and really picks up those pinched harmonics. Overall, it has a punchier tone than the active humbuckers I had in there, which were good but a tad too bright at times especially when played through a digital multi-effects unit. Oh, and while I was at it, I shielded the electronics cavity and split the coils in the mid position for a sweet strat tone ;)

With this, I think I’m really done with my pickup experiments for a few months. The focus for the next month or so will be effects and effects pedals I’ve bought and tested recently.

Ibanez RG2550E fully customized and set up

Last weekend all major changes to the RG2550 were complete but it took some tweaking during the week to perfect the setup for my style of playing. Overall, I’d say it’s as good, if not better than many £1500 guitars out there.

The modifications:
1. Pickups: Installed a Breed bridge but it wasn’t as hot as I expected it to be, so I switched back to the Tone Zone. My ears are quite happy with the Evo neck + Tone Zone combo so I doubt I’ll be making further changes.

2. Custom H-H Pickguard: Shielding a pickguard isn’t fun but I’m glad it’s a one-time affair. The smoked gray mirror looks really good against the galaxy black finish, better than the stock bronze pickguard.

3. OTAX VLX91 super-switch: Wiring the OTAX wasn’t as easy as I’d expected and took over an hour – one reason I don’t want to change my pickups again lol. The new coil-tapped switching positions are really sweet though especially for clean guitar.

4. The Edge Pro locking stud mod is awesome and a must-have, providing 100% tuning stability no matter how much I use the whammy bar. Makes you wonder why the hell Ibanez stopped using locking studs in their Edge trem systems.

Before upgrades:

Nut shim – pickguard w/shielding, locking studs, OTAX switch – studs installed:

Customization and setup complete:

Customizing my Ibanez Prestige RG2550

A list of mods planned for my Ibanez RG2550E, parts have arrived but I need a day to complete the work so looking forward to the weekend.

1. Pickups: Been testing a bunch of DiMarzio pickups since the guitar arrived and I’m convinced about the Evolution neck and disconnecting the single coil, but undecided on the Evo 2 and Tone Zone for the bridge position.  I’m hearing good things about DiMarzio Breeds so may have to give that a shot too when I get a chance.

2. New pickguard from Jeannie Pickguards, USA – primarily to lose the single coil in the middle, but it also happens to suit the galaxy black finish better than the stock pickguard.

3. OTAX VLX91 super-switch for new pickup switching config:
         – Position 1: Bridge Humbucker
         – Position 2: Bridge + Neck inner coils
         – Position 3: Bridge + Neck Humbuckers in parallel
         – Position 4: Neck Humbucker, parallel
         – Position 5: Neck Humbucker

4. Nut shim – made a 1mm shim from a beer can lol to eliminate minor open string buzz.

5. Locking studs for Edge Pro trem, thanks Rich.

6. Treat the dry-looking rosewood fingerboard with some lemon oil.

DiMarzio Tone Zone and Blue Velvet

Both pickups arrived yesterday so I took them for a spin and the Tone Zone sounded so much better than all the demos I’ve heard of it. While it doesn’t look as cool as the other DiMarzios I own it certainly lives up to it’s name. The Tone Zone nails everything from classic rock to 80’s metal without compromise, which is all I need.

The Evo2 wasn’t bad but whenever I’d switch to/from the Evo neck, it would sound like I was playing a completely different guitar. Put the Evo2 up for sale since I won’t be needing it anymore.

DiMarzio’s Blue Velvet didn’t impress me all that much, maybe because I was hoping for something besides strat tones which I get from the stock IBZ single coil. Nothing more to say here other than I should not have bought this pickup :P

I’ve decided to move forward with my original plan of losing the mid single coil and retaining dual humbuckers, a pickup configuration I’m very comfortable with. I am planning to take it one step further, however, and install a super-switch so I can experiment with some exotic coil-tapping.

Upgrade time… DiMarzio Evolution and Evo 2

DiMarzio Evolution & Evo 2 I bought these DiMarzios a while ago waiting to install them in the right guitar, and when I started to like the RG2550E I had to pop the Evo/Evo2 in right away.

The Evolution neck has been nothing short of impressive with it’s aggressive yet smooth/balanced tone, and maintains great presence even at high volumes. It also produces cool harmonics, which is unusual for a neck pickup. I doubt I’ll ever change this pickup but I’d love to try an Air Norton someday.

The Evo2 bridge does have serious scream and it’s great for instrumental rock, but sounds a bit too thin compared to the high output Evo neck. I have a Tone Zone coming in next week, so I’ll see how well that pairs with the Evolution.

I was surprised that the stock IBZ mid pickup produced nice strat-like tone, but it will be replaced with a Blue Velvet as soon as that arrives from the US. Not sure whether I’ll retain the H-S-H configuration though, since I like to keep it simple with dual humbuckers coil-tapped with a 3-way switch.

Under the hood:
Stock pickups before surgery Wiring after pickguard removal Evo & Evo2 installed