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Unread 02-23-2011, 02:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

I own a PRS SE Neck Cantaese signature guitar which is made with mahogany body and mahogany neck. And this stuff is equipped with a stock EMG 81/85 pickups. I am looking for some heavy palm muting sound and a more full and warm distortion tone

Now, I am deciding whether it is wise to change the EMG combo to the traditional Duncan 59 SH1/JB SH4 combo for heavy metal... Of coz with my blackstar HT-Dual and DSL401 combo

I realize that many ESP guitars such as the Horizon series are equipped with Duncan 59/JB set..

Any thoughts?
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Unread 02-23-2011, 04:05 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

well alnico magnets are always better dor warmth imo so that's a good start. if for some reason you want more tightness or more gain (by a hair) then replace the jb with a distortion/sh6 OR go distortion bridge and jb neck or even a calibrated JB set. i like the jb jazz set personaly but, all of them have been in use by me and i love them all.
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Unread 02-23-2011, 07:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

I just found that the EMG set is quite muddy for me and the low response is poor for palm muting (May be it's the problem of the amp setting?)
I've heard piles of demo on the web and realize that the Duncan set can really generate such full and warm tone, the low response is also good...
So, any more suggestions from you guys?
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Unread 02-23-2011, 12:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

If you REALLY want a killing high output set with actual TONE try the Alt 8 in the bridge with a 59 or PG bridge in the neck. Hotter than both the JB and the 81 with a big smoooth thick cutting and very articulate tone that is the trademark of A-8 magnets. Listen to VH II as Eddie used a Ibanez Destroyer with the stock A-8 pickups he got from Chris Holmes in WASP for just about that entire album and the tones are signature A-8.
I was one of the herd of guys on the Seymour Duncan board who was running mag swapped Custom 8's and begging for a production A-8 bucker from them. They listened to us on the board and built a forum only pickup called the Crazy 8 then gave us this thing as a production pickup which absolutely RIPPS!! http://www.seymourduncan.com/product...ternative_8_s/
Just watch you string distance from the Alt as the A-8 has a LOT of string pull. Get one too close to the strings and it will do weird things to the overtones and sustain find the sweet spot and look out!!i. Match it up with a 59 in the neck and it will ROCK your WORLD! These 2 Washburn USA MG's both currently have that set up in them.

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Unread 02-23-2011, 12:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by miles View Post
I just found that the EMG set is quite muddy for me and the low response is poor for palm muting (May be it's the problem of the amp setting?)
I've heard piles of demo on the web and realize that the Duncan set can really generate such full and warm tone, the low response is also good...
So, any more suggestions from you guys?
EMGs are some of the tightest pickups on the market, espcially the 81/85 combo.

If this is not tight enough for you, something else is wrong like:

1) Your technique
2) Speakers
3) Settings on the amp (i.e. too much bass, not enough mids, too much distortion)
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Unread 02-23-2011, 12:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcmjmp View Post
EMGs are some of the tightest pickups on the market, espcially the 81/85 combo.

If this is not tight enough for you, something else is wrong like:

1) Your technique
2) Speakers
3) Settings on the amp (i.e. too much bass, not enough mids, too much distortion)
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Unread 02-23-2011, 04:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

The 81 EMG is a very bright harsh and thin sounding pickup. Can sound great in the right guitar for all out 80's Hair metal but is not much else IMO.
I have a 85 H60A set in the only guitar I own with EMG's
The Duncan Custom with an A8 mag swap will send a 81 running home ta momma tone wise and is tighter.
The Duncan Custom 8 Solo voice in my 1995 swap ash boddied Washburn USA MG102 run through my Fender Prosonic no effects other than my George Dennis wah.
TGP HM track Prosonic- MG 102 .mp3 - File Shared from Box.net - Free Online File Storage
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Unread 02-23-2011, 04:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ascension View Post
The Duncan Custom with an A8 mag swap will send a 81 running home ta momma tone wise and is tighter.
The Duncan Custom 8 Solo voice in my 1995 swap ash boddied Washburn USA MG102 run through my Fender Prosonic no effects other than my George Dennis wah.
There's no way an Alnico Magnet pickup is tighter than an EMG 81 with a ceramic magnet... You need clips to back up your statement.
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Unread 02-23-2011, 06:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

First off with Alnico 8 it's shall we say "different" fat and middy like A 2 but tight and sharp like a ceramic. Nothing else sounds like A-8 it's like the best of both worlds. It sounds much like the Alnico II in overall tone but is much much tighter than even the A5.
Had 81's and have Custom 8's the Custom 8 is tighter bigger sounding and hotter. It's the absolute ultimate hair metal soloist pickup in a super Strat and more! Unfortunately however the only way right now to get a Custom 8 is to buy a Custom , Custom Custom or Custom 5 Duncan and swap the mags or pay the price from the Duncan Custom Shop. the Alt is REALLY cool but has a HUGE bottom end + the output is smoking even making a Dimebucker sound tame.
The Seymour Duncan Board has a ton of posts with members singing the praise of these beasts but so far Duncan will not produce this pickup although you can order one as a custom shop pickup.
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A quick couple songs with the Custom 8 - Seymour Duncan User Group Forums
More Custom 8 love in threads from the Duncan Board.
Review of Custom 8 (not really, though) - Seymour Duncan User Group Forums
Sh-5 vs. Custom 8 - Seymour Duncan User Group Forums
Hit the search with Custom 8 on the Duncan board and you will find 500 threads with references on this pickup.
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Unread 02-23-2011, 08:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

How about the thickness and fullness of the tone?
Which pair will have a better performance?
As well as the bass response?
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Unread 02-23-2011, 09:45 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by miles View Post
I just found that the EMG set is quite muddy for me and the low response is poor for palm muting (May be it's the problem of the amp setting?)
I've heard piles of demo on the web and realize that the Duncan set can really generate such full and warm tone, the low response is also good...
So, any more suggestions from you guys?
no i agree. i don't care for my EMG's. I can dial an amp in around them but, for me the JB and Distortion do fine.
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Unread 02-23-2011, 09:46 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by miles View Post
How about the thickness and fullness of the tone?
Which pair will have a better performance?
As well as the bass response?
distortion's bridge and JB neck will be tight and have good lows. i can't speak for the alt 8 but, i wanted to try one. the JB and distortions are 16.4 and 16.6k respectively. the dimebucker/sh-13 is 13.50k which is comparatively less hot. I like alnico magnets if i can use them even though i'm a high gain guy so i use JB's a lot but, for ceramics the only ones i've really cared for (not just from using duncans either) are the distortions and dimarzio K10(which the K10 isn't very hot,8.9k) I love a thick rich tone(alnico) but, tight sharp attack (ceramic) so i usualy go ceramic in the bridge and alnico neck but, lately if it's a jb or distortion i'm happy. I think the distortion sounds like a tighter JB which it kind of is. it's a JB on ceramic magnet from what i hear. sounds great for a ceramic and shyt hot too. plus, if you hate it, i'll buy it off ya as long as it's a bridge position.
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Unread 02-23-2011, 09:50 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Thick full tone with tightness the Alt 8 is the killer. The Custom 8 is not a production pickup and you will likely have to swap in the A-8 mag yourself (simple job to do and I can swap Mags with out uninstalling a pickup in the guitar in around 5 minuets). I own guitars with both C8's and Alt 8's and both pickups are killers. The Custom 8 is not quite as thick or hot but is a killer in solo voice has a unique singing character to it and cuts like crazy without being harsh. The Alt8 is like a JB on a huge dose of steroids with a lot bigger and tighter overall tone and more of a smooth singing midrange. The 59N, Jazz neck or a A2 PG bridge will be a good match in tone and output with both.
Many don't know about the A8 mags in pickups yet but they have been a big buzz item on the Duncan board for several years now.
This is the Alt 8 in my 1993 USA Washburn MG104 through my Marshall JCM 900 Dual Master live.
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Unread 02-23-2011, 09:58 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by miles View Post
How about the thickness and fullness of the tone?
Which pair will have a better performance?
As well as the bass response?
also, the more low end INTO your amp the LESS tight your RESPONSE will be. what you should focus on imo is taking some lows out BEFORE your signal hits the amp ( or mod your amps). i use a digitech bad monkey as a boost ( a boost or OD pedal with the volume maxed and gain OFF is CRUCIAL to this tone you want) i for my dsl100 have the boost set as follows, vol maxed,lows 12 oclock to 1,highes at 2 o clock,gain OFF/0.

now, i like the combination of the lows from those two duncans with my boost into ALL of my amps BUT, a pickup like the Invader is flatulant because it's all lows and mids....HORRIBLE sounding pickup. a real tight pickup though would be one with LESS lows and more highes and mids.

that "djent" tone comes from mids and highes and dialing back the lows as much as you can before it's frrrnnnnttt.....
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Unread 02-24-2011, 01:32 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

I got your suggestions...
But I want to hear sth about the 59 SH-1/JB SH-4 set...
How come this set of pickup is so popular in Gibson or even some metal machine like ESP?

My original PRS SE NICK CANTAESE is equipped with EMG81/85
Is it really wise to change them to passive SD?
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Unread 02-24-2011, 01:34 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by miles View Post
I got your suggestions...
But I want to hear sth about the 59 SH-1/JB SH-4 set...
How come this set of pickup is so popular in Gibson or even some metal machine like ESP?

My original PRS SE NICK CANTAESE is equipped with EMG81/85
Is it really wise to change them to passive SD?
well, the 59's a clear mid scooped alnico of medium gain so it's great for all styles in the neck and the JB is a hot alnico that is very warm and rich but, drives hard and has balanced response and can do anything. it's a VERY versatile pup set and in my opinion, one of the best.for heavier stuff though like periphery while being capable of cleans that are lush i'd go distortion bridge and JB neck though. That combo's a hotter version of thast and will be tighter as well. then coil tap them and you're gold.
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Unread 02-24-2011, 01:40 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

So....should I go for this 59/JB set with my DSL401 and blackstar HT-dual pedal?
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Unread 02-24-2011, 01:42 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Quote:
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So....should I go for this 59/JB set with my DSL401 and blackstar HT-dual pedal?
not imo. the duncans sure but, just get a digitech bad monkey (DSL's LOVE THEM) and dime the volume and drop off the gain completely and use your trebs and lows to taste. with that you're boosting the volume of your guitars signal into the amp. with the dual HT you're using a preamp distortion which means you're not using your amps sound at all. the boost will just tighten up your sound, period.
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Unread 02-24-2011, 01:49 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

I already got an SD-1 for boosting....
I am still wondering whether passive duncans are really more toneful than active EMGs
Because you know......a pair of Duncans is not that cheap....
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Unread 02-24-2011, 08:17 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ascension View Post
First off with Alnico 8 it's shall we say "different" fat and middy like A 2 but tight and sharp like a ceramic. Nothing else sounds like A-8 it's like the best of both worlds. It sounds much like the Alnico II in overall tone but is much much tighter than even the A5.
Had 81's and have Custom 8's the Custom 8 is tighter bigger sounding and hotter. It's the absolute ultimate hair metal soloist pickup in a super Strat and more! Unfortunately however the only way right now to get a Custom 8 is to buy a Custom , Custom Custom or Custom 5 Duncan and swap the mags or pay the price from the Duncan Custom Shop. the Alt is REALLY cool but has a HUGE bottom end + the output is smoking even making a Dimebucker sound tame.
The Seymour Duncan Board has a ton of posts with members singing the praise of these beasts but so far Duncan will not produce this pickup although you can order one as a custom shop pickup.
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TGP HM track Prosonic- MG 102 .mp3 - File Shared from Box.net - Free Online File Storage
GM Still Got The Blues Jam Whitford Head MG 102.mp3 - File Shared from Box.net - Free Online File Storage
Destiny Revival Practice 10-2010 Holy Visitation.mp3 - File Shared from Box.net - Free Online File Storage
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A quick couple songs with the Custom 8 - Seymour Duncan User Group Forums
More Custom 8 love in threads from the Duncan Board.
Review of Custom 8 (not really, though) - Seymour Duncan User Group Forums
Sh-5 vs. Custom 8 - Seymour Duncan User Group Forums
Hit the search with Custom 8 on the Duncan board and you will find 500 threads with references on this pickup.

I didn't listen to all those clips but I didn't hear anything that screams "tight".
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Unread 02-24-2011, 12:12 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by miles View Post
I already got an SD-1 for boosting....
I am still wondering whether passive duncans are really more toneful than active EMGs
Because you know......a pair of Duncans is not that cheap....
I swear by my EMG's man. I really don't like using anything else...They're powerful, punchy, tight as hell, and are pretty quiet for as high output as they are. I honestly don't think many passives can match the tightness of EMGs outside of maybe a Crunch Lab or some Bare Knuckle pickups. There is a reason ALL (OK, not all, but almost all) of the modern metal bands that do TIGHT, staccato riffery (breakdown, tight rhythms, etc) use EMGs--because they're perfect for it!
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Unread 02-24-2011, 12:30 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Back in the mid 80's I used EMG's thought they were pretty good. I recently put a set in my Explorere and Im not so happy with em. Will be looking for something else.
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Unread 02-24-2011, 05:13 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Back to the JB/59 set in a Mahogany neck and body guitar. I have the stock JB /59 set in my USA Washburn Chicago Custom A-30 ( likely less than 100 were ever built of the USA's)and it is an absolute tone machine. Thick full and beefy + oh so sweet with a singing thick solo voice. Will give the best of the best Les Paul a run for thick tone and sustain and is one of the very very best sounding guitars I have ever touched.


In the right guitar it can be magic in the wrong guitar the JB can be a dog. Try it if you don't like it swap mags or call Duncan and swap for something else.
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Unread 02-24-2011, 05:23 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

I don't care for the EMG's compared to the duncans personaly but, it's all preference. you may not like them but, i'm guessing you will seeing as you're not happy with the EMG's for the same reasons i'm not. i'll use anything but, i prefer the duncan distortions and JB's and to my ears they are more toneful yes.
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Unread 02-25-2011, 12:22 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

You do know the JB and the Distortion are basically the same pickup except the mag don't you? JB is Alnico 5 the Distortion is ceramic but they will ohm out the same. The Alt 8 also is in the same 17K range but used a different wire in the winding + a double thick A8 mag.
I like the JB better with an A2 ( the custom Shop George Lynch) or A8 mag than the A5 personally.
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Unread 02-25-2011, 01:18 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Bear in mind that I will push my DSL401 very hard through a Blackstar HT-Dual..
Because I really love the "Mesa" taste produced by this pedal, so I am not going to use the amp overdrive...
Maybe I don't need an extra high output pickups such as the Alternative 8...
Still..anymore suggestions?
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Unread 02-25-2011, 01:34 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

Quote:
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You do know the JB and the Distortion are basically the same pickup except the mag don't you? JB is Alnico 5 the Distortion is ceramic but they will ohm out the same. The Alt 8 also is in the same 17K range but used a different wire in the winding + a double thick A8 mag.
I like the JB better with an A2 ( the custom Shop George Lynch) or A8 mag than the A5 personally.
yeah in fact i stated that a few posts up if you read 'em and they aren't the same DC resistence. 16.4 for the jb and 16.6 for the distortion. because of the magent change it also changes the resonant peak and the resulting tonality is different, you know the celestion g12T-75 is a 75 watt greenback? doesn't sound the same though but, that was the intention when they designed it. again, it's preference but, i do agree with JCMJMP that your sound in those vids (while good and nothing wrong with it at all) isn't tight. nothing in that video sounds "tight" to my ears either. now, the 8's i can't speak for BUT, the JB's the tone and feel i LIKE though it's not particularly TIGHT it's BALANCED which is easy to tighten up with a boost (and i ALWAYS use one to tighten up my amps) BUT, due to the ceramic magnet in the distortion, it IS tight and has a higher treble and bass curve than the JB which gives it better attack and articulation as well.


if you're expecting a pickup ALONE to tighten up your sound completely it probably won't happen though imo though you can get close with something like the BK Miracle Man (which i only liked in rediculously low tunings as it's TOO tight to me). balance is something i personaly search for in all facets of my life not the least of which is my tone. fyi, used JB and distortions go for $35-55 MUSHY. The ONLY way you'll know for sure what YOU like though unfortunately is to try them. look up some guitars and play them. the ltd ec-1000 sunburst,schecter c-1 classics both have a jb and there are a few with the distortion. getting into the BK's and such though you'll have to bite the bullet on.
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Unread 02-25-2011, 03:07 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

A lot of the compression you hear in my tone is what I am playing through. The Prosonic and Zinky in particular. I own a guitar with a EMG 85 H60N set right now and have owned a few with 81/85's. The Custom 8 in particular is every bit as tight in response as the 81. A8 responds differently than any other Alnico mag. It cleans up and opens up well with pick attack or a volume roll off but is tight and articulate as heck when you drive it. I personally don't care for ceramic as I use touch and work volume control on the guitar so much as part of my style. To me the EMG 81 in the bridge position is sterile and big time harsh and bright. I have always at all the guitars that come with a 81 in the bridge and a 85 in the neck,seems backwards to me!
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Unread 02-25-2011, 06:11 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

If you want ultra high output and that active pickup taste, try Seymour Duncan blackout Metal's, I have one in my Jackson and it's awesome, natural sound of a passive, but with incredible output, you have to have an awesome clean channel or you wont have clean at all, very strong and full tone.
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Unread 03-03-2011, 03:01 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Switching from EMG 81/85 to Duncan 59/JB ??

In response to all your suggestions, which pair of pickups(EMG 81/85 or Duncan 59/JB) will have the best performance upon the use of a Blackstar HT-Dual as a distortion pedal?
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