I've been going through something of an experimental stage lately, but actually enjoying trying different things, rather than stressing myself out trying to make "ultimate" decisions about gear. Just going with the flow, and if something isn't working, try something else.
With some aspects of this though I've had to be quite bold, getting out of my 'comfort zone' with gear. I don't think I'm alone here in doing that thing where you know a type of gear isn't working for you, but you don't want to get rid of it or try something else because it's what you're used to (I'm not talking about specific models of anything here, lord knows I change guitars as often as underwear, I just mean general types)
First up: I jacked in my Zilla for a Marshall 1960A
My band is starting to play more frequently, and starting to move into bigger venues and stuff. Me and my co-guitarist both felt our rigs were somewhat lacking in projection and just a general sense of 'size', both playing through Zilla 2x12's. Don't get me wrong, they're fine cabs, but we're just experimenting.
He bought the 1960AV (V30's version) in the same weekend, so we're going to swap two speakers and have T-75's/V30's in an x-pattern
I took the EMG's out of my RG550 and replaced them with a set of Distortions.
I'm not going to be one of those overnight anti-EMG guys, I still love the way they sound, especially when recording, but I've at least acknowledged what people dislike about them, finally. And even then, I only disliked how they were when stacked up against passive guitars. When using 3+ different guitars every show, you really notice the differences between them when you strap on the next one for a different song. Having only one guitar with EMG's in your stable makes it stand out like a sore thumb. The sterility and lack of versatility, and the way you've dialled in your amp for your passives just don't mix. Plus, in this guitar in particular they were very thin. Thinner than I've experienced them sounding before.
I will probably sling them in my RGT though, since I'm not really digging the D'Activators in there, and the uber tightness and lack of low end will help with the low tuning. That's a guitar that actually needs the lack of versatility, as I tend to use bridge-cable strings on it
My thoughts on the Distortions so far though; fantastic. Very tight, very aggressive, but really thick at the same time. Sledgehammer-like low mid thump, but without sounding tubby. Harmonics fly out with ease.
I've also been fucking around trying to get a more 'reactive' tone from my Charvel. Anyone who knows me knows I fucking love this guitar to death, but there's something about the JB in there that sounds kinda off. It's very difficult to get harmonics out, and although it's the loudest guitar I own, it's gain is very dry. I've never had trouble with the JB in other guitars, it's one of my favourite pickups. It just sounds somewhat neutered here.
I was just going to grab another TB-6 and throw it in there but thought I'd try something different since I already have some Distortions now, so I grabbed a TB-10 (Full Shred).
My initial thoughts on the tone were that it's an INSANELY articulate pickup. Very very defined. But it didn't really remedy the low output feel of the JB. It's certainly a tighter pickup than the JB though, and I highly recommend it as an alternative to people who like the feel of the JB but don't necessarily dig aspects of its tone.
However, I shoved the TB-10 in the RG1570, and it absolutely RIPS Must just be that Charvel? It's got a very loud output, but not very distorted. I'm not talking a huge deal here, but it's enough to present a noticeable difference when putting the same pickup in another guitar.
So that's where I'm at at the moment, hunting for something that will make the Charvel scream like the RG550 now does. Probably going to finally get around to trying Entwistle HDN's as people (Mark, Tony) keep screaming at me to do.
TL;DR - I tried some new stuff and I like it.
EDIT: Forgot to mention - both the RG550 and Charvel now have push/pull volume pots (since they're both 1-vol-only guitars). The Distortions sound surprisingly badass split to single coils, which was surprising for such hot pickups.
I really like that Charvel it's weird you can't find a pickup to agree with it.