First off i'm new to these forums and this will be my first post...so hello all!
Although i'm primarily an orchestral player, bassist, double bassist...etc. for anything but metal, my dad once bought an esp ltd explorer off ebay...literally for a laugh.
This can't have been such a bad idea as i've taught myself to play guitar and now play in a metal band. But as I now probably qualify as a guitarist...the first thing I should do is start complaining about my gear. So here goes.
I have two guitars (in question)...
On the left is an esp ltd ex-50, original pickups removed and replaced with the emgs shown. This guitar was bought a few years ago for £100, with the pickups as they were.
On the right is a prs se tremonti as standard. This was bought exactly a week ago for £165.
I've never really thought about the pickups in the guitars until I got the prs. he explorer I play with bridge pickup, full volume full tone. Bass pickup sounds utterly naff, but I've never really thought about why. If we zoom in on the guitar...
According to emg's website the pickups can be identified by logo colour and shape. So that means I have potentially an emg H3(neck pickup)/H4(bridge pickup) in the neck and an active emg 85, a neck pickup, in the bridge. This doesn't make sense.
The prs has its stock pickups, which I can only describe as prs designed treble and bass humbuckers.
When distorted, I like the sound of the bridge pickup in the explorer, but don't like the sound of the bass. Clean, the bridge is too harsh and neck is inaudible in a real setting.
Wit the prs I'm not overly keen on the distorted sound, would like to improve. Clean sounds beautiful. Pickups seem to hum quite a lot, having to try and use noise gate to control this.
I hope this isn't too much information to digest, but I'd like to know what on earth is going on with the pickups in the explorer! I'd also like to know how best to arrange the pickups around these guitars, I'm happy to try moving them about and maybe buy another pickup if necessary.
I have a boss metal zone, big muff and laney valve amp at my disposal if this changes things or youd suggest how to use them. I'm also have boss bp50 (bass multi effects unit that I use for a noise gate)
What would you do? Any help is greatly appreciated
Fist off, you've got a passive EMG in the neck position. The EMG-HZ passives are notorious for sounding like shit. The EMG 85 in the bridge is not common, but definitely is not a problem. Personally I used the standard EMG 81/85 set, but put the 85 in the bridge and 81 in the neck. I preferred this setup to the standard.
There also cases of other pickups like the seymour duncan blackout neck pickup being used in the bridge position. Me suggestion would be to acquire an EMG81, and put it in the neck position. See how you like it. If it does not suit you, try them twitched around. Maybe you like the EMG81 in the bridge better.
It's not about what the pickup is made for on paper. It's all about how it sounds. Judge with your ears, not your eyes. It does not matter what anyone SAYS about any pickup. If it sounds good, it IS good.