So, after selling all my guitars, basses, and other musical gear earlier this year, I bought my RGIXL7 and my AX8. I had hoped to spent more time on music and less time on work, and I have had more time, but not nearly as much as I'd liked.
The main issue is that my RGIXL7 has a grounding issue. Unless my skin is touching the strings or metal, there is audible noise. In addition to not having tons and tons of time to spend on music, I have zero interest in buying a soldering iron, so that's not really an option as far as I'm concerned. (And even if I did have tons of time, I still wouldn't get a soldering iron). But even separate from the noise, I have been unable to get a satisfactory distorted tone from my AX8. Now, I do not believe this is a problem with the AX8. I owned an Axe-FX Ultra for 4-5 years and used it as the main part of my rig for recording, practice, and live performances, and I was 100% satisfied with my clean and distorted tones. With my AX8, which is basically the pedalboard version of an Axe-FX II, I am 100% satisfied with all the clean tones I've made, but I cannot be satisfied with the distorted tones. And I've also downloaded tons of tones that I saw online sounding great but that sound unsatisfactory here.
I think that the main cause is probably the stock pickups, which are DiMarzio Fusion Edge 7. They do sound great clean, though.
I've had close to 20 guitars now, most of them with passive pickups, but 4 of them with active pickups. For distorted tones, my favorite pickups were actives. Specifically, my favorites were probably my Seymour Duncan Blackouts, though I really liked the EMGs I had too. For passives, I've always really liked PAFs.
My previous band that I was in for a little over 6 years was progressive death metal/technical death metal. And I do tend to really like focused, high gain, cutting, biting distorted tones.
I'm kind of torn over whether to go with something super expensive like Bare Knuckle (which sounds great, but might be overkill, especially since I'm not in a band yet) or something much more reasonable like EMG or Blackouts. Any advice?