NGD: Ibanez RGA321F - need advice on what PUs to give it

Sebbemann

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Hi!

A great day for me. I recently found a great used deal on a RGA321f in great condition. The deal was so good in fact, the seller tried to squeeze me for more money as more people were lining up to get it. He already confirmed the purchase before the squeeze, though, so legally he had to sell it to me. I think he realized it too late what he had!

Anyway, the guitar is in great condition. The chrome is a little worn where the palm rests, and the bridge posts are worn from the previous owner using a flat head that is too small. Also, the screws that hold the pickup switch are a little corroded. The rest is in great condition! I've already sourced new bridge posts, as I can't deal with them being scratched.

The previous owner swapped the PUs for some SD 59/custom hybrid and Full Shred. I've already decided to swap these out for something else. I've will keep them, but I want something more suited for my intended use.

I will be playing mostly metal. Metalcore (Killswitch Engange, Old Trivium, In Flames, Parkway Drive,) and Djent/Modern metal (Periphery) and the guitar will live 99 % in drop C tuning.

I've already tried to read up on what pickups to get. Seems Bare Knuckle are all the rage right now. Whilst I would love a set of Polymath or Juggernauts, I just can't justify spending that much. So I will be looking for something cheaper.

From my reading, SD have a few pickups that might fit the bill. Most important is the bridge PU, since I will mostly be playing metal with this think. I've found some soundclips on YT of the Distortion, JB, Custom, Nazgul and Black Winter. To my ears the Distortion sounded the best for metal, followed by the BW, and the JB had the nicest cleans. The Nazgul sounded awful, very muddy. But that's on YT, so I don't know. With I had some actual experience with them.

Also not sure what to put in the neck. Seems like Jazz or 59 are popular choices? Would like something to round out the eventual bridge pickup, to get some decent lead tones and cleans for interludes and stuff.

Sorry for the wall of text. Just really excited to get this guitar that I've been dreaming of for a long time.

Tl;Dr: looking for pickup recommendations for newly purchased guitar. Guitar will be tuned to drop C and play mostly metalcore and Djent. IMG_20220811_235730.jpg IMG_20220811_235703.jpg IMG_20220811_235750.jpg
 
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Steinmetzify

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I have the KsE Adam D Caparison sig; I was undecided as to what I was going to put in there when it showed up as I was unimpressed with the Fishmans I’ve had, but that KsE sig Fishman is badass.

It’s in drop C for the same type of tunes you want to do and kills for it.

I also own an RGA121 with SD Black Winters, same deal…drop C for KsE type shizz….also slays.

Also, nice score! The 321f is always a badass. Good pickup my guy.
 

gclef

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The SD full shreds in mahogany bodies are really nice for metal, especially down tuned.

The full shred neck is a jazz neck but one step moreso. Super articulate.

The bridge is tight as hell.

I loved them in my rg520qs. I only swapped them to try in another guitar.
 

Matt08642

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I'd honestly just go EMG 81/85. Those pickups are Metalcore/Drop C 2000s riffing, and can definitely do djent (Marc Okubo from Veil of Maya used an 81 forever).
 

bigcupholder

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Keep the neck pickup. Isn't the Full Shred just a Jazz with hex screws? Maybe check the Duncan forum on that. Regardless, it seems pointless to swap that out for something similar, especially before knowing whether it goes well with whatever bridge pickup you choose. Choose the bridge pickup first since you said you care more about that one.
 

elkoki

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I'd honestly just go EMG 81/85. Those pickups are Metalcore/Drop C 2000s riffing, and can definitely do djent (Marc Okubo from Veil of Maya used an 81 forever).
EMGs wouldn’t fit into the guitar with modifying the routes , it’ll devalue the guitar honestly . Only passives would fit and possibly Fluence Open core.
 

Legion

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HNGD!! Looks gorgeous!


Here's my honest opinion

In that guitar, get a set of D-Activators and call it a day.

I don't know what it is about RGA's, D-Activators just....work.



As for Duncan pickups, be aware that your pickup routes might not be deep enough, even if you trim the tabs to triangular shape.
 

Sebbemann

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HNGD!! Looks gorgeous!


Here's my honest opinion

In that guitar, get a set of D-Activators and call it a day.

I don't know what it is about RGA's, D-Activators just....work.



As for Duncan pickups, be aware that your pickup routes might not be deep enough, even if you trim the tabs to triangular shape.
How have I not looked into the d activators before!? Found a sound clip comparing then to the SD Distortion on YT, and they are awesome! Much tighter than the Distortion, and better cleans too! Distortion sound awful clean though, so not much competition 😄

Keep the neck pickup. Isn't the Full Shred just a Jazz with hex screws? Maybe check the Duncan forum on that. Regardless, it seems pointless to swap that out for something similar, especially before knowing whether it goes well with whatever bridge pickup you choose. Choose the bridge pickup first since you said you care more about that one.
Having had some more time trying it out, I got to say I'm very impressed. I have the FS in the bridge on a HSS guitar. While it works in that guitar, it massively lacks bottom end, so I didn't think it would work well in the neck. I stand corrected!

I have the KsE Adam D Caparison sig; I was undecided as to what I was going to put in there when it showed up as I was unimpressed with the Fishmans I’ve had, but that KsE sig Fishman is badass.

It’s in drop C for the same type of tunes you want to do and kills for it.

I also own an RGA121 with SD Black Winters, same deal…drop C for KsE type shizz….also slays.

Also, nice score! The 321f is always a badass. Good pickup my guy.
Wow, you are one lucky dude! I would kill for that sig. Way out of my price range, though. Thanks for the opinion on the Fishmans. I want to try them out at some point, but I don't think they will fit in the cavity on this guitar. Think I need to get a beater guitar that I can just throw new pickups in to try out 😄
 

Emperoff

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Ok, hear me out:

1 - Contact Adam at @ElysianGuitars
2 - Ask for advice according to your needs. A Trident II or Goliath set will probably work great.
3 - Place an order with flame maple bobbin tops for the pickups. Those RGAs have huge tops and the maple bobbin tops are going to compliment it beautifully. Trust me!
 

budda

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What about the current pickups doesnt work?
 

Legion

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Ok, hear me out:

1 - Contact Adam at @ElysianGuitars
2 - Ask for advice according to your needs. A Trident II or Goliath set will probably work great.
3 - Place an order with flame maple bobbin tops for the pickups. Those RGAs have huge tops and the maple bobbin tops are going to compliment it beautifully. Trust me!
Elysians are absolutely an awesome option.

I'm a happy happy happy owner of a Goliath set, but I recommended the D-Activators because they're a tried and tested option for that particular guitar. I've yet to come across an RGA with D-Activators that *didn't* sound fucking amazing.


Also, pretty sure Adam has discontinued wood bobbin tops.

@OP,
On the elysian front, the Trident II is a phenomenal choice. Look at my thread history and NPD post on the Goliath set which is a trident II with A5 slugs for pole pieces. It's a djent machine when you pick hard, a chug machine when you palm mute, and an un-djent machine when you back off on your picking. Really fucking wonderful pickup. Hopefully my older thread will give you some info about how it sounds and you'll make the right decision for you.


EDIT: https://www.sevenstring.org/threads...h-variant-set-holy-shit-what-the-hell.354099/
 
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Emperoff

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Also, pretty sure Adam has discontinued wood bobbin tops.

This was four days ago on his FB page:

297425131_5501408379913377_7218410235288899043_n.jpg
 

bigcupholder

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Having had some more time trying it out, I got to say I'm very impressed. I have the FS in the bridge on a HSS guitar. While it works in that guitar, it massively lacks bottom end, so I didn't think it would work well in the neck. I stand corrected!
The full shred neck and bridge are two entirely different pickups. The bridge is a Custom 5 with hex poles, so it's got a bit of the scoop of the custom 5 but the shorter poles noticeably trim the bass response. I agree completely that it can be thin/bright. It's tough to match humbuckers and single coils though, so there's always a tradeoff there.

Like I said, I'm pretty sure the Full Shred neck is just a Jazz neck with hex poles, and people pair the Jazz neck with all sorts of high output pickups, so you might be fine with keeping that.
 

Neon_Knight_

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HNGD!! Looks gorgeous!


Here's my honest opinion

In that guitar, get a set of D-Activators and call it a day.

I don't know what it is about RGA's, D-Activators just....work.



As for Duncan pickups, be aware that your pickup routes might not be deep enough, even if you trim the tabs to triangular shape.
I bought the same guitar as the OP a few months ago. I haven't gotten around to swapping out the stock pickups yet (I don't hate DiMarzio/IBZs, but they don't quite do it for me). I've been considering either D Activators (my favourite pickup so far) or filing down the tabs on Black Winters. The Black Winters would be more effort to install, but I already have three guitars equipped with D Activators and liked the idea of something different. I'm very confident that D Activators would be a good match for this guitar though.

D Activator and Black Winter are the same height, but the pole pieces protrude through the baseplate on the Black Winter (unlike on D Activator). I presume this isn't an issue though, as the pickup legs are longer than the protrusion of the pole pieces.
 

Neon_Knight_

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How have I not looked into the d activators before!? Found a sound clip comparing then to the SD Distortion on YT, and they are awesome! Much tighter than the Distortion, and better cleans too! Distortion sound awful clean though, so not much competition 😄
IMO D Activators combine the best characteristics of EMGs and Evolutions.
 

gclef

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D'activators work well in mahogany.

So do full shreds. The mahogany eq tone works much better with them than alder or basswood. It's a completely different pickup IMO. If you find it still lacking bass, just bump it up at the amp
 

Sebbemann

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Thanks to all that chimed in! I orderer a D Activator bridge pickup, since I really liked what I heard on the soundclips I could find, and it was really cheap. About 2/3 of comparable SD. Time will tell if they actually sound that good IRL. They're on back order so will take a couple of weeks to get here. If I don't like them, it's hasn't cost me much, and I will continue searching.

I'm very satisfied with the full shred in the neck. Really surprised, but it works remarkably well. Lead tones are crisp and powerfully. Can get a convincing single coil tone from them too by rolling back the tone knob a few clicks.
 


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