Pickup comparison! (JB, Nazgul, Distortion, EMG81, EMG81tw & Fishman Fluence Modern)

Guitarjon

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I swapped some pickups out recently in my ESP LTD Phoenix Black and Arctic Metal models so I thought I had to take this opportunity to make a comparison. I was very curious to hear the differences.

The pickups that are compared are:

- Duncan JB SH-4
- Duncan Nazgul
- Duncan Distortion SH-6
- EMG81
- EMG81tw
- Fishman Fluence Modern (both voicings)

The comparison has some clean/edge of breakup tones as well as a few heavy riffs. Some pickups here sound quite drastically different while others sound similar. Interesting! Which one sounds the best here to you?

 

yan12

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Good comparison. All of them sound similar in the mix to me, but alone I like the Nazgul.

My suggestion. For a guitar player like me, always play some lead licks. Big long bends to show sustain/decay. Runs on high B/E strings. I am a one guitar man (no other player in band) and I do both rhythm and lead. Where all of these pickups fall short is with leads. It has been hard to find pickups that are that tight in the low register that retain girth up high. Most of them get very thin for my tastes soloing. All workable, but thin. I think that's one reason so many of us old schoolers boosted solos.

I have been using Schecter USA pickups for about 4yrs now and they are killer. Throw one of these into your tests now and again. The Apocalypse has the best blend of tight lows and leads that retain some girth/body in the upper registers. The Brimstone is super tight and massive down low but thins out up high. The SanAndreas crushes in the lead department but is more organic and loose in the low end...not great for super heavy fast and tight playing. I would love to hear the Apocalypse in some of these tests.

Anyhow, good video and just a few suggestions from the peanut gallery.
 

WarMachine

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I swapped some pickups out recently in my ESP LTD Phoenix Black and Arctic Metal models so I thought I had to take this opportunity to make a comparison. I was very curious to hear the differences.

The pickups that are compared are:

- Duncan JB SH-4
- Duncan Nazgul
- Duncan Distortion SH-6
- EMG81
- EMG81tw
- Fishman Fluence Modern (both voicings)

The comparison has some clean/edge of breakup tones as well as a few heavy riffs. Some pickups here sound quite drastically different while others sound similar. Interesting! Which one sounds the best here to you?


When you get some time Jon, check out the thread i put in the gear section(https://www.sevenstring.org/threads...d-activator-x-comparison.355042/#post-5436821). Yesterday i swapped out a DiMarzio D Activator x for the D Activator set and did a few comparison tracks. Same guitar, same strings, sims etc. The difference just between the 2 variants were pretty huge lol.
 

owlexifry

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fantastic video!
probably the best pickup vs pickup demo ive ever listened to.

feeling pretty good about my SDs after this..


Any plans to see how the same pickup compares in your mixes with magnet swapping?
would be interesting to see how close a JB w/ ceramic magnet is to a Distortion
 

Zhysick

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fantastic video!
probably the best pickup vs pickup demo ive ever listened to.

feeling pretty good about my SDs after this..



would be interesting to see how close a JB w/ ceramic magnet is to a Distortion
Soundwise maybe not so different but the feeling when playing... the Distortion is thicker but specially it has more output and compression and that is easy to feel when playing.
 

SubsonicDoom99

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Excellent job with the video!
I think in this instance the three pickups that stood out the most to me in a positive way were the JB, SH-6 Distortion, and the EMG 81.
I've always had a love/hate relationship with the EMG 81, it's worked wonderfully in some guitars and in others I just couldn't click with it at all.
But in this video I think it really accentuated the positives of that pickup and seemed like it blended well with the Phoenix.
JB and Distortion still stand up for me as being two of the best designed pickups of all time.
I know sometimes the JB has it's shortcomings in certain guitars but overall I've had more success with it than not.
I think if I pick an overall winner of the bunch it's the SH-6 Distortion for me here.
Still surprises me that more people don't wax ecstatically about that one more often, I think it handles both classic and modern heavy tones perfectly.
 

bigcupholder

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The JB and Distortion stood out to me as by far my favorites in each round. The EMGs and the Nazgul sounded almost as good for heavy stuff but not the cleans, and that's saying something because neither the JB nor the Distortion are known for good cleans either. The Distortion is my all-time favorite pickup, so that's not a surprise but it is a good reminder that I need to get a JB in something.

I think your playing and/or amp settings were much more favorable to the Nazgul than the Duncan comparison video. I really disliked it there but you made it sound good.

I really disliked the Fluences here. I'm sure in isolation they're usable, but in direct comparison to better pickups their flaws stood out a lot.
 

Spaced Out Ace

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60A > 58 > 85 > 81. The 58 and 85 are real close, and they are sometimes better than the 60A depending on the style and preamp/power amp/cab setup. The 81 is greatly improved with the EXG and SPC. All 4 are a lot of fun. I wouldn't mind seeing you do a comparison of these EMGs and more (ie, 57, JH-B).
 

HeHasTheJazzHands

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The 81TW in my Hellraiser is definitely smoother and more low end heavy than the 81's I remember from years past.
Can definitely confirm. Had a guitar with the 81TW that I wasn't fond of. Replacing the 81TW with an 81 requires re-wiring and I didn't feel like doing that so I sold it. :lol:

It's a good thing to recommend people the 81TW if they like the sound of the 81 but feel it can be a bit too thin. But it's a thicc pickup so you have to make sure it fits your fiddle.
 

Spaced Out Ace

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Can definitely confirm. Had a guitar with the 81TW that I wasn't fond of. Replacing the 81TW with an 81 requires re-wiring and I didn't feel like doing that so I sold it. :lol:

It's a good thing to recommend people the 81TW if they like the sound of the 81 but feel it can be a bit too thin. But it's a thicc pickup so you have to make sure it fits your fiddle.
I just use the EXG.
 

OmegaSlayer

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The JB is a miracle pick up, it sounds good with everything, it might not excel but it's insanely versatile.
The Nazgul ties up with the Fishman in clarity and articulation...
The Distortion is really a pick up that I can't stand, there's no way I can enjoy it...I have it in my Jackson DK7Q and I'll probably replace them with Sentient/Nazgul
 

jwade

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I swapped some pickups out recently in my ESP LTD Phoenix Black and Arctic Metal models so I thought I had to take this opportunity to make a comparison. I was very curious to hear the differences.

The pickups that are compared are:

- Duncan JB SH-4
- Duncan Nazgul
- Duncan Distortion SH-6
- EMG81
- EMG81tw
- Fishman Fluence Modern (both voicings)

The comparison has some clean/edge of breakup tones as well as a few heavy riffs. Some pickups here sound quite drastically different while others sound similar. Interesting! Which one sounds the best here to you?


100% sold me on the Nazgul. Love your videos, really appreciate the effort you go into, especially having the timestamps right there so we can click back and forth. Thanks dude
 

Zhysick

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Soundwise maybe not so different but the feeling when playing... the Distortion is thicker but specially it has more output and compression and that is easy to feel when playing.
Oh, clarifying... I meant this if comparing a JB with a normal ceramic magnet with the Distortion since the Distortion uses a double-thick ceramic magnet. If you put a double-thick ceramic on the JB then both will sound the same...

Checking again the video I have realized that in the mix I like most of the pickups being the active mode of the Fluence the only one that I don't like but isolated... JB, Distortion and 81. In that order... funny because I have always preferred the Distortion over the JB but I guess my tastes are changing or is the particular recording. Funny enough, in the full mix, I prefer the Nazgul, that grunt is great, but isolated is hideous... I guess that's why I never bought a Nazgul again since I play alone most of the time :lol:
 


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