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  #1  
Old 01-08-2021, 09:15 AM
G chord G chord is offline
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Default Getting a warmer tone from an Ibanez RG

I have an Ibanez RG421 with 2 humbuckers and a 5-way selector. The switch positions are as follows:
1. Neck humbucker in series
2. Neck humbucker in parallel
3. Neck+Bridge humbucker
4. Neck+Bridge in single coil mode
5. Bridge humbucker

I really like the guitar, it plays great and the 5 way selector is really versatile, but i'm not thrilled about the overall tone. The pickups are pretty high output ceramic humbuckers. It really excels at high gain stuff, but the clean tones are very bright and sterile sounding. I used to play a Les Paul and a Tele, so i'm more accustomed to to a warmer, vintage type of clean tone.

Are there any mods I can do to sort of "warm" things up with the tone, short of replacing the pickups? I read somewhere that replacing the stock 500k volume and tone pots with 250k pots would help reduce the high end brightness, is this true?

If replacing the pickups is my only real remedy here, what would you guys recommend? I know Dimarzio is the brand traditionally used in Ibanez guitars, but are Seymour Duncans more in line with the tone I'm looking for?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 01-09-2021, 06:48 AM
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harpspitfire harpspitfire is offline
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i have no real advice here, just an opinion- i had an ibanez dual humbucker guitar, great action, but eventually couldnt stand the tone anymore, i switched over to single coil guitars, but i see yours has both options, i have a guitar now with a split coil humbucker and think its terrific, only issue i see is maybe the amp- why dont try different amps out? seriously, even though they all have EQ settings, they vastly differ in what you hear from the speaker, the amp is 1/2 the equation, its a lot easier to try amps then to replace pickups from you tube videos or ratings, you might like what you end up with anyway, the stock tone caps are usually a best fit for a guitar
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Old 01-09-2021, 07:42 AM
The Old Gaffer The Old Gaffer is offline
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For relatively quick and inexpensive attempt try lowering the height of the pickups and changing to pure nickel strings.
As harpspitfire points out the interplay between your guitar and the amp/speaker combination is important and there are no hard and fast rules. You will have to systematically test each of your components before you start chasing your tail in circles:

1. Can you get the sound you like from your guitar and different amplifier? If so, your guitar is fine.

2. Can a different guitar produce the tone you desire through your amp? If so Your amp is fine.

It would be great if you had a friend whose gear you could test, if not go to music stores with your gear and shop (not necessarily buy) different guitars and amps.

Finally, consider whether your equipment is worth investing the money to try to get that tone you want. Do you really want to spend $200 or more attempting to modify a $299 guitar or put a $150 speaker into a $100 amp to maybe give you the tones you want? Or do you want to find a combo that already has those tones built in? Sometimes it is cheaper in the long run to replace what you don't like.
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Old 01-09-2021, 11:37 AM
G chord G chord is offline
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Thanks for the replies, Maybe I will leave the guitar alone then. I took a look in the control cavity and the wiring looks really complicated to sort through. Probably not worth the effort.

I'll try the pure nickel strings and experiment with different amps.
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Old 01-09-2021, 12:53 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G chord View Post
...I'll try the pure nickel strings and experiment with different amps.
Even mellower than pure nickel are flatwounds; usually preferred by jazz, rockabilly, and surf players, they have the additional fringe benefit of letting you drop the action significantly lower than would be possible with roundwound/half-round strings - and since IME Ibanez electrics tend to have low action from the factory, you could have a real shred monster on your hands...

BTW, what amp are you using right now...?
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Old 01-09-2021, 01:36 PM
Dru Edwards Dru Edwards is offline
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Looking at the specs for the Ibanez RG421... over the years it has come with:

- 2013–2014: Ibanez INF4 (H)
- 2015–2020: Ibanez Quantum (H)

Most of what I've heard/read on those pickups is that it's the weak point on an Ibanez guitar. I say you look for an Alnico 5 pickup from DiMarzio or Seymour Duncan.

You'll never get that fat, warm Les Paul tone from the Ibanez but you should get a tone you really enjoy. What kind of music are you looking to play? That will help with pickup selection.
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Old 01-09-2021, 03:21 PM
G chord G chord is offline
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At the moment I am using with a 20-watt solid state Orange amp. Decent amp, but still just a "practice" amp. I am getting back into electric guitar after about a 10 year hiatus so I plan on getting a bigger/better amp soon when funds allow.

In regards to the pickups, mine has the newer Quantum pickups. I remember those old Ibanez "infinity" pickups from the late 90'-early 2000's, the Quantums seem to be a little better than those were. The clean tones aren't terrible, just a little too bright and lacking warmth. Rolling off the tone knob about halfway usually helps tame the brightness to an acceptable level.

I will keep in mind the Alnico pickup suggestion if the strings/amp changes aren't enough. I would like to keep this guitar around since its such a great player, and has a really unique finish. Although I generally prefer Fenders and Gibsons, I have a soft spot for Ibanez RG's since they are the guitars I grew up playing as a kid in the 90's. Back then I was into metal and punk rock. Nowadays I like to play stuff like classic rock, roots rock, country/rockabilly, etc.

Last edited by G chord; 01-09-2021 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 01-09-2021, 10:25 PM
S.bowman S.bowman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G chord View Post
At the moment I am using with a 20-watt solid state Orange amp. Decent amp, but still just a "practice" amp. I am getting back into electric guitar after about a 10 year hiatus so I plan on getting a bigger/better amp soon when funds allow.

In regards to the pickups, mine has the newer Quantum pickups. I remember those old Ibanez "infinity" pickups from the late 90'-early 2000's, the Quantums seem to be a little better than those were. The clean tones aren't terrible, just a little too bright and lacking warmth. Rolling off the tone knob about halfway usually helps tame the brightness to an acceptable level.

I will keep in mind the Alnico pickup suggestion if the strings/amp changes aren't enough. I would like to keep this guitar around since its such a great player, and has a really unique finish. Although I generally prefer Fenders and Gibsons, I have a soft spot for Ibanez RG's since they are the guitars I grew up playing as a kid in the 90's. Back then I was into metal and punk rock. Nowadays I like to play stuff like classic rock, roots rock, country/rockabilly, etc.
The Quantum set is 18k at the bridge, and 15k at the neck. If warmth is what your after, those pickups are way hot. I play a lot of the same stuff you mentioned, and I like around 8k for my bridge. I am a big fan of the Lollar Imperial low, and mid wounds in some of my guitars, but there are many great pickup winders out there. Rio Grande BBQ Buckers sound great in that specific guitar, and they are pretty affordable. Some good good pick up shoot outs on youtube. The Seymour Duncan website has a library of wiring diagrams, so don't be afraid to swap them out and try something new.
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Old 01-10-2021, 11:05 AM
G chord G chord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S.bowman View Post
The Quantum set is 18k at the bridge, and 15k at the neck. If warmth is what your after, those pickups are way hot. I play a lot of the same stuff you mentioned, and I like around 8k for my bridge. I am a big fan of the Lollar Imperial low, and mid wounds in some of my guitars, but there are many great pickup winders out there. Rio Grande BBQ Buckers sound great in that specific guitar, and they are pretty affordable. Some good good pick up shoot outs on youtube. The Seymour Duncan website has a library of wiring diagrams, so don't be afraid to swap them out and try something new.
Thanks, I will check those out.
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  #10  
Old 01-10-2021, 02:01 PM
Texsunburst59 Texsunburst59 is offline
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I just bought my 1st metal thin necked shredder guitar.

I wasn't looking for one,but I ran into one at a pawnshop earlier in the week.

This particular guitar usually runs abour $1k in good shape on the used market.

When I saw what they were asking, I KNEW is was an amazing deal.

The guitar was tagged for $325 and the original pickups had been change out, and it has a broken low E string.

I took it to the counter and mentioned the issues to the manager and said I'd take it for $275 out the door.

The manager agreed, and I'm now the owner of the great guitar.

These replaced Seymour Duncan pickups sound VERY good in this guitar.

They're not too bright or hot, and most likely an upgrade from the original Ibanez Fusion Edge Ceramic humbuckers.

Here's some pics of my 2016 Ibanez Iron Man RGAIX6FMT



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  #11  
Old 01-10-2021, 02:19 PM
Dru Edwards Dru Edwards is offline
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I too would have jumped on that guitar for that price. What a great find!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Texsunburst59 View Post
I just bought my 1st metal thin necked shredder guitar.

I wasn't looking for one,but I ran into one at a pawnshop earlier in the week.

This particular guitar usually runs abour $1k in good shape on the used market.

When I saw what they were asking, I KNEW is was an amazing deal.

The guitar was tagged for $325 and the original pickups had been change out, and it has a broken low E string.

I took it to the counter and mentioned the issues to the manager and said I'd take it for $275 out the door.

The manager agreed, and I'm now the owner of the great guitar.

These replaced Seymour Duncan pickups sound VERY good in this guitar.

They're not too bright or hot, and most likely an upgrade from the original Ibanez Fusion Edge Ceramic humbuckers.

Here's some pics of my 2016 Ibanez Iron Man RGAIX6FMT



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  #12  
Old 01-10-2021, 02:33 PM
al_az al_az is offline
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A real cheap and relatively easy solution is to change out the magnets on the pickups. Assuming there are no covers on the humbuckers it is straight forward. I would recommend trying an alnico 5 in the neck and an alnico 2 in the bridge. You can buy these online for a couple bucks a piece (mojo tone, $4).
Remove the pickups by taking the 4 screws out of the mounting rings, take the mounting rings off by removing the two screws (watch out the springs can go flying). remove the tape around the bobbins, loosen the 4 screws holding on the base plate (no need to take them completely out), then with a small screwdriver slide the old bar magnet out (avoid the coil wires they are generally at one end, push the magnet out the other), insert the new magnet making sure the polarity is the same as the old one (unless you want to go Peter Green). Reassemble.
I went through a period where I constantly tinkered with all my pickups. No more.

Last edited by al_az; 01-10-2021 at 07:47 PM.
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  #13  
Old 01-10-2021, 03:59 PM
ras1500 ras1500 is offline
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Plus one for flatwound strings. Thomastic-Infeld George Benson strings are very warm sounding, but they are also very expensive. T-I Jazz Swing strings are also warm sounding and somewhat less cost than the Bensons. You can't go wrong with D'Addario chromes.
Flatwounds have a smooth surface, so there's no finger squeak and they easy to slide on.

Have you tried a thicker pick?
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