What guitar should I buy? $500-$1100

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KVRist
376 posts since 14 Oct, 2006

Post Mon Sep 27, 2021 11:27 pm

I'm into prog, metal, and experimental/ambient styles. I want a guitar that can do all of that. I want punchy and tight metal chugs and full and warm cleans. Is there a guitar with good pickups that fits my needs for $500-$1100? The less the better.

I recently ordered a schecter c1 platinum, but am having seconds thoughts on getting it because of the emg 81 pickups being sterile and not having a good full clean tone. But is there a way to achieve a good full sounding clean tone with emg 81s?

KVRAF
1829 posts since 2 Jul, 2010

Post Tue Sep 28, 2021 12:56 am

I'm never sure what it means for a pickup to be "sterile". Apparently 81 is a bit lighter on bass than many pickups, which should be a good thing for chugs.

Different pickup frequency responses can be compensated for with EQ. Different amps have different EQ ranges, what kind of amp do you use? What guitars have you used before?

KVRAF
2383 posts since 30 Aug, 2012 from Sweden

Post Tue Sep 28, 2021 1:12 am

Well some like active pickups and others don't. Yes they are tighter and you get a great attack with them. But an 81 sounds thinner. But on the other hand EMG have other active pickups that are a little less tight and give more girth e.g. 57/66.Active pickups cuts thru a dense mix easily. Do you have a guitar shop close enough to you? Go there and and see if they have a guitar with active pickups. If I was you I would spend that amount of money on the second hand market. There are many good guitars out there and can save you some money and you can go to them and test their guitars and see if it is a guitar for you or not. A few other pickups for metal worth mentioning are Seymour Duncan JB, SH-6, Pegasus, Fullshred, Dimarzio Chrunchlab, D-Activator, D-Activator X, Bareknuckle Aftermath, Painkiller.

KVRist

Topic Starter

376 posts since 14 Oct, 2006

Post Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:09 am

imrae wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 12:56 am
I'm never sure what it means for a pickup to be "sterile". Apparently 81 is a bit lighter on bass than many pickups, which should be a good thing for chugs.

Different pickup frequency responses can be compensated for with EQ. Different amps have different EQ ranges, what kind of amp do you use? What guitars have you used before?
Sterile as in lacking a dynamic tone. There is a comparison of the emg 81 to something like a SD Pegasus on youtube and the Pegasus has more bass and overall dynamics to it while the emg is mainly bright and flat and lacking bass.

See here: https://youtu.be/7QlHADIluzo

I use guitar rig 6 vst. I've only been using a cheap 2001 ibanez gio with stock pickups.

Do you have any guitar recommendations?

KVRist

Topic Starter

376 posts since 14 Oct, 2006

Post Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:14 am

Daimonicon wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 1:12 am
Well some like active pickups and others don't. Yes they are tighter and you get a great attack with them. But an 81 sounds thinner. But on the other hand EMG have other active pickups that are a little less tight and give more girth e.g. 57/66.Active pickups cuts thru a dense mix easily. Do you have a guitar shop close enough to you? Go there and and see if they have a guitar with active pickups. If I was you I would spend that amount of money on the second hand market. There are many good guitars out there and can save you some money and you can go to them and test their guitars and see if it is a guitar for you or not. A few other pickups for metal worth mentioning are Seymour Duncan JB, SH-6, Pegasus, Fullshred, Dimarzio Chrunchlab, D-Activator, D-Activator X, Bareknuckle Aftermath, Painkiller.
The thing is I want some dynamic tones such as dark and full sounding cleans in addition to thick and punchy chugs. From what I've heard of the emg's, the cleans sound flat and bright.

I do have a shop nearby. I may try the emg 81 guitar there to test the cleans. I tried it last week, but didn't spend too much time testing its tone.

Do you have any guitar recommendations for something with a Pegasus?

What do you all think of the esp Ltd h-1001fr? https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... hadow-fade

I've thought about this one, but if there's something a lot cheaper with just as good of a sound, it may be preferable to me.

KVRAF
1829 posts since 2 Jul, 2010

Post Tue Sep 28, 2021 10:29 am

3ptguitarist wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:09 am
imrae wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 12:56 am
I'm never sure what it means for a pickup to be "sterile". Apparently 81 is a bit lighter on bass than many pickups, which should be a good thing for chugs.

Different pickup frequency responses can be compensated for with EQ. Different amps have different EQ ranges, what kind of amp do you use? What guitars have you used before?
Sterile as in lacking a dynamic tone.

There is a comparison of the emg 81 to something like a SD Pegasus on youtube and the Pegasus has more bass and overall dynamics to it while the emg is mainly bright and flat and lacking bass.
I don't really think pickups can have a dynamic compression effect in practice. The main things would be the noise floor and interaction with the amplifier via the frequency balance, overall level and impedance.

If you're using VST amplifiers, then impedance is also not a big deal - you should be running directly into a high-impedance interface or DI box. If not, you may find you recover some brightness that was lost by impedence mismatching. You can compensate with the tone control if that's unwanted.

What I've realised putting my guitar rig together over the last couple of years is that frequency balance and gain-staging are everything. Mid-focused amps like a scooped input, and scooped amps like a mids-focused input. The 81 probably goes nicely with Marshall amps and dark cabinets, but you'd need to experiment. It probably doesn't go well with a Tubescreamer, because that will exaggerate the existing character; a flatter boost like a blues driver is likely to work better. GR6 is a bit lacking in these subtle "shaping" overdrive effects, so you'll probably need the shelving EQ to play with this. If you're still finding your sound, I see no reason you couldn't build it around EMG 81s. Just keep in mind that what people recommend for a Strat or Les Paul won't necessarily be the best for the C-1. I haven't tried one but it looks like a nice guitar.

KVRAF
2383 posts since 30 Aug, 2012 from Sweden

Post Tue Sep 28, 2021 10:35 am

3ptguitarist wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:14 am
Daimonicon wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 1:12 am
Well some like active pickups and others don't. Yes they are tighter and you get a great attack with them. But an 81 sounds thinner. But on the other hand EMG have other active pickups that are a little less tight and give more girth e.g. 57/66.Active pickups cuts thru a dense mix easily. Do you have a guitar shop close enough to you? Go there and and see if they have a guitar with active pickups. If I was you I would spend that amount of money on the second hand market. There are many good guitars out there and can save you some money and you can go to them and test their guitars and see if it is a guitar for you or not. A few other pickups for metal worth mentioning are Seymour Duncan JB, SH-6, Pegasus, Fullshred, Dimarzio Chrunchlab, D-Activator, D-Activator X, Bareknuckle Aftermath, Painkiller.
The thing is I want some dynamic tones such as dark and full sounding cleans in addition to thick and punchy chugs. From what I've heard of the emg's, the cleans sound flat and bright.

I do have a shop nearby. I may try the emg 81 guitar there to test the cleans. I tried it last week, but didn't spend too much time testing its tone.

Do you have any guitar recommendations for something with a Pegasus?

What do you all think of the esp Ltd h-1001fr? https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... hadow-fade

I've thought about this one, but if there's something a lot cheaper with just as good of a sound, it may be preferable to me.
LTD 1000 series are great guitars. I have both a ESP Horizon and a LTD EC1000ET and a couple of other brands. So yes I can really recommend LTD. If I remember right the Viper comes with a Pegasus.

User avatar
addled muppet weed
83490 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Post Tue Sep 28, 2021 10:40 am

not a fan of active pups personally.
they f**k your fuzz right up.
if you dont use a fuzz, im out...

KVRAF
13114 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Post Tue Sep 28, 2021 10:43 am

I put EMGs on my Charvell years ago. It originally had Charvell's active pickups. When the EMGs worked, they sounded great, better distorted than clean. But often they weren't a good fit. In the end, I decided that I hated putting batteries in my guitar so often. I sold the Charvell and haven't had a guitar with EMGs (or any other active pickup) since. I think that I still have the EMGs somewhere.

These days I'm reasonably happy with my partscaster strato-telly, but I don't even pretend to play anything that sounds like metal.

KVRist

Topic Starter

376 posts since 14 Oct, 2006

Post Tue Sep 28, 2021 1:08 pm

imrae wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 10:29 am
3ptguitarist wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:09 am
imrae wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 12:56 am
I'm never sure what it means for a pickup to be "sterile". Apparently 81 is a bit lighter on bass than many pickups, which should be a good thing for chugs.

Different pickup frequency responses can be compensated for with EQ. Different amps have different EQ ranges, what kind of amp do you use? What guitars have you used before?
Sterile as in lacking a dynamic tone.

There is a comparison of the emg 81 to something like a SD Pegasus on youtube and the Pegasus has more bass and overall dynamics to it while the emg is mainly bright and flat and lacking bass.
I don't really think pickups can have a dynamic compression effect in practice. The main things would be the noise floor and interaction with the amplifier via the frequency balance, overall level and impedance.

If you're using VST amplifiers, then impedance is also not a big deal - you should be running directly into a high-impedance interface or DI box. If not, you may find you recover some brightness that was lost by impedence mismatching. You can compensate with the tone control if that's unwanted.

What I've realised putting my guitar rig together over the last couple of years is that frequency balance and gain-staging are everything. Mid-focused amps like a scooped input, and scooped amps like a mids-focused input. The 81 probably goes nicely with Marshall amps and dark cabinets, but you'd need to experiment. It probably doesn't go well with a Tubescreamer, because that will exaggerate the existing character; a flatter boost like a blues driver is likely to work better. GR6 is a bit lacking in these subtle "shaping" overdrive effects, so you'll probably need the shelving EQ to play with this. If you're still finding your sound, I see no reason you couldn't build it around EMG 81s. Just keep in mind that what people recommend for a Strat or Les Paul won't necessarily be the best for the C-1. I haven't tried one but it looks like a nice guitar.
Thanks for the advice. decided not get a guitar with EMG 81 because I didn't like the clean sounds when jamming with it on a katana 50 mk2 at the store. I tried a schecter with Duncan jb's and I thought the jb's sounded better. They had more bass and a fuller sound on the cleans and the chugs weren't as trebly as the emg 81's.

User avatar
KVRist
235 posts since 10 Jun, 2007 from Netherlands

Post Tue Sep 28, 2021 1:27 pm

3ptguitarist wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:14 am
The thing is I want some dynamic tones such as dark and full sounding cleans in addition to thick and punchy chugs. From what I've heard of the emg's, the cleans sound flat and bright.

I do have a shop nearby. I may try the emg 81 guitar there to test the cleans. I tried it last week, but didn't spend too much time testing its tone.

Do you have any guitar recommendations for something with a Pegasus?

What do you all think of the esp Ltd h-1001fr? https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... hadow-fade

I've thought about this one, but if there's something a lot cheaper with just as good of a sound, it may be preferable to me.
I have a 7-string with the same pickup combination as that ESP. The Pegasus is great for prog/metal but for warm cleans I use the Sentient neck pickup.
And forget about that push/pull coil split. Neither the Pegasus nor the Sentient comes even close to a real single coil in split mode. So if you can find a cheaper model without coil split I would go for that.

KVRAF
1829 posts since 2 Jul, 2010

Post Tue Sep 28, 2021 1:36 pm

Remember that good chugs don't actually have that much bass; the low end comes from the bass guitar. When practicing guitar by itself, lots of bass sounds "full" but in a mix or with bandmates it builds up and gets messy.

KVRist

Topic Starter

376 posts since 14 Oct, 2006

Post Tue Sep 28, 2021 3:39 pm

Daimonicon wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 10:35 am
3ptguitarist wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:14 am
Daimonicon wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 1:12 am
Well some like active pickups and others don't. Yes they are tighter and you get a great attack with them. But an 81 sounds thinner. But on the other hand EMG have other active pickups that are a little less tight and give more girth e.g. 57/66.Active pickups cuts thru a dense mix easily. Do you have a guitar shop close enough to you? Go there and and see if they have a guitar with active pickups. If I was you I would spend that amount of money on the second hand market. There are many good guitars out there and can save you some money and you can go to them and test their guitars and see if it is a guitar for you or not. A few other pickups for metal worth mentioning are Seymour Duncan JB, SH-6, Pegasus, Fullshred, Dimarzio Chrunchlab, D-Activator, D-Activator X, Bareknuckle Aftermath, Painkiller.
The thing is I want some dynamic tones such as dark and full sounding cleans in addition to thick and punchy chugs. From what I've heard of the emg's, the cleans sound flat and bright.

I do have a shop nearby. I may try the emg 81 guitar there to test the cleans. I tried it last week, but didn't spend too much time testing its tone.

Do you have any guitar recommendations for something with a Pegasus?

What do you all think of the esp Ltd h-1001fr? https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... hadow-fade

I've thought about this one, but if there's something a lot cheaper with just as good of a sound, it may be preferable to me.
LTD 1000 series are great guitars. I have both a ESP Horizon and a LTD EC1000ET and a couple of other brands. So yes I can really recommend LTD. If I remember right the Viper comes with a Pegasus.
Thanks. I may get a fixed bridge Ltd since I don't want to deal with tuning the tremolo.

KVRist

Topic Starter

376 posts since 14 Oct, 2006

Post Tue Sep 28, 2021 3:41 pm

mountainmaster wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 1:27 pm
3ptguitarist wrote:
Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:14 am
The thing is I want some dynamic tones such as dark and full sounding cleans in addition to thick and punchy chugs. From what I've heard of the emg's, the cleans sound flat and bright.

I do have a shop nearby. I may try the emg 81 guitar there to test the cleans. I tried it last week, but didn't spend too much time testing its tone.

Do you have any guitar recommendations for something with a Pegasus?

What do you all think of the esp Ltd h-1001fr? https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... hadow-fade

I've thought about this one, but if there's something a lot cheaper with just as good of a sound, it may be preferable to me.
I have a 7-string with the same pickup combination as that ESP. The Pegasus is great for prog/metal but for warm cleans I use the Sentient neck pickup.
And forget about that push/pull coil split. Neither the Pegasus nor the Sentient comes even close to a real single coil in split mode. So if you can find a cheaper model without coil split I would go for that.
Thanks for your input. I'm not sure if there are cheaper options. I'm shopping with sweetwater and the $1000 range have the Pegasus combo.

Do you think buying a cheaper guitar around $500-700 and then adding the pegasus/sentient pickups is a good idea?

User avatar
KVRAF
11247 posts since 26 Jun, 2006 from San Francisco Bay Area

Post Tue Sep 28, 2021 4:12 pm

I have an old Steinberger GM4t with an EMG 81 and the cleans I get from it sound great. That said, I’m not really into metal, but I am into prog (including the heavier 90s era King Crimson) ambient and experimental. I love it. I’ve used everything from vintage tube amps to an AxeFX 3
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