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Which humbuckers for Ibanez S521?

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  • Which humbuckers for Ibanez S521?

    Hi all,

    Im looking to upgrade my Ibanez S521 (thin mahogany body, bolt on maple neck, rosewood board) from the standard INF1 & INF2 pickups, I find they sound a little dull / thin, especially on the drive channel. I use my guitar for everything, clean (40%), bluesy crunch (10%), rock(30%) and some metal(20%), so something which is a little allround would be best. I'm mostly a bedroom player practicing the usual songs or playing lead along backing tracks, so cutting through the mix live is not as important to me as it might be to others.

    I will have both humbuckers splittable individually and was thinking of also installing a treble bleed mod (the INF's get really dark when rolling back the volume even 10%). Was thinking either JB (TB-4) or Duncan Custom (TB-5) in the bridge and Jazz or Pearly Gates in the neck, what are your thoughts??

    Thanks!
    Last edited by WhiteofHeart; 03-22-2021, 06:00 PM. Reason: Expanding a little

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum!

    I think you are on the right track here. I'd go with a Custom in the bridge, and either a Jazz or 4-conductor 59 for the neck. The 59 has more bass frequencies, the Jazz more treble, so pick what you need in the neck. You will have a versatile combo that can do everything from blues to metal, really.
    Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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    • #3
      Custom/Jazz combo is great and super versatile, as Mincer suggested

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      • #4
        Another vote for the Custom/Jazz. This is my favorite, and as already noted above, most versatile combo in my Les Pauls.
        I miss the '80s (girls) !!!

        Seymour Duncans currently in use - In Les Pauls: Custom(b)/Jazz(n), Distortion(b)/Jazz(n), '59(b)/'59(n) w/A4 mag, P-Rails(b)/P-Rails(n); In a Bullet S-3: P-Rails(b)/stock/Vintage Stack Tele(n); In a Dot: Seth Lover(b)/Seth Lover(n); In a Del Mar: Mag Mic; In a Lead II: Custom Shop Fender X-1(b)

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        • #5
          While you are at it, have a set of new pots installed and a Switchcraft jack. It's not that much more money, and will yield a big improvement in performance and sound.
          aka Chris Pile, formerly of Six String Fever

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          • #6
            I think thats clear! Custom and Jazz it is!

            Originally posted by ICTGoober View Post
            While you are at it, have a set of new pots installed and a Switchcraft jack. It's not that much more money, and will yield a big improvement in performance and sound.
            Yes this was the plan, I'm having all the electronics replaced by high quality stuff and also having a graphtech nut installed. Thanks for confirming!
            Last edited by WhiteofHeart; 03-23-2021, 02:11 AM.

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            • #7
              Yet another vote for Custom and Jazz, although my favourite right now in the bridge position is the Custom 8 Sounds great in mahogany, I lower mine a bit more than the norm and then raise the screws 1-2 turns. If it's still dark sounding after your pickup and electronics changes and you're not using the tone pot, just bypass it.
              Last edited by AdrianSD; 03-23-2021, 05:04 AM.

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              • #8
                I went Duncan Custom SH-5 in the bridge and Jazz SH-2n in the neck, sounds phenomenal!! Very full sound overall! Nice bass in the bridge and trebles in the neck. I went with 2 mini-togles for coil-splitting, resulting in 8 possible configurations! Especially the center position splitting only 1 humbucker and leaving the other full is an unexpected pleasant surprise and also very usable!

                I have to get used to actually having a usable tone pot aswell. Previously I was pretty much full tone all the time except on full volume, with the treble bleed on the volume I can really use the tone pot to shape my sound!

                Overall a massive improvement, I didnt expect the difference to be this large!

                Thanks guys!
                Last edited by WhiteofHeart; 05-07-2021, 09:40 AM.

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                • #9
                  Glad you got a great set. I can't imagine not using a tone knob now- I use it all the time- there are lots of sounds to be had in there!
                  Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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                  • #10
                    Can't imagine either not using a tone pot and a volume pot, and a pickup switch! Really part of the many sounds you can get out of one amp sound. Add a boost/overdrive pedal and there you go

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                    • #11
                      WhiteofHeart I've been looking the the S521 for many years. I really like natural finish and the HH/ hardtail bridge config instead of the usual HSH/Vibrato locking bridge. The pickup switching is very nice also for an HH. Not a lot on the used market here...
                      I don't know how a PATB-3 would sound on this one.
                      Last edited by donaldr; 05-12-2021, 05:50 AM.

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                      • #12
                        I really like the feel of the guitar. To be honest the fit/finish is great for such a low cost guitar (350 euro), no sharp frets etc. I think the only real downside is the pickups. I think even just installing the SD's and keeping the 5-way as is is a massive improvement. Because the pickups were so bad all the sounds were kinda similar, only the 2nd position (both humbuckers split) sounded a little different. Im happy with the way its wired now, the only thing I lost is the neck in parallel (standard position 4), but I got 4 different very distinct tone options back!

                        I have the standard 5 way switch still in there because the superswitch wouldnt fit, right now its wired like a 3-way with positions 1-2 and 4-5 being the same, might be able to wire those positions up for parallel somehow in the future, but I dont think I'm missing out on much by having it the way it is now.

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                        • #13
                          I swapped an INF out of an RG a long time ago for a Distortion and it sounded like I pulled the guitar out of a pile of blankets. I didn't really realize how thin/weak those INFs were til I swapped 'em.

                          Amazing what a better set of pickups will do.

                          And, you can't go wrong with a Custom. I considered putting one in my 540SLTD before I went with the Trident II.

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                          • #14
                            my first guitar mod was swapping out the Stock Ibanez pickups in a RG2EX1
                            changed them to the JB/Jazz set with Triple shot rings

                            it is still one of my favorite guitars
                            I carry it out on the road with me now

                            it is here in the hotel right now

                            the JB/Jazz swap is one of my most popular mods
                            as I have added them to almost every guitar I own
                            EHD
                            Just here surfing Guitar Pron
                            RG2EX1 w/ SD hot-rodded pickups / RG4EXFM1 w/ Carvin S22j/b + FVN middle
                            SR500 / Martin 000CE-1/Epiphone Hummingbird
                            Epiphone Florentine with OEM Probuckers
                            Ehdwuld branded Blue semi hollow custom with JB/Jazz
                            Reptile Green Gibson Custom Studio / Aqua Dean Shire semi hollow with piezo
                            Carvin Belair / Laney GC80A Acoustic Amp (a gift from Guitar Player Mag)
                            GNX3000 (yea I'm a modeler)

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