Thursday March 15, 2012

Ibanez V7, V8 and S1 Pickups

The Ibanez RG1570 guitar features a pair of custom IBZ DiMarzio humbucking pickups purposely built for Ibanez. A middle single coil provides a bit of flexibility instead of just the usual bridge and neck tones. The electronics are straight Strat style five-position switch offers the following H-S-H settings: neck, neck and middle (split coils), middle, middle and bridge (split coils) and bridge. It would be nice to have the option of the Ibanez True-Duo system found in the SV5470F. This split function divides the neck or bridge humbucker to a single coil giving some refined Strat tones.

Considering the overall quality of the Ibanez RG1570, I expected this guitar to have brand name pickups.  I appreciated the classic metal midrange, balanced highs and good harmonics for crunchy or heavy styles.  However clean shows a different story, being a bit too mid ranged and short of a little complexity.  It's probably the weakest point of the guitar. My concern is there is a lack of charisma, that’s found on the aftermarket pickups, which the Ibanez RG1570 should have been launched with.

Vintage 7 V7 Pickup

The F-spaced Ibanez V7 Alnico neck humbucker is sufficient when cranked for fast passages.  It’s warm and not exceptionally bright but tonally lacks a defined voice. Rhythm playing and chording is fine.  The Ibanez V7 is capable of overdriven lead soloing it is but verges on the muddy. I’m still baffled as to why these pickups are labelled vintage but I’m guessing in comparison to a very hot DiMarzio X2N they would be.

Ibanez V7, V8 and S1 Pickups

Ibanez V7, V8 and S1 Pickups

Single 1 S1 Pickup

The Ibanez S1 middle single coil Alnico pickup is rather uninspired. If you’re expecting a nasally quack Strat type tone from the Ibanez S1 you will be sorely disappointed. The split position, out of phase sound with the neck or bridge humbuckers is nothing thrilling. If you have a bright amp or an EQ pedal you might appreciate this pickup a bit more than me. On the upside the S1 doesn’t suffer too much from the 50Hz / 60Hz cycle hum, but it is still there. The Ibanez S1 is predominantly warm for a single coil. This might one day prove to be a good, less brittle bridge pickup.

Vintage 8 V8 Pickup

The Ibanez V8 Ceramic humbucker is tight when cranked for wailing leads.  It’s not ice-picky and tonally warm for a bridge pickup but misses out on a bit of character. Once again clean could be improved, lacking how the French say a certain… I don’t know.

Ibanez V7, V8 and S1 Pickups

Ibanez V7, V8 and S1 Pickups Side View

Output levels are good on all pickups. They’re evenly balanced and no one pickup is louder than the other.  I’ve tried experimenting with the heights of the pickups but this did not improve the character.  The pickups have no cage so I tend to fray the cloth wrapping a little bit on the Ibanez V7 neck pickup. I haven’t found much use for the tone knob and the volume knob doesn’t kick in till it’s rolled right to near the end.  Nevertheless you can still get screaming tones and an EQ pedal can easily compensate for any extra presence needed. The downside is EQing will add some hiss to your chain. Obviously a lot will depend on your setup. A decent tube amp will make any guitar sound good.

Overall the V7, V8 and S1 pickups aren't terrible and you don't really have to change them. But like a Japanese sports car changing the stock wheels to custom 18” alloys is mandatory.  Likewise the stock IBZ pickups gives you a really good excuse to throw is some hot DiMarzio Guitar pickups, EMG or Seymour Duncan pickups. Like most humbuckers the Ibanez uses a 500K Pot.  While we're on the subject, the original RG550 and the reissue are equipped with IBZ V1, S1 and V2 pickups.  The V1 and V2 at least are generally considered superior to the V7 and V8’s.  Click here for an article of Ibanez Mods which lays out some classic sets of pickup combinations for your Ibanez.

Here is some demos by Chatreeo, I think this pretty much is a good indication of what they sound like at least on a tube amp. He's speaking in Thai but I think you'll get the picture.



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