Replacing pick-ups on Ibanez RG5EX1 with DiMarzio Evolution

Finally! I’m going to post this one long over-due. I replaced the pick-ups on my guitar some time ago in March 2013.

Ibanez RG5EX1

What I have is the Ibanez RG5EX1 with factory Ibanez pick-ups that are Ok, but could’ve been better.

So I started out with doing some research on the subject – what kind of DiMarzio pick-ups I wanted, how to install them, are they compatible, etc, etc… For some reason I never doubted it had to be DiMarzio – really don’t know why. Maybe because some of my favorite guitar players use them, who knows… 🙂

Once everything was set in mind, I ordered the pick-ups from MusiciansFriend. I ordered the set of 3 – bridge, middle and neck (H-S-H), plus as my research had shown I wanted to replace factory pots with DiMarzio ones as well – I read somewhere they are way better with tone tuning. I also ordered some copper shielding tape and new output 1/4 jack.

DiMarzio Starter KitDiMarzio Starter Kit 🙂

Since I was on the subject I also decided to clean up the guitar hardware a little bit. For that I got some rust-removing WD-40 plus some lubricant oil (not what you think for) to cover metal parts so they don’t pick up rust for a while.

Now off to disassembling – I removed the strings, then all the hardware piece by piece and placed all the parts into a special glass cooking pan I picked up in Walgreens for $4 – all other materials might have dissolve under long chemical action by the rust removing oils. All the parts went right into the glass pan and I added so much WD-40 so it would soak for several days.

Young PadawanYoung Padawan Learner really likes DiMarzio packaging… 🙂

Previous wiringNow it’s time to take everything out of the oil, wipe it clean with the towel and apply some lubricant for rust protection. Then I was going to remove all the wiring from the guitar, old pick-ups, pots, jack – I needed to clear out the puck-up chambers to lay down the copper shield. Almost forgot to take a picture of how everything was connected just in case. Also I wrote everything down – which color goes to which connector, ground – everything I could write down. Now that everything’s out I started with the copper tape. This one was an easy task and fun to do – all I had to make sure is that that the pieces of copper connected with each other.

First I put the copper shield in the pick-up slots and inserted my new pick-ups running the wires through the holes where the previous ones used to be.

Copper tape pick-up slots

Then I did the same for the electronics cavity. The original DiMarzio copper tape comes with a sticky side, so there was no problem putting that one in.

Copper tape electronics cavity

Ok, that’s ready! Yay! Now the most intense part – soldering the wires to the new pots and the old switch – I think the switch is the only original part from electronics that survived. It turned out DiMarzio wire coloring is quite different from original Ibanez so I had to find a mapping chart. I could’ve just followed the instructions from DiMarzio where they say which wire from which pick-up goes where, but double-making-sure never hurts. Plus it got easier that way with color mapping. This old post by a nice person had all the information I needed. Thank you “serbeszki” of JemSite.com forums!

Everything is wired together and I’m ready to put on the bridge and the strings. I didn’t care about tuning so much at that time. All I needed is to test if it works and hear clean noiseless sound… [holding my breath]. For those who doesn’t like suspense – everything turned out fine and neat – I plugged in the guitar into the amp and heard the sweet sound of full-toned DiMarzio’s. Fewfff…

Guitar renewedAssembled and rocking!

Now I have to mention that I didn’t do everything flawlessly 🙂 I put in the switch reversed and when I moved it up it switched to bridge pick-ups. Good thing I didn’t have to remove the floating bridge – those in the know will understand me… Also the DiMarzio pots had wider handles and I had to drill bigger hole in the guitar body. Since I couldn’t find pewter knob replacements I also drilled the plastic inside the original ones to make them fit the pots. Other than that – great and fun experience – I recommend everyone to try, even though you are in doubts on what a guitar is 🙂 Unfortunately I cannot present a before/after sound, but trust me – it’s a big improvement!

Middle pick-up

Guitar head

Long live rock-n-roll!!!

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