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  • Writer's pictureBarış Şahin

Taming an Ibanez V8

Taming an Ibanez V8 pickup

Ibanez is truely one of my favourite guitar brands. I really fancy their designs and respect the innovation coming with them. Their pioneering tremolo designs are always awesome, even low end guitars have trems with good design (but the material quality may fail but thats another story). The stock pickups of ibanez causes, somehow, many arguments. Dimarzio/IBZs, V series (V1,V2,V7,V8 etc.), Quantums, Infinities… Nearly all of them, even the ones made by Dimarzio are accused by lack of tone or clearity or extra push or output whatever. Even Dimarzio/IBZ pickups couldn’t spare themselves from biases which are truely made by Dimarzio in the Staten Island and very good choice as a stock pickups. Well, do you think all roumors are true?


V8 stood on my “Pink Tiger” for a while. That pink tiger is a superstrat has a Jackson Dinky body made of alder, one piece maple neck in modern C profile, German made Jackson Floyd Rose tremolo with Japanese made stainless steel saddles, 25,5” scale, nickel silver frets, Alpha 500K pots and elixir strings in E-std tuning. Guitar had Seymour Duncan Jazz and Jackson middle pickups. Its primary (unplugged) tone is neutral to fairly bright. 


Ibanez V8 Half Air Mod

At the last sentence of the entrance section, i asked a question. The answer is for some stock pickups, yes, they are true. Ibanez has some terrible stock pickups. Especially ones in the really low end models, like Gios has awful pickups but this is not something unexpected. “More pound, more sound” or “if you pay peanuts you get monkeys”, you know. On the other hand some stock pickups are really good, primarily the Dimarzio/IBZ models. Loud, clear, powerful and easy to achieve on the used market relatively. Since the first year of their debut, i saw people swapping them in a parrotistic mind like “everybody swapping them with air norton/tone zone combo, hence the real dimarzios(?) are good, IBZs are bad, so i have to swap too”. No frickin’ way, dude. Yes, for some certain situations that change means a lot. When the guitar is right, all other set up is right on the way, yes.

Ibanez V8 Half Air Mod

On the flip side, there are some pickups considered as “to be tailored”. They aren’t too bad yet are not good enough in their “as it is” state nevertheless have full of potential. V series, especially Japanese Maxons models have that kindo spirit. You may remember i had already told you about what can an V7 with a simple mod can do on the bridge. Those V7s have AWG42 wires and >9K DCR. So all you gotto do is replacing the magnet and the allen screws to regular humbucker screws. V8s are just as like them, too. They are wound with AWG43 wires (yes, i measured from a broken pickups coil), ~16-17K roughly DCR and alnico 5 magnets. Humbucker nerds have already noticed the similarity with a very famous bridge humbucker; Seymour Duncan JB. They are similar on the paper, similar on the action, too. Not same nor something you may call “so close”. But still closer than many other examples.

Anyway, what did i do to my japanese V8? As my first act with my V8 was pulling the metal spacer bar out. You may be familiar to “Air Mod” of Dimarzio. Then, next i swapped the stock alnico magnet to unoriented sandcast alnico 5 that i’d bought from “Philadelphia Luthier Tools”. Final act was changing the allen screws to regular fillister screws but slightly shorter than PAF class humbuckers.

Anyway, here comes the measurement part. After the mods, what specs i have;

Ibanez V8 with Mods

Magnet – Unoriented A5 with full charge

Advertised DCR: 15,45 K Ohm (Series)

Measured DCR: 16,36 K Ohm (Series)

Measured DCR: 8,23 K Ohm (Slug Coil)

Inductance @100Hz: 7,94 H (Series)

Inductance @100Hz: 3,22 H (Slug Coil)

Measured C: -16,1 nF (Series)/ -29,1nF (Slug Coil)

Output: Moderate/High

Gauss: 280G slug, 220G screw (measured at top center of pole pieces)


So, what should we expect to achieve with those simple mods? My answer is relative clarity! If you look at the comments regarding the V7 and V8, the biggest complaint you will come across (or have experienced yourself) is that their muddiness. The mod specifically addresses or mitigates that issue. Altering the magnet and pulling the metal spacer out gave me enough level of clarity and headroom for a ~15-17K bridge humbucker. It became more vocal and still have rational level of output; not much distorted or dirty, just as i want.

What kind of humbucker did it become? Well, first of all this is a solid rock humbucker. Not too bright or harsh. But still have better highs than its regular, unmodded state. If we consider the V8 to be roughly a 16K humbucker, I can say it's in a much better place in terms of articulation. Compared to the JB, it is less aggressive, clearer, and has less characteristic mids. When compared to the Tone Zone, it is possible to say that it is much clearer, less boomy, and more airy than the TZ. Considering its final sound, its tone closer to TZ or JB? Well, closer to JB than TZ, i think. See my table below to compare side by side;


Do i recommend to buy specifically an ibanez V8 pickup to modify? No. Because there are already countless options from hundreds of winders all around the world. Nevertheless, if you have an Ibanez with stock V8 on and want to keep it original, yep, my advice is especially for you. You can easily turn your clarity lacking V8 into more breathing, natural, rock humbucker in minutes, costs for a few bucks. I don’t believe you’ll regret on this.

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