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Thread: LUKE II with EMG 89 IN THE BRIDGE

  1. #1

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    LUKE II with EMG 89 IN THE BRIDGE

    Hello everyone.
    I recently purchased a lefty LUKE II from the UK. Nice guitar indeed but with a few weak points, at least from my point of view.
    So far I had experienced a very tough time trying to deal with the EMG 85 that comes in the bridge: it's a very strong pickup, with a lot of signal, but nothing more than that in my opinion.
    It's good if you're looking for a huge distortion but (IMHO) not a very good option if want to use the LUKE as your maing gigging axe and you need a few more tones (mostly in clean field).
    What got me upset the most is the tone of the 2nd position, where the middle and bridge pickups work in parallel togehter. This position, along with the 1st position (EMG 85 alone) has way more volume than the other 3 positions.Even using a compressor there's no way you can use it for clean arpeggios, strumming and clean work in general.And if played with distortion, it doesn't say anything interesting in both the 1st and 2nd positions.
    After a little research I decided to change it with an EMG 89 + push pull volume knob for "splitting" and it was like night and day. Now I can finally use ALL the tones of the guitar + 2 more tones that are very usable for different stuff.
    For those who don't know, the 89 is basically 2 pickups in 1: a stacked humbucker and an SA Sincle Coil, with separate internal preamps.
    When the SA is engaged, it works alone.Since it's placed is on the bridge side, in the 1st and 2nd position it takes away a lot of low tones and is very usefull for funk tones or even to emulate a Telecaster/old strat bridge tone.
    When the humbucker is engaged, instead, it works perfectly by itself as traditional bridge humbucker because has more highs than the 85 and is more "clear" and less "muddy" than the 85 and doesn't have THAT MUCH volume, even in the 2nd position (combined with the middle pickup), making the guitar sound with more or less the same volume, basically, in 4 positions.
    I don't often play the bridge humbucker in clean mode but I bet it will surely be used in the future.

    I had got very used to play with single coils in the last 3/4 years so I was missing the versatility of this kind of configuration. I used to think my Luke was good but not good enough as my strat now they are very much on the same line.
    I truly recommend this modification to all LUKE II users.
    Of course, this post just reflects personal opinions that can vary from player to player.
    Last edited by Dariothery; 06-04-2019 at 02:36 AM.

  2. #2

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    Glad you're happy - I've seen quite a few folks do the same thing, or mod the 2nd position with a cap+resistor to achieve a similar thing.

    That said ... the pickup config was what Lukather wanted (and used), so that's why it was that way.

  3. #3

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    Sorry to bump an older thread but I did the Suhr mod with a cap and resistor and the 2nd position is much more usable..
    Luke II

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by beej View Post
    Glad you're happy - I've seen quite a few folks do the same thing, or mod the 2nd position with a cap+resistor to achieve a similar thing.

    That said ... the pickup config was what Lukather wanted (and used), so that's why it was that way.
    Tell me more about this mod if you would. Any videos or demos to be found. I hate how the second position does basically nothing to change the sound. It's a wasted pickup position and it makes no sense whatsoever.

  5. #5

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    I guess this might explain why the LIII has the volume compensation in some positions. They may not have been able to do that with the EMG electronics.
    2007 Stingray 5 HS Cherry Burst / Maple FB / 3 Band EQ / Ceramic Pickups
    2012 Stingray 5 H Pearl Blue / Rosewood FB / 3 Band EQ/ AlNiCo Pickup
    2012 Steve Morse Morse Blueburst / Rosewood FB
    2012 Luke III SSH Vintage Sunburst / Rosewood Neck

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrickGlass View Post
    Tell me more about this mod if you would. Any videos or demos to be found. I hate how the second position does basically nothing to change the sound. It's a wasted pickup position and it makes no sense whatsoever.
    Check out this thread:

    Mk Suhr mod for EMG 85 and mid pickup combination in a Luke II

    I'd heard John Suhr saying he did that, way back when. Made position 2 more usable with a non-splittable bridge.

    Quote Originally Posted by tbonesullivan View Post
    I guess this might explain why the LIII has the volume compensation in some positions. They may not have been able to do that with the EMG electronics.
    Different thing- the volume leveling doesn't really affect the tone of the split positions. But it's a common complaint when going from humbuckers to single coils or splits. (Personally I don't like the levels to be even- it makes it easier to get a clean tone by just switching to a single coil with lower output, driving the amp less.)

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