I lost faith in this guitar, but after a re-think, I blame the default pickups in there which were EMG's 81/ 85 pair. I'm not an ardent active fan but I do make it a point to live with some active tones once in a while. This helps me with tone diagnosis; what to do when dealing with a deviant aspect of my equipment.
Both the 57 & 66 feature an Alnico 5 magnet core with ceramic pole pieces but there is a need to remind ourselves that all magnetic goodness are displaced by pre-amp influence in an active circuitry. Players who worship active tones tend to declare a real, audible influence in magnetic essence but it's like telling people the voice going through a loud hailer sounds fantastic.
I'm very pleased with the 57/66 namely because they do not sound as tampered by the active circuitry, less charged response, more magnetic. It's like hearing a set of passive pickups with a pedal-boosted assistance. As such, some guitar volume play yielded a rather responsive outcome, making both pickups go from crunch to stun at the turn of the knob. Having said all this, I am not of the opinion that these sound 'better' & more suitable to players already affiliated with passive pickups, but they sound slightly different from their 81/85 counterparts for instance. Clean-wise, I won't say this pair have what it takes to outperform a sweet-sounding, passive pickups but it's more likable & that's a lot coming from an active heretic like me.
So there, my adventure with active pickups taking a turn for the better.