Gibson Guitar Board: Anyone ever add an undersaddle pickup to a solid-top J160E? - Gibson Guitar Board

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Anyone ever add an undersaddle pickup to a solid-top J160E?

#1 User is offline   PRW 

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 11:17 PM

I have a 1991 solid-top J160E with a P100 (I posted a while back about some finish issues I'm having on headstock). I bought this guitar because of the Beatle connection (although I didn't fully comprehend at the time the difference between it and the plywood top J160E the Beatles used ... I later had an opportunity to play a Beatle spec J160E and was totally underwhelmed and wouldn't own one unless I was in a Beatles tribute band). I've never done the Pyramid or TI flatwound thing on it simply because this is an actual acoustic guitar made out of good tonewoods, not a plywood guitar, and I didn't want to totally ruin the acoustic sound. I can vouch that you can get an electrified sound out of it with Phosphor Bronze string using the P100, although of course the steel first and second strings were louder, so I screwed the pole pieces on those as far down as I could get them to compensate. I've been using either GHS White Bronze magnetically active strings or DR Zebra (alternating bronze and nickel plated steel windings) to try to balance out the sound, which is OK electrically but less satisfactory acoustically. Honestly, even after owning this guitar all these many years, I'm still not pleased with the sound (although through setup work it's a great player, which is why I've never gotten rid of it).

I'm now to the point where I want to do something different with this guitar. I would like to have an undersaddle pickup installed, which would have to be connected to a new input jack that would have to be installed in the side of the guitar, or in the endpin area, given that my particular guitar is the one with the endpin jack for the P-100. Has anyone ever done this? If so, is there a particular pickup that anyone would recommend? And would it be feasible to run separate outputs from each pickup into an A/B box or something to where I'd have the versatility to use the guitar as an acoustic if necessary but also be able to launch the P-100 for "I Feel Fine" or similar sounds?

I know the plywood J160E's are the desirable ones because of the Beatle mojo, and I know the solid-top versions are kind of screwy guitars because of the scale length and a pickup setup that's not exactly designed for an acoustic guitar. But I'm sure there are lot of other folks out there like me who own them, and I'd really like some input on what everybody does to try to make these things work.

#2 User is offline   BluesKing777 

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 11:27 PM

Some other experts will turn up - I am NOT!


BUT


I thought the original J160E has P90 pickups (LOVE P90s!). If you want the Beatles electrified acoustic sound, I would see if you can swap the P100 (nobody's fave) for an old P90.


The acoustic pickup of choice for me is the Fishman passive undersaddle, but two holes in your guitar?


What I think you really want is a nice J45 that comes with a Baggs u/s pickup and move the J160E along to someone that wants that configuration!



BluesKing777.

#3 User is offline   retrorod 

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 05:37 AM

Good advice by BK777 also ! I don,t think you would need another jack to run an UST. The best scenario to me would be to make the tone control a (push-pull) blender pot. You could then select the P100 or the piezzo or dial-in a combination of both. Use the existing jack and tone control holes and no additional holes would be needed!
What do think of that idea?
"You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from."--Cormic McCarthy

Celebrating the sixty years of "white privilege" that i have just recently learned that I was born with...

#4 User is offline   PRW 

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 08:16 AM

View Postretrorod, on 25 February 2013 - 05:37 AM, said:

Good advice by BK777 also ! I don,t think you would need another jack to run an UST. The best scenario to me would be to make the tone control a (push-pull) blender pot. You could then select the P100 or the piezzo or dial-in a combination of both. Use the existing jack and tone control holes and no additional holes would be needed!
What do think of that idea?


I rather like that idea. Can you guide me to any schematics, etc., for doing that? As noted this was one of the first reissue J160E's so the jack is in the endpin.

#5 User is offline   onewilyfool 

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 02:01 PM

On my old computer, I had a link of exactly what you are talking about. The guy was very specific about it, and he used some push/pull knobs that allowed him to use one or both or a blend. I will try and find it and send it along. You might be able to find it googling.
"The sole of my shoes is thin, and I'll soon be on my feet again" Lonnie Johnson

#6 User is offline   retrorod 

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 04:04 PM

View PostPRW, on 25 February 2013 - 08:16 AM, said:

I rather like that idea. Can you guide me to any schematics, etc., for doing that? As noted this was one of the first reissue J160E's so the jack is in the endpin.


Hey PRW, as Old and Wiley suggests....Google will be your friend when undertaking projects as this.
For starters here is a link to a blender pot from StewMac....

http://www.stewmac.c...Blend_Pots.html

StewMac carries most everything 'stringed instrument' related PLUS are very genorous with instructions, free tutorials, etc.
Upon taking on a modification project like this, you really need to do your homework! There are scads of undersaddle transducers available as well as contact piezzos....some require a pre-amp to sound their best!
That prompts me to ask what type of amplifier are you using with this guitar?

On a 'related rant'..... WHY would Gibson put an end-pin jack and a P-100 in a re-issue J-160E??????
Answer: It wasn't a........ "True Vintage....Historical re-issue"......that would set ya' back a 'nuther thousand.

Being a solid top, is it ladder-braced also....or X-braced. It should sound out pretty good acoustically if it is X-braced.
Hell, Just put a K&K mini in it and call it a day!
http://www.kksound.c...ts/puremini.php
"You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from."--Cormic McCarthy

Celebrating the sixty years of "white privilege" that i have just recently learned that I was born with...

#7 User is offline   rar 

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 05:46 PM

View Postretrorod, on 25 February 2013 - 04:04 PM, said:

... WHY would Gibson put an end-pin jack and a P-100 in a re-issue J-160E?????? ...

When the J-160E was originally released in '54, it was X-braced and had a solid top. It was also incredibly feedback-prone, to the point where most people judged it to be unusable. Les Paul proposed changing to ladder bracing and a laminate top as a solution to the feedback problem, and Gibson gave it a try. This didn't exactly make the guitar wildly popular, but at least it was more or less functional and it stayed in the lineup long enough for John and George to order a pair in '62. Which resulted in sales to Peter Asher, Chad Stuart, Jeremy Clyde, and who knows how many others -- but I suspect the number is approximately equal to the number of J-160Es sold since 1962 :) -- right up to the present day.

Think of the solid top as a reissue of the original '54 J-160E, if you like, but with the P-90 replaced by a P-100 to make it functional. The J-160E was a perfectly valid concept that Gibson didn't manage to realize back in the '50s. The Les Paul-ized version was the best they could do.

The bottom line seems to be, Gibson offers reissues of both the original '54 version and an early-'60s version of the J-160E. You can buy whichever you like. What's the problem with that? If you don't want a "'54 reissue", you don't have to buy one.

-- Bob R

P.S. Just a reminder that Gibson used to make a very nice X-braced, solid-topped acoustic with both a P-100 and an undersaddle pickup: the J-190 Super Fusion. A three-way switch allows you play through either or both pickups. Having separate volume and tone controls for the pickups makes the switch as flexible as a variable pot.

#8 User is offline   retrorod 

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:51 PM

View Postrar, on 25 February 2013 - 05:46 PM, said:



The bottom line seems to be, Gibson offers reissues of both the original '54 version and an early-'60s version of the J-160E. You can buy whichever you like. What's the problem with that? If you don't want a "'54 reissue", you don't have to buy one.

-- Bob R




Yes Bob....thanks for the 'tutorial'...! Oh yes....and for 'stating the obvious'. Your comment seems to be directed at me? The OP is the one that bought one of these and is asking for advice on how to get the 'best' sound from it.

I was simply trying to give him info!
I don,t need any Left Coast attitude from a Gibson apologist..... let alone your consent on what I 'don,t have to buy'...!

You can save THAT, for the Forum Members that may 'need' and 'appreciate it'

Sorry! But your comment rubbed me wrong......and I mulled it over for a day!

I am a huge Gibson Guitar fan, but don,t always agree with some of their 'production ideas' and marketing visions and I do vote with my dollars.
You are a well-respected member of the Forum and 'most-likely' (by your responses and knowledge) close to the Gibson Corporate as a dealer or whatever?

We all have our ideas and opinions about the various things 'Gibson'.
Should I assume that you have never been dissapointed with a Gibson idea or product? Or choose not to 'voice it'?
"You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from."--Cormic McCarthy

Celebrating the sixty years of "white privilege" that i have just recently learned that I was born with...

#9 User is offline   rar 

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 12:11 PM

View Postretrorod, on 26 February 2013 - 06:51 PM, said:

Sorry! But your comment rubbed me wrong......and I mulled it over for a day!

Sorry to have caused offense -- it was unintentional.

I'll try to avoid assuming that you would like your questions answered in the future. :)

-- Bob R

#10 User is offline   Jeremy Morton 

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 02:26 PM

Wow!


I am a big proponent of dual source PU's! Any undersaddle would be just fine, perhaps something with a volume wheel like the baggs element but that would need a second input jack. If you can find an under saddle that can run into the same jack that would mean less drilling.
Let us know how it goes when you put the second PU in.
All the best.
JM

#11 User is offline   Towzend 

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 05:25 PM

Retrorod is right.. put a K&K mini inside you wont regret it, (very easy to fit yourself) i fitted one on
my J200.. fantastic!!

If you need any help, just post it to me and ill fit it for you!! :-"

#12 User is offline   Towzend 

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 05:28 PM

Just pm me for my shipping address.. :-" :-"

#13 User is offline   fendertubeguy 

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 08:51 PM

Hi All,
Did anyone ever locate the schematics for adding a blend pot and undersaddle pickup to a Gibson J160e? I would really appreciate any help? I have looked all over the web but haven't found anything.

Thanks
Ed

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