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Everything posted by Blueman335

  1. 490's have A2's, which means lots of mids, rounded high end, loose low end, and lower output. What makes A2's so popular is that they have a lot of dynamics which gives them an organic sound. 498T's have A5's, which have a lot of treble and bass, sharp highs, scooped mids, a firm low end, and relatively high output. Paired together the bridge is pretty bright and the neck pr...

  2. Never had a Nighthawkm so I haven't given the PU's on them any thought. I have an Epi double cutaway LP Special. The stock P-90's were okay, but I upgraded them to Duncan SP90-2's. Not being a fan of ceramics, I pulled those and put in an A8/A5 mag pair in the bridge, and a pair of A5's in the neck. Great tones now. Try swapping mags on your Gibson double cut before buy...

  3. Gibson '57's have (warm) A2 magnets. Besides using higher quality materials and significantly less wax, they're wound differently. There's a secret art to winding PU coils, using various patterns and tensions, which have a big impact on tone (neat, uniform winding looks nice but doesn't give the best tones). The final sound is a mix of PU, magnet, wood, pots, caps, cord, amp, tubes, speakers, etc. All of them modify the sound to some degree. That's why a PU may sound great in one guitar and very different in the next. In my experiences with Gibson '57's and 490's, the necks seem to be wound a little hot and they can be dark. The bridge has the typical rounded high-end of an A2 PAF, but sometimes even moreso. I fix that by putting an A5 in the neck (suddenly treble and clarity!) and and UOA5 or A8 in the bridge for more bite, and more output. In some guitars '57's can sound great, but I haven't had that in my guitars. I think Gibson perhaps overuses them in so many models, along with the 498T/490R pair (bright thin bridge and dark muffled neck). In those, I make the same mag swaps and then they work together much better because the EQ's aren't polar opposites. Then, they sound very good. To me, the best recent-manufacture Gibson HB's are the numbered Burstbuckers (A2 mags), especially the unpotted ones. BB Pros have A5's and are wound differently, but are still pretty good PU's. The better your amp, the more you'll hear the differences between stock Asian PU's and high-quality ones. If you're playing metal thru a solid state amp and using a lot of distortion and effects, stock Epi PU's maybe be fine. But if you're playing blues, classic rock, or jazz thru a tube amp clean or with a moderate amount of OD, then you'll hear much more depth and definition when you upgrade PU's. At their price point, Epi's not trying to compete with aftermarket PU's that sell for $75 to $150 each, certainly not in a $400-$500 guitar. It's the weakest link on a set-neck Epi. Because of the lingering economy, the guitar market has gotten very competitive, and manufacturers are adding high-quality American-made PU's to more of their models. This is great for musicians. There's not a lot of difference between high-end Epi's with American-made PU's, and the lower-level faded Gibsons. Obviously an $800 faded Gibson LP Studio doesn't have anywhere near the same quality woods or workmanship as a $2,500 LP Std or $3,800 LP Custom.
  4. Dots have A5's, as do almost all Epi's. I upgrade the PU's in my Epi's, but if I'm selling one and want to improve the tone for the buyer, I'll do a couple things: 1 - Scrape as much wax out of the HB's as possible, being careful around the coils. I've taken apart dozens of high quality PU's, and they use very little wax. The least they possibly can use. At the other end of the spectrum, Epi HB's look like bars of soap when you take the covers off. That's overkill. You just don't need 95% of that wax to prevent microphonic feedback. All it does is muffle and muddy the tone. 2 - Put an A8 magnet in the bridge HB, to beef it up (more mids and output, and less treble). Same for bridge P-90's, replace one of the A5's with an A8. Epi's started using 'Probuckers' in a few recent models, that have A2's and push-pulls for coil cut, which is a great idea. Don't know if they're buried in wax.
  5. The better tones I have, the more inspired I am, the more I play, and the better I play. Any time spent swapping PU's, pots, and mags is well spent. Why settle for so-so tones, when it costs so little to improve them and get what you really want? I hate to be helpless. My advice is: Take control of your tone.
  6. The way I look at it is: There's 10 types of alnico's commonly available these days (counting polished, roughcast, oriented, and unoriented). What are the odds that the PU manufacturer used the best one for your guitar, wood, amp, genre, and playing style? If you think they always do, you need to get out of the house more often. When you change magnets in a PU, you literally make a new PU. Since that'll only cost you $3 and 10 minutes to do it, why not try it? Sure beats spending $75 to $100+ for an entirely new PU, that still may not be what you want.
  7. Unoriented refers to the internal grain in the metal, whether it's aligned or random, and has nothing to do with the magnetic poles. That stays the same. Treat them like any other magnet. Remember, A2's, A3's, and A4's are unoriented too.
  8. Right, A5 unoriented magnet. 'Standard' size works for everything, so it's simplest just to get that (I believe it's 2.5x.5x.125). If you don't get them fully charged, you have to have the equipment to do it yourself.
  9. The reason for this being: magnets have all sorts of industrial applications, and electric guitars are only one of them. To get odd alnicos, you usually have to place a large order (like $500 worth) to get them cut to guitar PU size. We'd love to try out some A1'a and A7's; have no idea what they'd sound like, but I've never seen them offered in the right size. I have a few A6's, which are like an A8 with less treble, and A9's, which are surprisingly bright. A10-12 would probably be too strong and have too much string pull (and kill sustain). I'd also like to find some really rough roughcast A8s (for a smoother high end) and some polished UOA5's (for a sharper high end in the neck slot, to replace A2's). There's always something else to try.
  10. A8's became commonly available several years ago, and took things by storm; been tried in many bridge PU's (high, low, and medium output, and also in P-90's). It's a great middle ground between A5's and A2's, leaning towards the A5 side. On the Duncan site, most of us get our magents from Addiction FX, who is on eBay. They have the biggest selection and the lowest prices (several dollars per magnet). With any of them, you'll want to get the 'standard' size, fully charged. These will fit any HB and P-90. A more recent magnet introduction is the UOA5, again a middle ground between A5's and A2's, but leaning more towards the A2 side. Medium output, warm, with a more organic/earthy sound, and lots of complex dynamics. Great for blues and jazz. Both of these are great options for bridge PU's where an A5 is too bright or thin, or an A2 is too rounded on top and lacking treble.
  11. Right. A PU with bright highs will have tight clear lows, because that describes an A5. Likewise, one with round full highs will have muddy (loose) lows, which is classic A2. The '59/Custom hybrid is a great PU and just went into Duncan production this year. Both coils are from bright PU's ('59B and C5), and the unbalanced part of it also adds some highs, so it can be bright and thin with the stock A5 magnet. Since A5's have the brightest, sharpest high end; your choices are warmer magnets. A8's are popular, they still have treble but not as much, and they have more mids, the low end is tight. Lots of punch. A4's are like a tamer A8, with less output and a little flatter EQ. I'm partial to UOA5's, for the vintage dynamics, but they're on the warm side (not as warm as A2's), and the low end isn't real tight (not as loose as an A2). Those are your options. I'd try an A8 first and see what you think. It will fill in the high end and you won't give up a tight low end. They're very good clean too.
  12. Depending on the coil thats active during coil cut, you can have a 'virtual' HB in position 4, maybe position 2 also. If you put in a push-pull on the bridge HB, along with a coil cut push-pull, you get to choose which coil is active and which is shut off (screw or slug). One will give you noise-free.
  13. Ceramics are high output, with a tight low end, moderate mids, and fairly bright highs. To some ears they have a somewhat sterile, stiffer, in-your-face-sound. That makes them great for heavy distortion and effects, they'll cut thru better than alnicos. That's their strongpoint. Downside is they lack the color and character of alnicos, and aren't as good clean. If you play blues, jazz, country, or classic rock, they're not ideal. For heavy rock and metal, they're very good. Depending on your needs, ceramics may or may not be the way you want to go. Over the years I've wound up with various ceramic HB's and P-90's (yes p-90's! Duncan SP90-2 & SP90-3), and have ended up pulling out all the ceramics and put in alnicos, and gotten some nice bluesy tones. For several dollars, I can turn a ceramic 'metal' HB into a blues HB. A Duncan Custom (SH-5) with an A8 or UOA5 added becomes a great blues/classic rock PU. You can go the opposite way, and put a ceramic magnet where an alnico was. Some PU's have double thick ceramics, and if you go to an alnico (which are not double thick), all you need is a couple regular size spacers and the alnico will fit. A few high output DiMarzio HB's have their ceramic magnets epoxied to the baseplate, and they're a mess to get off (you have to chisel). Other than that, ceramics are easy to remove.
  14. Glad to help, A2 - warm, rounded high end, lots of mids, not much treble, loose low end, lots of vintage dynamics, organic earthy tones, low output. A3 - like an A2 but with more treble and less bass. A4 - flat EQ, medium output. no big EQ push, which lets the PU's and wood's tones come thru; some guys find it bland. A5 - bright, sharp high end, scooped mids, lots of bass. firm low end, relatively high output. UOA5 - unoriented A5, sounds like the middle ground between an A2 and A5, warm but with a little more treble than an A2, lots of dynamics, organic tones, medium output. A8 - warm, lots of mids, some treble but not an excess, firm low end, high output. All A2's, A3's, and A4's are unoriented, along with UOA5's. A5's and A8's are oriented, which means the inner 'grain's in the metal have been magnitized and aligned in one direction when the metal was being formed, which makes a stronger magnet and a more uniform magnetic field. Unoriented magnets have random 'grain' and a more complex and varied magnetic field. Polished magnets have a sharper high end. Roughcast magnets have a slightly smoother high end. Not a huge difference. Alnico mags are numbered by output, more or less, so A2's and A3's are low output, A8's are high. There are A1 thru A12 alnico magnets, but some are rarely if ever cut into the size of guitar magnets. Ranked in order of warmth: RC A2, A2, UOA5, A8, RC A4, A4, RC A3, A3, RC A5, A5. So if you know what magent is in your HB or P-90, and you want to change the EQ, choose a magnet that will move it in the direction you want. On the Duncan forum some common swaps are: JB - can be bright and harsh. Has an A5. An A2 adds mids and takes away some treble. '59N - can have a boomy bass in mahogany. Has an A5. An A4 or A3 takes away some bass. '59B - bright and scooped. Has an A5. An UOA5 or A8 fixes both issues. 490R, '57 Classic, PGN - can be dark in the neck slot. Have A2's. An A5, A4, A3, or UOA5 add treble. 498T and Custom 5 - bright and midscooped. Have A5's. An A8 or UOA5 add mids and dials down the treble. 490T, PGB, '57 Classic - bridge PU's that can have an overly rounded high end. Have A2's. An UOA5's and A8's add some bite. P-90's have two magnets in each (same kind of mags as a HB), so you can pair up any two to blend your EQ.
  15. All of us have made mistakes like that at some point. Welcome to the club. But that's how you learn.
  16. Yes, that's called 'dependent volume controls'. I don't care for it, as you can't blend PU's. I change all of mine to independent volume controls. Easy fix. There's a post from last week expalining what to do.
  17. Several things: 1) Pull out (but don't disconnect) the toggle. Look at it when you're flipping it and the guitar is plugged in. Make sure it makes the same connections for the bridge and neck. If not, gently bend the prong(s) so it makes the connections. To keep problems from happening in the future, keep the toggle in the middle position when the guitar's not plugged in. Sitting for years in the bridge PU position the toggle may suffer from metal fatigue and eventually make the neck PU connection not work (and vice versa). 2) Go to a website with diagrams, like Seymour Duncan, and verify which wires go to which pot lugs. On the volumes, looking from the bottom, the left lug is ground, middle is toggle, and the right is to the PU and tone pot. All the grounds are connected together in a big loop. Every electrical part (PU, toggle, pots, and jack) have a ground and hot connection. 3) When it's plugged in, wiggle the wires to see if anything shorts or crackles. Make sure all the solders are firm and shiny, and that there's no bare wire or strands of wire that could touch something else and short it out. Guitar wiring is very simple and low tech. In this case, don't worry about wire color (Korean vs Chinese), all you care about is which is hot and which is ground.
  18. Love my Epi's! I upgrade the PU's and do my own set ups (as I would with any other brand). I get many compliments on my tones.
  19. Yes, unfortunately full hollowbodies are a miniscule part of the electric market, and floating PU models are much rarer still. Teenagers buy most of the guitars, and they prefer pointy ones with morbid pictures on them (apparently taste is something you grow into).
  20. You'll get a lot of tone options if you use 4 lead HB's and use push-pulls for coil cut. You can mix and match the all the coils. If you have a vibrato bar, you should have a roller bridge, makes life easier.
  21. BB's (not BBP's) are better-sounding than '57's. The neck is clear and not so dark and muffled. The bridge has more cut. Another great set is Duncan's Seth's, the most authentic PAF's out there.
  22. Did I miss where you said what PU's you're upgrading to? Better PU's will make more improvement than everything else put together. If you're going 1950's vintage, the best PU's are a set of Duncan Seth's, designed by Seth Lover, the guy that invented HB's back in the mid 1950's.
  23. Not really. Have you tried Seth's, Pearly Gates, '59's, or Bustbuckers? There is no stock Asian HB that comes comes anywhere close to that level of tone quality. They're not nearly as expensive if you buy them used. You're much better off buying a used Epi for half price, and using the rest of the money (that you would have spent on a new guitar) on upgrading PU's instead. Geez, I just got a nice used Epi Lp Std+ with hard case and a pair of Duncan '59's for $250. Good deals are out there.
  24. Well, I don't want to settle for 'acceptable' PU's. I replace all mini-pots (most Epi's have full-size ones anymore). Hey, my approach is to look for used American-made PU's online, for about half price. I get more more improvement in tone doing that than replacing anything else. A stock Epi PU is never going to have the tone quality of a good Duncan or DiMarzio. Rather than get side-tracked, I focus on PU's. If you've had 6 sets of PU's in one guitar, you need to learn about swapping magnets and pots/resisitors. You'll be able to get the tones you want with one, maybe two sets of PU's. It'll never take six. There's about 10 different alnicos available from Addiction FX, and each one has a different EQ. We don't know what a HB or P-90 has to offer until we try a couple of magnets in it. Sometimes using 250K pots or 470K resistors will do it. All of this stuff is much cheaper than PU's.
  25. I've probably got more Epi's than just about anybody here. If you're serious about tone, the stock PU's gotta go. I've done it to every one my of Epi's. There's no point in keeping them and screwing with other things that have a small impact. You will not, and cannot, get the level of clarity, depth, and definition that, for example, Seymour Duncan's have. Stock Epi PU's are serviceable at best; they transfer sound. A manufacturer of high quality PU's (and there are many besides Duncan) goes far beyond that. They strive for tone quality. Example: I bought a used Epi Korina '58 V last year. Plugged it in to check the elctronics and couldn't believe how good it sounded. Very clear and articulate like no Epi I've ever heard. I've played dozens and dozens of Epi's over the years, and this blew them all away. No comparison. When I changed the strings, I was curious and flipped over the PU's...they were both DiMarzios. The seller forgot to mention that. Now, if you use a lot of distortion and effects and play thru a solid state practice amp, then you won't hear a lot of difference when you upgrade PU's. But the better your amp, and the cleaner you play, the more obvious the difference. It's worth it.
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