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Factual information wanted on Velvet Brick humbuckers...

old mark

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I just bought a Gibson Sonex 180 Deluxe, made in January, 1982. I have been reading all sorts of varying information on the Velvet Brick humbuckers that are installed in it, and I would like to know the facts on these from someone who knows what they are talking about. They have 3 height adjustment screws and steel back plates. The bridge pup backplate is stamped Deluxe. I do not se any stamp on the neck pup.


Pics of my Sonex and its case...






I have read that the magnet is ceramic, or that it is alnico V, that it was designed by Bill Lawrence or by Tim Shaw....


I have spent much of the day getting these pickups dialed in and I find they are really loud, but with a little adjustment on the amp's midrange and backing off the guitar volume knobs, they are capable of some clear and sweet tones. This guitar has been severely abused - dings in the fingerboard have been "repaired" using gobs of glue, and their are cracks and splits all over it similarly "repaired".


Everything works, it plays very well and is an interesting, odd Norlin relic. I got it for under $300, and I think it's an interesting player.


Thanks for any help.



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I don't know what I'm talking about, but I do remember the guitar and the pickups. There was a few different names for what Gibson called Super Humbuckers, Velvet Brick was one of those names. Ceramics with high output, I don't know if Lawrence or not. Hissy, scritchy, way too much to put in front of an amp in them days, so not real popular, but an answer to the Dimarzeros most of us were putting in back then. The guitar kinda came and went quietly, I don't remember anyone having one for long.



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My information is this - the Velvet Bricks were designed by Bill Lawrence when he worked for Gibson...they have 3 adjustment screws. I am not sure if they are alnico or ceramic, but they were not standard Gibson humbuckers.

The bridge pup on My '82 Sonex is very hot, but to me not offensive so long as you adjust the amp for them...they are very good rock & roll pickups.


The guitar itself seems to have become a punk/garage band classic. The bolt neck is very oddly shaped, deep and fat., and I think the finger boards on earlier Sonex's were ebony. Frets are low and fat, bridge is a narrow Gibson wire type, intonates better than I expected. I have finished setting this guitar up and I find it plays very very fast, and actually sounds melodic at lower volume levels. I am liking it more and more.


I think the Sonex's, along with Marauders, etc, were better guitars than their reputation suggests...FWIW, prices for Sonex 180's are now around $600.




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BODY SPECIFICATIONS The new Gibson exclusive Multi-phonic™ body construction • Single cutaway design • Adjustable chrome plated Tune-0-Matic bridge with chrome plated stop-bar tailpiece • Uniquely shaped double sided fingerrest with white revealed edge • Two high output Humbucking 3-point adjustable exposed pickups that feature one black and one cream coil • 3-position toggle switch for pickup selection (individual or both pickups simultaneously) • Attractive, efficient black speed knobs • Body size: Length 17 1/4" width 13" depth 1 3/4"


NECK SPECIFICATIONS One piece select hardwood construction • Width at fingerboard nut 1 11/16" • Rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays and corresponding side dots • Individually enclosed chrome plated machine heads • Gibson truss rod with distinctive truss rod cover • 22 frets • 24 3/4" scale length


SONEX-180 DELUXE • Ebony finish (and later Candy Apple Red, Silverburst, White, Antique Fireburst)


The cheaper solid body guitars being produced in the 1970s such as the melody maker, S-1 and Marauder were starting to loose their popularity by the late 1970s. Shipping figures for 1979 were barely reaching double figures - not even that in some cases, and by 1980 these models were replaced by a new range of budget guitars, the Sonex series.








Like the Marauder and S-1, the Sonex guitars were constructed with a bolt-on neck, but the bodies featured a new material Resonwood, and a Multi-phonic construction.


There were three models, the 180 Deluxe, 180 Standard and the 180 Custom, priced (in 1980) at $299, $375 and $449 respectively. The next cheapest Gibson guitar available in that year was the 335-S standard (solid body version of the famous Gibson ES-335) which was $499. By 1981, the Standard had been dropped in favour of the Sonex Artist, which was a lot more expensive at $749. By 1882 the Custom had been dropped also. By 1984 only the Deluxe model was left, now at $419.




You've never heard this kind of sound at this kind of price.


Gibson-Sonex™-180 is a totally new kind of guitar. The secret is in the exclusive, new Multi-phonic™ body design, featuring an incredibly durable and acoustical material colled Resonwood™. Resonwood has the weight of mahogany and the density of maple. That means you get brilliant harmonic reproduction and superior sustain never before available on on electric guitar at this low price.


multi-phonic1.gifThe Sonex Multi-phonic™ body is composed of Resonwood surrounding an inner tone wood core. The tone wood core not only acts as the anchor point for the neck, it also adds acoustic resonance and exceptional body resilience. The Sonex body is so resilient, that it's structural properties survived extreme testing in temperatures ranging from 40° below to 180°F.


Sonex sustain. A very notable characteristic

The rock solid consistency of Resonwood gives the Sonex guitar incredible sustain capability. Gibson compared it to conventional ash/poplar laminate models and found there was no comparison. A Sonex Multi-phonic™ body delivered greater sustain than many guitars priced two and three times higher. And the Sonex-180 has the welght and feel of even the most expensive guitars. Pick it up. Play it.


Experience a Sonex instrument. It's unlike any guitar you've ever played.


Famous Gibson styling. Famous Gibson quality.


There are three guitar models to choose from in the Sonex Series, all with the popular Gibson single cutaway design. The Sonex-180 Deluxe features a rosewood, dot inlayed fingerboard and adjustable exposed coil high output Humbuckers™. Other Sonex-180 features include a three-position pick-up selector switch, Tune-0-Matic Bridge', stop bar tailpiece and volume/tone control speed knobs.


In addition to all the features offered on the Deluxe guitar, the Sonex Standard and Custom models feature famous Gibson 'Dirty Fingers' pickups, plus a coil top switch for even more versatility. And to really enhance your payability, the Custom has a three-piece maple neck and ebony fingerboard. The Sonex-180 Custom is also available in a striking white finish, as well as ebony.


Unlike comparably priced guitars, the Gibson Sonex series is made in the U.S., and is backed by a one year, limited warranty on all parts and labor. What's more, Sonex is backed by the strongest service center network in the industry.










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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

The Gibson specs are very reassuring...the next time I'm playing at around 170 degrees F, THIS is my guitar!




I am almost sure the neck pup was replaced, but I don't know what it is. It sounds much smoother than the bridge pup, which IS the original Velvet Brick...it is VERY hot and loud, but manageable and great for rock & roll. The neck pup would be good for a solo.


And the thing really does sustain!!!


This particular guitar is so beat up it's actually amazing that it still plays at all, but still sounds good and after a minute or so getting used to the very fat neck it is a lot of fun. I have not seen many with the case, either, and I am really happy with it.


Vintage Gibson tone plastic...msp_thumbup.gif




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