Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums
Sign in to follow this  
BlueShweez

Better jack socket will improve tone?

Recommended Posts

Hi,

 

I would like to know your thoughts on this. My Dot (made in Indonesia; one year old) suffers the usual Dot issue - plays pretty well, but doesn't sound very inspiring.

 

I stopped by a guitar shop (without the guitar) to discuss how much a new (50s style) wiring harness would cost to fit. I didn't tell the tech this, but I had been planning to tackle cheaper upgrades before perhaps going to town and installing SD Antiquities (the guitar was a gift, selling it isn't an option. As it plays pretty well I might as well improve the sound).

 

Anyway, the tech said not to bother with the harness - or pickups - at this stage. He recommended simply replacing the jack socket with a Switchcraft version. Fair enough, I know that they are mechanically 'better' - but will that make any difference to the tone? I don't expect miracles, I'd just like it to 'open up' a bit, and lose a little mud. The tech says it will, as Epi sockets are as cheap as they come. I am dubious, but no expert. Will it 'improve'/affect the tone at all? What are your thoughts? Thanks.

 

FWIW I can do a basic set up - truss rod, action, intonation - and have adjusted (lowered in this case) the pickups in order to get closer to the sound I'm looking for. Actually, it might be more accurate to say 'to get further from the muddy sound I'm not in love with'. Yes, I change strings fairly regularly, and I also EQ the amp for the guitar, based off the neck pickup, as I have read is worth doing elsewhere. The tech also rec'd a new Tusq nut (prob fair, the G string has tuning issues) and a fret dress. He said that's enough, in his opinion, to give Epi's a new lease of life.

 

Sorry for the long post. I'd be grateful to hear your thoughts - especially if you've had jacks etc. changed.

 

Much obliged!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

 

I would like to know your thoughts on this. My Dot (made in Indonesia; one year old) suffers the usual Dot issue - plays pretty well, but doesn't sound very inspiring.

 

I stopped by a guitar shop (without the guitar) to discuss how much a new (50s style) wiring harness would cost to fit. I didn't tell the tech this, but I had been planning to tackle cheaper upgrades before perhaps going to town and installing SD Antiquities (the guitar was a gift, selling it isn't an option. As it plays pretty well I might as well improve the sound).

 

Anyway, the tech said not to bother with the harness - or pickups - at this stage. He recommended simply replacing the jack socket with a Switchcraft version. Fair enough, I know that they are mechanically 'better' - but will that make any difference to the tone? I don't expect miracles, I'd just like it to 'open up' a bit, and lose a little mud. The tech says it will, as Epi sockets are as cheap as they come. I am dubious, but no expert. Will it 'improve'/affect the tone at all? What are your thoughts? Thanks.

 

FWIW I can do a basic set up - truss rod, action, intonation - and have adjusted (lowered in this case) the pickups in order to get closer to the sound I'm looking for. Actually, it might be more accurate to say 'to get further from the muddy sound I'm not in love with'. Yes, I change strings fairly regularly, and I also EQ the amp for the guitar, based off the neck pickup, as I have read is worth doing elsewhere. The tech also rec'd a new Tusq nut (prob fair, the G string has tuning issues) and a fret dress. He said that's enough, in his opinion, to give Epi's a new lease of life.

 

Sorry for the long post. I'd be grateful to hear your thoughts - especially if you've had jacks etc. changed.

 

Much obliged!

 

Hi Blue.

 

Replacing cheap and crappy parts is always a good move to improving a guitar. However, from my experience and that I've hear from others; replacing a part like a jack socket won't improve the tone, as such. Changing out to something like a gold-plated, or Switchcraft, or better-quality jack will improve the connection between your guitar, cable, and amplifier. Bad connections can have adverse effects, as can a crappy cable, or a crappy amplifier.

 

So switching this part will go some way to improve the quality of the sound, possibly; it won't change your tone; it'll just bring out what the tone should be, if the old jack doesn't allow this to shine through. I am certain this would be why the tech is recommending it; the guitar might have a wonderful and perfect tone for you, hidden behind low-quality parts. Changing a wiring harness or pickups is a more extreme move, and will adjust the tone.

 

The TUSQ nut is also a worthy upgrade, and should go some way to solve tuning issues, especially if combing with additional lubricating agents, like Big Bends But Sauce, and the like.

 

Hope this makes sense; shout if you need any more assistance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So switching this part will go some way to improve the quality of the sound, possibly; it won't change your tone; it'll just bring out what the tone should be, if the old jack doesn't allow this to shine through. I am certain this would be why the tech is recommending it; the guitar might have a wonderful and perfect tone for you, hidden behind low-quality parts.

 

Hi Pesh,

 

Nicely put, and I do know exactly what you mean. This is what I was trying to get at - not exactly 'improving' the tone, just allowing the tone to 'come through'.

 

So are cheap jacks 'tone bottlenecks', for want of a better description? And might a new, higher quality, jack actually allow more of the pickups' sound/signal/'tone' 'through'? Interesting. My concern is that any improvement I might hear would be due to either the new strings fitted after the set up*, or my mind wanting to hear an improvement after spending £100 on new jack, nut, fitting, fret dress, etc...

 

I guess I'm wondering if it is worth it, but only I can answer that...

 

Thanks for your input, it's much appreciated.

 

Any other thoughts - from you or anyone else - would also be welcome.

 

BTW I *do* change my strings fairly regularly! I also use Planet Waves Custom cables to plug straight into my THR10C. Not the best gear but a pretty decent home setup (I don't gig anymore). I can get my CV 50s Strat to sound great, the Dot... less so. Not bad as such, but not what it could be. And that's not because I'm used to single coils - I'm used to humbuckers as well. I'd rather not throw too much money at the guitar. If it could be coaxed into 'opening up' even just a little I'd be satisfied.

 

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMHO replace that jack isn't going to improve tone at all. So I'm with Pesh on that aspect.

 

upgrading the nut, and making sure it's regulated correctly will improve intonation in the lower registers (first 3 or 4 frets) and help keep the stings from binding up after bending notes, but this will also not change the over all tone.

 

The only thing that will change the one is better pickups and better volume / tone pots will aid in the performance when you're adjust the guitars volume. If you're going this route. would also add a treble bleed circuit to the volume pots to avoid the problem on high end cut when you roll back your pickup's volume.

 

The conundrum to be wary of is putting as much or more $$$ into the guitar with upgrades as you invested when you bought it. this is a decision you have to make. if you like it well enough where you will keep it, that's one thing. your an shop out used pickups to keep the cost marginalized.

 

But If you think it's going to go the trade/sell route, you're gonna take a bath cuz you aren't getting any of that investment back. Especially if you go for new pickups, and have to pay someone to install them. (I would keep all the original parts and put them back if you decide to move it.)

 

..just my 2 cents

 

/Ray

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I totally agree with the others that changing the input jack will not change your tone. If the original is in bad shape it would more than likely be making noises like crackling etc.

 

If you feel that the guitar is playing as well as possible I would change the wiring harness. There are many high quality kits around the 'net that are worth the money.

Changing the harness can be surprising. A fair amount of improvement is possible.

 

Also, I would try to find a luthier that has his/her own practice. Not to say the tech in the shop you went to is no good, but any luthier that has their own business will take the care to get everything where you wish. A well cut nut, neck set and fret level can take a decent guitar and make it really great.

I say this all the time because I make all the adjustments to my guitars myself too - but - I always take new instruments to my luthier for a thorough set up. That set up can last 10 years or more with a little attention from me over time.

 

Changing the pick ups is the last thing I would do. Even though pickups have the potential to make most impact on tone, if all else is not in good order you may not get the benefit of spending $$ on quality pickups.

 

Duncan pickups are great. I don't think you could go wrong with any high end pickup. Consider Gibson too.

 

Good luck,

jv

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, I have an '08 Dot that after about a year, I upgraded the harness, pots, switches and pickups (SD Classics) Totally different sounding guitar after the work was done. I agree that the jack alone won't have any impact on your tone, and I didn't do the conversion "piecemeal" but all at once, so can't really say if one thing made a difference over another, but the total package certainly worked. This guitar is a keeper for sure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's possible there could be a difference in sound by changing the jack. One would have to be listening for a change to notice. I think most who change the jack change them for other reasons, and wouldn't notice a change in sound because we aren't looking for it.

 

That's IF there is a change. If I had to guess, I wouldn't expect much, even if there was.

 

What I guess I don't understand is how you get from how it sounds to needing a new nut and fret dress. But perhaps you were talking about different things with the guy recommending the work.

 

You mention in your post you didn't tell him you wanted to start with cheaper options before more expensive ones. It might be better to be completely straight with the guy on what you want to achieve. This is a good example. It's just as much work to change out the harness as it is to change pickups, maybe more. 335 style guitars require a whole different way to do it than most electrics.

 

If I read this right, he hasn't seen the guitar. Does it need a fret dress yet? Are they that bad new? USUALLY, one would get the frets dressed after they wear a bit and get some low spots, then maybe change the nut at the same time, because the nut may come off anyway to make it easier to dress the frets. But if it's new and the frets are a little rough. but still they are level, just a little polishing and re-cut the slots in the existing nuts should be a lot easier and a lot less work. Or maybe at this point, just the nut slots. (I haven't seen the guitar either).

 

Point I'm making, is maybe some of this very minor work could be "thrown in" while doing other, more expensive work. It's not likely he is going to want to change 5 bucks to re-cut the slots if that is all he is doing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Replace the tech.

 

rct

This ^^^^^^^^^!

If the output jack is working correctly (no static or looseness) there will be absolutely no perceptible tone or volume difference with a new jack.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks fellas.

 

I couldn't see how changing a jack would make a difference, and the internet was quiet on the matter, which is never a good sign. Changing the tech sounds like the right idea.

 

FWIW I summarised the conversation in order to keep the initial post short. Some have made a few incorrect assumptions. Suffice to say that by suggesting this jack mod the guy has probably told everyone who knows their stuff all they need to know.

 

Thanks again for your input, much appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I replaced the jack and the switch in my Casino with Switchcraft and it helped the sound considerably. However, I suspect that the difference is due to better soldering and mechanical contact. The originals where always kind of loose and noisy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[confused]

 

If a quality cable can produce a noticeable tone difference, I don't see why a quality jack with a good solder job wouldn't provide some sort of benefit..... Any time you can upgrade components that would prove more reliable is always a bonus..... nothing worse when playing a gig and your electronics fail [cursing]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well it's an easy change to make, we're all collectively saying it's not going to make that much of a difference regarding this:

plays pretty well, but doesn't sound very inspiring.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with the majority on this one. I don't believe it will improve tone but rather increase reliability. anytime you upgrade jacks or a switch to a brand like Switchcraft it's pretty easy to tell by comparing the two that the Epi jack and switch are cheaper and less heavy duty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

replace it anyway. It'll only cost you a few bucks to get a decent one and in my experience they tend to be one of the parts on a guitar (cheap ones in particular) which fart out just when you are enjoying yourself otherwise. most annoying!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rather than spend big money on a Dot, sell or trade it for a better model Epiphone, a Riviera or Sheraton II. The only reason to replace a jack is if it is faulty. I have owned a Chinese made Dot that had Gibson 490 humbuckers in it - from a Les Paul Studio. I replaced the nut with a bone nut and hand fitted it, replaced the bridge with a GOTOH, which I do for most of my Epiphones and Gibsons because it is a better bridge, and replaced the factory tailpiece with an aluminum version.

Then I bought a used Sheraton II and sold the Dot online for very little money. I have not done a thing to the Sheraton other than replace the bridge with another GOTOH and minor adjustments. It is a FAR better guitar as it is.

 

There are millions of used Epiphones for sale and the big companies will not hesitate to take them back if you are not happy with it, and Epiphone's middle and higher end arch tops are REALLY good! Start with a better guitar and see what you think...and yeah, get another tech.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recently had the jack socket (also pup switch etc) upgraded to Switchcraft on a guitar.

 

I can confirm there is no difference in sound whatever (just as well, I love the sound exactly as it is).

 

I had this done to improve reliability because I want to gig my cheap guitar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Pesh,

 

Nicely put, and I do know exactly what you mean. This is what I was trying to get at - not exactly 'improving' the tone, just allowing the tone to 'come through'.

 

So are cheap jacks 'tone bottlenecks', for want of a better description? And might a new, higher quality, jack actually allow more of the pickups' sound/signal/'tone' 'through'? Interesting. My concern is that any improvement I might hear would be due to either the new strings fitted after the set up*, or my mind wanting to hear an improvement after spending £100 on new jack, nut, fitting, fret dress, etc...

 

I guess I'm wondering if it is worth it, but only I can answer that...

 

Thanks for your input, it's much appreciated.

 

Any other thoughts - from you or anyone else - would also be welcome.

 

BTW I *do* change my strings fairly regularly! I also use Planet Waves Custom cables to plug straight into my THR10C. Not the best gear but a pretty decent home setup (I don't gig anymore). I can get my CV 50s Strat to sound great, the Dot... less so. Not bad as such, but not what it could be. And that's not because I'm used to single coils - I'm used to humbuckers as well. I'd rather not throw too much money at the guitar. If it could be coaxed into 'opening up' even just a little I'd be satisfied.

 

Cheers

 

The way I read your post, you are NOT going to sell this guitar or trade it on something else for emotional reasons.

Therefore, you are justified in spending some money to make this one play the way you want it to. As a matter of fact,

I think you should. If a few mods can turn this guitar to one that you reach for more often... then this is what you should be

planning.

 

One of the cool things about Epiphones is that they are basically okay guitars, and you can improve them bit by bit as you

can afford it. I own two Epiphones, and they have both responded really well to upgrades. So the potential is there.

 

The improvements you mention above are all worthwhile. The most important ones are the new nut, the fret leveling, basic setup

and intonation. Those will definitely improve your tone and playability. The way I interpret your luthier's remark about installing a new jack is

that this part is notoriously weak on Epiphone guitars, and is a fairly easy upgrade, so why not?

 

I don't believe that a guitar output jack can affect the tone... I believe it can affect the reliability. I don't believe that a cheap part

could be a Tone Bottleneck. Lots of us just want to install good quality parts where there will be a lot of the old 'in-out/in-out."

The other notorious weak point in Epiphone guitars has historically been the pickup selector switch.

 

Because of that, I'd spend your money first on initial setup, new nut, neck straightening,

fret dressing, intonation and action adjustment. Like someone said above, the initial setup can be kept that way by the player for

a long time, so it's a good investment.

 

THEN, when the guitar is all set up and ready, consider what amp you're playing it through. Just because your Fender sounds good

through the one... that doesn't mean the Epi likes that. Try the Dot through more amps... if you have friends who play, ask to plug

in to their setup and then listen. You might be surprised at how good the Dot sounds through a Fender Champ or a Vox VT-30.

 

When you're ready to do the next upgrade, that's when you replace the wiring harness, pots, switch and Jack. This ought to affect your tone

if you install high quality parts. I believe that good quality components will improve the reliability of your Epiphone and might also

open up the sound... as you said you wanted. Lots of us do this work ourselves... on an SG it's pretty straightforward, easy in, easy out.

 

But with an arch top, it's a lot more hassle. You build the new harness on a cardboard template that you made from your guitar.

(or you spend more money buying a ready made one...)

Then you tie old guitar strings to each of the components, or fishing line... before you remove them.

Everything has to wiggle out through the bridge pickup hole, or through one of the F holes. So it's best to remove the entire harness with

strings going back through where they belong. When the old harness is out, tie each string to its corresponding new part, wiggle it all

back inside and then ease each component back into the proper hole by pulling on the strings. Whew!

 

Sound like fun? Not to me. One of my Epis is an ES-339 P-90 pro, and I've been thinking about replacing the harness, but

I haven't tackled the project yet. *grins ...I've upgraded everything else though! And the guitar sounds great with its stock wiring

so far. I have had no reliability problems with it yet... and the sound is good and the pots work as promised. So, if it ain't broke,

don't fix it. The way you know your jack or your switch need replacing is if they crackle.

 

My ES-339's so new, I'm still working my way into the P-90 mojo... trying to see how it fits into my music. I've never had a P-90

guitar before, so I'm having a lot of fun with it, playing through an Orange Micro Terror and a home made cab with 1/10 and 1/12"

Jensen MOD speaker. These seem like an excellent combination.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...