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anzafrank

Brightening up the treble on an older Bird?

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It's been my experience with the older Humming birds (70's, and not sure about the new one's) and my 86 J-30 that the first string is a bit dead compared to the thunderous base the guitar puts out, and that loud/round/full sound to my ears is the very best for voice accompaniment that I have ever heard, bar none.

 

However, I would like a little more treble out of the first, second, and maybe even the third string, and was wondering if any here have tried going a bit heavier on the first, second and maybe the third string to get a little more ring out a light or medium gage string set.

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First thing would be to press down some bone pins.

That probably wouldn't be enough so next step could be as wild as brass ditto (which I've never tried).

Then there is the strings - go bronze and let them fade til they become barbed-wire. Others here may have better suggestions - nickle fx.

Highs aren't an issue for me on these guitars. I tend to find them a bit brittle or thin when not tuned half a step down.

So actually not the right person to ask (my experience with 70's version are far behind), but 1 last thing :

D'you have a bone saddle, , , and nut for that matter.

 

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Not knowing whether issues on '70s HBIrds you experienced occurred back then, or more recently - nor whether it is related to an '86 J30 - but assuming you're looking to fix a problem with quiet trebles on your J30 now, I'd first look under the saddle and make sure it's 100% flat and even and it is making direct contact with the spruce underneath. If it is - then I'd proceed with Em7 and Lars' suggestions. Well, actually, I'd do what they say anyway. But, first, it would be valuable to know if the problem is being caused by an uneven saddle. G'Luck.

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String wise, I go D’Addario PB EXPs if I want to brighten a guitar, Martin 80/20 SPs if I want neutrality or Martin SP Lifespan 80/20s if I want to darken a bright guitar.

 

Bone saddle and pins will brighten and harden the top end down into the upper mids, and add clarity to the bass.

 

Bone saddle and brass pins will be the brightest combo of the lot. Maybe too bright-if you just want the plain strings to ring more, try bone pins for EADG and brass for B and E.

 

Plenty of ways to spin this...just keep experimenting!

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And get a mirror and a flashlight and make sure the bridge pins (try diamond - the hardest substance known to man) are securely nestled against a sound bridge plate.

And I would deep six any idea of using the light strings you mentioned in any case.

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The problem is while sound can be nuanced unless you have the braces re-tuned you cannot dramatically change a guitar's voice. You can try maybe a ceramic saddle and obviously different strings. But more than anything else what sets a 1970s Gibson apart from earlier guitars is its heavy top bracing and large diamond shaped bridge plate. Interestingly, I am awaiting a Harmony Sovereign that has just finished being re-braced. While I love the way these things sound as is, I have three of them so figured I would take a shot. Should, at the least, be interesting. Hey, who knows. I might end up with a dead ringer for a vintage Martin D-18. A body can only hope.

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Really great ideas and info guys! E-minor7, no I don't have bone pins, nut, or saddle, and like a lot of other things, I keep putting it off thinking a lazy string quick fix might do the trick. Haven't tried nickel, so that will be a must. I mostly have been using Martin flexible core Pb's or 80-20's, and D,Addario PB's and 80-20's. The PB's have a better sound to me.

 

I'm a bit ashamed to say I haven't ever even checked under the saddle to see if things are not right like fortyearspickn suggested. I was told when you hit 50 your brains fall out, and when you reach 60 they fall back in. They were wrong about the 60 part. I can't believe I never thought to at least try selectively placing bone and brass pins like Jinder suggested.

 

As far as the saddle making even and complete contact with the top, how would you go about finding that out exactly? My thoughts would be to somehow put a thin coating of something at the bottom of the saddle slot, and place the saddle back in the slot, push down hard, and quickly pull it out to see if there are any voids that are not making contact. I have a sneaky feeling there is a better way to achieve this task and would appreciate if someone clue me in.

 

Also, I think I might be asking the guitar to do more than it was designed to do. The thing sounds like no other guitar (other than a Bird) especially when strumming a hard A on the second fret. Possibly if Gibson would have built it to produce the highs I'm looking for it might not put out the sound that made me a Humming Bird nut. Nothing talks to me like a Bird. Even a J-200 doesn't hit home for me. I think that Zombywoof has a point.

 

Thanks for the help!

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Nice to see different takes on enhancing the treble side of our Birds. I've stuck with the Gibson's 12 gauges for the longest time since I got my 2011 Custom Bird.

But lately I had this on for about 6 months now and I am really happy the way it sounded and turned out. It has the treble nuance while the bass obviously is in the back waiting to be coaxed with enough thump depending on the tune/style of strumming as far as playing goes.

 

I tend to try the strings used first before I jump into the pins/nuts/bridges etc... [biggrin]

 

Just a little clip of the Bird with a set of 12's and a Nylon JD .73mm pick. [thumbup]

 

RotoSound JK : http://chirb.it/EIzEp3

 

Good luck to the right sound your looking for!! [biggrin]

 

Peace! \:D/

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