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Fine Tuning New Gibson ES 339..


FatWound
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Greetings all..

After burning my way through at least 10 brand new solid, semi and hollow Asian made guitars and experiencing frustration ranging from mildly annoying to extreme catastrophic disaster on every single one of them I have finally done what I should have done in the very first place: Bought a Gibson.

Today I went and bought a brand new Gibson ES 339 in trans emony. Not long got it home and strung it immediately with gauge 11 flatwounds.

Ok first thing.. the back of the neck is real grippy.. how do I make it smooth, fast and slick?

And.. I'm used to and love the fat, warm, round sound of Seymour Duncan 59's and these have Gibson 57's in which are nice but maybe a whisp too 'honky' for me.

Are there any Gibson recommended pickups I can put in here to give me a fatter, warmer, darker jazz tone?  Or should I slap some SD 59's in here too?

 

Here he is.. (all my guitars are boys  😎)

Screenshot-2023-01-22-at-16-08-32.jpg

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For the neck, put some naptha (lighter fluid) on a cloth and clean it with that - should make the back of the neck much slicker.

As to the tone, you should be able to get a nice jazz tone with the Gibson 57 Classics.  Go to the neck pickup and turn the tone knob down.  Also depends on your amp setting, but you shouldn't need to replace those pickups to get a warm round fat sound.

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15 hours ago, jdgm said:

Very nice too!

I think if you like the Seymours then you won't be satisfied until you get a set.  You can spend an awful lot on a set of pickups.

This is worth a quick look -

https://producerhive.com/buyer-guides/guitar-pickups/best-humbuckers-for-jazz-blues/

🎸

Thank you I was already on that link. 🙂

I had a Yamaha Mike Stern which  has the 59 in the neck position..  it sounded perfect.

I also had a new D'Angelico Excel Mini DC that had  the 59's in and the sound was just perfect. In fact that was the guitar I took back to get this Gibson..

Read this in an old forum discussion form 2014

 

Screenshot-2023-01-23-at-14-32-44.jpg

My feeling is reversed.. I find the 59's more round, more clarity, more warm and a fuller bass.

Are there any Gibson pickups that have this kind of sound or is the 57 meant to be it?

 

Edited by FatWound
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19 hours ago, Twang Gang said:

For the neck, put some naptha (lighter fluid) on a cloth and clean it with that - should make the back of the neck much slicker.

As to the tone, you should be able to get a nice jazz tone with the Gibson 57 Classics.  Go to the neck pickup and turn the tone knob down.  Also depends on your amp setting, but you shouldn't need to replace those pickups to get a warm round fat sound.

Lol.. been playing guitar, mostly jazz for maybe 40 years now.  Always wondered what that tone knob was for..🙇‍♀️

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Yeah people always saying roll off the tone to get a nice warm jazz sound.. the thing is the Seymour Duncan 59 can give a fantastic jazz sound with the tone all the way up! 

I'll leave the 57's in for a bit and mess them  but already the bridge pickup is thin, anemic and spiky on this 399. I wouldn't even use it on an enemy. 59's sound beautiful and very usable in both neck and bridge positions.

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In my experience the small-bodied Gibsons are extraordinarily responsive to very small screwdriver mods when it comes to pickup and pole piece height. A little bit higher or lower goes a long way towards altering the tone and/or the overall output. At least my CS-356 is, and its Classic 57's will easily give off that sort of tone. 

I'd start by lowering your neck pickup, then matching your bridge output by lowering it too. Lots cheaper, easier, and quicker than fishing new pickups into or out of that small body - and you can always do that later if you're unable to unlock the beauty of the 57s with a few twists of a screwdriver.

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One more thing: you say you've had good success with SD 59's in the past, but in what guitar? They won't sound the same in every guitar. The 339 and other smaller Gibson are great guitars, but they don't have as much mass as a most solidbodies or as much airy girth as, say, a 335... expecting a similar result in an inherently different guitar design might be unrealistic.  I still say the screwdriver is your friend - but if (after re-reading) your perceived issue is with the bridge pickup you might have better luck with the opposite approach to the one I suggested above: dial in the bridge pickup first, then adjust the neck pickup to balance. I do still contend that these sound better with both pickups (substantially) lower than Gibson typically ships them with - and that there's a better sound in there than the one right out of the box.

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14 hours ago, clayville said:

One more thing: you say you've had good success with SD 59's in the past, but in what guitar? They won't sound the same in every guitar. The 339 and other smaller Gibson are great guitars, but they don't have as much mass as a most solidbodies or as much airy girth as, say, a 335... expecting a similar result in an inherently different guitar design might be unrealistic.  I still say the screwdriver is your friend - but if (after re-reading) your perceived issue is with the bridge pickup you might have better luck with the opposite approach to the one I suggested above: dial in the bridge pickup first, then adjust the neck pickup to balance. I do still contend that these sound better with both pickups (substantially) lower than Gibson typically ships them with - and that there's a better sound in there than the one right out of the box.

Hi Clayville.. I did say actually.. look at my 2nd comment.

Quote: 

I had a Yamaha Mike Stern which  has the 59 in the neck position..  it sounded perfect.

I also had a new D'Angelico Excel Mini DC that had  the 59's in and the sound was just perfect. In fact that was the guitar I took back to get this Gibson..

 

The D'Angelico  Excel Mini DC is a veritable clone of the Gibson ES 339..

Here it is.. With Seymour Duncan 59's in this guitar sounds like heaven.

Screenshot-2023-01-25-at-08-53-30.jpg

 

With flatwounds on the 59's  give beautiful thicker and darker warm jazz tones.. without that honkyness that these 57's seem to have.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd8pxpAXKRs

Even with roundwounds the 59's have a huge range of tones even in any position.. which unlike the 57's none of them are skinny and thin or harshly bright. They just sound more meaty..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXtffiDdMAA

 

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Sorry about the tone knob comment - didn't mean to imply you were inexperienced.  We do get quite a few inexperienced players on this forum that never played their guitar with any of the knobs set anywhere but on 10.  You seem pretty convinced that only the SD 59s will give you the tone you want so I guess you should go for it.  Your question was are there any other Gibson pickups that will be fatter, warmer, and darker than the '57 classics.  I don't think there are (although tone being subjective to each of us I'm sure some will say there are).  I'd recommend trying Clayville's suggestion of adjusting the pickup height before replacing them.  It is so simple to do and might give you a result you like.

I listened to the two clips you provided links to and really didn't think they were all that fat, warm, and jazzy sounding, but that's just my ear.

I guess my question for you would be if the D'Angelico with the SD 59s in it was in your words "perfect" and "sounds like heaven", why switch to the 339 in the first place?  Not trying to be argumentative, just curious.  There had to be something about the D'Angelico you didn't care for?

  

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On 1/25/2023 at 4:57 PM, Twang Gang said:

Sorry about the tone knob comment - didn't mean to imply you were inexperienced.  We do get quite a few inexperienced players on this forum that never played their guitar with any of the knobs set anywhere but on 10.  You seem pretty convinced that only the SD 59s will give you the tone you want so I guess you should go for it.  Your question was are there any other Gibson pickups that will be fatter, warmer, and darker than the '57 classics.  I don't think there are (although tone being subjective to each of us I'm sure some will say there are).  I'd recommend trying Clayville's suggestion of adjusting the pickup height before replacing them.  It is so simple to do and might give you a result you like.

I listened to the two clips you provided links to and really didn't think they were all that fat, warm, and jazzy sounding, but that's just my ear.

I guess my question for you would be if the D'Angelico with the SD 59s in it was in your words "perfect" and "sounds like heaven", why switch to the 339 in the first place?  Not trying to be argumentative, just curious.  There had to be something about the D'Angelico you didn't care for?

  

No worries Twang. 

You said: "I listened to the two clips you provided links to and really didn't think they were all that fat, warm, and jazzy sounding, but that's just my ear."

No your right that was just to give and idea of the versatility of the tone of the 59's. On my Roland JC-40 and through my 150 watt studio nearfield monitors they can.

Mike Stern also has the Seymour Duncan 59's in his Yamaha and he can get a gorgeous warm jazz tone so did I on that same guitar.

The D'Angelico when back there was a separate issue, the neck was off..  ithad a slight twist along the right side which made the G string buzz on every single fret along the entire neck.

 

Having a couple of other issues with this Gibson ES-399 as well.. this guitar was meant to have been 'pleked' at the Gibson factory but again there's a buzz on the just E string along the entire neck. sigh.. (I don't want a high action and raising the bridge raises everything else.)

And.. there's something not right with both volume controls. Whatever amp I plug it into I get almost no sound at all with the volume at settings from 1 to 6.. 7 it's barely audible, 8 you start to hear the pickups.. then between 8 and 10 there's a huge increase in volume to maximum. It's like the entire volume sweep is just between 8 and 10 on both volume knobs.

Tone knob in neck position doesn't do much either.. it just goes from medium dark/dull to muddy and muffled. Even at maximum it does not really brighten up the guitar.

Also no matter what I do to the back of the neck, no matter what I clean it with it remains grippy has rubber.. even took the very finest Scotch pad and buffed off the gloss down to a satin which works for about half an hour, but then becomes grippy again. I literally have to Scotch pad the back of this neck each time I have a practise session. No my hands don't sweat. (there goes my warranty return) 

Store told me it can take a year for the neck to become naturally smooth.. and not grippy. Or 3 months if you play  8 to 12 hours a day. Next option was the. super fine Scotch Pads..

Have emailed Gibson customer support 3 times and got the auto response saying:  "We will respond to your request within the next 2 business days."

That was 10 days ago and have never heard anything since.

I bought the Gibson because they did not have an immediate replacement for the D'Angelico for weeks.. I needed another guitar immediately.

Now I'm probably going to have to fork out as well as for new pickups, maybe new volume knobs, or entirely knew knbs and electrics, a fret dressing,  a proper set up.. and get something done to that rear neck surface.

Beginning to have a bit of buyers regret.

 

 

Edited by FatWound
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