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ES-137 Set Up & Varitone Switch


tcraft1

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Received my ES-137 last week. Love the look, sound, and playability. However, the setup of the guitar bites the big one. I have fret buzz all over the fingerboard. I should have had at least a decent set up from the factory. Some guy at Gibson with the initials "BM" performed the QC on this guitar. Who is performing the QC on "BM"??????

Now I have to go out and spend $100.00 for a quality set up.

I have a question or two about the varitone...... Is the volume of the guitar through the amp supposed to drastically diminish as you cycle from setting 1-5? Big loss of volume.

Anyone's experience here would be appreciated...

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That's a shame your not happy with your guitar. But here are some things you can check before you go out and spend money on a set-up. I usually do my own, and here is what I do.

 

Neck: Check to make sure you don't need a truss rod adjustment. Hold the 6th string down at the first fret and at the fret the the neck joins the body, this will form a straight line. There should be a gap the approx. width of a business card at the 6 or 7 fret to the underside of the string! If the string is touching, you need to loosen the truss rod. Just looking down the neck isn't the prope way to do it.

 

Action: I believe the standard action from Gibson electrics is 5/64" at the 6th string and 3/64" at the first string. This is measured from the top of the 12th fret, to the bottom of the srings. Maybe the action is to low!

 

These are just general guidelines to help you figure what could be wrong.

 

I have a "Vari-Tone" switch on my old ES-345, and it does decrease the volume somewhat as you change it.

 

Hope this helps you out.

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That's a shame your not happy with your guitar. But here are some things you can check before you go out and spend money on a set-up. I usually do my own, and here is what I do.

 

Neck: Check to make sure you don't need a truss rod adjustment. Hold the 6th string down at the first fret and at the fret the the neck joins the body, this will form a straight line. There should be a gap the approx. width of a business card at the 6 or 7 fret to the underside of the string! If the string is touching, you need to loosen the truss rod. Just looking down the neck isn't the prope way to do it.

 

Action: I believe the standard action from Gibson electrics is 5/64" at the 6th string and 3/64" at the first string. This is measured from the top of the 12th fret, to the bottom of the srings. Maybe the action is to low!

 

These are just general guidelines to help you figure what could be wrong.

 

I have a "Vari-Tone" switch on my old ES-345, and it does decrease the volume somewhat as you change it.

 

Hope this helps you out.

 

 

Thanks, Ken for your help. I will try what you are suggesting.

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Try what Ken has suggested. With temperature and especially humidity changes during shipping the action on a really low set up can go into buzzing real easy. Do not turn the truss rod more than a quarter turn at a time if you try to adjust it. Also you can turn the thumb wheels on the bridge to raise it some to see if that helps. The guitar should have been set up correctly for you by the dealer that sold it. Gibson sets them all up to certain specs and checks them and there is no way that thing got out if it buzzed that bad, but it is up to the dealer to check them and set them up. It is kind of like a car. You can not blame Ford if the seat is not set right for you when the dealer is right there and should be helping you. Sorry you are not happy as that is probably a great guitar. If you can't get things sorted out, take it back to the dealer.

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Here is some info on the varitone:

 

Position 1: Bypass

Position 2: reduces the 1875Hz frequency by -8.5dB (more than twice). This removes some of mid range sound.

Position 3: is set at about 1kHz and reduces it by about -12 dB or 4 times that of normal.

Position 4:is set at 650Hz and reduces the frequency by about -15dB. This removes some of the "lower mid" frequencies.

Position 5:is set at 350Hz and reduces it by about -16dB.

Position 6: is set at 130 and reduces that frequency by -20dB. This removes a lot of the low end of the guitar.

 

As far as the setup goes, the differences in humidity, altitude, and temperature will cause the wood to adjust when you get it. It may have been fine when it was shipped. Check your neck relief and then the bridge height (action). also check the stopbar for proper height. No need to take it somewhere to check these things.

 

It is not likely that the 3 piece maple neck changed much if at all.

 

This will work out for you, enjoy your 137!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Varitone is a notch filter like others have described; 1 is the hottest setting and it does seem louder just by a hair, but the other settings should be roughly in the same ballpark, volume-wise (each setting's tone will cut through the mix a little different from each other though).

 

Hope you get your guitar up to your standards - mine is super versatile and of all my Gibsons, it overdrives amps the easiest.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Don't feel to bad. Just remember you're never the only one. My 137 Custom was about the same. From what I can tell from the two Gibsons I own and from the countless ones I've tried Gibsons factory set ups consist of setting the action high enough to get rid of any buzzing and then it's good to go. From what I'm hearing from you in some cases it's good to go even if it is buzzing. Both of mine needed neck adjustment, nut slot filing, intonation adjustment, and fret end dressing. The plastic fret ends that are part of the neck binding had gotten no attention at all. They stuck out so much that the fret ends felt like I was running my hand down a railroad track when I was playing. But I really don't feel singled out since the same is true of all new Gibsons. Just head on over to GC and try out any given one. Without exception you'll find that the out of the box playability of new Gibsons ranges from just acceptable to poor. Unfortunately that is also true of most guitar companies these days. On the other hand most guitar companies don't claim to be the benchmark by which all others are measured. At this price range a guitar that is unplayable out of the box would be laughable if it wasn't so blatantly disgraceful.

 

You won't hear a whole lot of complaining from those of us who can do our own setups. 45 minutes of work solves the problem. But for the majority of players who don't it's a real PITA. Of course if you have a good tech in your area then money can solve most anything. But, what about the folks who don't. Evidently Gibson is content to simply let them be screwed.

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Want to fall in love with your Varitone?

 

Pick a song with great intro, one that takes some dirt / fuzz / distortion. Leave the Varitone at 1 and choose the pup, tone, volume, etc. After playing the intro, when it is time for backing the song, drop the Varitone to 3. Get to another part you want to punch up and switch her back to 1. Then realize you have 4 other positions to play with. Guitar Kama Sutra?

 

It is so much more effective than just the volume knob in changing how your guitar interacts with your amp and pedals.

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  • 1 month later...

NGD I just got a scatch and dent from ZZ sounds. 137 Custom Light Burst. Checking at the ends of all the frets otherwise pristine although it is a 2009. Oh well don't play better than $2000 anyway. Now my question. I tried a 137 Custom used at GC, no volume change with the 1->5 Varitone settings. Both my Blueshawk Varitone and the one on my new 137 Custom both drop a lot of volume from 1-> all other setting. Why? Its real, not just the filter effects of different freq.

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NGD I just got a scatch and dent from ZZ sounds. 137 Custom Light Burst. Checking at the ends of all the frets otherwise pristine although it is a 2009. Oh well don't play better than $2000 anyway. Now my question. I tried a 137 Custom used at GC, no volume change with the 1->5 Varitone settings. Both my Blueshawk Varitone and the one on my new 137 Custom both drop a lot of volume from 1-> all other setting. Why? Its real, not just the filter effects of different freq.

Did the tone change in each position?

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I think that is the way they work. My es137 does that as well. I just turn it up if it isn't loud enough. As long as each position is different tone-wise you should be good.Combined with your three way switch, the varitone gives you a lot of sounds at the twist of a knob.

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I think that is the way they work. My es137 does that as well. I just turn it up if it isn't loud enough. As long as each position is different tone-wise you should be good.Combined with your three way switch, the varitone gives you a lot of sounds at the twist of a knob.

 

Thanks I'm fine with it now. I also noticed the middle part of the 3 piece neck is a little lower than the two outside pieces. No crack in the finish just slightly uneven, I can feel the ridges. Am I too OCD about the neck, is it just what you see in a 3 piece neck or is it more even for other folks 137 Customs. I just have mahogany necks on my SGs and LPs. Thanks for all your your help. I need to decide if I keep it or return it.

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Thanks I'm fine with it now. I also noticed the middle part of the 3 piece neck is a little lower than the two outside pieces. No crack in the finish just slightly uneven, I can feel the ridges. Am I too OCD about the neck, is it just what you see in a 3 piece neck or is it more even for other folks 137 Customs. I just have mahogany necks on my SGs and LPs. Thanks for all your your help. I need to decide if I keep it or return it.

 

 

No, the neck shouldn't be like that. It will cause problems on resale I would have thought.

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Whenever you make a musical Instrument purchase that has to be shipped, make sure it is fully acclimated before taking it out of the shipping carton. You should allow the package to acclimate to your environment for a day before unpacking from the shipping container and then uncasing. Let it gradually reach room temperature.

 

It is always very tempting, especially after having to wait for such a highly anticipated purchase.

 

The same is true when transporting an instrument in the trunk of a car during cold weather. (Although it shouldn't need a full day to acclimate. The longer it's been in the cold, the longer it should be allowed to warm up) I learned this growing up in Minnesota and hauling a violin back and forth when I walked to school.

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