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Aster1

If I want more "brightness" from P-90 Pups?

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There are SO many answers here it's rediculas. But in this case, it's a good thing. Not because we don't actually know what the real problem is, but because in my opinion, there's just a lot of good answers and ideas here.

 

Here's a few of mine:

 

First, I start with the guitar itself, the sound BEFORE plugging in. If the guitar isn't bright sounding accoustically, that can be altered using different strings. Bright ones would be GHS Bommers, and warmer would be EB Slinky's. It's worthy of a whole different subject, but it's also important, especially with P-90s. In my experience, while P-90's might be closer to one another regarding different brands and makes, they do seem to be more reactive to different guitars they are in.

 

Another thing worth saying, is that at least for me, I nearly always change amp setting when going from Fender to Gibson, and P-90's- while being single coil, are still very much 'Gibson' leaning in tone, and much closer to a humbucker than a single coil in output and tone. But still at the heart, there isn't an amp or an amp setting that is going to be ideal for Fender types that is also ideal for Gibby types. The ideal setting for each WILL be different.

 

While I don't actually know what the deal is in this particular situation, one thing it might be, and something to be aware of, is the difference in "brightness" might be caused by the different in output. P-90's are definitely on the high side in output, and if the amp is at the threshold, the extra gain could be what is giving more meat to the tone as opposed to clarity.

 

One more thing, that's more of a correction, raising the pups or the poles on the pup will make it less bright, not more. It's worth looking into, but be aware if you want more brightness and clarity by way of pup hieght, go down, not up.

 

Last but not least, overall, it's always best to go with what sounds best, not nessesarily making different guitars all sound the same or work with the same amp settings. But all raods are worth trying, because that's where one's taste and tone come from.

 

Good points Stein!! With the issue of the higher gain on a P-90, and possibility of the amp at the threshold, are you meaning to run the gain of the amp lower & drive the volume of the guitar higher?

 

Also, I may not have been clear on my hopes. I like the sound of the Casino (in some regards liked the sound of the Epi Pups better than the Gibson P-90's "FOR THE CASINO" I mean. I hear you on picking a sound you like e.g. Ric or Gretsch, and maybe wanting to get all your gits to sound like that. I really love the feel & sound of the Casio & esp. the full hollow body tone it brings. Just want more bite from the bridge pup and wish I wasn't saying that the Standard MIC maybe sounded more "Beatles like" to me than the Elitist anyway. At least MY ELITIST. Don't have a frame of reference on any other Elitists to go from.

 

Thanks Guys. Great info. Will be messing with the Casino this weekend maybe. I'll check the pup & pole height (and lower if available) Stein. [biggrin]

 

Aster

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Here's a link to a great little article on electric guitar tone.

 

Basically, if pots and caps are the right values to allow some treble through, and you're not using a very long guitar cable, the only other option is to do something about the pickup. It's possible that changing the magnets might help. If it wasn't potted you could unwind it a bit. A nice solution is to have a pickup made with a coil tap. One setting will be brighter with lower output and the other darker with higher output - two P90s in one.

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Here's a link to a great little article on electric guitar tone.

 

Basically, if pots and caps are the right values to allow some treble through, and you're not using a very long guitar cable, the only other option is to do something about the pickup. It's possible that changing the magnets might help. If it wasn't potted you could unwind it a bit. A nice solution is to have a pickup made with a coil tap. One setting will be brighter with lower output and the other darker with higher output - two P90s in one.

 

Great article Gruff!! Thanks bunches. Very detailed. Only, now I want one of those analyzers! [cursing] The key part of that word is "anal." :rolleyes:

 

Aster

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Stein, and others too,

 

Is there a "rule of thumb" or maybe "ear" for a starting place to proper height & pole settings for a sound/tone you're after? I did a search here but didn't really turn up anything.

 

Thanks again all. I'm itch'n to start tweek'n the Casino today. It's rainy & after my domestic chores, I have "me" time today!!

 

Aster

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Stein, and others too,

 

Is there a "rule of thumb" or maybe "ear" for a starting place to proper height & pole settings for a sound/tone you're after? I did a search here but didn't really turn up anything.

 

Thanks again all. I'm itch'n to start tweek'n the Casino today. It's rainy & after my domestic chores, I have "me" time today!!

 

Aster

That's a damned good question, and a good subject.

 

First, I feel it's worth saying, that I find that generally, MOST usually have pups adjusted too high, and I think that's a result that most who tune by ear, have a tendancy to equate more volume to better tone. When listening, the human tendancy is to hear better when an adjustment is made that gives us more volume. I do it too.

 

By ear and by hieght, higher makes for more output, and more sensitivity, and reaches a point where sensitivity and dynamics are not increased going higher. Going lower increases fidelity, clarity, and dymanics. At a point, these do not increase going lower, but decrease. Volume and output can always be adjusted at the amp.

 

Having said that, I usually end up on the low side. I personally find it makes much more sense to have the guitar sounding "better" from the start and adjusting volume at the amp is the best tone.

 

Now, for the P-90 guitars, I notice a couple things: One, it takes more travel to effect change. The other, is that a P-90 adjusted too high to where it is starting to choke dynamics is a more usable sound than other types.

 

Having said that, on the two P-90 guitars I have, they are soapbars, and the neck pups on both are adjusted flush with the body, even a little lower. Top of the pup is roughly bottom of the fretboard. The bridge pup, I have to usually go higher than tone would dictate to achieve a sort of balance with output. In short, the neck pup is dumped as far as I can to get a good clarity and dynamics, and the bridge pup is choked out a bit.

 

With dogear types, which are NOT adjustable, I might wonder how different they are from one guitar to another, and what of these differences might be overlooked. If one guitar is built with say, the pups 1/8" closer than another guitar, I would have to imagine that these two guitars would sound different plugged in- perhaps more different than say, different pups would result in.

 

Gonna add that adjusting the poles on a P-90 doesn't make near the difference as it does adjusting the pup.

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Update,

 

The pole pieces were about 3/16" out of their "seat" position. I ran them in all the way "gently" that is. That did brighten things up just a bit. I'll check on some new pots and see if I can use short shaft or if I need long shafts. Also, better remove & double check what value I have right now. Is it so that most Humbucker's use 500K & Single Coils 250K? $6/pot isn't bad for a fix and maybe getting a cap or two to "spearmint" with.

 

I'll revisit this when the parts arrive & I can fit them in. Will use the vinyl tube trick on the pots to get them back thru the PUP hole and into the guitar. I didn't take mine out, but everyone thinks they are prolly 500meg on the tone controls?

 

Thanks again & will report back.

 

Aster

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Maybe so. But, it will give me something to do instead of working on work stuff & I'll have all of $15 wrapped up in it. I did see a tone control that has a cutout like my Strat has with direct to the output jack. Do you think that would still produce about the same brightness as I have right now? My SG with the Humbucker soap bars sound brighter than my Dog Ear P-90's so something seems to be up. May just have a dead sounding bridge pup.

 

Aster

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My SG with the Humbucker soap bars sound brighter than my Dog Ear P-90's so something seems to be up.

 

Aster

 

'Soap Bars' are a type of P-90, not a HB. Which are you referring to?

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'Soap Bars' are a type of P-90, not a HB. Which are you referring to?

 

My error. Not a soap bar P-90. My 61 humbucker pickups are brighter sounding than my Casino single coil P-90 dog ears.

 

Thanks for the correction!! [biggrin] I've just found all my other single coil pups to be much brighter than the Humbuckers. So it was strange that the SG's humbuckers are just a bit brighter than my Casino's Single coil.

 

Aster

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I posted this on the Epiphone WildKat product page and it's right on the topic of what to do with muddy sounding Epi P-90 pups;

 

 

I bought a WildKat a few months ago and was very impressed by the classic/vintage looks but I was unimpressed by the underwater/muddy sound. I am a fool for a pretty face so I kept her anyway. I replaced the bridge pickup with a GFS and she brightened up nicely and has a nice snarl now, the muddy sound banished.

 

To swap pickups on the 'Kat you have to de-solder the stock p90's from the chrome covers (and then re-attach the new ones back onto the covers) with a propane torch so be warned because they are soldered together at the factory and if you don't do this and just screw everything into place the pups will sit to low under the covers, too far from the strings and won't pop through the cover holes. They will also be loose in the case and rattle.

 

Unlike what some have said, about doing a whole re-wire job, I don't think it's needed. My 'Kat sounds great now w/out all that. I also spliced the pups into the old leads (snipped off the terminals and simply soldered the wires together insulated with glue from a hot glue gun) to make it nice 'n easy. I don't like complication.

 

I did not see any problem with the Bigsby and tuning but I did buy a cheapo roller bridge to replace the old bridge. I have absolutely no tuning issues. Any one with tuning issues should re-examine how they wind new strings into the tuners because if you are not careful and do a sloppy job, you will create tuning issues. It's simply about the way the strings are coiled on the tuners. If you do it sloppy you make lumps/bumps that will just wreak havoc as you tune the guitar. It's not the Bigsby but the sloppy way the strings are wound on the tuners that is upset with a little Bigsby action.

 

Well, it sounds great to me and I ordered and installed another GFS for the Neck too and it's sounds nice 'n clear now.

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Another thing to consider, cheap nasty pots regardless of their value seem to have a duller sound... Perhaps cheap materials don't transfer the signals as efficiently as good ones, or perhaps poor build quality allows for a small amount of capacitance or something.

 

I am willing to bet that if you change out all the components and wiring for high quality ones it will bring your guitar to life. Use 500K pots and use eithe .022 or .033 caps ... Why not buy some of each and experiment to see what works best in your guitar, some folks also use .015 or .047 uf. Or mix and match.

 

Casino Elitists use US made Gibson electronics and P90 pickups - they are NOT "cheap nasty pots"

 

I just bought one a few weeks ago, and I have the bridge pup pole screws about 4 full turns up above the top plate of the pup. It does help balance the volume output with the neck pup, and gives it a bit more treble.

 

mark

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I have found that GHS Boomers are a bright toned set of strings. You might want to try those.

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I have found that GHS Boomers are a bright toned set of strings. You might want to try those.

 

Good suggestion. I like the Boomers too and have a set of .11's on the Casino right now. I just may have a tired pup. Will be calling Epiphone as soon as I'm not so hammered with work all day & half the night.

 

So Old Mark,

 

You bridge pup is pretty treble bright? Mine was on the Epi. Standard Casino that I use to have. Any Resistance test that could reveal anything?

 

Aster

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What value pots are in your guitar? If they're 250K, changing them to 500K will allow more top end to come out of your guitar. The pickups might be poopy. I swapped Epi P90's for a set of Lollar P90's and the sound of the guitar really came to life. There are usually a number of things to try!

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+1. Adjusting the pole piece heights may help too.

 

 

I read this thread with interest, I would like a little more brightness from the bridge pickup of my IBJL Casino

 

However the above advice has me stumped as the pole screws won't budge at all....are they fixed in place?

 

Having applied a reasonable amount of pressure to move them thy wont budge and am wary about exerting too much pressure

or especially have the screw drive slip.

 

Any thoughts?

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Just want more bite from the bridge pup and wish I wasn't saying that the Standard MIC maybe sounded more "Beatles like" to me than the Elitist anyway. At least MY ELITIST. Don't have a frame of reference on any other Elitists to go from.

When I purchased my Elitist Casino in '09, I was able to A-B three side by side. All were being run through the same amp. The first two seemed subdued, but the third had the touch responsiveness I've come to expect from P90s. It was a very noticeable difference.

 

Right or wrong, I assigned the wide variation that day to the pickups themselves, but at the least it was clear that out of the box, not all Elitists are created equal.

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so does adjusting the treble or presence knob on the amp [cool]

 

 

That's really NOT helpful and came up earlier in the thread.

 

 

 

So going back to my question: any idea why the pole screws are so hard to move, are they actually fixed?

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Here's a standard P90 pickup kit from (Stewmac).

 

P-90_Pickup_Kits_sm.jpg

 

EDIT: ignore what I said about pole screws screwing into the base plate. It's the bobbin mounting screws which hold it all together.

 

If the screws don't turn one way, try turning them in the other direction in case it's easier to get them moving that way then have another go at raising them.

 

You can't damage anything inside the pickup by using force - just make sure you pull the pickup out of the guitar first. The worst that can happen is that you'd mangle the slot in the head of the screw.

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Thank you so much for a sensible answer McGruff. That diagram is interesting too, much appreciated.

 

Never thought of adjusting the pole piece screws in an opposite direction. Will give that a go....cheers

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Remember what Stein wrote way back a ways. Down increases brightness-sparkle (decreases volume), up decreases brightness, increases volume. Unfortunately for me mine were down less 1 turn. It did help but ever so little.

 

Borboz, I can believe that on the pups difference. I can see things being so varied on an acoustic guitar, but when it comes to a PUP that should'a/could'a been tested before it ever got put into a git IMHO.

 

Semi, I just picked up some vinyl tubing to install on the knurled end of the pot so's I can pull to the Pup cutout with the wire & then bring it back with the tubing. I don't know for sure yet what the value is. It's been so busy with work & projects there that I've not got that torn up to inspect yet. Gotta squeeze that into the schedule. I've been spending my "free time" doing dumb stuff like sleeping & eating 3x per day. [biggrin] Not complaining on the work load as it's been WAY to slow the last several years with the technology projects and I adopted the moto "strike while the iron is hot" about 4 years.

 

McGruff, Thanks for the Stu-Mac photo. If the pot isn't the prob. I may try unwinding as suggested or just putting in a new bridge pup if necessary.

 

Thanks for any and all info. I think these Pups, pots, & settings are an enigma for many of us and some good study with info is excellent. [thumbup]

 

Aster

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Okay,

 

Just checked the tone & vol pots and they are 500K and don't look like any CTS pots to me. I'm presuming I will need to go to a 1 meg pot to get more treble pass thru. These look more like the cheaper Alpha style Pots. Trouble is, Stew Mac doesn't carry any 1 Meg CTS pots. They are only in the Alpha. Any other good places to get an Audio taper pot in a CTS 1 meg?

 

Thanks

 

Aster

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Thanks Gambler!!

 

I had totally forgotten about ALLPARTS!!

 

I'll get a couple ordered up and see how they help out.

 

Aster

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