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Vintage threads from the first ten years

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8/26/1998 7:22 PM
Steve A.
    Thanks for your detailed descriptions of the Antiquity and Seth Lover pickups. I'll definitely look into them as an alternate to the presumably overpriced boutique humbuckers from Lindy Fralin, Van Zandt and Rio Grande.  
    Although the JB pickup was originally designed for Jeff Beck in the late 60's or early 70's, it has been used by quite a few guitarists (probably even some whose work you respect). It was a bit hotter than the standard PAF knock-offs, but not like one of the super-distortion humbuckers which would strangle the high frequency response. It would get a pretty good sound plugged into practically any amp; plug in a Tube Screamer and you're in hog heaven.  
    As for "wimpy" pickups, I have quite a collection of stock pickups from Fender and Gibson guitars between 1964 and 1974 that sounded "wimpy" plugged in direct to a typical stock amp of the 70's (not the Marshall stacks or Boogie amps, but just the typical amp you'd find in a typical music store in the 70's.) The "wimpiness" could have been due more to the amps not being set up properly (good tubes, proper bias, optional tweaks as needed) than any inherent quality in the pickups themselves.  
    I guess I was too harsh on the 59's- I used them for 5 or 6 years after using the DiM PAF's for a few years, and I was very happy with them. But when I got my second LP I put in the JB for the bridge and the Jazz for the neck and liked them even better than the 59's. But now that I have a few amps that sound great with my strats, I'm looking for a lower output humbucker that has more definition when clean (but still sounds great when cranked). I'll have to check out the Seth Lovers...  
My Fender Pro Reverb leads the pack in terms of mondo-distortion!  
    Is your amp strictly stock or have you upgraded the OT? While the design is almost identical to the SR, with the stock OT most people think that they sound too clean unless you do crank them all of the way up.  
Steve Ahola
8/27/1998 3:56 AM

Pro Reverb:  
The Transformers are stock, but I've done extensive mods:  
1) disconnect feedback loop  
2) disconnect Vibrato  
3) separate the channel 1 and channel 2  
preamp cathodes  
4) Increased the Coupling caps to a MUCH  
greater value.  
5) The speakers were already replaced before  
I got the amp -- EVs.  
These mods, especially #1 and #4 have put this amp into a totally different category. This amp, when clean, gets more chimey, smooth, and transparent than any amp I've heard INCLUDING all "Boutique" amps. The problems is, At volumnes past 8 and bass past 6 I get "Motorboating".  
I love the sensitivity and sound of the amp, so I'm not going to "fix" it. I just keep the MAX volume at 7 and the MAX bass at 5.  
Sounds like a Plexi, but on Steriods!  
Another problem is that with all this gain, the amp is VERY noisey at higher volumes. In a band situation, this is really not a problem.  
PS - Warning, the Seth Lover and Antiquity HBs cost almost as much as those other "boutique" pickup makers. Seems to me you'll have to get them all and do a final comparison!!!
8/27/1998 12:05 PM
JB pickup
I've read the story of the JB pickup told by Seymour Duncan. He said that by the time of "Blow by Blow", JB's favourite guitar (the black LP with the wraparound bridge) went for a shop to do some minor repairs (JB was on tour and he didn't know the shop). When he got the guitar back the other day, the pickup had covers and the guitar sound was awful. The covers were removed and it was found that the pickup was a different one. The original pickup was never found, and JB started to use stratos since them.  
Seymour Duncan decided to design a pickup that could replace the "magic" one. He put it on an old tele and gave it to JB. He liked it so much thet he used it in "Cause we've ended as lovers".  
PS: Steve, I've been considering this same combination (JB on the bridge and jazz on the neck). Can you mail me some more information on how it sounds and how they blend together?
8/27/1998 8:49 PM
Steve A.

    So was the first JB pickup a full-sized humbucker or a Tele pickup? (Or a full-sized hb mounted in the neck position like a Tele Custom?)  
:Black LP with the wraparound bridge  
    That would be the single piece bridge/tailpiece like on my old Melody Maker? When did Gibson start putting the tunamatic bridges on the LP's? Would that establish a date for the guitar?  
    So that's probably the guitar he used for his first solo albums? Killer sound and probably 100% stock... I guess he mainly used Teles with the Yardbirds.  
:SD JB bridge/Jazz neck combination  
    I guess S. Duncan must be overstocked on these because all of his catalogs mention that it is his personal all-time favorite combination. [ g ]  
    I just plugged in my LP 25/50 with these pickups to test out my latest amp mods and it sounds better than ever. The lower gain of the Jazz neck works well in that position and the JB bridge pu is voiced perfectly... not too much midrange (like the Pearly Gates) not too much treble (like the '59) and not the terrible distorted sounds of the high-output monsters. For clean sounds I really like the blend positions (especially with a mid-cut pot turned back a bit). I'd pit my LP 25/50 with these pickups against a PRS McCarty any day of the week.  
Steve Ahola  
P.S. The guitar tech who did that to JB's guitar should be... well, I don't like to advocate violence but I think that they should lock him in a room and force him to read a.g.a threads 24 hours a day.
8/28/1998 12:45 PM

This tale about the JB pickup appeared in the brazilian edition of Guitar Player. It surely is a translation of something that has appeared first in the US magazine. I will look at the article for more details.  
If you search for Jeff Beck fan pages in Altavista, you will find the home page of the store that sold that black LP to him, and some interesting details. They say that this one piece bridge tailpiece gives the guitar a richer tone with more sustain.  
As for the pickup combinations, this is what I look for:  
1) bridge - a fair amount of midrange, able to feedback notes (EC bluesbrakers, JB group, early VH). When split should give a decent single coil sound.  
2) neck - deep and clean sound, without being muddy (Wes?). With the treble rolled off, should be able to get the "womam" tone.  
3) bridge+neck - should blend for a deep sound with a touch of brightness (like for solo fingerpicking).  
8/28/1998 12:52 PM

Here's the story of the guitar:  
8/28/1998 7:05 PM
Steve A.

:wraparound bridge  
    On my MM there was a bit of a problem getting the guitar in tune because they were made for wound 3rd strings. I put on a Leo Quan(?) aftermarket one-piece bridge that was tunable, but I don't think it had the sustain of the original. Other guitarists loved that Melody Maker because the neck was a bit loose and you could rock it back and forth for a really nice subtle vibrato. I should have left well enough alone but I had it routed out for dual humbuckers- a poor man's LP- which totally ruined its musical and resale value (it came with one small single-coil pickup). I kept looking but I've never found another MM that was like my first *real* guitar. (BB King had Lucille, Albert King had Lucy, so I called my Melody Maker... Lucifer!)  
    Well, what you spelled out is exactly how I feel about the JB/Jazz combination... but pickups are a matter of taste. I do think that everybody should have at least one LP with that pickup combination, since it has a very nice classic sound. (I've always thought that the JB splits up fairly nicely, too.)  
    In Brazil does SD have the same exchange policy that they have in the states?  
Steve Ahola

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