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Best pickup replacement for jazz guitars
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sunriver



Joined: 24 May 2007
Posts: 35
Location: Sunriver, OR.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 6:03 am    Post subject: Best pickup replacement for jazz guitars Reply with quote

Hi everyone,

I am contemplating replacing the pickups in some of my guitars that I mainly am learning to play jazz music. Here is the lineup, and the type of tone I am looking for:

Epiphone Emperor Regent which has a floating OBL mini humbucker, which I am thinking of changing to a Kent Armstrong mini humbucker. I am using TI flatwound 13's. The existing tone sounds to me to be "muddy" in the bottom and too bright in the upper register.

Epiphone Emperor II Joe Pass which has two full size humbuckers, which I am thinking of changing to GFS Classic 59's. I have D'Addario flatwound 12's.

I am using a Fender Blues Jr. for my amplifier. The tone I am most enamored of is Kenny Burrell's tone. I realize that he played a completely different guitar, but I would like to try to get as close to his tone with the guitars that I have. I have tried to tweak the settings on the amp but have not been able to dial in that tone that I am looking for.

My playing abilities are pretty meager at this point, so I don't want to invest in higher quality guitars at this time. The guitars that I do have sound OK but I am looking a better tone without "breaking the bank", so to speak.

I would probably start with the Joe Pass and see if the changes could give me the tone that I want. I would then try the changes to the Regent next.

I guess my question is, can I get a pretty good tone out of the proposed swaps of pickups, or are there other choices that would be better to achieve the tone I am describing (i.e. different amp)?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Rich
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ingeneri



Joined: 03 Nov 2005
Posts: 441

PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is my response on the last Epi Emperor thread. I use floating Ken Armstrong humbuckers on my Emperor and my D'angelico NYL2. You can get these at either http://www.wdmusic.com or http://www.archtop.com


"Definitely would go with the Epi. Sorry to the Ibanez owners, but I find those Artcores to be plain ugly. Second the Emperor has a great acoustic quality despite being a laminate, and you can't upgrade that. The pickups suck, so be prepared to get something for about $100. I also got the Kent Armstrong, and it makes this guitar sound twice as good.

My myspace page has four tracks with the Emperor through a Fender Deluxe reverb. http://www.myspace.com/ingeneri

That said, I'd recommend checking out the D'angelico Excels. They go for $800, already have the Kent Armstrong, grover tuners, and a nice heavy brass tailpiece that really deepens the tone. Check them out at http://www.jhalemusic.com"
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gibson175



Joined: 22 Sep 2007
Posts: 184
Location: Blue Mountains Australia

PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2007 11:53 pm    Post subject: pass Reply with quote

Hey man! I put some GFS '59's in my joe pass. BIG improvement. Also, while you are at it, from the same site, a floating tuneomatic style bridge gave me a marked improvement in acoustic tone -which will translate through you amplified tone of course. Actually, replaced everything (put in the big fat cast tailpiece - no rattles! ) replaced all the pots and caps (sprague) - totally worth doing. The epi electronics are nasty. The only thing that I did not replace was the 3 way switch - and I have been kicking myself ever since as it crapped out!
I have put these pickups also in a guild solidbody, an strat (!) . I have also used symour duncan jazz pups and gibsons. I like the GFS's best. You can still hear the string and wood, but the pups are plenty fat and warm.
Actually, if it wasn't such a pain working on archtops, I would probably put a set in my gibson instead of the SD.
I know i sound like I am going on about GFS, but i have a set of alnico 2's in my strat after trying laces, fender texas specials and sd stacks. The gfs alnico 2's are a lovely set - my favorite.
I have put 60's repros in a friend's strat - which sounds great.
I put a set of GFS p90's in my 60's epiphone - replaced hand made vintage vibe p90s.

All with great results.

Btw - i don't work for them! (but i probably help keep them is business tho!)
cheers!
Cam
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sunriver



Joined: 24 May 2007
Posts: 35
Location: Sunriver, OR.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 5:18 am    Post subject: Best pickup replacement for jazz guitars Reply with quote

Thanks to you all for your replies. I ordered some GFS Vintage 59's for the neck but they were backordered on the bridge pickups. I don't think I really need to replace the bridge pups because I never use (so far) the bridge pup in either my Joe Pass or Sheraton II.

If I only replace the neck pup in both guitars, will it matter that the pups are mismatched with the original Epi's still in the bridge position? I guess if I have the volume knob turned off there shouldn't be any problem.

I am going to order a Kent Armstrong floating pup for my Emperor Regent, but I will wait until I have the pups installed in the other guitars before I make that change.

I am hoping that Xmas will bring an opportunity to buy a fairly good jazz amp. I could probably go with either a new Polytone or Henriksen amp. I have never tried either one in person, because the nearest dealer in Henriksens is about 400 miles away, and I don't know of anyplace that carries Polytones. I could probably go with the roulette of Ebay for a Polytone but I just don't know about buying a used amp that I haven't tried.

I am really looking forward to changing out the Epi pups for the GFS pups. Everybody seems to think pretty highly of them when all is said and done.

Thanks again for the replies.

Rich
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cadence



Joined: 29 Jun 2007
Posts: 285
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like Benedetto pickups but I've not heard any new ones, mine is around 10 years old. I've heard great things about Kent Armstrong pickups but can speak about them first hand. Except for the one that was stock on the Eastmans I tried but I don't think they are the same as the ones you would order.
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gibson175



Joined: 22 Sep 2007
Posts: 184
Location: Blue Mountains Australia

PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 9:10 am    Post subject: pups Reply with quote

no matter that the pups are mismatched - especially if you never use the bridge. You will only notice how comparatively thin and weak and muddy sounding the bridge pickup is in the epi after the new neck pup goes in. The neck pup will work as it should.
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dave251



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 60
Location: Kansas

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 9:28 am    Post subject: Re: Best pickup replacement for jazz guitars Reply with quote

sunriver wrote:
I ordered some GFS Vintage 59's for the neck but they were backordered on the bridge pickups. I don't think I really need to replace the bridge pups because I never use (so far) the bridge pup in either my Joe Pass or Sheraton II.


The only real issue when using pickups from different makes in the same guitar is the phase respons/polarity. If these are opposite, you will end up with a thin, reedy tone when using both pickups at the same time. Even if you never play in the "middle" position, I certainly wouldn't want that in my guitars.

This can be easy to fix if one of the pups has either an isolated ground drain(three wire) or a seperate set of leads for each coil in the pup(five wire). However, if a "59" style pickup just has the traditional coax lead wire, you would have to open the pickup, then reverse the magnet to get them to match.

Something to consider.
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sunriver



Joined: 24 May 2007
Posts: 35
Location: Sunriver, OR.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 7:03 pm    Post subject: Best pickup replacement for jazz guitars Reply with quote

Hi Dave, thanks for the reply. You are talking way over my head when you speak of polarity/phase response, etc. What I will probably do is wait for the back ordered GFS pups that go in the bridge position, which I assume would solve the polarity/phase response question that you mentioned. I will also bite the bullet and replace the pots and switches at the same time.

In the meantime since this post was first started, I had the opportunity to purchase a Henriksen Jazzamp 10 on Ebay. It is a demo model that is supposed to be "mint", but we will see. I have heard nothing but good things about the tone possibilities of this amp. I should arrive after Thanksgiving and I am looking forward to trying it out.

I have also been following your thread about the Epiphone Zephyr Regent modifications that you are trying out. I have also thought of buying a ZR or a Epi ES-175 clone and doing a complete moddification (new pups, tuners, electronics, tailpiece) and making it as close to a real ES-175 without spending $3,000+ on an original. It sounds like it would be an interesting project. By the way, the sound clip on your ZR was fantastic! It goes to show what someone with a whole lot of talent on a plain guitar sounds so much better than a hack like me on a real expensive guitar, LOL.

Again thanks for the post and I will keep your suggestions in mind in deciding what I want to do.

Rich
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dave251



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 60
Location: Kansas

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I looked at the guitar fetish site...it seems as if the "59" is shipped with a "four wire" lead...that will also have a ground drain attached, so you should be good to go with just the single pup change. THere are a ton of sites that will walk you through the process of rewiring.....
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gibson175



Joined: 22 Sep 2007
Posts: 184
Location: Blue Mountains Australia

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 2:17 am    Post subject: Re: Best pickup replacement for jazz guitars Reply with quote

[
"I have also thought of buying a ZR or a Epi ES-175 clone and doing a complete moddification (new pups, tuners, electronics, tailpiece) and making it as close to a real ES-175 without spending $3,000+ on an original. ]

The epi 175 is a pretty pale imitation of the gibson. Play one and play a 175 and you will know what i mean. I am talking about the woods and the build - the basic tone and feel if you will. New pups will only allow you to amplify what is already there. Of course it will sound better than stock, but if you want to make a hot rodded gigworthy cheap axe, I would recommend an older Korean made Joe Pass. Do the changes and off you go. The current crop of chinese made epis are all about looks and not much else.
Apart from an old joe pass, the current ibanez AF105 is a pretty solid guitar - probably would benefit from the treatment you mentioned too.
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Gorecki
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Joined: 06 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dave251 point is very valid in this case because all of GFS pickups are reverse wound, so if wired with most any other pickup will endup being out of phase. GFS provides wiring diagrams to deal with this in many cases. BUT if a person doesn't pay attention to this, they could very well end up with a Archtop that sounds like a tele, no matter how hard ya tweak it! Laughing

Peace!
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wildschwein



Joined: 30 Nov 2007
Posts: 70
Location: Mundaring Western Australia

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

GFS makes some great PUs. Most of them have heavy braided wires which is always nice. They have a huge range and are cheap too when compared with other aftermarket sellers.
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cmr415



Joined: 11 Sep 2005
Posts: 66
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 12:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Armstrong pick ups from Archtop.com are not the same as the ones from wd.com The Archtop.com Armstrongs are the hand made ones made by Kent himself, the others are the Korean imports. Benedetto gets his outsourced as well. Not sure who does it now, but Seymor Duncan and Kent Armstrong are/used to be involved. I have a hand made Kent Armstrong PAF and it is a very smooth sounding pick up. I highly recommend it
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MangoTango



Joined: 08 Sep 2008
Posts: 307
Location: UK

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Morning everybody (well, it is here anyway!) and welcome to my first post - here's to many more Smile ).

I own a Korean built Joe Pass - had it about 10 years or so -and although it's a pleasure to play, like many others here I too found the sound somewhat.....lacking in depth and character. I knew a friend who was upgrading his Les Paul Studio, so I took the pickups off his hands for 40 (about $75 at the time) and had the guitar rewired and set up when the pickups were installed. Put on a set of flatwound 12's and lo and behold, what a difference!

However, I'm wondering if there's anything else I can do to it at the moment - for example, I was thinking of replacing the tailpiece as it just looks cheap to my eye. Any thoughts?

Or maybe it's just time to upgrade..... Wink
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cmr415



Joined: 11 Sep 2005
Posts: 66
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ingeneri wrote:
Here is my response on the last Epi Emperor thread. I use floating Ken Armstrong humbuckers on my Emperor and my D'angelico NYL2. You can get these at either http://www.wdmusic.com or http://www.archtop.com


"Definitely would go with the Epi. Sorry to the Ibanez owners, but I find those Artcores to be plain ugly. Second the Emperor has a great acoustic quality despite being a laminate, and you can't upgrade that. The pickups suck, so be prepared to get something for about $100. I also got the Kent Armstrong, and it makes this guitar sound twice as good.

My myspace page has four tracks with the Emperor through a Fender Deluxe reverb. http://www.myspace.com/ingeneri

That said, I'd recommend checking out the D'angelico Excels. They go for $800, already have the Kent Armstrong, grover tuners, and a nice heavy brass tailpiece that really deepens the tone. Check them out at http://www.jhalemusic.com"
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The Armstrong pickups at WD Music are licensed from Kent but made in Korea. The ones at Archtop.com are hand made by Kent. Big difference in price and a huge difference in tone
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