Electromatics

A Change For The Better

1

I finally got around to it. I swapped out the old G-buckers for a pair of TV Jones Classics. And I have to say, I'm impressed. I didn't think I would be, but I am.

Especially noticeable is the improved sound of the bass strings, and the overall tone of the guitar when the pickup selector is in the up position. It's almost that Duane Eddy twang.

In the middle position, the guitar just seems to come alive, especially when I plug into my MusicMan amp. I'm simply thrilled.

2

I'm shocked. SHOCKED, I tell you!

Who knew!?

3

Is this in a 5120? It will sound even better (more usable tone control) if you swap out the tone cap from that .047 value to a .022 or .012 value. Changes the tone sweep for the better. Even better, install a no-load pot with the new cap while you're at it, and see what Filtertrons can really do with no induced tone capacitance load on them.

I never did understand why Gretsch insisted on using .047 tone caps with Gretschbuckers. No wonder they earned the nicknames "mudbucker" and "dumbucker".

4

That's great, Jim! I figured you would be happy with the swap. I really like the Classic and Classic Plus I put in my 5120. Completely changed the guitar. Enjoy!

5

Good decision. It’s hard to go wrong with TVJ Classics.

6

Good decision. It’s hard to go wrong with TVJ Classics.

– Baba Joe

I replaced the Blacktops on a 5422 and only regret that I didn't do it sooner. Classic neck/Classic Plus bridge. Can't get a bad sound out of it.

7

These conversations always intrigue me. I'm NOT a gear head and don't know anything about pots or pickup configurations, etc. I see EVH super modifying his guitar or Gilmour playing whatever he has in his hands...and they always sound great and like themselves.

Are these swaps really for gearheads that like tricking out their guitars because they like to do it, and how much different does it make YOU sound at the end of the day? This is a serious question, not knocking anyone who swaps. I have a friend that picked up guitar 2 years ago. Today he's rebuilt several; swapping out pretty much anything you can swap out...but can barely make it through a single song. Spends more time swapping than practicing.

8

Great news Jim. I'm sure the improved tones will be inspirational. Drop us a tune when you can. Gary

9

These conversations always intrigue me. I'm NOT a gear head and don't know anything about pots or pickup configurations, etc. I see EVH super modifying his guitar or Gilmour playing whatever he has in his hands...and they always sound great and like themselves.

Are these swaps really for gearheads that like tricking out their guitars because they like to do it, and how much different does it make YOU sound at the end of the day? This is a serious question, not knocking anyone who swaps. I have a friend that picked up guitar 2 years ago. Today he's rebuilt several; swapping out pretty much anything you can swap out...but can barely make it through a single song. Spends more time swapping than practicing.

– shane kislack

I'm not exactly what you'd call a "gearhead" either. I swapped out the old G-buckers because I thought one day after adjusting the little screws on top of the units that they'd fall out on stage when I least expected it. There weren't any threads holding them in place. Honestly, I don't know what held them there. That's when I decided the old pickups had to go. The G-buckers I had on my 5120 just looked sort of cheesy because of that.

Budget guitars really do invite hotrodding among a certain segment of the guitar playing fraternity. I have a hunch that if your guitar modifying friend were into cars, he'd be doing the same thing.

I do detect an improved sound. And I'm the guy who wrote a post about being underwhelmed by the new blacktop filtertrons on the 5422 when it came out. You'd have thought I had insulted the Prophet in the presence of a Mullah.

Two other changes I've made to the guitar are the old Tune-O-Matic bridge for a Tru Arc aluminum bridge, and a bone nut to replace the synthetic one. Both of these changes were practical in nature. The old TOM bridge dug into the heel of my hand when I palm muted the strings, and the original nut created the usual tuning issues.

Some modifications are purely aesthetic, some are more practical. In the end, it's all about making guitar playing more fun and enjoyable. I still sound like me, another Chet Atkins imitator. And no modifications will change that. I do like the different sound of the guitar much better.

10

One size guitar doesn't fit everyone. It's possible to adjust them here and there to improve the fit for you. Make your guitar really yours. I think the closer a guitar is to meeting your needs the better you will play and sound. Sound is subjective, but you know what you like and are after.

Practice, practice, practice and practice again - that's how the professionals got to be that way.

11

The two properties - propensity to mod and achieved skill as a guitarist - are separate and unrelated. You can find the two together at either end of either continuum, and you can find any combination along both. All you can say toward characterizing any intersection of traits is "sometimes."

I think it pretty universal, however, that good and bad players have specific ideas as to what they think constitutes an ideal guitar (of any sort) for themselves. In all cases that idea is based on their individual playing experience - though less experienced players probably give relatively more weight to prejudices and hero influences they absorbed before starting to play. (Great experienced players are not immune to this, but they're likely - not assured - to have done more experimentation along the way.)

There can be significant differences among both good and bad players, though, both in how well they articulate what they would like and what they want, and in their willingness/ability to do the work themselves. Not every great player is his own tech; some are. Not every bad player is his own tech; some are.

Some guys are techs and tweakers, but not good players. That's their way of being involved with guitars, and making their involvement meaningful and fulfilling (to themselves, and often to others). I've come to understand that's every bit as valid - even creative - a way to love guitars as to be a great player.

Some guys - both tech/tweakers and players, whether good or bad - are more into the history, and into collecting. There are great players with virtually no collection, and great players with lots of guitars and gear. Some bad players have one of those habits, some have the other. All are putting their money, their interest, and their time into doing something rewarding to them, something they love. No judgment from me.

Virtually all of us occupy distinct points along several continuums of guitarism:

  • we're somewhere between bad and great players; within that grouping, we may be
    • less "musical" or more so;
    • less technically accomplished, or more so.

  • Independent of our "scores" in the above, we may be more or less analytical about our guitars, our gear, and the contributions of equipment to "tone."

  • In pursuing tone, some tweak and tech a little, some tweak&tech a lot.

  • As collectors, we fall between the one-guitar essentialist and the maniacal hoarder.

Scores along any of these continuums don't coordinate directly with scores on the others.

I don't think any of us are involved with guitars because we have to be, or because someone made us. Being a guitar hound is an elective in life, presumably rewarding and spiritually / psychologically enriching, or we wouldn't do it. In that sense, whatever our aggregate profile of guitar interest, I figger it's all good.

12

Tim, it would be great if you could illustrate that with a Venn diagram.

13

Five overlapping circles? I'll see if it's in Excel.

I was thinking more of scales from 1-10 (1-100?) on bar graphs, either vertical thermometers or horizontal sliders.

But I got stuck trying to objectively evaluate my skill level, musicality, and technical facility. I think I could place myself fairly on the other three scales.

14

These conversations always intrigue me. I'm NOT a gear head and don't know anything about pots or pickup configurations, etc. I see EVH super modifying his guitar or Gilmour playing whatever he has in his hands...and they always sound great and like themselves.

Are these swaps really for gearheads that like tricking out their guitars because they like to do it, and how much different does it make YOU sound at the end of the day? This is a serious question, not knocking anyone who swaps. I have a friend that picked up guitar 2 years ago. Today he's rebuilt several; swapping out pretty much anything you can swap out...but can barely make it through a single song. Spends more time swapping than practicing.

– shane kislack

Whenever I make a change on a guitar it is to bring out something in the guitar I can hear is in there but is not coming out. My most recent mod is installing a Gibson 498T bridge humbucker in this Fender Blacktop Jazzmaster partscaster I made years ago. It is my only guitar with a "regular" humbucker in it. My only other humbucker is a TV Jones Power'Tron in my Strat bridge. I always loved playing this Jazzmaster and I loved many of the tones I could get from it. The thing that made me want to change the bridge humbucker was that I noticed I was getting more high end from the neck pickup which is just plain weird. The bridge pickup had a great mid focused and fat tone but did not produce much clarity on the top end attack, even when adjusting the pickup height and pole screws. I wend down the bridge humbucker YouTube rabbit hole and watched a ton of video shootouts and demos before surprisingly settling on the Gibson 498T. I wasn't expecting that at all. I really thought I would end up with a Seymour Duncan JB or a DiMarzio AT-1. Anyway, now that I installed this Gibson pickup in a Fender Jazzmaster I can't put this guitar down for very long. The 498T is very balanced with a crisp high end attack without being piercing, a full midrange and a tight bottom end. It cleans up really well too and overall has a fat humbucker style Telecaster bridge pickup sound. For a hotter pickup it is extremely versatile. I honestly didn't know if I would ever like any traditional humbucker until I got this one. Now this is the guitar I wish existed when I was younger. I knew this Jazzmaster had this inherent tone in it because I can hear it acoustically and also by what was coming through the neck Jazzmaster pickup. Now it has a bridge pickup that reproduces all of the pleasing frequencies this guitar is capable of producing. Was it necessary? Probably not. The guitar was fine as it was. Was it an improvement? For me, most definitely "YEAH!". Not only am I more inspired to play this guitar but I'm also playing it more which means I'm hopefully getting better too.

15

The two properties - propensity to mod and achieved skill as a guitarist - are separate and unrelated. You can find the two together at either end of either continuum, and you can find any combination along both. All you can say toward characterizing any intersection of traits is "sometimes."

I think it pretty universal, however, that good and bad players have specific ideas as to what they think constitutes an ideal guitar (of any sort) for themselves. In all cases that idea is based on their individual playing experience - though less experienced players probably give relatively more weight to prejudices and hero influences they absorbed before starting to play. (Great experienced players are not immune to this, but they're likely - not assured - to have done more experimentation along the way.)

There can be significant differences among both good and bad players, though, both in how well they articulate what they would like and what they want, and in their willingness/ability to do the work themselves. Not every great player is his own tech; some are. Not every bad player is his own tech; some are.

Some guys are techs and tweakers, but not good players. That's their way of being involved with guitars, and making their involvement meaningful and fulfilling (to themselves, and often to others). I've come to understand that's every bit as valid - even creative - a way to love guitars as to be a great player.

Some guys - both tech/tweakers and players, whether good or bad - are more into the history, and into collecting. There are great players with virtually no collection, and great players with lots of guitars and gear. Some bad players have one of those habits, some have the other. All are putting their money, their interest, and their time into doing something rewarding to them, something they love. No judgment from me.

Virtually all of us occupy distinct points along several continuums of guitarism:

  • we're somewhere between bad and great players; within that grouping, we may be
    • less "musical" or more so;
    • less technically accomplished, or more so.

  • Independent of our "scores" in the above, we may be more or less analytical about our guitars, our gear, and the contributions of equipment to "tone."

  • In pursuing tone, some tweak and tech a little, some tweak&tech a lot.

  • As collectors, we fall between the one-guitar essentialist and the maniacal hoarder.

Scores along any of these continuums don't coordinate directly with scores on the others.

I don't think any of us are involved with guitars because we have to be, or because someone made us. Being a guitar hound is an elective in life, presumably rewarding and spiritually / psychologically enriching, or we wouldn't do it. In that sense, whatever our aggregate profile of guitar interest, I figger it's all good.

– Proteus

Tim, every time I think I’ve sussed the degree of your eloquential excellence, you once again remind me of my folly in even attempting to do so.

16

Are pickups worth it????

I have guitars that are bone stock that sound great and I wouldn't ever change a thing, but sometimes I'll buy a guitar that I know I will hate something about, but I love eveything else about, and I will fix that issue immediately. I have 5 different Zemaitis 2 humbucking guitars and I have done slightly different things to all of them. And yes pickups make a WORLD of difference.

Because of me hanging out here I developed a fondness for DeArmond style pickups so much that I slapped a set of MR2000SB DeArmond style pickups in one of my Zemaitis guitars, and it is by far my favorite Z of the bunch now. The new Zemaitis Company doesn't really cater to the lower gain crowd so I made one just for me! And because of it's construction with it's aluminum hardware it has a uniqueness about it.

https://i.imgur.com/nYsGUt7...

I also took a hacksaw to my Epiphone Olympic reissue and jammed a set of Gretsch Dynasonics with the necessary electronics, and turned that cheap little archtop into a fire breather. It's just a fun guitar to play.

That is just 2 of my success stories of many!

17

i'm not really that much of a guitar editor--i learned to do my own setups, but am not terribly skilled at other aspects--but occasionally mods will totally change the guitar's personality. most of my guitars are dead stock or stock with minor mods like the domed thumb wheels on the Epiphone SG or changing the rhythm circuit tone cap on the Jazzmaster, but Fender CS 54 pickups made my Parts-o-caster ten times better and Dynas in my 00s Pro Jet and the TV Classics in the doublecut Pro Jet that's in progress turned them from nice pieces of wood into screaming demons. if i know it's going to be a big win i'll do the harder work, but only if i'm really not satisfied with aspects of the guitar as-is or it really affects the playability; i only change pickups if the old ones just aren't any good at all. otherwise i'll adjust them to get the best sound possible and accept them as part of the guitar's overall gestalt. and of course if a guitar doesn't work for me at all i unload it like the Wildkat and the Rick 360. but i like to let guitars be who they are to the extent possible. my Epi acoustic had butterbean Grovers from 1980 to when i put on a new set last year. the old ones were pretty well shot, but still worked well enough to be marginally acceptable. that's how little i enjoy working on guitars. when you're self-trained, the specter of smurfing (yes, i actually typed "smurfing") something important up is always hovering in the corner.

18

Are pickups worth it????

I have guitars that are bone stock that sound great and I wouldn't ever change a thing, but sometimes I'll buy a guitar that I know I will hate something about, but I love eveything else about, and I will fix that issue immediately. I have 5 different Zemaitis 2 humbucking guitars and I have done slightly different things to all of them. And yes pickups make a WORLD of difference.

Because of me hanging out here I developed a fondness for DeArmond style pickups so much that I slapped a set of MR2000SB DeArmond style pickups in one of my Zemaitis guitars, and it is by far my favorite Z of the bunch now. The new Zemaitis Company doesn't really cater to the lower gain crowd so I made one just for me! And because of it's construction with it's aluminum hardware it has a uniqueness about it.

https://i.imgur.com/nYsGUt7...

I also took a hacksaw to my Epiphone Olympic reissue and jammed a set of Gretsch Dynasonics with the necessary electronics, and turned that cheap little archtop into a fire breather. It's just a fun guitar to play.

That is just 2 of my success stories of many!

– Daniel Weldon

i believe the pickups are worth it. i recently upgraded my dreaded guild lb1 pickups to a set of tv classics. and i would 100% recomend them

19

congrats on the upgrde. i wish i would have done it sooner. i might upgrade the wire harness on the guild in the future


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