Adding Clarity / Punch to My ES335

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by CrazyFingers, Jan 11, 2008.


  1. CrazyFingers

    CrazyFingers Member

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    I have a stock 2006 ES335. I love the way the instrument plays but would like the instrument to have SLIGHTLY more clarity and punch without sacrificing that classic 335 tone. I believe it has 57 Classics. I have tried adjusting the PUP height but that hasn't changed things much (and that's the limit of my guitar-servicing ability).

    Can anybody make a recommendation? I have considered a PUP change and have my eyes on the Lollar low-wind imperials, but I'm not sure it is worth the price ($300 + installation). I have been told by some that the RS wiring kit will add clarity but other's have said it won't make that much of a difference. If I changed the PUPs I would also get the kit installed, but at that point things start to get expensive.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Seegs

    Seegs Member

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    I just bought an 87 that had a muddy neck pup especially on the wound strings...I decided to go the whole 9 yards...

    this is what I did...

    I found a set of the Wolfetone Dr. Vintage pups in the emporium otherwise I was gonna go with the Lollar Low Winds...the WT's are amazing but I bet the Lollars are as well...

    I installed a Dr. Vintage Early spec. control kits wired in a 50's config. for more articulation...my pots measured 88kohm for tone and 297K ohms for volumn...the DV es control kit measured in the 550k ohm range...it sounds way more articulate and not too harsh or bright...

    I installed a Faber ABR1 bridge which fit on my Nashville posts without alteration...also a Faber lightweight alumnum tailpiece with the locking studs and spacers...

    I did this all at once cause changing stuff out on a 335 is a royal PITA which took me all day to do...

    the results are nothing short of stellar and my 335 has become my new #1...it's the only guitar I pick up these days...I'm sure that will change but for now I'm loving it...

    tight and punchier? definitely!!!

    Chow,
    Seegs
     
  3. CrazyFingers

    CrazyFingers Member

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    Thanks--I appreciate the advice!
     
  4. skylabfilmpop

    skylabfilmpop Member

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    Swap the bridge ans tailpiece first. an RS tailpiece is only about $50 and if your guitar is a Nashville equipped instrument, a swap to an abr-1 style, but from shooting out all the players out there except the pigtail, the stock Gibson abr sounds the best. The Faber btw is just the same MIJ abr-1 style bridge that stew mac sells for $15 but with improved saddle material. Get some stew mac brass saddles and you are in better shape as most luthiers dislike both the prenotched saddle and the flattened saddle top. Or just get a Gibson abr-1 used and slightly ream out the post holes to fit the nashville post. If that doesnt quite do it for you, swapping the bridge pickup magnet to an alnico 4 will revoice the pickup with a little more high mids. I like 57 classics a lot in a les paul but think they are too flat in the upper midrange for an es. The magnet swap will fix this. While you have the pickup cover off listen to the guitar. if you like the sound with the pickup cover off, a set of RS solid nickle silver covers will be more transparent than the stock gibson ones and get you some more high end. And if you haven't already, try raising your polepieces a little bit. If you must go for new pickups the regular lollar imperials at 8k5 and 7k5 are perfect for an es, as are Peter Florance Voodoo 60's. Once you do surgery you may as well replace the pots and move the tone cap to the output of the volume pots to gain a bit more high end. If you are in the los angeles area, Tina at "the amp shop" replaced my pickup and pots for $75 a few years ago.
     
  5. fjs1962

    fjs1962 Silver Supporting Member

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    I replaced the 57 Classics in my 335 with Duncan Antiquities and it sounds clearer and more balanced now. With the 57 Classics the neck pickup was pretty muddy and the bridge pickup was weaker and almost harsh. The Antiquities fixed all that.
     
  6. Seegs

    Seegs Member

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    what ever you decide to do I would recommend doing it all at once as doing it piece by piece on a 335 is a nightmare...I had to pull everything out through the bridge pickup cavity as my pots didn't fit through the F holes

    I went with the Faber kit stuff because it is readily avaliable here in Germany...reasonably priced and I didn't want to drill out the bridge or replace saddles and I am really happy with it...

    Chow,
    Seegs
     
  7. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    before you do anything else, change out the 300k volume pots in that guitar to 500k audio taper! that will open up the sound of what you have now, and may be all you need. once that's done, you can properly evaluate the pickups and swap accordingly, if need be.
     
  8. gainiac

    gainiac Senior Member

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    I've had a similiar experience with 57 classics. I don't like them. I subbed pickups from www.tonefordays.com into my R8 LP for the same reason.

    Great Pu's and very reasonable.
     
  9. Seegs

    Seegs Member

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    on most guitars this would be the way to go but on a 335 if you do it yourself you're talking about a royal PITA and if you have to take it to a tech. you're talking about paying labor costs 2X...once to install the pots and then again to install the pups and most techs I know have a minimum charge or charge by the job...to install a set of pups you'd still have to pull the pots a 2nd time...

    I know paying a tech to replace the pots is still cheaper than the cost of a set of pups but if you still need the pups then you have to pay your tech for a 2nd visit...

    I did it myself...researched all the possibilities carefully before deciding and after ordering the parts I did it all at once...

    I'm glad I did it this way and now I am done with it and have a great guitar to show for it...if I had gone step-by-step I'd still be working on my guitar...

    Chow,
    Seegs
     
  10. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Wind the strings all the way to the bottom of the post next time you string it.
    Seriously.

    peace
     
  11. Hugo

    Hugo Member

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    Here is what I did with stellar results:

    - Use 11/52 al least
    - changed pu to Lollar Imperials
    - install RS premium electronic kit
    - install aluminium light weight stop bar and tone pro tail piece.
    - pro set up.

    The bottom line is much more clarity, playability, more sustain, usable tone and volume controls. Lots of difference for me.

    Hope this can help,
     
  12. ~el gringo loco

    ~el gringo loco Member

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    I have a '97 335 that I just didn't dig the '57s in -- I know folks who swear by 'em, I've played 335s with 'em that sound great, but they weren't sounding good in my guitar for what I wanted to hear.

    And what I want to hear is a crisp, funky 335, sort of like the way Leo Nocentelli used to sound on the early Meters records or Jimmy Nolen sounded like with James Brown.

    I went the rewiring route first cause I've heard great sounding '57s and it was a big improvement over the stock Gibson harness -- the guitar became clearer, the controls were more usable and it was a lot better, but still not what I wanted. I changed the tailpiece to a lightweight aluminum model and it helped the old girl sing a little more, not that she really needed it, but still, an improvement. I wasn't satisfied, though -- if I'd wanted my 335 to play Cream or overdriven blues, hey, they'd have been fine, but I wanted a 335 that sounds right for "Cissy Strut" or "Sex Machine".

    The coupe d' grace was when I installed a set of Sheptone PAF's -- they're old school, unpotted, and they have a wonderful clanky, crisp and clear base voice with lots of interesting harmonic content. They get up and roar when you get on 'em like a good PAF should, but the key difference is that they are so much more dynamic -- the '57s are sort of binary, and the Sheps are really colorful and responsive to the touch with a whole lot of goodness between "clean" and "mean".

    So now my 335 sounds like a really big tele when I want crisp and clean, but it will do Freddie King or B.B. King "Live at the Regal" tones, too . . . that's exactly what I wanted, and my only disappointment is that I'm gonna have to buy another guitar to mess around with cause my 335 is "done".

    Good luck,

    ~j
     
  13. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    Swapping out electronics in a 335 can be a pain and a bit more expensive if you have it professionally done, but I second Walter's suggestion of swapping out the stock 300k pots for 500k's. Of course if you think you'll want to change pickups anyway it would be more efficient to do this all at once, but if you're only looking for a bit more brightness this may be all that you need.

    This would be the cheapest route, unless of course you decide to swap pickups later in which case you'd be paying to have the harness pulled for wiring twice. That's the risk, but I think you have a good chance of ending up with what you're looking for. The tone pots are already 500k audio, and the caps won't usually make any significant difference in bringing out more clarity, so all you'll need is a set of CTS 500k audio pots. About a $10 investment in parts, but labor will be the big part of course.
     
  14. ~el gringo loco

    ~el gringo loco Member

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    That was my thought -- what I found was that the entire harness was made up with 300k pots (mine is a '97) and it did indeed sound and feel better to play with the upgraded pots. I used a Mojo prewired harness, btw.

    What I found was that the '57s themselves were the problem. The caveat is that some folks would probably like my '57s fine -- if "Crossroads" era Clapton is the target, they're cool . . .

    Problem is, I heard something different in my head, and the 57's, IMO, aren't designed to get there. Oh well, different strokes, etc, and that's why it's cool there are so many great pickups out there.

    It's all about the journey, anyway, at least, it is for me . . . :~)

    ~j
     
  15. JimmyR

    JimmyR Member

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    I've had a few 335s and tried all kinds of pickups, tailpieces etc. I just thought that 335s weren't for me. But I recently got a "Fatneck" 335 which is just a regular 335 dot but has a fatter neck and Kluson style tuners. For me it seems that the fatter neck makes all the difference. All I've changed is the strings and I love this guitar. It's punchy, surprisingly clear sounding and the pots work really well.

    So this probably doesn't help you in deciding how to mod your 335! But it certainly was an eye-opener to me. I even like the 57s in this guitar.
     
  16. CrazyFingers

    CrazyFingers Member

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    Thanks, folks. Great advice from all. I really appreciate it.

    I've decided to do the PUPs. I ran the idea of chaging the POTs by my tech. Interestingly, his opinion is that if I change the PUPs, then it's really not "necessary" to change the volume pots too. I may notice some change in tone, but not much.

    The reason it's an issue is that, from what I understand, changing the PUPs on a 335 isn't easy but it's fairly straightforward. Changing volume POTs can be a real PITA (translation: more labor costs) if you can't fish them through the f-holes.

    If this is the case, then I'm inclined to change the PUPs and let the rest be.

    What do you think?
     
  17. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    That's very odd. I don't know of any modern Gibson that is supposed to have 300k pots all around. They should be 300k linear volumes and 500k audio tones from the factory. Could have been a factory mistake I suppose.
     
  18. Seegs

    Seegs Member

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    Sounds like he doesn't really want to do the job...

    if he is going to solder the pups directly to the pots then they have to be pulled to get at em...if he is going to cut the existing pup cables and splice/solder the new pup cable onto the old cables then the pots don't have to be pulled...

    if he cuts the old pup cables then you can't really sell them due the shortened cables...if you want to reuse them then you would have to solder an extension onto the cables so they will reach...

    I prefer my pups to have full length cables in case I want to use them again or sell them ...

    I would do the pots and pups at the same time...you have no way of knowing what value pots are in there right now without pulling the pots...

    Chow,
    Seegs
     
  19. fjs1962

    fjs1962 Silver Supporting Member

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    I agree. I would want the job done right, and to do it right you have to pull the wiring harness out. If it's a regular production 335 that's really not so hard as it all comes out through the bridge pickup route. It's a little more of a PITA on a Historic or vintage 335 since the harness has to come out the F hole, but it still isn't as bad as some folks make it sound. You just have to take your time and try not to get frustrated.

    I changed the pickups on my H335 to Antiquities but didn't change the pots and caps. Later I went back in and changed the pots to CTS and put in some repro bumblebee caps at the same time and that was as noticable of an improvement as the pickup swap. I say do it all at the same time and get it over with.
     
  20. ~el gringo loco

    ~el gringo loco Member

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    This wasn't the best looking harness I'd ever seen from Gibson, not by a mile, so anything is possible, I suppose.

    What I know is that it sounded a lot cleaner and punchier with it gone . . .

    As far as the new news about the tech advising that only the pickups should be replaced, I think that's sort of lazy thinking. You gotta pull the harness if you're going to change pickups the right way, and ideally his mind would be lead by that what he finds once he has the thing in his hands.

    It's not a big deal to check out the pots and caps when the harness is out of the guitar, so why not at least understand what's there? My take is that he's more afraid to wire up a new harness, in which case he probably does need a prewired harness from Mojo or something so it's not difficult.

    I've wired up several 335's from scratch and it's not all that hard but you've gotta have a plan otherwise it's easy to make a mess of it. And it's not always safe to copy the Gibby harness -- mine was a total mess.

    Truth be told, if it was me I'd be looking for another tech . . . :puh

    ~j
     

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