Early Benson Tone: Pickup ?s

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by JazzMac251, Apr 6, 2008.

  1. JazzMac251

    JazzMac251 Member

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    So this is my first time on TGP. What a great place! I'm sure i'll be back here many times in the near future. :)

    I'm trying to mimic George Benson's mid-period tone viz. the After Hours: Live at the Casa Caribe or the 70's (maybe 80's depending on which caption you want to believe) recording of take 5 that can be found on you tube.

    My first goal is to replace the Neck pup in my GB200 with some kind of mini-humbucker. I believe the one benson uses on his rig is the Ibanez GB Special mini HB. Right now i'm running a Seymour Duncan Jazz in the neck. I'm reluctant to buy the Ibanez pup for the following reasons:

    1) The GB Special is a neck mounted pickup and the GB200's pickups are mounted on a mounting ring that is then attached to the top of the guitar - a la 95% of all modern jazz boxes. i Don't want to drill holes in my guitars neck to accomodate
    2) who in their right mind buys an Ibanez pickup after-market? In my experience, they're rather cheaply made and other specialty companies can get the job done better.
    3) the GB Special pup is more expensive than other pickups i've researched (e.g. Seymour Duncan)

    I bought a Seymour Duncan Vintage Custom mini-HB from sam ash and just got finished putting it on after having to fabricate a custom mounting ring. As far as i can tell at this point, it sounds TERRIBLE. It's EXTREMELY EXTREMELY bright. It's probably the brightest pickup i've ever heard. Apparantly it was a bad idea to put that pup in a hollow body? :(

    Can anyone give me any advice? Should i just go with the GB Special? If so, how can i mount it? If not, what pickup would give me the sound i'm looking for?

    Also, if anyone has any other tips for getting the sound i'm looking for, i'm def. interested. i'm really stuck!

    Thanks
    Justin
     
  2. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    I would think something like a SD Seth lover or Antiquity in the humbucker hole would be closer to his Breezin and before tone. You want a warm, relatively low output humbucker like a real 57 PAF. I have a SD vintage mini in my chambered tele and while it works for a tele, I agree in a fulll hollow body it would be too bright.
     
  3. JazzMac251

    JazzMac251 Member

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    would any of the pickups you mentioned have more kick than the SD Jazz? The SD jazz almost gets me there but it just doesn't have a whole lot of oomph to it. A friend of mine who plays in the same style i do plays on a stock AF75 artcore series and while his tone isn't what i'm looking for exactly, it has more of a kick to it than my setup. the SD jazz seems to have a great natural sound to it, but it's just lacking the weight.
     
  4. DaveG

    DaveG Gold Supporting Member

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    Give Pete Biltoft a call, tell him the sound you're looking for, he'll wind it for you. He also does pickups with special mounting requirements. His pickups are fantastic, his prices & customer service are excellent, and his turnaround times are quick:

    www.vintagevibeguitars.com
     
  5. erksin

    erksin Member

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    Any SD pickup that says Custom on it is ceramic AFAIK - that's probably why you don't like it.

    Have you thought about a Lollar mini?
     
  6. Blues Fuse

    Blues Fuse Member

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    Justin, I wouldn't do anything to alter the top of your GB200. You've got a nice instrument that's capable of getting a good sound. First of all, despite its name, the Seymour Duncan Jazz, is not very popular with archtop players because it tends to be too bright. Mini-buckers tend to have the same problem. The mini-buckers in the standard GB10 are wound really hot for this type of instrument and can cause adjustment problems. The full size Ibanez humbucking '58 pickups also tend to be on the bright side. Some full size humbuckings you might want to consider are the Gibson 57 classic, the Duncan Seth Lover & Antiquity have already been mentioned, and even the vintage power Dimarzio Classic series (there are several types of these) humbuckers can sound good.

    Justin, one of the most knowledgeable people on this board about all the Ibanez George Benson models is Jack Zucker. He's a really good player and he's owned the various George Benson models. What you might want to do is simply start a thread that reads "Jack Zucker: Question about Ibanez GB200 pickups?" Jack knows his stuff and he's very generous about helping people on this board.

    Russ
     
  7. soopajeanmi

    soopajeanmi Member

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    What's wrong with your GB200? Benson plays one on "Absolute Benson" and sounds great.
     
  8. gitman

    gitman Member

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    at least half of that sound comes from his variuos amps. my guess is that when playing a club in thase days he used whatever amp was there, probably some kind of Fender or Ampeg combo. his guitars back then where the small bodied GB10 models. i have owned 3 of these over the last 20 years and NEVER was able to cop his tone with any of them- I have much better luck with my Super 400 through a 15" Polytone or an Evans ! the GB's have a rather thin and bright tonality since they are so stiff and small, not much resonance when compared to a more standard archtop and that coupled with the mini hums will make it difficult. Mr. Benson's phenomenal right hand technique is really the key to his sound, the way he holds his pick, attacks the strings, just totally relaxed and "breezin' " !!!
    so, i'd experiment with different strings (at least an 0.14 for your high E ), amp/speaker swap, pickup height and THEN you might want to contact one of the boutique winders and tell them what you're after. my guess would be
    a med hot humbucker that has tamed highs, set not too close to the strings will get you in that direction. hope this helps !
     
  9. JazzMac251

    JazzMac251 Member

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    Wow what a great response! I'd like to give a sincere thanks to everyone that helped me out with this. i certainly have some research to do.

    When i find something that works, i'll try to remember to update this page for anyone who may be having a similar problem. I'll also be starting a new thread as suggested by Blues Fuse.

    Thanks again!
     
  10. arnie65

    arnie65 Supporting Member

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    Justin, if what you're looking for is a mid 70's Benson tone you need a (Johnny Smith) type floating pickup on the neck. The guitar that GB used to record his first contemporary Jazz album "Breezin" was a GB20 which Ibanez discontinued in the late 70's. It was a 17 inch body with a floating minihumbucker that was screwed to the neck, I know this because I have several videos of this, then he had Ibanez make another guitar with 2 of these pickups, then the guitar was made thinner with 16 inch body which is known as the GB10. The guitar you have has a great GB sound too (I use to own one) check out some of the videos of GB using a GB200 in youtube. I wouldn't screw up the guitar with any routing, you gotten some great advice, try the Gibson 57 classics or the SD antiquities, I bought floating custom shop GB pickup that SD makes for GB with his specs, this is what GB is using now instead of the Ibanez pickups,but it's a neck mounted pu which doesn't help you.


    Cheers, arnie
     
  11. soopajeanmi

    soopajeanmi Member

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    I read in several interviews from the man himself that the guitar he used on "breezing" was a Gibson Johny Smith into a polytone and a twin reverb.

    Most of the tracks recorded by benson are on Gibson guitars, contrary to popular belief. He uses the ibanez live however, leaving the expensive gibson home.

     
  12. arnie65

    arnie65 Supporting Member

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    I have a good friend that asked him specifically that question when he (GB) showed up at a NAMM show a few years ago and that's what he said, I don't know about the amp he used, also GB doesn't use the Ibanez on the shows because they're cheaper, he uses them because he's under contract with Ibanez! GB has a collection of over 100 guitars and has very seldom been seen using Gibson, even before "Breezin" when GB was doing only straight ahead Jazz he was using Guild. I have a video of GB taken during a recording session in the 90's and he was playing a 17 inch Ibanez with a Johnny Smith pickup and a pickguard mounted volume knob.
     
  13. Blues Fuse

    Blues Fuse Member

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    George has said in interviews that he used a Johnny Smith Gibson on "Breezin." I saw GB twice in 1976 and he was using a Johnny Smith both times. I've also seen him play a D'Angelico New Yorker and a Guild Artist Award in concert. George also has played Super 400's and L-5's.

    George said in an online interview that he used the Johnny Smith on most of the "Absolute Benson" CD.

    When I first saw the YouTube videos of the tour Benson did with McCoy Tyner back in 1989, I thought he was playing the Johnny Smith Gibson, until I saw the Ibanez logo on the headstock. That Ibanez, which I assume is a GB20, has a nice sound.

    I directed the original poster in this thread to talk to Jack Zucker about pickups for his GB200 and, Jack, as usual, was very helpful. Jack suggested that he go with Gibson Classic 57's.
     
  14. HammyD

    HammyD Member

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  15. arnie65

    arnie65 Supporting Member

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    The Johnny Smith pickup that GB is now using is made by Seymour Duncan in their custom shop and has to be order to be made since they don't keep stock of their custom shop stuff, GB gave Seymour Duncan the specs of what he wanted and was extremely happy with the results. He's used the PU in several of his custom high end guitars. The pickup is pretty pricey at $200 but worth every penny, I've been using it for some time now.
     
  16. Robertito

    Robertito Member

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    The photo on the back cover of "Breezin'" shows George holding a Johnny Smith.
     
  17. Rhizopus

    Rhizopus Member

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    only the original SD Custom is ceramic. any other custom variants are using alnico
     
  18. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    Someone mentioned the SD Jazz. Imo this is a misnamed pup. It is too bright to be a decent jazz pup, I think their 59 is much better for that application. However, everyone's ears are different.
     
  19. gang twanger

    gang twanger Member

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    Check out the user reviews on Harmony Central for the Duncan Seth Lover. I put one in the neck of my Dean and it sounds amazing; Really nice and warm, not the least bit muddy, and full of complexity. It's also very jazzy-sounding and dynamic, with the perfect output to cover a lot of ground.I can't wait to get one for the bridge. The sound sample for it on the Duncan website give a pretty accurate example of how it sounds (at least the distorted sample). Mine sounds better than any other neck p/u I've played, whether it was on a Gibson, PRS, or anything else.
     

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