Help with Gibson 57 Classics Questions

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Guitar Dave T, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. Guitar Dave T

    Guitar Dave T Member

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    Greetings TGPers: I need some help with some pickups for a Les Paul Standard. It currently has a set of Dimarzio PAF Classics, which are decent. At the same time, I have a spare set of Gibson 57 Classics that I'd like to try in this guitar. Can someone tell me what to expect? To be frank, I'm not sure what sound I'm going for - maybe I'm looking for something that has a little more dimension than the current pickups, which have lots of sparkle, but maybe not quite as much dark grit as I'd like. If you have time to download some sample MP3s of where I've been with my sound, please go to http://www.guitardavetaylor.com - there will even be a couple of clips with the Les Paul - Dimarzios. Who knows, you may say, "leave it alone - you won't get a better sound with the Gibson pickups." My preferred guitar, BTW, is still a 61 SG Reissue. By installing the 57 Classics, can this Les Paul be made to sound more like that, while retaining the thick punch of the LP? One last question: How can I determine which of these two 57 Classics has the higher output without strapping it into the guitar? Much thanks. BTW, please pardon the run-on paragraph. For some reason, paragraph breaks are not taking.
     
  2. jharpersj

    jharpersj Silver Supporting Member

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    I'd put the classic 57 in the neck, they work well there, nice nice woman tone, not in the bridge tho not enough balls for me for that Id go with maybe a JB or an anderson h2
     
  3. Guitar Dave T

    Guitar Dave T Member

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    Actually, I really like the Dimarzio Classic PAF in the bridge, and as I recall, the Gibson 57 Classic was kind of thin in the bridge of my SG, so this might work. How would you rate a Seymore 59 in the bridge?
     
  4. Zexcoil

    Zexcoil Vendor

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    Dave,

    In my experience the '57 Classics are pretty "sparkly" and "jangly", so if you've already got that and are looking for something else you might want to think about other options. Don't get me wrong, I do like the '57 Classic in absolute terms, but based on what you said, I would be willing to bet they are similar to what you already have.

    To figure out which p'up is "hotter" put an Ohm meter across the leads. You can do this without it being installed. The DC resistance is pretty strongly coupled to the "hotness" of the p'up, all other things being equal (higher resistance = hotter).

    The pairs of 57 Classics that I've had are usually pretty closely matched. In fact in my R9, as delivered, the (slightly) higher output p'up was in the neck.

    Scott
     
  5. Guitar Dave T

    Guitar Dave T Member

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    Interesting. I notice that the only Les Paul that Gibson is currenty outfitting with the 57 Classic is the Dickie Betts custom shop model. Dickie has a pretty bright/sweet tone, and it works great for his fingers and amp rig. I would hate to hear it transpire into something harsh/bright in my hands and with my rig. ------------------- Played through a 1-12 Celestion V30 at stage volume, the Dimarzio neck is a little too low-mid sounding, and seems to lack definition - it's kind of bottomless sounding at higher volumes. Does this make sense? Meanwhile, the 57 sounded incredibly well defined in the neck and middle positions on my SG. Knowing this, will the 57 produce similar results in a maple top Les Paul? ------------------- What about plan B: Take the more aggressive sounding WCR Coils out of the SG - I really like them in the SG - and put THEM in the Les Paul. Then put the 57's back in the SG? -------------------- Or to really complicate things, mix and match from the two sets: WCR Coil neck in the Les Paul, 57 Classic neck back in the SG? -------------------- Overthink Alert - My head is about to explode.
     
  6. Jon C

    Jon C Silver Supporting Member

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    57 Classics sounded very good in my R8 LP, but the Voodoos sounded just a tad better (a littlle more "open").

    In contrast, in both the 175 and 335, the 57s sound great, such that there's no thought of changing a thing. Maybe they like hollow/semihollows more? They simply *kill* in the 335 Historic. But they were not bad at all as stock pickups in the '01 lester.
     
  7. stratzrus

    stratzrus Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B Supporting Member

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    I have a LP Classic with a '57 Classic in the neck and a '57 Classic Plus in the bridge position. I wouldn't describe the sound of either as "thin" but the neck pup has less bottom end and lower midrange than the neck pup on my LP Custom 400. This provides greater clarity and definition at volume and is a distinct improvement in most playing situations, although I would prefer the Custom 400 if I ever decided to play jazz on a Paul. The Custom 400 has a mahogany top and is strung with 11s, not the 10s on my Classic, but I have tried to take this into account.

    I think the '57 Classic in the neck would take you in the direction that you want, but given your description, you may think the sound is thinner than you like. Once again, it's not thin, just somewhat thinner than my Custom. I wouldn't describe the sound of a '57 Classic as the "thick punch" that you described. It has punch but it is more clear and detailed punch. I think my LP Classic has a spectacular sound and just finished practicing on it for an hour from 6-7AM while watching the BBC news. Any guitar that you reach for immediately upon waking can't be that bad.

    It took a while to warm up to the fact that my LP Classic doesn't sound as "heavy" as the Custom 400, but it is much more user friendly with a variety of amps at concert volume.

    With that said, pickup swaps are somewhat of a crap shoot. There are so many variables that you'll never know exactly how they will sound until you try it. There are some great pickups that will work in a SG but don't work at all in a LP.

    The '57 Classics will definitely take you in the direction you are looking for and will make your LP sound more like your SG. Since you have the pups in hand I'd go for it...swap the neck, leave the bridge alone, and see if you like it. I'm not sure you'll be in love, but there's a good chance, given what you've said, that you'll like it better.

    Good luck...
    stratzrus
     
  8. Guitar Dave T

    Guitar Dave T Member

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    Probably the way to go, thanks. When I listen to last Saturday's band performance recordings, the Dimarzio neck pickup alone sounds too muddy. This is through a Fender Blues Deluxe, Celestion Vintage 30 speaker and a couple of OD pedals, which is my #1 club rig - simple, quick and sounds very boutique with that speaker and good tubes. The same amp and pedal combo works great with the LP when the bridge pickup is introduced to the mix, just not with the neck alone. Also works great with any pickup selection on the SG, including neck alone. BTW, when I go to either of the WCR pickups on that guitar, the tone is jaw dropping incredible. Check out the "high octane slide" in the user clips. Same amp, effects combo with the SG, and you can definitely hear when I switch to the neck alone selection. This is one of my favorite guitar tones, one I used to hear Bugs Henderson do in the mid 70's when he was playing an ES-345 through a CRANKED early 60's 4-10 Concert amp. Thanks again to all who've helped me think through this one. I'll replace the neck pickup with the 57 Classic and post a review.
     
  9. Guitar Dave T

    Guitar Dave T Member

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    UPDATE:

    Just finished the swap out.

    RECAP: Had a set of Dimarzio PAF Classics in an LP Standard. Very well balanced pickups, good classic rock tones without being harsh.

    PROBLEM: The smoothness of these pickups translated into a one-dimensional wall-o-mud at higher stage volumes when only the neck pickup was selected.

    Had a spare set of Gibson 57 Classics and decided, with your help, to replace the neck pickup with a 57 Classic.

    Upon measuring pickup output, it became apparent this would probably not work. The Gibsons were hotter pickups than the Dimarzios, and it didn't seem wise to have a neck pickup that was hotter than the bridge.

    So I just replaced them both. The LP now has the 57 classics.

    REVIEW: On first listen, at living room volume through a 15 watt Fender Blues Jr. with a Jensen C12N speaker, a HUGE, immediately noticed improvement. The Gibsons are warmer, and while extrememly smooth, they have much more grit, which translates into definition, than the Dimarzios.

    Then I put a TS808 TubeScreamer inline and the pickups really came alive. The screamer really brings out the best of these pickups, much moreso than it did with the Dimarzios.

    How do the Gibson pickups do at stage volume? I can only guess by how good they sounded in my 61 SG Reissue (Download "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" live cut at http://www.guitardavetaylor.com). Otherwise, I just finished the installation and first test drive, so the jury's still out. Will let you know after tonight!

    Thanks again for the good advice!
     
  10. stratzrus

    stratzrus Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B Supporting Member

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    Dave -

    I thought that, if anything, the '57 Classic would help with the mud problem in the neck position, and maybe what you are calling "grit" I might call bite, but the '57s have it.; they are not wimpy pickups by any means. I really like the '57 Classic Plus in the bridge in my LP. I think it's a perfect match for that guitar, and I'm not usually a huge fan of Gibson pickups.

    For example, I'm not nearly as happy with the '57s in my 335 and am considering a pickup swap, but don't know if it's worth the cost as opposed to continuing to look for a 335 that already sounds the way I want. and trading up when I find it. The neck pickup just doesn't give the Jazz feel that I'd like, but maybe I'm asking too much from a thinline hollowbody. The clarity that it provides in the LP translates to a lack of body in the neck position of the 335.

    I'm considering trying the WCRs or Voodoos, but tweaking without end can become a black hole for those of us who hang out on TGP; I've been there off and on for years. It may be that the instrument is just not mature having been made in 2001, was not played much by the original owner (it looked mint when I bought it around Christmas), and needs a few more years to mellow. I'm tempted to just play it guitar for a while and see if I notice any improvement.

    I'm glad the pickup swap worked out, there's nothing like a LP that really sings; it can inspire the fingers and stir the soul.

    stratzrus
     
  11. scottlr

    scottlr Member

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    Anyone know what pups Larry Carlton used in that vid with Lee Ritenour? MAN, he had a great tone! It looked like a newer 335, too.

    On a sort of similar note, I was doing some tracks with my bass player a few weeks ago, and was looking to get a good early ZZ Top sound. So of course, the Les Paul (w/stock Burstuckers) was the first thing I grabbed. Nothing I tried seemed to get the tone I wanted, so I got the 61 RI SG (w/stock 57 classics), and again, couldn't get that tone I wanted. So as a last ditch effort, I grabbed my 81 ES 347 (w/stock whatever it has for pups), and immediately I nailed that tone! I'll be using the 347 to record more often!
     
  12. scottlr

    scottlr Member

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  13. Guitar Dave T

    Guitar Dave T Member

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    Pickups Gibson used in the 347 were Dirty Fingers. Somewhat aggressive, but smooth. Popular in their day. Probably a similar pickup available today under a different name, but I don't know what.

    Got that 59 Bassman / early Marshall JTM sound going there, too. Very cool.
     
  14. scottlr

    scottlr Member

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    Dave, would you believe that was a Vox ToneLab desktop model and I was indeed using the 59 Bassman model.
     
  15. Guitar Dave T

    Guitar Dave T Member

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    Impressive technology.
     
  16. Guitar Dave T

    Guitar Dave T Member

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    Update:

    I took the Les Paul Standard with a freshly installed spare set of Gibson 57 Classics to a rehearsal, and was impressed with them. Nice edge, sweet tones, exactly what I'd hope for in a PAF style humbucker.

    Then Thursday night, I took the guitar out to a gig at a local Venue, The Lakewood Bar & Grill, which has a great sound system and incredible room acoustics. Much to my suprise, the lead tone was poorly defined and very muddy. And every time I turned the amp up, rolled off bass, added mids, tweaked presence and treble, completely rolled off reverb, the tone just got more buried in the mix. I finally gave up and grabbed my 61 SG Reissue equipped with WCR Coils pickups and everything came to life.

    The next day, I was so completely underwhelmed, I visited Charley's Guitar Shop in Dallas with a set of Dimarzio pickups to trade on ANYTHING better than the 57 Classics for this guitar. Lo and Behold, Brian had a set of used WCR Coils - a Crossroads for the neck and a Darkburst for the bridge. I gave him the Dimarzios and some cash in trade, went home, heated up some candle wax, installed some old scuffed up nickle covers, dropped those bad boys in place, tweaked the pickup height, and took the guitar right out to a gig.

    As I mentioned in another thread, "Holy S**t."

    It was the ultimate PAF experience. And the more I turned up, rather than getting too compressed, muddy or syrupy, the tone blossomed, yeilding incredible, multi-dimensional harmonic overtones. Sweet, woman-tone, aggressive, Billy Gibbons pinch-tone, fat, wooden blues tone, rich harmonics at any level, again, "holy s**t".

    'Played out the next night, same thing. The night after that, I took the guitar with a little 15 watt Fender Blues Jr. to a jam and was complemented on the best tone in the house, compared to really good players, playing through 30 and 40 watt amps.

    Got home from the jam, plugged in to the 15 watter at home and could not put the guitar down for 2 more hours.

    I've owned all kinds of production and boutiqe humbuckers since 1976, back when I bought my first 335. I have never, and I mean never, had anything sound anywhere near this good in a humbucker.
     
  17. George Jetson

    George Jetson Member

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    I'm glad you finally found your tone for your LP. I was VERY happy with the switch to a '57 Classic Plus in the bridge of my SG. I tried moving the '57 Classic bridge pup closer to the strings and didn't like the loss of sustain, even with the AII mag, so I went overwound and lower and never looked back. It's all good...:horse
     
  18. Mullard Man

    Mullard Man Member

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    I have a Duncan 59 in the bridge of my SG. Excellent tone- very similar to the early-mid 60's Gibson PAF's. Great pickup for Angus and Clapton type of tones. Very clear tone with just enough bite for solos. It is one of the best pickups for an SG if you want as close to the original tone of the early-mid 60's PAF's.
     

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