JM-style Partscaster Pickup Advice

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by jaz761, Mar 7, 2015.

  1. jaz761

    jaz761 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    197
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Location:
    The Great Garden State
    I built up an offset Partscaster that I love to play. It's not a real Jazzmaster, has a stop tailpiece and Tune O Matic. Also has more of a Tele wiring situation, which I prefer. One volume, one tone and a switch. I've got Lollar SoapBar P90s in it and am just not crazy about them..they mud up too quickly for me.

    I'm looking for a cleaner sound and would like to swap these out. Any advice? I am thinking a traditional Jazzmaster pickup might be cleaner? Any advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. bmutlu

    bmutlu Member

    Messages:
    503
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    Yes traditional Jazzmaster pickup absolutely cleaner than Lollar P-90, also Lollar make 50's wind P-90's, lower output and cleaner than his standard. Other good options, Lollar Regal or Lollartron humbuckers, or gold foil pickups. If you prefer JM style pickups look Fralins.
     
  3. Arc Angel

    Arc Angel Member

    Messages:
    1,550
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Nels Cline is a friend and he swears by the Seymour Duncan Antiquities as being close to his real '59 JM pickups.
     
  4. jaz761

    jaz761 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    197
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Location:
    The Great Garden State
    Actually, I've got the low-wind P90s and they are a little too hot for me also. Huge Nels Cline fan here so maybe I should give those Antiquities a shot. Would those be much lower output than the low-wind P90s I've got? I know I can look up the specs but there's no substitute for real-world experience.

    Thanks!
     
  5. brainhurricane

    brainhurricane Member

    Messages:
    30
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2015
    I know J Mascis uses SD antiquities in his non-vintage JMs.
     
  6. thrashmetl

    thrashmetl Member

    Messages:
    4,251
    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Just to be clear, what form factor are these pickups in? Are these soapbar P-90's in your partscaster or are they Jazzmaster size pickups? I'm sure you could fit a P-90 under a Jazzmaster cover, but I don't think you can fit a true Jazzmaster pickup under a P-90 cover. Also, P-90's and Jazzmasters are very different pickups. P-90's are fat and mean and angry, and admittedly somewhat muddy at times, but Jazzmasters tend to be bright and beautiful, but much more polite too, so if you've got P-90 types and you generally like them aside from the mud, you may like the Jazzmasters even less because it's a far different sound.
     
  7. jaz761

    jaz761 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    197
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Location:
    The Great Garden State
    These are soapbar P90s. I don't mind buying a different pickguard...the body is routed for whatever. I had P90s in an SG that I liked but I think my tastes have changed. I bought this JM body loaded with P90s and it was a nice deal so thought I'd give it a shot.

    These days I prefer my partscaster tele which is huge sounding but pretty articulate. It has a Lollar Special T in the bridge and some kind of Fender Custom Shop neck pickup that I don't recall.

    I guess I'd like a pretty big sounding Jazzmaster pickup if that means sensitivity and clarity.
     
  8. bmutlu

    bmutlu Member

    Messages:
    503
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    Lollar offer 3 type P-90s, 50's wind even lower than his low-winds.
     
  9. thrashmetl

    thrashmetl Member

    Messages:
    4,251
    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    If you have access to magnets or don't mind buying some, before you buy new pickups try swapping in an unoriented A5 magnet into each pickup, or replace both magnets in each pickup with an unoriented A5 magnet. Swapping in 1 unoriented A5 will add some clarity, sharpness, and tighten up the low end, but it will retain the fatness and some of the mids of the A2 magnet that you're leaving in. Swapping out both magnets in each pickup for UOA5 will reduce the mids, add lots of pick attack and clarity, brighten up the pickups, and tighten up the bass.
     
  10. Deed_Poll

    Deed_Poll Member

    Messages:
    3,069
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2013
    I'd go with standard JM pickups, or Novak narrow range pickups perhaps? Maybe his WRHB in Jazzmaster form factor.
     
  11. jaz761

    jaz761 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    197
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Location:
    The Great Garden State
    My expertise is probably limited to just swapping out the pickups...I'd hate to destroy a great Lollar pickup and since I would prbly try to resell them, I don't want to do anything to compromise the original specs.

    There are so many choices out there...it's good and bad.

    I wish there was a way to gain some insight on what the numbers (output, magnet size and composition) really mean in terms of sound. I know the data is meaningful to some...I have to learn about it for myself though.
     
  12. thrashmetl

    thrashmetl Member

    Messages:
    4,251
    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Magnet swapping it incredibly easy, especially on P-90's. All you have to do is loosen the screws on the underside of the pickup and the magnets will slide right out. The only thing that you have to pay attention to is the polarity of the magnets and that is all. Usually pickup makers and companies you buy magnets from will all mark their magnets North polarity face, so just pay attention to that and slide the new magnet in the same way and you're done. It's sooooo simple and it has a very big effect on the sound of a pickup. I always try magnet changes before I sell a pickup, 90% of the time I find what I'm looking for, no joke. If you have more questions just PM me.

    DC resistance has little to do with the sound of a pickup, just the volume and how hot the pickup is (how quickly it drives your amp). It's also important to know what type of construction the pickup has as well though, as well as the wire gauge and magnet type. A humbucker with the same DC resistance, magnet, and wire gauge as a single coil will likely drive your amp about the same as the single coil, but the Humbucker will be much louder because of its construction. P-90's are loud like Humbuckers compared to a Fender single coil. Typical wire gauge for singles and humbuckers is 42, and 43 gauge to a lesser extent. Since 43 gauge is smaller than 42, you have to pack more winds on a cool to reach the same volume and drive the amp the same. Because there are more winds though, the DC resistance will be higher than a 42 gauge pickup with the same general volume and heat. The sound will be similar, but not exactly the same. Magnets also effect output and sound A LOT. For example, if you swap out both A2 magnets in your Lollar bridge pickup (the Lollar 50's wind has A2's and there are 2 magnets in a P-90 as opposed to 1 magnet in a PAF style humbucker) and put in 2 A5 magnets, the pickup will be noticeably louder and drive your amp a little harder, this is because A5 is a much stronger magnet. A5 does other things to the sound though which make it a better magnet for what you want to do. A2, compared to A5, is quite a bit darker, has a lot more mids, a weak pick attack, and the bass response is really loose. A5 on the other hand is brighter, mid scooped, has a sharp pick attack, and super tight bass, which seems to me would solve your problems. Now I don't usually recommend regular A5 magnets because I find they can be too bright and scooped, but unoriented A5 magnets take the edge off the brightness and introduce a little more mids back into the equation.

    Moral of the story, try a magnet swap first. It's super easy, super fast (just unscrew the pickup from the body and swap the magnets, no need to desolder the pickups and take them all the way out), and it's CHEAP. Go onto the AddictionFX store on eBay and pick up some magnets to play with. If you don't like it still after you've tried some new magnets, just swap the old ones back in and sell.
     
  13. dennyman

    dennyman Member

    Messages:
    1,075
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2006
    Great advice and explanation thrashmetl. Thank you :)
     
  14. jaz761

    jaz761 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    197
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Location:
    The Great Garden State
    That was hugely helpful! And I'm going to start playing with magnets now. I feel like the p90s I've got are driving the few effects I run too much and subsequently, the amp. Tone gets a little muddy and too raucous for my tastes. What magnets might be a good place to start to clean things up a bit?
     
  15. thrashmetl

    thrashmetl Member

    Messages:
    4,251
    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'd say try Alnico 4 magnets in the bridge, that's what Throbak uses. Alnico 4 is very balanced, it will still add some sharpness to the sound, but it will reduce the midrange and tighten the low end a bit. That's your best bet for the bridge pickup. For the neck I would say Alnico 3 magnets. Alnico 3 adds clarity and reduces the bass a lot.

    I'd still recommend picking up some Unoriented A5 magnets though, your perception of the sound and heat of the pickups may just be based primarily or at least partially on how A2 drives the amp. My personal favorite combo in the bridge is a mix of a unoriented A5 and A2. It retains my favorite elements of each magnet.

    Remember, you will need 2 magnets for each pickup. Also, make sure to store the magnets of different type you are not using separately. If you put them together, the stronger magnets will Degauss the weaker ones.
     
  16. jaz761

    jaz761 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    197
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Location:
    The Great Garden State
    Great! Glad to have somewhere to start. I couldn't track down that eBay seller. Are there other sources you can recommend?

    Thanks again for all of this.
     
  17. Thedude99

    Thedude99 Member

    Messages:
    1,649
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2015
    Check out the Pickup Wizard. He has a web site, but he is cheaper on his eBay store.

    Amazing pickups. A lot of people on the offsetguitars forum are big fans. Supposed to be the closest sound to the original pickups.
     

Share This Page