Looking for very articulate, non mushy 'buckers for a 335

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582
Honestly I would go on the emporium and look for a used set of pricier PAF clones. Probably won't find a set of Throbaks in your range but Im sure a set of something good will show up.

Plus given current stock levels youre more likely to get them in quickly, if you dont like them you won't lose a ton.

I have only done one swap-out, and it was for a Les Paul that was a bit on the darker side, and I used A4 Wizz. Problem absolutely solved, but maybe more than you want to spend and they took a while to show up. But used, maybe you could get a decent deal on a set and even pay a few extra dollars to get fast shipping.

IME most of the boutique PAF clones are relatively bright unless you ask the winder to make them not that way. Just the nature of the design.
 

b80

Member
Messages
2,163
Lambertone pickups!! Grinder in the bridge, Crema in the neck. I have those in my Epiphone 335 and it's glorious. Super articulate!!
 

Mark Kane

Platinum Supporting Member
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3,920
I recently picked up a lovely Tokai ES-155 (high end MIJ 335 clone) from a member here. It plays wonderfully, but I'm not jiving with the tone. Low strings are mush fest, high strings are bland and the general tone is underwhelming. When I listen to some favorite 335 recordings (mostly old recordings made on old guitars) they are zingy and articulate. JD Simo with his 335 has that tone too (granted, his guitar is vintage with original pickups). I'm not finding anything close with the stock pups-and yes I spent a ton of time adjusting heights, poles, and experimenting with different strings.

For reference, the stock pickups are Gotoh HB-Classics: Alnico 4, wax potted, slightly under wound in the mid/high 7k range. Interestingly, wax potting aside, they seem to be similar in spec to a lot of highly regarded boutique under/low winds.

It came upgraded with 50's wiring (CTS art of Tone 525k pots, PIO caps) so I know that's all good.

My knee jerk is to try some Phat Cats or Filter'Trons, but I have plenty of Gretsch's and I'm hoping I can get this Gibson-a-like to sound more vintage Gibson-like.

So with that: PAF-ish spec, twangy, fast, good note articulation, not too hot. No wax potting. No 12 week wait. No $500 price tag. What humbucker should I be looking for?
That doesn’t sound right to me. I’ve owned over a dozen Tokai’s from LS60 to top of the line. I swapped out pickups in probably half of them, mostly for more gain and fatter tone. None were soft or mushy at all. That of course doesn’t mean yours isn’t. But, I would really take a look at that wiring harness first. It’s not that hard to mess one of those up, especially in an ES guitar. Just a thought.
 

lemonman

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,140
A5 magnets, keep the wind count low; the higher it gets, the looser & thuddier the wound strings get. I love T-tops for their crispness, might look into something similar. Single coils/P90s in humbucker mount are crispest, but Phat Cats, while a great tone, are A2 and not as snappy as your typical P90.

On a budget, throw some A5 mags in the pickups you have, especially in the bridge.
 

Presc

Member
Messages
1,574
I've got OX4 low-winds into my Heritage 535 and they are super clear and articulate. Lower output than the Custombuckers in my R8 and unpotted. Not cheap, but not crazy expensive like Throbaks either.

Don't discount upgrading your pots and caps either, which can have a big impact on clarity and brightness. Wouldn't be surprised if the stock set in a guitar like that isn't at the level of some of the better aftermarket harnesses.
 
Messages
582
I've got OX4 low-winds into my Heritage 535 and they are super clear and articulate. Lower output than the Custombuckers in my R8 and unpotted. Not cheap, but not crazy expensive like Throbaks either.

Don't discount upgrading your pots and caps either, which can have a big impact on clarity and brightness. Wouldn't be surprised if the stock set in a guitar like that isn't at the level of some of the better aftermarket harnesses.

as per the original post, the guitar already has and it has 525k pots
 
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doublescale1

Suhr S-Classic, V60LP's, Soft V neck
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,286
Someone has recommended Seth Lovers, a very faithful PAF era voiced set - Antiquities would be a very good choice for PAF type voicing of old PAF pickups now like in JD's 335. they come un-potted, but you can request a set from the Custom Shop and they will pot the set for you - depending on how much gain you play with that may or may not be an issue. you can also pick getting the nickel covers aged or not
 

Jarick

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,113
I don't know about the stock pickups...if they truly are underwound PAF's, then swapping for any other PAF likely doesn't improve the clarity significantly.

I'm with @lemonman - get yourself a set of alnico 5 magnets and swap those out for the stock alnico 4's. Rough (cast) ones would probably be a good move, I'd stick with regular oriented over unoriented. A5 magnets should scoop the mids a bit and add some crispness to the attack. A4 can be kind of bland in the wrong pickup.

Otherwise, a set of Duncan Jazz pickups would be pretty snappy, good T-Top replacements. Or then you may want to get into the filtertron styles...
 

ripgtr

Member
Messages
12,197
I have an h535, I tried Seth's (twice, were my least fav), OX4, Monty's, BK Stormy Monday's (these might be the trick for you), then tried some Rolph's. I stopped looking after that. Note: I am a strat/tele guy, so darker humbuckers do not work for me.

But like has been said, depends on the guitar, what you want to hear, how you play, yada yada.
 

Mingsteen

Member
Messages
30
Thornbucker will work great. I had this issue with one of my 335’s sounding mushy and bassheavy. After changing the pots and trying quite some options (Seth Lover, Pearly Gates, classic ‘57) the Thornbucker solved it. Great clarity and definition with classic tones.
 

Watchguy26

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
246
I have an h535, I tried Seth's (twice, were my least fav), OX4, Monty's, BK Stormy Monday's (these might be the trick for you), then tried some Rolph's. I stopped looking after that. Note: I am a strat/tele guy, so darker humbuckers do not work for me.

But like has been said, depends on the guitar, what you want to hear, how you play, yada yada.
Same, Strat/Tele guy mostly. My humbucker of choice is a Filter'Tron, also bright by design. I definitely want something with zing and immediacy. I'll look into the Stormy Monday's.
 

Watchguy26

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
246
I don't know about the stock pickups...if they truly are underwound PAF's, then swapping for any other PAF likely doesn't improve the clarity significantly.

I'm with @lemonman - get yourself a set of alnico 5 magnets and swap those out for the stock alnico 4's. Rough (cast) ones would probably be a good move, I'd stick with regular oriented over unoriented. A5 magnets should scoop the mids a bit and add some crispness to the attack. A4 can be kind of bland in the wrong pickup.

Otherwise, a set of Duncan Jazz pickups would be pretty snappy, good T-Top replacements. Or then you may want to get into the filtertron styles...
I had contemplated some magnet swapping, but being that the stock pickups are wax potted, its a no go for me. I order all my TV Jones unpotted (yes I can hear a difference) as that's how they were built in the 50's-60's, same with PAFs. I don't play with high gain ever and I want the clearest tone, so no wax for me. If these Gotoh's were unpotted, I'd be on a magnet buying binge at Philadelphia Luthier Supply to experiment!
 

tktk

Member
Messages
1,010
Pups won't change its base tone of a guitar. This is particularly the case with semis.
I'm sure Tokai semis body is made at Terada factory, actually most if not all of MIJ laminated top models are made by them. It's often just body is provided, e.g. Fujigen. Anyway, Terada made guitars are inherently bright and hard acoustically, nothing similar to those great sounding 60s Gibson semis. It'll never sound like vintage 335s. So yes, sell it and look for something else. You need to find one, which acoustically sounds good. Just play a bunch of 60s 335s, and you'll understand what I mean.
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,051
Seth Lovers are simply amazing in 335s - I wish I could recommend a cooler boutique option to maintain my hard earned gear snob rating but SD got those pickups really, really right. I have them in a '66 335 and it sounds incredible.
 

stephen78

Member
Messages
396
OX4 Low Winds. Totally woke up my 335 and gave it the attributes you are looking for. Super versatile as well. I can make it twang like a Tele, get fat blues tones, or classic to hard rock.
 




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