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

Watchguy26

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
246
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.
Well, that's solved! Gonna lend me 25K at 2 points then for a 60's 335? :D

This Tokai feels great. Does it feel 60's Gibson great? No. I had a '64 Gibson built Casino so I know all about that magic, but this (20 year old, IIRC) Tokai is played in and very resonant/lively unplugged, not unlike a vintage guitar. It has the 'bones' to be a screamer, it just needs to be re-voiced a bit.

I often swap pickups on my (Terada built) Gretsch's going from say, Filter'Trons to T-Armonds, completely changes the tone. It feels the same, plays the same, resonance doesn't change, but sonically it is different. Same thing I'm trying to do with the Tokai.
 

tktk

Member
Messages
1,010
Well, that's solved! Gonna lend me 25K at 2 points then for a 60's 335? :D

This Tokai feels great. Does it feel 60's Gibson great? No. I had a '64 Gibson built Casino so I know all about that magic, but this (20 year old, IIRC) Tokai is played in and very resonant/lively unplugged, not unlike a vintage guitar. It has the 'bones' to be a screamer, it just needs to be re-voiced a bit.

I often swap pickups on my (Terada built) Gretsch's going from say, Filter'Trons to T-Armonds, completely changes the tone. It feels the same, plays the same, resonance doesn't change, but sonically it is different. Same thing I'm trying to do with the Tokai.
I actually didn't suggest you to go for a vintage 335.
Put it this way, if you swapped all the hardware and pups of your Tokai on a great sounding 335 it'd still sound great. And yes, MIJ guitars ring loud acoustically, but they are bright and hard, which is not the case with vintage Gibson. They have warm and round woody tone, and not too loud to your ears actually because highs are mild. This characteristics of acoustic tone transfer directly to amplified tone, ime. But ymmv of course. Good luck!
 

Jarick

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,113
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!

In that case if I were you I would order a pair of Wolfetone Dr Vintage and ask for a set of A5 magnets to try as well. Lower wind non potted PAF for not too much money! Alternately you could get a set of Seth’s but the DrV probably going to be better balanced.
 

Strat_lover

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,121
I have had good luck with Gibson 57 Classics, Duncan Seth Lovers, Duncan Antiquities, and the Lollar Imperial Low Winds.

Since you mentioned Simo, recently he has been speaking highly of the OX4 humbuckers. Not sure which ones he uses, but they're pretty reasonably priced and that dude knows a thing or two about PAF tone.
 

amstrtatnut

Member
Messages
14,385
For all the recommendations for seth lovers. I did this in my epiphone dot which had A5 epiphone pickups. I pretty much stopped playing it after that. I never should have listened to the internet hype.

Ymmv. In my opininion A2 is duller and mushier.
 

Jarick

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,113
For all the recommendations for seth lovers. I did this in my epiphone dot which had A5 epiphone pickups. I pretty much stopped playing it after that. I never should have listened to the internet hype.

Ymmv. In my opininion A2 is duller and mushier.

Yeah they are hit or miss depending on the guitar. They have some airiness but the A2 is soft. Sometimes it’s awesome sometimes it’s dull. On my Dr Vintage I really liked them with A5 as it was a little more percussive. Just depends on the guitar I think.
 

Ayan

Member
Messages
859
Well, that's solved! Gonna lend me 25K at 2 points then for a 60's 335? :D

This Tokai feels great. Does it feel 60's Gibson great? No. I had a '64 Gibson built Casino so I know all about that magic, but this (20 year old, IIRC) Tokai is played in and very resonant/lively unplugged, not unlike a vintage guitar. It has the 'bones' to be a screamer, it just needs to be re-voiced a bit.

I often swap pickups on my (Terada built) Gretsch's going from say, Filter'Trons to T-Armonds, completely changes the tone. It feels the same, plays the same, resonance doesn't change, but sonically it is different. Same thing I'm trying to do with the Tokai.
I bought my first 335 new in1986. It had a very balanced acoustic sound but the neck was not to my liking -- among other things, I would dive pretty badly -- and so after about 5 years, I sold it. Got a '93 dot neck that had a much slimer neck and that became my go-to workhorse for the next two decades. It sounded nothing like the first one, this one was very midrange heavy, which I liked with overdrive because it had a lot of sustain. Clean, the sound was less appealing. The stock classic 57s sounded so so and the neck pickup was much hotter the bridge, so I ended up replacing both with Fralin PAF type humbuckers. That made things somewhat better, but the guitar sounded basically the same. Eventually, I got an R7 LP, which sounded simply incredible with its stock Burstbucker pickups. I wanted some of that on the 335, so bought a set for it. While there was a bit of a difference between the BBs and the Fralins, in the end, it was not worth the money and effort I had put into the pickup replacement.

In 2013 Gibson put out the 50th anniversary 1963 335s. I ended up buying a used one the following year and selling my 90s dot neck. The new one turned out to be an entirely different guitar from the other two. It's not as midrangey and sounds brighter and airier acoustically. For what it's worth, it is about 1 lb lighter than the 90s one at just below 8 lbs. I think the pickups in it are also BBs, but this 335 just doesn't sound as good as the R7. If the neck pickup is set as close to the strings as on the LP, the sound of the wound strings will become way too loose. So, I have the pickup set quite a bit lower and while this helps prevent the sloppy bottom end, it reduces some of the "liveliness" of the tone. The bridge pickup sound is less 3-D than the LP's, which has sort of a "halo" effect around the notes that is hard to describe and that I hadn't experienced before in any of my guitars. Played unplugged, the LP sounds quite a bit brighter, but when plugged in the highs are very sweet sounding. I have left the 335 stock mainly because it actually sounds really good, both clean and with overdrive. But, also because I have come to believe that a guitar, especially a semi hollow, will have its characteristic sound that swaping pickups will probably not change by a whole lot. So, perhaps one thing you could consider doing would be to try other semi hollows that sound "in the ball park" acoustically and see if you like how they sound amplified. If you do, you could perhaps experiment with the same type of pickups. With a 335, I believe this may be preferable to trying many different pickups blindly since each pickup change, in addition to money spent buying the pickups, will either take a couple of hours if you do it yourself or cost you some more money if you take it to a tech.

Based on my personal experiences and having played quite a few other 335s over the years, I agree with you that for the vintage sound you're after, I'd also be looking for relatively low output, unpotted pickups. I've have good experiences with Duncan Seth Lovers, Gibson BBs, etc.

Good luck,
Gil
 

HERSCHEL

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,672
Bootstrap A3 vintage cleans are nice, inexpensive and seem like what you’re looking for.
 

nl128

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,770
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?

Since you mentioned Simo . I believe some where in this video he mentions his favorites newer paf copies. I believe they’re 0x4.

For what’s it’s worth my favorites are Wizz A4s . Used set used to be around $300 idk what they go for now.
 

Rocket King

Member
Messages
50
I also say check out wolfetone.
I just changed the pickups in my Gibson 339 the other day, 57 classic to Wizz hot 'lanta.
Very cool indeed but they might be over budget for you
 




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