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Pickups for 67 ES-335

joafink2

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
337
I have a player 1967 ES-335. It’s a great guitar, but not a museum piece... it’s been refretted and had a headstock repair.

It has the original pickups and pots, and it sounds pretty dull and lifeless to me.

Is it expected that this era pickups would sound darker/duller?

Any pickup recommendations for a more vivid/dimensional sound?
This is what you seek.

 
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proxy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
630
This is what you seek.

Thanks for the heads up. I have a different set of Throbaks in my Novo, and I adore them.

If swapping the bridge and checking the wiring doesn’t breathe new life into the guitar, I will look into these.

Also on the radar are ‘57s.
 

proxy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
630
Some will tell you, oh those are PAF's, they should be bright, chimey, smell and sound of Angel's farts, etc....

1) Check the pots with a voltimeter, make sure they are 500K. If they are 250-300K, then replace them with 500K pots.

2) Hit the pots, jacks, and switches with Deoxit. It truthfully does not hurt to set aside the original electronics and replace the entire harness, switches, and jack along with premium 500K pots. Small investment for what may be a marked improvement and save the cost of pickups.

3) If it still sounding dark and muddy, then yes, it the pickups.
Were they originally 250k of that era?
 

proxy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
630
what amp?
settings?
any pedals in the way?
Tried it with a bunch of amps with no pedals... CLRS, Carr Mercury, Laurel Canyon, and several other amps I no longer own.

Settings aren’t too dramatic, maybe a little extra treble and a little less bass.
 

drpoyer

Member
Messages
547
Certainly you could have a bum set of pickups, but those T tops can be very nice.
unfortunately the only way to know where the problem rests is to pull the harness and test the values on everything. Even then your won’t be sure till you put her back together.

Unless... you Have the Gibson nylon saddles? If so, Before anything else, I would change that.

It is a giant pain to do the electronics in an old 335 but worth it when it’s dialed in

All my 335s are set up the same way now and this cocktail was found by accident because they were the parts I had when I needed to do an install. It’s my go to set up for all my gibsons.

525-550k matched pots + - 10%. Also tested for even sweep because dead spots suck!

Tone caps: 015mf neck and .022mf bridge. I like PIO

A bone nut, a repro abr1 bridge or at least the saddles and PAF style pickups.

I have in my 335s: Holmes, 57 classics, T-Tops, Lollar Imperials and Custom Buckers. With a proper harness they all sound very good to exceptional and 95% of folks can’t tell the difference on tape between those pickups.
 
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Luke V

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,397
I had a '67 335 and it sounded great with the stock pickups. Should have never let that one go. I was playing mostly through a silverface twin with a Barcus Berry Hot Dot Box as a preamp.
 

proxy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
630
Certainly you could have a bum set of pickups, but those T tops can be very nice.
unfortunately the only way to know where the problem rests is to pull the harness and test the values on everything. Even then your won’t be sure till you put her back together.

Unless... you Have the Gibson nylon saddles? If so, Before anything else, I would change that.

It is a giant pain to do the electronics in an old 335 but worth it when it’s dialed in

All my 335s are set up the same way now and this cocktail was found by accident because they were the parts I had when I needed to do an install. It’s my go to set up for all my gibsons.

525-550k matched pots + - 10%. Also tested for even sweep because dead spots suck!

Tone caps: 015mf neck and .022mf bridge. I like PIO

A bone nut, a repro abr1 bridge or at least the saddles and PAF style pickups.

I have in my 335s: Holmes, 57 classics, T-Tops, Lollar Imperials and Custom Buckers. With a proper harness they all sound very good to exceptional and 95% of folks can’t tell the difference on tape between those pickups.
Thanks for the specificity. Is 525K-550K an attempt to get the pots back to original pot values, or is that a shift towards a slightly brighter set of pots than what would have been in a 1967 ES-335 originally?
 
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drpoyer

Member
Messages
547
Well kinda... 500k is the default value for humbuckers in the original Gibson’s. 67s should have 500k pots and .022uf tone caps. But that is spec not reality.

Your pots could be 450k, 380k, 510k, 530k Even though they are stamped 500k. There is no way to know without taking the harness apart and reading the pots on a meter. Those different values change the response of the pickups past the harness.


The values of the caps and the pots will either limit or open up a guitars frequency (mostly in the high end). But they also affect the feel of the guitar through a certain amp. The quality of those pots, their values and how they sweep are very important to many players. I am convinced any player with 1/2 an ear will hear the difference instantly. That difference I speak of is variance between the 300k pots of Gibson modern past verses the 500k values of gibsons past (and now the present). Even if nothing else’s changes In the electronics.

Gibson starting winding hot in the 70s and using ceramics. Firebirds, more so then any other Gibson Suffered this fate. Going from 6-7k with Alnico bar magnets to up wards of 20k with ceramic magnets. This changed the guitars tone completely. I dont have “proof” but it seems they used lower value pots to control the overly bright tones of those types of pickups. It has taken decades, but I believe Gibson has gone to original spec and often original wiring from the 50’s on most of the guitars that represent that era. That was not the case before and why I changed all my 335s out.

BTW... The pots themselves are not “brighter” per say. Think of them as a pipe and only so much water can get through. 500k lets much more water (top end) pass into the signal chain. The tone caps affect how the tone roll off works. I use a .015uf or even a .010uf cap in the neck to give that pickup a bit more air and less BOOM. You can always roll off some high end from the tone pot, you cannot add it when it’s choked off.


Your challenge is eliminating the variables.

Do you have The original nylon Saddles on that guitar?

That is an area of serious tone suck for many vintage Gibson's.

FJYI... its usually cheaper to have someone else sort, match and even build the harness then it is to buy dozens of pots to test and match has become far too expensive. But it is an excellent exercise for a player that is really interested in this type of work.


Were they originally 250k of that era?
Thanks for the detail. Is 525K-550K an attempt to get the pots back to original pot values, or is that a shift towards a slightly brighter set of pots than what would have been in a 1967 ES-335 originally?
 
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TP Parter

Member
Messages
1,176
Were they originally 250k of that era?
Originals for that time period should be rated 500K iirc, though they could be anywhere from under 400K to over 500K despite that rated value. But who knows if they are originals? Are you on terms with the original owner that would allow you to find out if they are in fact all original? If not an unknowing tech may have replaced them with 300K pots thinking that is what belongs on a Gibson.

Don't worry about losing that vintage warmth, dial your tone knob back some and it comes right back. Need the extra clarity and spank? Roll the knob back up. This is part of the recipe for that "Tele on steroids" tone of the '50s and '60s Gibsons some guys lust for. Personally I dislike that term, because to my ears it sounds nothing like a 'Tele on anything', it sounds like a proper Gibson should. The 300K pots are the mud in the modern era Gibson tone. It really sounds nothing like a Fender. All that midrange growl and thickness remains, it just grows real teeth and more balls.
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,657
Just because there always has to be a token 'that guy' in any thread, I really like the nylon saddles - they're not the tone disaster people seem to think and they help with tuning stability particularly on vibrato models but probably a bit with trapezes as well. An easy part to change to see if you prefer alternatives, but it's a question of taste rather than nylon=bad.
 

TP Parter

Member
Messages
1,176
Thanks for the heads up. I have a different set of Throbaks in my Novo, and I adore them.

If swapping the bridge and checking the wiring doesn’t breathe new life into the guitar, I will look into these.

Also on the radar are ‘57s.
The '57s are not gonna be a solution in an already dull sounding guitar. They are mid focused, with a pretty spongy bass response and mellow attack. Not a big, bold, bright tone at all. Switching out pots to 500K helps, but A2 mags are just a softer sound compared to A5. I used to flat out hate them, but over the years have grown to appreciate what they do. I have never been able to make them work for my general purposes though.
 

deytookerjaabs

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,264
Old Nylon is the ****. The new nylon stuff that's soft/sinks is no-bueno IMO, ABS saddles are closer. IIRC some of the early years of "nylon" is actually bone and I'm thinking about getting an EC Collins set of bone put on my 335 ABR one day but it's not much of a different feel from the actual 60's Nylon saddles.

That tech should be testing the wiring/pots first and foremost before moving onto anything else.
 

proxy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
630
Update

They started by only swapping out the bridge with the plastic saddles, replacing it with metal ones, and it is like a totally different guitar.

I love the T Tops now and the guitar feels articulate, responsive, and completely unveiled.

Like a NGD!
 

drpoyer

Member
Messages
547
That’s Cool, it’s a much easier solution...

A fair number of the old bridges will sag and wear so the radius is uneven. A new bridge usually feels really nice.


Update

They started by only swapping out the bridge with the plastic saddles, replacing it with metal ones, and it is like a totally different guitar.

I love the T Tops now and the guitar feels articulate, responsive, and completely unveiled.

Like a NGD!
 
Messages
541
Yup...glad it worked out.
Frankly, I would not have said switching away from nylon would help much, but every guitar is different.
What I WOULD say, though, is I've never heard a T top be anything less than stellar unless it was somehow damaged.
 

GenoBluzGtr

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,291
Best pickup I have ever put in my Heritage H535 are the Wolfetone Dr Vintage set. Phenomenal for that style guitar. I had a set of Lollar Imperials in it (previously my ALL TIME Favorite) and the Wolfetones blew them away.

Not to mention that Wolf has a 25% off Sale going on right now (Covid Discount)... you can't beat 1/4 of the price off a great set of pickups!
 

57gold

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,865
Have 6 guitars with vintage PAFs, 4 new instruments with Throbaks, one with OX4s and finally one with Fralin Pure PAFs, which I can recommend as the least expensive and great sounding. Throbaks are pricey but fine, OX4s less costly and warmer, which you may not want. Used to have Lollars in a couple of Collings, which are now much happier with Throbaks, much more articulate and colorful.
 

Voxshall

Member
Messages
1,252
Glad it worked out for you I prefer the sound of nylon in my 68 335 but you gain highend by swapping them, make sure you keep the old saddles in the case though, you don't want to lose them.
 

proxy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
630
Glad it worked out for you I prefer the sound of nylon in my 68 335 but you gain highend by swapping them, make sure you keep the old saddles in the case though, you don't want to lose them.
Yeah, def still have the originals in the case.
 




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