Replacement PUPs for 65 ES335 ?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by racecar, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. racecar

    racecar Supporting Member

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    I was at rehearsal on Thurs. night and had a couple of my guitars on hand. One of my favorite players is a 65 ES335 (not 100% original). When I compared it to some of the other guitars I had, the tone was dark and somewhat lifeless compared to the other two solid bodies with humbuckers in them.

    I have no idea what pups are in the 335, I bought it back in 1991 and I knew that it wasn't 100% original.

    I love the feel (and weight) of this guitar and looking for replacement pups that can bring it back to life.

    I have searched the threads and maybe I am just missing it. But if any of you with experience with older ES335's can make some recommendations on pickups, I would be greatly appreciative. I need to bring this baby back to life.

    My playing style is clean, with a bit of overdrive. I like some brightness and warmth......a nice balanced tone that will revive my baby.

    I have read about PAF style pickups with many recommendations, but as we know , they sound different in various guitars, so I am looking to focus on the 335, any advice or steering me in the proper direction would be very appreciated.

    I am also considering having it rewired or new pots.... my volume controls are not smooth (minimal linearity in volume increase or decrease, it either jumps up in volume, or drops real low, need more control over it) and was wondering what/if anything can/should be done about it.

    Thank you!
     
  2. Timmo

    Timmo Member

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    I have Tom Holmes PAF's in my '66 335 and they are well, perfect.

    You can thank me later.


    :cool:
     
  3. racecar

    racecar Supporting Member

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    aren't these like $400 each ?? Yikes! I have read very good things about them. But can't seem to find a price on them.
     
  4. Patrick2

    Patrick2 Member

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    I would bring the guitar to a good tech, have him disassemble the guitar with you there present. Look and see what you already have in there for pups before you think about changing them out. They might be great pups and your problem lies elsewhere. Sounds like you've already uncovered an issue with pots and possible caps. If you don't know of R S Guitar Works, google them, get their phone number and call them. Ask for Rusty. He'll talk you through what you should do. He's a real pro and he will not steer you wrong. You just might want to consider a total restoration to that ES335. If it's truly a 1965 and there wasn't too much alteration done to it, that might be worth doing. Maybe list here for us exactly what is NOT original about it?
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012
  5. frankiestarr

    frankiestarr Supporting Member

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    I have been messing with 335's all my life. To me , I think it comes down to two or three main sounds. Fat and juicy, classic PAF (bright humbuck sound, ) and or somewhere in between. I usually end up with fat and juicy baby ! Another thought, most of the boutique pickup winders who are going for old school PAF wind some very bright and articulate sounding PU's. I just put a set of WCR Darkburst in one of mine, very nice match. Classic and warm with a little bite....Others I use with great results are Scatterbrane, Guitarforce, Duncan's, Bare Knuckles, you can't go wrong with any of these names. There are many others too, and most seem very available to answer questions to help you make the right choice. Good luck !
     
  6. racecar

    racecar Supporting Member

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    All good advice so far.....

    The guitar is definitely a 65, what was changed were:

    Grover tuners replaced originals
    Trap removed and a stoptail replaced it.

    The pups are unknown, but definitely not original as they look too "new" to be from that era.

    Other than these "modern conveniences", thats all that has been modified.

    I can tell something is up with the pots or wiring harness. when I turn the volume down slightly, I get a huge loss in volume and vice versa. This is most apparent on the top volume knob.

    The tone in seems "ok" at low volume but when I play in a band situation, the guitar appears a bit lifeless and muddy. Very unlike the tone I get from my other guitars through my rig.

    I really love the feel of the 335, fits my smaller hands well, neck appears to be on the thinner side of 335's. My friend has a 68 and the neck is noticeably wider.
     
  7. racecar

    racecar Supporting Member

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    I am the fat and juicy type. Both in my looks and in the type of tone I want :) Thank you for your input.
     
  8. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    Pop the pickups out and have a look. You don't know which direction to go until you know where you are.
    '65 is the changeover from nickel to chrome. Chrome covered pickups would keep a new "look" much more so than nickel.
     
  9. racecar

    racecar Supporting Member

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    This is sound advice.......I need to ask, as I have never removed pickups (or have done any work on a guitar, short of changing strings), what should I look for? Is there a telltale part # on it, I know what a PAF looks like based on the many photos I have seen, I can assure you , they are not PAF's, so what, if I may ask should I look for? I guess I can take it to one of the guitar guys I use for set up, but is this something that is easy to do myself? Sorry to sound ignorant, but I am ignorant when it comes to doing this kind of work as I always left it to others (my bad).

    You are talking to a guy that for the first time in 30 years of playing took apart his amp to put a new speaker in a couple of weeks ago (I was successful) and almost had a heart attack trying to figure out the reverse order to put it all back together again. I felt like I was working on putting humpty dumpty back together again.....
     
  10. bc-cosmo

    bc-cosmo Member

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    I think you need to sort out your wiring harness first.
    That said, some pickups I've had that worked great in a 335: WCR Crossroads, Darkbursts, Seth Lovers, 57 Classics. The wood makes a big difference though.
     
  11. bc-cosmo

    bc-cosmo Member

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    Next string change, remove the four screws that hold the pickup ring down, pull the pickup out, take a close-up photo of the back side, then post here and you'll get wisdom from lots of experts. Or just have your tech do it. :)
     
  12. racecar

    racecar Supporting Member

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    This I can handle! I think this will happen next weekend.
     
  13. Patrick2

    Patrick2 Member

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    For 1965, it would not be too unusual for them to be some left over patent number pups . . . in which case, you'll see a decal with a long number on it. If they're a little later, they could be T tops . . but, I don't think you would know that without taking the chrome cover off. Don't do that!!Either way, patent number or T tops, they're great and expensive pups. That's why I recommended that you are present when a guitar tech disassembles your guitar. Most techs are honset and trust worthy. However, if your tech is of questionable character and he sees patent number pups, he could quickly and easily replace them with a more current and less expensive pup and swipe yours. Patent number pups could sell for as high as $800 each! I've seen them offerd for as high as $1,500 each.
     
  14. racecar

    racecar Supporting Member

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    Patrick,
    Thanks for the advice, I truly have no clue whats in there. I bought this back in 1992 from a guitar friend of mine who needed money quickly and offered it to me at a great price.

    He gave me disclosure about the "upgrades" done to the guitar...but never talked about the pickups...I thought it was kind a cool to have an old gibson like that, so I just bought it, played it a few times, put it away until a year ago, had to give it a fret job (done very well), really started playing it in the last 6-8 months. Feels great in my hands, so that's why I am looking to get the guitar "right", so to speak.

    I will remove the pickups next weekend when I plan to do a string change and I will take photos, I think I have a copy of an appraisal that he got way back when, maybe there is more detail on that as well.
     
  15. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    1965 is actually early in the patent number timeline. If the pickups are original I would expect them to be patent number stickered but probably not T-tops. The patent number sticker lasts into the 1970s
     
  16. gmann

    gmann Member

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    Never really be a fan of the '57 Classics but I have to say I've never heard a 335 that they didn't sound good in for some reason. In Lesters, not so much. I have a '64 335 that sounds amazing. A couple of yrs ago I got a '68 345 carcass with restoring it in mind. When I finally got down to pickups I went with www.doctorvintage.com. Rick is a great guy to deal with and he knows tone. He winds pups esp. for 3X5 guitars (as well as others). When I finally got the 345 together it easily sounded as good (some of my buddies say better) than my '64. Rick knows what he's doin' and is worth talkin' to about your guitar. I also agree with the other posters concerning gettin' your wiring harness straightened out. Pots and caps make a big difference IMO.
     
  17. Patrick2

    Patrick2 Member

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    Thanks for the clarification Sweetfinger.
     
  18. clothwiring

    clothwiring Supporting Member

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    Maybe someone already suggested it but have you tried changing only the caps to get a bit brighter tone?
     
  19. racecar

    racecar Supporting Member

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    Other than give it a pro refret, I have done nothing to this guitar. Up until about 8 months ago, it was in the "guitar closet" slumbering singe 1991 or 1992. I played it a few times, then just put it away and forgot about it. After the fret job, I fell in love with it's playability and used it for some gigs, but recently I did side by side comparisons with a couple of my other guitars and realized how dull it was compared to my other humbucker equipped guitars. I also realized using the guitar for the first time after the fret job that the volume control was not linear. One seems to be working somewhat ok, the other was quite apparently not right....

    My first step is to pull the pickups out and figure out whist they are. Then take the guitar to a trusted luthier who can further diagnose. I want this guitar right...it plays so well.
     
  20. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    Dull it should not be. Maybe a little less loud than some modern HBs, but dull is not right. I own a '66 ES-335 with stock everything, have played several others from that year, also a beautiful '67 locally, and the '67 a friend just bought. There are some variations, but all sound to me like essentially the same pickup. Which I'm guessing is the post PAF, pre-T top patent sticker.

    When this pickup sounds right (as it does in mine for sure and that local '67 335), there are no words. These are the pickups that made me fall in love with HBs and finally shut up about single coils only. They're my reference tone for humbuckers. Some I've heard seem weaker or duller than others ....

    I have not sampled extensively, but can tell you that Ian Anderson's p/us are in this class. Got a set recently for a MIJ Epiphone LQ Les Paul. Tonally, same ballpark as the pickups in my 335. That is, in terms of liveliness, openness of sound, quality of edge and drive sounds as the volumes go up. Ian's pickups are louder I think. The neck in his set is just a touch cleaner than the old Gibson pi/s, the bridge has a different kind of twang. What's the same is that smooth warmth and depth.

    It's hard to reason across guitar types like that ... all I can say is the Anderson p/us would be my first choice if anything happened to my 335.
    MD
     

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