Hi to everybody!
I have to upgrade a Epiphone Dot. The costumer wants a classical blues sound. I've attached the wiring diagram of the Epi Dot. Do you have any suggestion for caps, pots or electrical resistance in order to obtain this classical blues sound (BB King or something like that)?. The pickups are original Epiphone Dot pups.
The same costumer has a LP studio 1991. He has changed the pups and he has installed the pups of the Gibson 335. In this guitar he wants a classical rock sound (He loves rock music of the '70es). Do you have suggestions for caps pots and resistance?
Thank you for your time and help!
The wiring is pretty much standard Gibson for Blues and Rock as you have detailed in your JPG.. Providing the pots and caps used are of sufficient quality and the values are correct there is little to be gained tone-wize by changing brands of components. CTS pots and Sprague caps are quality stuff, but there are a lot of brand options and some different Pot tapers which comes down to what makes the individual happy. 300K pots will take the top end offa the tone, flatten out the attack gradient (slew rate or pick attack or whatever) and fatten it up for blues style playing - other wize 500K pots all round.
The BB King Lucille guitar tone is a different circuit (Google Gibson Lucille Varitone Stereo circuit) than a standard Gibson and can be got off the web.
Most Epiphones can do with a pickup change as the original pickups usually comes up short of tone. I would have thought that the Gibson 335 pickups would have been better off in the Epiphone if he wanted to do blues.
But, a nice fat set of blues style pickups like the S.Duncan 59's or Alnico 2 Pro or the Gibson "57 Classic and 57 Classic Plus" pickups are usually a good place to start to get these guitars going . Note: this is generic advice - we all have personal preferences and fave pickups and all rave about this pickup and that, but we are talking about Epiphones and LP Studios here and anything is usually an improvement. The Gibson 57 Classic/Plus work fine for both blues and rock and are pretty cheap these days. I would probably avoid Gibson 500T and all Burstbuckers for the above brief - they are a bit abrasive and overpowering.
Finally, make sure the customer has a suitable amp or better still, suitable amps for getting the sound out there.... if his amp is a nasty little solid-state squawk box there is little point in up-gunning the guitar if the tone is going nowhere.
This is only the start of this conversation, I'm sure.
I began playing professionally at age 15, in 1966.
I still have no idea what a "classic blues sound" or "that vintage tube amp sound" sounds like. There are thousands of variables within those categories.
I can tell you with complete confidence that 99% of ANY guitarist's 'sound' is made by their hands and playing technique. The guitar & amp (if they're quality units) only translate the mechanical & electronic component interaction into a final sound.
From a historical standpoint: most of the 'original' blues guys used whatever equipment they could come up with for the gig. A typical Chicago bluesman's setup would consist of a guitar (Strat, Les Paul, 335, Tele, Harmony, Teisco, Kay, etc [from quality to junk] ) a really cheap cable and an amp (Fender, Valco, Supro, Silvertone, etc). Simply having equipment was more important to them than the quality of the equipment.
Your friend's desire is shared by almost every guitarist at one time or another. The most distinctive & interesting guitarists abandon trying to sound like 'someone else' and develop their signature sound. That is precisely why they rose to the top, along with a good dose of luck & talent.
Anyway, your friend's quest will be much easier to complete if he tells you "I want my rig to sound just like [Joe Blow's] rig on [name of song]. ONLY then will you & he be able to get him into that ballpark. But I can't overemphasize the original artist's hands and technique as the TRUE secret to their sound.
Good luck with this. Your friend is beginning a long and potentially expensive journey.
For $20 bucks Stewmac has a product called Black Ice which replaces the cap. They even have a vid you view to hear the different sounds you can get out of it. You can wire it 4 different ways. I bought one and love it for doing Stevie Ray Vaughan.You can use on single coil or humbuckers. Just a thought.
I installed the Black Ice in a Mike Lipe guitar with two P-90's for a client and tied it to a push pull tone pot and the results were fantastic. The client is a devout blues player and he loves that extra drive on certain leads. The Lipe pickups were really nice to begin with and that helped the outcome immensely.
Thanks Paul V,
I didn't want to go there as my life is too short!.....Stefano, Paul has said what we all know - and said the things the manufacturers and merchants don't like to hear - it's pretty much in the hands of the player and a good rig really just tops of the tone equation.
Bit like playing tennis - a good player with a crap racquet will always beat a bad player with a good racquet -or as I say to my clients - don't buy a new git-fiddle or fizz box, go treat yourself to some lessons from a pro player and start saving for a good amp.
But, if you have the basic rig and guitar set-up it's a bit easier to work out how to get the sweet sound we all pursue.
My experience is that quality pickups are a good investment. Seems like some of the hand crafted models do have a qualities that will get you closer to some of the vintage tones of the master players. Lollar, Fralin, Amafitano, etc, etc... do have advantages. I have also found that the 'high output' models are not always the best choice if you want a good range of "classic" clean and dirty tones. Yes, it is mostly in the hands, but achieving a good starting tone is inspiring. As Rusty mentioned the amp is crucial part of the chain. Side note: BB doesn't use the VariTone switch. He turns it off.
Re-reading the original post. I realize we've gone off topic a bit. I concur with Rusty's suggestion of Pots and Caps!
You seem to know......
Can you describe to me what "vintage tones of the master players" and "classic clean and dirty tones" sound like? Is it the 'ice pick in your ear' sound of Albert Collins, the smooth mid-heavy overdrive of Albert King, the round tones of BB King or the muffled buzz of Hubert Sumlin?
The point I was trying to get across is that this is not a 'guitar repair' question as much as a 'how to play guitar' question.
Nowadays, the manufacturers are using the "classic vintage sounds" card to sell merchandise. No foul on their part as that's why they're in business. Folks would be appalled to find out that most of the 'classic' blues LP's and rock LP's were recorded using very cheap equipment. There were no Lollar or Harmonic Design pups, there were no quality cables (molded end Switchcraft cables were considered 'the best') and they used un-maintained amps whose only desirable spec was: it makes a sound.
Add to that the characteristic sound of the microphone and it's position when recording the amp, additional compression & EQ added during tracking & mastering and it's easy to see why this is a unicorn that millions of guitarists are chasing.
The 'magic bullet" Stefano's friend is truly looking for is called "practice, technique, dedication, attitude & experience". It's not in the equipment.
Let me close by being redundant: The point I was trying to get across is that this is not a 'guitar repair' question as much as a 'how to play the guitar' question.
Best of luck (:
Zeroing in on a player(s) sound and attempting to emulate some of that Mojo (as many people do) is not completely futile. Replicating a sound with pickups and amp can be somewhat accomplished with the certain choices of equipment. You are not alone in years of stage and studio. I hear what you're saying. I do not know of a single magic bullet either, but tweaking tone to a particular style/player via basic equipment selection is a viable route to pursue. The original question was fairly broad as was my response. Tom
I understand what you're saying. You say 'Go for it' and I say "It's a senseless journey".
I believe we can agree that, regardless of the equipment, the MUSIC that comes out of the gear is the MOST important element(:
It's kind of ironic to hear it's "all in the hands" in a forum that regularly discusses at length the myriad of fretting tools available that are designed to make fret work "all in the tools"
If a customer wants to sound like a certain player or even a certain style it helps a lot to have the same or similar gear. If you're in a Beatles cover band you probably don't want Eddies rig. More importantly I repair guitars for a living so if a customer comes to me with a request for a vintage sound, it's because they expect me as a professional to interpret their needs and come up with a solution. I can't make money off of "Shut up and play your guitar" I give the customer what they want.
The bottom line is you may not need great gear to get great tone, but you do need the same gear to get the same tone.
Alot of great ideas and wiring diagrams.
Thanks for the great site Casey, it's awesome.