jazzmasters - new custom players series - pickup mods etc

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joninc
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jazzmasters - new custom players series - pickup mods etc

Post by joninc » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:54 pm

hey all - i picked up a new custom players jazzmaster yesterday. they are made in mexico and go for about $900 CAN.

i am trying it out for a few days to see what i think and so far - i like the feel of the instrument a lot - feels very solid and well made BUT the pickups - the bridge PU especially makes my ears bleed. it's so harsh/cutting/spiky in the high mids - feels like someone took 4k on the graphic eq and just cranked it.

i do have decent amps (old fenders and vox) so i know that's not the issue here. i have only ever recorded the MIJ ones before and they were also similarly harsh. but i see other people using them (nels cline in particular) getting really sweet buttery tones. yes, i know he's an amazing guitarist and has a nice players touch etc.. but he's still playing a JM and his tone is not biting and harsh.

would his be heavily modded? weren't the originals similarly bright and therefore are famous for using in super twangy surf rock etc? or is he only using the neck pickup (top controls w/ roller thingy etc?)?

i am wondering if any of you have bought a newer JM and replaced the pickups with some lollars or some other brand of P90 type soapbox that tamed a bit of the bite without totally losing the character of the instrument.

any tricks for getting that mellower tone out of a newer JM? or is this the nature of the beast and i just have to learn to embrace it? (please say no) i am not expecting loads of sustain - just trying to diminish the "ice pick" effect.

(no i can't afford a $4k 1962 vintage ....)
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Post by Electro-Voice 664 » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:13 pm

Sorry I really don't know the answer however, I have a 1965 JM, and for a time I had a thinskin RI. Being able to play the two side by side was interesting. I sold the thinskin after realizing that the sound of the '65 was what I wanted to hear. That said I have never used any of the cool custom pickups that lollar Novak ect are making.
Maybe this thread will help in the search?
http://www.offsetguitars.com/forums/vie ... f=7&t=4133
Also, string gauge can be pretty important here too. 11's or 12's sound best to me.
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Post by kslight » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:32 pm

String gauge for sure, and I'd venture to say try flatwounds (I like Daddario chromes on the cheap). You have to remember that flatwounds used to be normal strings so especially for older surf stuff.. and I'd say a set of 11s. Try those first, and likewise play with pickup positions and tone controls...maybe roll off a bit? Definitely would start there before worrying about pickups...P90s are generally bright but I don't see a different P90 offering that extreme of a difference.
Curiously what Fender amp are you using? I find that for example on my Bassman the "bass" channel ie:normal as opposed to the bright channel sounds way better...and the bright channel doesn't do much for me. I rarely turn up presence at all and sometimes roll off treble. Not saying you don't know how to dial in your amp but these are all free/inexpensive things to try before throwing real money at it.

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Post by calaverasgrandes » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:36 pm

There is also a lot to be said about hitting a dark amp with a bright guitar.
Or eqing your amp to be a lot more dark. I've used that recipe for years to get a great bass sound.
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Post by joninc » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:41 pm

i have been trying it on my super reverb and a vibro champ as well as an ac30.

i like the flatwound idea. i usually play with 11s on my electrics.

i am partially wondering if many people use these guitars totally clean - a little OD seems to help tame the bite a little.

what kind of amps are you guys using?
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Post by Electro-Voice 664 » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:44 pm

Ross Compressor really saves the clean sound
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Post by joninc » Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:28 pm

Electro-Voice 664 wrote:Ross Compressor really saves the clean sound
how?
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Post by Electro-Voice 664 » Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:36 pm

takes it from plinky spikes to, "oh that sounds right"..
it shocked me how much better i thought the clean sound, sounded with the Ross
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Post by the finger genius » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:19 pm

I have a 1972 mustang, and it can be unbelievably bright / harsh, however, with the treble rolled off on the guitar and the mids up on the amp it sounds absolutely great. Thick, meaty, whatever.
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Post by Jim Williams » Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:04 am

The reason that pickup rips you a new one at 4k hz is because it's an overwound pickup, too many extra turns of wire to attempt to make it a hotter output pickup so it drives your amp harder.

Electric guitar pickups have a low pass filter response. They also have a resonant peak at the end of their response. Wind a guitar pickup with too many turns of wire tunes the low pass filter response downward and places a large resonant peak right at the glass breaking frequencies.

The solution is to use a vintage wound Jazzmaster pickup. Yes, it will loose some output, but just turn the amp back up and enjoy.
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Post by jgimbel » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:20 pm

I've got a Jaguar (I had an American RI, ended up selling it and getting a Mexican - sounds ridiculous but it has none of the issues the American did and sounds nearly identical). In some amps, brighter Fenders for example (there's a prosonic in the practice space I use), all knobs up, it's completely unlistenable. If I roll back the tone knob, more than I normally ever would, it sounds awesome. Into my vintage Reverberocket II it sounds great with the tone all the way up. So yeah the bright guitar > dark amp or dark guitar sound > bright amp thing seems to work really well for me. I tend to do micing that way though too - darker mics on brighter sources, etc. It feels weird for me to need to have the tone relatively far down to have a good sound, feels wrong, but I got over that after snapping myself out of it and just using my ears. Any chance you can get the exact sound you're looking for with the knobs on the guitar? I also do love putting my Jag through my Boss Super Overdrive, a relatively dark overdrive, with the gain most all the way down, it compresses those high spikes just right.
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Post by 0xeneye » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:39 pm

A cheap fix might be to just change the circuit that came within the switch electronics. i understand a higher value cap results in rolled off treble. An expensive solution would be to put in Lollar pickups. I would only do that if I knew exactly what i wanted and was sure those pickups could get me there.
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Post by jgimbel » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:54 pm

An even cheaper solution is to roll back the tone knob :D
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Post by lyman » Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:40 am

jgimbel wrote:An even cheaper solution is to roll back the tone knob :D
unless of course it's a coin-operated tone knob.

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Post by stereopathetic_banjo » Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:13 am

These are may be the expensive seats, but in my J. Mascis sig Jazzmaster I rewired it with good wire, good output jack, and nice pots. Took out the crap stock bridge and put a Tonepros bridge in there. The icing on the cake was dropping some Lollar Jazzmaster pups in there. It may have cost about $400 bucks to do all this, but I now have a guitar that I'll never sell, and that doesn't make me drool after vintage jazzes (can't say I wouldn't mind one, tho...).
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