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  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member j45's Avatar
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    Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    I was just admiring our own Bill Morgan's "NGD" 1953 ES-350 thread and wishing that any of the ES-350T's I owned in the past would have had the full spaced pickups like Bill's instead of the cramped, narrow spaced p/u's located at atypical harmonics on the scale which cause (to me) sometimes unfavorable voices when compared to standard spaced Gibsons. Notice the proper wide spacing of Bill's 1953 ES-350's P-90's compared to the ES-350T and Byrdland models that followed just a few years later. This is my biggest complaint with all of the Gibson's that have the pickups placed on a different harmonic point on the scale. Does anyone know what harmonics a neck and bridge p/u are placed at on standard Gibson models and then what harmonics on the scale are the narrow spaced p/u's? To me a good Gibson neck pickup tone should have that flutey, blowing-into-a-Coke-bottle voice and that's what's missing on the narrow spaced models to me. The narrows can be a good sound but they just don't have that same voice. Justr like on a Strat, all three p/u's are basically the same, it's just that slight space between the neck p/u and middle p/u on the Strat that places it over harmonics that give that middle position that "quacking" voice compared to the Fender version of the flutey neck pickup voice. If you reposition the pickup even a 1/4" forward or backwards, you can sometimes land on a harmonic that will give a pretty harsh or nasty tone. I find this has been the case with quite a few vintage narrow spaced Gibson's I've owned (1960 Les Paul Special, Late 50's ES-350T, mid 60's SG Specials, etc). Don't get me wrong, some can sound pretty good but none can have that classic flutey Gibson neck position voice unless it's placed under the proper hatmonic in the scale.

    What bums me out even more with the "narrow spacers" is that you really lose that sweet funky and sparkly middle position because the interaction betweeen the neck position harmonics and the bridge pickup's harmonics are not the same as a standard Gibson's spacing. Again, it can sound good just like if you blend the neck and middle pickup on a three p/u guitar but the sound of a"narrow spacer" is a little closer to that voice than the big, sparkly, and funky tone of a neck and bridge position blended on a three p/u guitar. To be honest, the majority of close spaced Gibson's I've owned just did not have an exceptionally musical voice in the neck and middle position when compared to a standard space guitar. A few of them were actually slightly ugly, constipated, and phasey sounding (not in a good way) compared to my standard spaced Gibsons which leads to my upcoming question..

    In some cases it's obvious that Gibson just slid the neck pickup down out of necessity because of a poor initial neck joint/pocket design like the '59 LP Special where almost 100% of them have a weak neck joint to the point they eventually separate if not just crack off. I guarantee you that 9 out of 10 '59 Specials have some kind of issue there. So Gibson just moved the pickup away from the neck joint but did they even try to locate a musical harmonic? On some it almost seems they didn't even try.

    So my question to the more technical minded guitar geeks here, do all of the "narrow spacers" (LP Special, Byrdland, 350T, SG Special, etc.) have the neck p/u mounted at the same harmonic on the scale, or... are some models different and does it appear that on some no consideration was taken for locating a musical harmonic but rather they just scooted the neck p/u down far enough to make a stable neck joint without any regard for the harmonic voice and the effect it would have in relationship with the bridge p/u when switched to the neck position? Anyway, it's pretty obvious the Gibson's with either a weak neck joint and repositioned p/u or the scale requires a different position have a slightly different voice in the neck amd position when compared the classic Gibson Neck and middle voices. Does anyone know if Gibson uses a standard "secondary" or alternate harmonic positon for the "short spacers" or are they just random depending on the model and also what was most convenient when having to compensate for the weak neck joint designs?


    Bill Morgan's 1953 ES-350 will full width spaced pickups:


    1957 Byrdland with narrow spaced pickups
    Last edited by j45; 12-01-12 at 03:07 AM.

  2. #2
    Les Paul Forum Member abalonevintage's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Kerry, great discussion.

    I can't answer your question but I can add more commentary. If I had to "guess", I would say The original PU placement was done around the harmonics, and it was change to less sonically acceptable position out of necessity.

    In addition to the pickup location in relation to location of the harmonics, the phasing between the pickups changes with their relation.

    In the 1990's Seymour Duncan introduced the Little '59 and the JB Jr. They are "full sized sounding" humbuckers in a single coil size. As an experiment we tried to tap a Duncan JB Jr. and kick it out-of-phase. Because the two coils occupy the the width of a single coil Strat pickup, we thought it might be a cool new sound. Instead, the overall output of the pickup dropped to the degree it was completely unusable...not what we expected.

    Your criticism of the PU spacing is exactly why PRS came out with the Custom 22. Several pro players voiced their concern that the pickup spacing was wrong on the Custom 24. That forced Paul to rethink his original PRS design.

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    At first I thought you were talking about the WIDTH of the pickups (like narrow-spaced PAFs on Jazz guitars) but then I woke up and realized you're talking about where the pickups are placed on short-scale guitars (Byrdlands, 350Ts) and weak-neck joint guitars (double-cut specials).
    Given the design of those guitars, where else could the pickups go?
    Last edited by Litcrit; 12-05-12 at 05:20 PM.

  4. #4

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Every time I think I know something about guitars, it turns out that I don't...
    Simultaneously enlightening and frustrating.

  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    I agree that the change was out of necessity, some great players have used these narrow spaced models to their advantage, but you are right - the voice is totally different.
    The early double cut specials are great guitars! The '59's in particular have a huge neck and perform like monsters. I think the reason a lot have problems is they were inexpensive and abused. If something is more expensive and harder to come by more care is applied. There is definately less wood in the SG and more examples of stress failure in that design - but a whole lot of love for them as well. As we've all experienced with any model, you have to go through the haystack to find superior examples especially in the vintage lineup.
    Bill Morgans 350 is quite a peach! Breathtaking...

  6. #6

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    .
    Last edited by Emperor-TK; 03-08-16 at 02:23 PM.

  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Member abalonevintage's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Abalone, it's funny that you mention the PRS. I remember reading a Roman Rant about how PRS ruined the line when they shifted to the 22 fret models
    I was selling new PRS guitars when the 22 came out. There was a huge uproar about the square neck at the heel. It didn't bother me at all....but some people thought it was the dumbest thing ever!

  8. #8
    Les Paul Forum Member captaincanada's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    What about ES-175s, where the neck pickup is further in from the neck? Is that neck shorter, making the placement at the same harmonic as other regular Gibsons?

    What about those funky ES-330s and 225s that have just one P-90 in the middle? I've never played or heard those, but I imagine that the tone might be a little weird...

  9. #9
    Les Paul Forum Member captaincanada's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Also, coincidentally, one of my all time favorite examples of tone comes from the neck pickup on a Brydland:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS9bYIvu73c

    The guitar solo starts at about 2:17

  10. #10

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    .
    Last edited by Emperor-TK; 03-08-16 at 02:22 PM.

  11. #11
    Les Paul Forum Member j45's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor-TK View Post
    And there is an excellent applet that shows these calculations in real time:

    http://www.till.com/articles/PickupR...emo/index.html
    This is amazing. I guess I was wondering if anyone knew if all "short spaced" Gibsons have the neck p/u located at a similar harmonic or is it random. Some good points have been made, the "short spacers"can be taken advantage of and some good sounds can be gotten, just frustrating for me in the past when I wanted to get that "Gibson" sound, those guitars wouldn't do it, and I had no idea why. I always loved the SG Special but never could find one that had the same funky sparkle in the middle position as other Gibson's and didn't realize wh until maybe 10 rears ago. And if you like the sound itcertainly makes it equally as good, I just find them frustarting. I wonder if someone builds an SG Special with standard Gibson spacing...that would be something I'd love to hear. The 175's someone brought up are most affected in the middle position IMO....never quite as sweet as a full spaced and a little too "middy".

    Those single p/u Gibsons with pickup in center like the old single p/u 330's are great sounding guitars. I think Gibson was aware of what they were doing with p/u placement with those. Someone said those '60 and '61 (most 59's had full space that I've owned)LP Specials can sound good if you "go with" the more midrangey sound. Those LP Specials are some of the ones that come to mind when wondering if the pickup move necessary from the weak joint was thought out in terms of what it would do to the guitar's voice. They seem to be the worst to me but I do know some like them. As another member said, I also avoid those for that reason. I would bet the Byrdland was a calculated effort even though the middle position always suffers as compared to what I want or expect to hear from a Gibson. It would be interesting to know what interval the "chime" harmonic is on the "short spacers" compared to the full.

  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    The 350t is a short scale. The pickups are closer spaced but still have the same relationship to the node points. It is where the 24th fret would be on the neck pickup. The spacing is due to the overall shorter length between bridge and nut. A lot of the tonal difference is due to scale length. Much as a long scale Gibson like a 25 1/2 inch scale L5S sounds much different to a 24 3/4 inch scale like a Les Paul. The 24 and 22 fret PRS have the same scale length and the pickups are in a different relationship.

    My issue on the wonderful T models isn't scale length as much as nut width. I wish they had a 1 11/16 width!!! My sausage fingers need some space!
    The older I get, the better I was.

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member j45's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    The problem with the 350T, or at least the several I've owned was the close spacing interfered with what I think is the optimum relationship of harmonics between neck and bridge p/u when placed in the middle position....not nearly as sweet as the mid position on a standard spaced model. And while we're talking about it, here are pics of three of my 350T's for "visual aid". I never found the mid positions to be nearly as musical and sweet as my other Gibsons. Didn't stop me from owning them but did prevent them from ever becoming some of my favorites. I just think a Gibson with standard spaced pickups is an all around better balanced guitar when taking all three positions into consideration.






  14. #14

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    I love reading your observations because they are always highly informative and steeped in accurate tonal wisdom which much of the internet lacks. I do tend to play mine only on the neck pickup, I will use the middle position occasionally, and I hate the bridge pickup by it's self. But...... boy do I love my 350T.
    Every time I play it in front of an audience they love it and every guitar player that has played it loves the sound of it. They do struggle over the neck width and scale length but the sound is wonderful. It's not great for all applications because of feedback issues at certain volumes but I think they are one of the best deals on the vintage market.

  15. #15

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    .
    Last edited by Emperor-TK; 03-08-16 at 02:22 PM.

  16. #16

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    When I bought my first thinline carved-top, a '60 Byrdland, I found that it had something of a squawky sound. I wasn't sure whether to ascribe it to the thin body, short scale length, close pickups or the name "Byrdland" on the tailpiece. :-) It was still a great guitar and I played it a lot until I decided that I was much more comfortable on a longer-scale, wider-neck instrument.

    Later on I got some thin bodies with a 25.5" scale and eliminated the body depth from the equation, since they didn't squawk. That still left scale length, pickup spacing and the Byrdland name. I eventually eliminated the latter with a long-scale Byrdland that, not too amazingly, sounded very similar to my thin L-5's.

    Here's a photo of two squawkless thinline Gibsons, long-scale Byrdland on the left, L-5 CT on right:



    Since I much prefer the longer scale, finding the cause of the squawk problem no longer intrigues me.

    As for neck pickup location, when I had a guitar with a moveable pickup, I seem to have left it in this location:



    The guitar is a 1959 L-4C. (Sorry for the poor photo--it's a 47-year-old print from a Polaroid Swinger and has seen better days).

    As you can tell, I really have nothing useful to add to this thread--just felt like posting a few photos.

    Danny W.

  17. #17
    Les Paul Forum Member j45's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    My statement about the 175 was a bit irresponsible and I should have kept my comments on topic with the guitars that I was asking about in original post as to not get myself confused. Keeping somewhere in the numbers between 180 and a little more than 200 vintage guitars at home at all times over the past couple of decades was a burden in more than one aspect.....confusing details is one for sure. I found that coupling the top with a soundpost helped on 175's when wolf tones and phasing caused dead notes... another topic altogether but drifted between the two. I also wonder what luthiers are listening for when they "tap tune" spuce tops for archtops and how ofen the inability to do so with laminated tops significantly affects a guitar. My experience with laminate fully hollow guitars is that they vary most widely in consistency of voice. Quite a few have dead spots as well as wolf tones compared to spruce top and especially compared to semi hollow bodies. Violin and cello builders use a soundpost to "tune" the top and back so the instrument has favorable resonant frequencies. The luthier that fit a soundpost in my 175 works with violins and showed me how the random tuning of the pressed plywood tops pose a problem when compared to the "tap tuned" spruce tops. No two laminate top guitars are the same when it comes to the relative pitches between top and back... it's like have drum heads that are tuned in random fashom with no way to correct if you have cancellation. I post some pics of the process and had pone guitar than really came alive when top and back were couples and tuned. One particular 330 had terrible wolf tones and dead spots as well as a 1959 ES-175. Both responded to the violin type tuning and sounded "sweeter" when plugged in. I was confusing guitars when i mistakenly mentioned the 175 while discussing the "short specers". I never got the '62 330 to sound as sweet as my '59 which just happen to have extremely favorable resonances from the factorybut the '62 improved quite a bit and especially got rid of those wolf tones that sound like a ghost note slightly detuned and phasey from the note you are playing in certain spots. This can be fixed with a sound post and a violin/cello builder who knows how to find the proper location friction fit the post with just enough pressure to "tune" the top to the back in a way that rids the guitar of phasing issues..

    The original "Varitone" was an adjustable screw that allowed the owner to tune his top to taste until Gibson had to remove the accessory due to wararnty issues from over enthusiatic owners over-tightening. We've discussed this as well. I'm still wondering if the move Gibson made due to neck joint failures on '59 LP Specials was a harmoncally calculated move or only to get the pickup rout out of the tendon to increase strength. each "short space" LP Special i've owned had ands awkward voice in neck and middle position and wondering if that is the cause. Also, do SG Specials have the standard harmonic relationship between neck pickup and bridge pickup? This is another guitar that I never could warm to due to the middle position not sounding like what I expect from a Gibson.

  18. #18
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    This is totally of topic sorry.

    But J45...

    Of the vintage SGs Les Pauls and ES you have had.
    Did you ever have one that was totally without deadspots/wolftones.

    I suspect the ES and SG most if not all of them had some wolfnotes/phase cancelleation??

  19. #19
    Les Paul Forum Member j45's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by c_wester View Post


    But J45...



    .....I suspect the ES and SG most if not all of them had some wolfnotes/phase cancelleation??



    No, for example out of several ES-330's one in particular had almost perfect balance everywhere and every note "sank" deep into the wood with superb give and take. It was like having power assist steering on a car compared to crude manual. Let me add that some of these are things I noticed when geeking out with other enthusiasts,builders, and luthiers doing shootoutsfor research, or for me to upgrade or make decisions on which to keep for my collection. In my "other life" I play guitar for a living and for that I find just about any decent guitar will do in a pinch. But, when weighing one against another searching for the best example, some models in particular had less inconsistency and ease of getting a "great example"...... more inconsistent than others. For example, I don't think I ever had a pre-1964 335, 345, or 355 that wasn't a very good guitar. For me, the full hollow bodies with laminate tops and narrow spaced p/u models were most inconsistent. When it came to 330's, 225's, and 175's, I did have some excellent examples but found that about half were sub-par in the big picture of vintage Gibsons. Then every now and then...not that often but it did happen... one would come along that was just plain raunchy. Lots of dead spots on the fretboard and the ove all thing fought back like the body had a resonant frequency of its own that would clash against the fundamental voice. Kind of like when you may be singing into a mic and the acoustics of the room are creating a pitch just slightly off from where you are with a waivering ghost note. Very offputting.

    This is another reason I had a hard time justifying the keeping of my collection when prices went so high. The idea that seemed to be going around that all vintage guitars are really great just because they are old was pretty misguided. Most of them are good guitars but pretty average within that classification and those really special guitars where everything lines up just right to create the "magic" that everyone seemed to be chasing after in vintage are few and far between. A very small percentage are truly "special" IMO. I think there is a lot of truth to the "cork sniffing" stereotype that somehow is presented as a stigma. There are different ways to looking at and appreciating everything from wine to guitars. I don't see anything wrong with being a "connoisseur" whether it's appreciating the small nuances of fine wines or the most delicate minutia of what makes a fine musical instrument. Outside of my work where a balance of utility vs. quality is important I still love to spend time geeking out over the finer nuances of guitars. I think it's important to understand that making music with a guitar and appreciating fine instruments are two completely different things and one does not necessarily have any bearing on the other.

  20. #20
    Les Paul Forum Member hogy's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    EDIT: Nevermind, I see it has already been mentioned.

  21. #21

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    I think it's important to understand that making music with a guitar and appreciating fine instruments are two completely different things and one does not necessarily have any bearing on the other.
    That is so well said, and I love both aspects of being in the guitar world, but they are two completely different highs. It is always a privilege to have someone come up to you after they hear you play live and complement you on your playing. But the joy of setting with a fellow tone chaser and comparing guitars, amps, speakers, tubes, etc., that is the reason forums like this exist. Unfortunately on the forums we can only discuss this stuff in sonic adjectives. My hope for everyone is that they have the opportunity to have someone in their life that they can have the physical experience of hanging with like J45. And for all us old farts that have a house full of great gear we need to make sure to teach the young people in our lives that there really is a difference in how this stuff sounds.

    I do love the forum!

  22. #22

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Would reversing the neck pick-up on any of these instruments add or remove the 'whistling coke bottle' sound? (I like to call it the 'shimmering sword' tone.)

    i.e.,Would flipping the adjustable pole pieces on a neck humbucker so they were further from the end of the fretboard instead of being adjacent to the end of the fret board detract from the 'whistling coke bottle' sound?

    On the other hand, would positioning the pole pieces on a Byrdland/ES350 so they were farther from the fret board offer a different, possibly better, harmonic result?


    I've been under the impression that it doesn't matter either way.

    Thoughts?

  23. #23
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    ANgus Young's 10K$ Signature SG is 1.555" nut width copied from his 68 that all the recordings with the perfect tone.

    I had a late 60's, 1 9/16th's inch nut width, ES335 and it was alright. When I was younger I really liked the narrow nuts (string spacing) for some chording and speed guitar leads. Fast forward to now my decades of approach to the guitar has changed - 1 11/16ths inch is just fine by me.

    The E to E string spread on the saddle is another story.....

  24. #24
    Les Paul Forum Member j45's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by tippy View Post
    ANgus Young's 10K$ Signature SG is 1.555" nut width copied from his 68 that all the recordings with the perfect tone.

    I had a late 60's, 1 9/16th's inch nut width, ES335 and it was alright. When I was younger I really liked the narrow nuts (string spacing) for some chording and speed guitar leads. Fast forward to now my decades of approach to the guitar has changed - 1 11/16ths inch is just fine by me.

    The E to E string spread on the saddle is another story.....
    Really don't think the difference in the nut widths would have anything to do at all with the harmonics the pickups see or a noticible variation of tone..

  25. #25
    Les Paul Forum Member abalonevintage's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Here's a photo of two squawkless thinline Gibsons, long-scale Byrdland on the left, L-5 CT on right:
    Those are THE bomb!

    The luthier that fit a soundpost in my 175 works with violins and showed me how the random tuning of the pressed plywood tops pose a problem when compared to the "tap tuned" spruce tops.
    Our friend and very respected luthier Billy Chapman, put sound posts in his Gretsch guitars decades ago. He swore by this technique....and he certainly convinced me. As someone who is almost exclusively a solid body player I have never experimented with this, but it clearly should be adopted by more players. Good call, Kerry.

    Also, do SG Specials have the standard harmonic relationship between neck pickup and bridge pickup?
    Not really an answer, but....If I am locating placement for a pickup on a custom instrument, I check neck pickup placement (as opposed to measuring it) by seeing if I can get a harmonic "chime" directly over where the pole pieces would be.

  26. #26

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    My '63 L5CT had pickups added at some point in time, and probably not by Gibson. The placement of the neck pickup is slightly closer to the neck than standard (the pointed tip of the f'board binding was cut off), and the spacing of the two pickups is also slightly off the standard spacing. Regardless of that, this guitar (parallel braced) has the sweetest, warmest, fattest, most sustaining tone of any Gibson archtop I've ever owned- and I've had many over the years.




  27. #27

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    And here we have three different pickup spacings, photo from 1971:



    Even with some squawk, the Byrdland was a beautiful guitar.

    Danny W.

  28. #28

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by abalonevintage View Post
    Our friend and very respected luthier Billy Chapman, put sound posts in his Gretsch guitars decades ago. He swore by this technique....and he certainly convinced me. As someone who is almost exclusively a solid body player I have never experimented with this, but it clearly should be adopted by more players. Good call, Kerry.

    A soundpost under the bridge in my '62 ES-330 helped improve a smoother decay of fretted notes. Previously, notes would die out quicker and wobble a bit in the decay. It's my favourite guitar right now.



    Is the neck pickup position on the short-neck early/mid 60s ES-330 model in the same spot as a 335-style? Visually, it appears so but I haven't measured it.



    I had a '65 SG Special with the narrower pickup spacing and never attributed the more mid-rangey tones to the spacing, but that makes sense to me. The neck pickup was never quite "there" for me, and I eventually sold it.




    Yes, I seem to have a thing for red Gibsons...

  29. #29
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by JimR56 View Post
    My '63 L5CT had pickups added at some point in time, and probably not by Gibson. The placement of the neck pickup is slightly closer to the neck than standard (the pointed tip of the f'board binding was cut off), and the spacing of the two pickups is also slightly off the standard spacing. Regardless of that, this guitar (parallel braced) has the sweetest, warmest, fattest, most sustaining tone of any Gibson archtop I've ever owned- and I've had many over the years.



    Great guitar!

  30. #30

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Thanks Michael. It's a "player's guitar" for sure. A little beat up (it was that way when I got it), but it has that magic mojo. Almost plays itself.

  31. #31

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    I'm looking to buy an early/mid-50s ES-350 and when researching them I ran into something interesting with the neck pickup position, and remembered this thread that J45 started a couple of years go... so I thought I'd revive the discussion.

    There are two positions for the neck pickup... early (further from the fretboard, but in the same position relative to the scale as a LP gold top - the ES-350 has two fewer frets so it appears it's further from the 12th fret, but it's actually in the same position):




    And, the other position which is closer to the 12th fret, and right up against the fretboard... so as a result this is a further pickup spread than you would get with a P90 LP:



    And a later one with the 4 controls + toggle (like the photo of Bill Morgan's above in the first post):




    Thoughts on this ?
    Last edited by valcotone; 11-15-14 at 09:30 AM.

  32. #32
    Les Paul Forum Member Kris Ford's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Alos, something to consider is comparing the '71 SG Standard PUP spacing to the '71 SG Deluxe..the pickup was about a half inch or so from the fretboard edge on SGs from 61-71..then on the Deluxe, the PUP butts against the fretboard and stayed that way for almost 20 years..this is due to the neck set being deeper, but that flutey, vocal sound (quite LP like) is much more evident than a SG with the traditional spacing..then in 1974, the bridge pickup moved back closer to the bridge..perhaps these were issues noted by Gibson's designers, and maybe this was done to correct that..

  33. #33
    Les Paul Forum Member chuckNC's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by Kris Ford View Post
    ..then in 1974, the bridge pickup moved back closer to the bridge..perhaps these were issues noted by Gibson's designers, and maybe this was done to correct that..
    That forward positioning of the bridge pickup yields a sound I'm not crazy about. Not commonly used on Gibsons (any besides the SG Special?) but common enough on 60's Gretsches that move the pickup forward to make room for the string mute. Kind of a funky sound but not as useful to me as the more rearward bridge pickup position. Less snarl.
    Last edited by chuckNC; 11-17-14 at 04:21 AM.
    If it sounds good, it is good.

  34. #34
    Les Paul Forum Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    It is a matter of SCALE not that one is in different distances. Short scales have shorter distances and tighter spacing. The location is the same, relative to harmonic node points as longer scale. What you are adverse to is short scale. The Scale length has a profound effect on the tones heard.
    The older I get, the better I was.

  35. #35

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Hey Big Al - I agree the scale is different in the later 50s ES-350T and the Byrdland, but that's not what's going on with the early 50s ES-350 and LP Special, right?

  36. #36

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    I really miss Kerry's insightful comments. Hope he may come back sometime soon. wow
    All the best to you J45 !


  37. #37

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Any other comments on the 2 different positions for the neck pickup on the older ES 350s above?

  38. #38
    Les Paul Forum Member chuckNC's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by Unbound Dot Neck View Post
    I really miss Kerry's insightful comments. Hope he may come back sometime soon. wow
    All the best to you J45 !

    This is you're lucky day -- all of ours, really. Glad you're back, Kerry/J45!
    If it sounds good, it is good.

  39. #39

    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Doesn't the pickup position to some extent get washed out once you're fretting notes further up the neck?

  40. #40
    Les Paul Forum Member j45's Avatar
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    Re: Full and Narrow Spaced Vintage Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Palmer View Post
    Doesn't the pickup position to some extent get washed out once you're fretting notes further up the neck?


    Just wow, I can't tell you how nice it is to read what you fellows have written. Been through a really tough year, diabolically blindsided actually, but I'm sure a lot of you guys have gone through the big "D". Joseph, the relationship between pickups and the harmonics on the scale of the soundboard does not change no matter where you fret...and if you think about it, even more so, the combined effect and relationship in the middle position harmonics stays even more odd on the narrow spacing in the middle position...this is where I've always had my gripes with those narrow spaced Gibsons and they never get that sweet, funky and sparkling tone that the "full" spaces do to me. I think of Leo Nocentelli's classic mid position sounds with the Meters as the definitive "middle" tone...even though many of those recording were on Jazzmasters, the Gibsons do that equally as well.. especially P-90's. Also, even when you fret on single pickup, the place that individual pickup is set on the harmonic scale is what determines that "sound" of the pickup. All three Stratocaster pickups have very different sounds and it's not because they are different pickups...they are all the same pickup...it is the location on the harmonic that determines the tone of the pickup...no matter where you fret... a neck pickup still sounds like a neck pickup no matter where you fret... it doesn't begin to sound like a bridge pickup. It's the location in the harmonic scale that makes a bridge pickup sound like a bridge pickup, neck like a neck, middle like a middle. I just haven't heard a narrow spaced Gibson with the sweet middle sound of the standard positioned p/u's. It seems to me the change was made for structural reasons at the expense tone. Pickup positions are not just a random thing...there are very dead harmonic spots that if the p/u is placed there you get a raunchy, somewhat "cheap" sounding guitar. I learned this the hard way trying to modify guitars for different p/u's and placement without understanding the precise placement in the harmonic scale is a very specific science and totally responsible for the great harmonic tones we get from guitars built this way.

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