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  1. #1

    1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    This is something I've had on my list of things to do and I finally got around to it. I picked up this 1959 Melody Maker from a fellow forum member back in the fall. Its a great playing guitar, however the stock pickup just didn't cut it. I wanted a P90 in it, however a standard P90 will not fit and however routing was out of the question. Jason Lollar makes a P90 with a narrow baseplate that fits within the cavity of the Melody Maker. I've had regular Lollar P90s before so I knew the pickup would sound great, however I wasn't crazy about the looks of its open bobbin design. I was pretty sure that I could adapt a P90 cover to it, so I went ahead and ordered the pickup. As it turns out, the pickup fits inside a standard P90 cover just fine, although the polepiece spacing is wider on the Lollar. Anyway, here's a pictorial of the installation:

    Guitar before mods


    I didn't want to modify the original pickguard, so I made a new one. I had cut the outer profile prior to receiving the pickup in the mail, so I didn't cut the hole for the pickup until I was sure what size to make it.


    Lollar P90 and a '60's vintage P90 cover.


    I elongated the outer holes to accommodate the wider polepiece spacing of the Lollar



    Cutout is laid out for routing.


    This is a fixture I made to rout the cutout


    Cutout routed. Note that I countersunk the pickup mounting screws for a flush mount because the P90 cover partially overlaps the screws.


    The cover was too tall to fit under the strings. I determined what height the pickup would be, then cut the cover down to match the height of the pickup bobbin above the pickguard (an unmodified cover is in the back)


    Lollar P90 resting in the cavity


    Pickup mounted in the guard. I used 6-32 flathead machine screws which have a hex drive for an Allen wrench. Even though the cover partially covers the screws, I can still get to the drive to adjust the height if necessary.

  2. #2

    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    I considered drilling a pair of mounting holes into the pickup bobbin, but instead opted for the easy solution; doubleback tape on the bobbin


    Pickguard wired and ready for installation


    Guard installed on the guitar





  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Beautiful work man, how cool is that? Bet it sounds fabulous!

  4. #4

    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    I guess I forgot to mention how it sounds. As expected, GREAT! Jason's website specs the pickup at 8.4K, however this one came in a little hotter at 9K. A-Bing the MM against my '57 Junior, they're very similar, with the Junior being just a little darker sounding. I've compared my '57 with other vintage Juniors in the past and its always had a darker tone than others. To my ears, the Lollar sounds pretty much typical of an average 50's Junior. It picks up 60 Hz hum just like a vintage P90, although its much less susceptible to microphonic feedback with high gain. All in all, I think it sounds great. I've been taking my Junior out to gigs lately and I've been a little nervous about it. I believe the MM is going to become my new gig-buddy.


  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member latestarter's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Very nice work - I really appreciate it when people take the the time to post the photo's and descriptions of the work done. Thank you!
    Otherwise known as Grant.

  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Member Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Looks great! Whenever you have time for a quick Youtube vid fire it up!

  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Member Trennasol's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Jones View Post
    Looks great! Whenever you have time for a quick Youtube vid fire it up!
    I'll second this request.

  8. #8
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Great work, glad to hear it sounds great as well!

  9. #9

    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Looks sharp -- good choice on the sopabar.

  10. #10

    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Great idea and great conversion!

  11. #11
    Les Paul Forum Member Kris Ford's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by latestarter View Post
    Very nice work - I really appreciate it when people take the the time to post the photo's and descriptions of the work done. Thank you!
    Well put! Me too. Dan is always good for that!

  12. #12
    loufed52
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    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Great job.

    Looks great, likely sounds even better.

    I've wanted to do one of these for a while.

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member oldflame's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    The MM looks great Dano. Neat and tidy work.

    As a matter of interest, had you already done the measurements to try and fit an original P90 and then decided against it because of the non-original outcome?

    It's just that I too have a 59 MM and want to fit a P90 and I'm still stuck on using an original P90 with either a shaved down Dog-Ear cover or the SG/Firebird type cover like you went with. I really prefer the dog-ear look.

    considering all that, using an original P90 with a shaved down dog-ear set up, do you have any idea how much routing you would needed to have done to get the pole pieces an 1/8" below the strings on both sides of the pickup plus the additional routing needed for the width of an original P90. I'm just worried about digging my way through the bottom of the guitar. It's all guess work this end at the moment.

    Thanks
    Missing the real ale.

  14. #14

    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by DANELECTRO View Post
    I guess I forgot to mention how it sounds. As expected, GREAT! Jason's website specs the pickup at 8.4K, however this one came in a little hotter at 9K. A-Bing the MM against my '57 Junior, they're very similar, with the Junior being just a little darker sounding. I've compared my '57 with other vintage Juniors in the past and its always had a darker tone than others. To my ears, the Lollar sounds pretty much typical of an average 50's Junior. It picks up 60 Hz hum just like a vintage P90, although its much less susceptible to microphonic feedback with high gain. All in all, I think it sounds great. I've been taking my Junior out to gigs lately and I've been a little nervous about it. I believe the MM is going to become my new gig-buddy.
    Yes its an oooooold thread. But it is the exact thing i was going to say.
    Melody Makers RULE!

  15. #15
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    I've heard that the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop has a nice replacement for the 59 [larger] Melody Maker pickup.
    Pauls to the walls!

    Hüter der Flammen!

    PLEASE SUPPORT www.burstserial.com !!
    Click here: www.burstserial.com

  16. #16
    Les Paul Forum Member Joewildbonsai's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wittrock View Post
    I've heard that the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop has a nice replacement for the 59 [larger] Melody Maker pickup.
    Really
    Yes they have, or make them
    http://customshop.seymourduncan.com/...rt=bestselling

  17. #17

    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wittrock View Post
    I've heard that the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop has a nice replacement for the 59 [larger] Melody Maker pickup.
    Its hard to imagine that a smaller seymour pickup in the stock size would be as transformative in changing the MM into a Junior as the Lollar does. But if the stock look is more important than sound then the seymour would be cool. Based on my recent experience im abouut to swap out a seymour antiquity dogear for a lollar in my 2003 gib usa jr. I think the lollar p90 just sounds bigger. The antiquity does sound good though. Its been in this guitar for a decade and a half.

  18. #18
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by JR.Deluxe View Post
    Its hard to imagine that a smaller seymour pickup in the stock size would be as transformative in changing the MM into a Junior as the Lollar does.
    Don't forget to add more wood to the back.
    Pauls to the walls!

    Hüter der Flammen!

    PLEASE SUPPORT www.burstserial.com !!
    Click here: www.burstserial.com

  19. #19

    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wittrock View Post
    Don't forget to add more wood to the back.
    Its true that the sound is not as deep. But you would be suprised how full the sound is. I had a seymour quarter pounder in the MM previous. It still sounded thin. The Lollar fattened up the sound . Im going to try one in my 71 deluxe.

  20. #20

    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Great job done in a smart way. The neck and fingerboard of these early MM are a joy but as you said the pickup doesn't do it justice. I wish I had thought of this when I had one.

  21. #21
    Les Paul Forum Member Joewildbonsai's Avatar
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    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wittrock View Post
    Don't forget to add more wood to the back.
    correct answer!

  22. #22

    Re: 1959 Melody Maker P90 Conversion

    If you really want to get accurate, the biggest sound factor in the dif between a JR and a MM is the neck joint more than body mass. The box joint of the JR has a more solid chunk than the canoe paddle neck joint on the MM. Dont take my word, Big Al said the same thing in a thread here a few years ago. Yoose gonna argue big Al?

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