Frustrated w/ T-top's

Lolaviola

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Here is the deal: I've had this 79 Les Paul Custom with the stock T-top sound, forever it seems, and I feel like it could be so much more better.
Tried 50's wiring, tried 500k pots and 50's wiring and it just seems to accentuate the weakness of the T-tops. Can anybody relate? There's a large chorus of T-top lovers and they recommend them for everything, but do you think Randy and Angus were playing these 7.3k stock pickups?

In the 90's I used to play thru a Big Muff and a Marshall and sort of dealt with the linear 300k volumes. But recently I've been listening to this guitar thru my new amps, and it has a voice that's matured for sure, but I feel like I'm not getting the best out of that voice and not getting enough interaction with the amps. I have a 1x12 deluxe style combo that makes the guitar sound overly stiff and bright. Thru my Mesa Mk1 it's pretty good but could use more push and more usable range on the vol and tone.. I just acquired an Epi Explorer and that guitar seems to interact with the amp better.

Is the answer More powerful A5 pickups? Or would you go in the more vintage/unpotted/A2 route?
 

Duane_the_tub

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Hotter pickups might be the answer if you're looking for a ballsier sound, but keep in my mind that it can be a lot easier to stick an OD pedal between your guitar and amp than to back off a hotter set of pickups and still get the tone you want. The neck pickup in my No. 1 LP is 7.3 as well, and I'd much rather start there and build up when I need to.
 

jbash

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Your answer is ditch the 50s wiring.

I had the same issue with clones.

T tops were not designed around 50s wiring which shaves off a bit lows and has more highs full up. I was NEVER able to get the T tops beefy enough in my guitars, until I made the switch back to modern wiring and now all is right with my tone world.

Also don't forget that T tops were often paired with ridiculously low K rating volume and tone pots.

Spamming the forums lately with this pic- T top clones by Rewind. Stock Gibbo wiring w/ orange drops- measured pots all 490-520K.

rewind1.jpg
 

OldBenKenobi

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Randy played with T-Tops, but look at the rig: MXR Distortion+ with the level dimed, MXR 10-band EQ with a midrange boost, cranked Plexi modded for higher gain.

Your answer is ditch the 50s wiring.

I had the same issue with clones.

T tops were not designed around 50s wiring which shaves off a bit lows and has more highs full up. I was NEVER able to get the T tops beefy enough in my guitars, until I made the switch back to modern wiring and now all is right with my tone world.

Also don't forget that T tops were often paired with ridiculously low K rating volume and tone pots.

Spamming the forums lately with this pic- T top clones by Rewind. Stock Gibbo wiring w/ orange drops- measured pots all 490-520K.

View attachment 491693
Absolutely stunning guitar. Double blacks are gorgeous.
 

Marshall50w

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Gary Moore got plenty of a fat rock sound out of his Les Paul Standards with low output PAF's. So as suggested by others, perhaps using more distortion or a pre amp etc to boost the signal is the way to go. I have a 1978 Les Paul Custom with T Tops and that guitar can rock out with the best of them.
 

cooljuk

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This has come up a great deal on this form, lately. It's T-Top season! "T-Tops" are not all the same. T-Tops of the late 70's don't sound or feel the same as patent number decal T-Tops of the late 60's and, thought T-Tops are much more consistent than PAFs, they are not all the same even in a given era. I've identified multiple coil patterns on patent number decal T-Tops. Some can nail Page / Randy in the right rig, others sound thinner and/or feel softer.

Particularly for "T-Tops" in 1979, maybe as early as 1978, Gibson was doing completely different things with pickups that happen to have patent number stamps and T's on the bobbins. Though they have T's, it would be hard to consider them anything close to the T-Tops most people think of (patent number decal T-Tops) as some have ceramic magnets and different internals.
 

strayedstrater

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DiMarzio and Duncan started a whole industry pretty much based on replacing T Tops. And the people who love them are a fairly small niche -- otherwise there'd be a lot more copies.

Your solder joints aren't original after changing pots and such, so there's absolutely no harm trying other pickups. And after changing pots and such, you've given the T Tops a fair shake. No shame in moving on.
 

jbash

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DiMarzio and Duncan started a whole industry pretty much based on replacing T Tops. And the people who love them are a fairly small niche -- otherwise there'd be a lot more copies.

Your solder joints aren't original after changing pots and such, so there's absolutely no harm trying other pickups. And after changing pots and such, you've given the T Tops a fair shake. No shame in moving on.
They did, but it was because amplifiers were not keeping up with the demand for more and more gain, and Gibson went with a cleaner sounding design.

These days T tops are making a big comeback because ALOT of great music was made with them, and we have more gain in amplifiers than most will ever need ( and T tops tend to handle high gain better than many PAF types- metal guys are jumping on the bandwagon). For my part I can say I have far more classic players and songs made with old "crappy" T tops and "crappy " low output Fenders 70s strat pickups on my list than Dimarzio and Duncan users by far.
 

TM1

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I would try replacing the magnets in your T-Tops with A-4's from Throbak. I think that might be more to your liking. I have a number of T-Tops and most of them just sound "O.K.", but when I put a Throbak A-4 in them they came alive. I would not use the regular old A-4's you buy on Ebay, etc. as those are all Chinese made and are a much different formula than the Throbak's which are made here in the States using the original 50's & 60's mix of alnico.
 

Lolaviola

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They did, but it was because amplifiers were not keeping up with the demand for more and more gain, and Gibson went with a cleaner sounding design.

These days T tops are making a big comeback because ALOT of great music was made with them, and we have more gain in amplifiers than most will ever need ( and T tops tend to handle high gain better than many PAF types- metal guys are jumping on the bandwagon). For my part I can say I have far more classic players and songs made with old "crappy" T tops and "crappy " low output Fenders 70s strat pickups on my list than Dimarzio and Duncan users by far.
It’s funny but I’ve been amazed at all the “love” for these pickups lately.
If you read the threads about t-tops from ten years ago then you get a whole different picture. The 60’s t-tops notwithstanding, there was a whole lotta meh for the sound of these in late 70’s Gibsons. I think that the consensus was that you could replace your t-tops with Duncan 59’s and be happier. Just saying.
 

Antigua

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Here is the deal: I've had this 79 Les Paul Custom with the stock T-top sound, forever it seems, and I feel like it could be so much more better.
Tried 50's wiring, tried 500k pots and 50's wiring and it just seems to accentuate the weakness of the T-tops. Can anybody relate? There's a large chorus of T-top lovers and they recommend them for everything, but do you think Randy and Angus were playing these 7.3k stock pickups?

In the 90's I used to play thru a Big Muff and a Marshall and sort of dealt with the linear 300k volumes. But recently I've been listening to this guitar thru my new amps, and it has a voice that's matured for sure, but I feel like I'm not getting the best out of that voice and not getting enough interaction with the amps. I have a 1x12 deluxe style combo that makes the guitar sound overly stiff and bright. Thru my Mesa Mk1 it's pretty good but could use more push and more usable range on the vol and tone.. I just acquired an Epi Explorer and that guitar seems to interact with the amp better.

Is the answer More powerful A5 pickups? Or would you go in the more vintage/unpotted/A2 route?
When CBS took over Fender, apparently they started putting less wire on the pickups, probably to save some money, and the result was a lower inductance, weaker pickup that sound borderline shrill. I'm not as familiar with Gibson's history, but I've seen multiple posts stating that people measure DC resistance in the 7k range with T-tops, and I wonder if Norlin, like Fender, standardized a lower turn count on their pickups. IMO, the whole aftermarket pickup industry owes a debt of gratitude to Fender and Gibson for cutting corners with their pickups, and not recognizing how particular guitarists would be about the transfer function of that particular electrical component. If your T-tops are measuring in the 7k range, it might be that they're not wound hot enough for your liking.

Supposing it's the case that you don't like the T-Tops because they have low inductance, and are just too bright, one hack you can try that costs almost nothing, is putting cacitors in parallel to the pickups (one side of the cap to the pickup's hot lead, the other to ground) in order to lower their resonant peaks to resemble the peak of a hotter pickup. Amazon sells capacitor assortments. In general, a neck pickup with 2 or 3 nanofarad caps across them will end up sounding more like a modern "bridge pickup", it will push the resonant frequency down about 500Hz and make the pickup feel hotter and fatther. But with some aligator clips, you can try lots of different values out very quickly, with the guitar plugged in and the amp turned on.

The thing about driving the peak frequency down with a cap instead of more wire on the bobbin is that the peak will drop, but the voltage output will not increase, because the voltage output correlates with the inductance and not the capacitance, but I have a belief that the output voltage is already rather high, due to the geometry of a PAF type pickup alone, and that what's really important is just reducing the peak frequency, so that you will get a more barking tone out of the pickup, not necessarily more voltage.

The funny thing is though, that lowering the peak frequency can make the pickup sound louder too. Sometimes when you turn the tone knob down to zero, it sounds very muffled, but also louder, because of the 22nF cap on the tone control as moved the resonance down below 1kHz, and it just sounds louder. This cap hack is the same idea, just with much smaller value caps, so that the change isn't as extreme.
 
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cooljuk

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When CBS took over Fender, apparently they started putting less wire on the pickups, probably to save some money
What brought you to that conclusion? How many pre-CBS and mid-to-late 1960's CBS-era Fender pickups have you taken apart to determine the amount of wire used, then speculate with probability as to the reason why?


because the voltage output correlates with the inductance
The output voltage of a guitar pickup is not determined by the inductance.
 

Antigua

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cooljuk

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That site is full of nonsense! Does it really state that Fender used less wire after CBS took over. ...or are YOU just ASSUMING that because of a chart copied from Duncan that shows DCR? That chart also contains errors, itself, btw.


I said "correlates"
Yes, you did. So justify it, then. What are the corresponding characteristics of inductance of a guitar pickup and that pickup's output voltage?
 

cooljuk

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Look, @Antigua ... nobody takes issue with you learning about pickups (I hope you do! The sooner the better.), nor sharing your thoughts and continuously evolving theories on them. ...but maybe you should qualify them as your own personal theories with extremely limited experience, or, often more accurately, no experience at all with the pickups you are discussing, rather than stating them falsely as facts. Others who don't know your "particular ways" from past posts and other forums may take what you say seriously and walk away thinking they learned something.

I know you think you're helping people and educating others but if you just look back at your own previous posts from not that long ago, which you also posted with confidence (often arrogance) and refused to budge on, even when presented with evidence in contradiction, your own posts today about pickups disagree with your previous posts. You thought you knew everything then and everyone else was a scammer or ignorant. Both can't be correct, ya know?

I'm not saying I know everything about pickups, at all. Lord knows I don't! I'm regularly surprised by some curveball I didn't expect to find. ...but I at least try to always present what I share clearly as first hand experience or speculation, depending on the case. Rarely every do I post third-hand into on pickups, because there's so much nonsense out there. It's helpful to everyone to be clear about the content.

...but I guess I'm the fool. Here I am trying to reason with the unreasonable, when I know better.
 

AJK1

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What brought you to that conclusion? How many pre-CBS and mid-to-late 1960's CBS-era Fender pickups have you taken apart to determine the amount of wire used, then speculate with probability as to the reason why?
What ?
Are you saying that this forum sometimes posts BS ?
I can’t believe it....
 

Progrocker111

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Some of the biggest and fattest sounding Les Pauls i ever had or played were late 60s and early 70s LP Customs, with stickered T-Tops. Many of them had warmer and much bigger tone (louder bass too) than Historics with Burstbuckers or Custombuckers...
 

jbash

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It’s funny but I’ve been amazed at all the “love” for these pickups lately.
If you read the threads about t-tops from ten years ago then you get a whole different picture.
I don't think internet forums are all that representative of the world at large.

I don't pay any attention to movie critics either. I'll see the film myself and form my own opinions.
 


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