Jimmy Page #1 T-Top Bridge Pickup

Classicplayer

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As I understand it, Page had Seymour Duncan wind a bridge replacement pickup for the PAF a that was originally in his #1 Les Paul. Was that a T-Top type of wind and how did it work to change Jimmy's tone after-wards?

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Dazza

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The original PAF was replaced by a T Top in '72 that stayed in the guitar until the SD in the early 80's. It also got the push/pull pot phase reversal then. There's not the wealth of recordings to go from after Zeppelin, but the quacky, honky, nasal T Top sound he had in the 'classic era' 1970's isn't the same after then with the Duncan. It's a hotter, fuller sounding pickup. Of course it's still that guitar and his fingers so 'the sum remains the same' ... almost.

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Saiko

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The Duncan is quite different than the T-Top, the former effectively being a wax-potted hot-PAF style.

The Duncan in the bridge of his #1 seems to be essentially a '59 that was custom-wound for Jimmy by MJ. She also wound the custom set in his #3 Les Paul which later became the Custom Shop Jimmy Page pickups. That being said, AFAIK, the bridge pickup in #1 is different than the bridge pickup in #3. The closest production Duncan pickups to #1 and #3 are the '59 bridge and Whole Lotta Humbucker set respectively.

According to Tim at Bare Knuckle Pickups (who actually worked on Page's #1), the Riff Raff is VERY similar to the current #1 bridge pickup. Jimmy's current #1 pickups are A2 Neck and A5 bridge and both are on the hotter end of PAF specs at 8k plus. The actual measurements are around here somewhere.
 
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In my 2018 Traditional, I have the stock BB 1 & 2 pair. I can tweak both amp and guitar to get in the “zone” of Page's Zeppelin tone post ‘72. I'm fairly pleased with my current tone, but would swapping the BB 2 for a winder's version of a T-Top be really a gamble?
I don't know the meter readings for output on the BB pair, so until I do that, it would be rather pointless to consult with any of the winders about a T-Top bridge to Replace the BB2.

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KStopper65

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I'm fairly pleased with my current tone, but would swapping the BB 2 for a winder's version of a T-Top be really a gamble?
I say go for it.
Jimmy Page tone is something a lot of people chase, and any good winder will know how to wind a pickup suited to that.
 

Dazza

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I'm fairly pleased with my current tone, but would swapping the BB 2 for a winder's version of a T-Top be really a gamble?
classicplayer
A T Top is a very different character to a PAF. Typically mid 7K-ish, unpotted, short AV magnet. With the switch in the middle position, as Jimmy did for the majority of his live playing, there's that almost 'out of phase' like tone combined with the neck PAF. Any 2 pickups on together have overlapping magnetic fields that cause frequency cancellation, his example is quite unique and instantly identifiable.

It's often overlooked that JP's classic era live tone was not so different when he used the EDS1275. Honky, quacky, nasal. It had period T Tops (also since replaced by SD). I have a mid 70's EDS1275 and it's tone is spot on. I'm a JP fan but use pure nickel 10 strings with a rounder tone compared to his super light EB Slinky's, light pick and bony finger touch. I played Jimmy Sakurai's R8 with EB Slinky 8's and lightest Herco pick - a much thinner, reedier tone to my heavier Herco and DR Blues 10's.

The notion that any winder can make a JP pickup leaves much to interpretation. I've had a 'JP' set that had a super hot 9K-ish bridge pickup. That's nothing like a T Top so I'm unsure what the inspiration was based on. There's plenty of used T Tops for sale and prices are continually going up. As with anything it pays to know what you're looking at. Or check with Rewind Pickups for eg. James make's fantastic JP pickups. Very popular with players, including me, plus he's a regular here.

Of course the pickups are only part of the equation. They work with a guitars' natural tone and resonance. I've a couple of Historics that naturally have JP-esque tonal qualities and others that simply don't.

Daz
 
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I was struck by Pages guitar tech who when asked to summarise the tonal characteristics of Jimmys #1Les Paul said that #1 had a very bright sound. He added that they (#1 and #2) are like Stradavarious violins, unique and irreplaceable.
I thought this was a great insight to have on the great man's primary Les Paul's.
Of all attempts at replicating the tone of #1 the best imo are those using neck 'buckers considerably higher in resistance than the bridge.

Depending on your source, the original neck PAF in #1 is variously given as 8.2Kohms or 8.6Kohms. From the live and studio tones prior to the failure of the original bridge pickup during the 1972 Australian tour, we can be pretty confident that this bridge PAF was lower in output than the neck, due to the unusually distinctive tone in the middle selector position that Page used to such devastating affect on the 2nd to the untitled 4th album

Its my humble opinion that the distinctive tone of the middle pickup position that Jimmy loves became all the more distinctive and defined in character when the band toured in support of 'Houses of the Holy' with what we now believe to be a Gibson T Top in the bridge position of#1.

A search of YouTube reveals some amazing replications of Pages tone post 1972 that really blow me away with their authenticity. Almost every one uses a T Top and PAF combination, and I can only recommend you check them out for yourself, cause if you love all this stuff you'll enjoy what you find as much as I have.
 

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At the time Page got his #1 from Joe Walsh there were not a lot of those 58, 59, and 60 Standards manufactured by the old Gibson plant. Combine that with the possibility that his #1 may be acoustically, very bright and perhaps unique amongst early Les Pauls, and add to that the shaving of the neck when Walsh owned it...leads me to believe that the basic guitar he had almost had that Fender “twang” going on, Neck wood type and stiffness (which older dried wood had) IMO, went a long way in determining what the net result would be in its inherent tone, even before pickups were put in it.

This week I am listening to an enhanced sound board Zeppelin recording and that middle position tone Page got is the most fascinating electric guitar tone I think I've ever heard. It fairly growls on the heavier strings, and screams on the treble ones. If you watch any of his performance videos where Page uses the middle position and watch his fretting hand and the chords he forms with it. I think it's by design and part of his description of Zeppelin music of “light and shade” as he aptly stated it.

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I just came back from band rehearsal... I used my “Page” R9 with late 60s/early 70s T Tops in it.

It has the Page tone in spades. My bass player commented that it sounded “Zeppeliny”, and he attributed that to its looks, lol.

These pickups seem to be designed for the middle position, where by messing with the volume and tone knobs seem to really shine.
 

AcVox

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In my 2018 Traditional, I have the stock BB 1 & 2 pair. I can tweak both amp and guitar to get in the “zone” of Page's Zeppelin tone post ‘72. I'm fairly pleased with my current tone, but would swapping the BB 2 for a winder's version of a T-Top be really a gamble?
I don't know the meter readings for output on the BB pair, so until I do that, it would be rather pointless to consult with any of the winders about a T-Top bridge to Replace the BB2.

classicplayer
This is just a thought I had reading your post, but it might be interesting to swap your bb1 and bb2 around ?
At the very least it won't cost anything and may give an indication of the type of tone your curious about.

The key to this tone is not 100% dependant on a genuine 1959 PAF and a 1972 T Top, but the contrast between the two
 

AJK1

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I was struck by Pages guitar tech who when asked to summarise the tonal characteristics of Jimmys #1Les Paul said that #1 had a very bright sound. He added that they (#1 and #2) are like Stradavarious violins, unique and irreplaceable.
I thought this was a great insight to have on the great man's primary Les Paul's.
Of all attempts at replicating the tone of #1 the best imo are those using neck 'buckers considerably higher in resistance than the bridge.

Depending on your source, the original neck PAF in #1 is variously given as 8.2Kohms or 8.6Kohms. From the live and studio tones prior to the failure of the original bridge pickup during the 1972 Australian tour, we can be pretty confident that this bridge PAF was lower in output than the neck, due to the unusually distinctive tone in the middle selector position that Page used to such devastating affect on the 2nd to the untitled 4th album

Its my humble opinion that the distinctive tone of the middle pickup position that Jimmy loves became all the more distinctive and defined in character when the band toured in support of 'Houses of the Holy' with what we now believe to be a Gibson T Top in the bridge position of#1.

A search of YouTube reveals some amazing replications of Pages tone post 1972 that really blow me away with their authenticity. Almost every one uses a T Top and PAF combination, and I can only recommend you check them out for yourself, cause if you love all this stuff you'll enjoy what you find as much as I have.
The so-called T-Top didn’t appear till the Houses of the Holy album
The first 4 albums were the original P.A.F.’s
 

peobryant

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The first 4 albums were the original P.A.F.’s
The first album was all Telecaster, actually. Except for "You Shook Me," Page used a Flying V on that song.

II, III and IV were recorded with his stock Les Paul, on the songs that he played a Les Paul.

I know a lot of people love Pagey's "post '72" sound, and I do too, but personally, I've always thought he sounded best when his Les Paul had the stock pickups.
 

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The first album was all Telecaster, actually. Except for "You Shook Me," Page used a Flying V on that song.

II, III and IV were recorded with his stock Les Paul, on the songs that he played a Les Paul.

I know a lot of people love Pagey's "post '72" sound, and I do too, but personally, I've always thought he sounded best when his Les Paul had the stock pickups.
Yes, you’re correct and yes I agree
The original pickups were the best
 

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The so-called T-Top didn’t appear till the Houses of the Holy album
The first 4 albums were the original P.A.F.’s
Has Page (himself) ever talked about the T-Top installation and described what differences it brought to his tone?

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Dazza

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Has Page (himself) ever talked about the T-Top installation and described what differences it brought to his tone?
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I'm not aware of any specific comment he's made about it but obviously he was/is happy with the change to SD pickups.

Any 2 pickups used together cause frequency cancellation. As others note I find a hotter neck to bridge pickup enhances this effect, my CC&7 Shanks stock pickups for eg. I have BB, CB etc but they're not quite like a T Top with it's lower output, mid focused, clanky, nasal, twangy unpotted tone. All enhanced with 500+k pots as in my guitars.

Besides the obvious #1 LP check out the live '77 footage with TSRTS into The Rover / Sick Again all on the EDS1275.

There's an interview with Tim Mills of Bare Knuckle Pickups I recall:
"What’s the most unusual PAF pickup that you’ve ever encountered? “Probably the one in Jimmy Page’s Number One [Les Paul]. Jimmy sent Number One down here for us to have a look at – he was concerned that the neck pickup might fail. It was thought not to be original to the guitar, but was still an early PAF and it turned out to be fine. That one, when you played it, had the most hollow and woody Strat-like tone I’d ever come across in a neck pickup. When I measured it, it had a DC resistance of 8.97k, I seem to remember, which is extremely hot for a PAF. Normally, that would sound as thick as river mud!”


This live clip shows how clear and woody the neck pickup is, and when he switches to the middle the tonal shift is obvious. Such a radical hollowing out, almost sounding out of phase, but it's not. Unique is an understatement. Fascinating stuff. I'm a fan regardless what he's playing.

Daz
 
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AJK1

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Has Page (himself) ever talked about the T-Top installation and described what differences it brought to his tone?

Classicplayer
I read somewhere he was interviewed and he said the pickup failed in Australia and was replaced with a P.A.F. (His words)
I’m not sure why everyone thinks the new pickup was a T-Top
 
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Dazza

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I read somewhere he was interviewed and he said the pickup failed in Australia and was replaced with a P.A.F. (His words)
I’m not sure why everyone thinks the new pickup was a T-Top
If I recall the original bridge pickup was repaired then replaced. Later on when the cover was removed there are pictures with the 'T's visible. Then there's the live audio / video to go from. The tone is quite distinctive from a PAF.

Daz
 

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