NGD + several months. '57 Black Beauty Ri - Yet another update

Dazza

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Over the past couple of weeks I mentioned acquiring a '97 LPB-3. And here it is:

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Don't expect much when it comes to pictures.

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It's black, not really much to say about that. Considering how black shows even the lightest swirl of scratches its actually very clear overall. No wear or dull areas from the forearm or fingers. A few dings and lacquer chips along the binding. Typical lacquer blistering over the headstock. Great for 22 years old. Full, comfortable neck and zero fret wear. 1 piece mahogany body and smooth ebony board. It simply looks heavy but isn't. Possibly mid 9lb, but somehow it just seems lighter.

The Bigsby works great, no issues. Slight tarnishing on the bridge and there's new saddles and domed thumbwheels coming in the post. Presently I have a 2014 zebra set of Custombuckers and original '57 Classic in the middle. I'll likely put covers back on at some point. For now I like it as is.

Included is a Freeway 6 position switch so I'll put that to good use. Most I've read suggest these triples have the middle pickup magnet flipped out of phase. I've used OOP many times but here the combination of bridge/middle produces the tiniest, thin tone - without separate volume controls to dial frequencies back in. With the magnet flipped in phase however it's a great 'clucky' tone. Exactly the same thing as a strat in position 2. It produces a very convincing Eagles 'Life in the fast lane' opening riff tone. Very unique. I can understand people assuming its OOP but in my experiments it doesn't match what I've heard in youtube demos etc.

I like it a lot.
Hoorah for me
Daz
 
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BSeneca

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Congratulations. I had one without the Bigsby. Definitely one of the ones that got away. P.S, it’s your guitar, but my vote is covers on. Peace, Brian
 

Dazza

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May update. (But still crap effort picture).

Domed thumbwheels in place - while its easy to see the benefit during the abr rolling motion I can't really say it makes any difference to tuning stability being as it's already very good. Any string binding I may experience is more likely due to saddle slots. Being 22 yrs old some of them are a little deep. I have spares ready.

OX4 AIV set (8.3 / 7.9) front and back. Great pickups ! Stock 57 in the middle.
It's very interesting how different the OX4 sound with the all mahogany / ebony board compared to my mates R9 I had them in prior. Very immediate, bright, snappy response. Less chewy, woody mids. Wound strings ring out like a bell in both positions. Nothing wrong with any of that but I have some magnets on hand so I'll experiment a bit over the next while and see how things settle in.

Middle pickup wired in phase and parallel is a great sound. It's a fatter position 2 / 4 on a strat. Like Brian Mays' core tone but in humbucker form. At the moment it's wired to a push / pull but I'll add to the Freeway 6 switch later once I've got a new harness in place.

Covers will likely happen but for now I'm enjoying this look.

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Daz
 
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rdbear7d

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I like it with the all black pups..very cool..that is a beauty...Congrats..:yesway:
 

Uncle Vinnie

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Those are such beautiful guitars. I'm checking out this one next week, guy lives five minutes away from me.

 

Dazza

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Those are such beautiful guitars. I'm checking out this one next week, guy lives five minutes away from me.

That's the same year as mine and looks in amazing condition.

Not to derail you but looking at the cavity pics I'm uncertain about the 4 conductor pickup wiring ? I believe stock '57 Classics were braided wire, while aftermarket are available with plastic coated 4 wire. It's worth verifying as early 57's were made differently than later ones and to some more desirable - plus it's a matter of guitar 'originality'. My original 57 is braided conductor with the PAF black sticker. Later 57's have the white sticker with manufacture date.

Just a consideration.
Daz
 

Uncle Vinnie

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That's the same year as mine and looks in amazing condition.

Not to derail you but looking at the cavity pics I'm uncertain about the 4 conductor pickup wiring ? I believe stock '57 Classics were braided wire, while aftermarket are available with plastic coated 4 wire. It's worth verifying as early 57's were made differently than later ones and to some more desirable - plus it's a matter of guitar 'originality'. My original 57 is braided conductor with the PAF black sticker. Later 57's have the white sticker with manufacture date.

Just a consideration.
Daz
Thaks Daz. I appreciate that info.
 

Dazza

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For those who prefer the more traditional look. Lovely innit !

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Along the way I've been swapping parts in and out. It's been interesting just how different pickups react and sound in this guitar. I've swapped the very same Custombuckers, Wizz, OX4 and the original '57 between this and other burst R's with a similar result that while the neck position is huge, bell-like, the middle (B&N) also chirpy, the bridge position alone consistently seems a little underwhelming somehow ? The bridge pickups oddly sound less powerful as they do in the bursts. More strident but with less growl & bloom.

Pots / caps are good 500K+ PIO have been swapped around also.

The Wizz / OX4 sets are very similar specs and match up great in the bursts, it's just a very different natural eq in the Custom. All mahogany and ebony board aside perhaps the lack of a stoptail and studs ? It's very bright and I ride the tone pots anyway, but this may be a candidate for lower spec bridge pots or higher value caps to compensate. Changing out AIV for AII tames things a bit, but also decreases output.

All good stuff.
Daz
 
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Dazza

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Still crappy pictures as I continue working on this one, but thanks to some advice and input from David at Sigil Pickups things are much improved. Cheers to David for his much appreciated time and effort.

This guitar has a natural mid-high peak and my attempts with favourites from OX4 and Wizz just didn't quite suit. What they typically characterize in a 'single-coil like' chime and clarity simply sounded thin, particularly in the bridge. Rolling back the volumes even moreso. I was contemplating 'choking' the bridge position with 300K pots (the originals are 500K audio taper). Dave suggested I move away from PAF types with offset winds in favour of more balanced coils. This made sense as the sole original '57 Classic actually sounded pretty good, but lacked the dynamics and openness I like in unpotted pickups. Dave wound me a bridge pickup based on his Shaw, but hotter - the result possibly more like an early Tom Holmes 'idealised' 57 Classic. Result ! It certainly is the better suited pickup type in this guitar. Now I'm switching between magnets to fine tune. My zebra early Custombucker set are a good fit and match in the middle and neck positions. Middle pickup orientation is simply dictated by the length of the conductor cable, no other thought.

The Freeway 6 position switch is out. Standard 3 pickup positions available and the bridge tone p/p pot engages the middle pickup, which is tied to the bridge volume as stock. After many trials with wiring schemes and pickup combinations this is the most 'useful' adaptation for the 3 humbuckers to me. I may add phase reversal between bridge/neck later on when I get a new harness. Knowing I'd be experimenting I didn't want to put a new harness in only to ruin it with repeated soldering. A 'stunt harness' has been utilised instead.

New saddles and attention at the nut has improved Bigsby tuning stability. I'd have no reservations using it live and intend to do so asap.

It's been a fun project that clearly demonstrates how each guitar is individual and what works for one may not for another. There's no better method for discovery than hands on. Thankfully both home properties either side of me are empty through the summer as I've been making a hell of a racket daily.

Good times. Now what to do with these OX4 and Wizz sets ? Hmm.
Daz


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DanD

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Have you tried a 3 volume/master tone set-up yet?

My '14 Benchmark 3 pup Std [in Bloomfield burst] had the typical Gibson N/M+B/B set up from Gibson. I wired with the middle pup on all the time. Roll the middle volume up to add the middle position to any position in the three way.

The switch worked like a regular 2 pup LP.

I think this set up is close to the Mickey Baker LPC.
 

Dazza

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Have you tried a 3 volume/master tone set-up yet?

My '14 Benchmark 3 pup Std [in Bloomfield burst] had the typical Gibson N/M+B/B set up from Gibson. I wired with the middle pup on all the time. Roll the middle volume up to add the middle position to any position in the three way.

The switch worked like a regular 2 pup LP.

I think this set up is close to the Mickey Baker LPC.
Yes, and thanks for the suggestion. 3 volumes was very useful, but I didn't get on with only 1 tone knob. Too much compromise between positions. Though saying that it might work better now with this current combination of pickups - hmm. Bugger, maybe I'm not done tinkering after all !

Wired this way it's exactly as stock, only with a switch between the middle pickup and bridge volume so I can disable/enable it. Important to me as I typically favour the middle position.

I tried every possible pickup combination and control layout to decide what was most useful / practical and settled on this. Adjusting the relative heights of the bridge / middle pickups affects the inherent phase cancellation between them.

Since I removed the 6 position Freeway switch I'm limited to a conventional 3 way switch. I simply can't find a 3 way / 3 humbucker switch in gold. Nickel yes, but not gold. I'm not sure what Gibson used as stock.

Daz
 
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