To T-Top or not?

northernguitarguy

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Anybody who remotely believes a t-top and a PAF are anywhere near the same league needs their EARS examined by a professional..

T-tops are obnoxiously middy pickups that have the ability to make a normally good sounding tube amp sound like SH1T. You certainly cannot hurt the tone or lack of, by magnet swapping.

Yes there are guitar heroes who made good records with them, and like PAFs all are not created equal but for the most part, they are just run of the mill midrangey and honky sounding junk that Gibson mass produced as cheaply as humanly possible. Kills me when I see ppl glorifying the worst sounding pickups Gibson/Norlin ever made, JUST because they are "Vintage." What is it about old that makes people think they should sound good because they are old? I don't get it. Most of them sounded like sh1t when they were new, and time hasn't magically transformed them into anything better.

I guess I got spoiled by real PAFs over the years, and you can rag on me if you want to but any serious player that has ever owned real PAFs will take one look at a t-top and toss the bitch into the garbage. There's nothing you can do to fix one except rewind it and you might as well start with a mojotone bobbin and make a whole new pickup for that matter.

I'd take an early non-stamped pat sticker t-top and rewind it, the steel in the slugs and screws before about 1966 is different, it would make a right cool PAF clone, but that's the one single thing an early t-top has going for it.

Mag swap it! Can't possibly hurt it!
My pre-Norlin T-Top sounds fantastic and I wouldn't compare it to a PAF sound anymore than I would my Seymour Duncan JB. They are just different, tonally.
 

LtKojak

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I changed the magnet in the BB2 to an unoriented A5. No "aha!" moments at first listen as I expect it to take 2-3 days for the full the rest of the pickup to acclimate to the new magnet. The neck will most likely get an A3,.
It roughly takes four to five days for the UOA5 and at least a week for the A3 to fully permeate the components, stabilizing the new magnetic circuit.

HTH,
 

crosstownblues

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Good to know. 24 hours down, 96 hours to go...

Still hesitating on the neck pickup as I waffle between wanting to use the T-Top and swapping out the BB1 magnet. Further, the choice between A3 and A4 complicates things. The BB1 sounds sweet in the upper registers, but flabby down low. I guess that's the A2 thing? If the A3 offers more treble and less bass than the stock A2, that would be my ideal outcome.

Looks like the A3 will swap in at the next string change.

T-Tops are going to have to wait a bit, though I did nab a pair of nickel silver 49.2mm covers off eBay just in case they were needed. :hmm:
 

wallym

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T-tops are obnoxiously middy pickups that have the ability to make a normally good sounding tube amp sound like SH1T.... etc, etc
Steady on Dougie.... some of us have t-tops we'll be selling soon :cool:

No, I believe that they are old and therefore have a certain... 'mystique' that cannot possibly be recreated in today's modern world.

They
are extremely good value for money
are the next best thing to vintage PAFs
add mojo by the bucket load
increase the value of any guitar they are fitted to
and
will turn your guitar a 'tone monster'
 

LtKojak

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Steady on Dougie.... some of us have t-tops we'll be selling soon :cool:

No, I believe that they are old and therefore have a certain... 'mystique' that cannot possibly be recreated in today's modern world.

They
are extremely good value for money
are the next best thing to vintage PAFs
add mojo by the bucket load
increase the value of any guitar they are fitted to
and
will turn your guitar a 'tone monster'
This is a really nice collection of buzz-words you've got here, wallym.

So, now that you are using'em, can you be so kind of define "mojo by the bucketload" for me?

Thanks in advance,
 

wallym

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Corrected

No, I believe that they are old and therefore have a certain... 'mystique' that cannot possibly be recreated in today's modern world.

They
are extremely good value for money
are the next best thing to vintage PAFs
add mojo by the bucket load
increase the value of any guitar they are fitted to
and
will turn your guitar a 'tone monster'



Is that better?
 

freefrog

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Anybody who remotely believes a t-top and a PAF are anywhere near the same league needs their EARS examined by a professional..

T-tops are obnoxiously middy pickups that have the ability to make a normally good sounding tube amp sound like SH1T. You certainly cannot hurt the tone or lack of, by magnet swapping.

Yes there are guitar heroes who made good records with them, and like PAFs all are not created equal but for the most part, they are just run of the mill midrangey and honky sounding junk that Gibson mass produced as cheaply as humanly possible. Kills me when I see ppl glorifying the worst sounding pickups Gibson/Norlin ever made, JUST because they are "Vintage." What is it about old that makes people think they should sound good because they are old? I don't get it. Most of them sounded like sh1t when they were new, and time hasn't magically transformed them into anything better.

I guess I got spoiled by real PAFs over the years, and you can rag on me if you want to but any serious player that has ever owned real PAFs will take one look at a t-top and toss the bitch into the garbage. There's nothing you can do to fix one except rewind it and you might as well start with a mojotone bobbin and make a whole new pickup for that matter.

I'd take an early non-stamped pat sticker t-top and rewind it, the steel in the slugs and screws before about 1966 is different, it would make a right cool PAF clone, but that's the one single thing an early t-top has going for it.

Mag swap it! Can't possibly hurt it!
My past experiences with T-Tops had been boring or negative. Then, recently, I've played the stock neck T-Top of a SG built in 1970. This PU was incredibly transparent and open sounding. It's simply the second best sounding humbucker I've EVER played.
It was a pat sticker model.
And I'd never swap its mag...

So... maybe it would be interesting to hear how the PU sounds before to swap anything? :)
 
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crosstownblues

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The bridge BB2 pickup has now had four days to acquaint itself with the UOA5 magnet. There is definitely more body/girth to the pickup now (low/low mids). I always roll the tone control back, but the highs were a bit shrill with the original magnet. Played through a TopHat King Royale (AC30TB-ish) head and open back TopHat cab with a V30 and Celestion Gold, the highs seemed to fit better in the overall sound, whereas before they dominated it. With the tone control rolled back about 1/2 way, and the volume down to 5, it's crisp and spanky - not muddy at all. Of course, the 50's wiring, PIO caps, RS 550k pots help some... Turn it up past 8 and it begins to sing as the tone thickens up.

The neck BB1 pickup is still too bassy for me, so it will get the A3 magnet swap on the next string change. I'm looking forward to that!

As for the T-Tops, they will wait until the following string change. Most likely I will start with installing the neck pickup - as much for respecting the prevailing sentiment as for the fond memories I have of the neck tones that came from my first LP. I won't magnet swap them, figuring they've made it this far without being molested, why start now? However, if I really like it I might have to change out the chrome cover(s) in favor of nickel, like the rest of the guitar. Being the pack rat that I am, the original cover will be identified and stored, so it can always be restored. The key is to avoid high heat by using a good iron, a solder sucker, and working quickly.

Will try to get some clips done Sunday.
 

crosstownblues

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Well, it's been over a week now. Took the guitar to rehearsal, played through my modded Spitfire clone (mounted in Marshall 18w combo cab. with 12" Weber Blue Alnico). What a surprise to me! The BB2 w/UOA5 magnet sounded very similar to stock when rolled back, but thickened up substantially when turned all the way up - really adding mids starting at @ 8. The amp is pretty clean (pedal friendly) and has a somewhat bright tone, with shimmering highs and round lows. The mids are more Fender-like, so I was surprised to hear such rich, thick sounds coming out of it. I didn't even use a distortion pedal, the notes were liquid and singing - but not from saturated preamp distortion. There was still plenty of note definition, and it would clean up nicely by using attack or volume control. I'm hoping to burn through this set of strings quickly in order to drop the A3 in the neck pickup. At the same time, Retrospec vintage length posts/inserts will be installed.
 

LtKojak

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Well, it's been over a week now. Took the guitar to rehearsal, played through my modded Spitfire clone (mounted in Marshall 18w combo cab. with 12" Weber Blue Alnico). What a surprise to me! The BB2 w/UOA5 magnet sounded very similar to stock when rolled back, but thickened up substantially when turned all the way up - really adding mids starting at @ 8. The amp is pretty clean (pedal friendly) and has a somewhat bright tone, with shimmering highs and round lows. The mids are more Fender-like, so I was surprised to hear such rich, thick sounds coming out of it. I didn't even use a distortion pedal, the notes were liquid and singing - but not from saturated preamp distortion. There was still plenty of note definition, and it would clean up nicely by using attack or volume control. I'm hoping to burn through this set of strings quickly in order to drop the A3 in the neck pickup. At the same time, Retrospec vintage length posts/inserts will be installed.
Does the statement "is the same, but better" rings a bell? ;)

Are the pots and caps the originals that came with the guitar or you put good ones, wired independent '50s?
 

crosstownblues

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Yes, that is exactly how I would term it.

Though it's an '11, I replaced the stock pots with RS Superpots; the caps were upgraded to PIO (.022uf and .015uf); wiring is 50's style, so independent in middle position unless one is turned to zero (all the way off), then no output.

Works for me...
 

LtKojak

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Yes, that is exactly how I would term it.

Though it's an '11, I replaced the stock pots with RS Superpots; the caps were upgraded to PIO (.022uf and .015uf); wiring is 50's style, so independent in middle position unless one is turned to zero (all the way off), then no output.

Works for me...
Great! You only need to put the A3 in the BB1 and see how you like it.

Yours truly,
 

jasyr

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I know this is a 5 year old thread, but i've been researching this. Over 30 posts with not one "yes"?

There's loads of un-covered T's out there and NO ONE has tried this? WTF.

I agree with Dougie in the sense that these are not imbued with pixie dust. OK, 60's i"d not f*** with... but 70s-80s T-Tops are a diminishing case of returns and just looking at them as special is a joke. "Don't pop the covers!" ... wow, we are not talking 50's pafs people.

Please, anyone out there that has actually been CRAZY enough to have thrown caution to the wind?
 

northernguitarguy

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I know this is a 5 year old thread, but i've been researching this. Over 30 posts with not one "yes"?

There's loads of un-covered T's out there and NO ONE has tried this? WTF.

I agree with Dougie in the sense that these are not imbued with pixie dust. OK, 60's i"d not f*** with... but 70s-80s T-Tops are a diminishing case of returns and just looking at them as special is a joke. "Don't pop the covers!" ... wow, we are not talking 50's pafs people.

Please, anyone out there that has actually been CRAZY enough to have thrown caution to the wind?
Some of the prices asked are indeed ludicrous. However, for playing Hard Rock, IMO, the T-Tops rule.
 

jcsk8

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IMO magnets will not "acclimate" on the pickup, and yes, the change in sound while changing magnets is little, noticeable but litlle. As a tigher bottom when changing a2 to a5, but the natural sound of the pickup will remains. If is good will be good with the change, if it´s not...
I would sell all of them, the BB´s and the T-tops and get a nice boutique as Wizz, Throbak´s or wathever in this ballpark to a nice R9.
 

alnico59

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IMO, BB's are just too overwound. Then throw in the A2 mag and you got a great, big 'ole pile of mush at higher volumes. I also couldn't agree more with the statement that PAF's and T-Tops are totally different animals.
 

crosstownblues

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For the past few years, a set of ECP RD59/Revival pickups have resided in the R9. They provide the note separation, the clarity, the depth, and a certain sweetness that I like in a Les Paul. The BB1 & BB2 pickups are stashed away for safekeeping - though there was a certain quality to the BB2 w/UOA5 magnet that I liked. It may find it's way into another guitar. I have not had the opportunity to play any of the recent Custombuckers, but my current thinking on non-vintage Gibson pickups is they are a baseline pickup. While occasionally exceptional, it is more likely that you will get average/decent.

The T-Tops have been sitting in a test guitar for a while, waiting for their moment...
 




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