Troubleshooting Electronics in 53 ES-175d

jchabalk

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I have a '53 ES-175d with the original electronics installed, which include 2 p90s. The sound when plugged in is generally really dark and boomy (it's different using different amps, but generally always dark, and i can't change it significantly with the tone controls on the guitar or amp. The low end makes the speaker in every amp flub out regularly). Acoustically it's clean and clear with great resonance.

The guitar is strung with D'Addario XL 11-49 (w/ wound third) which were recommended to me when i bought it and i really like the way they feel

The pickups readings are a bit odd - and maybe are indicating a problem with the electronics

  • The bridge pickup reads 9.1k ohms
    • although if i roll the volume pot from 10 -> 5 -> 10 it'll jump to 14k and kind of slowly fall to ~10k ohms
  • The neck pickup is reading 13.1 -14.2k ohms (it's bouncing around)
  • In the middle position i get 6.2k ohms
I don't have anything to compare the plugged in sound of this guitar to directly, but watching youtube demos mine is much different. I've peeked inside with a mirror and a flashlight - there's nothing obviously out of place but i'd like to examine the tone caps a bit more closely. I'd love to measure them but don't know a good way to do it.

I'm wondering about things i could do to troubleshoot this. I'm suspicious of the electronics just due to the fact that everything's ~70 years old. Given that the electronics in this guitar aren't easily accessible i may take it to a shop but wondering if there's anything i can check externally.
 

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CB91710

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"Dark" is often an indication of 250k or 300k pots... sometimes used on P90s, and typically used on Strats. The Strat pickup can handle them, but P90s sound better with 500k.

Being an archtop makes things difficult.
 

jchabalk

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thanks for that pointer, i'll see if i can at least what it says on the back
 

Roxy13

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Being a vintage guitar too I don't think I would change them.

If you are brave enough to pull the harness out then cleaning the pots wouldn't hurt any and checking the solder joints.

I've rewired a lot of hollow bodies and semi hollows so I'm used to taking harnesses out and putting them back, but if you are uncomfortable with it, take it to a good tech/luthier.

It's a beautiful guitar. I've had to be content with a Greco replica of an es-175.
 

jchabalk

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What's the right way to handle these situations if a part needs to be replaced (like the caps are bad, or 1 or 2 pots are bad). Is it best to remove everything and wire the pickups to new pots/switch/jack/caps, or is replacing the questionable component a good way to go?

I was looking around online trying to figure out some troubleshooting options last night and these 50s electronics sets appear to be kind of valuable.
 

Roxy13

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They are valuable so I know whenever possible you should try to keep it.

Maybe send a PM to Eric Ernest. He's a member here who valuates vintage Gibsons. He probably has better advice for you than I do :)
 

wmachine

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I'm reading this with great interest, because I have a reissue of essentially the same guitar. A 2015 reissue, '54 ES-175D Dark Burst. I have not noticed it sounding like what you say, but what do I know! I'll take another play and listen and see what I hear. Or hear what I hear. Whatever. I know it is not the same, but it would be interesting to see what Gibson did with the reissue to make it "authentic".
It has MHS P90s. I don't have spec on those, however. "Vintage style no logo pots.." whatever that means.

 

jchabalk

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I was playing last night with my Deluxe (5E3). What i notice is that it's really bassy and flubby when the volume is low but when i turn it up it sounds really good. I don't tend to be able to play loudly in my house much. I'm going to try it turned up with my other amps again too and see if i form a different opinion.
 

cherrick

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What I would do - if the wiring harness is coming out anyway, replace it with a high-end harness (ex: Emerson) and put the original harness, unmolested in the case.
 

Mike I

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I would be wondering why those P-90's rang out so high.

I've never seen 50's P-90's read anywhere near 14 Ohms.

Tonight I rang out 5 of my vintage Gibby's with P-90's, and the highest ones were 8.50, and that was in a 66 330.

My Br. P-90 in a 56 special rang out the lowest at 7.88.

All of my 50's P-90's were at 8.03 or below.

Might want to pull those P-90's and have a look see.
 

Uncle Vinnie

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Dark and boomy is the nature of that beast. I've never heard an archtop that didn't have that characteristic sound.

You may want to try an ES-335, not as much low end.
 


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