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  1. #1

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    You guys know all about pickups, I have a plaguing problem with humbuckers. I just got a new Epiphone 335 Pro. I needed h/bers for my newest regular gig and my P90's buzz too much in the room. Besides having an itch for a 335 with h/bers and it was on sale, it has many great qualities - the p/ups puzzle me.
    The plain strings are fine and sweetly bright and musical, but the wound strings are darker. The contrast is very noticeable and objectionable.

    I've had this same problem with Gibson h/ber guitars in the past, so it's not new to me. My P90 equipped guitars don't have this problem.

    I have raised the pole pieces to get more volume from the bottom 3 strings, but they are still dark sounding. My strings are the same that I always use, D'addario XL 110, which are nickel wound.

    Any advice? Are the p/ups just inferior p/ups? If I keep the guitar, I'm not afraid to invest in good pickups, as long as I am assured that the problem will not persist with new models. And then the hunt will begin! Down the ol' rabbit hole.


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  3. #2

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    Try lowering the pickups.

    Also check your amp settings. Find the sweet spot.

    Don’t be scared to use the tone knob.

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  4. #3

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    I suspect it's mostly an amp setting. The strings you're using should be bright, they're not nickel, just nickel-plated steel. I have no idea what amp you're using, or what speaker(s), so it's hard to recommend any settings, but I suggest experimenting, and I would first reduce the bass. It could also be that the pots in the guitar are 250k ohm, which is the usual for single-coil pickups. Humbuckers generally need 500k ohm pots to allow enough brightness through. Just changing the pickup type without changing the pots can give this effect.

  5. #4

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    I was truthfully and respectfully looking for more technical feedback. I've had this problem before with Gibsons, and in some cases done some surgery and p/up swaps.
    I am curious if others have had the same problem and how they may have solved it, or not?
    Believe me I have turned screws and dials for years.

    Amps range from Twin Reverbs down to Princeton Reverbs. Strings, I don't think are the problem, although I may try some others. Again, P90's don't seem to do this.

  6. #5

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    P90s are single coils, of course. They need different volume and tone pots than humbuckers. Higher resistance allows more treble to be passed to the amp. When you change pickup types, you usually (not necessarily always, but usually) need to change the pots.

  7. #6

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    OK, I bought a new guitar, it has humbuckers, not P90's. I want opinions from someone who has remedied the uneven response on the humbuckers. I am not switching to P90's. I already have 2 guitars with P90's. I need humbuckers and I like the guitar I just bought. It has great tone but the response is very uneven.
    I have done a lot of work on guitars, I just haven't had to solve this problem, so I am looking for answers to a new problem.

    Thanks guys.

  8. #7

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    what are the humbuckers in the guitar?
    what are the strings in question?
    realize that you may just not be a humbucker person... i don't seem to have this problem with humbuckers

  9. #8

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    Interesting problem. The cause may be in several places.

    It may be the pickups.

    It may be the pots, humbuckers need 500 kohm pots instead of 300 kohm that even Gibson often uses. (If You don’t love the dark sound, that is.)

    It may be the strings. I have some times changed the strins and wondered why do they sound dark. The reason has been that I had pulled them too much after installation to get them stay in tune. Pulling had broke the inside structure so that they sounded dull as new.

    The bridge? Cheap brass?

    The nut? Dirty? Too big/small slots?

    Start from the easiest and cheapest point. But measure the pots first!

  10. #9

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    I have a Gibson ES 335 & a Les Paul, both with humbuckers. I don’t have the problem you stated. You could try a graphic equalizer like a Boss GE-7 to boost or cut frequencies as needed.

  11. #10

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    I always found this was useful for humbuckers (from D. Brosnac, Guitar Electronics for Musicians):

    Humbuckers uneven response-pickup-height-png

  12. #11

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    That diagram Wildschwein represents what I have already done to even things out, and it does help a lot. Thank you. Minor variation of course but yes. I think my p/ups are just too ice-picky on the top end, no matter what I do, so........... here we go!
    At the gig yesterday, the guitar sounded great and I highly recommend this Epiphone.

  13. #12

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    Waiting and hoping Lt. Kojak can weigh in. He's dealt with many a Epiphone and tweaking them!

    Calling Kojak !!!!

  14. #13

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    As I've called in... sorry Jimmy, I don't have a solution for you without actually having the guitar in hand and playing it through your rig, as there are too many variables to consider, the biggest and most important being the fact that I can't hear what you're hearing, although it hints to be a string problem.

    The HB p'up design is the one with LESS problems of un-evenness in string output between the strings and or resulting tone-footprint, so your "issue" got me scratching my head. And TBH, I have NOT personally encountered something similar in over fifteen years working with guitars.

    Reading through what you wrote, you said that you've had the same problem before, specifically with HB p'ups. So, being brutally honest, my 1st impression was to think that's probably that you just don't like the way HBs sound and/or behave, tonal-spectrum speaking, as they sound/behave nowhere near the P-90s you've been using and being accustomed to.

    I know that my answer is most probably the opposite of what you wanted to hear, but hey! You asked.

    Hope this somehow helps,
    Last edited by LtKojak; 12-16-2019 at 06:29 AM.

  15. #14

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    Grazie Pepe, while you can't supply the answer I need, you have supplied me with the will to experiment and find an answer - so many things to try! It may be saddles, strings, posts for the bridge or TP, or just the p/ups. And I have worked with all of these elements with other guitars.
    I do like the guitar and the tone, its got that Larry Carlton or BB King thing going on.

    The p/ups have a ice-pick tendency on the first string, so I will pursue a way to counteract that as well. Others have said that they don't have this problem either, so yes, it could be me, after playing P90's, and others have said that getting better p/ups will help.

    I'll let you know!
    Last edited by Jimmy Mack; 12-16-2019 at 03:45 PM. Reason: adding to it

  16. #15

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    You said you’ve adjusted pickups many times, but you didn’t specify what method you use. I’d suggest reviewing the detailed instructions from several major pickup manufacturers, decide which one seems the most reasonable to you, then follow every step, starting with properly setting the height of the pickup body before adjusting pole pieces.

  17. #16

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    Well, I use my ears. What sounds best stays. If you read post #11 above, I stated that the diagram in Post #10 represents my setup, with minor variation

  18. #17

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    I always have this same problem with humbuckers regardless of how I adjust the pickup height/poles. In my case, the problem is a combination of using BF amps and extremely heavy picks -- 3.5mm. And I hit incredibly hard. This always causes a sort of exaggerated scoop on the bass strings, especially on the low E and especially in a live band situation. Drives me nuts. I also just don't like the tone of the wound strings with buckers.

    I have found a pair of great solutions though:

    1. Fralin P92
    2. Fralin Hum-cancelling p90 HB size

    Of these two, I prefer the p92 as they seem more open and have a bit of sparkle to 'em. But the Hum-cancelling are also really great though darker and more compressed, closer to a standard humbucker, but with all the tonal support of a standard p90.

    Neither of these options are cheap, but for me are absolutely essential.