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  1. #1

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    Following some toddler-inflected damage to my main/only guitar (< week after selling my second), the need for (at least) two became clear

    So I picked up a used GB10 in Blonde. This is the Japanese made version - incredibly build quality and I love the neck

    But I’m considering a pickup change

    The stock pickups seem very hot and very bright. With the tone control on zero and volume rolled back, I can get a lovely tone but anything else is too harsh and bright for my tastes (and this is through a Mambo)

    I would like more than one usable tone, of course, but in general I think I need pickups that are warmer/darker and still fat.

    Would welcome some advice on what the options are here since I’m not at all familiar with floating pickups. At a basic level, I am not even sure what is and isn’t possible in terms of physical dimensions

    I can see Lollar offers a Johnny Smith set which I am guessing are: 1) great, 2) suitable in terms of sizing and mount, and 3) likely to be a bit more ‘traditional’

    am I right? And are there any other alternatives on the market to consider?

    Finally - I have a vague recollection of seeing a picture of Sacha Distel with GB10 that had a CC pickup in the neck. Anybody got any more info or insight into that?

    thanks in advance

    d

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  3. #2

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    I doubt that the Lollar (or any other Johnny-Smith-type PU) will sound much different from the original pickup. Before swapping out a PU I'd suggest trying an outside EQ pedal, like the 10-band MXR model. This will def. give you many more options re tailoring the sound.
    If you prefer a permanent solution then check out Kent Armstrong : I use his singlecoil P-90/DeArmond model on my Trenier archtop and I like it very much. It's warm + nicely balanced, you have the option of the tapped output (slightly less output, great for comping) and for a single coil design it is extremely quiet, with very low hum. It is a more vintage-oriented sound to my ear and I guess that's what KA had in mind when he designed the pickup, as an alternative to his well-known and much-loved PAF model.

  4. #3
    Thank you

    I should add that I am not looking - especially - for a George Benson tone.

    I should also add that it isn't a Johnny Smith per se that I am thinking of by way of replacement...that's just the only thing I have found

    Like the idea of a Kent Armstrong P90!

  5. #4
    I worked at Ibanez. One thing I HAD to do the moment I started was fulfill a promise to get a GB10. So I did and yeah, I had the same reaction to the pickups. I should say that I had a Gibson Johnny Smith which set the bar pretty high for a nice sound.
    I called up MJ at Seymour Duncan, she runs the custom shop and she's gracious and helpful. "We can make you a floating mini pickup sure. Do you want it neck mounted or pickguard mount? What kind of sound do you want? Like a 59? Or hotter? You want Alnico II or V? Tell us what you want, we'll wind it." And they did.
    I put a mini 59 (like a PAF) on the neck mount and it sounds like a warm big jazz box with a woody attack, a really warm envelope and the GB body gives it a round sustain with an acoustic edge to it.
    Completely different beast.
    One option anyway.

  6. #5

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    Maybe try different pots a/o caps first?

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    Maybe try different pots a/o caps first?
    That'd cut the edge by rolling off the high end, but with that goes a lot of what makes the GB10 unique, the initial attack. It certainly is a (less costly) solution but that's not going to change the inherent character of the pickup at the core. And pots and caps really do only change the curve of frequency cutoff. The existing caps and pots will do the same thing, roll it off, but changing the filtering curve merely changes the sweep of the attenuation, the feel of the low pass filter. And on those Japanese GB guitars the pots are pretty decent out of the box.
    Just saying.
    You never know til you do it. Maybe that'll work

  8. #7

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    You don’t mention what strings you use
    try a set of TI GB13 flats
    i would wager you’ll be satisfied

  9. #8

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    Congrats on your GB10 purchase. Not sure what year yours is, but Ibanez GB pickups on the earlier models were not as hot as the newer ones. All are AlNiCo, but can be rated as high as 13 Kohm.

    If Seymour Duncan can do a custom wind as suggested, that might give you the desired result you seek. Talking with their custom shop is a great idea. Also, Kent Armstrong is another option for a custom wind. Finally, Bartolini makes a black floater (5JNB) rated at 3.6Kohm. I haven't heard them, but Big Mike owns a GB10 with a 5JNB in the neck that was installed by a pro player.

    Let us know what you decide.

  10. #9

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    Ibanez GB10 - Replacement Pickups-distel-gb10-jpg
    You are true : Distel had a GB10 modified with an ancient Charlie Christian pickup with 3 points mounting, in the early 80s (I think that Jacobacci made the job). You can see it on the sleeve of his LP "My guitar and all that Jazz" released in 1983.
    I have a dream of modifying a GB10 this way. But I would rather not to make holes on the guitar and use a floating CC Rider by Pete Biltoft, they sound great and he can make your PU with the kind of magnets of your choice etc. OK, not a long magnet pickup, but you'll never make a GB10 sound like an ES150 !

  11. #10

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    [QUOTE
    The stock pickups seem very hot and very bright. With the tone control on zero and volume rolled back, I can get a lovely tone but anything else is too harsh and bright for my tastes (and this is through a Mambo)

    [/QUOTE]

    Worth noting that the Mambo, much as I love mine, is quite a trebly amp, at least for my tastes. Even with soft-sounding alnico 2 or 3 pickups, in an L4, I have the treble on anything from zero to two.
    The least trebly tone setting is the 'dark' or 'deep' setting - but I'm sure you've tried that. Or one can change the speaker; the stock speaker has a pronounced treble/ high midrange peak, which is great for a trad tone with set-in pickup guitars, especially laminate-tops, but not so good for some floating pickups with spruce tops.

  12. #11

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    I just bought a GB100 which have the same pickups. Well, maybe not.
    The neck pickup on my guitar is extraordinarily good. I've had Gibson Johnny Smith and I have a BJB on my 165 and I am being honest, I absolutely LOVE the neck pickup on my guitar.
    I've heard that the newer GB models recently recieved hotter (ceramic I think) pickups. Perhaps, that is the problem? If you have the ability, see if you can find an older neck GB pickup. If its beat up, they are easy to swap to new cover.
    I have a couple of videos here under my GB100 NGD that I recorded with my guitar. Straight into my recording software, no amp simulation, no effects other than reverb.
    JD

  13. #12
    Wow

    Thank you everybody. I am alway struck by what a generous and knowledgeable community this is

    Couple of responses:

    - I am using TI flats, 13 gauge...not the GB ones.

    - It is a 2017 model, so definitely the newer model with hotter pickups

    - I was initially going to try new pots/caps but I think maybe that might throw the baby out of the bathwater

    - The Mambo is already on the Dark/Deep setting (Baxendale/Polytone circuit)...but I foolishly haven't rolled the treble control back (simply because the 175/s were perfect with everything halfway). This will be my first step

    - Failing that...I'll be looking into all of the options stated here* (and possibly will speak to boutique builders/winders here in the UK)

    I'll be sure to update you

    Thanks again

    David

    *As much as I love the idea of a GB10 with a CC pickup (accepting it won't sound like a 150!)...I probably won't go down the drilling route

  14. #13

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    I always thought that hotter pickups are darker. No?

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    I always thought that hotter pickups are darker. No?

    Nah .. Take something like the Gibson Dirty Fingers .. Hot as f... but also extremely trebly and piercing. Worst pup ever unless you're into precisely that

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    I always thought that hotter pickups are darker. No?
    Output comes from windings, magnet material and to some degree wire gauge. All these factours can be balanced to effect frequency response. In general, the ceramics will give highest output with the highest frequency signature.
    That's in general.
    Maybe this might be a good read:
    What do the specs on the tone chart mean? – Seymour Duncan

  17. #16

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    Take your GB10 into town, hit a couple of music stores and try your guitar through a Fender Deluxe Reverb or a Princeton Reverb

    that might give you a better idea of what your guitar can sound like
    that combination of Deluxe Reverb and GB10 is pretty hard to beat

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crm114
    Take your GB10 into town, hit a couple of music stores and try your guitar through a Fender Deluxe Reverb or a Princeton Reverb

    that might give you a better idea of what your guitar can sound like
    that combination of Deluxe Reverb and GB10 is pretty hard to beat
    Excellent suggestion!

    When I first heard guitarist, Norman Brown live back in 1997, he sounded fantastic on his GB10 through two Deluxe Reverbs! Later he switched to Fender Hot Rod Deluxe or Blues DeVille amps, both having more headroom.

    Plugging into a quality tube amp will make a positive difference for any GB10 player.

  19. #18

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    Just "subscribing" because I want to see how this shakes out... a GB10 is on my "list". But this is the first I've heard of the pickups not sounding good.

  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by ruger9
    Just "subscribing" because I want to see how this shakes out... a GB10 is on my "list". But this is the first I've heard of the pickups not sounding good.
    Hi there

    I honestly wouldn’t listen to me! It’s mainly just a matter of taste and the amp/amp settings

    with the tone right down and the volume dialled back...I get a wonderful tone

    I would just like a few more tones that I like

    It’s a great guitar and I would keep it on your list until you get one

  21. #20

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    I am going to cut and paste a part of my response to another thread on the GB10:

    My personal tone recipe for my GB10 is the guitar, a low capacitance George L's cable plugged into a reverb pedal and then plugged into a 5E3. The volume on the guitar is at 3-4, tone to taste (most of the tonal adjustment is coming from the volume control), the volume on the amp is at 2.5-3 and the tone is at 3. Fat, warm but not blanket-over-the-amp. Those really hot pickups are the secret sauce for the instrument's sound. If you want a bright, poppy Bensonesque tone run the volume on the guitar at 7–8; if you want a softer, darker sound, run the volume much lower and compensate with the amp's volume. If you want to get into shred territory, dime the controls.

  22. #21
    Writing with a bit of an update

    So I finally managed to have a bit of time to mess around with the guitar this afternoon

    Taking Franz 1997s advice seriously (he hasn't steered me wrong to date), I turned the treble right down on my Mambo amp (to about 2-3)

    Following Cunamara's lead, I turned the amp up and dialled the guitar volume right down to 5

    The difference is like night and day. Wow. These measures really tamed the brightness/hotness of the pickups while leaving the signature tone and attack in tact. No baby going out with the bathwater, as it were. It also opens up a much wider range of usable sounds by adjusting the tone control.

    I have also played around with a little bridge pickup in the mix to surprisingly good effect. I cannot remember who suggested this or if it was on this thread or the other (apologies for not giving credit)

    As many have pointed out, this guitar will probably come into its own with a good tube amp. I actually have a 5E3 coming my way in the not-too-distant future and so will update again then

    As things stand, I am thinking that I probably don't need to switch the pickups but I have some great suggestions here in case I change my mind

    All of this is a very useful reminder to try other things before jumping straight to new pickups

    Seems to be quite a few threads re: these guitars at the moment. Despite a few divergent voices (of which I may have been one), there seems a lot of love for these guitars. They certainly punch above their weight (or size) and represent - I would wager - very good value for money.

    Thanks all - very much appreciated

  23. #22

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    This is my humble suggestion, it worked for me
    Ibanez GB10 - Replacement Pickups-gb10-neck-pu-jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images Ibanez GB10 - Replacement Pickups-img-20170405-wa0015-jpg 

  24. #23
    Writing with another update -

    Well, I took the decision to sell the guitar rather but nobody seemed interested (despite pricing in line with other sales etc.)

    Took that as a sign that I ought to hold onto it and give it another chance to realise its potential

    And so I approached Kent Armstrong to re-wind them, who referred me to his son - Aaron - who is in the UK (as am I) who is going to do this for me

    I have high hopes for this and will report back

    In the meantime, thanks all for your input and wisdom

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    I am going to cut and paste a part of my response to another thread on the GB10:

    My personal tone recipe for my GB10 is the guitar, a low capacitance George L's cable plugged into a reverb pedal and then plugged into a 5E3. The volume on the guitar is at 3-4, tone to taste (most of the tonal adjustment is coming from the volume control), the volume on the amp is at 2.5-3 and the tone is at 3. Fat, warm but not blanket-over-the-amp. Those really hot pickups are the secret sauce for the instrument's sound. If you want a bright, poppy Bensonesque tone run the volume on the guitar at 7–8; if you want a softer, darker sound, run the volume much lower and compensate with the amp's volume. If you want to get into shred territory, dime the controls.
    This. I have a 2004, with the supposedly “hotter” pickups.... most versatile archtop I have for tones, other than the bridge pickup being almost entirely useless (for me). But, I never run the volume above 6 or 7, tone usually between 3 and 7. These guitars have such a great voice and versatility by themselves, I would really hesitate to modify one to suit a solid state amp. (You really should try it through a decent tube amp.) Better to mess with an EQ pedal or a tone shaping booster, like an RC, than mess with an amazingly versatile guitar, IMO. But, I look forward to seeing how this develops for you!

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by gitman
    I doubt that the Lollar (or any other Johnny-Smith-type PU) will sound much different from the original pickup. Before swapping out a PU I'd suggest trying an outside EQ pedal, like the 10-band MXR model. This will def. give you many more options re tailoring the sound.
    If you prefer a permanent solution then check out Kent Armstrong : I use his singlecoil P-90/DeArmond model on my Trenier archtop and I like it very much. It's warm + nicely balanced, you have the option of the tapped output (slightly less output, great for comping) and for a single coil design it is extremely quiet, with very low hum. It is a more vintage-oriented sound to my ear and I guess that's what KA had in mind when he designed the pickup, as an alternative to his well-known and much-loved PAF model.
    It depends on what era you are talking about. Recent bensons have ceramic magnet, 15k winding and to me are very hot and super bright.

    The older ones had alnico magnets and 7k(ish) windings and were much more mellow. I hate ceramic pickups and I think if you have one of the newer ones you'll hear a big diff when changing pickups.

  27. #26

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    I'd have to measure again, IIRC my 1981 GB10 has 11-13K pickups.

  28. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker
    It depends on what era you are talking about. Recent bensons have ceramic magnet, 15k winding and to me are very hot and super bright.

    The older ones had alnico magnets and 7k(ish) windings and were much more mellow. I hate ceramic pickups and I think if you have one of the newer ones you'll hear a big diff when changing pickups.
    100 % this. Mine is a 2017 model...and the pickups are exactly as you describe: very hot and super bright. Seems an odd choice for this guitar (with no disrespect intended to those who like these pickups).

    I hate them too but otherwise really like the guitar, and so I’m hoping/confident the Armstrong pickups will make a big difference