The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    Hey everyone. I'm new here. Got an Ibanez AF-85 recently, it's lovely, but it was supposed to be my first jazz guitar, and the sound is not up to the task. I'm after Pat Metheny sound, maybe some George Benson as well (I know one is dark , and the other is bright) , but the ACH1 ACH2 pickups don't really sound close to either. Surprisingly they sound amazing with good overdrive and distortion. It's as if I got a new rock guitar, but the cleans dont sing. With some delay/reverb it's better, but it still doesn't have that hollow body sweetness.

    I read that lowering pickups and raising the screws can clear it out a bit, anyone can confirm?

    I'm thinking about changing the pickups anyway, maybe to good (at least Korean) Super 58s, but if someone can suggest better ones for a Pat sound, I'll check those out as well. My amp is Vox so the lows aren't there, but its an amp that can sing, so I'm sure it's a pickup problem, not an amp. I'm using flatwounds.

    Thanks!

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  3. #2

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    I have an Artcore with the pickups you mention. I found that it sounded pretty good with D'Addario Chromes, less so with other types of flatwounds. The Chromes are stainless steel, so presumably higher output..., though any decent HB would probably be an improvement.

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter C
    I have an Artcore with the pickups you mention. I found that it sounded pretty good with D'Addario Chromes, less so with other types of flatwounds. The Chromes are stainless steel, so presumably higher output..., though any decent HB would probably be an improvement.
    Oh yes, I'm using Chromes as well

  5. #4

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    Maybe tell us a bit more about the rest of your set up, e.g, what amp you're using, tone settings on both guitar and amp, string type and gauge? You might be able to tweak those to good effect.

    As far as lowering pickups goes, just try it and see. IME it doesn't change the sound dramatically, but can help with problems like excessive bass/boominess and muddiness caused by hot pickups pushing the front end of amp into distortion. But different combinations of guitars and amps react differently to adjustments. So the only way to know what will happen is to try it.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by ASonic
    Hey everyone. I'm new here. Got an Ibanez AF-85 recently, it's lovely, but it was supposed to be my first jazz guitar, and the sound is not up to the task. I'm after Pat Metheny sound, maybe some George Benson as well (I know one is dark , and the other is bright) , but the ACH1 ACH2 pickups don't really sound close to either. Surprisingly they sound amazing with good overdrive and distortion. It's as if I got a new rock guitar, but the cleans dont sing. With some delay/reverb it's better, but it still doesn't have that hollow body sweetness.

    I read that lowering pickups and raising the screws can clear it out a bit, anyone can confirm?

    I'm thinking about changing the pickups anyway, maybe to good (at least Korean) Super 58s, but if someone can suggest better ones for a Pat sound, I'll check those out as well. My amp is Vox so the lows aren't there, but its an amp that can sing, so I'm sure it's a pickup problem, not an amp. I'm using flatwounds.

    Thanks!
    I have a 2007 Ibanez AF-95 with those same pickups. It has D’Addario Chromes on it and I have adjusted the height, the poles etc. to optimize the sound. I must say that I am not really impressed with the sound of those pickups. They just don’t sound as good as the pickups on my more expensive guitars. I would definitely change the pickups in mine if it was my main gigging guitar. I haven’t bothered doing anything yet though, because it’s just an inexpensive guitar that I take on vacations for practice. I haven’t owned a guitar with Korean “Super 58’s” but I have owned a couple Japanese Ibanez guitars in the past with “Super 70’s” and they were fantastic pickups. They sounded as good as any pickups I have ever used.
    Keith

  7. #6

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    I have an 85. Spectacular guitar that is constructed and plays far above is price point (the kind of guitars I like!)

    Those pickups, however, have to go. I changed them as well as the electronics and nut. It helps if you have a good luthier to do the work and setup.

    After I did the above, the guitar easily competes with any dual pickup laminate archtop out there.

    What guage chromes are you using? That helps, too. With a good setup, "heavy" strings like 13s will play well and sound good. (Except the low E string, which sounds like a turd. I don't use chromes for that reason

    Quote Originally Posted by floatingpickup
    I have a 2007 Ibanez AF-95 with those same pickups.

    I think that guitar has the much better super 58s in it. At least it's supposed to. Did you buy used or new?

    I always felt the Super 58s were so good that an upgrade to an even better pickup was just not worth it!

    So either you just don't like them or maybe they were switched out before you bought it?
    Last edited by furtom; 01-07-2022 at 12:43 PM.

  8. #7

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    yes I believe that AF81 and 85 had ceramic magnet ach pickups stock ....

    (the later 91 and 95 had alnico )

    i got a used AF81 as a practice/backup
    guitar , and when i got it the orig owner
    had put a cheapo P90 in hb mount
    in there
    which he said was a big improvement on the stock ach ceramic pickup

    I didn’t like it much for clean
    so have put a decent
    alnico Humbucker in there ....
    which now sounds full and smooth
    it’s a good guitar now

    So yeah I would put a decent alnico magnet HB of your choice in the neck position and tally-ho

  9. #8

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    Ibanez Artcore tweaks-4551ec9d-e43c-4601-99d8-0226b94b4138-jpg

  10. #9

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    You need better pickups. Try Seymour Duncan Seth Lovers or 59s, Dimarzio 35th Anniversary PAFs, or any PAF style pickup.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by ASonic
    Hey everyone. I'm new here. Got an Ibanez AF-85 recently, it's lovely, but it was supposed to be my first jazz guitar, and the sound is not up to the task. I'm after Pat Metheny sound, maybe some George Benson as well (I know one is dark , and the other is bright) , but the ACH1 ACH2 pickups don't really sound close to either. Surprisingly they sound amazing with good overdrive and distortion. It's as if I got a new rock guitar, but the cleans dont sing. With some delay/reverb it's better, but it still doesn't have that hollow body sweetness.

    I read that lowering pickups and raising the screws can clear it out a bit, anyone can confirm?

    I'm thinking about changing the pickups anyway, maybe to good (at least Korean) Super 58s, but if someone can suggest better ones for a Pat sound, I'll check those out as well. My amp is Vox so the lows aren't there, but its an amp that can sing, so I'm sure it's a pickup problem, not an amp. I'm using flatwounds.

    Thanks!
    Lowering the pups will help, as will adjusting your amp settings. The Artcore guitars are great bang for buck - I have/had several - but one must accept that in large degree, you get what you pay for. A pickup swap is not unheard of. I would mount some '57 Classics, or Duncan '59s or such to get a bit of a more upscale tone. There are also pedals that might give you a frequency enhancement you might find apt -to wit - Tube Screamer, Klon, etc. I'm getting very nice tones with a Wampler Belle in front of my 1 -12" 35watt Princeton-inspired tube amp.* YMMV, it's half the fun!

    * Using very restrained settings. Little-known fact: Knobs turn both ways!

  12. #11

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    The quickest, cheapest, easiest way to change your sound is by changing your pick. Get a thick pick, and you will get a thicker sound. The change in tone between picks can be dramatic.

  13. #12
    Yes, well I did mention the strings are D'Addario flats, 10s only but I'm going to move to 11s, trying to transition slowly.
    My amp is a valve Vox home amp, it's not ideal for jazz, but the cleans are fine with all other guitars I tried on it, so it shouldn't be the problem I believe. The guitar sounds wonderful with flats unplugged, but the pickups aren't the best for jazz it seems. I'm using a triangle 1.17 mm dunlop cortex pick, if that's also important. I may try lowering the pups, but I'm also not sure that will help. I checked a couple of demos comparing sup 58 with sup 70, they seem quite similar to me. I thought about getting classic 57s but I liked the supers a bit more, it's just confusing, there's silent 58s on Pat's guitars, and I don't know how much they differ from supers, is it just the noise issue or something else? They're not easy to find either.

  14. #13

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    I've had very good luck with the Stew Mac Parsons Street humbuckers, which are basically PAF clones that run about $120 per set if you go that route. I think the Super 58's will likely run you less per set in chrome, not sure if they've made the Super 70's in a while. I believe the Silent 58's are the same as the Super 58s but wax potted to make them a bit quieter.

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by jim777
    I've had very good luck with the Stew Mac Parsons Street humbuckers, which are basically PAF clones that run about $120 per set if you go that route. I think the Super 58's will likely run you less per set in chrome, not sure if they've made the Super 70's in a while. I believe the Silent 58's are the same as the Super 58s but wax potted to make them a bit quieter.
    Thanks a lot, so I'll be good with supers in this case, I want the golds , though, can live with anything under 200$, not sure I can get Japanese for the price, so I was thinking Korea would be a good trade off. I'll check out SMPs in a bit, thanks for the heads up

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    Lowering the pups will help, as will adjusting your amp settings. The Artcore guitars are great bang for buck - I have/had several - but one must accept that in large degree, you get what you pay for. A pickup swap is not unheard of. I would mount some '57 Classics, or Duncan '59s or such to get a bit of a more upscale tone. There are also pedals that might give you a frequency enhancement you might find apt -to wit - Tube Screamer, Klon, etc. I'm getting very nice tones with a Wampler Belle in front of my 1 -12" 35watt Princeton-inspired tube amp.* YMMV, it's half the fun!

    * Using very restrained settings. Little-known fact: Knobs turn both ways!
    I got this guitar for cleans only, i do have dirt pedals but I'm not going to use them here. So about the pickups, do I simply lower them or do I raise the individual screws afterwards as well? How much should the ideal distance be from the screw top?

  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    The quickest, cheapest, easiest way to change your sound is by changing your pick. Get a thick pick, and you will get a thicker sound. The change in tone between picks can be dramatic.
    I've been using 1.17 cortex, its pretty matte and gives me the darker sound that I want, I also use a lot of upstrokes for some reason which also helps. I still can't get that jazz sound though, if you know what I mean, warm but clean and sharp, glassy tone. So I blame the pup.

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by RyanM
    You need better pickups. Try Seymour Duncan Seth Lovers or 59s, Dimarzio 35th Anniversary PAFs, or any PAF style pickup.
    will check these tonight as well, thanks. Don't want them too bright, Gretsch guitars are too bright for me for example.

  19. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by furtom
    I have an 85. Spectacular guitar that is constructed and plays far above is price point (the kind of guitars I like!)

    Those pickups, however, have to go. I changed them as well as the electronics and nut. It helps if you have a good luthier to do the work and setup.

    After I did the above, the guitar easily competes with any dual pickup laminate archtop out there.

    What guage chromes are you using? That helps, too. With a good setup, "heavy" strings like 13s will play well and sound good. (Except the low E string, which sounds like a turd. I don't use chromes for that reason


    I think that guitar has the much better super 58s in it. At least it's supposed to. Did you buy used or new?

    I always felt the Super 58s were so good that an upgrade to an even better pickup was just not worth it!

    So either you just don't like them or maybe they were switched out before you bought it?
    Indeed an awesome guitar for the buck. So what pickups did you change to? I put on 10s only, as I said, I want to go up slowly, without having to modify the neck too much. But I'll go for 11s for sure. Higher than that - not for now. Afaik PM uses 11s. With the pickup change I believe it indeed can compete with many high end ones.

    regarding AF 95, that also confused me, but I think they started putting in supers at some point, no? Maybe the '00 versions have ACHs?

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by ASonic
    Indeed an awesome guitar for the buck. So what pickups did you change to? I put on 10s only, as I said, I want to go up slowly, without having to modify the neck too much. But I'll go for 11s for sure. Higher than that - not for now. Afaik PM uses 11s. With the pickup change I believe it indeed can compete with many high end ones.

    regarding AF 95, that also confused me, but I think they started putting in supers at some point, no? Maybe the '00 versions have ACHs?
    Any traditionally voiced PAF will work very well. SD Seth Lover, 59, Antiquity, etc. Some people have mentioned Dmarzzio, all good options. And the cheaper alternatives like StewMac will still be a big improvement.

    I used a Tonerider Alnico II Classic Vintage Humbucker in the neck as a test because I was at first hesitant to put a very expensive pickup in such a cheap guitar. They run about $60 each. This was both a good and bad decision! It was bad because the guitar turned out to be so good, it would have been perfectly appropriate to put a Seth Lover in there! It was good because the pickup surpassed my most hopeful expectations. There is no need to change it! The small improvement I may get with a more boutique pickup is just not worth the hassle. That being said, if I had it to do over again, I'd put the SD in there.

    As far as string gauges, well, I understand your reluctance, but believe me, it's all in the setup! Anytime you get a new guitar, regardless of the maker, it will probably need attention to make it play its best. I don't care what gauge Metheny uses. An archtop will sound better with heavier strings. It's also a matter of technique. Jazz feel works better with strings that have some resistance. Pat M can make Eddy VH's Franken-guitar sound like jazz, but since we are not him, we need every advantage.

    There is no danger of going from 10s to, say, 12s in one go. you may just have to give the truss rod an extra quarter turn than you would have if you went to 11s. This is not any kind of problem. It's what the neck is designed to do. You can do a quarter turn at a time and wait say one hour in between if you are really worried, but this isn't necessary.

  21. #20
    I will think about 12s, thanks! I'm not going to do much bending on this guitar, and I do feel like thicker strings feel much better on the pick. Was thinking about TIs but from what I heard they're brighter than I need as well. My top boost amp is bright enough, so I'm trying to minimize it altogether.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by ASonic
    I will think about 12s, thanks! I'm not going to do much bending on this guitar, and I do feel like thicker strings feel much better on the pick. Was thinking about TIs but from what I heard they're brighter than I need as well. My top boost amp is bright enough, so I'm trying to minimize it altogether.
    If by top boost you mean a Vox style amp, I can't say I would be looking at one of those for jazz. Love them for rock, but not full enough sounding to me for traditional jazz.

    Also maybe try the non- top boost channel if there is one.

    Otherwise bigger strings, maybe a wound third etc as others have suggested.

  23. #22

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    I worked at Ibanez. I know their guitars really well. I bought a bunch of them while I was there and on ALL of them, I changed the pickups from the start.
    A lot of people like the stock PU's but it's a personal preference, I do not.
    The construction, feel, balance, necks, most of the hardware are good and on the artcores, the body construction was excellent. Replacement of the stock pickups and input jack were a given; that's where they cut the corners and after doing that, I had what I considered a serious professional grade workhorse guitar with great feel.
    If I were outfitting it for a pro player, I would also put top grade tuning machines and set it up with more critical clearance at the nut and a fret level and end trim in the peak of winter. In this way, those Ibanez guitars give any competition a serious run for the money.
    My favourite Pickups happen to be Duncan 59 or Seth Lover for an inherently brighter topped instrument (these PU's can round out and warm up a guitar with 'edge' and make the clarity work for you.) Antiquities if you have the scratch.
    If the guitar has a more even or understated warmth to it, I personally like the ability of the Jazz to bring out the articulate attack and mid range acoustical quality of a top, but I play fingerstyle so that's part of my own aesthetic. Many players hear this pickup as being too high end clear, or described as brittle.

    As you may have guessed, pickups are VERY personal and a match is something you need to find by trial and error and by knowing yourself as a player. Get something good (don't play the cheap option at this stage) and grow into it. It's the only way you'll learn to hear the qualities that will ultimately shape your choices in the future.
    My two cents anyway.

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by bluejaybill
    If by top boost you mean a Vox style amp, I can't say I would be looking at one of those for jazz. Love them for rock, but not full enough sounding to me for traditional jazz.

    Also maybe try the non- top boost channel if there is one.

    Otherwise bigger strings, maybe a wound third etc as others have suggested.
    Yeah I mentioned in the OP that it's a VOX, so its not the best fit for jazz, but I still think pickups are the main issue, I might get a Cube or something later, but for now I just wanna get the muddy pups out of the equation. My third is wound and flat, I will get thicker things for sure, thanks

  25. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    I worked at Ibanez. I know their guitars really well. I bought a bunch of them while I was there and on ALL of them, I changed the pickups from the start.
    A lot of people like the stock PU's but it's a personal preference, I do not.
    The construction, feel, balance, necks, most of the hardware are good and on the artcores, the body construction was excellent. Replacement of the stock pickups and input jack were a given; that's where they cut the corners and after doing that, I had what I considered a serious professional grade workhorse guitar with great feel.
    If I were outfitting it for a pro player, I would also put top grade tuning machines and set it up with more critical clearance at the nut and a fret level and end trim in the peak of winter. In this way, those Ibanez guitars give any competition a serious run for the money.
    My favourite Pickups happen to be Duncan 59 or Seth Lover for an inherently brighter topped instrument (these PU's can round out and warm up a guitar with 'edge' and make the clarity work for you.) Antiquities if you have the scratch.
    If the guitar has a more even or understated warmth to it, I personally like the ability of the Jazz to bring out the articulate attack and mid range acoustical quality of a top, but I play fingerstyle so that's part of my own aesthetic. Many players hear this pickup as being too high end clear, or described as brittle.

    As you may have guessed, pickups are VERY personal and a match is something you need to find by trial and error and by knowing yourself as a player. Get something good (don't play the cheap option at this stage) and grow into it. It's the only way you'll learn to hear the qualities that will ultimately shape your choices in the future.
    My two cents anyway.
    Thanks a lot! Very useful. I'm certainly not gonna go for the cheaper options, since mine are cheap already I watched some comparison videos and I do like Seths more than 59s, I'm also looking into silent/super 58s taken off the Ibanez PMs in good condition. To me they sound livelier than classic 57s

    Pat Metheny pickups Ibanez 3PU1J15812, 3PU1J15811 Gold for | Reverb like these

    Also , since you're familiar with the guitars, what pickup height would you suggest to combat the mud?

  26. #25

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    I want to say those ACH pickups are ceramic or have a ceramic bar on them. I believe that gives a brighter tone. I read here in a search the MIC Super 58s use a 3 alnico magnet. Better check that bit of info because I'm going form memory. Either way there adequate but not on the level of the MIJ 58s. I've read good things about the MIK 58s. Of course, the already mentioned Pickups from Duncan are well thought of.
    I see, at least for the AM series, once you get to a 93 level they come with 58s. You might think about a used AF at that level on Craigs in your area. That way you could play it first.