Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Postby redeyedjim » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:59 am

Rather than breaking this into several different posts, I’m gonna try to ask all of my questions in this one post. We’ll see how well this works.

First, this is my guitar - a Kramer 450G:

Image

1. Can anyone recommend a luthier/guitar repair shop in the SF area to route my Kramer for a middle pickup? I’ve seen Gary Brawer Guitars listed on Waldo’s site as a reseller of his (Waldo’s) TPC1, so absent any other recommendations I’ll probably approach him first.

2. Ballpark, does anyone have a rough idea of what can I expect to pay for the routing and associated work, not including the cost of the new pickup? Rounded to the nearest hundred dollar is fine -- I really have no idea how much to budget for this.

3. Is there a source for triple pickup mounting rings or plates? I’ve seen a few on guitars posted in this forum, but my Google-fu is failing me so far. My guitar has a lot of bright aluminum and some chrome, so I’m more interested in chrome or polished aluminum than brass, FWIW.

4. Which pickups are commonly used in a typical Tiger setup? Obviously the Dimarzio Super II is favored for the middle, but which pickups are typically used for the neck and bridge?

5. With age, do pickups improve, fade, or remain unchanged? My guitar currently has the vintage Dimarzios pictured above (installed ca. 1976-ish), and I am uncertain of how to proceed w/r/t its current pups. I bought the guitar used in 1977 or so, and it came with the Dimarzios pictured above. They are simple two wire humbuckers and I want a bridge pup that’s wired for a coil tap, but I don’t know if swapping out the current vintage pups would be unnecessarily foolish.

This forum rocks - thanks for whatever info you guys can provide!
Last edited by redeyedjim on Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Postby Tennessee Jedi » Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:21 am

redeyedjim wrote:Rather than breaking this into several different posts, I’m gonna try to ask all of my questions in this one post. We’ll see how well this works.

First, this is my guitar - a Kramer 450G:

Image

1. Can anyone recommend a luthier/guitar repair shop in the SF area to route my Kramer for a middle pickup? I’ve seen Gary Brawer Guitars listed on Waldo’s site as a reseller of his (Waldo’s) TPC1, so absent any other recommendations I’ll probably aproach him first.

2. Ballpark, does anyone have a rough idea of what can I expect to pay for the routing and associated work, not including the cost of the new pickup? Rounded to the nearest hundred dollar is fine -- I really have no idea how much to budget for this.

3. Is there a source for triple pickup mounting rings or plates? I’ve seen a few on guitars posted in this forum, but my Google-fu is failing me so far. My guitar has a lot of bright aluminum and some chrome, so I’m more interested in chrome or polished aluminum than brass, FWIW.

4. Which pickups are commonly used in a typical Tiger setup? Obviously the Dimarzio Super II is favored for the middle, but which pickups are typically used for the neck and bridge?

5. With age, do pickups improve, fade, or remain unchanged? My guitar currently has the vintage Dimarzios pictured below (installed ca. 1976-ish), and I am uncertain of how to proceed w/r/t its current pups. I bought the guitar used in 1977 or so, and it came with the Dimarzios pictured below. They are simple two wire humbuckers and I want a bridge pup that’s wired for a coil tap, but I don’t know if swapping out the current vintage pups would be unnecessarily foolish.

This forum rocks - thanks for whatever info you guys can provide!

Yo and welcome !
Hey is that Kramer a aluminum neck like a T. Bean ?
SWEET !
Too route out and install pups shouldn't be too much .... a few hundred or so
Check out my guitar and the modz done to it
viewtopic.php?f=419&t=9041#p84776
Good luck !
:smile:
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Re: Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Postby redeyedjim » Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:37 am

Tennessee Jedi wrote:Yo and welcome !
Hey is that Kramer is a aluminum neck like a T. Bean ?
SWEET !
Too route out and install pups shouldn't be too much .... a few hundred or so
Check out my guitar and the modz done to it
viewtopic.php?f=419&t=9041#p84776
Good luck !
:smile:


Thanks! Yes, the 450G has an aluminum neck with wood inserts on the back. The neck bolts to the body.

Gary Kramer was one of the founding employees of Travis Bean, and left after a few years to form his own company. The 450G was among their early efforts, and it's a beautiful instrument. It's also built like a freaking tank! I love mine, and have owned it since I was ~14; I added the Kahler tremolo bridge about 20 years ago.Their Wikipedia entry has some good info on the company and its early guitars.

I love your guitar, too.
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Re: Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Postby Tennessee Jedi » Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:49 am

Thanks Red Eye
Yeah man dont know anyone out your way but just keep poking around until you find someone..
Good luck on your quest
I really like your guitar .... looks bad ass
:smile:
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Re: Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Postby TI4-1009 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:17 pm

Just my $.02:

Gary B. worked on Garcia's guitars, so I'd trust him with mine ;-). He has a national reputation, don't know if that means you could get the same work done for less somewhere else or not.

I would think a few hundred would do it. Maybe less if you stripped everything out yourself first to eliminate the R&R work?.

There have been some recent threads here about sources for rings and similar brass parts. Some of the sources were pretty broad about what they could do and what materials they could use. Poke around.

Typical "Tiger setup" is SDS-1 in the neck and Super 2s bridge and middle. Middle Super 2 with coil cut is the cat's meow.

Most agree that pickups don't change or degrade over time. Look how valuable those '57 PAFs are these days- 45+ years down the road. One exception was some guy named Garcia who thought he wore them out in about two years. We don't know if anyone actually measured the magnetic fields. Jerry had corrosive sweat, but that "shouldn't" change the magnet's strength. What did he know anyway.... Which begs the question- so where are those 75 or so pickups that Jerry threw away :shock:
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Re: Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Postby JonnyBoy » Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:57 pm

Jerry's pickups? Probably in a landfill, maybe a few in some guitars of people close enough to get them, maybe on a few work benches of Gary B and the like.... but, If this was me, I would keep it like it is and have the Travis Bean sound with 2 humbuckers, plus it saves the value of that guitar for sure being stock (those axes are collector's items). But if it has to go through surgery, then it must, so I would put a super II split like mentioned above.
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Re: Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Postby redeyedjim » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:34 pm

JonnyBoy wrote:If this was me, I would keep it like it is and have the Travis Bean sound with 2 humbuckers, plus it saves the value of that guitar for sure being stock (those axes are collector's items). But if it has to go through surgery, then it must, so I would put a super II split like mentioned above.


I understand that point of view, and I agree that it's a classic and a wonderful guitar -- it's literally the only electric guitar I've ever owned, and I've owned it since I was in high school. However, this is not a pre-CBS strat or a '59 LP; even if it were in pristine shape, it's current value is well under $2k. For example, here's a similar -- Hell, nicer --aluminum neck Kramer w/Dimarzios that's currently on ebay for less than $1300. Beautiful + rare doesn't necessarily equal "extremely valuable".

The other thing to keep in mind is that this would not be the first major modification done to it -- about 20 years ago I the body routed for the Kahler tremelo bridge and head stock machined (literally drilled and tapped) for the matching Floyd Rose-style clamp:

Image

(NB: I had to do something -- that aluminum nut + zero fret combination caused strings to bind in the nut during play, which meant it went out of tune as soon as you started bending strings. Which just sucked.)

So it's already had some major surgery, and I don't mind having some more as long as it's done tastefully and professionally. Believe me, I love this guitar too much to subject it to a hack job, but I also play it regularly and know its limitations. My feeling -- and I really hope I'm not being naive -- is that doing the standard Tiger mods to it will make it a better instrument. Ultimately, I want what I think we all want: an instrument that is capable of producing the clean, clear tone that Garcia's guitars were known for.
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Re: Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Postby hippieguy1954 » Tue Sep 27, 2011 6:04 am

There is a huge amount of information here, thanks to Waldo! http://www.wald-electronics.com/ :smile: :smile: :smile:
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Re: Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Postby JonnyBoy » Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:53 pm

Right on, then you should mod it. If you have had that guitar that long and will have it until you croak, then it is worth doing what you want to it. You are married to it and to loose it would be not worth the $ anyway, much like a divorce :lol: . I thought they went for more, I would love to try one to see if I like them. I love the beans feel and tone.

You will still retain the 2 humbucker tone anyway, you will be gaining a huge amount of tonal options with the 3rd bucker. GO FOR IT!
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Re: Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Postby milobender » Sat Oct 15, 2011 3:55 pm

Hello there. I can sure make you a stainless steel pickup ring/pick guard... see Tom's guitar for a fancy one, or I can just make it plain, like Jerry's...

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Re: Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Postby redeyedjim » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:34 pm

milobender wrote:Hello there. I can sure make you a stainless steel pickup ring/pick guard... see Tom's guitar for a fancy one, or I can just make it plain, like Jerry's...

Brian


Thanks, Brian. I'm currently working with someone on making a triple pickup ring for my Kramer, but if it doesn't work out I'll be in touch. Thanks.
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Re: Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Postby milobender » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:40 pm

No problem :smile:
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Re: Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Postby Rojack01 » Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:53 pm

JonnyBoy wrote:Jerry's pickups? Probably in a landfill, maybe a few in some guitars of people close enough to get them, maybe on a few work benches of Gary B and the like.... but, If this was me, I would keep it like it is and have the Travis Bean sound with 2 humbuckers, plus it saves the value of that guitar for sure being stock (those axes are collector's items). But if it has to go through surgery, then it must, so I would put a super II split like mentioned above.


We had talked about what came of Garcia's old pickups in another thread. I would be willing to bet that They were given away or sold or maybe kept by the tech afterwards, if he didn't give them back to Parrish or Garcia. As far as pickups wearing out , THEY DON'T. 3 points of view on this. #1 Garcia was wrong, it was mojo, and for whatever reason he liked newish ones. #2 Everybody knows Garcia's sweat was said to be extra+ corrosive. Maybe that was more the pole pieces and associated parts could take. #3 (My favorite) Another member said this, and I think he was right. Garcia was channeling with his guitar. Spirits of dead people, or some kind of energy,Maybe from another dimension. Maybe aliens. Maybe aliens from another dimension. Maybe Magic. Anyway, it wore out his pickups! I think that it is COSMIC type stuff. I don't think he knew very much about it at all. peace guys
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New question: neck single coil position/orientation?

Postby redeyedjim » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:01 am

So I'm in the process of acquiring the parts for Tiger-izing my Kramer, I'm about to finalize the triple pickup ring, and I could use some input on the orientation of the front SDS-1 single coil.

For my guitar, if I orient the front coil so that it's perpendicular to the strings and parallel to the humbuckers, the two end poles end up positioned well to the outside of the two E strings -- the center poles line up with the D and G strings, but as you moved outward from the middle strings, each successive string is further away from the corresponding pole piece. By the time you get to the two E strings, the top and bottom poles were well above and below those strings. In this orientation the outer poles are more than half a string space above and below the E strings.

I see this as a problem, not a feature, and my solution is to rotate the single coil forward, like on a Tele, so that the each strings lies directly above a pole piece. Like this:

Image

This will make the pole positions on the single coil match that of my humbuckers (which are standard, not F spaced).

The person who will be making my pickup ring -- a luthier and a forum member here -- feels this is not correct, and the pickup should be closer to vertical, even though that will move 4 of the 6 poles further away from the strings than my orientation would. He'll make my pickup ring however I want it, but it's his opinion that my way isn't best.

So...is there a "right" answer here? Will one way sound better than the other? I'll be the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing and I may be completely wrong, but I'd love to hear some discussion on this from folks with more experience than me. Thanks!
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Re: Middle pickup routing and other questions...

Postby Pete B. » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:31 am

If the pickup has to be at an angle, I like the pole piece for the Low-E 6th string to be closest to the Bridge, High-E 1st string pole piece closest to the neck.
But that's just me. I like the bass strings to be treble-ee-er.
This may also even up the volume output of the single-coil vs humbuker, one coil will probably be slightly off if the other other is directly under each string.
Maybe do the Bobby thing and route it big enough so you can experiment with both ways for a while.
For example, Pic of left handed bridge plate on Tele:
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