Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

Chat about Equipment Info
 #116675  by ccw3432
 Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:50 pm
I'm new to the board here and was hoping to get some ideas on a modification I'm planning for my Gibson SG faded. It currently is stock with 490R and 490T pickups. I'm thinking of adding a middle pickup and going with Super II's for all three. Thinking of having all three coil tapping as well to get a sinle coil tone going. I'd like to be able to select an one pickup or play them in various combinations by adding a six way switch. I'm looking to get some Jerry tones but also like the ability to dial in some other sounds, so I'm looking for flexibility in the setup. I currently like the 490 pickup in the neck position for an overdriven sound but I'm having difficulty getting a good clean sound that I like. I'm hoping new pickups and the coil tapping option will help. Are there any other modifications or things I should consider?

I don't know that a unity gain buffer is needed. Do they do anything for tone character or just aid levels for effects? Any comments would be welcomed as I'm just starting the thought process here. My SG get some tones I really like as well and at this point not looking to get another guitar, but hoping to mod this one and make it more versatile. Thanks.
 #116683  by Mr.Burns
 Sun Jul 29, 2012 1:32 am
The buffer is used to isolate the capacitance of your cables. So, yes, it will change your tone, but its really only designed to avoid what signal loss your cables are responsible for. The OBEL is what presents your pickup's full voltage to the effects, and it's just wiring, a stereo jack, and a switch.

Oh, and a stereo cable, some more wiring and a few more jacks. So, simple concept, not so simple execution. But doable, and with great results, especially with envelope filters and other input voltage sensitive effects.

However, if I had an SG, I'd be going for 60's tones, and would play clean most of the time...
 #116684  by czyfingers
 Sun Jul 29, 2012 4:40 am
For the best Jerry tone, you need the middle pickup. You'll find it stated all over this board, (or just check out a few videos where you can see his pickup selector) that he used the middle pickup almost all the time. You could put super 2's in the other 2 spots, but you won't nail it. The neck pickup is still gonna sound too bluesy and warm, and the bridge pickup is still gonna sound too trebly, thin and countryish. (for most songs). Now, if you're playing cumberland blues, thats a different story. That's one example of a time when he used something other than the middle.
Anyway, if I were you, I'd put a super in the middle, coil tap all 3, and if you're fairly happy with the other 2 pickups, save your money and leave them. Those are good pickups. By adding the ability to coil tap them, you're adding more tonal options right there. For the minimal time Jerry used the neck/bridge, I think it can easily be pulled off without super 2's in those spots. In fact, I think a super 2 sounds horrible in the neck position anyway. The one guitar I have that I did that to, got it ripped back out 3 days later and got an sds1in the neck spot. It's the super 2 in the middle that's critical. As far as the buffer goes, it's not imperative, but even without 9 miles of cables, to my ears it adds a very noticeable clarity to your tone. So I'd install that too, in lieu of the other 2 super 2's. If you do this, you'll have a guitar that'll do Jerry well and a whole lot more. I just did this same exact thing to my latest axe.
Keep in mind, your amp and speakers and most of all, your technique also play a huge role in achieving Jerry. JBL E/K speakers are almost as important as the middle pickup in getting the sound. The amp is a little more forgiving, but also important. It all depends on how far you wanna go and how close you want it to sound. I've tried just about everything, and one thing I've concluded for sure is that I'll never sound exactly like Jerry, because I'm not Jerry. Some players come damn close though. I think Vic from Playing Dead is one of the easiest to mistake for Jerry out there.
 #116695  by Mr.Burns
 Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:26 am
I think Vic from Playing Dead is one of the easiest to mistake for Jerry out there.
Vic is great, and he does sound "jerry-esque". Waldo explained the difference between kinda sounding like Jerry, and guys that have the Twin pre, Mcintosh power, JBL's and a Tiger or Rosebud spec guitar. The technique is important, but the gear is also important. I believe Waldo named Vic as an example of kind of sounding like Jerry, probably cuz he uses an AxeFX II. Which is a very cool piece of gear no matter how you slice it.

Are the stock 490's four wire humbuckers? I think factory 490's are two wire and aftermarket 490's are four wire. It wouldn't make sense for Gibson to put tappable pickups in a guitar that has no coil tapping capabilities. I hate to burst your bubble, but if you want to split the coils, you'll need four wires. The stock setup, played through a blackface type amp, should nail 69 tone, though. Think LiveDead.
 #116720  by ccw3432
 Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:54 pm
Thanks for the responses. I really like the idea of just adding a middle Dimarzio Super II or Super Distortion and seeing how that goes. Maybe replace the 490s with splittable coil ones if they are not set up to do it. Still giving it some thought.
 #116721  by dleonard
 Sun Jul 29, 2012 10:04 pm
Before you go on with the mods...check out this guy from the most prominent Philly Dead band playing a faded SG with virtually no mods (I have no relation to this band besides a fan). Kadlecik, Mattson and Donna Jean have sat in with these dudes too.
 #116826  by ccw3432
 Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:22 pm
Thanks for the link dleonard. I can get a similar sound with my current setup. I'm hoping to keep that and get some more variety going as well. Stu Allen also gets some great sounds out of his SG. I've decided to get a Dimarzio Super II installed inbetween the other two pickups. I'm going to stay with the 490s in the bridge and neck and hopefully have them all set up as split coil. I'm thinking three volume knobs and one master tone knob so I can adjust the pickup levels individually even when running two together. I'm taking it in tomorrow to meet with tech. Excited to get this going. I'll let you all know how it goes.
 #116828  by Smolder
 Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:52 pm
if you ever decide to explore, the lollar low winds excel in this application.
 #116835  by Smolder
 Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:54 am
ccw3432 wrote:Lollar? Please tell me more.

jason lollar is a winder out in the north west (seattle - puget sound). His imperial humbuckers are very nice. The low winds work particularly well on SG's. Les Pauls have a maple cap that does well with high output pickups. the flat mahogany guitars not so much... so low winds are the way to go. I have an old faded (2002) with crescent moon inlays (they did that for just a couple of years) and an ebony fret board. It sound very piano like and will get you into that jerry sg territory.
 #116926  by hawk900
 Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:33 am


Note from the first image the retarded gibson 3way has been removed and no 5way was put in. I used spst swithes just above my fx loop by pass switch to select approp. pups.
If you have any questions pm me.
 #116927  by hawk900
 Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:35 am
I also have a piezo pup under the shaller style bridge hooked through a blend knob on my bridge pup to add an amazing cripe tone too.
 #116932  by ccw3432
 Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:45 am
Oh ya! Some great Ideas. So many decisions. I went to the guitar tech and discussed what I'm trying to do. I'm getting closer but have not yet dropped it off. Right now I'm thinking of replacing the 3 way as well with three individual three way swiches that can be switched to OFF, ON Split Coil, and ON Humbucker. Need to decide on the bridge and neck pickup. I'll have to explore the piezo idea as well.
 #116944  by TI4-1009
 Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:58 am
Why the three jacks?