Agile Alnico V humbuckers: am I asking too much of them?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by GeorgiaHonk, May 2, 2016.

  1. GeorgiaHonk

    GeorgiaHonk Tele-Holic

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    So I own an Agile 3010SE with the alnico V HBs. The bridge pickup is surprisingly good, and gives me a decent Beano tone with the tone rolled down to 3 or 4, and more aggressive classic rock when opened up. The neck pickup has been a bit more of an issue. I'm looking for sweet round Betts tone but so far it's too woofy and dark. I tried lowering the pickup height and that remedied the muddiness and most of the wooliness, but it's still a bit dark for the Jessica / Ramblin Man-era tunes that I love so much. Suggestions on wiring or component changes that can help brighten my neck without overly affecting my bridge tones? Anything short of buying a new pickup would be appreciated; my wife will divorce me if I try to spend another $100 on tweaking a "damn guitar."
     
  2. Zipslack

    Zipslack Tele-Meister

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    Have you changed the neck cap for a smaller value (0.022u) yet? Converting to 50's style can make a big difference.
     
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  3. GeorgiaHonk

    GeorgiaHonk Tele-Holic

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    I haven't yet but I've been reading about that. From what I've read, it looks like the fifties wiring will help when I roll the volume down. Will the lower value cap help even if I keep the tone rolled all the way up? Have you tried cap values smaller than 0.022?
     
  4. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    50s wiring transforms your tone pot into a volume pot - as you roll the tone down the guitar gets quiet, I didn't like it on the guitars I've tried it on.

    You need a higher value volume pot on the neck pickup to brighten it up. Get a meter and measure yours and either find one at the high end of the spec or go up to the next larger one. I have seen some guitars with 1Meg ohm volume pots.
     
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  5. Zipslack

    Zipslack Tele-Meister

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    jvin248 also has good advice on the volume pot. Higher Ohms will get you brighter.

    Have you also tried raising your screws in addition to lowering the pickup? Lowering the pickup helps clarity, raising the screws usually is for adjusting string-to-string volume, but if you raise them a couple of turns it tends to make the HB a little "off-balance" and brighter (to me, anyway -- YMMV).
     
  6. oldmark

    oldmark Tele-Holic

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    I had the same problem on my custom ordered Agile 3100...Adjusted the settings on my amp, now it sounds great. The electronics in the higher end Agiles are as good as anybody's and better than most.
     
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  7. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I'd try changing the cap or pot values before changing pickups. You could even try turning the existing pot into a no load pot which would brighten it up a bit. Of course, that change isn't reversible.
     
  8. GCKelloch

    GCKelloch Tele-Afflicted

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    Not sure what the results were here, but the first thing to consider is if the bridge saddles are those Graphtec 'String Savers'. Those saddles absorb some high end, so the bridge PUP may sound sweet, but the neck PUP can end up sounding a bit dull.

    Thicker strings generally sound better on a 24.75" scale neck. Thinner/lower-tension strings can easily sound dull on that scale length. I like bright sounding round wound 1o-46 strings on my 24.75" guitars -- not half-wound. I use Sfarzo 'Nickelanium' 10-46. They are a tightly Nickel-wrapped, rounded-hex core with a thick wrap to core ratio which last very long and don't break. They are a bit more slinky and warmer sounding than most Steel wrapped strings, but not dull like some Nickel-wrapped strings can be -- probably the tight wrap tension. The newer Ni/Fe V-Strings are a little stronger output, but more expensive. There are many good inexpensive strings out there. A process called "annealing" makes metals more pliable. More pliable strings ring more purely and don't break as easily. Players describe Curt Magnon 'Nickel wound' strings as having the same type of qualities as Sfarzo Nickelaniums, so I think they use specially annealed Steel wire. They are also fairly inexpensive with 20% off for a 6-pack direct from the site. Sfarzo is offering a 50% off code from the website right now. I just got a bunch of V-string sets to try. String type doesn't make all that much difference, but longer-lasting/inexpensive strings are worth changing to if you can get the sound and feel you want. Either of those two sets are the ones to try first.

    Try raising the neck pickup screws a bit. Make sure you like the string action b4 doing so. It's crucial for the right note timber (not tone) per string. Don't change the pots or tone cap just yet. 500k pots should be right. Different pots of roughly the same value wont make any difference. The tone cap value doesn't have any affect until the knob is at ~4, but if you want a brighter sound when it is set down low, a lower cap value will do. Finally, and this is important, get a low capacitance guitar cable for a more balanced and open high end. Try a 6' & 10' Rapco 'G1' series cable and see which one you prefer. The 6' will sound slightly more open. All those things will make for better highs all around without harshness. Assuming it has an Ebony Fretboard, you may not want to swap the bridge out. Do that last if the guitar cable, string change, and pickup adjustments don't work. You might try Steel, Zinc or brass saddles depending of your tonal preference. I'd get an XGP brass bridge from GFS for massive sustain and bell-like highs.
     
  9. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

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    If they use 300k pots, use 500k, at least for the neck.

    Graphtech saddles reduce resonances in the upper midrange, but generally have more highs.

    Thinner string sets extend highs in association with reduce stiffness. Newer strings obviously have more highend, as do steel strings vs nickel.
     
  10. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    The Agile LP clone with HB's should have 500k pots with .022 caps already. I would either change the the neck pickups volume pot to a 1meg or wire a cap inline from the pickup to the volume pot.
     
  11. GCKelloch

    GCKelloch Tele-Afflicted

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    Changing the volume pot might make some difference depending on the pickup inductance. It's probably pretty standard PAF ~4H, This page lists the specs:
    http://www.aguitarforum.com/threads/the-agile-specs-and-al-3k-wiring-diagram.50811/
    A DCR measurement would give an idea, assuming 42AWG wire. A cap in series with the pickup will reduce the bass. That can work, but I'd do the other things I mentioned first anyway. It's probably the plastic bridge saddles, pickup pole screw heights, and possibly thin/floppy wound strings. You might even want to gonthe other way with capacitance to bring the pickup resonance peak down into the ~2kHz range like a P90. A parallel wired 1nF cap should do it, but I really think it's the bridge saddles.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
  12. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Cap only affects rolled back tone. You want higher value or no load pots. Remove any metal cover from pickup. Run a cap in series with the hot for a bass cut or buy a cheap replacement pickup
     
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  13. GeorgiaHonk

    GeorgiaHonk Tele-Holic

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    Thanks for all the replies! I'd forgotten about this question. I haven't played this guitar in months but seeing these responses has motivated me!
     
  14. TNO

    TNO Friend of Leo's

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    I would try disconnecting the tone pot from the neck pickup. That might be all you need to do.
     
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