Is it possible to take off some windings from an existing pickup?

EsquireOK

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Yes, you can do it, and yes it will do what you want.

The issue is that it's a PITA pulling thin wire off of a waxed coil. You will be best served by melting off as much wax as possible first...which you should then replace...and at that point, why not just buy a weaker pickup instead? In today's day and age, there is a wide variety of aftermarket P-90s.

Additionally, it isn't something I would do to an ES-330. They are desirable, somewhat rare, and pricey guitars, that should have components replaced and set aside for future restoration, rather than irreversibly modified from stock.

You are better off:

1) Learning to play and adjust around the "issue," and to actually use it to your advantage. This is what practically every great player known for using a 330 has done.

2) Running your bridge pickup's tone control down to the point at which the same treble and midrange settings on the amp sound good for both pickups. As another way of stating this: Set up your amp for the neck pickup...which will leave your bridge pickup sounding very bright...which you tame using the guitar's onboard tone control for the bridge pickup.

3) Putting the stock pickups aside, and install a modern-style calibrated set.

4) Pulling the stock tone circuit, and designing a tone circuit that gets that pickup sounding like you want it to sound. The right pot and cap values, the right taper on the pots to give them the response you want, the right selective bass cut element in line with the pickup. Or, even something as simple as pulling your stock treble-cut tone control, and installing a passive bass cut control instead, on the neck pickup.
 
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coolrene

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There is a simpler solution, whereby you don't have to touch the winding or electronics. It is a height lifter for DogEar P-90. I don't know the make, but you certainly can Google it on the Net.

gibson-les-paul-3694414.jpg
 

pedro58

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Removing a single magnet can make your neck pickup a little brighter. I've done it on a p90 goldtop. On a p90 LP Special I have, I installed a bass cut in place of the standard treble rolloff in the tone circuit of my neck pickup. Both are far easier than unwinding a pickup or, in the case of hollow/semi hollow guitars, changing p'ups.
 

Kurbmaster

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I went a different route. I added maybe 1000 turns to the bridge pickup on my '57 ES-225 and whoa, baby. Balanced nicely with the neck PU and didn't lose a bit of that P90 goodness. Plenty of room on the bobbin for more windings.
 

Mascis

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My '64 es-330 has the same issue. I've always just turned the volume down on the neck pickup to match the volume of the bridge pickup.

I actually got a set of those plastic shims to put under the bridge pickup but I decided not to install them in the end. I like the slightly softer tone of the neck pickup with the volume rolled down a bit.
 

Schlumpfmeister

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I took off 1500 each from both PUs of my MIC casino, ended at exactly 7H inductance and it sounds fantastic. But you must be very careful, if the wire breaks the PU is destroyed.
 

PCollen

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Here's the situation: My ES 330 sports two P90 which are mounted with dog-ear covers – not height adjustable. The neck pickup is considerably louder than the bridge pickup and IMHO it could use some more treble and clarity. It is good, but it could be a little better in my opinion. A friend of mine put Lollar pickups in his 330 for that reason.
Now I'm thinking that the pickup may be just a little bit overwound, taking of some winds may get the desired tones. I wouldn't do it myself, but I'm asking you good guys: Is it possible to just take off some windings?
I'm a "cut to the chase" type of person, and would recommend buying either a new neck or bridge P90 from a reputable manufacturer ( Duncan, Lollar, Fralin, etc) that may be a better match with the other. They may be familiar with the pickups you have and know exactly what you need. Most live with the existing neck pickup and buy a hotter bridge pickup. Stash the original that you replace or sell it . Neck pickups are always "louder" than bridge pickups because the string vibration amplitude and the harmonic content is greater over them than at the bridge , an issue that is mitigated by pickup height adjustment which unfortunately you can't do.
 

PCollen

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I would first try a 250k pot for the neck pickup volume if it's a 500k now, which I bet it is. That should help lower volume and brightness.
To quote the OP: "The neck pickup is considerably louder than the bridge pickup and IMHO it could use some more treble and clarity."

Replacing a 500K pot with a 250K pot would REDUCE the presence and brightness, i.e. treble and clarity.
 
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PCollen

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Another low tech solution is to mount it like a Tele neck pickup, with those rubber tubing nibs around the mounting screws, so as you screw the dog ear down, it will float over the guitar, and you can set the height however you like it. I did this two my Epi Casinos, and it has the added benefit of taking the mass of the pickups up off of the sound board of the guitar.

You can't really see it, but the bridge pickup is hovering slightly.

View attachment 965701
Did raising bridge pickup of this guitar up and off the soundboard make it less loud and add more treble and clarity to it's tone ?
 

fender4life

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Also, another way u can try is a bass roll of on the neck p/u. It reoves that mud but also it is removing gain since lowering a given frequency is nothing more then a frequency selective volume reduction. So u kill 2 birds....removal of the mud and better gain balance with the bridge pickup. U can either make it variable with one of your tone pots or just use a trimmer to get it just right then leave it like that.
 

Antigua Tele

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Did raising bridge pickup of this guitar up and off the soundboard make it less loud and add more treble and clarity to it's tone ?
It increased the loudness of the bridge relative to the neck pickup. I could also use this trick to raise the treble side and lower the base side of the pickup but I did not do that
 

cgharrison

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Nobody wants to do major electronics surgery on a 330 - it’s a big production to be pulling pots and switches out to get at everything - not to mention putting them back!

I’ve removed windings from several Gibson neck p90’s, and it’s always gone well.

Shims are a good suggestion, as is raising the pole pieces. EQ’ing your amp to the neck pickup, and then adjusting the bridge tone control to match, is the best way to set things up imo as well. Sometimes, though, that neck p90 or hb is just too damn boomy.

I’d say the real best option, if it’s a long term guitar for you, is a new set of pickups. Wolfetone makes great p90’s, and they’re on sale for 25% off atm. You can actually talk to the very experienced guy who will wind your pickups, tell him make exactly what you want, and have the option to send them back for tweaking if they’re not exactly what you want.

To solve the swapping pickup leads issue, just cut off the leads of the existing pickups, and splice in the new. You can do a very tidy job if you’re careful, and it’s easy to install new leads on the old pickups if you ever need.

Good luck!
 

Ciro

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Admire your determination and maybe you just want some experience dinking around, but if you want something specific, call Ron DiStefano and tell him what you need. Great service, very fair prices and one of the most no BS guys in the industry.
 

NaptownGuitarman

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Here's the situation: My ES 330 sports two P90 which are mounted with dog-ear covers – not height adjustable. The neck pickup is considerably louder than the bridge pickup and IMHO it could use some more treble and clarity. It is good, but it could be a little better in my opinion. A friend of mine put Lollar pickups in his 330 for that reason.
Now I'm thinking that the pickup may be just a little bit overwound, taking of some winds may get the desired tones. I wouldn't do it myself, but I'm asking you good guys: Is it possible to just take off some windings?
If changing the volume control to match the louder pickup produces the desired tone, then try adding a 1k resistor between the bass tone pot and the high side lead of the volume pot. If you have an extra 2-10k pot you dial in resistance to produce the desired level, measure it with an ohm meter then replace it with a matching resistor. As an alternative, you could buy a miniature trim pot (5k ohms or so), set it for the desired level, and permanently install it.
 

Supertwang

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Here's the situation: My ES 330 sports two P90 which are mounted with dog-ear covers – not height adjustable. The neck pickup is considerably louder than the bridge pickup and IMHO it could use some more treble and clarity. It is good, but it could be a little better in my opinion. A friend of mine put Lollar pickups in his 330 for that reason.
Now I'm thinking that the pickup may be just a little bit overwound, taking of some winds may get the desired tones. I wouldn't do it myself, but I'm asking you good guys: Is it possible to just take off some windings?
It is do-able, and I’ve done it, and if you knock down the DCR around 1-2 k-ohms it will help the treble & clarity and reduce the output. I bet you’ll still need to raise the bridge pickup so I’d do that first. I used replacement rubber water faucet washers to raise this bridge P90….cost was under $1
 

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larsjm

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The neck pickup is considerably louder than the bridge pickup and IMHO it could use some more treble and clarity.

Just replace the pickup with one that sounds like you want. If you mod the stock pickup, it would be hard to sell it if you still don't like the sound after the mod. Right now, your stock pickup has good value on the used market since it's a legit Gibson P90.
The Dimarzio DP167D is a great option because they designed it with less bass; more mids and treble than a "vintage-voiced" P90, so it doesn't turn to mud in the neck position, but still has the P90 tone.
Shimming the bridge p90 can introduce a wealth of new problems that have to be addressed, because your pickup will either be too close to the strings, deadening them and causing tuning problems, which you have to adjust the bridge to compensate, which will make your action higher.
I didn't read anywhere where the OP said he didn't like the way his guitar plays, or that he had tuning problems. Why take the chance of creating more problems and work?
 




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