Rockabilly & Jazz pickups for archtop hollowbody?

DADGAD

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Recently, I got a deal on an older Epiphone Emperor archtop. I plan to use the guitar for playing jazz, seeking George Benson type tones, and for oldies and rockabilly, along the lines of Scotty Moore with Elvis. The stock pickups sound dull and lifeless. So, I want to replace them and need suggestion. I do not want to spend more than the guitar is worth.

So far, I'm leaning toward a Gibson Classic '57 for the neck pickup. Most of the jazz players seem to dig this one. I may try a similar product from Tonerider. A bridge pickup is more difficult to decide on. Many like a P90 of some type or even the GFS Surf 90. I do need something affordable. So I'm asking for pickup suggestions. What pickups are in your archtop hollowbody for these tones? I do need something affordavle as I'm retired and on a fixed income.

My amps are Fender Deluxe Reverb, 5E3 Tweed Deluxe and Peavey Transtube Studio Pro and an Encore.

Mine has a floating rosewood bridge. The Benson and Moore guitar look to have floating tuneomatic bridges.

3KHyurr.jpg
 

dougstrum

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I really like p90's for jazz, but I lean toward swing or 50's Ellis/Kessel sound
The bridge is Pete Biltoft, neck is a no name p90. I swapped in a5 magnets it's abt 7.5k~nice and percussive with a full sound.
My other archtop is a home brew with thinner body, redwood top, cedar back and sides. It's got gfs mean 90's. Same
sound character as the Aria. Aww
 

strat a various

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One of my students has that guitar. The pick-ups always sounded fine to me. You need to lower the pickup a little and raise the pole screws, which will clarify the sound. IMO, these full hollowbodies almost always sound best using both pick-ups at once. A lot of the tone you're hearing is the laminate top with lots of thick finish, burdened by the pickup mounts and tone pots. A T.O.M. bridge can contribute to a better tone in the case of a cheap guitar, and make intonation easier.

If I replaced them, I'd get some inexpensive P-90 style pick-ups. Guitar Fetish has some great sounding P-90ish Pick-ups.
 

DADGAD

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Thanks guys. I need to find an archtop with P90's to try.

I'll take your advice and play with pickup height. :)
 

blowtorch

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Def do play with adjustiments for those pickups. But, if you do end up looking for replacements:

GFS Dream90, Mean90, and Surf90, I've used to GREAT success (rockabilly's my thing).

I cannot recommend GFS "retrotron" (Gretsch pickup-looking) series, though. I've tried a few different varieties, and they all sound like generic cheap humbuckers.
 

BigDaddyLH

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IF you don't want to cut-into the body to mount a pickup, Kent Armstrong makes these "floating" HB pickups which attach to the heel of the neck:

Kent_Armstrong_Suspended_Jazz_Humbucker.jpg

Note that 99% humbucking floaters are some sort of mini humbucker. It's hard to find a full-sized one.

EDIT: one that comes to mind that is a full-sized humbucker is the Shadow/Attila Zoller model.
 
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dougstrum

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I'll bet Mean 90's would be a good bet
in that Epiphone; they're made to fit
full size humbucker spot.

Definitely both pickups on in series is
the way to go, cuts some of the boom and feedback from the low strings, and seems to add clarity.
 

DADGAD

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Def do play with adjustiments for those pickups. But, if you do end up looking for replacements:

GFS Dream90, Mean90, and Surf90, I've used to GREAT success (rockabilly's my thing).

I cannot recommend GFS "retrotron" (Gretsch pickup-looking) series, though. I've tried a few different varieties, and they all sound like generic cheap humbuckers.

That is great info on the GFS pickups. I have tried the GFS Nashville and Liverpool pickups before and didn't care for them. I have GFS pickups in a Squire Bullet Tele that sound great.

Can you describe the sonic differences/characteristics of the GFS Dream90, Mean90, and Surf90? What value pots are you using with those?

I played with pickup height and mine still doesn't sound wonderful. Even dropped the pickups down to the ring tops. I need to play with polepiece height next. If that doesn't work, last resort is to remove the pole piece adjustment screws altogether.
 

blowtorch

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The Surf90s sound very Dearmond Dynasonic-ish. Bright and clear, without being strident, quite percussive (not a lot of sustain)

The Dream90s also are very clear, but not as bright; a bit warmer in tone. There is a beautiful detail in the sound of neck and bridge being played together in series, on these. Super dynamic.

Mean90s are more rockin, and more mid-heavily raw. Think Thorogood ballpark


I can't speak for the pots, just whatever was already in those boxes, which were all set up for HBs
 
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blowtorch

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The skyblue one at 1 o'clock has Surf90s, the natural/blonde to the right in the middle row has Dream90s, and the red one on the lower row on the right has Mean90s. Not that it matters, but hey

upload_2019-2-7_13-6-5.jpeg
 

blowtorch

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Nice collection. Which one do you grab first for rockabilly? :D
Thanks! If it's live, generally the red one with the Mean90s, or, the sunburst one on the left , on the bottom, which is a Dearmond Starfire Special.
The main reason- thinlines both, and therefore, less susceptible to feedback with higher gain applications
 

Bruxist

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I have a similar Oscar Schmidt with a GFS Surf 90 in the neck and a Retrotron Memphis in the bridge. Like @blowtorch I am not 100% sold on the Retrotron.
 

blowtorch

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I have a similar Oscar Schmidt with a GFS Surf 90 in the neck and a Retrotron Memphis in the bridge. Like @blowtorch I am not 100% sold on the Retrotron.
I'd pull that sucker, it's not going to get any better, IMO
How do you like that Surf90?
 

Bruxist

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It is nice. I had one in the bridge I did not care for as much.

Have thought about a Mean 90 in the bridge.
 

blowtorch

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You always wonder about how these things blend with each other.
I have a big fully hollow archtop (the one at 3 o' clock, in the pic above) that , I had Dream 90s in, and I wanted more mmph on the bridge, so I put a Mean 90 in the bridge, but then I missed the beautiful sound that I got when I was in the middle position, with two Dream 90s
 

DADGAD

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Spend a lot of time adjusting my stock pickups up and down, along with the pole piece adjusting screws up and down in every combination. The best setting I found was removing the 6 adjusting scrws on both pickups. Whoddathunk?
 

stax

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I play rockabilly and use a couple of Washburn J9''s.
I tried the GFS retrotrons and didn't like them at all, I pushed the boat out and put some Phat cats in one and later put some Dream 90's in the other, the Dream 90's although a fraction of the cost are my favourites.
 




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