So I found a '70 SG Standard, but I can't stand the T-Tops!

Discussion in 'Vintage SG' started by ThatDamnSG, Jul 1, 2017.

  1. Scootermuppet

    Scootermuppet Well-Known Member

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    Hmmmm, maybe check the pickup wire on the 'weak' one, could be a bad connection or frayed cable maybe?

    Or possibly a dodgy pot...?
     
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  2. ThatDamnSG

    ThatDamnSG New Member

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    I did. Had a setup and some fret dressing done on it, and while it was there my, tech who is very familiar with these era Gibsons, said everything checked out ok, it just seems to be particularly puny sounding on the bridge. Pots are good, solder joints and wiring is good. The only thing we really couldn't see/check was if there was an issue with the magnets themselves. The pickup has no ass at all to it.
     
  3. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    That pic is wrong about the dates though. T-Tops came about in the late '60s, I believe around 1967/68.
     
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  4. chilipeppermaniac

    chilipeppermaniac Well-Known Member

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    I know you know about adjusting the height to find the sweet spots for both pups......... right? Lower the neck one some and raise the bridge one,,,,,, Or maybe it is too close and magnetic pull is dampening the strings? If this is the case, lower it and see if more vibrations make more sound.

    Or like scooter said, a dodgy pot............ SG's like 500K pots too,,,,,,,,, check the value of the pots out too n report back post pics of the cavity and guitar asap
     
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  5. syscokid

    syscokid Well-Known Member

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    The pups are probably over 45 years old. The bridge pup might have inadvertently been slightly demagnetized. Maybe naturally thru age or periodically in close contact with speaker magnets, or other magnetic sources. The magnets can be recharged using other magnets, but on a humbucker I'm not sure if this can be done without sliding out the magnet from the rest of the pup. Another option is to replace the original bar magnet with a new and properly charged equivalent alnico bar magnet. A few good sources for replacement mags... Here's a decent one:
    http://addiction-fx.com/gallery1.htm

    Also, the pup might have been damaged from a sharp drop or knock. It can be repaired, but that all depends on how much you want to put into it. I'm sure originality could be a factor.
     
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  6. gary glaesemann

    gary glaesemann New Member

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    Thanks for the clarification on the T tops. I just looked at the pickups on my '71 Les Paul (Deluxe with Factory installed Humbuckers) and it has t tops. They sound killer in the LP, I actually put in some Duncans back in the early 90's when my band was playing a lot and ended up putting the t tops back in because the Duncans seemed muddy comparatively. High output has never equaled better tone AFAIC. If that's what's in my '70 SG, great! I actually think they sound even better than the pickups in my Les Paul. In fact, the only pickup I think may sound slightly better is the p90 in my '63 SG Junior.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
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  7. ThatDamnSG

    ThatDamnSG New Member

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    Sorry guys, late replying...been a hectic week for me.

    Thanks, I actually did experiment with the pickup heights a bit, and it actually helped a little. I think the bridge was too close to the strings. It could be psychosomatic, but I think lowering the bridge p'up gave it a little more sustain, where before it was pretty plinky sounding. It's still very weak sounding in comparison to the neck though. There's a very obvious imbalance in the output between the two, with the neck being noticeably stronger. I know that with T-Tops the bridge usually is slightly lower in resistance than the bridge, generally, but with these two the difference in output volume is glaringly noticeable.

    I'm suspecting this is the case. I know T-Tops are lower output pickups, but there is definitely something not right with this bridge pickup. The guitar is pretty much player grade, but I'd still like to keep it as original as possible. There's a few reputable winders that make T-Top clones, Manlius, etc. I may see if I can send it off to one of them to have it checked out. I'm good with soldering and swapping pickups, but I'm not sure I'm confident with messing with getting the cover off and swapping magnets.
     
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  8. syscokid

    syscokid Well-Known Member

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    IMO, that's a great idea and should be worth it... :yesway:
     
  9. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    I can vouch for Brandonwound, I have their T-Top in my Samick (avatar) and it sounds identical to the '69 SG I played at Guitar Center the other day.
     
  10. Jimmi

    Jimmi New Member

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    I may have a solution for you. In some late pat#s and t-tops (both of which use the same winding wire), I have found that swapping the short A5 magnet for a vintage long magnet (A2 or A4) has increased the clarity and improved the sound overall. You could do this without taking the pickups out (although covers have to be removed).
     
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  11. rockerbilly58

    rockerbilly58 Well-Known Member

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    I've just acquired a 1988 SG standard which has a T top in the bridge and I have to say it's anything but weak. I think it has plenty of grunt.
     
  12. Wildeman

    Wildeman Active Member

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    I love T tops, the one's in my SG balance okay but the front pickup is about even with the body. I generally prefer lower output pickups as they seem way more articulate to me. This is the coveted P.A.F. tone everybody talks about but few seem to understand. I have played 4 or 5 old Gibson's, maybe more, with real P.A.F.s and they all were lower output than anything modern ( 57 classic, Duncan 59 etc.).
     
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  13. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Member

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    First off, if your guitar is a cases queen, the pickups could still be set up like it we did it in the '70s - the practice was to crank 'em up as close to the strings as you could without scarring them with pick marks in order to drive the medium-gain early amps as far as possible. However, we discovered that up close the overtones and sustain suffered. The magnetic influence of the pickup close to the strings would roll off highs and dampen sustain.

    Next, balance: My neck pickup on my '74 LP was always overbearing compared to the bridge pickup until I learned that you should always set up the bridge pickup first and then adjust the neck pickup second to balance with the bridge. It turns out that there is a lot more lateral string motion away from centerline in the section of string over the neck pickup than there is next to the bridge. Since magnetic induction is velocity-sensitive, that translates to greater output at the neck. I had always thought that my neck pickup was wimpy but it turned out that pickup balance is a matter of setup. Typically, the neck pickup has to be lower than the bridge pickup in order to balance them, unless you are working with mismatched pickup pairs like the '57 Classic and '57 Classic Plus, which are a reasonably modern phenomenon.

    Have you seen the Joe Walsh video on guitar set up? It is here:


    Pickups start at 14:00.

    Bob
     
  14. ThatDamnSG

    ThatDamnSG New Member

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    I've learned to live with them and love them for what they are. I just use a boost pedal when I need extra oomph! I experimented with different heights on the pickups and found a good balance. They respond better to 10 gauge strings as well, although I usually play 9's due to my carpal tunnel, but I've adjusted.
     
  15. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    Never knew that's what it was. Never asked either ...
     
  16. drown

    drown Well-Known Member

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    I just bought a replacement TTOP pickup for the neck position on my '79 "The SG". The original had been swapped for a 490 but it still has the original zebra in the bridge position. I'll be really curious how these sound. Have never played this type of humbucker.
     
  17. Wildeman

    Wildeman Active Member

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    There you go! Boost pedal is your friend :cheers:
     
  18. Wildeman

    Wildeman Active Member

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    I don't think your '79 should have Ttop's, my '78 came with them but everybody's told me they aren't stock. They are KILLER though. 20171224_103128.jpg
     
  19. drown

    drown Well-Known Member

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    My research indicates neck = TTOP, Bridge = Velvet brick. The SG I just bought was missing the original neck pickup but it has the original zebra bridge. Presume the ttop got sold off. It was replaced with a 490... not a great replacement IMO. I sourced a replacement TTOP from a 1979 the Paul. Hoping it will be a good match.

    Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 3.09.50 AM.png Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 3.03.15 AM.png
     
  20. flognoth

    flognoth Active Member

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    The pickups in the "The SG" should be identical to a Firebrand.

    I'm trying to remember what was stock on my Firebrand. They both looked like t tops to me, but could have been tarbacks.

    Maybe this weekend I'll pull down the original Firebrand pickups and take pictures if anyone is interested. I can also compare them to some pickups I took out of a '79 Standard I used to have. I still have the pickups.

    Admittedly, I'm a bit lost on the differences between t top, tarbacks, velvet bricks and dirty fingers. Can someone set me straight on it all?
     
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