Wow... SG Special with minis...

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by Dale, Apr 16, 2019.

  1. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    I’m a perpetual novice at guitar but my day job is engineer and I specialized way back in my college days circa 1990 in signal processing and electromagnets. At the time I was convinced that digital signal processing effects could be used for my guitar to recreate any sound and I wanted to try to invent some stuff but I got a job working in radars instead. Sigh.

    Anyway I mention this because it explains why I have a passing interest in guitar electronics and pickup physics. DC resistance is being used as an analog for line length (there is a figure for ohms/cm or some such thing) on the presumption that longer line = more turns = more ohms and so it’s a figure if merit to substitute for number of turns which in theory means more current is induced and hence more output. But it’s a very gross analog anf fails to take into account the magnetic field strength and shape. If half of the coils are outside the field, they don’t count, for example. So the placement and strength of magnets matter too.

    All I’m saying is DC resistance yields what we engineers refer to as a WAG, or wild assed guess.
     
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  2. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    +1 on this...

    This point has been made before, on this forum and in several of the
    reference books I have read on the subject.

    Often the resistance of the pickup is treated as if it gave a foolproof reading
    for the output... But experienced guitar techs will deny this, as will engineers
    who look from a different point of view.

    Discussing resistance is handy, and we will continue to do it.
    But I also don't take a pickup's resistance as a firm indicator of its output.
    There are more factors at work. I don't understand them all.

    So resistance is futile eh? We will be assimilated.
     
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  3. Dale

    Dale Well-Known Member

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    The resistance using a chord in the jack was...

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Neck
    Bridge
     
  4. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    I have found some data (from Gibson's legacy site) that indicates that all 495R / 495T are not the same. In some models of guitars they had ceramic magnets (Firebird). In the 2016 Special T it was the same pickup but with ALNICO 2 magnets. I think that's the same for the Les Pauls with mini humbuckers, they got firebird pickups with ALNICO2 instead of ceramic (but not 100% sure about that). For the 2018 model, as noted before they decided to just leave it a mystery in all their datasheets. It's terrible (in my opinion) that they would make pickups that use different magnets and provide no distinction between them, if for not other reason than future replacement pickups could be really really hard to get a proper match for the old one.

    By the way, back to the "hotness" discussion, ceramic magnet vs alnico magnet could make a significant difference. ceramic magnets can be made very, very strong. It's quite possible that such a pickup with ceramic magnets could be significantly higher output than one with ALNICO magnets. I haven't measured the output resistance on my 2018 Special but i'll assume it's like people here say. Yet it's not putting out some huge output. So that aligns with the idea of using a weaker magnet. But who know, short of taking it all apart I guess we'll never really know.
     
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  5. HackeIommi

    HackeIommi Active Member

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    I am not an expert about mini hb. All I can say is you sir played awesome!! Regards!
     
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  6. Dale

    Dale Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! I appreciate it.
     
  7. PixMix

    PixMix Active Member

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    Thanks to this thread, I ordered a mini humbucker - a used S. Duncan Antiquity. I am going to put it on an LP Special that currently has a P90 on the neck position. It already has a noiseless (Stacked) P90 on the bridge, so this will be my hum-free guitar.
     
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  8. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    I have only seen Mini Humbuckers installed on SG Specials with small guards.

    It would be interesting to see Mini Humbuckers installed on an SG Special with a batwing.

    All one needs is a batwing made with cutouts for the Mini Humbuckers without pickup rings and the pickups would hang from said batwing the same method as full size Humbuckers.
     
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  9. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    You'll definitely have to let us know how it sounds when you get it in!
     
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  10. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    All right, I just pulled the pickups out of my 2012 SG '70s tribute,
    just to see what the labels would say. This is what I have:
    Pickup labels close@100.jpg
    This is what they called them in 2012... check the patent #27387452

    I also opened the control cavity and measured the resistance:
    I got 13 K Ohms for the neck pickup, and 15 K Ohms for the bridge.
    Funny, I tried the "chord in the jack" method, and got 15K Ohms for the neck
    and 25K Ohms for the Bridge, which I did NOT believe.

    That's a LOT higher resistance than a regular hum bucker, but my pickups do
    NOT have any mud or fizz at any setting that I use. Mine fit the description we've seen: Clear, bright, focused, with a sweetness in the highs and no ice pick.
    Mine have a warmth in the low frequencies that I really like. They don't sound
    like anything else that I have. I can get a fine bottom tone from each pickup.

    I still would not call these pickups "high output..." I have a Golden Age
    overwound hum bucker in the bridge position of my Epiphone Wilshire, and
    that one was advertised as hotter than a regular hum bucker and it is.
    Spec on that one is 12 K Ohms resistance. It's got a higher output, for sure.

    Which seems like what we would expect for an overwound pickup.

    So I don't see a connection between measured resistance and output
    on these "70s Tribute" pickups. But I like the output, what ever it is.

    My pickups are like Angel's, that he posted earlier.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
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  11. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Three different variants of Mini Humbuckers used in the recent SG Specials from 2012-2018 on this forum so far.

    2012 SG 70's Tribute
    70'S Lead Tribute = 15k
    70'S Rhythm Tribute = 13k

    source: @Col Mustard

    2018 SG Special
    495T = 24.8k
    495R = 15.9k

    source: @Dale

    2016 SG Special T
    Lead Tribute =
    Rhythm Tribute = 6.38k

    source: @cerebral gasket

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
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  12. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Chaos Theory
     
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  13. PixMix

    PixMix Active Member

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    Will do, though I don't have any other mini buckers for comparison.
     
  14. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    I decided it was time to see what's in the 2018 SG Special. See pic below.

    A couple of things worth noting when looking at this compared to the pickups photos Col Mustard and cerebral gasket shared. First, all three have different labels, so something about them is different one can guess. Mine are dated from August 2017 so I guess my 2018 SG Special was an early one or they made a lot of them in August in prep for production and the date has no bearing on when the guitar was made.

    Second, they all have the same patent number stamp. But the patent number is meaningless, it's not a patent for humbuckers but rather an old bridge/tailpiece design patented by Les Paul in the 50s. Apparently Gibson stamped these on old PAFs to throw off people wanting to research their design (which makes no sense to me because it would be instantly obvious when they saw the patent that it was not a pickup but whatever). Anyway that's the story from these guys:
    http://www.vintageguitarandbass.com/gibson/patents/USpatent2737842.php
    So assuming that's true then the patent number stamp would be there just as a sort of homage to the old PAFs I guess.

    Third, I could be wrong but in all three sets of pictures there appear to be no discrete pole pieces visible through those six holes but in at least mine it looks like a solid bar can be seen through the holes. That implies firebird design. But what sort of magnet? Ceramic? ALNICO 2? ALNICO 5? And what are the differences between the three seemingly unique part number pickups sets? Mysteries that will never be solved I suppose.

    For reference, hHere's the epiphone design, courtesy of Stew-Mac:
    [​IMG]


    Here's the firebird design, courtsey of Stew-Mac: [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 20, 2019
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  15. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Hah! I learn something here every day too! I knew about Gibson's old
    "Patent Number" boondoggle, but I had no idea that my 2012 Mini hums would
    still be sporting that same old bogus number.

    That's got to be a Gibson insider joke, like the "prototype" stamped into the back
    of the the Gibson SG '50s Tribute" headstock. They use the same number for their old "patent number" pickups, and for T-tops, and for Tim Shaws, and now these... they probably put that on other pickups as well.

    Everybody laugh on three:
    one, two, HAH HAH... couldn't wait.

    So here's a question, maybe I'll learn something else...
    I measured the resistance inside the control cavity
    from the joint going to the capacitor to the joint going to the
    selector switch.

    Was I measuring the resistance of the potentiometer itself then?
    wiring 2013@100.jpg
    I tried the "chord inside the jack" method and got results similar to Dale's.
    15 k Ohms neck
    25 k Ohms bridge

    But I found it difficult to believe these readings, because I've never owned
    a "high output' instrument. My hottest pickup is the Golden Age Overwound
    hum bucker in my Epi Wilshire, and at 12 k Ohms, it puts out a LOT more
    signal. I'd be more inclined to believe mine were in the 7 K Ohms range...
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
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  16. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    oh and after all this discussion, plus the other thread on modding these p'ups,
    I just had to get my 2012 Silverburst out. I took the strings off and cleaned the instrument with Music Nomad's Guitar One, cleaned the fretboard and polished the frets with Gorgomyte, and took the pickups out for their portrait, and checked the
    resistance inside and out. To re-install, I screwed the pickups all the way down as low as they'd go, intending to raise them slowly, and listen a lot.

    Then I installed a new set of tens, checked the action and intonation (both are spot on) and set her on a stand to admire. Yesterday was not a good day as a
    care giver, so I played the instrument in earnest this morning when we're having
    a better day.
    April 05-20-19@100.jpg
    What a great guitar. I've read a few posts by players who didn't care for their
    SG special, and sold it soon after buying it. I've read all of those carefully, and
    I have to say, I just don't get it. Unless you have some preconceived notion
    about what you want the tone to be. I understand that, but a closed mind is
    nothing to be proud of.

    I actually don't care what the resistance is, except academically.
    And I don't care if it doesn't sound like some other guitar.
    When I play this instrument, I sound like me... warts and all.

    So I put April through her paces today, playing clean, playing neck first, then
    bridge, then both. I twisted the knobs, I stomped the blues driver, I adjusted the pickup height until the neck p'up isn't overwhelming the bridge p'up, and the bridge p'up isn't fouling the strings. Beautiful highs, lots of sustain, very responsive to finger vibrato and pick attack, deep growly lows with a warm kind of dragon fire and no traces of mud tone. She works with the blues driver like
    they were made for each other. She pushes the Orange Micro Terror really well.
    She weighs about 7 lb and balances quite well. (not perfect, but not irritating).

    I really like this guitar my friends. The '70s thick to thin" neck carve feels
    great in my hands, and is different from all my other instruments. The maple neck is stiff and stable. I feel I got a great guitar for $600... I'm glad I didn't
    resist. Resistance is futile.
     
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  17. Dale

    Dale Well-Known Member

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    Good question. I tried it at the mini-plug but could not get a connection that I trusted. It was wonky. So I saw other doing the jack, with volume and tone wide open. Several indicated that was a good way to do this. I don't know though, which is why I noted it in my readings. I am a shrink not an electrical engineer.
     
  18. arcticsg

    arcticsg Well-Known Member

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    Thats how I usually do it, using the jack, for a quick check when they're installed.

    After seeing everyone's posts on the mini hums, I thought I'd post the ohms from the pups on my 2017 Special.

    23.8 Ohms = Bridge
    87.5 Ohms = Neck

    Not sure what's up with that neck pup reading. When I turn the volume, while hooked up, it goes up/down accordingly. Also noticed the ohms fluctuated while wiggling the selector switch while in the neck position, but doesn't do this while checking the bridge pup.

    I haven't really been too fond of the mini hums, and have been toying with the idea of swapping them out for P-90s. Maybe that the neck pup being messed up is why..

    I'll take the control panel off and get a real reading later. :smile:
     
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  19. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    That high resistance reading on the neck pup (87.5k) does seem like a selector switch not making full contact and the fact that you mention it jumps around when wiggling it.

    I find Mini Hums to be a grey area between P-90's and Humbuckers.
     
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  20. Dale

    Dale Well-Known Member

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    Ok. So I did a test.

    2018 SG mini. Neck 16.1. Bridge 25.0
    2017 LP Trad. Neck 7.6. Bridge 8.0 (BB1/2)
    2013 LP Stud. Neck 7.7. Bridge 13.8 (490/498)
    2017 SG Std. Neck 7.8. Bridge 7.9 (57/57)
    2014 SG Std. Neck 8.0. Bridge 8.5 57/Dz36)

    So I think it is pretty accurate.
     
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