Mismatched pickups in '74 Standard?

Discussion in 'Vintage SG' started by Duane_the_tub, Jul 5, 2021.

  1. Duane_the_tub

    Duane_the_tub Member

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    I bought a Standard from a guy who said he was the original owner. He said the pickups and harness were still stock and have not been messed with.

    The pots (1377437) and serial (250XXX) both date to '74, as far as I can tell. I finally opened it up today and was surprised to find two different pickups - looks like a Tarback in the bridge and a Pat # stamped T-top in the neck:

    1625537528375.jpg

    Upon closer examination of the control cavity, it looks like the neck pickup may have been swapped - though it was probably a while ago, if so.

    1625537627997.jpg

    Any ideas? Could this be a late '74 or '75 that came from the factory with two different pickups installed? Is that neck pickup what I think it is?

    Any help would be much appreciated!
     
  2. Duane_the_tub

    Duane_the_tub Member

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    Also, do those look like factory pickup routes?
     
  3. Chuteboxehero

    Chuteboxehero Well-Known Member

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    I have a '74 Standard and it definitely came with double tarbacks. Pick up routes look the same. Looks like your neck pickup was swapped out at some point. What do you think it is?
     
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  4. Go Nigel Go

    Go Nigel Go Well-Known Member

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    It is certainly possible that a T-top pickup was used by Gibson if they found a case of them in a back room. I don't know precisely when the Tar Backs came into being, but it was certainly around that time and there could easily still have been some of each in the factory in 1974. At that time they were all "just humbucking pickups", and even the T-tops did not acquire any sort of mystical status until decades later. I certainly can't imagine anybody at the time swapping a tar back for a T-top unless one just ceased to function. Of course anything is possible...

    If the original owner says they weren't changed, I would go with that barring any further evidence to the contrary.
     
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  5. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    I can never tell if solder joints are original or not, but it's certainly possible that it shipped from Gibson that way. I've seen mismatched pickups from the factory many times. They just grab whatever is at hand to keep the line moving, it wouldn't make sense to halt everything and wait for a batch of Tarbacks to arrive.

    Tarbacks were produced from 1972-1984. T-Tops were produced from 1965-1980. So it's not even a matter of still having some left or finding them in a back room; they were produced concurrently for 8 years.

    https://solidguitar.fandom.com/wiki/Pickups#Super_Humbucker_.2F_.22Tarback.22_.281972-1984.29

    While the Standard switched to tarbacks in 1972, the Custom kept using T-Tops until 1974 and the EDS-1275 until 1980. So they did distinguish between the two, and the tarbacks were officially called "Super Humbuckers". However, Gibson would always improvise if they ran out of a part to keep the line moving, so grabbing a chrome T-Top from the EDS or Les Paul Standard bin would be a no-brainer if you ran out of tarbacks.
     
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  6. Duane_the_tub

    Duane_the_tub Member

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    Upon further review (a.k.a. playing the damned thing), I am actually quite impressed with this pickup combination. The bridge has a bright, commanding tone and cuts well, while the neck has beautiful depth while still maintaining a strong presence. Both sound really great into an overdriven amp. If this was indeed a "happy accident" at the factory, I think it's pretty cool that it could lead to a guitar with a somewhat unique tonal character overall.
     
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  7. Go Nigel Go

    Go Nigel Go Well-Known Member

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    Great to hear that. In the end playing and sounding good are the only things that matter. It is always interesting to try and figure out the interesting historical bits and bobs, but I think sometimes people can be distracted and overlook how good they have it by focusing only on the details.
     
  8. UncleSpot

    UncleSpot New Member

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    pots (1377437) is an EIA code - 137: CTS. 74: 1974. 37: week of the year
     
  9. Musicmasterfuzz

    Musicmasterfuzz New Member

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    2 Tarbacks in my '74 SG Standard.
     
  10. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    I agree with all that. But there is one weird possibility that would lead to swapping out one pickup. If someone tried to take the pickup cover off a tarback he might have really messed up the pickup, even if just cosmetically. Those things are epoxied to the covers and trying to mess with that is a recipe for trouble. So maybe after wrecking one pickup he decided to replace it with a used one from someone (hence it being older) because used pickups were all there were. DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan we're a thing yet and I don't think Gibson sold individual pickups either. In such a scenario he'd have likely kept the cover on to match the other tarback.

    Total absolute made up story but it could have happened, and I'll bet it did to some people.
     
  11. Go Nigel Go

    Go Nigel Go Well-Known Member

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    It is certainly possible, I can think of potentially a dozen reasons or more that someone might swap it out. The seller however claimed to be the original owner, and no changes were made by him. It is possible that he was not telling the truth about something, but barring evidence to the contrary I would tend to take him at his word. Hence the discussion of how such a thing might occur at the factory. I don't see any reason he would fib about it, and the factory could easily have done it for convenience and it worked fine so it was shipped. It also doesn't surprise me that nobody noticed until now.
     
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