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Gibson Vs Epiphone Volume Pots

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(@oldskoolrob)
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Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 35
Topic starter  

Howdy,
I can use my Epiphone Custom LP volume pots to control distortion by backing them off (valve amp). With my Gibson LP the signal doesn't clear up but just gets quieter with the same distortion. What pots do I ask for to make my Gibson behave the same way??

:)


   
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(@blue-jay)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1630
 

Howdy,
I can use my Epiphone Custom LP volume pots to control distortion by backing them off (valve amp). With my Gibson LP the signal doesn't clear up but just gets quieter with the same distortion. What pots do I ask for to make my Gibson behave the same way??

:)

I believe that the main difference is in the pickups, and that the volume control is working for you in a de facto way, or by default.

The Epiphone has Epiphone pickups, which are another way of saying "generic" but with a label on them. You didn't say, but I assume that your Gibson is all original - both guitars are original?!

To get close to the same behaviour, you would need to swap the pickups in your Gibson. I did that, and got unwanted distortion with increased volume once, with Rockfield pickups. I am not putting Todd's pickup's down, they are okay, and the result was unintentional, but I put the smooth and clean '57 Classics back in. You probably have 490R and 498T, they are (mathematically) most common.

Anyhow, you can aim for that sort of tone with high quality pickups, similar to your Gibson's construction with DiMarzio Distortion (or any Steve Vai type), Gibson Burstbucker pro and some Seymour Duncans, referring to their audio clips and description. Ceramic magnets (496R & 500T), or traditional Alnico V's with more winding and higher resistance are more likely to get it for you.

No 2 pots are ever alike, but they have some characteristics in common. I would keep the pots that you have, and not blame them or simply attribute the differences in sound characteristics to them. They are probably quite good. If they need replacing, you stick with certain constants, starting with the long shaft for a carved top, I assume, plus Audio Taper for a volume control instead of Linear, and 500K. Avoid installing a treble bleed or bypass which keeps your tone clean when you decrease volume, and stay with a fairly decent .047 - .050 tone cap such as Orange Drop by Sprague, or something similar on the tone controls.

BTW, the cheapest and also unusual/relatively unknown way to get the distortion built in to your guitar would be with a back to back diode trick, or by paying more (IDK - $30 for Black Ice?) from Stew Mac, and going with a master tone, and master fuzz, or by dedicating it to just one of the pickups if you prefer, such as the bridge. It's simpler that way, just remove a cap and install Black Ice. http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Electronics,_pickups/Components:_Black_Ice_overdrive/Black_Ice_Overdrive.html

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.


   
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(@oldskoolrob)
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Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 35
Topic starter  

Wow... Most of that went straight over my head and I'll have to read it a few times. The Epiphone has GFS Dream 90's but did the same with it's original Humbuckers (which is why I attributed it to the volume pots). The Gibson is a '94 standard with original neck (gibson) pickup and 'Slash' signature Seymour Duncan Bridge. This goes to either (depending on gig) a 'Surprise Soundlab' 1x Rockblock/SE5 cabinet sim/PA desk or straight into a hand built 15w tube amp based on fender scehatics. Both guitars have the same behaviour no matter what amp I use. I always use hot valves for my distortion, not a distortion pedal....


   
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(@blue-jay)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1630
 

Yes, the stock Epiphone's always seem to do that muddy and distortion thing, but I think of it as mud. The Dream 90's must have a similar characteristic, because they have steel poles and ceramic bar magnets, and a very slim or thin single coil (like a standard Strat or single coil bobbin) with 42 gauge, or fat copper wire, fairly seriously overwound - not that it makes a lot of difference, since the ceramic bar is the actual magnet. They are considered thin sounding, not fat and full like the GFS Mean 90. The Mean 90 is more like a true P90, more comparable to another pseudo-90, the Phat Cat, but not high end.

In your Gibson, the neck pup is probably the 490Rhythm, and the Slash pickup has Alnico II poles, very sweet, but still full and rich. With that combination, I can't see a pot making a difference in sound, unless you muffled them with 250K pots. You could also make them a little more raspy with 1 meg pots, but I don't guarantee how you might perceive the results. I put a 1 meg on a Strat and got it louder, still clean, and not raspy. It does have a searing sound in a way, since it is paired with Texas Special single coils + a Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates (tries to sound like Billy Gibbon's 1959 LP) wired in series.

I also have a Fender TBX on an Ibanez with Powersound Humbuckers, and it got a little dirty and raspy. I put another TBX tone control - that goes up to 1 meg ohm, on my son's Gibson SG with the same pups that your LP had originally. It took away the sterile sound of the guitar, IMO, and opened it right up, making it very punchy and spontaneous, not distorted.

Getting back to your dilemma... I would try the Black Ice distortion cube, which has 2 diodes in it, ready made, and back to back. Another GFS @ around 8.2 K ohms (same as your Epiphone, or a Mean 90, or a Phat Cat) should be enough to push it, I don't know if the Alnico II will do it. As I think more carefully, I don't think that the 490R will adequately push it; too weak.

Before you do anything, maybe try an attenuator, and you might start a new discussion/posting about it. I don't use one, but have one amp with a built in attenuator or power soak "Power Squeezer", right here and handy, a Roland Cube 20X.

I also have 2 little tube amps at my feet, a Fender Vibro Champ 6W and Blues Junior 15 watt. The Junior has a fat switch, but is otherwise old technology - no 2 channels, just one with pre-amp or Volume and a Master Volume, post gain, right?

Here's a wiki blurb on that concept, not too clear when it talks about a guitar speaker, however. That's for guitar, via amp.

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Guitar/Tone_and_Volume

It might help explain what you're getting as you roll out of volume, your pickups are sending less treble to the preamp of your mightly little tube amp. That is muddying it up, or making distortion. Midrange boost often does that, and can be searched or bought as a tone control with a mini-circuit board for your guitar too. Various people make them for eAuction.

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.


   
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