Earlier on in this blog I have written about my red and my brown Gibson ES-346. I covered details about the individual models and their materials, plus how I acquired the two guitars. This post is about the new pickups and electronics I have installed in the red one and why I chose as I did.
Even though the ES-346’s were really nice when I got them, I missed the thin distinct single coil sound you can get from a Strat-type guitar. In addition to this, I started to get a little irritated with the sound of the stock pickups. The neck pickup had a boost in the upper midrange and the bridge pickup was a little too bright for my taste. I could remove the midrange boost in the mix when doing sessions, but live it really started to annoy me.
My new pickups
I started doing some research. I compared the info I could get on different brands and models of pickups that I already knew to the ones I have in my other guitars (not that I have that many … but it sounds kind of cool to write that). In my Washburn Strat I have a Seymour Duncan Jeff Beck in the bridge position, which I really like… You can achieve a high-gain tone, but also retain a distinct and defined more bluesy voicing notes when a little crunch is added. While browsing the Seymour Duncan site, I noticed that they recommend pairing the JB with a Jazz Model in the neck position, as they would match and compliment each other. When I read about this combination, I thought they had made it especially for me.
I first installed the pair in my brown 346 … actually I didn’t do it myself, it was done by Lars Vad/amp-parts – and then recently I also got Last to put them in the red one. Both are set up so I can get a single coil sound from them when I pull the tone controls. Granted, the sound doesn’t match that of a Strat, but it’s thinner and has a distinct single-coil voicing which works great for more active rhythm parts.
Another mod to the guitar
I also had the volume pots modified. This mod allows me to turn down the guitar’s volume, without losing any brightness. Before this mod, a lot of the brightness disappeared if I turned the volume just the slightest bit down. I prefer to have the same tone, no matter what… Now the amp cleans up a little bit when I turn the guitar’s volume down, but the tone remains intact.
The only difference in electronics between the two ES-346’s, is that the tone control on the red one, which I’ve set up with 0,11’s, goes a little darker… This suits the jazz vibe of the guitar.
All the very best