Jaguar and ’50s P-Style bass pickups, new from JBE Pickups

Happy Holidays to all our JBE customers and followers.

There are several new things happening at JBE Pickups not the least of which is a soon to be launched web site.   Our new site has more of the info you’ve been requesting as well as a new look for both mobile and non-mobile devices.   Cool!

When the site comes up after the holidays, you will also notice some new pickup models.

  • Jag-Style Pickup set for Jaguar guitars and Fender VI basses,
  • a ’50s P-Style pickup for Sting, Tele, and ’50s Precision basses.

The Jag-Styles have been requested ever since Jaguars re-emerged in today’s music.   These pickups, in conjunction with our JM Two/Tones have been successfully installed and tested in Fender VI basses too!  Other Fender VI bass models may use 3 Jag-Styles vs the JM Two/Tone in the bridge.  Cool bass, very different.

JBE’s new ’50s P-Styles are a noise free replacement for the Precision bass pickups used on ’50s P-Basses well as on Sting’s signature model bass and Tele basses.  If you have any of these basses you  need to check out this pickup.  OMG…love the tone of a ’50s P !!!!

The new pickups will be officially announced after the holidays but I wanted to share the info with you all first.

Hopefully, the launch of  the new site will go smoothly (are you really buying that?)   I hope you will enjoy some of the new features of the site and thanks for your support and patronage of JBE pickups and our dealers throughout 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Frank T
President
JBE Pickups
Joe Barden Engineering

 

S-Deluxe Chunky Pickup

What up with the New S-Deluxe Chunky?

Recently we released our new S-Deluxe Chunky bridge pickup.   Some of you wanted to know what the heck is a Chunky and how does it compare to our standard S-Deluxe bridge pickup.   Also, is JBE not getting politically incorrect with the name?

First, the name suggests where the Chunky fits into the Strat™ scheme of things.  So for the PC among us, so don’t get too bent out of shape. J.   The Chunky can also be thought of as the cousin of the Modern T-Bridge, which we introduced for the Telecaster some time ago.  Both give you more muscle in the bridge tones.

The Chunky name is a play off the Fat Strat thing (not my doing on this naming, so don’t blame me) in which a humbucker replaces the traditional Strat bridge pickup to drive more ‘oomph’ from the Stat’s bridge pickup. While this approach works well for a lot of players, it goes a bit too far for those who want to keep as much traditional Strat tone and performance as possible.

The Chunky has several benefits,

  1. It never takes you outside the city limits of Strat-ville where you lose classic Strat vibe and performance.
  2. Unlike a full sized humbucker, the Chunky drop-fits right into the same single coil pickup cavity as does our S-Deluxe pickups.
  3. Even with the Chunky’s extra muscle, the in-between sounds of the neck and bridge pickup are not totally sacrificed as in a Fat Strat approach.

So, there you have it, the S-Deluxe Chunky, an alternative for those wanting more bridge pickup performance without going all the way to an HSS Fat Strat solution.  Oh, I failed to mention that the S-Deluxe Chunky is priced just like the S-Deluxe…no uplift in price.   And you can have it in any color you want…just as long as it is black or white.

Got a Strat routed for a humbucker in the bridge and want to have it all, i.e. an HSS Fat Strat PLUS a standard SSS Strat configuration?   The optimal solution is our  HB Two/Tone ™  which allows you to switch (noiselessly on the fly) between its two noise-free modes , full-on humbucker tone and S-Deluxe single-coil-sounding mode.  See our website for a broader discussion of the HB Two/Tone ™.

Frank T
JBE Pickups

PS.   Contrary to some local belief, the Chunky was not named after me.

 

Helping a brother

Hey JBEers, wanna help put a brother’s country band over the top in the Texaco Country Showdown. Vote for GLITTER ROSE at http://gocountry105.com/features/2013/05/texacoCountryShowdown/vote/

Welcome New International Dealers

JBE Pickups (Joe Barden Engineering) welcomes several new International authorized dealers to the JBE dealer family:
GMF Sweden
Brug Guitars , The Netherlands
Global Vintage, Australia

We are pleased to have these dealers join us in helping make JBE pickups more easily accessible around the world. Please visit them and our other authorized JBE retailers in your area .
Frank T
JBE Pickups
Joe Barden Engineering

J-Style Bass Pickups and active electronics

Do JBE J-Style Bass pickups work with on active Pre-amps/EQ?

Many bassists use active electronics on their J-Basses to get a variety of different tones that a flexible EQ can offer.  At the same time, some active electronics can flatten the tone of passive pickups as the signal traverses the circuit.   The answer to the question of whether J-Styles work with active electronics is a qualified, yes.

JBE J-Style Bass pickups will work with active circuitry…. BUT, I qualify the answer based on the ability of the active electronics to support several key features. Specifically:

  • Passive Bypass
  • Input sensitivity adjustment

Passive Bypass

For optimal performance you should be able to route the J-Style signal around the electronics.  A bypass switch or feature should be available for this purpose.   The native passive tone of the J-Styles gives bassists’ superior tone and performance.  However, when the signal passes thru active circuitry the circuit can color it.  Will the J-Styles work with most active electronics?  Yes. But depending on the nature of the circuit design of the active electronics some or much of the sonic benefit of the J-Styles can be lost.

Active electronics that offer a true bypass capability, allowing the J-Style’s signals to be routed around the circuitry, work best and deliver the full sonic benefits of the J-Styles.

Input Sensitivity

Our J-Style bass pickups deliver a strong, articulate and noise-free signal that bassists prize.   Active electronics operate best when the circuit board receives an input signal from the pickups that are within the design tolerances of the circuitry.   For some circuits there is no issue, while for others the input signal from the pickups may overdrive the input stage resulting in poor tone.

For optimal performance an on-board input sensitivity adjustment pot or DIP switch can buffer the signal to keep it within the design spec of the circuit board.  This allows the J-Styles to mate better with active circuits that must see levels within their design tolerances.

Active or Passive?  Which way should I go?

When you want the flexibility of on-board EQ, active electronics can provide this but can also rob the tone of the musicality inherent in the instrument and passive pickups like our J-Styles, so be careful in your selection of a quality active pre-amp/EQ.

If you are looking for pristine bass tone that is strong, clear, articulate, and that allows you to stand out in the mix, you owe it to yourself to be able to use the  J-Styles in their native mode using bypass switching.  Some bassists reported to us that they have eliminated active circuitry altogether after installing a set of J-Styles in their 4 or 5 string active J-Basses.

But, only you can decide what is best for you.   So, when considering J-Styles for your active J-Bass, determine if the circuitry has the features cited above.   If looking for a new Active EQ to mate with your J-Style-equipped bass, ensure that those same capabilities are available when making a decision among the various active EQ products on the market.

JBE J-Styles: Bass Pickup Flattery

Did anyone happen to notice that one bass maker appears to  has copied JBE’s J-Style pickups in their basses?   Yes ,  imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  But only JBE will deliver the tone.

What is the best height for JBE Pickups?

I get the question about optimum pickup height adjustment quite often and am happy to respond to all the new players who have discovered JBE pickups and the significant difference our pickups offer over other brands.   So,  forgive me for re-posting an earlier blog on the topic, albeit edited a bit.

The answer to the pickup height question is that there is no “best” or “right” height.    We recommend a starting distance between the top of the blade and the underside of the string of 3/32″ on the high E side and 4/32″ on the low E side.  This gets you well into the ballpark and probably onto the infield (to extend the metaphor).  Now it is up to you as the player to determine what YOU want to hear.   The guiding principle is ‘LET YOUR EARS BE THE JUDGE”.

Every musician has something to say by their playing style.  Some players want highly responsive touch sensitive performance with the pickups set high, others want a bit less tactile response and don’t want to drive the amp as hard and prefer a lower setting…some players even crank our pickups all the way down to better suit their playing styles.  It’s all good!

Experiment a bit. You will notice that JBE pickups are more responsive to height adjustment than just about any other pickups on the market.  Set them and then put them to the test in the “heat of battle” (live performance or full band practice).  This will allow you to see how they react outside of the confines of the studio, basement, or bedroom, and  give you the best idea of what (if any) changes to make.   Keep experimenting until you dial them into YOUR style and amp settings.

Also, don’t be afraid to change your amp EQ.   Remember, JBE pickups are delivering more usable frequencies and high fidelity tone to your amp than your stock pickups.  It just doesn’t make sense to hamper the expanded tone of JBE pickups with the same old amp settings just because this was formerly “your tone”.   Get over it! Your tone has now improved immensely with JBE’s in your guitar or bass.   So why limit it by old amp EQ meant to coax the best tones from your former low-fi pickups?

You may want to readjust too if you switch to different string gauges.  Even ¼ turn of the height adjustment screw changes tone, performance, and feel.   So, go slowly as you dial-in the best settings for your playing.  Also be sure to adjust so that you have a good balance between front and back pickup positions as well.   Have fun!

Please don’t call them humbuckers

Please Don’t Call Them “Humbuckers” 

JBE Pickups™ makes a line of guitar and bass pickups for both single coil as well as humbucker-equipped instruments.   While our line of pickups are currently all hum canceling they are not accurately all “Humbuckers”.

 If you are already own a set of JBE pickups for your Strat™ or Tele™, you know that they deliver great single coil tone and performance well above noisy stock single coil pickups.  For those of you who own an HB or HB Two/Tone™, you know that these too are hum-canceling pickups, and more accurately called “Humbuckers”, that offer a fatter tone than single coil pickups, making them a perfect replacement for the mushy/dull humbuckers, or as options for an HSS or HSH setup for Strats™.

So, what’s the diff?  Doesn’t hum cancellation characterize a ‘humbucker’?

Technically, the answer to this question is, yes.   However, the term “Humbucker” was actually a marketing term that generally referred to the noise canceling attributes of a dual coil pickup design.  It also inferred a particular pickup size.    Think Les Paul, ES335, SG and other great instruments.  But, perhaps more importantly, “Humbucker” also came to infer a specific tonal character that is generally darker and somewhat muted, sometimes boomy, sometimes muddy.  Some are clearly better at producing a musical tone while others simply fall flat.

Also related, is the PAF, or “ Patent Applied For” used to describe a “vintage” sounding humbucker as tries to capture the vibe of the original humbucker design of Seth Lover.  Both PAF and Humbucker are marketing terms whose use generalizes the description of a specific pickup size (again think LP, SG etc) and tone (i.e. darker, fatter, and more muted than a single coil pickup).

Now (hopefully) for the Ah-Ha ! moment and my point of this rant.

JBE pickups should not be characterized as humbuckers solely on the basis of hum cancellation.  This description totally misses the most important aspects of popular aspects of many of JBE’s popular pickup models, i.e. the fact that our “single-coil-sounding” pickups provide authentic single coil tone… without hum.   In contrast, our HB and HB Two/Tone™ models certainly fit the general description of a humbucker tone as being darker and fatter,  but with the “presence” that is characteristic of all JBE pickups, and allows you to stand out in the mix.   

Characterizing our T-Style (Tele™), S-Deluxe (Strat™), Soapbar, or our single coil sounding bass pickups for the J-Bass™, P-Bass™, or RIC™4000,  could lead some to believe that all we have done is repackage a “humbucker” (along with all the tonal aspects inferred by this pickup type) into a footprint to fit these instruments.   Such a description misses the point of what a JBE pickup offers entirely!   More  importantly, it  sends the prospective JBE player down a false path for pickup comparison.

The best way to understand how a JBE pickup performs is to try one.   Authorized JBE dealers can help you here.  You will be amazed not only in the tone but also how a JBE pickup feels.   The combination of tone and feel create a unique experience for guitarists and bassists.  Many tell us that our pickups, because of their accuracy and responsiveness, have actually made them better players.

So, please don’t call them humbuckers…. unless you mean it!

Strat™, Tele™, RIC™ are trademarks of Fender Musical Instrument Corp, and Rickenbacker International®

Coil-Tapping vs Coil-Splitting

JBE on Coil Tapping vs. Coil Splitting

I often get questions about how we get single coil tone from our HB Two/Tone and how it compares to the old trick of coil-splitting a humbucker pickup to coax single coil tones from them.    The answer to this question lies partially in the differences between  “coil-tapping” (as used in the HB Two/Tone) and “coil-splitting” as used with traditional humbucker pickups.

First, let’s define a few terms:

Coil-Splitting: the process of isolating and turning off one coil of a dual-coil pickup in the attempt to replicate  single coil tone.  The process requires a 4-wire arrangement on the pickup.   It also reintroduces noise and hum into the sound.

Coil-Tapping: a coil winding technique that creates a switch point in the coil from which accurate single coil tones can be achieved.   The whole or parts of both coils remain operational to retain the hum-canceling properties of the pickup.

PAF: Patent Applied For.   A term used by musicians to describe the original Seth Lover hum canceling pickup marketed by Gibson.  A PAF label was used on the pickup to announce that the patent process covered the design.

Humbucker: a marketing name for Gibson’s early Seth Lover design of a hum canceling pickup

Hum-Cancellation: a technical practice that reduces hum (in a guitar pickup) by using two coils of opposing polarity.

In practice, the terms PAF, humbucker and hum-canceling pickups are often used interchangeably and incorrectly.  This is not a big deal really since most of the time we understand the meanings well enough.   However, in this discussion we will use the term ‘humbucker’ as the model name that describes a PAF-styled pickup having powerful and full bodied tone and one that either eliminates or reduces hum. (Yes, not all humbuckers eliminate hum.)     We will use the term hum-cancellation as the technical way a humbucker eliminates hum.

Why the distinction?   All JBE pickup models are hum-canceling by design.   But, they are not all accurately humbuckers.  Those who attribute the tonal characteristics of humbuckers to one of JBE’s single coil sounding model pickups (e.g. our T-Styles) before having tried them will immediately miss the benefits a JBE pickup offers.    Our T-Style (Tele) and S-Deluxe (Strat) pickups for example, are dual coil pickups that produce the tonal character of  a single coil tone, i.e. open and ‘chimey’ sound but with improved tactile performance.   JBE players quickly appreciate and understand the differences that JBE pickups offer in TONE, POWER, PUNCH, and RESPONSE .

Commercial over….back to our discussion about coil tapping vs. coil splitting.    As the logic goes, by turning off one coil of a humbucker (coil-splitting) we are left with a single coil pickup.  Technically, this is absolutely true but the result is an approximation of a single coil tone.  This should not be surprising.  Consider that a typical humbucker pickups were designed to deliver more full-bodied tone and  power than their single coil brothers and sisters.  The humbucker was simply not designed to produce single coil tone. Coaxing a single-coil tone from one of its coils satisfies the technical definition of a single coil pickup, but misses the mark of producing accurate and pleasing single coil tone.

Plus, a nasty by-product of coil-splitting is that hum and nose are re-introduced.  After all, wasn’t the goal of the humbucker to reduce (if not eliminate, again not all do) this nasty artifact?  So, while coil-splitting is a practical way to coax two modes from a standard humbucker (not a bad idea really), it suffers nonetheless from two critical drawbacks; noise and what I will call a faux (fake) single coil tone.   To make matters worse, coil-splitting in the face of today’s high gain amps is a recipe for a noisy mix.

In contrast, coil-tapping (as employed in the HB Two/Tone) allows us to create a dual-mode pickup that is designed and optimized for both humbucker AND single coil tone.  Moreover, it can be noiselessly switched between modes on the fly while in the heat of battle (i.e. as you perform).   By ‘tapping’ into the coil at a pre-defined place in the winding, we create more accurate single coil tone.  With coil-tapping, both coils remain operational to keep things quiet.  A Double-Pole/Double-Throw (DPDT) switch (a push/pull pot or mini-toggle) can be used to switch between the part of the coil that is tapped (i.e. single coil mode) and the full coil winding (i.e. humbucker sound).  In this way we achieve the best of both a humbucker pickup and a single coil pickup, each without noise or hum.

So, the point here is that JBE believes coil-tapping is a better alternative to coil-splitting to achieve single coil nirvana.   For those of you interested in the actual wiring, use this hyperlink; Wiring Diagrams for the S-Deluxe. Or, navigate over to the Pickups section of our website and mouse over to Wiring Diagrams on the right side pane.  Then click on S-Deluxe wirings.   In this particular wiring diagram, you will find an insert showing how the HB Two/Tone is wired to a DPDT switch for mode switching.

We illustrate the wiring of  HB Two/Tone in the S-Deluxe section because it is most often used in Strat HSS pickup arrangements and has some distinct advantages for Strat players.  In actuality, the single coil mode of the the HB Two/Tone is electrically and tonally that of an S-Deluxe pickup.   This enables Strat players to have the fullness of a humbucker in the bridge (HSS) while retaining all the character and vibe of the Strat as a 3 single coil instrument (SSS) by preserving the desirable “in-between” (misnomer “out of phase”) sounds of the Strat.

Although great for HSS and HSH arrangement,  HB Two/Tone can also be used and wired similarly in any guitar.

But, do not expect that your HB Two/Tone (or even a coil-split humbucker) will sound in your Les Paul or SG as it does in your Strat.   The guitars are different and their body stylescontribute their own character to what JBE pickups, as hi-fidelity transducers, deliver to tone.

Frank T
JBE Pickups

JBE Soapbar Question

Here is a question posed by someone considering JBE Soapbar pickups:

Hello !
I have a little question … well, it is not about asking to reveal any technological secrets, but, here it is.
For instance, you have released a new pickup which adapts to guitars designed for “soapbar” type pickups. It looks like it is basically some sort of a “modified” humbucker. Now, what will influence the changes in the sounding properties of such a pickup, in order to have it sound more like a standard single-coil or a soapbar or some other kind of already existing pickup ? Which are the parameters which have the major influence on the sounding properties ? (magnet type ? wire material or thickness ? … etc …)
Thank you so much for the great products … and for your answer.

The JBE Soapbar utilizes the design philosophy set for all JBE pickups i.e.  hum-cancellation and superior tone and performance.  In this regard one can argue our Soapbar pickup is a humbucker variant.  But, if one were to rely on that characterization of the pickup as a soapbar-sized humbucker, he/she would be wrong and would miss what players are finding to be a great Soapbar pickup tone and performance. .  Most players go even further and characterize JBE Soapbars as a superior noiseless P-90 .

  JBE did not set out to mimic a “vintage P90″.  When we surveyed players, we did not get universal agreement on what  a P90 tone might be…possibly because P-90s were made and sounded inconsistent (not to mention that the guitar into which they were installed also had a lot to do with players’ idealized notions of a P-90) .  Some P-90 soapbars were great, others were a big disappointment with muddy tone and performance.   All shared one common characteristic however…THEY WERE DAMNED NOISY. 

In contrast, JBE set out to design a pickup that had to meet several fundamental requirements.

1. It had to be quiet

2. It had to exhibit superior tone and performance. i.e. 
* It had to meet our notion of Soapbar tone (and, yes we had P-90 as a target). 

* It had to be nasty in the bridge, mellow yet articulate in the neck, and “woody” when both pickups are used together.  

 3. The JBE Soapbar pickups also had to fit standard Soapbar pickup routs without requiring modification to the instrument.  In this regard we sweated a few details because some popular after-market Soapbars do not fit all soapbar body routes. .  

Happily, The JBE design met every objective. JBE Soapbars are characterized by players as ” P-90 sounding” but with more articulation, superior tone and playing performance than other soapbars they used in the past.  Check out our Testimonial page.For those wanting to compare it against some idealized Vintage P-90 with all its noise and inconsistent performance.

Lastly, the the question of materials used….Sorry, will not give that away.  

Admittedly,  for the most ardent “Vintage Soapbar” enthusiast, JBE Soapbars may not meet their all expectations, especially if those expectations include traditional pole pieces and covers, soft (sometimes mushy) tone, and vintage soapbar/P-90 noise and hum.

Frank T
JBE Pickups

JBE Soapbar (P90) Pickups

Below is a good question from someone interested in JBE Soapbar pickups.  He wanted to make sure that our Soapbar pickups were all we said they were and not just a humbucker in Soapbar clothing.    This is a fair question.   Following is my response which I hope resonates with anyone interested in our Soapbar/P90 pickups.    Frank T.  JBE Pickups

——————————————————————————————–

Question:
Hello !
I have a little question … well, it is not about asking to reveal any technological secrets, but, here it is.
For instance, you have released a new pickup which adapts to guitars designed for “soapbar” type pickups. It looks like it is basically some sort of a “modified” humbucker. Now, what will influence the changes in the sounding properties of such a pickup, in order to have it sound more like a standard single-coil or a soapbar or some other kind of already existing pickup ? Which are the parameters which have the major influence on the sounding properties ? (magnet type ? wire material or thickness ? … etc …)
Thank you so much for the great products … and for your answer.

JBE Response:
The JBE Soapbar utilizes the design philosophy set for all JBE pickups i.e.  hum cancellation.  In this regard one can argue it is a humbucker variant.  But, if one were to rely on that characterization of the pickup as a soapbar-sized humbucker, he/she would be wrong and would miss what other players are finding to be a great Soapbar pickup tone and performance. .  Many players go further and characterize JBE Soapbars as a superior noiseless P-90 .

 JBE did not set out to mimic a “vintage P90″.  When we surveyed players, we did not get universal agreement on what such a P90 might be…possibly because P-90s were made and sounded inconsistent (not to mention that the guitar in which they were auditioned also had a lot to do with the players idealized notion of a P-90) .  Some P-90 soapbars were great, others were a big disappointment with muddy tone and performance.   All shared one common characteristic however…THEY WERE DAMNED NOISY. 

In contrast, we set out to design a pickup that had to meet several fundamental requirements.

1. It had to be quiet

2. It had to exhibit superior tone and performance. i.e. it had to have a JBE signature tone while having other characteristics of a Soapbar pickup:

  •  It had to meet our notion of Soapbar tone (and, yes we had P-90 as a target). 
  •  It had to be nasty in the bridge, mellow yet articulate in the neck, and “woody” when both pickups are used together.  

 3. The JBE Soapbar pickups also had to fit standard Soapbar pickup routs without requiring modification to the instrument.  In this regard we sweated a few details because some popular after-market Soapbars do not fit all soapbar body routes.   

Happily, The JBE design met every objective, and are characterized by guitarists who have them  as P-90 sounding…but with more articulation, superior tone and  performance than other soapbars they have used in the past.  Check out our Testimonial page.  

Admittedly,  for the most ardent “Vintage Soapbar” enthusiast, JBE Soapbars may not meet their all expectations, especially if those expectations include traditional pole pieces and covers, soft (sometimes mushy) tone, and vintage soapbar/P-90 noise and hum.

So, the short answers to your questions are:

  • JBE Soapbars are hum-cancelling pickups.  (We prefer to use the term humbucker to refer to  PAF variants that have a different size and tonal character all their own)
  • They sound like articulate P-90s
  • They were designed to fit P90 equipped guitar without modification to the body.
  • the materials we use are similar to those used in our other pickup models. 

Hope this helps.   

Frank T
JBE Pickups  

The JBE Soapbar utilizes the design philosophy set for all JBE pickups i.e.  humcancellation.  In this regard one can argue it is a humbucker variant.  But, if one were to rely on that characterization of the pickup as a soapbar-sized humbucker, he/she would be wrong and would miss what other players are finding to be a great Soapbar pickup tone and performance. .  Many players go further and characterize JBE Soapbars as a superior noiseless P-90 .

 

 JBE did not set out to mimic a “vintage P90″.  When we surveyed players, we did not get universal agreement on what such a P90 might be…possibly because P-90s were made and sounded inconsistent (not to mention that the guitar in which they were auditioned also had a lot to do with the players idealized notion of a P-90) .  Some P-90 soapbars were great, others were a big disappointment with muddy tone and performance.   All shared one common characteristic however…THEY WERE DAMNED NOISY. 

 

In contrast, we set out to design a pickup that had to meet several fundamental requirements.

1. It had to be quiet

2. It had to exhibit superior tone and performance. i.e. it had to have a JBE signature tone while having other characteristics of a Soapbar pickup:

  •  It had to meet our notion of Soapbar tone (and, yes we had P-90 as a target). 
  •  It had to be nasty in the bridge, mellow yet articulate in the neck, and “woody” when both pickups are used together.  

 3. The JBE Soapbar pickups also had to fit standard Soapbar pickup routs without requiring modification to the instrument.  In this regard we sweated a few details because some popular after-market Soapbars do not fit all soapbar body routes. .  

 

Happily, The JBE design met every objective. JBE Soapbars are characterized by player as P-90 sounding but with more articulation, superior tone and playing performance than other soapbars they used in the past.  Check out our Testimonial page.For those wanting to compare it against some idealized Vintage P-90 with all its noise and inconsistent performance

 

Admittedly,  for the most ardent “Vintage Soapbar” enthusiast, JBE Soapbars may not meet their all expectations, especially if those expectations include traditional pole pieces and covers, soft (sometimes mushy) tone, and vintage soapbar/P-90 noise and hum.

 

So, the short answers to your questions are this:

  • They are humcancelling pickups.  (We prefer to think of humbuckers as PAF variants that have a different size and tonal character all their own)
  • They sound like articulate P-90s
  • They were designed to fit the guitar without modification to the body.
  • the materials we use are similar to those used in our other pickup models. 

Hope this helps.   

 

Frank T
JBE Pickups 

Soapbar (P90) User Review

Here is a great user review of our Soapbar (P90) pickup set.  Check it out! 

Frank T
JBE Pickups
Joe Barden Engineering

Jan. 2012

Pete here….I recently installed a set of JBE Soapbars in a Les Paul and wanted to tell you about my very positive experience with them. I’ll try to keep it brief!

I have been playing my white Strat with the (JBE) S-Deluxe set in it for years as my main stage guitar. I also have a very nice 1997 Les Paul sunburst, but could never get it to compete on stage with the JBE-equipped Strat. No matter what humbucking pups I tried I that guitar, it just could not sound in the same ballpark as the Barden Strat. Always somewhat muddy, never could rival the authoritative, tight yet fat midrange and highs of the JBEpups in the Strat. I tried many different sets of boutique pickups in that guitar, from high to low output and everything in between.

My search for the perfect Paul continued recently when I tried a P90-equipped Gibson Goldtop Les Paul at Guitar Center. I ran it through a nice crunchy tube amp, and compared it with my humbucking Burst. Well, the P90 guitar sounded a lot better, and I felt there was good potential for that guitar to cut through and sound great on stage. However, the Gibson single-coil P90′s were sooo darn noisy, I knew they were not going to be acceptable for live use. Then I remembered the JBE Soapbars! I immediately ordered a set in Cream, installed them on the day of my next show, and played the guitar on stage that night.

Well, all I can say is that I was completely BLOWN AWAY! This new Goldtop with the JBE Soapbars was exactly what I have been looking for. It has the fat….growl that I needed in a Paul, but with the amazing clarity and high-end that only JBE pickups seem to be able to provide, in my experience. AND NO NOISE! Talk about a perfect solution to my problem! That Goldtop is now my main stage guitar, although I still love my trusty Strat and use it on several tunes each night.

I now have a matched set of JBE-equipped guitars, and get great tones every night. And this is after many years of buying and selling numerous guitars and amps. In case you might be interested, I am attaching a couple of photos of the Goldtop with the JBE Soapbars installed. Please feel free to use quotes or photos on your website, I am a totally satisfied customer!

Cheers,

Pete 
Virginia

JBE on Series/Parallel Wiring

JBE on Series and Parallel Pickup Wiring

Series and parallel pickup wiring is sometimes a bit confusing.  This is because we often use the terms “series and parallel” to refer to how pickups are wired together, as well as an optional wiring scheme for an individual pickup. However, the technical concepts of series and parallel wiring are the consistent across applications.    This blog will describe what series/parallel wiring is and how we can use it when wiring pickups in our guitars and basses, or when seeking other tones from our pickups.

Parallel wiring is the usual way of connecting pickups in a guitar or bass.  It applies to both single coil as well as dual-coil pickups. (Although the term humbucker is often used, the term is perhaps more aptly used to refer to a PAF-sized pickups, like our HB and HB Two/Tone and Gibson’s and others, full-sized pickups.  ‘Hum-canceling’ will be used to refer to other noiseless pickups such as our single-coil-sounding Gatton T-Style, S-Deluxes, J-Style Bass, and Soapbar (P-90) pickups for example).

With parallel wiring, each pickup’s signal goes to output independently from one another.   Even when all pickups are ‘on’ they are essentially independent of the other pickups in the guitar or bass.   Therefore, parallel wiring is conceptually:

Pickup #1    –>    Output

Pickup #2   –>     Output

In this example, 1+1 =2 (pickups) and each pickup can be turned on/off independently or combined by the switch.  How is this logically wired?

Using the JBE color-coding, the black hot wire (+) of each pickup is wired to the pickup selector switch and the green cold wires (-) are wired to a good ground.  (Please note that wire color–coding my differ among manufacturers, so you need to know each wire’s job.)

In contrast, Series wiring means that each pickup’s signal is first combined before it goes to output.

Pickup #1 –>  Pickup#2 –>  Output

To extend the bad math example, 1+1=1 (pickup), What!!!!  The process of tying the pickups together logically combines them into one ‘larger’ pickup that has a darker tone and is somewhat louder.  How is this physically wired?

A switch really does the work here.  Electrically, the cold wire (-) of one pickup is connected to the hot wire (+) of the next pickup in a daisy chain fashion.   Telecaster players may recognize that this as a Tele with a 4-way pickup selector switch or a Fender S1 switch in the volume pot.   (P.S. For you Strat players, the Fender wiring and the application of the S1 switch is completely different from how it is used in a Tele).

It is also possible to apply the series/parallel concept not to a set of pickups but to an individual pickup – notably, a dual-coil (hum-canceling or humbucking) pickup. The two coils of a hum-canceling pickup are like two single coil pickups side by side, and wired so that there is a link or bridge between the coils where the (-) of one coil connects to the + of the second coil.

Here again, as in the generalized series example above, 1+1 (coils) = 1 Pickup. (Please note that since a single coil pickup has only one coil, there is no way to wire it in series to itself, but it can be wired in series to an adjacent pickup).

How can we use Series/Parallel Wiring?

All this series/parallel stuff got some folks to thinking about how to take advantage of it to create new tones.  They argued that if they broke the series connection between a humbucker’s coils, they would be left with two independent pickups (coils), each with a set of + and – leads.  By simply ignoring one coil you are theoretically left with a single coil (albeit noisy) pickup. Connect the coils back together and you return your pickup back to a noise-canceling humbucker pickup.

This is not new.  Many of you will immediately recognize this as coil splitting, a common application which turns a humbucker into a single coil pickup.  When connected to a switch, the switch makes and breaks the series and parallel connections.  In this way we can achieve both a darker full-bodied as well as single coil tone from a humbucker pickup.

The trouble with coil splitting is that a humbucker coil on its own was not designed to produce a good single coil tone.  The pickup was designed to have a fat sound and no noise.   So, turning one coil off is not really a good idea.  You get a faux single coil tone plus your humbucker is now noisy as a single coil pickup.  JBE addresses this application in a better way with our HB Two/Tone ™. The Two/Tone employs coil tapping vs. coil splitting to get true single coil tone with no noise.   Moreover, you have the ability to switch noiselessly on-the-fly back to a full-bodied humbucker tone.   See our website for a more detailed explanation.  It’s really cool.

The main point relative to our discussion is that a dual coil pickup, by design, is a series connection between the two coils, and can be implemented in several ways:

  1. Internal jumpers within the pickup itself,
  2. Via a 4 wire cable that extends the internal jumper outside the pickup using separate wires so the musician can break and make a connection via a switch (series/parallel switching arrangement) to switch between humbucker and coil split tones

The majority of JBE pickups use a 4 wire cabling arrangement.  Other manufacturers make the series connection internal to the pickup, making it impossible to split the coil as discussed above.

An alternative approach to coil splitting is to wire the dual coil pickup in a parallel fashion.  Both coils remain operational and you can still wire the pickups to a switch to allow you to switch between the resultant tones.  The parallel connection will be relatively noiseless and provide a more useful single-coil approximation than is achieved with coil splitting.   But again, the best alternative is an HB Two/Tone pickup.

OK, great!  Here is where it gets even more interesting.   All JBE pickups are dual-coil hum-canceling designs. With a JBE pickup you can wire the coils in parallel to derive an open and somewhat stringy sound aside from the already great single coil tones these pickups produce.

A good application of this is with an S-Deluxe Neck/Middle pickup in a Strat (or Nashville Tele).   By running the pickup’s coils in parallel and using a switch or push/pull pot to switch from its native series to parallel mode, you can get even more authentic in-between tones in the 2nd or 4th switch position of a 5 way switch.  I tend to like this for quaky rhythms and to slightly thin the tone or get a more open/stringy sounds.   Plus if you use a push/pull pot in place of an existing volume or tone control, you do not alter the guitar or bass to add a switch.

Summary.

Series/Parallel wiring as it relates to guitar and bass pickups, refers to

  1. How two (or more) pickups are wired to produce a thicker and darker tone by acting as one big pickup,
  2. How one dual coil pickup can be wired to produce a more stringy, open tone, and improve the in-between sounds (aka out of phase) tones of your Stratocaster or Nashville Tele.

We discussed how breaking the series connection in a humbucker pickup allows you to coil-split the pickup.

Please note that JBE does not recommend splitting the coils (i.e. turning off one coil) of a T-Style, S-Deluxe, J-Bass or other JBE single coil sounding pickup model).  These pickup models were designed specifically to deliver authentic single coil tone without noise.  While it is certainly technically feasible split them using the 4 wire cable used for the pickups, the result is a low-fidelity sound that has minimum utility, other than as an effect, but which a player may find useful from time to time.   Consider parallel wiring first.

We also discussed an application of parallel wiring for the middle position of your Strat or Nashville Tele that will enhance the in-between sounds of a three-pickup set.

Now, armed with this info, it is up to you to figure out how all the possible ways you can use these wirings to suit your playing and tonal tastes.  If you’d like to share your custom wiring diagrams with us, please send a schematic.

Series/Parallel using a Push/Pull pot, 4-Way switch and Fender S1 wiring diagrams are available on the JBE website for your reference.

Have fun.

Frank T
JBE Pickups

Why we resist ‘Resistance’

Not surprisingly, we often get questions about the specs of our pickups.   Most of the time the questions  are about the resistance [R] of the pickup because musicians want to understand how the pickup ‘sounds’ or to determine if a JBE pickup will mate with another brand pickup in their guitar.  It is also a question that has been answered many times in other forums.   But, for the sake of sharing our view allow me to respond as well.

Resistance [R] in the absence of other metrics such as inductance [L] is meaningless as a comparative indicator among pickup brands and similar models.   Yes, in manufacturing we use [R] as one indicator of pickup viability.   But, it tells us nothing about the sound and quality of the pickup.  We must go a bit further and use another measure, Inductance [L] measured in Henries [H].   We use these measures for pass/fail against our design criteria.  These specs were solidified and approved for use in manufacturing only after having gone thru iterative aural assessments of the pickup in the design phase.

Still, what do these two specs mean in terms of a pickup’s tone and why the reliance on [R] as the determining metric?    I suspect that since most musicians (and even many repair shops) do not have a way to measure other specs such as Inductance [L].  As such, musicians are left trying to describe/compare pickups by [R] alone, a measurement easily attainable on ubiquitous and low cost DMMs (Digital Multi Meters).  And so, armed with the only metric readily measurable, the question and reliance about [R] persists.  Unfortunately,  [R] is simply not an appropriate metric to use this way.

There are articles on the Internet written by Engineers (who may also be musicians) that try to offer insight into pickup performance using a variety of specs such as magnet strength (Gauss), resonant peak frequency, coil quality (Q) , micro-voltage (mV) and more.  Written primarily from engineering perspectives, these papers are loaded with formulas for the engineer.  Engineers are trained (thankfully) to deal in the quantitative world.   They must be in order to design the highly reliable electronic and mechanical products we enjoy today.  What is missing however in any assessment using specs, is a characterization of how the pickups actually sound given those specs.   Therefore, a subjective assessment must now be made to describe what we have just measured.  We musicians use terms like, hot, warm, expressive, articulate, presence, tone, power, snotty, growl, nasty…and the list goes on.  

When trying to relate specs to subjective aural assessments it is best done by those who are familiar with guitar /bass tone (perhaps the engineer/musician).  In trying to do this, the gamut of pickup brands must be assessed not just by one person but by others as well in the attempt to establish a definitive/authoritative resource.    Now, we have come full circle and are back to describing tone not by specs but by what we hear.   Herein lies the problem about using specs alone and even more dangerously, using a single spec [R] to compare pickup brands.  I can say with certainty that many players are surprised when they hear and play a JBE pickup that has a lower [R] value.  It shatters beliefs based on what they thought they understood about pickup specs.

To be candid, the reliance on [R] as a sole criterion may beg the question about JBE’s sound.  Therefore, we feel compelled to respond repetitively to the many well-meaning musicians who in the quest for tone go onto forums and raise doubt about the tone of a JBE pickup.  After all, they argue, the sound thin has to be thin and uninteresting with such a low [R] value.   We know it is not.   Sadly, those who have never heard or played a JBE pickup make many of these claims.   Perhaps they are merely defending their favorite brand or (for the marketers among us) satisfying the “cognitive dissonance” of an earlier purchase decision. (How’s that for slinging the marketing bull?) 

After being confronted with the aural proof that JBE pickups sound great (and arguably better) even at lower [R] measurements, their entire tonal reference is shattered.   Now what?  And how can they continue to use [R] as a way to describe pickups?   Yet, the debate goes on anew with each successive generation of musician.   And perhaps, so it should be.  To question is to learn.  We are happy to speak with anyone genuinely interested in learning about our pickups.   Having said this, please don’t ask to see detailed specs on our pickups on our website.  While we have often share some specs in conversation and will continue to do so, we do not publish them for proprietary reasons.  If someone wants to reverse-engineer a JBE pickup, they can do that, but we prefer not to assist.

In summary, Hearing and Feeling the difference a JBE pickup can make by auditioning them (from the root word meaning “to hear”) in a friend’s guitar or bass, or at a local JBE dealer,  is the best way to make a decision on pickups.  A number of JBE dealers have outfitted demo guitars with select JBE pickup models that you can try.   Listen critically and make your judgments not on specs alone, but on what your ears tell you too.  If you like what you hear…. great!   Buy a JBE pickup.   If you don’t, there are other pickup brands that may suit your tastes better.   Whatever you decide, every musician must use the tools that fit their needs and preferences.   One size simply does not fit all…. although we like to believe we come very close  :-)

Frank T
JBE Pickups

3-Pickup Soapbar Guitars

Thought you might be interested in two different approaches to 3-pickup Soapbar guitars being made by two enterprising luthiers.  

The first one was made by Gary Brinkly of GNB Custom Guitars gbrinkle@myway.com.  Gary is also Jimmy Thackery’s  luthier and made this three-pickup Firebird, Jimmy calls the Golden Bird.   The guitar also incorporates a patented Trem system innovation (sans cover in the picture)  that stays in tune even after Jimmy’s notorious dive bombs.     Of course, the guitar must be equipped with JBE Soapbars for maximum sonic benefit.  (Shameless plugs abound in this blog, so be forewarned :)

The second guitar is from Clint Dougherty at Black Mesa Guitars clint@blackmesaguitars.com, or www.blackmesaguitars.com   It is another take on a 3 Soapbar pickup design, again with JBE Soapbar pickups as part of the sonic engine.

Clint’s customer was elated and had this to say about this guitar (so far):

“Just a few impressions, ……She sings!! The tone and sustain are outstanding, the action is great, she is (as you know) quite beautiful. I have to find myself agreeing with Jeff, you are underpricing for the value received.
 
And one quote from someone else,… my friend Lynn W.   (Lynn is the guitar historian, amazing guitar repair tech, and major collector, as well as running a retail store, and is a player in his own right ).
  
Lynn said “Great action, great big sound, fantastic tone, great workmanship, and a beautiful instrument.  It’s one of the finest guitars I’ve ever played. I’d take it over a PRS any day!”
 
So it’s not just me. You did a far better job than I had any right to expect, and I’m lucky to have found you to build this guitar.”
 
If either of these instruments ring you chimes, give Gary or Clint a call.  They can give you more info.   
Frank T
JBE Pickups
 

Intoducing Dan Davidson

One of the coolest things about being associated with a great company like JBE Pickups (OK, I know.  I own it now so I’d better think it is cool :) , is something that Joe Barden told me a while ago.   It was regarding how many good players there are out there that we get to meet either in person or by the miracle of modern internet technology.   These players really get what we’re about, and meeting them and hearing them play is a distinct pleasure. 

It goes without saying that Danny Gatton was one of those who inspired Joe Barden,  as are the great musicians whose names scroll across the marquis of our website.  

But there are less heralded others out there too, like Dan Davidson, who unsolicited, and very kindly sent me a video of himself demo’ing our T-Style pickups.    Dan really gets it, and describes what we are trying to achieve as well (if not better) than some of us do at JBE.   I told him that I thought he was channeling my pitch :), even though we have never met personally. 

To my knowledge Dan is not professional presenter, but he does a great job articulating, from a musician’s perspective, what the T-Styles, and I would add all JBE guitar and bass pickups, can do. 

Please take a listen to Dan at http://youtu.be/SMsYR7-wI2I.  And check out his other vids on YouTube as well.   I was impressed and I suspect you will be too.  

What is it about these guys named Dan?  

Frank T
JBE Pickups

News from our early adopters……

Just heard from two of our early adopters of our  R4000 (RIC bass) and  JM Two/Tone (Jazzmaster) pickups  about their experiences with our most recent pickup models.   Mike Lankford was among our very first R4000 customers.  He was anxious to record with his reborn RIC 4003 and sent us a recording which I want to share with you.   RIC  bass in a country tune?   Who would have guessed?   Mike said that he got a lot of really good reactions to the fact that his bass sounded so good, was present in the mix and the noise was gone too!   Take a listen to  Treat You Right_clip.      Mike, thanks  for sharing this with us. 
Then we find Anthony Pirog, one of our early JM Two/Tone players,  in the Style section of the Washington Post where we find him performing with his Jazzmaster equipped with JBE’s JM Two/Tones pickups.  Anthony has been on tour over the summer with his band promoting their record.  His most recent endeavour however was kind of different to say the least.   Check out the review and picture at http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/at-sonic-circuits-festival-pirogs-ensemble-is-true-to-the-spirit-of-terry-riley/2011/09/18/gIQAm6TIdK_story.html
I wish I could post everyones work but as you can imagine that would be difficult.  Hopefully, from time to time you will allow me share some things like this with you all. 
Regards,
Frank T
JBE Pickups

Remembering

Remembering Paul

This blog is not about guitar pickups, or music or any of the ‘goings-on’ at JBE Pickups.  It is about remembrance.  So, on this the 10 anniversary of Sept 11 , 2001,  I am taking advantage of my blog to honor and pay respect to my nephew, Paul Acquaviva.  

I will not eulogize Paul today, but rather simply and quietly honor his memory.  But most importantly, I want to give my nephew’s own nephew, a platform of his own to honor the memory of his uncle. 

This is especially important because Jack, now age 13 was given the privileged of attending this year’s Ground Zero Memorial and reading some of the names of those lost there.  He would also get to read aloud one particularly important name, that of his uncle Paul.    Jack will not have the opportunity that he looked forward due to the credible threat of more assaults.   So instead, I want to give Jack the opportunity he is missing, to pay homage to his uncle even if in some small way in this blog.

Jack Hadfield, age 13, in his own words.

On the 10th anniversary of September 11th, 2001, I remember my Uncle Paul as loving son, father, brother and uncle.  He loved and cared for everyone who was a part of his life and I believe he is still with us today.  Even though I was very young I remember Uncle Paul playing with me and being the loving person that he was.  His memory will always live on.  As I move forward in my life I look to the memory of Uncle Paul as the kind of man I hope to become.  Uncle Paul we love you and will never forget.

Jack Hadfield

To all those who lost someone dear on Sept 11, 2001 in NYC, Washington DC, and Shanksville, PA, my family’s thoughts, prayers, and tears are with you too on this day. 

Lastly, all of us at JBE also want say thank you to our servicemen and woman who in the aftermath of 9/11 dedicated themselves for the rest of us by their service.  Many of them paid the ultimate price and no words of gratitude are enough.  

So, to all artists out there, please use your talents of song, lyrics, art, dance or whatever your gift, to help us honor our loved ones in a way befitting their memory. 

Frank T
JBE Pickups

R4000 Bass Pickups Get a Workout!

I just love hearing the kind of news that follows here from Todd.  Had to share with you all.    Todd, thanks for keeping us in the loop.
Frank T
President
JBE Pickups

——————————————————————
Hi Frank,
It just occurred to me the other day that I never gave you any follow-up on the “road test” of my Rick bass that you guys installed the custom replacement set of pickups in. If you remember, we had a huge gig back in April at a 5,000 plus seat venue opening for Lou Gramm’s (Foreigner) first band, Blacksheep. What can I say… to say that the sound of the bass surpassed my wildest expectations would be a gross understatement! We completely rocked the house that night and the sound of the Rick completely tore the roof off the place! I’ve attached a few pics of your pickups getting some exposure in front of approx. 2,500 people – what a great night! I’ve used the Rick for every gig since the big show and am pleased to say that my other seven instruments are on vacation for a while – this is my main baby! Like I said before, thank you for breathing new life into an instrument I was about ready to get rid of – what a mistake that would have been! Hope all is well!

Cheers,
Todd

Wiring Tip: Using an S1 switch with JBE pickups

 

Can I use a Fender S1 switch withJBE pickups?

YES!  Definitely.  But you need to know a bit about the switch and how it works.

The S1 is a 4- pole/double throw switch that Fender ships on select models of Teles and Strats.  The switch is proprietary to Fender and may not be readily available as an aftermarket part (at least not that we are aware of at this time).   The 4-pole/double throw switching function of the S1 is independent of the pot section of the switch so the S1 can be used as a volume or tone control. 

The poles of the switch are arranged as 4 sets of three round solder points arranged around the underside of the switch’s circuit board:

 

 

S1 and the Tele

For a Telecaster, equipped with stock single coil pickups, Fender wires the S1 in the switch DOWN position for a SERIES connection between the neck and bridge pickups.  In the UP position the normal pickup wiring is active.  The S1 only works when both pickups are active (i.e. with the 3-way pickup selector switch in the middle position.)

This series connection gives your Tele a fatter sound by electrically creating one dual-coil pickup made up of the neck and bridge pickups.   As a by-product it also reduces (but may not fully eliminate) noise and hum.   Kudos to Fender on this!  It works well and helps an additional tone from stock single coil pickups that in themselves tend to be noisy, thin, and unbalanced.     Our T-Style pickups can also be wired in series. (See the wiring diagram on our site at http://joebarden.com/Products/Wiring-Diagrams/T-Style%20S1.pdf.

Some Tele players use a 4-way switch instead of an S1 in this application. Refer to our website for how to wire to a 4 way switch at http://joebarden.com/Products/Wiring-Diagrams/T-Style%204way.pdf.

Not surprisingly, JBE players have found that the series effect using our T-Style pickups is not as dramatic as with the stock single coils.  Why? Because JBE pickups already provide hum cancellation, offer better neck and bridge balance, and have greater output than stock single coils WHILE greatly improving overall tone, punch, and response.    These players generally find that the inherent benefits of JBE pickups far outweigh the advantages of series wiring and as such they tend not to engage the S1 switch on JBE-equipped guitars after they wired it   But, it does offer one more tone with marginally more output.

S1 and the Strat

For the Strat, the S1 switch in combination with a 5-way mega-type switch as provided in some Fender guitar models,  offers several different tonal and pickup selection options (some useful/some not).  Among them is the ability to use the neck and bridge pickups together…nice.   Kudos to Fender once again!    Customizations on the Fender-provided wiring can be quite complex and time-consuming. .   Given all the various pickup and tonal variations that can be accomplished using these switches, players requiring specialized wiring arrangements should seek the services of a good guitar tech that specializes in custom wiring options.  

 Using the S1 with an HB Two/Tone Pickup

Another useful application of an S1 switch is with an HB Two/Tone  pickup. 

The S1 can be easily wired to switch between the two modes of the HB Two/Tone See our website for a broader discussion on the dual-mode HB Two/Tone pickup and its advantages.

In this application we will substitute the normally suggested push/pull pot or mini DPDT switch with the S1 and use only two poles of the S1 to create a DPDT switch.  This application of the S1 allows you to switch back and forth noiselessly between the full humbucker and single-coil-sounding tones offered by the HB Two/Tone.  

Remember, HB Two/Tone is not coil-split (i.e. one coil is turned off to derive a faux single-coil tone).  Rather, it uses coil-tapping to keep BOTH coils always operational regardless of mode.   This approach provides hum-cancellation in either mode, as well as authentic single coil tones similar to our S-Deluxe or T-Style pickups. 

 In the following HB Two/Tone wiring example, the switch is configured so that the coil-tap mode (i.e. single coil sounding tone) is active when the switch is in the UP position.   The full humbucker mode of the HB Two/Tone is active with the switch in the DOWN position.   Prefer it the other way?  No problem, simply reverse the A and C leads at the two poles.  

 

Other common JBE wiring diagrams can be found in the Products Section of our website on the right-hand panel of the page.  

 HB Two/ToneTM  is a trademark of Joe Barden Engineering (JBE)
Strat and Tele are trademarks of Fender Musical Instrument Corp.
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