Pickup Party at PG Mag. Enter to Win

Premier Guitar is hosting a Pickup Party where on June 23rd you can get a chance to win a 3 pickup set of Joe Barden S-Deluxes for your Strat.   Enter on PG’s website at: http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/Daily/News/PG_Pickup_Party_Calendar.aspx

Or go to the JBE website at  www.joebarden.com and click on the Premier Guitar Logo.    One day only on June 23rd.   You must enter to win.   HEY!  what’s bad about free!  Maybe you’ll be lucky.

Frank T
JBE Pickups

Brest Cancer Awareness Guitar: UPDATE

Hi All,

Just heard from Byron Jobe, maker of the Breast Cancer Awareness guitar.  Bryron and his sister, Ginny have been going great guns getting signatures of some of todays top artists and celebrities on the guitar.   The guitar (artfully done in the shape of the Breast Cancer Ribbon) has 2 JBE HB Two/Tones, sounds great, and will be auctioned off over Ebay


The auction is planned for October 2011 and will be conducted via Ebay‘s “Mission Fish” program with  the proceeds going directly to the  Susan G. Komen Foundation, Sacramento Branch.  We’ll keep you informed, but keep the buzz alive.   To see and learn more about what is going on visit the Breast Cancer Guitar Facebook page at  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Breast-Cancer-Charity-Guitar/155312131170103?ref=ts  or just go to Facebook and search for Breast Cancer Charity Guitar.

Byron tells me there is other exciting news to share later with us.    He hinted to me what some of it is, and I have to say it IS truly exciting.  We thank Bryon and Ginny for including us in their work. 

Byron and Ginny have promised to write a more complete back channel story on the development of the guitar and their quest to get celebrity signatures.   

Frank T
JBE Pickups
Joe Barden Engineering

Social Media Integration (or a fancy way to say Facebook)

Hey everyone! My name is Leah, and I’ve recently been hired at Joe Barden Engineering (JBE Pickups) for the summer to do pretty much whatever I’m told. This includes explaining Facebook and the like to Frank, since being over 40 inhibits one’s ability to comprehend such things; and I, being 20, am an expert. :) That means from now on we’ll be a lot more active on Facebook and Twitter, feeding you sweet tweets and delicious updates until your stuffed. So if you haven’t already, be sure to click that like button. We promise to make it worth your while. (Or you can always go to our website at www.joebarden.com – whatever you want.)


JBE Pickups testimonials.

Today, I had the pleasure of adding a testimonial from Rob to our website.  It struck me that the testimonial section is perhaps buried too deeply in the website.   So, I have some work to do on that front.   But, in the process of re-reading  them, it was apparent that much of what our customers believe about JBE pickups and how they value them, just is not front and center for everyone to share.  

Buying JBE pickups is no small decision.  Yes, they are expensive.  Yes, they are different. Yes, they are hard to describe in words.   You have to hear them and feel them in your hands to know just how different they are.   We encourage JBE dealers to have them available in a guitar so you can appreciate the difference a JBE pickup can make in your sound and in your playing.   Sadly, this is not always possible.  So, we have to rely on what players say.  From there, you can get some idea if JBE pickups are of interest to you or just another expensive toy.  

Rob’s comments were very poignant because they came from someone who not only knows sound but is also someone who heads engineering  in one of the most prestigious companies in the music industry.   He came to us like all customers, by phone.  We chatted and then he decided to purchase a set of J-Style pickups.    There were no special deals.  No bartering of his product for ours.   All I asked as a professional courtesy was to let me know if he was satisfied with his pickups after he heard them.  When I received his comments, I was not only blown away with how satisfied he was but also with how he articulated his experience despite the fact that words tend to get in the way when trying to describe tone.

 I would urge anyone reading this blog to  read the testimonials in the Products section of the JBE website (http://joebarden.com/main.php?section=Products&pageID=Testamonials)   as fodder for formulating your own evaluations and opinions about JBE pickups should we be honored to have you as a customer.   

We know that JBE Pickups are not for every player.  That is ok.  Each player needs to have the right tools to be able to express themselves as players and artists.  Happily, for many,  JBE pickups are the right tool.    I respect those for which they are not and have even recommend my competitor’s pickups in some cases because it just seemed the right tool for that guitarist or bassist.    So, please check out some of the testimonials.   I hope you find them interesting and informative.  

I also promise to do a better job on the FAQs.   They are kind of long in the tooth now, but still relevant for those patient enough to wade thru them.   We will be doing more work on the FAQ front.  But, don’t wait to find your answer there.  Call us if you have a question. 

Frank T.
JBE Pickups

R4000 Pickups: Update

Well, we’re now well into production quantities of the R4000 replacement bass pickups for RIC™ 4001/4003 basses.    We continue to be gratified by  all the comments and suggestions that havebeen sent to us,  especially about how the JBE R4000s have transformed your RIC™ basses.   Thank you all.

 If you have a 4001/4003 bass, you owe it to yourself to check-out the R4000 pickups from JBE.  They are dead quiet and compliment the already great looks of your RIC bass.  If you have a RIC in your arsenal but don’t get to use it as often as you would like due to noise of single coil pickups, then you really have to check out the JBE R4000s.  I know you will fall in love with your RIC all over again.

RIC™ is a trademark of Rickenbacker International, who is not affiliated with JBE Pickups.

New from JBE…R4000 Style Bass Pickups for your Rickenbacker® Bass

We’ve just finished our 4th set of R4000 Style bass pickups for several early adopter bass players.   WOW!   What a difference these new pickups have made in each RICTM bass…. totally quiet…preservation of the RICTM vibe…. and an expanded tonal palette that adds versatility and function to this classic bass.

Many thanks to all the early adopters, but especially to Evan Mellichampe who first started this ball rolling with JBE.   Evan told us that many bassists have a classic RICTM  in their arsenals but cannot take them out to play due to its excessive noise.   Despite the classic great RICTM tone which is cherished by all, the bass is often only used on select tunes that demand that tone, making it somewhat limited for most players who need to cover a diversity of material and not want to be saddled with taking several basses on gigs.   But, noise still remained the major issue.

We agreed to try to develop a pickup for Evan’s RICTM 4003 but told him that to do it right we needed a bass to work with for R&D.   He offered to send his bass admitting that it mostly sat idle due to the noise problem. Wow, what  faith!   Yet, Evan will tell anyone it was a risk very much worth taking because when he got his bass back it was immediately more playable, totally quiet and could now be used on gigs and recording sessions.  [On a quick side note, Evan told me that he had an initial sense of despair and frustration after he plugged a chord into the bass while leaving it perched on a guitar stand, and then turned on the amp.  NOTHING!  Damn!   He thought his bass arrived back to him DOA, until his wedding ring touched the strings.   WHOA!  The bass came alive!  IT WAS ON !   It was that quiet!]

So far so good, first objective for quiet noise free operation was met.   But what about TONE?   Again mission accomplished.   The new R4000 Style pickups not only preserved what RICTM players love about  basses.  The new pickups also created a broader tonal palate, making it more versatile and functional for live gigs as well as recording.  

After installing the pickups we noted that the sensitivity and tactile benefits of the R4000 Style pickups require that the bass be setup properly for optimum results.    Setting-up a RICTM bass, and especially adjusting the double truss rod neck, are no small feat.  It takes experience to do it right.  For that we turned to Larry Smoak of Wooden Wizard Guitars, a member of the JBE Technical Alliance Group.    After Evan got his guitar back with the new pickups and properly set up, he immediately noticed a huge difference between the instrument he first sent to us and the transformed one he received back.   

Of course as a manufacturer we wanted to know if there was sufficient interest and demand for us to invest time and money to bring this new pickup to market.   Sadly, our dealers could not confirm any real interest among their customers for RICTM bass pickup replacements.    So, we left the project sit for a while thinking it was a fun and we learned a bit about what JBE could add to an already classic bass.  

Evan was not satisfied with our lethargy.   He was so jazzed about the results that he took it upon himself to see if there was interest among RICTM players  and start a buzz about these new pickups.  Unsolicited by JBE, Evan submitted pictures and a small review of his new rig to Bass Player Magazine’s “Dig My Rig” section.   This small piece immediately brought RICTM players  out of the woodwork to ask us when they could buy a set.   We started taking orders.   Like Evan, several players even sent us their basses, which allowed us to verify our experience and even fine-tune our build methods.    We installed the pickups, set up the basses (and returned them.  The accolades from early adopters keep coming.  

We are still in the pre-production phase and are now accepting orders on a first come /first served basis.   Order backlog is building and right now the lead time is about 4 weeks.    All as a result of the first small posting by Evan as well as our own social media networking.   

We will post some pics to our website soon.  But, for those interested now, call or send us an email at info@joebarden.com for more information.

Thanks to Evan and to the early adopters who put their faith in us to produce something really special.  Now, let’s hear from you RICTM bass players out there.

Regards to all,
Frank T
JBE Pickups

Rickenbacker© and RICTM  are trademarks of Rickenbacker Int’l Corp.
Rickenbacker® and Joe Barden Engineering or JBE Pickups are not affiliated.

JM Two/Tone™ for Jazzmaster™ Guitars

JBE (Joe Barden Guitar and Bass Pickups) is accepting special orders on pre-release sets of JM Two/Tone ™ for Jazzmaster™ guitars.  General availability at your JBE dealer is anticipated in late Spring.   Price is $189.95 each (bridge or neck).  

Pending general availability there will be a limited number of JM Two/Tone™ Sets available.  These limited numbers may be purchased as a Special Order directly with JBE Pickups by calling us at 703 530 8663.

The JM Two/Tone for Jazzmaster houses our traditional Two/Tone pickup under special Jazzmaster covers that retain the general look of the Jazzmaster.  White covers are currently available, but Cream and Black are planned with general availability.  

The JM Two/Tone has several benefits for the iconic Jazzmaster guitar:
1. preservation of the Jazzmaster vibe .  You still get great Jazzmaster tones but without noise or hum that JM players have had to suffer with heretofore.
2.  additional sonic dimensions of  having full bodied humbucker and single coil tones  that can be switched in and out on the fly using the lower control section.  
3. expands the tonal utility of the upper control section with more pristine tone and improved utility as a preset for fast tone changes .
4. your Jazzmaster cuts thru the mix with more authority.

Give us a call at 703 530 TONE (8663) to place your special order and get into queue for the limited number of sets that will be available prior to general availability. 

Frank T.
JBE Pickups

Jazzmaster is a trademark of Fender Musical Instruments Corp.

HB Two/Tone and Tele Tone

I had to share this very good question from a prospective JBE pickup customer.  After a few back and forth emails, I determined that his fundamental question was how well the HB Two/Tone, in its single coil sounding mode, would work in the neck position of this Tele.   Here is what I told him and which I hope many of you will find informative when considering our HB TT pickup and what to expect in different guitars.
Hi Will,
I suspect you need to know if an HB TT will perform exactly like a T-Neck pickup in your Tele.  In the purest sense, the answer would have to be, no.  However, there are other considerations that might still lead you to the conclusion that an HB TT in the neck of a Tele would not bring you so far afield from Tele tone and performance.  
For the purposes of discussion, we need to put the Tele’s body/neck/bridgeplate aside.  Clearly , these aspect add dramatically to the tone and help define the Tele “life” .  When you add an HB TT itn to mix, you get a pickup that offers flexibility you simply don’t get with other humbucker pickups, ie, it is actually two pickups in one: a full-bodied humbucker, and (unlike coil splitting which turns off one coil of a traditional humbucker), an alternate mode that is optimized for single coil tone.  What that single coil tone sounds like will largely depend on the guitar into which it goes.  The HB TTs in a Les Paul for example,  will NEVER sound like a Strat or Tele, although many players seek nirvana trying to do just that!  
The HB TT in it’s single coil mode is electrically equivalent to one of our S-Deluxes (Strat). Also, the T-Style neck and S-Deluxe pickups have somewhat similar resistance and inductance specs.  So, we are in the same ballpark, at least electrically.  
In the neck position of a Tele,  the HB TT in its alternate (single coil sounding) mode will be a bit different than one of our Gatton T-Style Neck pickups.  This is largely due to the  basic form factor of the HB TT as a humbucker and the spread of its magnetic field.   Having said this, will you still get convincing tele neck tones?  Yes!   But, there will be a difference to the discerning ear when A/B-ing similar guitars outfitted with a T-Neck and an HB TT running in its alternate mode.  
The bottom line is this…..unless you outfit a tele as a tele, any change to the pickups (or other hardware) will result in something different, albeit perhaps close.  The consideration should be,  what IS that difference and is it something you require?   And, do you give up Tele vibe?   
At one end of the spectrum will therefore be a tele in all its glory with a set of Gatton T-Styles.    At the other end of the spectrum is a Tele with 2 HB TTs each running in alternate mode.  In this latter scenario  we no longer have a true Tele.   We have no Tele bridegplate, we have no tele slanted bridge pickup and we have a different pickup geometry in the neck.   Don’t go looking for pure Tele here.  Rather, this guitar is one that feels like a Tele to the player (and this is a good thing for Tele lovers).      As you may appreciate, this is a valid configuration used by lots of players who love the tele body and neck feel.   Pure Tele…NO!   Something useful?  You bet!
Hope I am not reading too much into your question.  But, I sense the above may address your concerns more fully.  If not, don’t hesitate to write back and tell me I was off base and to ask your question again.
Frank T
JBE Pickups
Joe Barden Engineering

JBE P-90’s….oops! Soapbars

I am  pleased that so far our latest JBE Soapbar pickups  have been receiving rave reviews.  But, it’s still kind of early yet to break out the champaign.   So,  I had to share the following testimonial  with you all.
The reason  I wanted to share this one with you is  because he (Cliff) and others are saying what I have been hesitant to say, ie our Soapbars sound like  P-90s.    OK, why am I hesitant about this?  After all they do sound really good.   
When we set out to offer our Soapbar pickups (admittedly, initially at the behest of Barden enthusiasts),  I said to myself,   “what do we have to add to the competitive Soapbar landscape?”   Afterall,  a few of our most well respected competitiors are known for their vintage recreations, and for good reason.   They have nailed the vintage thing.   And as you will hear later, the vintage thing is really important.   So what in the world would JBE add to the discussion?     Well, we designed a few sets, did the usual iterative R&D work,  and found something out at the end of it all…..we definately had something compelling to say!
Ok, but what should we call our new creation?    I found a raging debate among P-90 enthusiasts that tends to get ‘religious’ and often includes heated discussion about vintage tone, the sound of this or that guy’s guitar on this or that old recording.     It also included (and rightfully so) debate on the often noisy single coil vs hum-cancelling approaches of P90s, P100s etc.   What I ultimately discovered was that if I asked 10 musicians (I asked more) I’d get 12 answers.   (not really, but you get the idea :) .  Why couldn’t we all agree?   Because the whole vintage thing is affected by so many aspects of tone and expecatations, that everyone’s ideal tone is different and subjective.   
So, it was clear that the beloved P-90 tone was hard to describe in words, but settled farily nicely as falling somewhere in the sonic landscape between single coils and humbuckers but with both a “snotty-ness or nasti-ness in the bridge and a chimey/mellowness in the neck, while all the while delivering  hollow/woody vintage tones in the middle position.  What an order to fill!
  Not wanting to participate in the religious debates about vintage-ness, or pickup design, we simply opted to call our new creations for what they are, Soapbar pickups,  and believe that guitarists will determine for themselves if they are sufficiently P-90 .  
Therefore, for now I prefer to continue to remain on the sidelines contently hearing what those of you who have heard  and played them are saying.   With this said, I refer you to the following testimonial from Cliff (yeah it took me some time to get here).    With more of these,  you may even persuade me to call them P-90s (at least in-house at JBE).
 I did not coach or tell Cliff what to say or even write.  And,  while he used parts of our descriptions to make his point, these are ultimately his comments.   BTW, Cliff didn’t want to leave it there.  He felt he had to call by phone to register his satisfaction with me personally.   So,  I am pretty convinced that he is not drinking my Kool-Aid. :)
Anyone else out there care to chime in?  Your comments are valued.  After all, it’s about what YOU think, not what I think that counts. (Oh!  who am I kidding, what I think does count…at least around here :) .      Frank T. , JBE Pickups.
Feb 7, 2011
After we talked on the phone last week I decided to go online and buy a set of your Soapbars. I installed them in my 2003 Hamer Studio Goldtop as soon as they arrived and I haven’t been able to put the thing down since. It’s always been a nice looking and playing guitar but I’ve had two sets of aftermarket P90’s in it and the sound never really did much for me. The new Soapbars have transformed it into a monster. They’re hot enough to push the front end of the amp nicely, but not too hot, the neck pickup is bright and full, the bridge pickup has the P90 “snarl” kind of attitude, but with more clarity and the middle position is different (and better) than anything I’ve heard….all with no noise. There is also presence thing about these pickups that makes them very defined even when the amp is pushed toward distortion. These Soapbars are amazing pickups by any measure. Nice work.
Cliff S

Breast Cancer Charity Guitar at NAMM 2011

Check out the video of the Breast Cancer Charity Guitar that was shown at this year’s NAMM.  Go to http://www.youtube.com/user/TheBuzzz4U.

Byron Jobe, creater of this unique guitar, told me he has received a lot of celebrity signatures.   The guitar will be auctioned to raise money for the fight against  Breast Cancer. 

Frank T
JBE Pickups

Breast Cancer Charity Guitar with JBE Pickups

Our friend Byron Jobe and his sister Ginny were out at NAMM showing  and getting autographs on Byron’s creation the  ” Breast Cancer Charity Guitar”.  He and Ginny will be auctioning this guitar (along with some famous signatures on it) to raise money to fight Breast Cancer.   JBE was honored to provide a set of HB Two/Tone Pickups which we dyed in pink especially for the cause.  

Search ” Breast Cancer Charity Guitar”  on Facebook to learn more about this unique custom guitar and the chronicle of its making.  

For those of you who have been following JBE’s own drive for Muscular Dystrophy, (see our website at www.joebarden.com , you might like to know that it was Byron and Ginny’s inspiration that drove me to raffle off a guitar for MDA.   Thanks Bryon and Ginny for the kick in the butt with your great idea and concept.   

Frank T
JBE Pickups

Jazzmaster Players

Any Jazzmaster players out there interested in a quiet pickup for  that offers both single coil and humbucker tones?  Let us know if you’re looking to upgrade your JM for more flexibility and noise-free performance .

2011 Already?

Happy New Year !    WOW !  , 2011   already?    Can someone slow the clock for a bit, please?    

As we begin 2011 it is only natural to look back a bit and see how far we came since re-establishing JBE pickups in March 2006.  Rest easy, I am not going to bore you with that!     But before mentally leaving 2010, I want to finish a bit of business that we started late in the year.  What business?  The business of making sure that those with Muscular Dystrophy get the funding they need through MDA research to continue the battle for a cure and treatment.    Guitarists and musicians out there! ……let’s finish what we started in 2010 by contributing just $5 to MDA and in the process get a chance to win a cool guitar equipped with JBE’s latest Soapbar pickups.      See our website at www.joebarden.com for details.   Please know that every penny you contribute via the JBE site, goes directly to MDA for their work.   Their drive ends on Jan 26th, 2011.   The chance to win the guitar ends on Jan 25th to give us time to ensure that all entries are in the hat for the drawing on Jan 26th.  THE CLOCK IS TICKING…..DON’T WAIT.

Lastly, as we start a New Year, I am reminded how grateful we at JBE are to our dealers, our customers, and those who simply called or wrote to let us know how much they liked the pickups.    Thank you all for helping JBE  weather a disasterous economy.   We hope that the worst is now behind us.   As I look forward in 2011, there are some really cool things to look forward to for JBE this year.  

Hopefully, with this blog stuff we are engaging in now, we will continue to encourage comment, suggestion, and dialog between you and us at JBE.  You teach us a lot every day.   As Joe Barden himself liked to say in his moments of self deprication , “hey man, I’m  not the only genius in the room” .  (I know he was not referring to ME!)   He was referring to JBE customers and employees because we know that good ideas come from everywhere.    Thanks for sharing yours with us. 

May you each have a Happy and Healthy 2011 !   

Frank T
President, Op. Mgr, (and bathroom attendant on Mon, Wed, Fri)
JBE Pickups

Merry Christmas from JBE Pickups

Hope you all had a good Christmas.   While we are still in the spirit of Christmas giving,  why not take a chance on our guitar raffle for MDA.   See our website at www.joebarden.com about how to enter and for more info on the guitar.     The clock is ticking toward the raffle date, please help if you can.  For those of you who have already helped, JBE thanks you and MDA thanks you too.  

Happy Holidays
Frank T
JBE Pickups

Now I know how Jerry Lewis feels.

Guitar Raffle for MDA – Jan. 26th 5PM.

Every year, when Jerry Lewis does the MDA telethon some big corporations present him with huge checks from their members.   I suspect Jerry is blown away by the sums presented by the big corporate boys.   But, I suspect he  knows that these contributions are largely the efforts and of a lot of smaller contributors and employees who make $1, $5, $10 donations.  These are the true power brokers.    

I hope those musicians/guitarists who can, will  make a  donation of $5 , and take a chance on the guitar for the fun of it.   But, more important is where the money goes, to MDA.   

I am humbled and appreciative of the bigger donations made by some of you.  I know some of you personally.  I also know that it is not about winning a guitar. Thank you.    But, I must say that I am equally humbled by those who donated $5.    I know we can reach our goal by virtue of sheer numbers with $5 donations alone.     

 The guitar is cool, the new JBE Soapbar pickups sound great, but they are nowhere near as satisfying as making a difference for MDA.     

Please help if and as soon as you can becuase  Jan 26th will be here before we realize it and we still have a way to go.

Breast Cancer Awareness Guitar

A JBE supporter and guitar builder in California, Brian Jobe,  is completing the build of a special guitar that he and his local organization will be auctioning off  in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. You can get a gander at this uniquely styled instrument as a work in progress on his FaceBook page at: 


When done, I believe Brian’s plan is to have the guitar signed by some prominent musicians,which of course will further increase its value over the intrinsic value of this uniquely styled instrument.   He also tells me that his once simple “build a guitar” for Breast Cancer Awareness is having wings of its own.  He will not tell me yet what they are, but I can guess and I am excited for him.    

Brian included two JBE HB Two/Tones (slightly pinkish in color) as the pickups of choice for this guitar, so I know it will sound as good as it looks. 

  If you want to know more about what Brian is doing and want to be connected with his worthy cause (God, there are so many good ones…just not enuf time or $$$$ for each one ) check out his FB page and contact him thru that means.  

Actually, it was Brian and his sister (both of whom I have never met) who inspired us at JBE to work with MDA and Jerry’s Kids by building and raffeling off a LP sytled guitar with our newest JBE Soapbar pickups.    So, if you are in a position to make a $5 donation – which gets you one chance at the guitar as well – please do so on the JBE website at www.joebarden.com

All the best,
Frank T
JBE Pickups

TKL Cases Joins JBE and MDA

WOW…..When we asked our industry friends at Premier Guitar to help us locate a case company willing to join us in the fight against MDA for Jerry’s kids, Kevin and TKL stepped up immediately.   Kevin just agreed to provide us with a premium Pro Series case (a really great value) for the guitar we are raffling off for MDA.  He said that this guitar needed a quality case and immediately offered a wonderful case.  Our thanks to Kevin and all the folks at TKL Cases for their generosity.

Now its up to all  Musicians.  Time is running out, we need your support for MDA.   We know its Christmas and that musicians help a lot of causes.  We also know that donating to very worthy cause  is impossible.   But, every little bit helps, and we hope that by keeping the raffle price down to only $5.   it will inspire you to donate and perhaps be the winner in the eyes of an MDA kid.   The guitar is simply the icing on the cake. 

Happy Holidays
All of us here at
JBE Pickups and contributing partners.

Why didn’t JBE call them P-90s?

Hi All,

It has been reassuring to hear all the postive comments about our new JBE Soapbar pickups since we first released them.   But as expected, and I suppose an unavoidable question was why we didn’t call them P-90s?

Frankly, we stayed away from this characterization quite  intentionally. 
P-90 descriptions are highly subjective among players.   For every player we asked we got a different opinion about tone, noise, output, relationships to single coils and humbuckers and more.  The only real agreement we could get was that they fit the sonic landscape between single coils and humbuckers.  We agree.  So, everyone’s notion of what is a P-90 is so different as to beg the debate of what and what is not P-90.   

For the vintage enthusiast, nothing short of an old P-90 pickup (even with all its noise and hum) will do.  Understandable, but perhaps not appropriate for many players who love P-90s but can not use them because of the hum and noise.  Then, along come all the variants of the noiseless P-90 (P-100 etc) and still ‘no cigar’ !   

Now, let’s be clear…. there are some good recreations on the market, made by reputable pickup makers.  We are sure that every player will find a P-90 variant that will fit their liking.    But, when JBE players urged us to develop a pickup in this area that was true to the Soapbar life but with the JBE tone and performance,  we knew we needed to say something more.

We prefer to let the market make the case of the JBE Soapbar as a P-90 alternative if they so wish.   We just think our new Soapbar pickups offers players something more than they can get from vintage recreations and perhaps even something for the vintage enthusiast as well.  So,  rather than engage in the P-90 debate,  recognizing that JBE Soapbars offer something “more” than the traditional P-90 offers,  we chose to simply call them JBE Soapbars.  

 As always the final decision is YOURS.  We hope you will give them a try and decide for yourself.  

Frank T
JBE Pickups


I will keep on promoting  our initiative for MDA until the end …Jan26th, 2011  when we give away a guitar equipped with JBE Soapbar pickups! 

When MDA first approached me to “go to jail” to raise money for MDA kids in2009, I said no…didn’t have the time…was around the same time as NAMM, probably couldn’t raise the money locally anyway (all lousy excuses).    Come 2010 and they asked again.   This time I thought about last year and some personal stuff, what it means to have Muscular Dystrophy, and how absolutely fortunate and blessed I am to not only be relatively healthy, but also have a healthy family….something MD sufferers don’t have.   I also thought that I have something else….a great company in the best industry in the world, and lots of musicians/customers who are among the most generous of lots, and  also a group who I could give something back to in return for a SMALL donation of only $5.00 to MDA…..,a cool guitar equipped with JBE Soapbar Pickups.   Check out our website at www.joebarden.com on how you can help and win a cool guitar in the process.

We are also engaged (more tangentially)  in another very worthy cause for Breast Cancer Awareness.   A part-time guitar maker and JBE supporter, Byron Jobe, out of  California decided to make a guitar in the shape of the Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon to raffle off at an upcoming fundraiser.  It started kind of modestly.    JBE was happy to participate with HB Two/Tone Pickups.   Byron’s sister is afflicted with breast cancer and he and she have gone very far to ensure this guitar represents a musicians attempt to raise money by auctioning the completed guitar off.  And it will be signed by leading artists to increase its value and raise money for the cause.  Go the Bryon’s FaceBook page and search for Breast Cancer Charity Guitar to check it out. 

There are many many causes out there which musicians support every day.  This is only two.   Whatever your cause, do something if you can.   Whatever you can.    Please enter to win the Guitar for MDA thru the JBE website.  

Frank T
JBE Pickups

Pickup Heights

I get the question about optimum pickup heigh adjustment quite often and it is the subject of one of the FAQs on our website (I think?) .   The answer is there is no “right” height.    We recommend a starting distance of 3/32″ or 4/32″ between the top of the blade and the underside of the string.   Usually, you need slightly more distance at the bass strings than at the treble strings.

This gets you well into the ballpark and probably onto the infield (to extand 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”. 

There is no right and no wrong when it comes to string heights other than to ensure that the strings are not so close to the blades that they hit the blades when played.   DOH!  Obvious !  

Every guitarist has something to say through his/her playing style.  Some players want highly responsive performance with the pickups set high, others don’t want to drive the amp as hard and prefer a lower setting….some players even crank them all the way down to suite 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 pickup on the market.  Set them and then put them to the test  in the “heat of battle” (live performance) .  This will allow you to see how they react outside of the confines of the studio, basement, or bedroom.   This will 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 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. 

I can go on about this, but I am starting to bore even me.  :).   

Lastly, Check out the website for what we are doing with MDA and Jerry’s Kids.   This is not only a great way for musicians to do what we do well, ie give back, but also to get.  Your donation of only $5.  gets you a chance at to WIN a guitar equipped with our latest JBE Soapbar pickups.  These pickups are killer…….(even if I do say so myself)

Frank T.
JBE Pickups

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