Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

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cuffers65240
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Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by cuffers65240 »

Good Day Crazy Internet World!

I am opening a can of worms but I will attempt to put some guardrails on this topic. I have an Ibanez AS-83 Artcore guitar that is a copy of an ES-335. I think the build quality is excellent and have had a reputable luthier do the setup on it.

I went to concert the other day, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. I highly recommend, Jason and the other guitar player are both stone cold assassins on the guitar. At any rate, I went home and went full on alt country/rock with my TMB 18watt and was left, lets say, less than satisfied. I know, I have a problem, the search for tone will never end. I have done what I can, am really satisfied with what is added by my Keeley Compressor and my Ibanez TS9DX Turbo TubeScreamer but am thinking of my next project.

Is the next lowest hanging fruit to look at new pickups? I just do not think the stock pickups are putting out the fullness that they should (purely uneducated opinion). They are darker than I would like for humbuckers and for lack of a better term, do not seem to bring the fullness I am looking for. My assumption is that I am using my compressor to try and raise the floor to make up for this.
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Re: Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by JMPGuitars »

I swap pickups on $500 or $5000 guitars. It doesn't matter, go for what you like. I usually prefer Lace or DiMarzio, but I recently tried out some Bare Knuckle Pickups, and they seem to be really good too.
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Re: Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by Bieworm »

IME the guitar itself is mostly a shell that has to be appealing to you. It should be solid and stabile and reliably equipped and constructed. The pickups determine at least 90% of the sound. I never buy guitars for their pickups, but it's often the other way around. Always eager to try new types...
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Re: Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by BlueBoozer »

There’s more than the pickup involved in the tone of the guitar. If you’re noticing the pups go muddy after you turn the volume down just a tad you might just try adding treble bleed to the volume pot. You can also adjust the tone cap to a lower value to drop less high frequencies. Adjust the pickup height in relation to the strings, or the individual pole pieces on the pickup.

I agree with Josh. Feel free to replace away. I have an Epiphone SG 400 that the neck is sweet and plays crazy easy, so I installed a Floyd Rose FRX, Gibson 490’s and Emerson custom controls in it. Now it’s one of my main go to guitars.
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Re: Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by Bieworm »

BlueBoozer wrote:
Fri 10/22/21 2:45 pm
There’s more than the pickup involved in the tone of the guitar. If you’re noticing the pups go muddy after you turn the volume down just a tad you might just try adding treble bleed to the volume pot. You can also adjust the tone cap to a lower value to drop less high frequencies. Adjust the pickup height in relation to the strings, or the individual pole pieces on the pickup.

I agree with Josh. Feel free to replace away. I have an Epiphone SG 400 that the neck is sweet and plays crazy easy, so I installed a Floyd Rose FRX, Gibson 490’s and Emerson custom controls in it. Now it’s one of my main go to guitars.
Pickup height still relates to the pickup. And that's about the only perceivable factor. Corksniffing headphone players that can hear the difference in brands of pots... give me a break! In a live setup it all comes down to the amp and the pickups.. that's what matters to me.
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Re: Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by JMPGuitars »

Bieworm wrote:
Fri 10/22/21 3:30 pm
Pickup height still relates to the pickup. And that's about the only perceivable factor. Corksniffing headphone players that can hear the difference in brands of pots... give me a break! In a live setup it all comes down to the amp and the pickups.. that's what matters to me.
Well, there is a difference in pot quality. Though that's more for performance and durability. Pot value does affect tone (depending on the pickup though, some pickups care less). Though I don't think you'd be able to pick one good brand vs. another of equal resistance/taper.

Good pickups should still sound like the guitar you're playing, though good pickups will make a mediocre instrument sound better. I've put the same set of pickups in different guitars and got similar but still slightly different tone.

In a live setting it all comes down to your fingers. ;)
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Re: Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by colossal »

IME... pots, their value, and specifically their taper matter greatly to the performance of a Les Paul (or 335) with 50s wiring. It's about getting a very smooth and gradual roll-off (or on) of volume and tone, and finding the little tonal sweet spots along the way.

For humbuckers, I prefer unpotted, slightly underwound, and with the pole pieces set for each string (to get balance, desired drive and clarity). I also prefer a bit of distance from the string to the pickup to minimize magnetic string pull.

I am not very familiar with Jason Isbell but looked up Honeysuckle Blue as a tone sample. The rhythm sound in that song would be very doable with an 18W and a 335. Maybe a single G12H30 or mix of a 30 and 20 or 25W Greenback. You could get that sound with a cranked Normal channel.

For your Epiphone, I would probably look for a PAF type from Seymour Duncan or Dimarzio. You don't need a chainsaw of a pickup that just squashes the sound, compressing everything (well, unless that's your thing). Once you've done that, you can't undo it. It's the opposite....less power, more clarity, clean technique, and a very touch sensitive and revealing amp (18W amp) is the way to get that sound. The semi-hollow guitar is going to add a lot of overtones as well, so too hot of a pickup just makes a mess of all that information.
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Re: Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by JMPGuitars »

colossal wrote:
Sat 10/23/21 7:48 am
The semi-hollow guitar is going to add a lot of overtones as well, so too hot of a pickup just makes a mess of all that information.
Unless you roll-off the guitar volume a bit. Then you can punch it up when you want it to sound crazy. ;)
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Re: Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by colossal »

JMPGuitars wrote:
Sat 10/23/21 7:53 am
Unless you roll-off the guitar volume a bit. Then you can punch it up when you want it to sound crazy. ;)
Sure, there will be many shades and combinations depending on what you want out of your sound. For me, I like a very open, horn-like, singing, and vocal quality to my sound. I'm chasing the dynamics, the woodiness of the instrument, the honky clarity. I don't want too much gain or compression. That's just my preference though. Dave Grohl using a Trini Lopez 335 might be an example of more of the full-on, semi-hollow smashing the front end of an amp sound (think Monkeywrench).
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Re: Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by JMPGuitars »

colossal wrote:
Sat 10/23/21 9:49 am
Sure, there will be many shades and combinations depending on what you want out of your sound. For me, I like a very open, horn-like, singing, and vocal quality to my sound. I'm chasing the dynamics, the woodiness of the instrument, the honky clarity. I don't want too much gain or compression. That's just my preference though. Dave Grohl using a Trini Lopez 335 might be an example of more of the full-on, semi-hollow smashing the front end of an amp sound (think Monkeywrench).
I hear ya. I think with really good pickups, you can get those things in a variety of gain levels. IME only mediocre pickups lose that in higher gain. Like EMG active pickups all sound the same (I hate them on guitar), and you could install them on a 2x4 and they'd still do their 1-trick-pony thing okay.

I like a wide variety of sound, though I do tend to lean towards a balance of cream and crunch. From DiMarzio, my favorites are FRED in the bridge and Gravity Storm in the neck. From Lace my favorites are the HEMI humbuckers. But there's a lot of other stuff from both companies I really like.
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Re: Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by colossal »

I remember the FREDs from my pointy guitar days! Great sounding pickups.
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Re: Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by JMPGuitars »

colossal wrote:
Sun 10/24/21 8:59 am
I remember the FREDs from my pointy guitar days! Great sounding pickups.
They are great. I have FREDs in a couple pointy guitars, and a PRS and a semi hollow. Sounds great in all of them.

FRED and Gravity Storm:
https://www.instagram.com/p/CCUXXOmnrUs/

FRED and Vinting Mini Humbucker:
https://www.instagram.com/p/B8rY9YOHZTC/

FRED and Gravity Storm (again):
https://www.instagram.com/p/B2SldQngqc1/

Lonely FRED:
https://www.instagram.com/p/BcpwH8GBWoB/
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Re: Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by cuffers65240 »

Thank you everyone for the sage advice. I will round up some reply's to comments below.

Thanks for the suggestion to raise the pickups, I did previously mess with this and initially adjusted the neck pickup too high, the strings were buzzing it and had to back off. The neck pickup noticeably increased in volume but is still my most disappointing tone. Bridge is not so bad, definitely more dynamic and much more output than the neck.

I am looking into the Dimarzio options for replacement and will likely change pots to push-pull switched pots for coil tapping since these are 4 wire pickups. I am setting up my USB mic and Garage Band on my Mac to record some before and after.

One question, what is the meaning of "standard" and "F" spaced? I am assuming this has to do with strings but don't know what to measure.
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Re: Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by JMPGuitars »

cuffers65240 wrote:
Mon 10/25/21 10:26 pm
One question, what is the meaning of "standard" and "F" spaced? I am assuming this has to do with strings but don't know what to measure.
F-spaced is wider spacing, usually for "tremolos" - standard should be fine on your 335 copy, but you can measure the string distance if you want to be sure.

They have a printable to help with that:
https://www.dimarzio.com/node/1739
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Re: Ibanez ES-335 copy pickup suggestions

Post by Pressed_Rat »

A really good aftermarket neck humbucker is the Seymour Duncan Jazz model. Electric Velvet. I got it with his Hot Rodded Humbucker set. The JB bridge is too much, but the Jazz in the neck - very cool.

My son's SG has Gibson 490s. Also very nice sounding pickups.
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