Loss of high end in Casino and Wildkats due to the metal covers

Discussion in 'Epiphone Guitars' started by Antigua, Jan 8, 2020.

  1. Antigua

    Antigua Member

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    I recently bought a Casino, but I was disappointed with how dark it sounded, so I bought some Artec metal dog ear P-90's with a much lower DC resistance and inductance, and they sound much better to my ear, but unfortunately I came across the fact that the short neck cover that the Casino requires has 48mm spacing to the Artec's 50mm, so I'm screwed until I get some new covers, and they will probably be black instead of chrome, which is not a bad thing.

    On a quality PAF, or the Epi PorBuckers, nickel silver is used to prevent eddy current losses affecting the treble response. I was suspecting from the beginning that the Epi dog ear covers are brass, because when a manufacturer doesn't bother to mention what the metal is, it's almost always cheaper brass.

    I made bode plots of the response of both the Epiphone P-90's with the chrome dog ear covers as well as the Artecs. First the Epiphone though,

    [​IMG]

    Amplitude is vertical and frequnecy is horizontal. There are a total of four lines, with two sets that overlap. The set of lines that dives earlier are "loaded" meaning they are plotted with a load that us representative of control pots and a guitar cable. The fact that the line starts out one place and gradually dives off as the frequency increases, is the eddy currents causing high end to be lost.

    For comparison, I plot the Artec bridge pickup with and without the cover, and you can see how much higher the amplitude remains with respect to frequency when there is no brass cover over the pickup:

    [​IMG]

    Looking at the lower frequency "loaded plots" with and without the cover, you can see that the amplitude drops by about 5 dV, when you adjust for where they started out. In audible terms 5 decibels is a non-trivial change in amplitude. The non loaded plots show a much more dramatic drop, but that's not relevant unless you wire the pickup directly to the output jack of the guitar.

    Unfortunately due to the shorter height of the neck pickup's cover, the Casino and Wildkat pickups aren't super easy to replace. I've ordered some replacement covers, but for the P-90s are just exposed, which doesn't look great, but it does sound a lot better, IMO. It makes the Casino sound more like what you'd expect from a jazz box style guitar. The Artecs have a significantly lower inductance than typical P-90s, which pushes the sound a bit away from Gibson and more towards a Gretsch. I'll post and update with how the replacement covers work out in case anyone else want to go down this path their own Casino.


    tl,dr; the brass covers over the P-90s on Casinos and Wildkats cause a significant loss of treble response.


    Epiphone P-90's
    [​IMG]

    Artecs
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Paruwi

    Paruwi Kraut-Rocker

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    Just some informations and background information.....

    if you go this direction I'll handle it exactly the same way
    :wave:
     
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  3. Antigua

    Antigua Member

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    Well hopefully some people out there are interested in the tonal effects of a brass versus plastic P-90 cover, regardless of what happened a year ago on another forum.
     
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  4. soulman969

    soulman969 Well-Known Member

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    Don't know why a thread begun to provide useful information would be thought of as trolling. IMHO if any pickup has a metal cover it should be nickel silver or a chromed plastic. Other metals do impact high end response.

    Now the question is does anyone make nickel silver covers with a 48mm spacing to fit a Casino. Not everyone cares to do a pickup swap to get that benefit.
     
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  5. Antigua

    Antigua Member

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    Nice avatar!

    I see a set from Allparts described as "nickel", but I wouldn't trust that it's "nickel silver" without testing it. Usually these aftermarket parts are used in the production of complete pickups, and I'm not even seeing any fully constructed chrome dog ear P-90's with nickel silver, so I suspect that such a thing is not manufactured at all, let alone with 48mm spacing.

    There's another solution though, use 1 meg volume pots and 1 meg or no-load tone pots. The lower pot values and the eddy currents both attenuate high end in pretty much the same way, so what is lost due to brass covers can be somewhat compensated for by increasing the pot resistance values. Of course with a Casino that means removing the whole wiring harness and that's a huge hassle. When replacing pots it might even be necessary to drill out the pot hole to a larger size. I might have considered doing all that work, but I mostly wanted the lower inductance from the pickups, so that the attenuation would happen at a higher frequency, regardless of rate.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
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  6. Raiyn

    Raiyn Well-Known Member

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    Nice catch. Another mime to ignore.
    [​IMG]
    I don't play well with trolls, as some have discovered :wave:
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
  7. Antigua

    Antigua Member

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    Well that concern things that transpired a year ago, so I hope you will give me a chance to participate here. I've been buying and modding Epi's for twenty five years, and I've never sold or gave away a single one of them.
     
  8. Paruwi

    Paruwi Kraut-Rocker

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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
  9. soulman969

    soulman969 Well-Known Member

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    Therein lies the problem. I've done all kinds of work on my solid body guitars but the issues involved with hollow or semi-hollow body models working through the F holes is far more daunting and time consuming.

    Like you I'd probably opt for lower inductance pickup as opposed to working on the electronics. And Kinman does produce noiseless replacement P90s for Epi Casinos with nickel silver covers. Others may as well I just haven't done a whole lot of research on it yet.

    They're all quite pricey but if one plans on owning the guitar forever it shouldn't be a limiting factor. I have a '56 Gold Top with P90s as well that I may also think of doing a pickup swap in. The challenge as always is finding something you like better and the best are very expensive.
     
  10. Antigua

    Antigua Member

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  11. Paruwi

    Paruwi Kraut-Rocker

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    You contributed a lot in the thread of your fanboy Scott A Novak
     
  12. Antigua

    Antigua Member

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    That's much of why I love Epiphones. If this was a 335, I wouldn't snip the pickup leads, I'd feel compelled to do every thing "proper". Someday at my estate sale my kids will get the bad news that my guitar collection is lower priced import guitars, not the coveted American ones, but.. I won't be in a position to regret anything at that point.

    Thanks for the tip, I see them on his website. They might not be Epi sized pole piece spacing, but it's not a big deal to get new 52mm/50mm spaced P-90's. I'll email them as well as Fralin for more details.

    I think black plastic covers will look nice, because the headstock is also black. I found a picture online of a Casino with creme covers, and while creme should match the binding and the overall blond-ness of the body, something about it didn't seem to work to my eye. If the plastic options look bad, I'll have to see what Fralin or Kinman can offer.

    Are there any Gibson's with metal dog ear P-90 pickups? I'm thinking the reason the options are limited is because most guitarists don't want to put a lot of money into Epiphones. My take on pickups is that they don't have to be expensive to be good, but in the case of brass versus nickel silver covers, there's no way around the physical reality of it.
     
  13. soulman969

    soulman969 Well-Known Member

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    Most of mine are Fenders and most of those are Telecasters. Since even my son-in-law plays a Strat I've just told my daughters to use the Teles as kindling to start the blaze of my funeral pyre. I'm goin' out in a blaze of glory. ;)

    The Epiphones are for my jam buddy who grudgingly admits my Epi Gold Top is pretty much the equal of his Gibby Gold Top except his pickups are a little nastier, would buy my Casino in a NY minute if I offered it to him, and once offered me $100 more than I paid for an ES339 he liked better than his Gibby ES339.

    My SOL can have my Strat.
     
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  14. soulman969

    soulman969 Well-Known Member

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    I thought I read on their site that Kinman made some dog ear P90s with Epi string spacing but I could be wrong on that.

    Fralin's may well be the best I've ever heard but Kerry Learned/Onamac Windery also has a set a like that are about half the price of Fralin's and like Fralin's have more clarity. Rock guys may not like them as much because they're not as nasty sounding but for my tastes and needs they're better. And you're right. Price isn't the only indicator of quality.

    I play quite a few models of Bill Lawrence/Wilde pickups and those are proof that a high end small batch boutique pickup needn't be expensive. But IMHO if an otherwise great playing guitar can be improved tonally via upgrades in pickups/electronics I have no problem spending the money provided I plan on keeping the guitar long term. If I sell it and no one wants to pay more for upgrades I'll just convert it back to stock.

    Maybe one other solution for pickup covers for dog ear P90s is to use chromed plastic as Bill Lawrence has always used on his Tele neck pickups. They are still made that way. That would be at least one more less expensive option for avoid tone robbing metal covers.
     
  15. Antigua

    Antigua Member

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    Here's a reply from Kinman regarding the Casino nickel silver covers:

    This is great news if you like the stock pickups and want a higher Q factor ( it will sound a lot like a P-90 with plastic covers). Although I bought new pickups with 52mm/50mm spacing, so I can't take advantage of these. I don't know what was used on the 60's version of the Casino, I don't know much of anything about the history there, so I don't know if brass or nickel silver covers are vintage correct.
     
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  16. soulman969

    soulman969 Well-Known Member

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    However Kinman does not sell only the covers. Thought I should note that for others who read here.
     
  17. Antigua

    Antigua Member

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    He said "Our Dog-Ear covers are suitable for Epiphones", I get the impression he would be willing to sell them stand alone, otherwise how they fit with Epi's would be irrelevant. His website looks like it's rather out of date and doesn't show any dog ear covers at all. I don't want to bother him for clarification since it so happens they wont fit by Artec replacements.
     
  18. soulman969

    soulman969 Well-Known Member

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    I'll double check but I believe there is a written statement saying they do produce a model with string spacing suitable for Epiphones but they do not sell the nickel silver covers separately.

    If they will do that then they would be a great source for them but it would also impact their pickup sales. It's like trying to buy the best salad and baked potato in town without ordering the steak. :D
     
  19. Antigua

    Antigua Member

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    He sells covers individually on his site, he just doesn't have these particular dog ear covers listed for some reason.
     
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  20. Antigua

    Antigua Member

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    I received the replacement black and cream covers. I think the cream dog ears on the ES-295 looks very attractive, but with the plain finish something seems off about it the pairing, the cream it warm, the wood is cool. I thought it would work with the cream binding, but the binding is not highly visible on the natural finish Casino. The black covers look rock'n'roll.

    One hangup I came across with the neck pickup is that in order to get the pickup to sit about 5mm lower into the body, Epiphone bends the arms and solder them to the brass cover, as you can sort of see in the OP pics. There's no way to solder the arms to plastic, though. So I tried bending them to a new notch height, that wil sit against the body, but they broke off in the process of bending, so I ended up hot-gluing the P-90 to the inside of the pick guard, and that seems to work well enough.

    I was also a little disappointed with how low the neck pickup sits under the strings, it much be close to 10mm distance, so I put some rubber tubing around the screws, Strat/Tele style, which causes the pickups and the covers to sit above the body. I have the neck raised up about 3mm, you don't really see the gap unless you're looking for it. It might be my imagination, but I think having the pickups and covers elevated up off the guitar slightly makes it acoustically louder when strummed. That's one amazing thing about Casino's, how loud they are unplugged.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     

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