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Thread: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

  1. #1
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    Default Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    Hi. So Im doing this. I attempted it a few years ago. I had someone build a harness for me. When it came to installing the harness, I got to the last pot and couldn't get it to fit in - it was because they were long shaft pots. The wiring was also a bit tight for the guitar. Consequently, the harness was ripped apart getting it back out. The parts and empty guitar have been on the shelf, until now.

    Originally the harness had 2 push-pull pots for coil splitting. Ive decided, I don't use the coil splits so Ive wired it for a simple - 2 humbuckers, 2 tone, 2 volume, 3 way toggle. Ive kept the Epiphone toggle (it seems usable). I got 4 new short shaft CTS 500 pots, vintage braided wire. I was able to reuse the capacitors from the original harness and some of the other wire.

    I did a bit (a lot ) of pickup research. The possibilities are endless!
    Im going with a APH-2 neck and a PG1 bridge. All the prep and pre-testing is done and now ready for the transplant.
    Wish me luck!

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    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    That sounds like a cool project, and you picked some great pickups. I'd love to see how this turns out!
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    Bacteriaolgoist GuitarDoc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    Sounds like you're ready for the surgery. Agree about the pup choice. But there is a possibility that you may find the PG1 a little bright for your guitar.

    Keep us up to date and let us know how it turns out.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    Wiring a semi hollowbody taxes my patience more than any other type of work I've done on a guitar. String or aquarium air tubing and some forceps really help

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    Mojo's Minions Diego's Avatar
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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    I used to own an Epi 339 Pro, had to sell it put of necessity sadly.

    That's an excellent pickup combo. Mine had Probuckers and I'm happy I liked them because swapping them was a nightmare.
    Epiphone LP Standard PlusTop Pro
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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    I'm just gonna say - but you already know this - you could have just left the pots as is and not used the splits.....

    I have a 339 (with splits) and have never felt compelled to change the pots or pups.

    That said -

    A2P - PG is the "maximum" range combo. You have the fattest pickup in the neck, and the brightest in the bridge. Jazz or sweet blues on the neck or dirty skanky blues/rawk on the bridge. I would play that guitar on "both on" and futz with volume/tone until I found my personal sweet combo spot!

    Report back when done!
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    Mojo's Minions Diego's Avatar
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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarDoc View Post
    Sounds like you're ready for the surgery. Agree about the pup choice. But there is a possibility that you may find the PG1 a little bright for your guitar.

    Keep us up to date and let us know how it turns out.
    I'm also not totally sure I'd have a Pearly Gates there.
    A 339 already sounds brighter and airy compared to your average mahogany tree trunk. It can afford to have a warmer pickup and sound good at it.
    But who knows? It might be the OP's ticket and I hope it is.
    Last edited by Diego; 07-21-2019 at 08:04 PM.
    Epiphone LP Standard PlusTop Pro
    Ibanez SZ320 / A2P neck + Custom bridge
    Ibanez RG270 / Screamin' Demon bridge

    Egnater Tweaker 15 Head / Laney Cub 8 / 2x12 - Celestion V30+K100
    Line 6 M13 and plenty of stompboxes I rarely use!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    I have some picks:

    I have the harness inside the guitar at the moment, but I've lost a wire connected to the furtherest away pot and am having zero luck getting the 1st pot in!

    I have to say getting the pots thru the f-hole was only just do-able. I started off using 5mm pvc tubing but I couldn't get the pots in with all the tubes - maybe Im using the wrong stuff; but it isn't THAT flexible!? I used some wire, but it got a bit tangled in the pot and eventually came off.
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  9. #9
    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    For me, the A2P set or WLH set are great. I don't like bright and/or thin sounding bridge PU's, couldn't bond with a PGB.

    A very simple and easy way to wire for versatility is spin-a-split on the neck HB. MUCH better than coil split. You get to dial in as much of the 2nd coil as you want. Dialing it down gives you more treble and thinner mids, without the big jump to the extreme sound of one coil.No push-pull needed, just change wires on your existing tone pot. No cost.

    For the bridge, I like the Kinman treble bleed, which preserves high end when you roll down the volume. It doesn't have the downsides of other treble bleeds that get too bright as the volumes decreases, nor does the Kinman change the sweep of the volume pot. All you need is a cap & resistor, cost $1.

    I've been inside F hole guitars many times changing PU's, magnets, and rewiring and learned the following thru experience and mistakes. Essential tools:

    - 6" forceps
    - T-nut drivers (to keep from scratching the finish. You really need these on solid body guitars too, as pliers slip.
    - stiff plastic-coated wire or aquarium tubing
    - old towel

    Loosen nuts from pot stems with nut driver, and use forceps to pull out harness thru the F hole, and lay on towel, which is on top of the guitar body. Do your rewiring and soldering. If you replace any wires, make the new ones a couple inches longer so that they aren't snug getting on re-entry. Test thru an amp.

    Run a plastic coated wire (or tubing) from the hole of the neck tone pot, inside the body & out thru the F hole. Attach to stem of neck tone pot. Put harness inside F hole and gently pull the wire/tubing to get the neck tone pot in place. Use the forceps to hold it while you put the nut/washer on the pot stem. Don't tighten all the way yet.

    The other 3 pots can be lifted in place from underneath (thru the F hole) with the forceps. Don't pull any pots or wires tight, as this is how you get shorts. Put nuts/washers on the pot stems. Test thru an amp again.

    Tighten nuts and put the knobs back on. Test thru an amp again.
    "Completely Conceded Glowing Expert."
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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by blueman335 View Post
    For me, the A2P set or WLH set are great. I don't like bright and/or thin sounding bridge PU's, couldn't bond with a PGB.

    A very simple and easy way to wire for versatility is spin-a-split on the neck HB. MUCH better than coil split. You get to dial in as much of the 2nd coil as you want. Dialing it down gives you more treble and thinner mids, without the big jump to the extreme sound of one coil.No push-pull needed, just change wires on your existing tone pot. No cost.

    For the bridge, I like the Kinman treble bleed, which preserves high end when you roll down the volume. It doesn't have the downsides of other treble bleeds that get too bright as the volumes decreases, nor does the Kinman change the sweep of the volume pot. All you need is a cap & resistor, cost $1.

    I've been inside F hole guitars many times changing PU's, magnets, and rewiring and learned the following thru experience and mistakes. Essential tools:

    - 6" forceps
    - T-nut drivers (to keep from scratching the finish. You really need these on solid body guitars too, as pliers slip.
    - stiff plastic-coated wire or aquarium tubing
    - old towel

    Loosen nuts from pot stems with nut driver, and use forceps to pull out harness thru the F hole, and lay on towel, which is on top of the guitar body. Do your rewiring and soldering. If you replace any wires, make the new ones a couple inches longer so that they aren't snug getting on re-entry. Test thru an amp.

    Run a plastic coated wire (or tubing) from the hole of the neck tone pot, inside the body & out thru the F hole. Attach to stem of neck tone pot. Put harness inside F hole and gently pull the wire/tubing to get the neck tone pot in place. Use the forceps to hold it while you put the nut/washer on the pot stem. Don't tighten all the way yet.

    The other 3 pots can be lifted in place from underneath (thru the F hole) with the forceps. Don't pull any pots or wires tight, as this is how you get shorts. Put nuts/washers on the pot stems. Test thru an amp again.

    Tighten nuts and put the knobs back on. Test thru an amp again.
    I'll have to look into the first set of suggestions - I don't know much about that yet!

    Yes I used plastic coated wire as guides for the pots. The neck tone pot wire got tangled with another wire.. so I lost that guide now!
    Im thinking Ill try a piece of cotton today.. hopefully I wont have to pull the pots out of the f hole - theyre at maximum capacity!
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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    There is a time and a place for guitar techs. Having one do this is worth every penny....
    Quote Originally Posted by Bad City
    He's got the crowd on his side and the blue jean lights in his eyes...

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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by Aceman View Post
    There is a time and a place for guitar techs. Having one do this is worth every penny....
    Yeah, I paid a tech to do mine. I want no part of that. I'm barely qualified to do a Les Paul.

  13. #13
    Toneologist Discharged's Avatar
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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    I usually take a couple of hours for the whole process of taking out the old harness, make a new one, and install it in a semi-hollow.

    "Übung macht den Meister" (practice makes perfect)

    /Peter
    Peter Pedersen aka Discharged
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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

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    Managed to get wires in neatly!
    I plugged it in briefly to see if it still works. The neck humbucker seems to have less output - not really sure just from tapping them without strings. Ill get it set up and havr a play. Im anxious to hear the neck pup!

    That was actually a pretty hellish job! Thanks to the member blueman335, who recommended forcips and tweezers - they are the only thing that worked!! And I WAS using a different type of clear tubing that is less flexible. A local guitar tech lent me some on the aquarium stuff - its better! But the tweezers and thin forcips are the way to go! - Im not sure if any of you know the board game called 'operation' - its a little plastic body of a man and you have to pull his organs out with tweezers without hitting the edges? Anyway - this was totally like playing this game!! ��
    Last edited by Techy Beccy; 07-24-2019 at 11:05 PM. Reason: Double up

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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    I've had a play plugged in to a clean amp! The pickups sound pretty good together! I think I like the Pearly Gates a bit more than the APH-2 but I havent heard a pearly gates neck so not sure I can say. They do seem to pair very nicely!

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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    Ok so Ive had more of a play on my usual amp - Peavey Valve King micro 20. And the APH-2 reminds me a LOT of Gibson 57 Classics - which are in the Gibson ES-339! A2 mags feel so different to A5s.. A2 have almost like a fineness to them.. Quite interesting! Im not sure what the Gibson 57's sound like with high gain!? - Anyone know? These (APH-2/PG) sounds great with overdrive! Im kind of stuck between the boomyness I can sometimes get from my bass strings with A5 mags - not sure I like that - especially on the neck.. however they do feel tighter of sorts - fatter.. (I think its an illusion).. And the frailness feeling of the A2 mags... This being a somewhat cheepish guitar doesnt seem to help.. makes me want to go out and get the Gibson version!!
    These pickups seem pretty articulate on clean too! Have to have good technique and hit the strings right or sounds bad.. not very forgiving!
    But Im still playing and ears and thoughts are changing!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    I am happy you got some great results. The first time I wired a guitar like this, I think it took like 5 hours.
    Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker zionstrat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Epiphone ES339 electrics and pickup upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by blueman335 View Post
    For me, the A2P set or WLH set are great. I don't like bright and/or thin sounding bridge PU's, couldn't bond with a PGB.

    A very simple and easy way to wire for versatility is spin-a-split on the neck HB. MUCH better than coil split. You get to dial in as much of the 2nd coil as you want. Dialing it down gives you more treble and thinner mids, without the big jump to the extreme sound of one coil.No push-pull needed, just change wires on your existing tone pot. No cost.

    For the bridge, I like the Kinman treble bleed, which preserves high end when you roll down the volume. It doesn't have the downsides of other treble bleeds that get too bright as the volumes decreases, nor does the Kinman change the sweep of the volume pot. All you need is a cap & resistor, cost $1.

    I've been inside F hole guitars many times changing PU's, magnets, and rewiring and learned the following thru experience and mistakes. Essential tools:

    - 6" forceps
    - T-nut drivers (to keep from scratching the finish. You really need these on solid body guitars too, as pliers slip.
    - stiff plastic-coated wire or aquarium tubing
    - old towel

    Loosen nuts from pot stems with nut driver, and use forceps to pull out harness thru the F hole, and lay on towel, which is on top of the guitar body. Do your rewiring and soldering. If you replace any wires, make the new ones a couple inches longer so that they aren't snug getting on re-entry. Test thru an amp.

    Run a plastic coated wire (or tubing) from the hole of the neck tone pot, inside the body & out thru the F hole. Attach to stem of neck tone pot. Put harness inside F hole and gently pull the wire/tubing to get the neck tone pot in place. Use the forceps to hold it while you put the nut/washer on the pot stem. Don't tighten all the way yet.

    The other 3 pots can be lifted in place from underneath (thru the F hole) with the forceps. Don't pull any pots or wires tight, as this is how you get shorts. Put nuts/washers on the pot stems. Test thru an amp again.

    Tighten nuts and put the knobs back on. Test thru an amp again.
    +2 spin a split

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