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Thread: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

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    Default New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    Hello guys! I recently acquired 1991 Tokai Gold Top Les Paul copy that I really like. The guitar weights 3,9kg, has mahogany body with thick maple top, mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. Unplugged it has prominent midrange with nice bottom end and some jangle in high frequencies. It's completely original with Tokai PAFs that sound quite muddy and undefined, both clean and distortion and doesn't give me any middle position twang. I've swapped A4 magnets to original pickups and even though they're now better, they're still quite muddy sounding. Being my new gigging tool with classic/hard rock cover band I need it to have bit more open midrange with upper mid bite in order to be heard in a mix with 2nd guitar player, keys and two singers.

    I know it's hard to recommend any pickup sets since I don't have experience with any other pickups with this guitar. I'm looking for a pickup set with classic LP tonality, great cleans and ability to handle mid to high gain tones equally well. Thinking of getting '59 set and go from there but I'm open to suggestions. What do you think?

    Thanks for help!

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    LoveMachineologist jeremy's Avatar
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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    id suggest starting with a set of 59's as you were thinking. they are great pups and take mag swaps very well. i had a stock set of 59's in an epi lp and they were perfect for that guitar. in other guitars an a4 neck sounded better than the stock a5. swapping to a3 neck and a2 bridge will give you a softer middier tone but if the guitar has a strong midrange already, the stock a5 might be perfect

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    Slash set, WLHs, Pearly Gates, Saturday Night Specials

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    Quote Originally Posted by Myaccount876 View Post
    Attenuators are for pussies. Neighbors calling the cops isn't a problem - if the cops can actually still decipher the neighbor's complaint on the phone with the Marshall in the background, you're doing it wrong and it needs to be louder.

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    A 59 and 59/Custom Hybrid will get you all the tones you want, and won't sound muddy in any way.
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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    I really dig the 59/Custombut I'm after more vintage tones for this guitar. 59 set would be safe bet since I don't feel bad modifying them with magnet swapping. I've been thinking about Seth Lovers but I do like uncovered black/zebra pickups more than nickel cover ones. I occasionally need this guitar to handle high volume/high gain tones so maybe I'll pass unpotted humbuckers.

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    You can order Seths uncovered if you like. You can even order them potted.
    Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    Went and bought the 59 set, Bourns pots, orange drop caps and proper switch. I'll let you know how I like them and if they require magnet swap. Thanks guys!
    Last edited by Shooweri; 07-24-2019 at 10:29 AM.

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    I tested the 59 set in rehearsal couple days ago and really liked the tones I was getting. With stock magnets pickups had lot of low end and raw tone in general. Although I like the stock A5's I switched to UOA5 magnets between the sets. This gave the pickups more vintage-style voice, reduced the low end boominess drastically and gave both pickups lot of clarity and detail, especially in highs and high mids. I also tried A4 in the neck but it sounded weird due to guitars naturally strong midrange. Neck with UOA5 was a bit too bright for me and switched into A2 and damn, what an upgrade. This must be most dynamic humbucker set I currently own and goes perfectly with the guitar I've installed them in. Might still try RCUOA5 in the neck after gigs next week but I'm very happy with the pickups as they are now.

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    A2 PAFs are probably my favorite type

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    Quote Originally Posted by Myaccount876 View Post
    Attenuators are for pussies. Neighbors calling the cops isn't a problem - if the cops can actually still decipher the neighbor's complaint on the phone with the Marshall in the background, you're doing it wrong and it needs to be louder.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    59s are a great starting point
    You can tune with magnets if need be
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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    After playing with these pickups and magnet swapping for a while I must say that these are really sensitive to different magnets. Before this I've only swapped magnets for higher gain pickups (like Perpetual Burn, Pegasus, Sentient, Whole Lotta Humbucker) since I'm generally a metal guitarist. I wanted something different for this guitar since I need more classic humbucker tones and I feel like I've reached my goal. Great stuff!

    Currently 59's are rocking A4 in bridge and RCUOA5 in neck. I really enjoy the neck pickup and it has more high end detail and gain than A2's without sounding too bright, like traditional UOA5. With the bridge I tried A8 today and instantly thought it had too much compression going on and didn't sound or felt like vintage pickup anymore. I went to A4 which has similar EQ curve but isn't too hot and has more clarity and responsiveness, even with higher gain sounds. I cannot decide between A4 and UOA5 so I need to record something with both of them and see which one I like better.

    Haven't tried all magnets I have but it has wait until better time. I'll keep you posted as I have time to tinker again

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    I've now tested my 59 set with every magnet combination I can think of and none of them sound/feel right to me. I really like the tonal characteristics of bridge 59 with A4 but it feels too low output compared to the neck UOA5/A2 and pinch harmonics are tough to get. With A8 it has too much going on and doesn't sound vintage to me. Overall the set doesn't seem perfectly balanced as the neck has more output than the bridge and I cannot compensate the difference with height adjustment or magnet swapping. The neck is too boomy with all A5 variants, too much mids with A4 and too smooth with A2 and is overpowering the bridge in volume/output. So, I need to get lower output neck with less low end or new set of pickups.

    Two sets I'm considering are Saturday Night Special of Pearly Gates. I'm pretty sure that both of them will fix the bass issue but don't know which is better suited for full sounding LP. What do you think?

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    I think the Whole Lotta Humbucker set is pretty similar to 59s, but most of the normal 59 problems you mentioned are lessened or even gone completely. I swapped to A4s, and they might be my 2nd favorite set, after Ants. That said, I'm still dying to try out SNS, so I definitely wouldn't blame you if you went that route.

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    I'm familiar with WLH neck pickup, that's what I have in my Ibanez PGM. I haven't tried it in LP but I had 59n in PGM for a while and I'm pretty sure WLH would take tone to wrong direction, since to me it has similar bass end to 59 but with more mids and less highs. My LP has huge amount of mids going on and no highs and that's why I'm mainly looking for brighter pickups than 59 with less low end.

    I'm still pretty unsure about SNS due to my experiences with Alnico 4 magnets in pickups. I've tried A4 in 59b, Perpetual Burn, JB and Pegasus and they all had nice midrange 'roar' going on with great note separation. The only complaint is that pinch harmonics are really hard to get with A4 pickups and I had same issue with all winds I mentioned. Interested to hear if any of you've had same problem with A4.

    Currently I'm leaning towards Pearly Gates set. I've no first hand experience with those but what I've found with forum search is they're designed for Les Paul.

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    You mentioned you want something with a more open midrange sound but still have some upper mid bite.
    You also mentioned you like the clarity of the A4 magnets but don't like how it's difficult to get pinched harmonics with them.

    Sounds like you want the Custom 5 in the bridge?

    Pearly Gates are very bright and aren't very hot. I can see a PG being good for the neck, but for the bridge if you're having trouble getting pinched harmonics to sound consistent, lower output pickups typically don't help the situation.

    You may also want to look into the Dimarzio EJ Custom Neck. A4 magnet, very balanced open tone that sounds a bit like TV Jones

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    I've to admit that I was wrong about A4 magnets. I got fresh set of A4's in mail yesterday and swapped them to replace A2's. The older A4's I have must be magnetized quite a bit lower since pinch harmonics are super easy to get with new ones installed - even in the neck! New A4's also sound different, being more present with bit more output and much brighter in general than old ones. I was bit confused since I found harmonics easier to get with my A2's than old A4's. I let the new ones settle for couple days and play my axe lot to decide whether I like them or not. I'm sorry for sharing false info.

    I pulled the trigger on Jazz neck I found for good price. Don't know if it's gonna solve my problems but it might help to get cleaner/clearer neck tone to match better with 59b. I do like 59b lot and don't want to go high output just yet because it's not sonic goal of this guitar. Jazz should arrive tomorrow!

    I haven't tried EJ Custom but have been interested in it for a while. I'm gonna get some DiMarzios if I don't find what I want from Duncan lineup.

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    Quote Originally Posted by daenius View Post
    Pearly Gates are very bright and aren't very hot. I can see a PG being good for the neck, but for the bridge if you're having trouble getting pinched harmonics to sound consistent, lower output pickups typically don't help the situation.

    You may also want to look into the Dimarzio EJ Custom Neck. A4 magnet, very balanced open tone that sounds a bit like TV Jones
    i dont find the pgn overly bright and the pgb is a great pup for pinch harmonics.

    never tried the ej with a4, only the stock a5 but i bet it would be cool

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy View Post
    i dont find the pgn overly bright and the pgb is a great pup for pinch harmonics.
    That's good to hear. I think they would work great in my overly middy LP. I'm gonna order a set if I don't get what I'm after from magnet swapping. Waiting for RCA3's to arrive and haven't tried RCUOA5/RCA4 combo yet.

    Thanks for help guys!

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    So, I received Jazz yesterday and spent whole evening trying to figure things out. With 59 set I finally settled with UOA5 bridge/A2 neck combination, being most vintage sounding and touch sensitive from all combinations I've tested. UOA5 59b has some similarities to A4 but with more low end, less high end and midrange shifted downwards making it much thicker and less harsh. It also has less compression going on than A4 and better natural sustain with this guitar. A2 59n is super smooth and thick and has nice sustain with overdriven sounds but doesn't have enough cut in the high end. That's the reason I bought the Jazz, it solves A2/59n issues and has perfect balance of thick/fat sustain and cut in treble frequencies. I'm very happy with this setup and it compliments the natural tone of the instrument. Hope someone will find this helpful in their chase of sonic perfection.

    I'm in a hurry to swap my A8's from Pegasus 7 and Perpetual Burn to UOA5's to see which one I like better. Oh well... I've feeling that this will never end

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    Default Re: New pickups for Tokai LS-55 LP

    Quote Originally Posted by Shooweri View Post
    Oh well... I've feeling that this will never end
    That's the fun part!

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