Tricks and Tips

    I will very shortly be explaining how to "Hott Rodd" a Humbucker pick up with what is called the "S.C. Kalamazoo" setting. Allegedly used by the original Gibson guy's to bring a dead guitar to life. I added my Name to it. As much as I has used it I might as well get some credit. I did set up this to my cream L.P. Sounds as good as my main black L.P. Standard before EMG's..
Also "What Is A. Good Guitar ?" I hear all the time from guitar salesmen. "This is a good guitar. Better than the others in stock" Now how the hell does this jerk know that. Bet you he was told that. Good Story. I knew a salesman by the name of Gordon. He has sold literally thousands of guitars in his career. He plays trumpet not guitar. He learned one song on guitar. So, everyone assumed he played guitar and that he knew what he was talking about. He told me I would not believe how many guitars he has sold due to that one song. Most are morons that are selling you on stories they have heard or the boss told them to say. The older guys are a little less full of BS.

 You will probably get a more honest picture of what he is selling. Unless his name is "Gordan"


 I am seeing a lot of these Chinese fake guitars showing up on Craig's list. Only a fool would by an $3,000 guitar on line. In the Photo Gallery I have put two pictures of a real Gibson Supreme head stock and a Chinese fake. The Chinese guitars are "Really" close. I think they are a better guitar than Epiphone. The pick ups stink. But for half the price of an Epiphone--Why Not? Take a look and tell me which one you think is real. In this case it is pretty obvious.


This is an answer to the blog left a few days ago about keeping tone separation on the strings. This is what the "S.C. Kalamazoo" setting is all about To make a quick answer for you before I really explain it on this page. Drawing and everything. If you sight down the guitar neck from the bridge right where the neck ends and the neck pick up starts you will notice a slight radius/bow on the fret face of the neck. Gibson/Fenders a lot. Jackson, Etc., a slight bow. Lower the Humbucker around an 1/8" or so. This is not an exact science. Now, ever notice the screws in the Humbucker. Guess what they do? They can fine tune each strings best tone. Unscrew {counter clockwise} with a small flat (NEW) screwdriver. You do not want to strip the flat head screw or scratch the gold or chrome face. USE both hands. One turn for the low-E. One and a half for the B-string. Two full turns at the most for the G and D. Then one and a half-A and Low-E gets one turn. This should come close to following the neck. Grab a stool/seat of some kind. Plug in and start raising the entire Humbucker or lower as you check out preferable and open chord like an A or E. Strum and listen for the harmonics (which now may start popping out) and decay/sustain. These rules are not written in stone. I think you might be shocked with what happens. I worked on a high end Les Paul a little while back for a friend whom owns a recording studio. He told me it sounds better. But he can't explain how or why. It just has come alive. Look at the pictures of my guitars on the different pages on here. Check out the pick up's. The screws are supposed to end up pointing a certain way. The high E screw and the B screw are supposed to  turned a little towards each other and so on for the next four. Such as the high E at eleven o'clock and the B at one o'clock. That's what the article showed. I don't argue I just do it. The last most important thing about the "S.C. Kalamazoo setting" is the screw slots for a flat screw driver are supposed to be point to each other.  Two screws at a time. This was spelled out in what I read as being "very" important. I don't argue with what works. Now, if anyone tries this I want feed back. Also it is very easy to put it back the way it was if someone complains. This is one of the biggest secrets I have used for thirty years. Time to give it out.I will upload the drawing to the "My Collection and Me" page.. I am a terrible artist. I am even bad at stick figures. So, bear with the drawing. The screws should follow the arch of the necks fretboard. Not like my drawing.***********************************************************************************

  I have received one comments that I am a Gibson/Humbucker type. Yes, I am. However I own two Stratocasters and two Telecasters. One of each has been tricked out. In the coming months I will go into what I did or had done to them. All four are above average in tone and one Tele is worth a bit due to it's age. Which again I bought brand new (sigh).


UPDATE 2-12-09------------ I just received this from one of our members. He had been doing some research. He found this on the Gibson site (I think). Then he found this site (CAG). Asked me to clarify how to do the setting------------------ 

Note that adjustable polepieces are generally not intended for height adjustments to achieve changes in overall output level or tone, but are mainly provided as a facility for achieving good string-to-string balance, and are usually best adjusted to follow the curve of your guitar’s fretboard.


UPDATE 3- 15-11

I had to put this in here. I just received this E-mail. The last nasty E-mail I received was around two years ago. First kind of shocked me. Then made me chuckle. There are some people I will upset no matter what I write. here is the E-mail*****************

01 - Your Name<br> = God
02 - = [email protected]
03 - Let us know your question. <br> = Dude you are an idiot, I have been checking your bullshit site since you started it,,,,,you got nothin! Screw adjustment on a double coil to bring it back to life,,,,,, you are the star of your own ignorance! *************************

I don't have say anything negative back to this guy. I have come the understanding that most people will say something negative about anything you do. Instead of  offering a helpfull hint. Example: last time we played out there was a guy whom runs a recording studio in the audience. Nice guy. But instead of saying that we sounded okay he had to say "You kick drum isn't loud enough in the mix". He meant nothing negative. But, in stead of say something like " You guys sound good. But, I noticed -----" I guess human nature to say something negative. Below is an E-Mail  I received back in 2009. This would be my response back to "I Got Nothing!" I added a G to"nothin".

I read your tips on setting up a Humbucker on Craiglslist, under the spotting a fake heading.
I have a Epiphone Studio that is! I just bought it and after a Corona made Fender Telecaster with humbuckers. The Studio played like garbage.
Well after setting loosening the truss rod (sombody had managed to bow the neck in a convex bow (why ???) and getting rid of some early fret string buzz, I restrung with Ernie Ball 10's (locking them at the machine heads (pegs) and set string height at the 17th fret, the set intonation. Bear in mind, at this stage I am just trying to get things back where the should be in the neck department.
Now understand, I played this through the world's worst practice amp, a borrowed Gorilla GG20 that has been stored in God knows where and beaten to death in many physical and humidity (South Florida and the Keys) kind of way. I set the neck pickup, following your advice to the letter, even the screw positions. After raising the pickup evenly across the board by an extra 3/4 turn above the 1/8" below the fretboard at the neck pickup end as you suggested..........night and day!! I will experiment more once I put another set of fresh strings on, as I said I am using this new (had some time and they do not look perfect) set just to tension the neck and for set up. I'll install some more new 10s and play with the height a little more. I think the bridge could probably be played with too withing reason. Wiring the pickups out of phase (ala Jimmy Page) is my next "to think about".
Many thanks for the advice. It was really appreciated.
Kindest Regards,
Brian S.
(Old English guy who is stuck in a 60/70's musical Time Warp and is hearing things he likes now thanks to your advice).************

Okay, my last comment. If the negative guy that wrote the nasty E-mail had to say something then this site is still working. It got him off his butt and he took action. I wish the guy would have been a little more mature and used his real name and E-mail address instead of being shy of me responding. Like Bryan S. above. I had to hide his E-mail address/ last name and I am going to write him next and make sure he is aware I used his E-mail.
I thought this was worth putting in here.
Also from what the nasty guy wrote, he is a steady reader of the site. Hope he becomes a member. No kidding.


A Note From Teye--Teye Guitars. -- 5/26/09

I just received this and I know Teye won't mind me publishing this. We need more input from Luthiers like him. Believe me I try. Received this on 05-26-09. I think we all can improve our passion from someone whom makes a living at it.

Hey there S.C.!

I also wanted to be in touch more, but have been so veryvery busy! How are you? I hope wonderful.

I went to your site again: yes the pics came out great. I noticed the link to my immigration story is dead, lemme find it and send it to you. It USED to work. Maybe they've finally updated their own site.

I also re-read the page on the Kalamazoo pickup setting, and actually noticed that you lift the ajustable polepieces, turn them counterclockwise. This has been an old trick o mine too, to add top end to a guitar w humbuckers. What you are basically doing is two things: you drop the whole pickup and then raise one set of polepieces: really you just dropped ONE set of polepieces (the hidden ones.) You are basically electromagnetically 'turning down' that set of polepieces, thereby letting the signal of one coil be louder than the signal of the other coil. The beautiful complexity of the humbucker suffers a little bit and it becomes more of a single coil, without losing hum cancelling.
On a fairly brown sounding guitar like a Gibson, this may help in re-gaining a little bit of 'personality' and 'spank', what you call 'bringing the guitar to life'.

The second thing you are doing is creating better string balance on the loudest of the coils (the coil with the polepieces sticking out).

Myself, I have found it much more pleasing tonally to bury the adjustable polepieces slightly underneath the top surface of the pickup cover, but you can only permit yourself that luxury with fantastic pickups on a fantastic instrument. After using all the tricks in the book to 'up' the treble on Gibsons: removing the pickup covers; potting the pickups in wax; de-soldering the cap on the tone-pot etc, I finally came to believe that the problems lie in the CONSTRUCTION of the Gibson: a poor neck joint; poor hardware (the Gibson Tune-o-matic bridge is so loosely and poorly made, of cast construction, even Mr. Les Paul told me that my home-made bridge was "WAY better than his") and a flimsy construction at the truss rod end (where 9 out of 10 Gibsons break). All these things will make your top end disappear (and the liveliness and resonance, and sustain).

If you START with a well-constructed and thought out guitar, then you do not need all these tricks to 'salvage the top end'.

I know, there are fantastic Gibsons out there. I have owned two myself. The ratio is frighteningly low. On average, one in 25 Gibsons is really really good: resonant, alive, well-balanced... But the 'average Joe' usually winds up with a guitar that will need extensive tweaking: better pick-ups, better electronics, Kalamazoo-settings, just to breathe SOME life into the instrument.

There is a LOT more to say on the subject. For now, guitarists will shake their head at all this ("a Gibson not good enough?!?!?!?"), UNTIL they get their hands on a really excellent guitar. I know, for I used to be the same way.

Back in the 1950's, Gibson made a few thousand guitars, with time, attention to detail, with the focus on quality and innovation. Nowadays, the Nashville plant makes 420 guitars PER DAY. One guy couldn't even do the quality control on 420 guitars per day even if he wanted to.
IF GIBSON CAN SAVE $ 10 PER GUITAR BY USING A LESSER QUALITY ITEM LIKE TUNERS, IT SAVES $ 1.5 MILLION PER YEAR. If they can save $ 50 per guitar, they save $ 7.5 million per year. The MAIN reason people buy a guitar that is called GIBSON is because it is CALLED GIBSON so Gibson can get away with almost anything (within limits).

On the other hand, look into some independent luthiers. We are super-proud that our NAME is on the headstock. We will gladly put $ 20, $ 50, $ 200 extra into a guitar if that makes it a better instrument. A luthier will make a dozen guitars per year. $ 200 extra per guitar is not going to kill his business, you can count on it. If GIBSON spent an extra $200 per guitar, they would lose $ 30 million per year.

Also, any luthier will do a rigorous quality check before shipping a guitar. The luthier KNOWS what he wants from the guitar and will make sure all of them ship that way. His NAME is on the headstock....

Sorry, got carried away! 
Hey another thing that I saw on Gibson's lifestyle link: with a classic humbucker , the pull on the strings is not big enough to worry about. Dan Erlewhine actually originated the myth. He admitted to it to a friend of mine / guitar builder. 
On a Fender Strat, adjusting the pickups close to the strings can have devastating results to the quality of the tone (string pull). But on any normal/classic humbucker, this is not the case. I know, for I've always adjusted HB's as close as I could, they give much more bite that way. 
Anyways man, greetings, and best of luck with the site, 
Your buddy, 
Teye is always "cool" in my book. He knows and talks to people like Paul reed Smith.
Then he is humble enough to write the stuff above. He could have his nose up in the air
and he stays just like us! Check his guitar and advise on the Showcase page.


Recent Blog Entries