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All Pickups Sound Dull in the Bridge - 1986 Charvel Model 3a

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  • All Pickups Sound Dull in the Bridge - 1986 Charvel Model 3a

    I've been grappling with this for a while now. My Charvel Model 3a from 1986. The original J-80c pups sounded dull - contrasted, obviously, to the brilliant sounding J80c pups in my Model 5 & Model 6 with the mid boost - so, I switched out the bridge pups with a Crunch Lab. Well, that sounded dull, too. Now, I put an Invader in, and it's a little better, but nothing in the bridge sounds really alive in this guitar. (note - same basswood body in all of these MIJ Charvels from this era).

    I'm beginning to think the guitar is just cursed! But no, there must be a technical explanation, right? It's as if nothing I put in really shines, and that goes for the neck pup, too. I thought it might be the wood, but the guitar doesn't sound dull while unplugged.

    I recently had a well respected luthier install the Invader and do a complete setup to the guitar. It plays extremely well. I'm simply wondering could it be the stock caps, the wiring, the pots, or something. They should have 500k pots in it, but maybe the Seymour Duncan YJM-500 Hi-Speed Volume Electric Guitar Pot would be more simpatico with the Invader? I really don't know, but I'm tired of paying a tech...and I've had Invaders in other guitars, and they don't sound this flat. Like I said, it's better than the Crunch Lab, but not as good as it should be.


    Maybe Model 3as simply stink?

    Any help or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

  • #2
    it might just be a matter of finding the right pu for the guitar. I assume by the previous choices you're looking for something high output...a JB would be the classic choice for an 80s shred machine, and will be brighter than an invader.
    Quality riffs in about a minute...
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2B...Y3EewvQ/videos

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    • #3
      I am unfamiliar with the guitars you're talking about, but are you saying that the Model 5 and Model 6 have a mid boost element that the Model 3a does not have? If, so that would seem to be something that would make a major tonal difference.
      Originally posted by LesStrat
      Yogi Berra was correct.
      Originally posted by JOLLY
      I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

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      • #4
        Yes the old Jackson mid-boost was great IMO, and even better with pickups other their own j-whatever models.
        I used to have a model 5a orange-crackle with poplar wings around a maple neck-thru. It was top-mount jackson floyd with one humbucker and one slanted single.

        Maple neck, rosewood board, basswood body, I'm going to say a Dimebucker sh13. It's tight bright clear lively and that wood combination tends to warm it up a bit.

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        • #5
          Let me add the Full Shred and the PATB-1 to the list.
          Guitars:Gibson LP Trad ('57 Classics), PRS SE CU 24 Flametop (TB5/PGn), Ibanez RG870RWZ (PATB set), Jackson DK2M1H (TB4) & DK2 (TB10/VRn/CRn), LTD MH-1000HS (TB-15/Lil59n), ST213A (HRb/STK-S4 m&n) & TE212 (Hot Stack/A2Pn), Dean Cadillac 1980 (59 set) & Old Skull V (TB6/JazzN), Squier VM JM (SJM-1 set);Effects:Korg Pitchblack Poly, Digitech Drop, MXR CAE MC404 & EHX Wailer wahs, L6 HX FX & Stomp, Fender FVP-1, EHX Volume Pedal; Amp & Cab:H&K GM 40 Dlx, L6 DT25 cab;

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          • #6
            Pots of the same value wouldn't clear up the sound of the guitar. I think it might just be the pickup. The Invader isn't very clear sounding. Something like the Custom 5, Alternative 8, Dimebucker, or even Full Shred would be 'Clearer'. Lots of people go right to the Invader because they want high output, but it isn't a balanced output to me.
            Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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            • #7
              Bill Lawrence XL-500. If that doesn't brighten up your Charvel, nothing will.

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              • #8
                I was gonna say to look for a brighter pickup. Hotter does not necessarily mean brighter. A Full Shred, Bill Lawrence XL-500, even the Perpetual Burn (maybe), or possibly the Custom. The Crunch Lab and Invader have the wrong EQ for that guitar from what you're saying about the sound.

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                • #9
                  A bunch of pickup suggestions...but we still don't have an answer as to whether the "different" sounding pickup is the only one without a mid boost on it.

                  If that is indeed the issue/difference...then just add a mid boost.
                  Originally posted by LesStrat
                  Yogi Berra was correct.
                  Originally posted by JOLLY
                  I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

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                  • #10
                    The model 3a did NOT have the mid-boost.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dave74 View Post
                      Maple neck, rosewood board, basswood body, I'm going to say a Dimebucker sh13. It's tight bright clear lively and that wood combination tends to warm it up a bit.
                      I have a Dimebucker with 1 meg pots in my Iceman. It is plenty bright without being ice-picky. It still has plenty of clear and tight mids and bass.


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                      • #12
                        Does that guitar have a preamp? If it does maybe the battery needs replacing.

                        If it doesn't and the pots are 250K, change them to 500K.

                        There might also be a problem with the wiring but without having the guitar in my hands I couldn't help.

                        Maybe there's a problem with the tone control shunting treble to ground because a ground wire is touching a terminal or something.
                        Last edited by Lewguitar; 09-18-2020, 07:52 AM.
                        “Practice cures most tone issues” - John Suhr

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Mincer View Post
                          Pots of the same value wouldn't clear up the sound of the guitar. I think it might just be the pickup. The Invader isn't very clear sounding. Something like the Custom 5, Alternative 8, Dimebucker, or even Full Shred would be 'Clearer'. Lots of people go right to the Invader because they want high output, but it isn't a balanced output to me.
                          I follow, but tonally, the Invader is performing as it should. We are talking about brightness, yet it isn't an issue of dark vs. bright; 80% of our guitar's sound (roughly) is the pickup, but that other 20%? Tone wood? Bah! What would be the difference of the basswood body of a Jackson King V versus the basswood body of my Charvel 3a? There should be no difference.

                          To me, then, it would seem that there would be a difference in the wiring in some way, or caps, or pots. After all, there is a reason that we opt for this cap over another or this pot over another, yes?

                          Note, I'm not being argumentative, because I'm really at a loss; I'm merely trying to look under every stone. The Charvel with the Invader is highly usable, only it's lacking a certain je ne sais quoi, which makes me want to add extra reverb to whatever riff I'm laying down. This kind of works, but it's not optimal.

                          Therefore, could it be that I'm missing something within that 20%? The consensus so far is no. Still, I have a niggling feeling that something must be amiss with my Charvel if we are comparing apples to apples with other guitars stocked with Invaders, using the same wood, etc.

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                          • #14
                            Apples and Oranges - the Model 5 and the Model 6 are both neckthru, which really makes maple your tonewood. That said, do all 3 of them have Kahlers? (a 1986 3A should have the Kahler 2520, the strat trem replacement, although I've seen a few with flatmounts - as usual for that era, the standards changed throughout the year.)

                            Also, the mid-boost in the 5 and the 6 will definitely make those pickups sound different. Those Jackson pickups really only work with that package, IMO. By themselves they're dull, lifeless fridge magnets.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by eaeolian View Post
                              Apples and Oranges - the Model 5 and the Model 6 are both neckthru, which really makes maple your tonewood. That said, do all 3 of them have Kahlers? (a 1986 3A should have the Kahler 2520, the strat trem replacement, although I've seen a few with flatmounts - as usual for that era, the standards changed throughout the year.)

                              Also, the mid-boost in the 5 and the 6 will definitely make those pickups sound different. Those Jackson pickups really only work with that package, IMO. By themselves they're dull, lifeless fridge magnets.
                              Right, the Models 5 & 6 are neckthru with the mid-boost, and you're also correct, without the mid-boost the pups sound close to garbage. With the mid-boost the J-80c in the Model 5 and the J-50bc in the Model 6, they are glorious pickups with a full frequency response, very lively and hot as hell. The 3a does have the Khaler 2520, yes. I only play the 1986 MIJ Charvels, with no care for the later models, unless I can get my hands on a Model 8.

                              But in this case I'm not comparing my Model 3a with the Models 5 & 6. That would be pointless. I'm comparing the Invader pup to an Invader in an '80s Jackson King V that a friend of mine owns. No mid-boost in the Jackson of course. But, that Jackson is a neckthru, while my 3a is a bolt-on. Might that be the difference? I've certainly held a sense of pride for my neckthru guitars, as they really do sustain better. Then again, oh how many bolt-on necks with Invaders have sounded kick ass, too? Plenty! But maybe that's the issue.

                              Hey, but at least the Seymour Duncan Invader sounds better than that crap Dimarzio Crunch Lab.
                              Last edited by EVOLVIST; 09-18-2020, 08:52 AM.

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