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Thread: The pickups used by Frank Zappa on his 1974 Roxy SG

  1. #1
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    Default The pickups used by Frank Zappa on his 1974 Roxy SG

    Hello all,
    This is hopefully not too much of an out there request but I've been reading through the Frank Zappa Gear book that was recently published and discovered something most helpful in my quest to put together a Gibson SG clone with the exact same electronics as Frank Zappa used for the famous Roxy guitar as can be seen on all concerts around 1974, in particular the famous Roxy concert(now available on Bluray as well)

    Originally I thought the pickups might have been old style 4 wire Gibson classic pickups with the chrome covers removed and therefore I went for the Epiphone equivalent ripped off the chrome case covers and wired them up for phase and coil selection. Pretty good sound.

    As I read through the book (and much to my surprise) it mentioned that the Roxy actually had a pair of 4 wire Seymour Duncan humbucker pickups. The only issue is it didn't state the model.

    So I was wondering if anyone on the forum might just know exactly which models those pickups were? I jumped for the JB SH-4 as it seemed like a logical choice due to it's 4 wire configuration, however it states it's only been around for 4 decades. As it's 2020, that would put it starting around 1980 but please correct me if I'm mistaken.

    Essentially there couldn't have been too many 4 wire humbucker pickups in Seymour Duncan's range around 1972 - 1976 so it shouldn't be impossible to work it out but I don't know where to find the Seymour Duncan pickups through the ages data.

    If anyone can assist, please let me know,
    Thank you,
    Sean.

  2. #2
    Mojo's Minions hamerfan's Avatar
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    Default Re: The pickups used by Frank Zappa on his 1974 Roxy SG

    I highly doubt the story, because SWD would have mentioned this famous customer in his bio.

    https://www.seymourduncan.com/company/our-journey
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    LoveMachineologist jeremy's Avatar
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    Default Re: The pickups used by Frank Zappa on his 1974 Roxy SG

    in the beginning i doubt there was anything but gibson pups in there and they werent 4 wire from the factory. at some point frank may have had duncans in there but in '74, i doubt it. seymour was making pups but the company wasnt an ongoing enterprise yet

  4. #4
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    Default Re: The pickups used by Frank Zappa on his 1974 Roxy SG

    Attempting to mock up anything Frank used could be an incredibly tough road. Frank was a huge tinkerer and I doubt anything he used regularly stayed in the state it was purchased in for long. Having met a few musicians that had brief appearances in Frank's band I'm pretty sure he was experimenting with onboard preamps and eqs even back then. For that reason, even if you had the right pickups, pots, amps, pedals... you may be miles off his fundamental tone. Then if you add Frank's unorthodox attack, execution and phrasing... well I wish you good luck for sure.

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    Mojo's Minions ItsaBass's Avatar
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    Default Re: The pickups used by Frank Zappa on his 1974 Roxy SG

    As for off the shelf aftermarket pickups, I believe DiMarzio was it at that point. Seymour Duncan himself (i.e. the man, not the company) was modding pickups, but AFAIK, he didn't do aftermarket retail sales till a little while later (correct me if I am wrong about that). I don't even know if Seymour was making pickups from new parts at that point; it may still have been rewinds and magnet swaps only.
    Quote Originally Posted by LesStrat View Post
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker ICTGoober's Avatar
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    Default Re: The pickups used by Frank Zappa on his 1974 Roxy SG

    As for off the shelf aftermarket pickups, I believe DiMarzio was it at that point
    Shame on you for forgetting Bill Lawrence.

  7. #7
    Mojo's Minions ItsaBass's Avatar
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    Default Re: The pickups used by Frank Zappa on his 1974 Roxy SG

    Quote Originally Posted by ICTGoober View Post
    Shame on you for forgetting Bill Lawrence.
    Was Bill Lawrence selling aftermarket in ‘74? I thought he started doing that later.
    Quote Originally Posted by LesStrat View Post
    Yogi Berra was correct.
    Quote Originally Posted by JOLLY View Post
    I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

  8. #8
    Ultimate Tone Slacker ICTGoober's Avatar
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    Default Re: The pickups used by Frank Zappa on his 1974 Roxy SG

    I have Guitar Player magazines from '72 with Lawrence advertisements...

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