Thunder 1A - pickup replacement & mini mod?

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Thunder 1A - pickup replacement & mini mod?

Post by Kaiel on Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:54 am

Morning all

Happy Xmas and all

A while ago I got a good deal on a good condition Thunder 1A

I love it, its become my number one instrument, but I'm beginning to dislike the pickups Sad Sacrilege I know!!

I will be browsing the forum to see what others have replaced with, but as its easier to keep in one place, would you lovely people mind sharing your pickup upgrades with me? Not really sure what to go for. I love having the coil split/tap function, so want pups for that purpose as much as anything

Doing a bit of research, the GFS Power Rails appear to work very well split, and they're also dirt cheap, which is nice. However if someone else could make a suggestion that would be great

Next up, I don't really use the active boost function. Its almost too much, and as I'm primarily a singer playing rhythm, I don't find I use it

So I was thinking of installing a mini mod

I would only consider this however, if I could use the existing active circuitry and switches. Could anyone advise whether or not this is possible? And whether its as easy as it sounds in my head

Basically, can I remove whats in there, replace with the mod board, and be all good to go?

Thanks in advance!

K

Kaiel
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Re: Thunder 1A - pickup replacement & mini mod?

Post by Barry on Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:16 am

Hi Kaiel, I know what you mean about the active boost when you're primarily a rhythm player/singer, I have a I-A and sing too, so I rarely use it.
I've never gigged with it but it is a blast to play though, eh?

I'm not sure why you'd want to change the pups though, they're plenty hot in mine.
And with the active circuitry, coil tap and phase shift I think you would be in a fresh world of hurt wading through that wiring, unless you're comfortable with that sort of thing! Of course, I'm no electronics expert, but others here have a lot of wiring experience and will be able to give you some guidance I'm sure.

My biggest complaint, as the regulars here know, is that ^&%$# barrel saddle bridge! It's marked for replacement ASAP. Other than that I find the stock configuration to be quite versatile with a wide variety of tones and effects.

Whatever you decide don't throw away those pups!!

_________________
"A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants." -Chuckles the Clown


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Re: Thunder 1A - pickup replacement & mini mod?

Post by Kaiel on Wed Dec 30, 2009 8:39 am

Hi Barry

Yep, absolute blast to play!! I'm really not sure what I want to do with it, and you're right, messing about with the wiring and whatnot might be an overly bold mission to undertake!

With regards the pups, I dunno, they're almost too hot? Strange thing to say maybe

They sound very brittle to me, very harsh on the ear. I prefer to be able to push the amp, and these pups are almost too much if that makes sense

I'm looking for a classic 60's sound, rather than the more scooped mids of later years

Am looking at a Bare Knuckle (I see you're in Toronto, you guys aware of Tim & Bare Knuckle over there?) Riff Raff (nickel covered) in the bridge, I told him what I was looking for and got the following back:

"Definitely mate, they're absolutely perfect for older school punk tone and have a throaty mid growl with clear cut in the
highs.

They're actually voiced after the mid '60s patent number humbuckers
so often used on seminal punk recordings of the '70s - they're also
medium vintage output so
will work well with the onboard active boost"


So contrary to what I wrote earlier, these puppies might mean that I get to use the boost more, as it wouldn't be as as it is now!

Surprisingly enough though, I haven't actually had any issues with the bridge at all! What do you not like about it?

Kaiel
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Re: Thunder 1A - pickup replacement & mini mod?

Post by Barry on Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:10 pm

Kaiel wrote:...With regards the pups, I dunno, they're almost too hot?...They sound very brittle to me, very harsh on the ear...Strange thing to say maybe...
I think I know what you mean. These things are hot but they do have a "bright" edge to them; more Stratocaster'sh than Les Paul'sh to my ears at least. Not entirely my preferred sound either for most things I play.

But here's my take on it. I think you should learn how to use the innate design strengths and abilities of the guitar in hand, rather than bend it to suit your style of playing. After all, it was built by guys who know a lot more I do, so I tend to give them the benefit of a doubt. Mind you, I have the luxury of owning many guitars so I can just switch whenever I wish. If I had just one guitar, it might be different, but even then I think I would replace the guitar rather than the components.

My very best friend and 'band buddy' for over 45 years now plays in one style, and one style only. He's never had an acoustic so he has no conception of what they can do, and he's never had a hollow body "jazz box" so no concept of what those can do. Electrically, he's never had anything other than solid bodies, and never ventured too far from the Stratocaster. When he does, he tries in vain to make every electric guitar sound like a Strat! When he's predictably disappointed, he gets rid of it and goes back to the Strat, complaining that he didn't like the Hagstrom, or the Schecter, or the Les Paul, or...

Am looking at a Bare Knuckle (I see you're in Toronto, you guys aware of Tim & Bare Knuckle over there?) Riff Raff (nickel covered) in the bridge,
Nope, sorry. Sounds interesting though.

Surprisingly enough though, I haven't actually had any issues with the bridge at all! What do you not like about it?
lol! Look HERE:
and HERE TOO!

_________________
"A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants." -Chuckles the Clown


GUITARS : http://legend.barryeames.com/guitars.html
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Barry
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Re: Thunder 1A - pickup replacement & mini mod?

Post by Kaiel on Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:24 am

Grr, now you got me thinking!

Happy New Year by the way, hope you have a fantastic time in everything you do

You are absolutely right, the people that made this wonderful instrument know far more about it than I do, so I should be going with what they think. Although, in contrast, this guitar was never made with top end quality components? So, with that in mind, maybe new/different pups are an upgrade, as opposed to an absolute change?

Gah, I dunno!! Appreciate your thoughts, even if they have thrown me a bit Wink

I shall let you know what I decide anyway. I have a few different guitars so I'm gonna get the pickups anyway, as I've wanted this exact set for ages, and take it from there. I think I'm going to install into the Thunder, but of course I'll be keeping the originals as will put back if not to my liking

Might also be a decent idea to have a proper look around and see if anything needs doing. I get the occasional, very minor crackle and lack of sound from the vol pot, so that might need a re-solder.

Now, about this bridge! I think, contrary to what I've thought since I've had it, that mine is perhaps not a Thunder 1-A? It has a 'strat like' bridge and saddles, as opposed to the tele style barrel bridge that is causing your pain!

From your post, its the one in this pic:




Did you get a resolution to your queries? I'm not massively concerned with what my guitar actually is, I just know I like it!

That said, I've got slight intonation issues somewhere too. I'm relatively competant when it comes to setting guitars up etc, but I'm a little stumped and might have to bow down to a tech's superior knowledge

I'm close enough on all strings, except the dreaded G, and no matter how much I tinker, its out, and in some cases by quite a way.

Gonna have one last real go before taking it somewhere, wish me luck!!

Kaiel
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Number of posts : 8
Registration date : 2009-07-22

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Re: Thunder 1A - pickup replacement & mini mod?

Post by Barry on Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:19 am

Kaiel wrote:Grr, now you got me thinking!
Sorry.

...this guitar was never made with top end quality components?
Oh, I think you might get some argument from many here about that! With rare exceptions, Mats quality is top notch.

I get the occasional, very minor crackle and lack of sound from the vol pot, so that might need a re-solder.
Not unusual for the guitar's age. Probably can be fixed with a squirt of electrical contact cleaner.

Now, about this bridge! I think, contrary to what I've thought since I've had it, that mine is perhaps not a Thunder 1-A? It has a 'strat like' bridge and saddles, as opposed to the tele style barrel bridge that is causing your pain!
You do not have the barrel saddle style bridge. Mats quickly changed them about half way through their first production year, as near as I can reckon. The 'A' in the model number stands for 'Active'. If you have a mini-toggle switch which boosts the output and a centre knob to control the out put (and a 9 volt battery compartment) you have the I-A. The bridge style doesn't determine the model.

I'm close enough on all strings, except the dreaded G, and no matter
how much I tinker, its out, and in some cases by quite a way.
Hmm, your bridge seems to have been installed at a slight angle, but that shouldn't cause issues. You appear to have lots of adjustment on your intonation screws so I don't know why you can't set the intonation. Shouldn't be a problem.

Gonna have one last real go before taking it somewhere, wish me luck!!
Curious. Let us know what you find, eh?

_________________
"A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants." -Chuckles the Clown


GUITARS : http://legend.barryeames.com/guitars.html
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Barry
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Re: Thunder 1A - pickup replacement & mini mod?

Post by munkieNL on Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:56 pm

I've got GFS Crunchy PAFs in my Thunder I . They came with golden caps originally, i had them in a Richwood Les Paul copy. Then i thought OK nice for jazz/blues you know Peter Green, clean stuff. They didn't cut it for rock.

Now i've got them "naked" in my Thunder and they RAWK! I've got a GFS Power Rails in the drawer. Had it in a Ibanez RG project guitar with a basswood body. With the pickup almost against the strings i got a nice hardrock/metal sound. On the Thunder i fear it could be too much of a bad thing

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Re: Thunder 1A - pickup replacement & mini mod?

Post by Barry on Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:15 pm

Lord have mercy! Well, to each his own. Just keep the original pups what ever you do, eh?

_________________
"A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants." -Chuckles the Clown


GUITARS : http://legend.barryeames.com/guitars.html
MUSIC/PIX/VIDEOS: http://getback.barryeames.com (including Spectrum ST)

Barry
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Age : 71
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