Just recently acquired my new Cherry Sunburst JTV 59. Had previous variax's (300, 500, 700) but could never quite settle with them in the absence of real pickups. Very happy so far with my new variax. However, I'm not happy with the unavailability of clear specific information about the stock pickups. I have searched high and low without luck. This prompted me to try to circumnavigate the information 'black hole' and successfully get to the other side. How far do you think I've got (see below)? Comments and contributions gratefully received, especially from Line 6.
The JTV 59 Stock Humbuckers
The JTV 59 official specification describes the above as â€œVintage-voiced alnico neck and bridge humbuckers wound to Tyler's specs.â€
More detailed specifications from official (manufacturer) sources or elsewhere do not seem to be available.
It is the very absence of such information which fuels questions and speculation from those (i.e. JTV 59 owners and potential owners) who justifiably feel the need to know more about the product they have purchased or plan to purchase. For many it is understandably not enough to be content with the fact that, in quality terms, the pickups are â€œgoodâ€ (which most agree they are). There is a desire to know more about them both in quantitative and qualitative terms. How else can objective judgement be made about their relative quality versus other pickups that owners may wish to consider as alternatives? Consequently, a number of questions arise.
Are they James Tyler (own brand) pickups?
There is lots of information online regarding â€˜James Tyler (own brand)â€™ pickups. The humbucker range includes (from low to high resistance specs) Retro, Studebaker, Hot Retro, Supercharged Studebaker, Secret, Shark and Super. Whilst it is interesting to attempt to â€˜spotâ€™ which one of these best fits the above description it is probably a futile exercise anyway as it is highly unlikely that the JTV 59 is fitted with any of these, given that their retail price is no less than $150 (Â£100) a pair.
Are they a specially designed version of a James Tyler (own brand) pickup?
The JTV 59 spec. implies at least an element of this i.e. â€œ.........wound to Tyler's specsâ€ although it is such a loosely stated criterion. The following section â€œUnder the Bonnet Evidenceâ€ is not intended to make any comment on the veracity of this description since no definition of â€œTylerâ€™s specsâ€ is readily available against which the actual pickups can be measured. However, it does suggest that whoever manufactures these pickups must be satisfying a product standard that complies with whatever â€œTylerâ€™s specsâ€ are, otherwise Line 6 would be open to accusations of misrepresentation which is unlikely to be the case.
What is the â€˜Under the Bonnetâ€™ evidence?
N.B. It is to be hoped that all JTV 59 models have the same specification pickups otherwise something is distinctly awry. Therefore the evidence from one JTV 59 should be sufficient for all.
The relatively simple job of unscrewing the pickup retaining screws, lifting the pickups from their sockets and turning the pickups to view their underside reveals the following:
Brand Name â€“ G & B Pickup Co. (Neck pup is labelled â€œBONES Nâ€; Bridge is labelled â€œBONES Bâ€)
Who are G& B?
G & B seem to be part of a Korean Corporation â€“ KHL Corporation. From their website - â€œ KHL Corporation, established in 1997, is a specialized manufacturer in electric guitars and classic guitars and acoustic guitars and musical instrument parts and accessories. We have been producing several world-famous branded guitars by OEM basis and also selling our brand â€˜Wolfâ€™ guitars over the world.â€ Interestingly, their website also refers to â€œ[Trev] Wilkinsonâ€ products in their portfolio.
From the KHL website - G & B produce an extensive range of single coil, humbuckers and other types.
On examination of the G & B â€˜Open Coil humbuckerâ€™ category only one candidate seems to â€˜fit the billâ€™:
Set - G109 C (neck); G109 1C (bridge) Open Screw CR (Chrome) with the following spec:
Black with chrome coils
Resistance â€“ G109 C (neck) 14.8k ohms; G109 1C (bridge) 15k ohms
Inductance â€“ G109 C (neck) 6.62H; G109 1C (bridge) 6.65H
Magnets â€“ Ferrite & Alnico V
NECK - Centre pole (6th) to Centre pole (1st) 50 mm
BRIDGE - Centre pole (6th) to Centre pole (1st) 52 mm
(These measurements match standard Gibson spaced pickups)
The G109/G109 1C set described must be assumed to be a â€˜standardâ€™ set leaving the question of what the labelling â€œBONESâ€ on the JTV 59 means. Perhaps it is a â€˜specialâ€™ spec. based on the â€˜standardâ€™ set, designed (with James Tyler input) for the JTV 59, in which case the JTV 59 publicity can be confirmed. If this is indeed the case owners would still like to know the full specification relative to the â€˜standardâ€™ set described above.
In terms of pricing, Axesrus.co.uk sell a G &B standard Stratocaster set for Â£34. A humbucker set is likely to be around the same price level (Â£30-40).
Contributions towards discovering the â€˜fullâ€™ JTV 59 pickup specs. are most welcome, especially from Line 6.