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Stealth ES-120 (Melody Maker Pickup conversion)

I was asked if there was any way to make this 60's ES-120 sound more like a Gibson of this era should without altering its vintage appearance. The Melody Maker pickup was not one of Gibson's better pickups so I sought out to conceal a better sounding pickup leaving the original pickup in place.

Here are some other Melody Maker Pickup Ideas:

  MM-90: Replacement pickup to fit in route and under cover of stock Melody Maker.

  T-Top: Magnet only replacement uses same coil.

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Picture of the guitar prior modification. Note the pickup is mounted the the pickguard and not directly attached to the body.

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After removing the pickguard you can see the body route for the pickup to recess into the body. This was a cool find because this allows me a lot of room to hide the new pickup.

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A look at the bottom of the pickguard showing the base of the original pickup.

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Here the pickup is removed from the guard, the base is removed exposing the bobbin. I also slid out the bar magnet which is used as the blade/magnet.

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I custom built a P-90 style pickup with a steel blade instead of poll pieces. I built it so it would fit in the original body route, and with a blade that stood high enough that the Melody Maker Pickup could sit on top of it.

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As you can see the blade replaces the bar magnet in height, width and length. Actually the piece of steel was a little wide so you see the excess sticking out the bottom of the bobbin past the magnets.

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This picture shows the new Stealth P-90 pickup mounted back on the pickguard which will fit into the original body route.

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Put all back together same vintage look with a Killer P-90 tone!

Final comments:

The original Melody Maker pickup is still intact it is just not connected. I actually attempted to hook the MM pickup coil in RWRP with the P-90 for Hum canceling, but it detracted from the sound quality of the P-90. I also considered adding a push/pull pot allowing you to switch the MM coil off/on but maybe another day...
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