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Author Topic: RS4-P90 saga continues.  (Read 2908 times)
headsup
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« on: July 20, 2014, 11:20:47 PM »

I have posted several things about my interesting and unique challenges with my RS4 P90 (gold top/bigsby).
the most notable being the pick-ups, and my dissatisfaction with them. (Well the combination/EQ issues)

My RS4 HB, with Matt Larrivee designed  pick-ups is undoubtedly the best guitar I have ever played or owned- bar none.

The P90 RS4 has been difficult. The "proper" balance has been impossible to achieve, (including a new set from Larrivee).

The bridge pick up in general has proven to been overly bright and brittle sounding and always running between 4-6 db lower in volume than the neck pup.
 All this, after lowering the neck pup raising the bridge pup and doing everything imaginable to elevate the problem.

Matt Larrivee has indicated he uses alnico 8 magnets on these pick ups, which might  explain some of my concerns.

I tried the identical guitar in a shop, and it had the same problem.
My direct inquiries to others on the forum about their P90 RS4 proved fruitless.

The OHM readings on the pups is 7.4 neck & 8.4 bridge.

I recently had a P90 made for me with 9.2 resistance, alnico 5 magnets and 42 awg poly coated wire.
The difference in the guitar is quite astounding, in that the blend is better, (bridge pup just a tad hotter, and now a bit growlier).

which means switching from one to the other isn't drastic, nor does i require serious EQ settings.

Still not sure if I'm the lone wolf in this regard, as i haven't heard from any one as to their experience.

Unless Matt reads this kind of post or not, makes me hesitant to point it out to him, as I'm sure he is more that sick of my complaining about the matter.
 just tossing this out there, if any one else has had the same issue..

I love these guitars, and I'm am loyal to a fault, having been playing Larrivee's since 1971, and I own more of them than most would consider acceptable.
Including 5 or 6 acoustics dating from 1971, and 4 electrics, (All RS4's dating from the mid eighties)

ok it's been a long week-end of many gigs, in many towns, complete with having the Canadian Olympic Gold medal women's hockey team carry in our gear on Friday.
 time to sleep,
but mostly, i'm REALLY digging the P90 RS4 right now in the studio....
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SouthpawGuy
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2014, 10:42:15 AM »

Hi, I have both an RS4, with Tom Short Tombuckers, and an RS2 with Manlius Quiet Goat P90s, and I have exactly the same experience with the RS2.

The bridge pickup is way too bright and also way lower in volume than the neck. I have adjusted and readjusted the pickups for volume balance many times now, the only way to get the volumes to balance is to lower the neck pickup way down and raise the bridge as high as possible. The problem then is the whole guitar sounds very thin and anaemic. If I raise the neck pickup to get a fuller tone it is louder than the bridge. At this point I'm considering getting a mini humbucker installed in the bridge. Tonally the contrast between the pickups is dramatic, I do like a Tele tone but the tone from the bridge pickup when I got the guitar really surprised me, it "out Teles" my Teles ! ( mostly G&L ASATs actually but that's another kettle of fish )

For what it's worth the Manlius hum cancelling P90s are low output thin sounding pickups so you can take all of the above with a pinch of salt. In contrast the RS4 with humbuckers, I have never had any problem dialling in a tone, I just plug in and play.

Bear in mind that neither of my RS guitars have the stock Larrivee pickups so my set up is somewhat different to the norm.
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headsup
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2014, 01:00:04 PM »

Well you sort of explained you own situation (frustration?) yourself.
Curious as to your reasoning for replacing the pick ups on the RS4.

I've read, on this forum that folks like the "tele" sound of the bridge pup in the P90 RS4 and RS2 guitar.
which might be a clue as to my own concern (thanks for pointing that out).

For my money, when I want a tele sound, I grab a tele.

 Perhaps my expectation of the Larrivee P90's are misplaced? However, in the R &D dept, I doubt they actually set out to have that pup be so brittle and tele sounding, if so, maybe some other views or opinions around here might enlighten me as to my error in judgement.


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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2014, 02:01:35 PM »

I have yet to play a P90ed Larrivee.I am  really big P90 fan and I'm not sure if this will help so here goes.I put Fralin P92's in my most recent Tele these are P90's that are split abd put into a humbucker casing.I ordered them up with a 6.5ohm neck pu and a 7.1ohm bridge.After installing them and playing them for a while I switched  around place them fairly deep imto the body.They sound great now.I'm not sure why.I'm not sure why the Larrivee P90's aren't sounding good the newer magnets,the wire,the hotter ohmage just not sure.Do the controls have that resistor on the volumn pot?If yes remove it,as this has helped on some guitars.Matbe contact a pu builder as they may know better.
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SouthpawGuy
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2014, 02:04:37 PM »

I bought both the RS4 and RS2 used and the p'ups were already changed in the RS4 ( I'm in Ireland and no one stocks right handed Larrivee electrics in the UK or Ireland, lefty ones .. not a chance).

I do find the RS2 frustrating, I really didn't expect it to sound so very different to the RS4. I also have a Heritage 137 with P90s, which has the same construction as the RS2, one piece mahogany body with one piece mahogany neck .... and it sounds a lot closer to the RS4. In fact the RS2 sounds almost identical to a Musicman Axis Super Sport MM90, which is a bolt on neck guitar with ash body / rosewood top and a solid rosewood neck. The only common factor between the two is the longer 25 1/2" scale length. The Heritage 137 scale length is 24.75".
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« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2014, 04:31:48 PM »

I read through this thread earlier when it was posted, but just didn't have time to respond...

I've experienced some of the same things - tone-wise - with my RS-2.

I always turn the bridge tone down to around 6-7 to start, and, depending on amp and pedals, may turn it down to 5-4 to get it where it sounds best (not too bright or brittle). With the bridge tone on 10, it sounds like a bright, hot Tele bridge pickup (but with a hog bodied guitar...). It's too much most of the time.

On the neck, I usually want a little more treble (especially right after switching from the bridge). And I also struggle with getting a good volume balance between the two... the neck is louder, and there really isn't room in the pickup cavity to lower the neck pickup (maybe I need to open it up again and see if there's any foam in there, but I think I took it out when I switched to black pup covers).

The other solution would be to change the tone control pot to a 250K (I'm pretty sure they're 500K). In my case, I'd have to order a lefty one from somewhere, in order to keep all the controls consistent (it's wired left-handed with proper lefty pots). I would even consider changing the neck tone pot to a 1meg ohm pot to make it brighter, but I doubt I could find a left-handed one of those anywhere? Don't know if changing the tone capacitor to a different value would make much difference (since it is just cutting treble, not adding it).

So you're not imagining things... it will just take some more tweaking to get it where you want it (if you want to keep the stock pickups, which I think sound good).
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« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2014, 11:48:01 AM »

I read through this thread earlier when it was posted, but just didn't have time to respond...

I've experienced some of the same things - tone-wise - with my RS-2.

I always turn the bridge tone down to around 6-7 to start, and, depending on amp and pedals, may turn it down to 5-4 to get it where it sounds best (not too bright or brittle). With the bridge tone on 10, it sounds like a bright, hot Tele bridge pickup (but with a hog bodied guitar...). It's too much most of the time.

On the neck, I usually want a little more treble (especially right after switching from the bridge). And I also struggle with getting a good volume balance between the two... the neck is louder, and there really isn't room in the pickup cavity to lower the neck pickup (maybe I need to open it up again and see if there's any foam in there, but I think I took it out when I switched to black pup covers).

The other solution would be to change the tone control pot to a 250K (I'm pretty sure they're 500K). In my case, I'd have to order a lefty one from somewhere, in order to keep all the controls consistent (it's wired left-handed with proper lefty pots). I would even consider changing the neck tone pot to a 1meg ohm pot to make it brighter, but I doubt I could find a left-handed one of those anywhere? Don't know if changing the tone capacitor to a different value would make much difference (since it is just cutting treble, not adding it).

So you're not imagining things... it will just take some more tweaking to get it where you want it (if you want to keep the stock pickups, which I think sound good).






Thanks, I was starting to feel like a lone wolf here.
 The higher resistance P90 I had made for me has pretty much alleviated the issue, as far as balance as well as tone.
It's running a tad hotter than the neck pup, and is not as bright (brittle) than the stock pup.
This of course makes the guitar much much more user friendly from the get go and when reaching for it on stage I don't have any sense of tredpidation....
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« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2014, 04:24:06 PM »


Thanks, I was starting to feel like a lone world here.
 The higher resistance P90 I had made for me has pretty much alleviated the issue, as far as balance as well as tone.
It's running a tad hotter than the neck pup, and is not as bright (brittle) than the stock pup.
This of course makes the guitar much much more user friendly from the get go and when reaching for it on stage I don't have any sense of tredpidation....


That's good to *hear* ... I need to tweak mine some more so that I'll want to play it more often. It's such a great guitar - light, resonant, great action/set-up and for the most part the tones ... it just needs to be a little better balanced in the tone department.

 
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« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2014, 05:59:58 PM »

Well the RS4 P90, performed better that it has since I bought it.
fabulous fat, smooth response from the neck pup, and equally fat and smooth from bridge pup, but with just the little extra edge I've been craving for sometime now.
The guitar has moved to first choice, and even bounced bt the RS4HB,(primarily because of the Bigsby) but both are a pure joy to play.  bowdown
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1esotericguy
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« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2014, 04:57:09 PM »

I've been wrestling a bit with my Rs4 p90 since I bought it also.  Neck pickup particularly always sounded out of balance accross the poles. B and high E always sounded a bit numb.
Was ready to try recharging the magnets in the pickups when I decided to just replace the pickups all together.
Did it last night.  Finally getting the sound I was looking for.  Glad I stopped futzing around with adjustments and just swapped pickups.  Here's a tip for you fellow P90 guys - I got my replacement set on special from Zhangbucker.
$110 shipped!  Totally boutique for less than the cost of 1ea Gibson P90.
Not the regular price. Found it on his specials page.  Scroll down to special #28:
http://www.zhangbucker.com/specials.html
So far - really loving them. 
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« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2014, 05:13:17 PM »

Thanks, I went to the link and did note that the resistance is 9.2k and 7.2 k.
 So from my own upgrade, as i felt the neck pup was behaving just wonderfully, I went to a boutique 9.2k bridge pup with alnico 5's rather than the 8's that are Stock Larrivee.
the nice thing about keeping the stock pup in the neck is, the Alnico 8's give that pup some nice bluster that I doub't the Alnico 5's could muster.
 (Bluster muster?)

So far I have been a bi surprised at how few P90 RS owners are stepping up to this issue, or maybe there are only a few of us that have had these problems, and for the most part having to sort them out on our own with out much help or input from the R&D folks at Larrivee, or other members who either aren't having these issues, or aren't addressing them. Weird cuz I though that's what forums were supposed to be about?

Getting the P90 RS4 to perform  as it should on stage and in the studio has been a real challenge to say the least.
Replacing the pick-ups with another brand might be some cause for concern to some folks?

just saying'.
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1esotericguy
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« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2014, 05:52:19 PM »


So far I have been a bi surprised at how few P90 RS owners are stepping up to this issue, or maybe there are only a few of us that have had these problems, and for the most part having to sort them out on our own with out much help or input from the R&D folks at Larrivee, or other members who either aren't having these issues, or aren't addressing them. Weird cuz I though that's what forums were supposed to be

This might actually be all of us : )  I would guess there's less than 50ea RS4 p90 guitars in the world.  Maybe a few hundred Rs2 p90s.  Total guess.
Not sure how many are actually in customer hands either.  
Some may be in dealer purgatory and others are in big collections not getting played.
Pretty special guitar. Glad I got one even if I do complain about the pickups.
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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2014, 12:06:43 AM »

An interesting estimate, and only the folks in Oxnard know, and over the past year or so, I have posted several queries as to my concerns of the pick-up response on the RS4 p90. not a single person responded, or chimed in.
I purchased my first RS4 sight unseen simply on the strength of the wonderful interview David Wren did with Matt at the NAMM show 2010 (i think) on his design and specifically his R&D work on the Humbucking pick ups, the blind fold test etc, and how much time and work went into that guitar.

I made a point of tracking down one in Vancouver from and old and dear friend Chuck Baker, owner/operator of Rufus Guitar shop. (he's now sold and retired).
 But i made him pull the pick ups out to be sure they were Larrivee Gen 3 pups, before i purchased the guitar.

 That being said, it was, and still is the best electric guitar I have ever owned (and at my age & over 40 years of being a professional musician I've had hundreds)
Just can't understand how or why the same R&D didn't go into the P90 model. OR perhaps it did, with different players etc under different circumstances and a few of us just ended up with a quirky one. regardless, as my earlier posts have indicated, it's a stellar guitar now, and all my stage guitars are Larrivee's (except for a fine Godin Fifth ave arch top), and I'm not optimistic enough in todays guitar markets ti hope for a Larrivee arch top any time soon.
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« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2014, 05:20:38 AM »

I have the only Forum V-RS4 with P90s in it, I believe.  I haven't noticed the balance issue that is the topic of this thread.  I am able to get the two pickups to balance quite nicely in terms of volume without resorting to out-of-the-ordinary height settings.  I adjusted mine by ear shortly after I got the guitar and haven't changed it much since then.  I just measured it now and I have both pickups set to the same height below the strings.  When holding the two E strings down on the last fret, both pickups' pole pieces are 4/32" below the string on the bass side, and 3/32" on the treble side.  In most cases, the neck pickup would be set a little lower than the bridge, but I get even  volume with them set up this way.  This still leaves me a lot of room for tweaking, so no problem there. 

I agree, they are a bit on the harsh side, especially the bridge, and with the tone controls all the way clockwise, but not more so than the P90s retrofitted on my Gretsch Pro Jet.  I chalk it up to how those pups are supposed to be?  I can take the edge off a bit with the tone control, but I don't often feel the need to do so.

All that said, I have never gigged with my RS4 and I don't have a lot of experience performing on a regular basis, so I may not be aware of some of the nuances and issues in a live setting.
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« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2014, 02:58:07 AM »

Thanks for this, an interesting ad on.
 I don't measure, I use my ears.
so if your balance is fine thats good, maybe I had a weirdo one, but even after swapping out the ML pups, for a different set, the problem was still there, and eventually, as mentioned, I decided the alnico 8's were't the best choice for th bridge pup, and a 9.2 resistance in stead of an 8.4 was a better match as far as balance (to my ears) of the guitar.
and, as i said, it went from being the least used guitar in the rack to the most used, just by that change over (he bigsby had something to do with it as well) but the frustration of going from one RS4 to the other, had to be dealt with.
 thanks for your input on this.
 always searching for better tone, (it's only been 50 years)
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« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2014, 04:28:59 AM »

Thanks for this, an interesting ad on.
 I don't measure, I use my ears.
so if your balance is fine thats good, maybe I had a weirdo one, but even after swapping out the ML pups, for a different set, the problem was still there, and eventually, as mentioned, I decided the alnico 8's were't the best choice for th bridge pup, and a 9.2 resistance in stead of an 8.4 was a better match as far as balance (to my ears) of the guitar.
and, as i said, it went from being the least used guitar in the rack to the most used, just by that change over (he bigsby had something to do with it as well) but the frustration of going from one RS4 to the other, had to be dealt with.
 thanks for your input on this.
 always searching for better tone, (it's only been 50 years)

Well, I did use my ears, then measured afterwards.  My point was to show that I ended up with pretty standard pup heights after setting them by ear.  That aside, maybe the general nature of a P90 design pickup is at play here, and not so much it's use in combination with a RS4 type guitar?  It would be enlightening to know what others have to say more generally about P90s' sound and quirks regardless of what guitar they are installed in.  Any comments out there?
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« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2014, 03:38:04 PM »

I've installed P90's in lots of guitars,the reason being is that without touching a knob just changing your right hand attack you get so many wonderful tone's.I use Kent Armstrongs MIK with wonderful results.The P90's in Kurt's Gretsch are Armstrongs.I've used Fralin P92's,which are p90's in the shape of humbucker pu's in Les Pauls,I have them in my set neck Tele for that reason.Lower ohm's give more note sepeation and better string balance.
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