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  #1  
Old 12-05-2019, 04:05 PM
Ralph124C41 Ralph124C41 is offline
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Default School me on pickup for Masterbilt AJ-500RE

Hi,

I was looking to buy a 2010 (by serial number) guitar listed as an Epiphone Masterbilt AJ-500RE so I was expecting to get this:

http://www.epiphone.com/Products/Aco...-AJ-500RE.aspx

I got sent pics and it shows the guitar but with a visible pickup, almost like somebody had put on a third-party pickup. I called the store and talked to an agent who told me the label inside says it is an AJ-500RENS (natural satin) and it has a Shadow pickup?

??? I did some research and found some earlier models had a Baggs system but then that was replaced by the Shadow (?) and then by the pickup(2) listed on the Epi page.

So what do I have on this guitar? Are the pickup(s) decent? I would use the guitar 90 percent unplugged but it would be nice to have the pickups. I just hope the acoustic sound isn't compromised too much.

As in the past, thanks for any help you folks can throw my way. As I said I bought my Epi AJ500M based upon the favorable comments here and I really like the guitar.
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  #2  
Old 12-05-2019, 04:46 PM
Ralph124C41 Ralph124C41 is offline
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Well I tried for the first time since I joined this forum in February 2016 to post a picture. I am not a charter member so that option is out. I don't have a "smart" (and don't plan to get one) so that option is out. I did now just join Imgur and posted a picture but when I tried to upload it the picture won't appear, just a little square. And then I tried to delete it and I can't.

Anyway I've never seen a Masterbilt like this as it has a clearly visible pickup in the neck position, as I said almost as if somebody installed an OTC soundhole pickup so I hope somebody can help me out a little.

And also point out what I'm doing wrong with trying to post a pic.
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  #3  
Old 12-05-2019, 06:52 PM
Kerbie Kerbie is offline
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Default Here you go...



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph124C41 View Post
And also point out what I'm doing wrong with trying to post a pic.
Ralph, PM sent to you.

Last edited by Kerbie; 12-05-2019 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:30 PM
Ralph124C41 Ralph124C41 is offline
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Kerbie, thank you,

Yes I'm stumped by this pic. The more I look at it the more it looks sto me like some third-party added-on pickup but I'm told it's stock.
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:38 PM
Kerbie Kerbie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph124C41 View Post
Kerbie, thank you.
You're very welcome, Ralph. PM me if you need any more help with the process.
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  #6  
Old 12-06-2019, 07:37 AM
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DCCougar DCCougar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph124C41 View Post
The more I look at it the more it looks sto me like some third-party added-on pickup but I'm told it's stock.
It's not stock AFAIK. It probably works fine. If not, you can always have a K&K mini installed.
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Old 12-06-2019, 07:46 AM
RalphH RalphH is offline
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It's definitely not the original pickup. That's a Fishman Neo-D.

Certainly not what it would have come with. For a start the Neo-D isn't designed for an end-pin socket; it comes with about 10 feet of cable attached that you run out of the soundhole and into an amp - you would have to cut the cable and solder it in to make it a permenant addition to the guitar. Also, it doesn't need a preamp, which that guitar almost came with.

It's a pretty good pickup though - I have one 'round here somewhere. It sounds surprisingly woody for a mag pickup. I would want to know whether it was the single-coil or the humbucker version. I bought the single-coil first and I got a LOT of RF noise on it. I had to send it back and get the humbucker.
Also, seeing the New-D in the sound-hole doesn't mean the original pickup is not in there - the shadow pickup is an under-saddle piezo, so it might still be there. But if it is in there, it's at least unsoldered from the endpin jack. Either the pre-amp packed up and this was an easy fix, or someone really wanted to change to a mag pickup. It clamps to the soundboard so it's easy enough to remove, or would be if it's not soldered to an end pin jack.


Hope that helps.

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Last edited by RalphH; 12-06-2019 at 08:00 AM.
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Old 12-06-2019, 11:13 AM
Ralph124C41 Ralph124C41 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RalphH View Post
It's definitely not the original pickup. That's a Fishman Neo-D.

Certainly not what it would have come with. For a start the Neo-D isn't designed for an end-pin socket; it comes with about 10 feet of cable attached that you run out of the soundhole and into an amp - you would have to cut the cable and solder it in to make it a permenant addition to the guitar. Also, it doesn't need a preamp, which that guitar almost came with.

It's a pretty good pickup though - I have one 'round here somewhere. It sounds surprisingly woody for a mag pickup. I would want to know whether it was the single-coil or the humbucker version. I bought the single-coil first and I got a LOT of RF noise on it. I had to send it back and get the humbucker.
Also, seeing the New-D in the sound-hole doesn't mean the original pickup is not in there - the shadow pickup is an under-saddle piezo, so it might still be there. But if it is in there, it's at least unsoldered from the endpin jack. Either the pre-amp packed up and this was an easy fix, or someone really wanted to change to a mag pickup. It clamps to the soundboard so it's easy enough to remove, or would be if it's not soldered to an end pin jack.


Hope that helps.
That helps me sooooooo much. At least I wasn't going crazy. I will contact the store. Actually, as I think I said, the pickup is not that big a deal for me and, in fact, if I could find one I'd prefer to get a straight-ahead AJ500R without a pickup. This model at least doesn't have the cutaway. But I'm having a doozy of a time trying to find one like that ... that doesn't charge me an arm and a leg, actually two legs.

I wonder why the pickup was swapped. The store has no info on that. I will try go get some more info on how the pickups are now set up. I asked the store clerk to plug it in and it works ... but that's all I know about it. Perhaps that's why the price is a bit lower than normal. Actually I don't know what "normal" price would be. I paid only $300 for my AJ500MNS with the original (and beautiful) Epiphone case which I've now found to be a steal.
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Old 12-06-2019, 11:28 AM
Nyghthawk Nyghthawk is offline
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I recently paid $450 for mine off of Craigslist.

The Shadow electronics in these is unreliable according to people I have talked to. Perhaps that is the reason for the after-market pickup.

P.S. I love mine.
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  #10  
Old 12-06-2019, 12:34 PM
Ralph124C41 Ralph124C41 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nyghthawk View Post
I recently paid $450 for mine off of Craigslist.

The Shadow electronics in these is unreliable according to people I have talked to. Perhaps that is the reason for the after-market pickup.

P.S. I love mine.
This one will be less than $400 with state tax. I did read that about those Shadows but I got confused with people talking about the Baggs pickup and the Shadow and the newer version so I don't know what is what.

I don't think it looks very good and I'd be tempted just to take the thing out, especially if it might improve the unplugged sound.
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  #11  
Old 12-06-2019, 01:03 PM
guitararmy guitararmy is offline
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I used to have an AJ500R with the factory dual pickup setup. The piezo component died, and I've read that pickup issues were not uncommon.
So that may be why there is an aftermarket pickup in it.
Mine was phenomenal sounding, but I gave it to a friend in a moment of weakness...
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Old 12-06-2019, 01:12 PM
Ralph124C41 Ralph124C41 is offline
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UPDATE

Just as RalphH surmised, the original pickup system does not work, only that third-party pickup. The store clerk agreed that the "No. 1" selling point (I don't agree on that, however) of the guitar has been removed.

However he said he doubted the store will lower the price. I asked him to at least change the wording of the ad to mention the change and he said he would refer it to his supervisor.

I'm really disappointed, especially in the light that the guitar is being marketed as the way it is; it is no longer stock asit no longer has a duo pickup system.

Thanks, again, folks.
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  #13  
Old 12-06-2019, 01:28 PM
Ralph124C41 Ralph124C41 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitararmy View Post
I used to have an AJ500R with the factory dual pickup setup. The piezo component died, and I've read that pickup issues were not uncommon.
So that may be why there is an aftermarket pickup in it.
Mine was phenomenal sounding, but I gave it to a friend in a moment of weakness...
Was it phenomenal sounding unplugged or plugged in or both? I'm just curious as I'm looking locally for a somewhat similar model but it has a cutaway.
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  #14  
Old 12-06-2019, 02:10 PM
guitararmy guitararmy is offline
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It was very rich sounding unplugged, maybe even a bit too warm (some 80/20 strings might have helped that but I didn't get around to trying them).
Even with just the Nanomag pickup (the one at the base of the neck) it sounded very good plugged in.
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  #15  
Old 12-06-2019, 02:26 PM
Ralph124C41 Ralph124C41 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitararmy View Post
It was very rich sounding unplugged, maybe even a bit too warm (some 80/20 strings might have helped that but I didn't get around to trying them).
Even with just the Nanomag pickup (the one at the base of the neck) it sounded very good plugged in.
Thanks. I'm just worried that the pickup(s) will detract from the unplugged sound. I really like the sound of rosewood back and sides and the only guitar I have is one with the laminates. So on my budget it's either something like this or the newer model with a cutaway or something like an older Martin D-1 or D-1Gt. I've tried the DRS2 (I think) and the newer D-10E and was not all that impressed and I'm thinking it'd be better to get a guitar without the included pickup if I don't really need one.
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