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  • HHH - to split or not to split

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm embarking on replacing my HSH electronics to HHH (pole, rail, pole) but lost at deciding whether investing in a superswitch to coil split the middle pickup is worthwhile. Struggling to find any direct answers to the below and it's burning a hole in my mind. Any ideas/directions/opinions outside the box also deeply appreciated!

    1. How do the following compare, looking at just position 2 - bridge and middle for discussion sake, e.g. 2 coils ideal? 3 coils above is a no no?
    a. Bridge north + Bridge south+ Middle north + middle south
    b. Middle south + Bridge north + Bridge south
    c. Middle south + bridge north
    d. Middle north + middle south + bridge north

    2. If above's too complicated or rather superflous, is combining the 4 conducts of the middle rail pick into 2 ok? e.g split only the bridge and neck pickups and stick with a 5 way switch with 1d config in mind

    3. Could a push/pull tone pot in the circuit achieve the same effect as a 5way super switch?

    4. Parallel or series? I haven't looked into this but thought I ask in case it's better to know early along side question 1.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    A lot of the fancy coil-cancellation, phase-reversal, and series-parallel stuff tends to disappear at higher volumes. If you play clean, and at lower volumes, that stuff can matter. BUt at higher volumes, especially if you use any distortion whatsoever, it tends to be a lot of unnecessaary fuss about stuff you'll never actually hear. And even if you can hear it, it's no different than adjusting the bass or mid control a bit on the amp.

    Comment


    • #3
      I disagree (most respectfully). IMHE the subtleties of series/parallel, single/humbucker, position and combinations thereof can make huge differences in the harmonic sensitivity even at high gain settings. But I'm an amp guy. So the opportunity to set up an amp at the edge of uber gain and then control harmonic content and drive with the guitar volume control and pickup selection is the whole game for me. My own guitar is a HSS with a series/parallel switch and a phase switch for the middle pickup. I wired it that way twenty two years ago. Since then the ideas have become fashionable and then gone out of favor What can I say? I'm a little dated. But I couldn't live without this guitar just as it is. When gigging I find ALL the different options useful for mimicking the tones of different guitars from all eras and genres. So I would say... Try to keep any switching as straight forward and easy to manage as possible, but don't skimp on allowance of options. You don't want the guitars switching to be too complicated because it's easy to get lost. The exception would be if it's your main guitar and, so, you will learn to manage it and it will always be the one your using. But if it's only an occasional guitar you really need to keep it simple. Otherwise you'll get lost just trying to play it!?!
      "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

      "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

      "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi Mark and Chuck. Thanks for the prompt advice!

        Decided on an in-between with the following wiring which gives a split in parallel at position 2&4 with exception 500k tone pot and .047μ tone cap instead; thus taking the push-pull pot complexity out of the equation
        http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/7...lsParallel.jpg

        Figured if i'm getting a humbucker sound from 1,3,5 why not a strat sound at 2&4.

        Let me know if this is sounds about right

        Comment


        • #5
          Chuck and I may differ with respect to the audibility of the various combinations and coil options. But where we most assuredly agree wholeheartedly is here:

          Try to keep any switching as straight forward and easy to manage as possible, but don't skimp on allowance of options. You don't want the guitars switching to be too complicated because it's easy to get lost.
          The question this leads to is identifying the point where "skimping" is in effect. I got myself a re-issue Wilshire earlier this year and traded a guy a pedal for a pair of Duncan P-Rails. I cut myself a new pickguard and installed the P-Rails with a single master vol and tone, and a 3-way Tele switch. The P-Rails offer more than simple coil-cancelling, with two distinct kinds of coils in each pickup. Instead of the push-pull pots I tend to see employed in many installs, I added a pair of 3-position toggles, so that I could use either or both coils in each pickup. So, two knobs, two toggles, and a master pickup selector; relatively uncluttered, with a volume knob positioned to let me do pinky swells (and I don't know how you do pinky swells using a push-pull pot that's pulled up), and switches that don't oblige me to be careful about how I strum (lest I hit/move them, or cut myself). When both are on, I have 9 different options, plus 3 options for each pickup when only neck or bridge are selected. Everything is "as-is" with no series-parallel options implemented. Nothing against them, just not used here. That's still a lot of choices. Note that I still have a 3-position switch for the master control and can simply treat the guitar like neck/both/bridge instrument if I want to.

          So, identify which of those various coil/pickup combinations are going to make the most sonic difference for you (and Chuck, you have to admit that some will be more audibly different than others, even if they produce some audible change), that matters most to your playing style, and figure out an easy and unobtrusive way to get to those tonal changes.

          Lastly, note that hum-rejection is maximized when you have the same amount of hum and anti-hum, such that they cancel out. Running both coils from one pickup with a single coil of another, will increase audible hum a bit, because now you're sensing more of one (hum) than the other (anti-hum). It may not be problematic at all in your case, but just keep an ear open for it. You don't want to go through all that work and planning only to have something annoying result.

          Just out of curiosity, what sort of control complement do you currently have?

          Comment


          • #6
            1 volume knob and 1 tone knob.

            Same for the next rig. I don't have a drill atm for extra holes on the pickguard XD

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm in total agreement about planning any arrangement to minimize hum.

              Your switching arrangement sounds very comprehensive and versatile. Nice.

              My HSS strat is wired with a three position tele switch. I have a master volume and tone for all pickups in all positions. The other pickguard hole has a 4pdt toggle that switches from parallel to series wiring along with other changes to which pickups are coupled. The tone control is a push/pull pot for reversing the phase of the middle pickup. So it's a three way pickup selector, one volume, one tone, a mini toggle and a push/pull switch. And works as follows:

              parallel:
              1) bridge
              2) neck
              3) neck and middle (middle phase switchable)

              series:
              1) middle
              2) bridge and middle (middle phase switchable)
              3) all three (only used with the middle out of phase)

              The middle pickup is NOT reverse wound so I don't have hum cancelling for the neck/middle in parallel, but since I only use that position for clean tones it's not that bad since the gain isn't that high on the amp. Since I only use all three in series with the middle out of phase there isn't much hum. I also have extensive shielding (including grounded copper foil inside the single coil covers) and that helps too. I haven't been troubled by hum problems other than all three pickups in series, in phase, which is the only selection I don't use. And I don't miss the bridge/middle parallel option because I've never liked that tone for anything and I don't play country.

              I've left my own axe this way because I'm use to it now. I have since come up with a more comprehensive arrangement that omits the push/pull pot, uses a RW middle pickup and works as follows:

              parallel:
              1) bridge
              2) middle and neck
              3) neck

              series:
              1) all three (with a series cap to reduce bass)
              2) middle
              3) bridge and middle

              I intend to use this wiring for standard strats (three single coils).
              "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

              "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

              "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

              Comment


              • #8
                Hijacking for a minute:

                It's amazing how your view on instruments can change over time. When I was in high school in the 70s the guitar player in my band had a Wilshire because he couldn't afford a Gibson. It was a 70s-production guitar and like most guitars of the era was nowhere near as nice as the 60s models. The guitar was very light, had a pancake body, the humbuckers seemed sort of twangy, and it didn't have anything in the way of sustain. I never had fond memories of the tone of that guitar, but that sort of changed once the B-52's came along and that Ricky Wilson twang became famous. Ricky Wilson did a lot for the recognition of Wilshires, sort of the way that Jack White helped to revive peoples' appreciation for Silvertone amps.

                Maybe 10 years or so ago I stopped in a pawn shop in Indiana to kill some time while travelling and I found a '62 Wilshire hanging on the wall with a $700 price tag on it. I thought it was over priced. It was at the time. It was in it's original case and it even had the original store receipt that showed a price tag of around $200.

                Looking closely, the guitar was a second. It had a "2" stamped into the back of the headstock, because there were some drilling errors and plugs in the body where the bridge was mounted. It hadn't been played in who knows how long -- it's strings were rusty, the action was horribly high, the neck was bowed and it didn't sound very good, because it was one of those pancake-thin mahogany bodies. I decided to pass on it and drove home.

                Then it dawned on me that the '62 Epis had all of the leftover parts on them that Gibson was trying to get rid of. It had 1950s P90 pickups, a no-wire ABR bridge (hated at the time because the saddles would fall out during string changes), 1950's switching, and the 1960s Les Paul knobs. I talked to a vintage parts guy about the guitar and he kept asking questions about it, claiming that he just wanted a funky guitar for playing slide, and he didn't care how bad the neck was. He asked where I had found it, but I refused to tell him. It dawned on me that the guitar itself wasn't worth as much as the parts that it was made of -- most of the parts were high-demand items for people who were restoring the 1950s Les Pauls, which had already skyrocketed in value.

                I ened up going back to pick up the guitar. I know you'll think it's sacrilege, Mark, but I paid $700 for that guitar, pulled out the 1950s P90 pickups, the ABR bridge, the pickup selector switch and the pots/circuitry, and replaced all that stuff with new production Gibson parts. I ended up keeping the P90 pickups, I sold the no-wire ABR bridge, pickup selector, and pots/knobs to the vintage LP parts guy for more than I paid for the Wilshire, and then I flipped the Wilshire too. When all was said and done, I had enough money to pay for my Gibson Historic Reissue '56 Goldtop, and I put original 1950s P90s into it. The reissue LP sounds a lot better than the original Wilshire, even with the same pickups.

                What really amazes me is that the Epi web site now makes some outlandish claims that a 62 Wilshire is worth "$5,000 to $12,000 or more depending upon condition."

                1962 Wilshire USA Reissue

                I honestly think that the guys who wrote those prices into the web page had to be smoking crack. 10 years ago I passed on a '55 Black Beauty in that price range.
                "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

                "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

                Comment


                • #9
                  Following up: I must just be out of touch with the demand for vintage guitars. According to GP Magazine, the Epiphone Historic Reissue Wilshire guitars have an MSRP of $4,832 and a street price of $2,899. that's 4x what I paid for an original Wilshire.

                  GuitarPlayer: Epiphone Custom Historic 1962 Wilshire

                  Again, I think that the guys who write this copy have to be smoking crack. Maybe they're just writing friendly articles to pump up the perceived value for these things, in order to help justify Gibson's insane pricing model. There's just no way that these reissue pancake Epiphone guitars are worth more than what I paid for a real 1962 Wilshire, or for my current production 1956 Gibson Historic shop LP reissue, which is a better instrument by leaps and bounds.
                  "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

                  "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    the wilshires were before my time but I imagine even if it wasn't a great guitar, there would have been quite a following being priced at $200. Hence, there would be a niche market for the few around willing to pay that much as reflected below; likely dictated by rarity rather than quality

                    Found 'wilshire' page 1 | Gbase.com > Guitars Amps & More

                    On that note, it's like cars. For a workhorse i'll go for technology and reliability. For that inner child, maybe a MGB. And then there are those who rather have a classic oldsmobile or chevrolet that costs twice as much which spends more time in the garage than on the road like those 5-12grand wilshires. I would ask them, rather than the sellers or quoters, whether they were on crack when they bought it
                    Last edited by Dazza; 11-13-2013, 01:22 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Sounds to me like you did the best you could at the time. But who knows how it could have turned out if you'd sat on that guitar in original condition!?! Maybe the parts you sold off that guitar have been stripped from the LP reissues they were supposed to improve so that they could be reinstalled on that your old Wilshire guitar as a restoration!?! It's a small, strange, crack smoking world.
                      "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                      "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                      "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        No sacrilege whatsoever, Bob. It's not like there was ever a shortage of Wilshires made and every single one needs to be preserved in pristine form as a historical record. They were budget guitars that happened to play real nice, much like Melody Makers.

                        FWIW, I also have a 64 batwing Coronet that a now deceased cousin gave me in 1975 or so. I gave the P90 away to guitarist/songwriter Marshall Crenshaw in 82, and did all manner of ridiculous mods to the guitar. Painting it and stripping it. Refretting with heavy frets to stabilize the neck. Sticking a BIgsby B5 on it. Onboard preamps. DiMarzio PUs. A "Hendrix" Strat complement (bridge angled "the other way"). Various switching arrangements. The works. It currently has a Mighty-Mite P90, and a neck pickup I wound on some custom-cut flatwork (to suit the narrow neck), using polepieces from a greybottom Strat PU I traded a guy a Melody Maker PU for in 77. Neck vol, bridge vol, and a 3-position tone toggle.

                        The Wilshire purchase is because the clear access to the whole neck had me spoiled, and because as much as I like it, the bodies on the Coronets were too thin (no bass), and the necks were too narrow (it probably doesn't hit the standard nut width of 1"-11/16 until up around the 15th fret). They were "student models" after all, and built for the 12 year-old hand. So the Wilshire was really to have a proper version of what I found generally likeable-but-insufficient on the Coronet. The Wilshire body with set neck came up on local kijiji for $150, sans electronics or proper pickguard. HAD to pull the trigger on it. Bought some lovely pickguard material from GFS (mint-black-mint on a green body), cut a new one suited to the pickups and planned controls, and I've been real happy with it. Nice weight. NIce balance, and MUCH better neck. Love mahogany necks I can feel my finger vibrato through. An under-appreciated model IMHO.

                        We're way off topic now, but the problem with axes like the Wilshire, SG, and any others joined to the body way up the neck is that if you want a decent neck joint, you need to leave room for the tenon. And if you have a short-scale 22-fret neck, and the neck pickup has to be pushed back a bit to leave room for the tenon, the neck and bridge PUs aren't spaced vary far apart. Not that the sounds achieved are unpleasant or unuseful, but it's hard to get tonal much contrast unless you take special steps. Those times I've played an SG Special, I've been disappointed by how little tonal variation is achievable, and its because the pickups are scrunched too close. Maybe I'm just too partial to Telecasters, but when I switch from neck to bridge or vice versa, I want to know it.

                        The P-Rails let me do that. I oriented them such that the rail portions are on the outside (closest to the fingerboard and the bridge). Using JUST the rails parts can get some nice sounds.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Chuck H View Post
                          Sounds to me like you did the best you could at the time. But who knows how it could have turned out if you'd sat on that guitar in original condition!?! Maybe the parts you sold off that guitar have been stripped from the LP reissues they were supposed to improve so that they could be reinstalled on that your old Wilshire guitar as a restoration!?! It's a small, strange, crack smoking world.
                          I don't think that the parts would ever find their way back to a Wilshire -- the parts guy told me that those parts that I sold actually ended up going onto the real deal -- a 1959 sunburst LP Standard. Like most 50 year old guitars, that one had a lot of "upgrades" performed on it over the years in the name of increasing playability -- new bridge, tuners, pots, etc. In the course of doing that the original parts became lost. When the market for 'bursts went crazy and people started to see totally-stock 1959 'bursts going for $250,000, it created a HUGE demand for the missing vintage parts. It seemed that every guy who had the right guitar with the wrong parts was willing to pay obscene amounts for the right parts, to make his guitar stock all over again. It's as if everyone had visions of owning a $250,000 museum piece, and they believed that the only thing that stood between them and success was a handful of old parts. The reality is that a lot of guys paid stupid prices for old parts, but that's what collectors do.

                          I've never been someone to buy into the mojo factor that goes with buying 1950s parts to add mojo to a historic reissue guitar. I honestly don't think that things like vintage bridges, switches, pots and caps makes a difference on a new guitar. Pickups? Well, yeah, the 1950s P90s do sound nice, but then I have to admit that the current production Gibson P90 sound really nice too, and I could be happy with either one. The truth is that making a pickup is not a lost art, and Gibson makes pickups today that are every bit as good as the old ones. Not as collectable, of course, but just as good. Of course, there are plenty of guys who do their own winding who'll disagree with me on that.
                          "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

                          "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bob p View Post
                            The reality is that a lot of guys paid stupid prices for old parts, but that's what collectors do.
                            I may sig you on that!
                            "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                            "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                            "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

                            Comment

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