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50's Wiring and detrimental effect on tone.

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  • 50's Wiring and detrimental effect on tone.

    I was rewiring my HSH guitar with pull pots to get some extra tonal options, so whilst I was at it I thought that I'd rewire the tone control to 50's wiring. Upon completing the job and plugging in the guitar's tone had changed for the worse - the wound strings had become very slightly muffled and the overall tone had become more 'nasal' - a bit like the sound you get when trying to talk whilst pinching your nose, yet there was still a harsh high end presence. All the benefits of 50's wiring were present - better treble retention when rolling off the volume, great 'woman tone' on the neck pickup etc. but the guitar sounded horrible. At first I thought I'd done something wrong, but I hadn't, and sure enough when I disconnected the tone control the normal pickup tone returned, although a touch too harsh, especially on the bridge pickup without the load on the pickup from the tone pot. Interestingly I'd retained the same tone cap from the original 'modern' wiring, so what's different about so called 50's wiring that induced such a noticeable change in tone?

    So, I'm looking for a solution - if there is one - that will let me keep the 50's wiring benefits without the detrimental effect on tone. The bridge pickup (a Fender/EVH wolfgang humbucker) needs to see the load from ideally a 250k pot (factory spec) in order not to be too harsh, although at the moment I'm using a 500k pot. I thought about wiring the tone control Fender style so that it's only on the neck and middle pickups, and then just hardwiring a 250k resistor (or whatever the nearest value is) between the bridge pickup and ground. I could then open the push/pull pot up and scrape away a bit of the track so that behaved like a Fender 'no load' tone pot: when set on full it was disconnected, but I could bring it in as desired on the neck and middle pickups, whilst the bridge pickup retained a permanent 250k load to tame the harsh highs. Any other ideas anyone?

  • #2
    How exactly did you wire it?
    https://www.fralinpickups.com/2020/0...modern-wiring/

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    • #3
      Exactly as illustrated in the '50's wiring' diagram shown in the linked page in your post.

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      • #4
        Sounds like you made too many changes at once to be able to say what is affecting the tone.

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        • #5
          I suggest to try a 250k vol pot.
          As with 50s wiring, other than when the vol is at max, compared to modern wiring, the loading on the pickup is reduced.
          My band:- http://www.youtube.com/user/RedwingBand

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          • #6
            There's no electrical difference between both wirings at full volume.
            - Own Opinions Only -

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            • #7
              There must be! They sound noticeably different. The 50's wiring (with the knob on 10) is a bit more like having no tone control connected. One variation that I hadn't considered actually: When I wired the 50s wiring the order was capacitor, resistor,ground. Whereas the original modern wiring in the guitar was resistor, capacitor, ground. Would there be a difference if all frequencies were hitting the resistor compared the only the high frequencies?

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              • #8
                Unless there are any wiring errors or component changes (?), with the vol up full, 50s and modern tone / vol wiring are electrically identical.
                The tone control is a series circuit, the order of the cap and pot is immaterial to the signal.
                Last edited by pdf64; 02-14-2021, 11:21 AM.
                My band:- http://www.youtube.com/user/RedwingBand

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                • #9
                  There was also another change; with the 50s wiring there was a slight difference in that the low frequencies were slightly muffled. I was able to test this directly back to back by unsoldering the tone wire from the volume pot whilst I was playing. There was no time lag for it to be an artifact of my hearing/mind.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by greengriff View Post
                    There was also another change; with the 50s wiring there was a slight difference in that the low frequencies were slightly muffled. I was able to test this directly back to back by unsoldering the tone wire from the volume pot whilst I was playing.
                    Unsoldering the tone wire from the volume pot will always slightly increase treble, independent of 50s or standard wiring. That effect will reduce with a higher resistance tone pot.
                    It can be completely eliminated with a "no-load" tone pot.
                    - Own Opinions Only -

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                    • #11
                      Yes, maybe I didn't phrase that very well: what I meant to say was I did the same thing with both 50s and modern wiring, and the 50s wiring introduced a slightly 'muffled' tone when reconnected, and the modern wiring didn't.

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                      • #12
                        The only electrical explanation for that is if the vol pot has a significant degree of resistance, when turned up full, between the wiper terminal and hot track end terminal.
                        If that’s not the case, you may be experiencing a psychoacoustic effect, confirmation bias etc. Hence why double blind testing is used for scientific tests.
                        My band:- http://www.youtube.com/user/RedwingBand

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                        • #13
                          Interesting. Maybe the vol pot is faulty. That hadn't occurred to me. But I have a discerning ear and my bias was the other way (I really wanted the 50s wiring to be better, because I liked the treble retention when turning down the volume control).

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by greengriff View Post
                            Interesting. Maybe the vol pot is faulty. That hadn't occurred to me. But I have a discerning ear and my bias was the other way (I really wanted the 50s wiring to be better, because I liked the treble retention when turning down the volume control).
                            And you CAN have the 50's wiring without detriment to the stock tone. As noted already and more than once, with the tone and volume pots up full there is absolutely no electrical difference in the guitars circuit WRT "50's" vs. modern wiring. Absolutely no difference. Provided your pots are functioning correctly, as noted.

                            So to have what you want you only need to be sure of your wiring and confirm proper function for your pots.
                            "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

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                            • #15
                              It occurs to me that part of the mystique and mojo attributed to the 50's vs modern wiring might be because every damned example is drawn up as a diagram rather than a schematic. This makes things look more different than they really are. Below is a schematic format example. I've substituted the pots for fixed resistors in hopes of making things more clear.

                              You can see that with the volume control in use the tone circuit load is behind the volume pot series resistance for the modern wiring and ahead of the volume pot series resistance for the 50's wiring. This is indeed a circuit difference. But then below that you can see that with the volume pot up full there is no series resistance for the tone circuit to be behind or ahead of. So both circuits have the switch connected to the jack with a load for the volume pot and a load for the tone circuit. So with the volume up full they are electrically the same and there will be no difference in tone.

                              If you are correct that changing to the 50's wiring has changed the tone of the guitar with the volume up full then there must be an error in the wiring and/or faulty volume pot.

                              Click image for larger version  Name:	50svsmod1.png Views:	0 Size:	2.7 KB ID:	924691
                              Last edited by Chuck H; 02-14-2021, 05:55 PM.
                              "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

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