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Thread: How to decrease brightness in a single circuit?

  1. #1
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    How to decrease brightness in a single circuit?

    I recently rebuild a guitar and it all worked out very well, except for one thing. I've got the electronics wired so that the bridge pickup has a series setting and a parallel setting and the parallel setting colors very well with the rest of the settings, only the series setting is so incredibly bright, that I need a completely different amp setting, than all other settings, to make it work. I expected the series setting to be brighter, of course, but the difference is HUGE! Much larger than anything I could find on examples I found in youtube videos about the matter.
    Now I was thinking, is there something I can implement in the series circuit of this pickup that can decrease the extremely bright tone, by taking some of the brightness out? I'm pretty handy with connections, but I dont have much knowledge of what electronic components do. I dont have space to insert a print board, so I need something very small. Is there an option to add a resistor, or capacitor, any single component in that nature, in the circuit, say between the end wire of the pickup and the connection to the switch, to reduce brightness?


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    Often, "loading down" a pickup can help to tame some of the brightness. This is why you will often see the recommendatio to use a 250k volume pot for single-coil pickups. I don't know if your switching arrangement can accommodate it, but a simple fixed resistor between the input lug and ground on your volume pot might help alleviate the excessive brightness.

    So, if your volume pot is 500k, try a 330k or even a 220k resistor, as described. 330k will simulate what having a 200k volume pot would be like, and 220k will simulate what having a 150k volume pot would be like. I might point out that sometimes more advanced preamps will include such switchable functions, so it is not that farfetched a suggestion.

    Alternatively, one can solder a small-value capacitor between the input and ground lugs of the volume pot. This will selectively filter off some of the high end. Without hearing your pickups, it would be hard to make a specific recommendation, but consider starting off with 220pf.

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  3. #3
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    It seems weird, my experience is that parallel is usually brighter than series, series being characterised by a lot more mids/warmth, louder and more punchy.
    I wonder if one of the arrangements has got a coil polarity swapped somehow?

    What resistance do you measure in series and parallel?
    Are both positions humbucking?

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  4. #4
    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdf64 View Post
    ......I wonder if one of the arrangements has got a coil polarity swapped somehow?......
    Yes, that. Maybe the pickups are out of phase in the series configuration.

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    +1 on checking the phasing, though if this is correct you need to consider further options.

    Sometimes it happens that a certain pickup or coil selection is too bright or too dark. 'Global' changes affect the good settings as well, so something specific to that particular setting needs to happen. My usual route is to either switch a fixed-value resistor or resistor/capacitor combination across the volume pot lugs to bring down what the pickup sees (say, from 500k to 250k or whatever it needs). You need a spare pair of switch contacts to do this - Suhr uses this method with some guitars using a Superswitch. You see a few resistors and capacitors that are switched in or out depending on pickup selection with those instruments and it works well.

    I also wire guitars to switch between two values of volume pot. I use this method in a few HSS Strat-type configurations - master tone control and a 500k volume for the humbucker and 250k for the singles. I have a pro customer that has all of his guitars wired this way.

    Do you have a schematic or wiring diagram? It may give a better insight into the possibilities.

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