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Rick Andrews and other experts answers guitar repair questions
For almost one year, guitar luther Rick Andrews answered your guitar repair questions. After recieving over 500 questions we put together the most popular questions and answers. Today, we are involving other great guitar builders and will continue to expand this area in the future. This section will no longer be interactive but you should find most of your guitar building and repair questions have already been answered in this section.

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  •  Guitar wiring question
    From: John Adams
    Subject: Guitar wiring question

    I did this drawing on my computer so that I could just E-mail it to you.
    What my guitar has are 3 pickups in a S-S-H configuration from neck to bridge. I could not tell exactly what the wiring was doing between the middle single coil pickup and the humbucker.

    It has one tone control and two volume controls because it has these three pickups as well as a Piezo pickup (with Acoustic Modeling) under the bridge so it can sound more like an acoustic when you use just that pickup. It has the typical 5-position switch to switch between neck,neck & mid, mid, mid & bridge, and bridge.

    I am looking for any changes in the wiring that may get my pickups to sound better. I read that the bridge pickup usually doesn't go through the tone control so it will sound shrill or trebly (which mine does). I also read that a 1 Meg or 2 Meg Pot for the volume control might make the pickups sound brighter (and better?). I have also seen tone control pot kits that give you more variety of sounds by emphasizing or deemphasizing the midrange, or by changing the impedance of the capacitor so that the high-end dropoff is set differently.

    What types of improvements would you suggest to make my guitar sound better, without me having to replace the pickups, which I cannot now afford.

    I hope this diagram explains it enough so you can get a feel for what the wiring is doing. Please let me know if you need any more information.

    Any Suggestions?
    John Adams

  • Ricks Answer to - Guitar wiring question
    From: Rick Andrews
    To: John Adams
    Subject: Re: Guitar wiring question

    From what I see in the diagram, it is hard to tell on some parts of it what they are actually doing.

    One question I have is: are all the pickups DC powered? I know the Piezo under the bride is battery DC powered but are the others?

    I should point out to you also that if you make the pickups spund brighter you are getting a more shrill sopund and your note says they are shrill sounding already. The more bright means more shrill sound. To get the humbucker to work with the neck pickup you need a switch with more capabilities than the 5 position switch gives you. That is why I don't use the 5 way in any of my designs for that very reason, you can't use the bridge and neck pickups together even in a standard strat. Individual toggle switches for each pickup aloows all combinations very easily. I would sau at this point if you want the humbucker to sound brighter then you can put a resisitor in the line out of the pickup after the signal has passed through it.

    I would experiment with different value resisitors. If you have a way to measure the resistance with a meter then to get the brightest response you want to see around 500k resistance. The human ear will not likely hear anything higher or brighter than that. That is very high treble. It is the same thing as putting a tione pot on the humbucker pickup and having the tone all the way as treble as it can do, and that is why humbuckers usually use 500k tone pots. If you're signal is less than 500k out of the humbucker then you can add the difference, as an example if you're signal is 400k out of the humbucker then you can add a resistor of 100k in line and riase the resistance to 500k.

    If you put in a tone pot all you are actually doing is putting in an adjustable resistor. That is what the tone pot is doing. If your resistance is too high out of the pickup then you can tone it back some with a capacitor in the line. If your pickup has its own tone pot then at the putput of the pot you can do the same principals by adding a resistor or a capacitor depending on which way you need to go. But to play the humbucker with the neck pickup you will have to some major rewiring and different switch alltogether. These are some fo the things over the years that led me to develope the "Tone Buster" so I can access every possible combination. The 5 way switches do not allow the possibillities which to me is rediculous. Why limit what those pickups can do?

    You might even consider getting a 500k sub-miniature tone pot and put it in the line out of the humbucker and then experiment with the setting until you hear what you want and then let it just hang in the line inside, maybe tape around it so the terminals dont touch anything and leaeve the tiny shaft exposed. That is a good way to be abl to change the resistance just like a regular tone pot only small enough to keep it in the wiring area. It would only take a small added mount of resistance to make a noticeable change. I hope this will help you get what you want. To go beyond this I would have to go into the wiring and see more what is happening and make some major changes.

    That can get expensive. I would try this first and see what you get out of it. Resistors and capacitors are very cheap but remember if the humbucker is shrill already then to make it brighter will make it worse in shrillness. Let me know if you need firther assistance and how it comes out.
    Rick Andrews
    Andrews Guitar


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