50's Wiring - Two Humbucker Configuration

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by fitz, May 6, 2016.

  1. fitz

    fitz Member

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    I know this has been beaten to death on the forum but I am looking at this a little differently.

    I have quite a few guitars. Some have 50's style wiring with 500k pots. Some have 500K pots with standard wiring, 300K pots with standard wiring etc, etc, etc........

    I get that the high's remain as you roll down the volume knob with 50's style, but the thing that gets me a bit is that as you roll down the tone knob with 50's wiring the tone has very little effect except the drop in volume when you back off the tone a bit. The actual tone change doesn't until 3 or so on the tone knob. Again, this is in a two humbucker configuration.

    I know it's a little bit of a trade off, but sometimes I like setting the tone on 6-7-8 or so to get a little treble roll off to sweeten the sound a bit. It doesn't happen with 50's style wiring.

    Anyone else feel the same?
     
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  2. Adagietto

    Adagietto Supporting Member

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    Yep. '50s wiring turns the tone knob into a volume control for the treble and mids, more or less. After trying it in several guitars, I've come to dislike it.
     
  3. 8len8

    8len8 Member

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    To me 50's wiring results in the tone controlling the midrange rather than the treble.
     
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  4. Lewguitar

    Lewguitar Member

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    I only use 50's wiring on guitars with a neck pickup that tends to sound muddy when I turn it down to play rhythm.

    Otherwise I prefer modern wiring.

    Almost all Hamer guitars and all Gibson Flying V and Explorer guitars came with 50's wiring. The tone control works fine.

    50's wiring does not turn the tone control into a volume control.

    That's just wrong.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2016
  5. BADHAK

    BADHAK Member

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    Yes, this has been my experience on 3 different guitars but with noticably different outcomes.
    The first was on a Faded Flying V with 500T and 496R ceramics . With that guitar ,50's wiring worked really good and made it super versatile, but as someone who likes to roll some high end of on the bridge tone, i found it very frustrating when the tone would drop the output.
    Second was a SG Std with 490 498's. That one was abit of a disaster with 50's wiring as turning down the bridge pickup volume would result in a thin, honky tone. You could remedy that by turning down the tone but then you lost way too much output. The neck pickup worked pretty good but lost some of what I loved with modern, and the bridge pickup went from chunky with modern to nasty with 50's.
    Lastly is my current no.1, an amazing 06 Faded LP Special with Pearly Gates. At first I thought the previous owner had it wired modern, but I've come to realise it's got 50's.
    With this guitar the tone is so sweet I don't need to use the tone to tame the highs and only lower the tones to enhance the rolled down cleans, or sometimes to go forva woman tone type thing. This guitar does a great Jimmy Page TSRTS , get it all from the guitar type trick, and I'm stoked.
    So yes, if you have a guitar with some harshness, 50's wiring can be a nightmare, but in the right guitar with the right pickups it can be a godsend.
     
  6. BADHAK

    BADHAK Member

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    Well I can tell you, the tone control definately didn't attenuate highs as you rolled it down. Or if it did, then it was very subtle and the drop in midrange was much more apparent.
    If you were just looking to roll of some high end, say to balance the neck and bridge pickups, then modern would be much more effective.
     
  7. Lewguitar

    Lewguitar Member

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    Do you play clean? Or do you tend to use an overdriven tone most of the time for both rhythm and lead?

    I tend to play without an overdrive pedal.

    I prefer modern wiring most of the time but when I do wire a guitar for 50's wiring my tone controls work fine.

    I just don't care for 50's wiring in a guitar that's naturally bright because 50's wiring seems to make a bright guitar too bright when I turn the guitar's volume control down.

    I know many guys use a floor full of pedals and they're grinding away with an overdrive or fuzz most of the time. That's fine, but I'm a blues player and prefer a cleanish tone for rhythm so I can play some jazzy chords.
     
  8. SPROING!

    SPROING! Member

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    Any passive control is a study in compromise.
    50s wiring merely trades one problem for another one. There are reasons 50s wiring was dropped in favor of modern.

    I describe it this way:
    With modern, you lose tone as you turn down the volume. With 50s, you lose volume as you turn down the tone.
     
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  9. BlueHeaven

    BlueHeaven Member

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    On mine it does somewhat. When on the bridge pup of my LP I like to roll off some highs with the tone control...maybe down to 6 or so. I lose some girth in the mids which does result in a bit of volume loss. Initially, I loved 50s wiring for the clarity when dialing back the volume but for me it IS a compromise.
     
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  10. BADHAK

    BADHAK Member

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    Well I think we can safely assume, that for many people, the attraction of 50's wiring is that it allows you to get great rolled down cleans from a crunchy amp. That was certainly the case for me. So yes, I use a moderately overdriven tone when the guitar is on 8 and my only OD pedal is set as a boost for solos/heavy.
    Also, anyone who has 'floor full of pedals' is likely going to get all their variations in clean/dirty from the pedals themselves not the guitar controls.
    But as to wether the tone control acts like a volume control rather than roll of treble with 50's, maybe you are doing it with the guitar vol on 10. In that case ,then yes the tone will act like a tone, but once you put the vol below that the tone control interacts with the vol and becomes like a output control.
     
  11. Gemini2

    Gemini2 Member

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    On my R8 I sometimes find the CB treble pickup a little on the bright side. I notice no audible change on taming the highs until the tone is rolled down to seven. But at that point drive is lost and the sound it too weak for what I would use the treble pickup full on for. My compromise has been to set my amp up darker and raise the pole screws on my neck pickup for more chime/balance.
     
  12. fitz

    fitz Member

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    That is interesting as far as the Hamer is concerned. I have an Artist Studio that I've owned for 20 years. That circuitry is actually the best I've ever heard. The volume taper is perfect & the tone control works nicely. I heard they were custom pots, but after looking at the schematic it is wired in 50's style. I wonder if the difference lies in the single volume control?
     
  13. Lewguitar

    Lewguitar Member

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    i don't know. It sounds good in guitars that need it to prevent the neck pickup from getting muddy when the neck pickup is turned down to play actual chords and get an actual clean sound.

    Works in guitars played by someone who likes to ride the volume control to go from clean to overdriven.

    But it doesn't work so well for guys who are wanting to maintain a thick, perhaps always crunchy or always overdriven sound even for rhythm.

    I don't like it in Fender guitars or with single coils. I like it with certain humbuckers in certain guitars.

    But I'm a blues, jazz and roots player.

    I use pedals very sparingly and play through 50 year old amps.
     
  14. Mark Kane

    Mark Kane Silver Supporting Member

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    Sounds like you have linear pots in your guitar and not audio. With audio pots, provided everything is wired correctly will roll off considerably by 7 or 8 on the knob.
     

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