Modded my Collings I-35 electronics

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by slopeshoulder, Feb 14, 2008.


  1. slopeshoulder

    slopeshoulder Senior Member

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    I don't know from bumblebee caps and RS kits and 50's wiring and all that. BUT, after 6 months with my I-35, I LOVE it, and think it is a major design success. It's breaking in and is becoming is a friend for life. But I did some little mods and thought I'd share:
    - I didn't like high end roll off on the stock volume pots/wiring. Collings since changed it on the new ones and sent some schematics to the dealers so they can retrofit it for any early buyers who want it. But I didn't know this. So in the meantime I had the original caps pulled and added treble bleed caps.
    - Then I didn't like the low end roll off!
    - Then I learned about the recommended rewiring that has NO rolloff of highs or lows. So we had to order the original caps from Collings and wait a few weeks (someone forgot before NAMM).
    -So we rewired it to new spec, AND installed Wolfetone DR. Vintage pickups at the same time.

    Here's what's new:
    - no appreciable eq change when volume pot is rolled down
    - the volume roll off, however, is pretty fast and strong. I like that.
    - when I have both pickups on, I can roll off one of the volume pots a little and I get very musical sounds that weren't there before, and which I prefer to either pickup by itself.
    - The Wolfetone pickups seem to have a more open, friendly mid thing happening. Just feels more musical. No dis on the Lollars, I'm putting them in another guitar.
    - the neck pickup is less BIG, so less muddy. I can use it more.
    - There is less squeal (like, none)

    Before, this guitar said to me, "This is NOT a single coil guitar! Play clean jazz, or crank up that Zendrive or Plexi! Otherwise, play a Fender." I didn't feel like there were shades of tone, clean, drippy, sweet, etc., at every gain level from clean to full on. Now I definitely do, with both pickups bended in different ways. I feel like I can pull subtleties out not unlike what I do with a strat and tele (of course it's a different sound, but the variery and subtlety is there), at very level of gain. When clean it sounds very acoustic-like and sweet, and cranked I can get that Robben Ford thing more easily (quack, chirp, sweet, cut).

    So I eq the amp to the neck pickup, roll the bridge tone down to 5-6 (most of the time), set the pickup toggle to "both" (most of the time), and mess with them there volume pots. If I want gain riding beyond what touch and technique will provide, I have to choose one pup and ride the V pot, but that's OK.

    The tone pots work great too. I had various late 60's, 70's and 80's Gibson's in the past, and I got decent pickups for them, but the pots/knobs were always USELESS. Now, with these pups, these pots, and this wiring, I can get a zillion musical shades.

    Plus MORE sustain and LESS feedback vs. a 335, and infinitely MORE depth and dimension.

    This guitar is now officially here for life.

    I'm interested in any comments and thoughts re: wiring, pots, etc for these kind of guitars, just out of curiosity.

    OH, BTW, I made the same wiring changes to my 290 (stock pickups), and got much the same results.

    As I understand it, if you have a recent Collings, it came this way. Do you new owners notice a fast and big volume rolloff?
     
  2. suhr_rodney

    suhr_rodney Supporting Member

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    Cool post. I've been drooling over the I-35 for a while, but so far have restrained. I recently picked up a 290 from a friend. Killer guitar! ... and one day I'll fire it up through an amp. :)
     
  3. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

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    Owner of a very early I-35 here. Read your summary with great interest, Slopeshoulder! Looks like my I-35 will be paying a visit to its shop-of-origin soon, as I'm the original complainer about the tone-loss volume pots! (to say nothing of the squeal thing -- I'd love it if that went away too)

    Thanks for sharing. :AOK
     
  4. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    I don't own an I-35, yet. But I appreciate your post. I was recently doing research on pickup and wiring upgrades for my 335 and I was surprised by how much there is to know regarding pots, wiring schemes, taper, damping, etc. etc. Glad to hear you found something that works for you. Best of luck!

    Dave
     
  5. DavidH

    DavidH Supporting Member

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    Do we know what the wiring changes are? Just changed to 50s wiring maybe? I'd like to give it a go on my CL and 290,i was thinking of just moving the cap wire over on the volume pot.
     
  6. slopeshoulder

    slopeshoulder Senior Member

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    Yes, probably just changed to 50's wiring. It has to do with what wires connect to what parts of the pot. A simple change, recommended by Collings to the techs at the dealers.
     
  7. Stringmaster

    Stringmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    How recent was the change made? My I35 is a few months old, but not one of the first releases. Is this a no charge upgrade through the dealers?
    Thanks
     
  8. slopeshoulder

    slopeshoulder Senior Member

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    I don't have a precise date. Ask the dealer. Yours may be fine. Give the knobs a twist and listen. The high end roll off was quite pronounced. It cost me $100 for labor, but your dealer may handle it differently.
     
  9. Tramp

    Tramp Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks for a great post, slope-man! If anyone learns when (i.e., at what SN) Collings switched over to the new wiring, I'd be curious to know.
     
  10. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    Slope:

    What is this recommended wiring with no high or low rolloff? Do you know the details? thanks.

    MD
     
  11. slopeshoulder

    slopeshoulder Senior Member

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    I honestly don't. I imagine your dealer knows, or Collings can provide a schematic. I think it's just "50's wiring." BTW, the tone does change a bit, but not like before. Because so many of us ride the pot for both live mixing as well as gain trimming, it's important.
    I hope I don't create a run on Collings, but if your an owner, do contact the dealer. If anyone learns what the serial number is where it changed, please post! Mine is 7061 (the 61st electric made in '07? I would have though it was a LOT lower. But whatever).

    BTW, the stock ALDER center block is really lively, and has opened up. And the mahogany body wood is also wuite light and resonant. This guitar is pretty darn perfect. There's actuial tone, depth and resonance when unplugged.
     
  12. Tramp

    Tramp Gold Supporting Member

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    I can't imagine they'll be too terribly upset with a few inquiries from clients who want to make a lifetime guitar even better! :BEER

    Interesting that the center block is alder. The combination of an alder block and mahogany body might explain the extraordinary tonal balance of the guitar, plugged and unplugged.
     
  13. TNJ

    TNJ Gold Supporting Member

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    Glad to hear the I-35 is now doing it for ya.
    Mine doesnt have have the rolloff you speak of.
    My pots are linear from 0 to 10.
    Microtweakage is the thing I LOVE about this axe.
    Check my clips with Lou's Glaswerks here in this topic area.

    Congrats!
    S.
    j
     
  14. jads57

    jads57 Supporting Member

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    Good for you! Guitars are meant to be played,not just admired. Look at all the pro players and I`ll guarantee you`ll see more extreme mods. SRV, E.C. Jeff Beck, Eric, Johnson. Teles, Danny Gatton, even Steve Howe`s Broadcaster. Les Paul`s, Jeff beck, Jimmy Page, Zac Wylde, in fact I think they charge more for it and call it the "INSPIRED BY SERIES" or something commercial like that. Guitars are like Hotrods, and players like to see how FAST they can go while still looking COOL! Bravo, and keep pushing!
     
  15. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

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    If the treble roll-off is an issue, it's REALLY obvious. Play your guitar with the vol and tone pots full on (either pickup) then roll the volume back to about 8.5. On mine, the guitar sounds a whole lot darker, as if I had rolled the tone back to about 6.
     
  16. Shane S

    Shane S Member

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    I don't have S/N that the change over occured but I know it was last summer before the summer NAMM show and after the 1st of May when I recieved my I-35. I asked them to do this change at the Summer NAMM and they said that they had changed the wiring over to the 50's spec earlier that summer. FYI - my I-35 is s/n: 71.

    Here is the 50's wiring diagram:

    http://dominocs.com/AshBassGuitar/WireLibrary-Gibson.html
     
  17. slopeshoulder

    slopeshoulder Senior Member

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    OK, folks, how helpful is that? Thanks Shane!
     
  18. Tramp

    Tramp Gold Supporting Member

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    Very helpful. Thanks!
     
  19. DavidH

    DavidH Supporting Member

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    I just got around to doing this on my 290 and it's a massive improvement.I was getting very frustrated with it,being unable to get single coil clarity from it and unable to play the parts i do on my fenders,you could tell the sensitivity/clarity of the pups was there at 7 or 8 on the volume pot but it was so dark that it was useless for anything but dark jazz tones.Now it's got all the snap and clarity of a fender when you roll off the volume,you can cover all the stuff you'd play on a tele.It seems like these p90-s were never intended to work with the modern wiring-now this is surely how they were meant to sound.

    All i've done is snipped the cap wire on the volume pot and re-soldered it to the output (middle lug) of the volume pot.I didn't make any change to the tone pot wiring as i gather there's no functional difference,just a question of aesthetics/authenticity.

    The cap wire is threaded through the lug on the volume pot and wrapped around it by collings,i found it hard to remove,so i'd highly recommend just snipping it if it's long enough.(what i ended up doing).
     
  20. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

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    Update: I finally got my I-35 and 290 rewired. It turned into a major adventure -- two extra trips to the shop which is close to a 3-hour round trip -- on account of some weird anomalies with the I-35's wiring that didn't reveal themselves on a quick in-store test. :(

    But all's well that ends well. Both guitars are vastly improved IMO. Played each at length last night while working through a bunch of new tunes with my bass player. The I-35 through my old 5D3 tweed Deluxe was *it* -- one of those tones that makes you say "OK, we can all go home now!" The 290's neck pickup was beautifully clear and rich with the volume on 8. It sounded heavenly.

    Two thumbs up from here. Nice to be excited about my Collingses again.

    :AOK:AOK
     

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