More balanced, punchy, bright & detailed sound from humbuckers (PAFs) - a setup tips

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Roe, Nov 18, 2005.

  1. Roe

    Roe Member

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    I have two tips:

    1) adjust the polescrews!:
    After reading on the Lindy Fralin webpage, I've found a nice way to get a clearer, brighter and punchier sound from Humbuckers with adjustable polepieces (esp. PAFs):
    Adjust the polepieces on the wound strings (real) high, especially on the neck PU. Keep the polepieces a bit lower on the plain string and adjust the pickup so it's lower on the bass side than the treble side.

    This works very well on Gibsons and it also helps a little on Gretschs or Filtertrons.
    If you look at SGs and Firebirds you'll find that the PUs are not in the same angel as the strings. This means that you'll have a thiner sound because one half of the humbucker pick up more sound than the other.

    It works almost as Gibsons Burstbuckers or Fralins Unbuckers. The difference is that you keep the full hum-cancelling and that you get more of the singel coil sound on the wound strings than on the plain strings.

    This set up dosen't change PAFs or Gibsons to something different. The fact is that a lot of the PAF PUs had more windings on one coil than on the other. This is why Gibson makes Burstbuckers and Fralin makes Unbuckers. (I've also found out that the Antiquity PAFs have more windings on one coil than the other. this should contribute to a clearer and thiner sound.)

    To my ears this thiner and clearer sound does work very well on the bass strings. (On the plain strings a fatter and creamier sound ala Gibsons PAFs or Fralins Humbuckers is nice.) The plain strings, especially the G-string, is alot louder and sharper than the wound string. Therefore I raise the polescrews more on the wound strings than on the plain strings.

    The idea is to get a more balanced sound than what most PU have (with exeption of Seymour Duncans Alnico 5/2 and newer Kinman PUs).

    The idea is not to sound like a banjocaster. If your SG, Les Paul or 335 sound clearer and punchier, you can, for instance, use more bass or distortion on you amp. In a band setting I think this adjustment will give you a more defined tone that doesen't get muddy that easily.

    I've found that this setup works very well with (pure) nickel or flatwound strings. This strings actually get more usable this way. (Try Pyramid strings - not Gibson strings.)

    If you adjust the polescrews like this on a Filtertron, the bass will sound a little more like a Hilotron. A Hilotron Singel Coil PU is almost the same as a half Filtertron Humbucker.

    The bridge PU, or the polescrews, should be 1,5 mm from the string. Find out what is the highest position you use on the fretboard on the e and h string and on the A and E string. (for me this is something like fret 21 on the thin strings and fret 12 or 14 on the bass strings. This mean that I can put the pickup a little bit closer to the E string (bass) than the e string.)


    2) experiment with the bridge and tailpiece (angel, height) untill it gets better.
    You can also buy a new bridge and tailpiece. I'd recommend tonepros - perhap plus titanum K-T-S saddles (PR-02 for Vintage ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic Bridge
    6 pcs. 4/40 thread Width=8.8m/m Height=6.5m/m Thickness=3.0m/m OR PR-05 for Gotoh® Tune-O-Matic Bridge
    6pcs. M2.6 x 0.45 thread Width=8.8m/m Height=8.0m/m Thickness=3.0m/m OR PR-06 for Nashville Tune-O-Matic Bridge
    6pcs. M3 x 0.5 thread Width=8.8m/m Hight=10.0m/m Thickness=2.55m/m - se http://www.k-t-s.com/bridge.html)

    the tonepros isn't as loose as the gibson parts. However you can adjust the original gibson tailpiece so that it's higher on the one side than the other. This way it won't be loose, because the big screws is holding it. The tailpiece should be low, and not high above the body. However it should not be so low that the string touches the bridge other places than the saddles. This is usual a problem with the way gibsons are set up.

    You can also turn the tailpiece 180 degrees (i.e. like a wraparound bridge) like zakk wylde, and many others do. this way you'll get a thiner,more cutting tone with more high mids.
     
  2. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the info. I'm a big proponent on tweaking pickup height and polepieces to get the tone you want.
     
  3. Roe

    Roe Member

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    have anyone else experimented with the polescrews?
     
  4. Roe

    Roe Member

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  5. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm wondering if anyone can give a tonal description of the sound before and after the Les Paul wiring mod. I have the instructions from the Les Paul forum but it doesn't go into how the sound will change. Essentially I want a little clearer sounding neck pickup tone. I will probably keep the bridge stock, just looking for a little more clarity from the neck however.
     
  6. CitizenCain

    CitizenCain Member

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    harry, I find the LP 50's wiring mod to make the pickup sound more open and lively at all tone and volume settings as well as keeping it nice and clear as you roll the volume down. I wire all myguitars this way now, I like it much better than any treble bleed circuit I've tried.
     
  7. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    Can you tell I'm bored? How about Fender's, can you do the same thing? My tele neck pickup could use a little extra.
     
  8. CitizenCain

    CitizenCain Member

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    Yeah sure, no problem on Fenders. I have mine wired up like this on both my Strat and Esquire. The whole deal is simply putting the connection to the tone pot on the volume's output lug instead of the input lug. It works well on any guitar I've done it to so far, humbuckers, P90s, single coils.
     
  9. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

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    Great stuff, Roe. Appreciate the detail. AC
     
  10. Roe

    Roe Member

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    nice to hear :) My english is not very good I'm afraid
     
  11. Lex Luthier

    Lex Luthier Member

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    You can also try turning the pickup 180 degrees in the bezel, so the slug coil is closest to the bridge, that will change the tone as well.
     
  12. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    This excellent thread should be archived but in case it's not I just saved it's contents to WordPerfect.

    Thanks! :)
     
  13. Rich M

    Rich M Member

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    Could someone kindly provide a link to this mod?
     
  14. Lex Luthier

    Lex Luthier Member

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    It's pretty simple.

    Run the tone cap from the center lug of the volume pot to the tone pot. Instead of grounding the 1st lug on the tone pot, ground the middle lug instead. Then solder the cap to the 1st lug on the tone pot, and you're done. Leave the 3rd lug unused.
     
  15. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Yes, I was doing that about 1971.

    Best, Pete.
     
  16. CitizenCain

    CitizenCain Member

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    Yep, that's the one I do.

    Lex, how important is it to do the regrounding on the tone pot? I thought the actual effect of the mod was all in the connection you make from the vol pot. I don't usually do the tone pot lug swap since it seems to work the same as when I tried it once.
     
  17. Lex Luthier

    Lex Luthier Member

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    Never tried it that way, usually since I have the soldering iron heated up I do both pots 50's style
     
  18. Roe

    Roe Member

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    ;)
     
  19. fabiomayo

    fabiomayo Member

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    That is one great post... IMHO it really should be archived...

    I read this at work this morning and was very anxious to try it for myself. Spent the last couple of hours playing with it. Terrific. It really gives some of that 'snap' strats are known for... My guitar still sounds like PAF equipped but has more of that singlecoil-ish thing going on... Great... I don't how much longer I'll keep it this way cause I miss the warmth for jazzy single note runs and even to chords, but still this setup made my only guitar a much more versatile one....


    Thanks a lot Roe!
     
  20. Roe

    Roe Member

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    Nice to hear :)

    In my experience the antiquity is a pretty bright and clear PU - it does have unmatched coils. With my antiquity bridge PU I only raise the polescrews on the wound strings.
     

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