My '96 PRS Custom 22 needs a face lift and an attitude adjustment. Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by G'OlPeachPhan, Oct 28, 2004.

  1. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    I've got a BEAUTIFUL vintage yellow '96 custom 22 w/ a 10 top, birds, stop tail, dragon pickups, wide fat neck, ets.... it's a beautifully resonant and lightweight guitar, and it plays like no other PRS I've ever laid hands on. The problem? It doesn't sound near as good as my cheap Jay Turser ES-335 copy with Wagner Crossroads pickups in it, and for that reason I hardly ever play it any more.

    Rather than sell the guitar (it has MUCH sentimental value to me for reasons I won't get into), it's time to modify the guitar to make it sing better... I've now had the guitar for 8 years, so we're to the point in our relationship where I'm not afraid to get out the soldering iron anymore (normally I save modifications for my cheap guitars). It's just a shame to leave such a beautiful axe hanging on the wall all the time... SO -

    I've already got instructions on how to install the 3-way toggle, so no problem there... but I still need a pickup suggestion --

    Since I've already got PAF style Wagner Crossroads in my 335 copy, I'm thinking it might be nice to go with something like the Harmonic Design Z-90's, or the TV Jones TV'Tron Classic or Plus. I'd like tone with chime, sparkle, detail, and openness.

    Thanks for any suggestions.
     
  2. Ced777

    Ced777 Member

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    How does sound the Crossroads if you play "high gain" stuff (think hard rock of the early 90's)? I think to change the PUs on my Custom 22 for a pair or DarkBurst (close to the Crossroads)?

    Ced777
     
  3. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    I have no idea... I don't own any amps I'd consider to be high gain. Certainly nothing that does a Mesa Recto or Peavey 5150 sound. That's not really my thing... my "highest gain" is a Keeley RAT through my Dr. Z Ghia, so I'm sorry, but I can't really be of too much help there.

    The Fillmores are the hotter wound pickups that Wagner makes.
     
  4. Ced777

    Ced777 Member

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    I have some worries: Jim told me he makes only std spaced PU. But my PRS has a trem and the bridge slot is F-spaced. I don't know if yours (with hard tail) is F-spaced (52mm) or std spaced (48mm) and if you got trouble with the bridge PU concerning spacing.
    I fear to order something from WCR ...

    Ced777
     
  5. 908SSP

    908SSP Supporting Member

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    I have a custom 24 10 top violin burst beautiful to look at. Just don't care for the sound. The 5 way seems like a total waste simply not enough difference in the sounds through a Marshall you can hear difference with my Vibroverb but it is pretty mild. Sounds too muddy with the Marshall or the Maven Peal sounds decent with the AC-30 and the Fender. Which leads me to believe the pickups are just too powerful or too bassy. My LP with Rolphs and my Parkers with DiMarzios sound much better wide frequency response nice articulation good upper mid and high end sounds with all my amps.

    Does that sound kind of like your issue with your Custom 22?

    I don't really care to try a bunch of different pickups so if anybody felt the same way as I do what pickups did you end up with?
     
  6. Jim Collins

    Jim Collins Member

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    Your PRS has F-spacing? This would would be unusual. The normal PRS trem is not F-spaced. It uses standard spacing.
     
  7. Ced777

    Ced777 Member

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    I confirm: my PRS CU22 with trem (the PRS trem), is F-spaced. PRS use PUs with spacing of 50mm, just between F-spaced (52mm) and standard spaced (48mm). So they can fit in both guitars with hard tail or trem. But the distance between high E and low E is 52mm (F-spaced).

    Ced777
     
  8. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    My findings are identical to yours... if I played nu-metal through a recto or 5150 I'd probably love the PRS pickups, but I don't... I play classic/retro/roots rock through a Dr. Z Ghia.

    Yes, the pickups are too powerful, and lack soul. They are OK through my Ghia, but through my tweed Champ clone the guitar is USELESS. The 5-way rotary is clumsy and unnecessary.

    Does anyone have a suggestion related to good pickups for a PRS? I really love the Wagners, but I want something different this time I think.
     
  9. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    Oh to hell with it. I just ordered a set of Goodwoods from Jim, and a McCarty-style wiring harness from RS Guitar Works... I know Wagner pickups are great, so I'm not going to take a chance on something I haven't heard.
     
  10. 908SSP

    908SSP Supporting Member

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    When you get it done let me know how it turned out. I had Proco over today and he explained the McCarty switching and I think I will do that too. So I am curious how you like your pickups which models exactly did you order?
     
  11. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    goodwoods - not as hot as fillmores, but hotter than crossroads, and thicker than both. Jim thought these characteristics would lend themselves perfectly to coil splitting... Roy at RS Guitar Works told me that they've installed Goodwoods with McCarty switching into many PRS 22's and 24's and that the results transform the guitar in a very positive way.

    McCarty switching makes a lot more sense to me both mechanically with the 3-way toggle as opposed to the clumsy rotary, as well as tonally as I value the McCarty standard single coil sounds far more than the in-between single coil sounds of the 5-way rotary.

    The RS Guitar Works wiring harness is supposed to feature higher quality components than the stock PRS McCarty setup, as well as an optional mod to the volume pot that retains highs when the volume is rolled back (which I'll definately be installing).

    I'll make sure to post results.
     
  12. Greg

    Greg Supporting Member

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    Does the McCarty-style harness require modifications to the guitar, if you're changing over from the 5-way rotary?
     
  13. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    Yup... got use a wood ream to make the rotary hole just *slightly* larger. You can always use dental tape on the post of the rotary pot if you want to reinstall it someday...
     
  14. 908SSP

    908SSP Supporting Member

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    Hey G'Ol
    Did you order or receive your conversion? Is it all coming from one source and is it partially assembled or do you do it that yourself? Are the pickups part of the kit or can you order the complete switching kit separate from the pickups?
     
  15. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    Hi Alex,

    The pickups come from Jim Wagner who owns/runs WCR Pickups. He referred me to Roy at RS Guitarworks for the wiring kit...

    The wiring kit comes with a schematic and instructions, but you have to do all the installation and soldering yourself. I suppose you could order the kit and the pickups and bring it to a local guitar tech to do it for you.

    I'll post my results... GOOD LUCK!
     
  16. 908SSP

    908SSP Supporting Member

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    Hi G'Ol
    I changed my Cu24 to MCarty switching. I left the stock pickups in there to try and the switching. It is better but it didn't improve the sound of the pickups. But at least I know what is going on with the switching by looking at it as there wasn't enough difference in the sound to know by hearing it with the 5 way and you couldn't see what position you were in with the 5way. Have you tried the different pickups yet?
     
  17. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    Nope. I'm still waiting for the pickups... I originally got 3-conductor and I need 4-conductor for this wiring scheme. I will post as soon as I get them in.

    I wouldn't have expected the McCarty wiring to have improved the sound of the pickups... maybe reduce a little noise and add a little clarity, but the stock PRS pickups are so hot that they are going to have their own overpowering character no matter what (which is the whole issue with them for me).
     
  18. 908SSP

    908SSP Supporting Member

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    What wiring scheme are you using? I did the McCarty wiring scheme according to this web site and used the stock three wire pickups. Two of the wires are connected together so they are essentially one any way. I want to change pickups. I checked the birds and moons site didn't find any sold info yet. Hate to buy install and not like the outcome but that might be my only choice.

    McCarty Wiring

    I also used a mini toggle on/on/on instead of the big gibson style selector switch so I didn't have bore out the hole for the five way if I ever want to put it back.
     
  19. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    Sorry, meant I got 2-conductor plus bare wire, and I need 3-conductor bare wire.

    The mini-toggle is a nice idea, but I will be keeping this guitar for the rest of my life anyways, so I view it as a player rather than an investment... I never fell in love with the 5-way, and I gave it 8 years so I'm guessing I never will.
     
  20. Jim Collins

    Jim Collins Member

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    That diagram you show is meant for pickups that have four conductors plus a ground. PRS rotary guitar pickups have three-conductors plus a ground. The red wire of a PRS rotary switch pickup is already the product of a join of two leads -- the end of one coil and the beginning of the other.
     

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