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PRS SAS mod, a few simple questions...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by mlynn02, Feb 16, 2006.

  1. mlynn02

    mlynn02 Member

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    so i'm envisioning some simple mods to my PRS swamp ash special, and i wanted to make sure i do everything right. basically, i'm going to swap out the 2 hb's for fralin unbuckers, and i'm going to put a fralin sp42 in the middle position. i also want to replace the volume knob with a push pull that splits the hb's and wire the tone knob to activate the middle pu when pulled out.

    so what do i need to make sure i do this right? aside from the pickups, i'll need at least one push pull knob. and should the middle single coil be RWRP? and finally, do i need to worry about changing out any of the other electronics (caps, pots, wiring, etc) or should i be ok with what i have.

    any help is much appreciated!

    thanks,
    matt
     
  2. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    You may not like the sound of this, but IMO you need to reverse the functions of your push-pull knobs. The reason is... to split both pickups at once you need a double-pole switch, but to activate the middle pickup you only need a single pole. The only push-pull pot available which is high enough quality to be acceptable for a volume pot IMO is the CTS 500KLog/SPST - ie single pole - sold by Allparts, and probably other suppliers. (Allparts stock number EP 4486-000.)

    You probably don't need to replace the tone pot (it isn't great quality, but no dual-pole pull-pot is, and it matters less for the tone control) or cap, and certainly not the toggle switch. The stock wiring is decent enough too, but sometimes messy and not trimmed to length properly IMO - you can possibly do this and have enough left over to do your middle pickup switching if you're lucky.

    Whether you need the middle pickup RWRP or not depends which coils of the humbuckers you want active when split, and what magnetic polarity they are - you'll need to ask Fralin about this.
     
  3. mlynn02

    mlynn02 Member

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    alright! thanks JP!
     
  4. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    :cool:

    I recently modded my Cu22 Soapbar using one of those nice pots, for the tone control so I could put a proper Strat-type 5-way in it and use the pull-switch to turn on the bridge pickup, giving all 7 possible combinations.

    The only problem is that I thought I had all the guitars I need or want now, but now I've seen what you have in mind, I think I may need to get a SAS and fit it with your switching scheme...

    :D
     
  5. mlynn02

    mlynn02 Member

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    it's funny, when i bought the SAS back in 2000, i was choosing between it and the Csoapy and i've kinda been beating myself up over choosing the SAS. not because i dislike it, it's pretty cool, but because shortly thereafter the soapy was discontinued and now unobtainable. i loved the p90s, and the huge strat tones. the SAS is certainly versatile, but i've steadily gotten fed up with the stock mccarty pu's and switching system to the point where i don't even play the guitar much anymore.

    so enter the current mod idea. basically, i'd like to get the guitar to be a little more open and a little hotter sounding. it's basically stratty in nature, but those mccarty pu's are so muddy and lack any definition or dynamic clarity that they kill the inherant resonance of the guitar. i find myself really digging in and trying to overpower the constricted nature of the pu's. anyway, the guitar is very versatile, and this new scheme will allow me to select just about any pu configuration on the fly, so hopefully the fralins will give me some more usable tones.
     
  6. mlynn02

    mlynn02 Member

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    for chimey, i've got a suhr classic. it's perfect for the vintage fender thing. but i also need something with a little more rock sensability, so i'm thinking the HSH configuration in the swamp ash special will get me those more aggressive tones. i'm not expecting the split unbuckers to give me true chimeyness, but maybe i'll be pleasantly surprised.

    thanks for all your help with this and i'll keep this thread updated as i move ahead with the guitar.

    peace,
    matt
     
  7. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    I had a CU22Soap and really liked it a lot. That said, the only PRS I have right now is my modded SAS. I put a set of Kinman Woodstock+ pickups in it, with the neck & bridge on the stock 3-way toggle and the middle pickup on a simple on/off switch. Master volume only, no tone.

    Best Strat tones I have EVER had, ever, in any position, but especially the two positions a Strat can't give you - neck + bridge and all three on together. I usually leave the middle pickup off and just go with the other two.

    Anyway, just my 2c :) John, I highly recommend the SAS with a pickup mod. Also FWIW, I played a Singlecut Trem last weekend - stock #6s in it - and I really dug them a lot. Excellent pickup from PRS.

    --chiba
     
  8. mlynn02

    mlynn02 Member

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    after talking with jon silberman about his "dark star", i was all set to go with the unbuckers and the sp42 in the middle. but in order to do that, i'd have to order direct from lindy (the sp42 RWRP is a special order) and that takes about a month. so instead i got a pair of unbuckers and a RWRP blues special for the middle. it should be pretty cool, but if i'm still jonesing for the sp42 i can exchange it down the line. with my switching configuration i won't be able to get the middle pu by itself anyway, so as long as the mid combines well with the other pu's i should be fine.

    anyway, i'm hoping to get these pu's and drop the guitar off with my tech by the weekend. it needs to have the frets redressed as well. i'll let you all know how it turns out.

    thanks for the input!

    -matt
     
  9. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    This is the one thing that bothers me about that switching system. I do like the middle pickup by itself on a Strat - it's actually my favorite tone on one, which you may find surprising. I don't use it as much on the Cu22 Soapy - maybe because the other two (bridge especially) are better. The new SAS comes with a Strat-type switch though, so in fact I could use the same switching as with my Soapy, but put the bridge-pickup-on switch on the volume and the coil split for the humbuckers on the tone.

    The other problem is that AFAIK the SAS never came with Moons... just dots. I know this sounds really trivial, but it does matter to me :(. It should be possible to change them, but fiddly and a pain. All PRSs should come with Moons as at least an option IMO ;). And the new SAS doesn't come with Wing tuners, so I'd have to change those too... grrrrr! Why can't they just make the damn things the way I want them?!! :) (While they're at it, the middle pickup looks wrong that way round too... :p)


    I have tried a SC Trem with the #6s... I didn't like them, to me it still had that flat/nasal overcompressed character.
     
  10. mlynn02

    mlynn02 Member

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    i guess i'd have to switch to a 5 way rotary to get all the combinations. but i hate those things--i can never tell what position i'm in.

    i have another strat that can get all the "classic" strat positions, so this will just be a different kind of beast.

    also, btw, it's got birds and wing tuners...SWEET!
     
  11. mlynn02

    mlynn02 Member

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    so does this mean that the stock tone pot that's in the guitar is a double pole? i just got all of the other parts in the mail, but before i take to the tech, i want to make sure i've got everything straight.

    as far as i understand it, i'm keeping the tone pot and using that to tap both humbuckers. then the new single pole pot will be the vol and will add the middle when pulled. will that work the way i think it will?

    thanks,
    matt
     
  12. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Yes, that's exactly right. The only new part you should need is the push-pull volume pot.

    If your tech finds that the pot is just too tall to get into the cavity, that's normal! You have to bend the switch tags over flat in order to get the back cover on, at least when it's in the tone control position (I can't remember for sure about the volume).
     
  13. mlynn02

    mlynn02 Member

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    i'm picking up the guitar today, and the preliminary report from my tech is that it came out great. he especially liked the tone with 2 unbuckers split and the middle blues special on. hopefully i can post some pics and inital impressions tonight!

    thanks again for the help with all this.
     
  14. mlynn02

    mlynn02 Member

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    SETBACK:

    so my tech and i ran into a problem that some of you all may want to know about. it turns out that the standard fralin unbuckers won't fit in my PRS because the covers are too high. however, lindy can swap the covers for shorter ones that will fit. oh well, what a bummer, i have to send the pup's back to lindy and wait an extra week or two.

    hopefully only a minor setback, but i thought you all should know that if you are planning on using fralins in your guitar you should call lindy and make sure they will fit. it's mildly annoying though, that he doesn't put any of this info on his website, and acme, who sold me his pup's, had never heard of this issue either. he even specifically mentions using the unbuckers in his mccarty, but his standard size won't work!
     
  15. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I assume the problem must be very slight if he was able to get it together enough to hear the sounds. PRS pickup cavities are actually quite shallow, especially the bridge one - I've had to shorten the screws when I've put Duncans in them, although the pickups themselves fit even with covers.

    (Actually on my own two I drilled the floor of the cavity to take the screw ends, rather than cutting them - this allows very accurate fixing of the pickup angle, which does make quite a difference, on the bridge pickup especially.)
     
  16. mlynn02

    mlynn02 Member

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    huh. good point, i guess i should have thought of that. anyway i wish i was handy enough to do all this myself, but hopefully it will all come together fine.
     
  17. Sherman

    Sherman Member

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    Just my $.02. I never cared for the stock McCarty's in any guitar they come in. Too muddy and dark to my ear. I have an SAS that I almost got rid of because of the stock pups. Then I picked up a set of Seymour Duncan Phat Cats on a whim. Installed them and they truly make the guitar sound good. Nice fat tones but no mud. I'm not sure what I did on the wiring (because I'm an eletronics hack) but the push pull switch seems to work and gives me some quackier/hollow tones. I liked the phat cats so much I had them installed in my Hollow Body I.
     

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