Strat SSH question

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Greggy, Feb 21, 2005.

  1. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    Just ordered Van Zandt Vintage plus for the neck and mid on my 1999 Am. Strat. Replacing the stock pups. Leaving the lil 59 in the bridge.

    Questions: I currently have a 500k vol pot with 250k tone pots. What is the best configuration of pots in SSH strats? Will the Van Zandts be too bright with the 500k vol pot, or will the lil 59 be too dark with a 250K vol pot? Interested in your experiences on this one. Any other ideas for improving tone on SSH strats?
     
  2. Jim Collins

    Jim Collins Member

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    The Li'l 59 is really intended to be used with a 250K volume pot. It is intended to be a drop-in replacement for a Strat pickup.

    To my ears, a single coil pickup, when used with a 500K volume pot, is much worse than even full-sized humbucker used with a 250K pot. Take into account the fact that a Stratocaster is a rather bright guitar, to begin with, and the 250K volume pot, even with a full-sized humbucker, begins to sound pretty good.

    A 500K pot is large even for one, single coil, but when you start using the in-between positions, which give you two single coils in parallel, the mismatch is even more severe. You'll find you need a treble bypass cap, if you use a 500K volume pot.
     
  3. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    The way I like to do them is like this:

    500K volume pot
    250K/.047uF tone control for the neck and middle pickups
    500K/.022uF tone control for the bridge pickup

    That gets the right tone components for each type of pickup, which makes far more sense to me than the neck tone/middle & bridge tone setup. And it gives the right volume pot for the bridge pickup.

    But, it leaves a 500K volume pot for the single coils, so: wire a 470K (closest standard value to 500K) resistor in parallel with the neck/middle tone pot, directly from hot to ground. Now, when you select either of the singles, the 500K volume pot is paralleled with a 470K resistor, giving effectively a 250K volume pot. When you switch to the humbucker alone, no resistor, so you get the normal 500K load.

    :)
     
  4. fjs1962

    fjs1962 Silver Supporting Member

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    You can always do some creative wiring with a 5 way "superswitch", a 500K volume pot and a 330K resistor. wire it so that when the single coils are on the 330K resistor is in line between hot and ground, which will make the pickups "see" 250K or so even though the pot is actually 500K. The humbucker will still see the full 500K. Anderson wires their guitars this way, and calls it "vintage voicing".

    Like Jim said, the lil 59 is intended to be a Strat replacement so the 250K pot should be fine with it, but if you like the way it sounds now with the 500K pot the above solution should help keep the Van Zandts from being to bright.
     
  5. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    :) That's quite funny. That's exactly what my scheme does (post above, which I thought of years ago BTW), except that the correct resistor value is 470K - 330 and 500 gives 200K not 250 - and my scheme doesn't need a different switch :p.

    I hope no-one minds me saying this, but I think the Lil'59 is quite a dull and muddy-sounding pickup (I really don't like it actually, and it sounds nothing at all like a full-size '59 IMO) - a 250K just makes it worse, this pickup really does need a 500.

    Only my opinion of course.
     
  6. fjs1962

    fjs1962 Silver Supporting Member

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    Looks like we were replying with similar ideas about the same time. :)

    You're right about the 470K, but after doing some experimentation a while back I decided I like the way the 330K sounds better with the taper of the volume pot, especially if you use a cap/resistor network across the volume pot.

    You're also right about the switch. I just like to use the superswitch because it allows you to do some other interesting things, especially if you want to split the bridge humbucker or do something different from the standard 5 way combo wiring.
     
  7. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    Now you got me thinking. I already rewired this axe once before, star grounded the circuit and added shielding per the Guitar Nuts instructions. I'm gonna open it up again when the Van Zandts arrive. Thanks for the ideas.

    John, I have a love hate relationship with the lil 59. I'm on the fence with it, and am tempted to return to a single coil bridge pup. I've got enough humbuckers around here to meet that need, don't really need one on my strat.
     
  8. KLB

    KLB Member

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    John,
    I'm having trouble visualizing this. If you connect the same tone pot to two pickups, aren't the pickups connected together all the time?

    Where does the 470K for middle and bridge actually connect in the traditional strat circuit?

    Related to this, I would like to balance the brightness of a Suhr Classic T. The pickups are a neck humbucker and Broadcaster type bridge single coil, with coil tap on the 'bucker. I haven't looked inside yet. I think it may already use a 500K pot with parallel resistor on the bridge to drop the load to 250K. While playing, I tend to prefer the bridge with the tone rolled back a good bit, but the neck and combined settings with full treble.

    Can you suggest a fix?

    Thanks,
    Ken
     
  9. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    No. In the stock Strat circuit, one half of the switch is used to select which pickup is on, and the other is used to select which tone control operates. You're using the tone-switching side to add an extra function. The pickup selection works as normal.

    In order to do this, you move the wire that runs from the middle pickup tone pot to the switch, to the next switch tag (unused in the vintage scheme), and then connect the tag that it was attached to, to the one with the wire that runs to the neck pickup tone control.

    On the 'neck' tone control - now the neck/middle tone. Connect it from where the wire to the switch goes, to the back of the pot.

    Yes, but it depends how the switch is wired. You need to arrange it so that the unused tag of the switch in the bridge position connects to a cap or resistor/cap combination to ground. This won't work in the traditional Fender scheme where the rotors of the switch are connected to each pickup - you need the scheme where they're connected to the volume pot instead.

    Hope that doesn't confuse you even more! :)
     
  10. KLB

    KLB Member

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    John,
    Thanks! I get it on the Strat. I'll have to open the T guitar to see how it's wired.

    On some guitars, I like to mod the tone controls so when they are on "10", they go open circuit and remove the cap from the pickup(s). I disassemble the pot and scrape the carbon away about 3/32" at the spot where the wiper rests when the control is at maximum resistance. To avoid the pop that occurs when the cap recharges after moving the control from 10 to 9, I put a 10m resistor across the wiper and the ground.

    For Strat Quack tones, positions 4 and 2, the tone control dropout is useful to balance the brightness of these tones with straight neck, middle or bridge tones, which are brighter, at least with a RWRP middle pickup. I like to turn the tone control to 10 for maximum brightness with Quack settings, then I'll often bump the tone control to 6 or 7 for the individual pickup.

    Until now, I've always left the middle pickup without a tone control, but I think I'd prefer having it use the neck pickup control.

    Thanks again.
     
  11. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    That's really funny - I'm not at all a fan of the 'quack' settings, and I find them thinner and brighter than the single-pickup tones.

    I did have my Strat set up for a while with an old 3-way, but after some time I did miss the neck/middle setting (for that soft chimey chord stuff), and that particular switch was a real pain to wedge. Worse, when both pickups were on, only one tone control was working - just due to the precise position of where the detent would balance. I think that's why I like the neck/middle - both tone controls are in parallel, and even though there's only one cap, the resistance value is effectively 125K even with them both full up. I really dislike the middle/bridge position, but it does sound better with the tone backed off down to around 6 or 7 - probably around the same resistance. I couldn't possibly have a Strat with a no-load tone control on the 2&4 positions! :eek:

    I'm actually unusual... the middle pickup alone is my favorite position on a Strat, and the bridge/middle my least liked - the exact opposite of most folks, I guess. I also like the bridge pickup alone... with no tone control :). But it does have to be a good Strat to do that - most are way too bright.
     
  12. KLB

    KLB Member

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    Yeah, I recalled your thread about not caring for the Quack tone.

    I'm puzzled as to your hearing it as BRIGHTER. Adding pickups together, particularly forming a humbucker with RWRP middle added to the neck, adds induction, which darkens the tone.

    Just goes to show how subjective all this can be.

    I usually like the middle pickup the least, although when mid-boosted as in the Tyler and Fender guitars it can sound good... to me. Perhaps with the tone control mod you suggested, I'll like it more.

    I appreciate your detailed and informative posts.

    - Ken
     
  13. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I hear it as taking away a lot of midrange, which makes the top-end 'ching' much more the focus of the tone - the lack of mids takes away the power and fullness in it too. That's why I like the middle pickup so much - it's the fattest and boldest one. The neck has more bass but less mids. I definitely hear the neck/middle as brighter than either alone too, even though the tone control is effectively down further.

    Actually, two pickups in parallel have less inductance than one - the same as resistance. The polarity of the pickup makes no difference, except to the noise - it's still a parallel combination, not series (where inductance does add, not divide). Another funny thing is that I like the noise, as long as it's not excessive. I find RWRP middle pickups make the 2&4 positions quite sterile. No, I am not kidding! :)

    The tone cap value is important too. I like the vintage .1uF - nice and soft - or .047/.05uF, and I even like a .01, although it doesn't quite do enough. But I really don't like a .022uF on a single-coil guitar... although it's the ideal value for a humbucker. That was what inspired me to work out that HSS scheme in the first place really - the volume pot value compensation idea came later. I find a .022 on a Fender-type pickup makes the tone really nasal and honky when it's right down. I don't like the standard wiring on US Std Strats partly for that reason... and don't get me started on the TBX control ;).
     
  14. KLB

    KLB Member

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    John,
    This is from a Scott Henderson Q&A:

    Hi Scott!
    Could you tell us which pickups are activated in the 5 different switch positions on you blues and fusion guitars? From what I understand you have them differently connected than the standard stratocaster set up...

    Quote:
    No, it's just the normal way. I have the tone pots wired a little different though - tone 1 is for the neck and middle pickup, tone 2 is for the treble pickup only, and the tone controls are bypassed for the two in between positions.

    ***

    John, seeing how I like my 2 & 4 brighter, too, how do you automatically bypass the tone controls in positions 2 & 4?

    - Ken
     
  15. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    FWIW, my neck/mid position is darker than the individual single pups. Not even close, I have to keep the tone control on 10 to get sufficient high end. I prefer the neck/mid position to all others on a strat. It's really the only reason I have a strat, no other guitar gets that quack. It's a signature sound.

    Thanks for the wiring ideas. My Van Zandts have beed delayed by UPS for some unknown reason. So I won't get them until next week. I wanted to install them this weekend. I hate waiting.
     

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