Took a cap outta my PRS.....

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by shallbe, Jun 25, 2006.

  1. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    before I put a cap in it!

    I have a PRS CU 22 Artist that I really like. Nice woods, plays well, but has required more tweaking than any guitar I've ever had. Frustrating. The latest tweak was to cut the cap off the volume control that keeps "brightness" in the signal as you turn the guitar down.

    I use the volume control a good bit during gigs and sometimes at home practice. I noticed that when I turned down the PRS, (compared to my other humbucker guitars, Gibson, Suhr), it lost it's balls, warmth, depth and anything that made the sound appealing. It sounded really artificial, and hurt the instrument for my uses. I ended up leaving it at home a lot, and this was one of the reasons. Not as big a deal dirty, but just awful for cleanish tones, IMO. Opened the guitar up, saw the cap and cut it. MUCH better now. And it realy does not get muddy when turned down, either.

    I swear, Paul Reed Smith must either hear something or desire a much different clean tone that I do. From his pickups, to the cap, to the 5-way selector, just not what I like. Then again, I've seen him play twice at clinics and never heard him use a clean tone or even a clean-ish tone. It may not be a priority, sonically. IMO, the best sounding humbucker clean toned guitars are also stellar when overdriven. After many changes, I may be getting close. Time to give it another chance, just because it feels good to play. Hopefully, this latest sonic improvement will be enough. If not, although I've been through 3 PRS so far and thought this was the one, I may have to sell to someone it works for better.

    I'm rooting for my orange friend. :)
     
  2. Jerrod

    Jerrod Silver Supporting Member

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    I've always heard that Paul was pretty much a gain freak.
     
  3. Redbell

    Redbell Member

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    Why would you turn a guitar down?
     
  4. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    Well,

    You may be joking, but I will answer the question anyway.

    Some amps respond very well to guitar volume changes. Typically single channel tube amps with a significant, but sensitive gain structure. So you set the amp to you solo sound/volume at full on the guitar, and just back off the guitar volume for your clean to crunch tones. Les Paul/Marshall players of old always worked the controls on the guitar.

    My Constellation does this better than anything I've ever been around. It also is very revealing about guitars. The PRS REALLY sounded like crap through that amp with the cap working.

    Paul may be a gain freak. In know he can't be a clean freak with the pickups he makes---especially the bridge models. IMO, you HAVE to have a good clean tone as the foundation of a good guitar and sound.
     
  5. hemlock

    hemlock Guest

    Took a cap out? Man, my hat's off to you.;)
     
  6. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    Yeah, I know, it was rough. Sweat pouring off my face as I strained to get the cover plate off............

    Anyway, you would think it involved a lot of work considering how long it took me to do it. I've been aware of the issue for a while, would forget about it, play it and then put it down, and forget about it. I just wanted others to know if they have the same issue it is a quick and easy change. If you don't want to use a soldering iron you can just snip it out with some wire cutters or whatever you use to cut your strings.
     
  7. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    Paul's definitely a gainiac.

    I tend to run single-channel amps or at least only use the crunch channel of 2-channel amps, so I basically *need* pickups that sound great anywhere along the slope of the volume pot's resistance path.

    That's why none of my PRS guitars have PRS pickups in them! I have 1 each with Kinman singles, Seymour Duncan 'buckers, and DiMarzio 'buckers. They sound great at 1 through 10 on the volume dial!

    No bright caps in any of them, either.

    --chiba
     
  8. Marty s Horne

    Marty s Horne Member

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    I always liked how I could back off the volume on my PRS guitars and still maintain a crisp clean tone for rhythm playing. Some guitars sound like you're rolling off the tone contol when you turn down the volume and that always bothered me. Different strokes....
     
  9. big mike

    big mike Moderator - EL34 Emeritas Staff Member

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    I agree. All my PRS have PRS pickups (I know...sacrelidge! :p) and the caps work very well for me in most cases. Removed from my Studio mapletop, and my McCarty trem came sans cap (I'll likely add one). I used to do this to strats and tele's as well. But with the PRS, for me, backing off the volume, it get's more 'stratlike'. As I use single channel amps cranked, this helps me to get a cleanish tone I find pleasing.
     
  10. MCG

    MCG Member

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    I gotta tell ya, I'm one more of those people who love PRS guitars, but not there pickups.

    I would really look into changing out the pups is your CU22. You'll like it much better with anybody eles pickups in there.

    MCG
     
  11. uberpict

    uberpict Member

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    +1

    I find that working the volume to find the preferred amount of gain then tweaking the tone control works pretty well. There's always a "sweet spot" where the tone balances with the amp settings and it gets really rich harmonically. Each of my PRS works this way, from SAS to Studio, although each has their own "flavor".

    Adjusting the pick-up height does wonders for the stock PRS pups, my CE-22 was an almost un-playable gain monster until I lowered the Dragons. Really great volume swells, attack and sustain smoothed out and picking dynamics are greatly increased. With the pick-up high it was just a muddy mess at any setting except for five and under on the volume knob. Now at seven it can go from clean to mean with picking dynamics, a completely different instrument.
    :dude
     
  12. big mike

    big mike Moderator - EL34 Emeritas Staff Member

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    Pickup height is HUGE factor.

    My new (to me) McCarty trem has the stock pickups. They were REALLY low and they sound...well..fantastic!! I figured they should be closer, but I'm not touching it!! Funny thing, my D2's are as well.

    Wonder if people are adjusting them as close as you would to say, a gibson, or duncan pup, and disliking them without fiddling. Also IMO, the PRS pups are quite responsive to Pole Piece tweeks.

    That said, the HFS/VB set I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. i HATE those with a passion. But Dragon 2's, McCarty's, Artist's, and original Standard Treble and Bass, phenominal. Just love em.

    But gotta have that cap for me!!
     
  13. g.griffith

    g.griffith Member

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    +1 again for the PRS pups. I've never felt the need to replace the pups in any of my PRS. I also run the pups lower to the body; they're too sensitive to have sitting too close. I don't think too many people understand the importance of pup height...they are usually amazed at the clarity they've been missing after I crank theirs down (on any non-vintage guitar), ha.

    Still, the PRS pups do have a sound all their own, and you either like 'em or don't. But before you rip them out, do try adjusting them first. I think PRS build spec should be changed; they ship the guitars with pups way too high, IMO. The HBs seem to come from the factory nicely set, though the neck position usually needs to be lowered a touch for unity volume with the bridge.
     
  14. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Count me as another who loves the PRS guitars but not their electronics.

    I'm quite sure that Paul Smith knows exactly what he's doing, and has a very definite set of tonal goals in mind... which are almost the polar opposite of mine. It doesn't seem to stop him making highly playable, extremely resonant guitars with the controls in exactly the right places, but that's as far as it goes for me.

    I dislike all the PRS pickups I've heard (which is quite a lot...original Bass and Treble, HFS, VB, Deep Dish, Dragon 1s and 2s, Artists, McCartys, #6s, #7s) - despite their wide EQ variations I find they all have a 'signature' characteristic... overcompressed, nasal, and both harsh and muddy at the same time. The only stock ones I like are the P90s (which are actually Duncans) and even then I'm thinking of replacing the bridge one which has a ceramic magnet and still sounds slightly nasal to me. I actually don't find that lowering them does change them that much - yes, you get less mids, but to me it doesn't change the inherent sound of the pickups enough to make me think any differently of them.

    I could never stand the Squawk :) (officially called 'Sweet', which to me it was the complete opposite of) Switch, I don't like the series-singles position on the rotary switch (or the whole switch for other reasons), or the 180pF cap (either much too small a value or just better removed entirely).

    The only electronic detail I have found I like is the 470K resistor across the output, which is used on the Hollowbodies - this actually works quite nicely and makes the volume tone-taper sound more natural to me than the cap does. It basically gives an effective 250K volume pot when it's up full, and progressively closer to 500K as it's rolled down. I wonder if this might be why g.griffith hears them as better-adjusted... the biggest difference is in the full-up tone.
     
  15. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the replies, guys.

    My guitar still has the dragon II pickups that came with it originally. I have adjusted them a lot. I lowered the pickups and raised the pole pieces and radiused them to get a clearer tone. I really like the way the neck humbucker sounds now. I'm still adjusting the bridge, but it is getting better---I want to know what it is capable of before I change it. However, I've NEVER seen a pickup so heavily potted as the bridge of my guitar. It took both hands on the screwdriver just to turn the polepieces intitially, and after they cracked into movement, the amount of heavy wax that came out and had to be cleaned off was disturbing. It wasn't potted as much as gooped.

    I do not have the 5 way in there, took that out for the McCarty switching---more sounds, more sense, easier to use live. The cap that was in there just nuetered the guitar when used, and I just wish I had done it sooner.

    I agree with John in that Paul makes some nice guitars, but sonically---the way the guitars are shipped and setup, he obviously has different ideas of good tone than I do. I don't mind setting up guitars; that is part of the fun for me, and it helps make the instrument "mine" when it all comes together---and I hope it does. I'm basically one pickup away at this point.
     
  16. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I'm not 100% certain, but I'm pretty sure the neck Dragon - 1 or 2 - is an alnico-magnet pickup and the bridge one is ceramic (I don't generally like ceramic pickups). Whatever they are, I also liked the neck pickup reasonably well but never liked the bridge at all, with both the D1s in my Custom 22 and the D2s in my Standard 22.

    I replaced them with Duncans (covered '59 neck/Custom Custom bridge in the Standard, and uncovered Pearly Gates neck/CC bridge in the Custom after some experimenting) and never looked back. They also coil-split much better than the stock pickups - the single pickup sounds in particular, with the 6-way switching.
     
  17. g.griffith

    g.griffith Member

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    Ah, very good point there! Out of curiosity, would there be any reason why they couldn't apply the same idea to the electric line, or would that be a mute point tone-wise?
     
  18. TNJ

    TNJ Gold Supporting Member

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    I've played a few Custom 24's that sounded way thin and bright.
    Then I've played a couple that sound phat and righteous...clean.
    There is a bit of variety of PRSi out there, wrt the HFS and VB pups...which are my faves (when they're "good" ones).
    The HFS/VB pups in my current 20th annie Cu24 are in the "good, not great" category, played totally clean.
    S>
    j
     
  19. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    Hey John, I wonder how a Dragon 2 neck would sound in the bridge based upon what you just mentioned? They do seem to behave differently.
     
  20. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I just did :).

    On my Custom 22. It sounds significantly better and more natural when rolling down than the cap (which I'd already upped to 680pF, in itself an improvement) did, IMO.

    That's with Duncans too, so the results may vary with stock pickups.

    Not sure. The first thing I tried in my Standard was a pair of Duncan '59s. The neck one sounded great (I still have it in), and is actually quite close to the same voicing as the D2N, just 'better'. The '59B was far too thin and bright in that guitar though. I feel a pickup with that sort of voicing needs a guitar with the natural thickness of a Les Paul to sound good in the bridge. I prefer much thicker/darker bridge pickups in brighter guitars like PRSs - which is why I ended up with the Custom Custom (which incidentally I don't really like in LPs, there's too much conflict of midrange between the guitar and the pickup IMO).
     

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