Wiring - 3 Lipstick Mods

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by benxiwf, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. benxiwf

    benxiwf Member

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    So I just purchased a Reverend Spy which has 3 lipsticks, a vol and tone, and a 5 way. I like the tone but can't stand the low output of the lipsticks. Before I buy another pickguard with p90s, I want to try a series wiring setup. I am willing to add some 2 way switches. I would like to add a series option and an option to add the bridge pickup to any pickup combination. I am thinking all 3 in series may be very nice on this guitar. The Dipinto Mach 4 uses a dual single in the bridge and I was thinking something like that might be a good setup for this guitar. Can someone provide me/ lead me to an easy to read diagram of how to accomplish this? I can solder well but Im no electronics expert and find "real" diagrams difficult to read...
    Perhaps a switching option like this:
    Position 1 - Neck
    Position 2 - Neck/Middle in series
    Positon 3 - Middle
    Positon 4 - Mid/Bridge series
    Position 5 - Bridge Only
    Mini Toggle - Bridge on/off
    Mini Toggle 2 - Mid out of phase?
    Thanks in advance for any help!
    Ben
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  2. kimock

    kimock Member

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    I've been using lipsticks for 30 years on my main guitar, the flipside of low output is big headroom and dynamic range. If you want 'em to hit the amp harder, just turn the amp up.

    If you give it some time to see what those pickups actually do as opposed to what they don't do, you might really like them. I know I do. Just a thought. .

    peace!!
     
  3. benxiwf

    benxiwf Member

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    You may be right and I do appreciate their qualities. My biggest problem is switching from guitar to guitar and having to totally adjust everything to get levels correct.
     
  4. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    I use several guitars with varying types of pickups and output so I use a booster pedal to bring those up a bit. Seymour Duncan Pickup booster or MXR Micro-amp usually.
     
  5. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Oh boy, do I know what you're talking about.
    I do have a couple of really nasty guitars that fit in the rotation around that main low output lipstick Strat, old lap steels and so forth.

    I've come to realize that if I just let each of those guitars have their way, they naturally show up on the right material in the proper dynamic flow of the show.

    There's a little bit of gain riding invoved with digital effects processing in the loop, but for the straight up analog, plug and play stuff, I let the guitars pretty much have their nature.

    We've had this discussion here many times over the years about "dialing the amp between single coils and humbuckers", or how to change guitars during a set without jumping through a bunch of hoops.

    The answer to "How do you make them the same?" is, you don't.
    If you want the same thing for two songs in a row, you just don't switch guitars.
    If one song is a ballad, and dynamically back, you use the appropriate guitar, and if the next tune is some crunching rocker for contrast, you switch to a louder guitar and you don't have to adjust anything else.

    The guitar switch from lipstick to humbucker does all the work.
    If you have to adjust a whole bunch of stuff, you picked the wrong time to switch guitars.
    Anyway, that's kinda the consensus of the multiple guitar guys like myself.
    The balance issues normally coming from guys who were more or less dedicated to one instrument and are struggling to work a new and very different axe into the line up.

    Y'know? Guy plays Tele exclusively, buys Les Paul, gets dejected look on his face at gig when he discovers that a Tele is not a Les Paul.
    The end game is use 'em for what they are, and occasionally you'll find a high gain spot for the Tele and a funky spot for the LP and you figure out how to manage that switch, but that's the exception rather than the rule.

    Philisophical approach aside, the easiest place to get a handle on the diff if you want to spin a knob is at the input of the amp or the input of the first effect.
    It's really just the guitar's output level you should be chasing, right?
    If there's EQ involved, it's best if it's on a switch, but that's an individual amp issue and some amps are more flexible than others.
    If you're using an attenuator, maybe a click or two.
    That kind of thing. You don't need or want to reset everything.
    One or two things, sure.

    If you have the right guitars and you're switching 'em in the right spots, the guitar swap itself takes care of the whole thing.

    Good luck with that however you decide to deal with it, but that's what I've come up with so far.
     
  6. epluribus

    epluribus Member

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    <Edit> Kimock was typing his post as I was typing mine. In a lot of ways I like his better, and I think he's dead smack on it about letting things be what they are. But here's another take...</Edit>

    ********

    My first rule of mods...don't fight the design. If it wants to be an archtop, don't try to make it play like a JEM.

    Varying guitar levels...good transparent clean boost or a likewise good EQ pedal set flat with a bit of gain can fix that, but you may lose some guitar/amp interaction. You could do an onboard preamp, same caveat applies. You could also simply plug one guitar into your hot input jack, and move over to your colder jack when you switch axes.

    +1 on the headroom and the touch dynamics, I bet if you play those Lipsticks a while you'll sorely miss those things.

    Another humongous bennie of low-output pups... run 'em into your high-gain rig, get all the levels in the circuit pushing just perfect, and listen to the note definition and the clarity of the pick that you get from those pups, esp high up the neck. Try it again with a hotter guitar, adjusting the gain structure to compensate so the circuit pushes the same. I bet you lose quite a bit of that definition. The impact can be really pronounced with some pedals and modelers, btw. Come to think of it, string noise is easier to control with a cooler setup. Cold pups, hot amp...thing of beauty.

    Series wiring...lotta challenges and drawbacks. Many pups get really muddy wired that way, though a neck SC into a bridge SC often fares reasonably well, IMHO. But not so much going the other way. (Confession...I have one guitar that has utterly wacko wiring and can run the two P-Rails in series...but with hand-tuned hi-pass filters in the series feed. Not very stage-useful, the series thing, but it was a wiring exercise and serves nicely as a Swiss-Army-Knife FrankenBerger traveller...great fun with the Pocket Pod by the pool. So I'm guilty...but with limitations and exclusions...)

    The real troublemaker is your selector switch. Unless you use a Super Switch or something similar, selecting pups singly makes the guitar go silent...they're in series. You can wire a bypass, but I can tell you from having done it that switching from two pups wired in series to one running all by itself will cause an even bigger problem with signal levels than you have right now.

    Even worse with three pups...do you wire in series to the neck or the mid? Or both? What if you select bridge + the other one? You could add an extra switch...just try diagramming it and you'll see the problem. Topology.

    Finally, wiring. Check out GuitarNuts.com, and go find the Strat mods section. Really nice diagrams, some excellent builder opinions of the mods. In defense of what you're doing, I used a variant of one of their Super Switch schemes on a guy's guitar once to give him Neck-Series-Into-Bridge, a parallel Bridge + Neck selection, and a parallel All-Three option, and he was very happy. But if you can do without the series thing, a push-pull gives you a nice parallel Neck-On option (or whichever pup you decide to connect to it), it gives you all the combinations, and it's much simpler onstage.

    But having been through all that, I'd give the Lipsticks a serious honeymoon and then some. Told ya I liked Kimock's answer better. :beer

    --Ray

    Oh yeah...Sci Fi Dept: Go check out the little computer thingie selector switch they're selling at GuitarElectronics.com. Does all the circuitry for you, totally analog, also passive, does an incredible array of stuff including "changing" your pots! Relatively easy install too. Dunno if I could keep track of it all, but quite the nerd-science dream, that. Been tempted...
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  7. benxiwf

    benxiwf Member

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    Wow - Update! I think it will satisfy you all saying to keep the integrity of the guitar too... You are right that there are amazing qualities about it.
    So after searching around all day for some leads on how to do this, I
    stumbled upon this thread:
    http://guitarnuts2.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=wiring&action=display&thread=4250
    I thought about doing the 2nd, but stuck with the first and then added a
    bridge on/off switch (aka studio switch under Rev terminology)
    I now have the following combos:
    Both switches off:
    Stock Strat style switching
    Mini Toggle 1 On:
    Adds bridge to any combo
    Mini Toggle 2 On:
    1:Neck
    2:Neck
    3:Neck/Mid Series - Like a neck bucker, Add Toggle 1 and add bridge
    single
    4:Mid/Bridge Series - Like bridge bucker plus neck single
    5: Neck/Bridge Series
    This is a great and easy Spy Mod! You don't lose any of the original tones
    and add lots more. If you do the second wiring diagram on the page, you
    only need to add one switch. I obviously haven't had much time with it, but the pickups dont muddy in series because they ARE so low in output. It also didnt really make any positions that much louder, just gave a fuller sound in the series positions without losing clarity. After all, lipsticks are something like what? 5.6 k? So even in series, it isn't overbearing at all... The most "rock" tone is the bridge/neck in series. I have been reading around and found out that all the original Danelectros were in series and it convinced me to try it. It still has the same character, just does a lot more.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  8. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Alright! That's good news. . It's a whole lot fancier than my guitar.
    I've got one old 3-way switch and 2 volumes, N+B together and middle on it's own.
    Very simple.
    My old Danelectros are in the high 3's I think, I haven't measured them in decades, but really fk'n weak. .
    Beautiful sounding, clear and sweet.

    Glad that's all falling into place, enjoy!
     
  9. epluribus

    epluribus Member

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    Now that's good science. Do all the research, get all the free advice, and then throw it all out the window and do something creative. I love it! (I've never done that.)

    Cool, nice to hear it's been successful. Nice link too, they do some neat circuits over there, always fun to try stuff out.

    Well here's one to try...if you have one of those series connections that's a bit woolier than you like, stick a high-pass filter in the connection and see if that doesn't add focus and punch to the tone. (You can find all kinds of filter calculators online for free. I've found corner points anywhere from 1.5K to about 7k to be potentially useful...that might help ballpark the trimpot value, see below.)

    To tune 'em, jumper the connection to breadboard and stick a .022 cap in the filter. Put a trim pot on the other leg and simply twist till the sound comes around to where you like it. Measure the pot, get a resistor to match, and hard-solder the filter into the guitar. Fun, cheap, and you get another useful combination.

    ...but now you got me thinkin' I've never played with this kind of pup before...

    --Ray
     

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