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Mods and Tech Talk Talk "tech" and modding your Gibson, Epi or any other guitar here.

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Old July 3rd, 2017, 09:19 AM   #1 (permalink)
Gibson Talker
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Zürich
Posts: 18
This is my experiment. Now what?!

Hi guys,

I have an old HSS Strat with which I started experimenting not so long ago. It has two stock ceramic single coils (~5kOhm) and a stock hot output humbucker (~15kOhm). Since I am a big fan of Steve Morse I wanted to install a tune-o-matic bridge and make it HSSH configuration, but since that involves routing and some non-reversible mods I started messing around with the pickups and wiring instead. Therefore, I installed one DPDT switch (to select bridge and neck together), replaced the neck single with a humbucker (8kOhm A2) and installed two SPDT switches (to split each humbucker); I kept the 5-way as it was. This gave me a huge amount of combinations. I could “emulate” the combinations of many guitars For example:

• SSS Strat (S-SS-S-SS-S)
• HSS Strat (H-HS-S-SS-S)
• HSH Strat (H-HS-S-SH-H)
• SS Tele (S-SS-S)
• HH Tele/Strat (H-HH-H)
• SH Tele (S-SH-H)
• HS Tele (H-HS-S)
• SSH (S-SS-S-SH-H) my favourite

I think I covered most of them... As I already anticipated, those were too many options, but I still wanted to experiment with the sounds. In addition, I removed one of the tones and made the other master. Then I reinstalled the tone but as a bass control like a PTB circuit. After more or less figuring out what I liked the best, which was the thick sound of the humbucker on the neck for soloing, the highs on the bridge for riffs and power chords and the low volume and gain of the middle (the PU is as low as possible) for strumming. I rewired it again, this time with two DPDT switches (one for neck and bridge together and the other as a “blower”, but in this case is bypasses the controls only but not the 5-way switch), the SSH configuration and the 5-way with the PTB. I forgot to mention that before buying the neck humbucker I placed my current bridge humbucker in the neck; the sound was so thick and loud that the poor new neck humbucker did not stand a chance against it, even in the HSH configuration; so this time the bridge humbucker went in the neck. This was also fun to experiment with, but as I kept on reading and learning, I did one last mod, which is its current state. I removed the humbucker, and installed a single in the neck on the other single in the bridge (tele style), I kept the PTB as it was and wire the switch tele style (S-SS-S). I also rewired the two DPDTs for series/parallel and phase in/out. This is by far my favourite combination; the versatility of “just” two pickups is unbelievable; I used to think that more pickups gave more versatility and sound options… I like the sound contrast between the neck and the bridge, both on parallel reduce volume for strumming and series gives a nice boost for soloing; the phase in/out is interesting to experiment with but I still need to get used to it. I may wire separate tones or separate volumes and leave the bridge raw and use the tone only for the neck. What do you think?

Since these were all “simple” mods, now let us more to the heavy stuff! This was my first guitar (bought in ’99 if I recall), I have played, practiced and gigged with it many times, so the body has many marks that give it a lot of attitude, I could go over the edge and sand the borders to give it a “uniform” worn look. The neck is nice (thin, 21 fret, rosewood), but the frets are wearing out. I bought a cheap maple neck from amazon and I sent it back the way it came, it was trash. Now the most affordable quality neck I can find is a Göldo for about 130CHF, single piece maple, vintage frets and probably thick ( Then put a new white pickguard and leave it at that. Does it seem like a good plan? By the way, I have the wiring diagrams for most of the configurations I tried; I can share them with you if you want them.


P.P. If you live in Zürich and want to get together and jam, send me a PM.

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Old July 5th, 2017, 03:53 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Zürich
Posts: 18
Sorry about the massive wall of text, I just realized that is not so easy to understand. My main concerns are on how to proceed with the guitar itself, I like where it is now and may do some minor mods on the tone/vol but will keep the SS configuration, the series/parallel and maybe the phase in/out.

The issues is that where I live a refretting will cost a fortune and a new good neck plus nut and machine heads will also not be cheaper. Should I retire the old gal and buy a Tele? I have my eyes on a Ibanez TM302, that way I have a brand new tele to wire the way I like best and keep the old strat for experiments or set it back to stock and sell it for whatever I get.
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Old July 7th, 2017, 08:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 3,297
No problem, Walt! I did get a bit lost in all that tech talk, but I've been down most of those roads myself. I've been wiring and rewiring my guitars for years and have done many great mods, and some that didn't survive for long before being unsoldered and redone. For Telecasters, my favorite setup is a 4-way switch and a Fender TBX tone control, that gets a very wide selection of tones in that genre.

In Les Paul guitars, I have left most of mine with fairly stock wiring, but my favorite mod is kind of an all-out system that Jimmy Page is rumored to favor. It involves two humbuckers (with 4 wires) and four push/pull potentiometers. Pretty much all combinations of tones are easily accessible on stage, and that is what I have installed in my favorite old Lester. It took me most of a weekend to wire up and troubleshoot, and it looks like a rat's nest inside the control cavity, but in the end it was worth it.

Here is a link that explains it in more detail...
Some contend that rock 'n roll is bad for the body & bad for the soul.
Bad for the heart, bad for the mind, bad for the deaf & bad for the blind.
It makes some men crazy and they talk like fools.
Makes some men crazy and they start to drool.
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