07 December 2012

Amps: Vox Night Train + NT112 cab

Introduction

Before I've got any real tube amp and, while I was trying amp models in multi-effects pedal boards (as the Line6 Pod X3 Live) or in plugins (as IK Multimedia Amplitube 2), there were some models of amps that I really liked, specially in clean and, Vox AC30 was one of them.

I had the opportunity to play an AC30 in a friend' studio and, yes, its a great amp but, LOUD has a hell and, weighty as an elephant. I couldn't imagine transporting such a best from home to any other place and, either not inside my home, any way.
Other issue was the price tag. UK Made ones go really high and, I didn't wanted to have a big sounding elephant at home so, I've decided to go for some little brother in Vox catalogue.
I was really happy when I've saw the announcement of the new Night Train and, liked everything about it, the size, the weight, the price, the sound and, even that odd look. So, I've decided to give it a try.


Presentation

Well, this people of Vox knows how to present their products. The take care about each single product. Cables come in an useful fabric bag, Wah comes in a plastic bag with a handle (nice and easy to transport), and this amp comes in a nice padded soft case that you can hang on your shoulder like if it was a video camera.

The cab comes inside that padded case, protected with a plastic film and, includes a cheap speaker cable and the mains cable, as well. The handle of the amp's head is over the top of the case so, you can choose to carry it on your hand or in your shoulder.

The Head is weightier that it seems. The little size of the head makes you to think that will weight not so much but, the big transformers used for this baby weight a lot, they are really good dimensioned.

The look was stunning. This little amp, together with Orange's Tiny Terror were the ones starting that trend of lunchboxes-like heads. But, the look of the Night Train was really closer to a lunchbox than the Tiny Terror, that looked way moderner. Nowadays, we are very used to this look but, that was really special when I bought it.

The amp loads a pair of Sovtek 12AX7-WA tubes in the preamp and a pair of Sovtek EL84 in the power amp. The cover is easily removed unscrewing the 10 screws that stand it. Once removed, the access to tubes is clear and a child's game to swap tubes.
Probably, the weakest part of this amp are the holes for those screws, that tend to wide after some screws and unscrews, leaving the corresponding screw loose but, after 3 years (with intensive tube swapping tests), the cover still remains in place and just one screw came loose.

Rest of parts are of quality, beginning with the input and output transformers and, following with jacks and knobs. All work flawless and are solid. Switches aren't that kind of cheap Chinese ones but, sturdy ones.
The surprise was to look to the label and see that the amp was MADE IN VIETNAM!.
Well, I have to say that it's really good made and, I have no complains 3 years after.

The cab is surprisingly small and weights less than the head so, you can easily carry on your hand. All together makes really easy to transport head, cab and your rest of rig in a single trip and, without compromise your integrity.


Controls

This is a very simple amp and, that's something that I love since any little change in their tubes is immediately noticeable. It has just a single channel, but with tricky modes that provide this amp with a high versatility. It has no FX loop but, it takes practically good all the pedals I've throw in front (some very few exceptions).

In the front panel, we will find:
  • The input jack
  • Mode switch: thick or bright
  • Gain knob, to select the gain of the preamp section
  • Volume knob, to select the loudness of the power amp
  • Tone stack: treble, mid, bass
  • Bypass switch: triode / bypass / pentode
  • On/off switch
In the back panel, just two speaker outputs, one for 8 Ohm and the other for 16 Ohm.

The combination between thick / bright modes and pentode / triode modes gives four very different amp sounds to this head, that can be rounded with the help of a very responsive tone stack.


Using it

The amp delivers about 15 W RMS in Pentode mode and, about the half (7.5 W RMS in Triode mode).
The amp is cathode-biased and therefore, needs not to be re-biased when swapping the tubes.
EL84 tubes are really affordable and there are good new production ones to test so, it's an amp easy and cheap to tweak and maintain.

The Pentode mode uses the full power of both power tubes and delivers an strong and bright sound. The Triode mode doesn't includes the two additional control grids of a pentode tube and, lows the power to half but, also changes the nature of the sound, giving a warmer and silkier (think on Class A) sound, absolutely tasty.
The Thick mode bypasses the tone stack (so, your treble, mid and bass controls make nothing) and, delivers a pure tube-like sound that resembles the sound of the good old vintage amps. Also, the gain is way higher there and it's quite easy to achieve overdrived sounds, with lot of sustain but, always very natural and harmonically rich sounding.
Every combination worth a try and have its use.

Behind this amp is the hand of Tony Bruno (a great boutique amps maker). The history seems to be that Tony designed the amp, point to point and, it's design was then translated to cheaper components and a PCB board, to reduce the cost of production and then the final cost for the buyer.
But, the soul of its design is there and, the four different modes make this little amp a very versatile one, specially for home or studio applications or, where the amp will be miked and routed thru a mixing board.

Triode mode can be very quiet for gigging, IMHO but, it's so sweet sounding that gives excellent Blues / Hard Rock tones.
Bright / Pentode mode gives you the classic bright and chimmey tones of Vox, with beautiful and crystalline cleans and, with a nice crunchy break up, when drived hard. The amp is LOUD enough, don't be fooled about their 15W. A 50W amp is just -3dB quieter than a 100W amp and, a 25W amp just -6dB quieter than a 100W amp so, the NT is about -9dB quieter than a 100W amp and, -6dB quieter than a 50W amp.

The NT112 cab mounts a Celestion G12M, specially designed for this amp that is very efficient and, projects the sound open and loud. I'm still impressed how good and high can this little cab project the sound, being so small. With good tubes, this little cab shines in a way that you will never expect for its price and size.

I've tested it with a band, 2 guitars, 1 bass guitar, 1 drum kit, 1 singer and, they said that it was sounding really loud. I've tested it in a little venue, little local, little people, without miking it and reproducing the backing tracks thru a 300W PA and, everything sounded really good.
So, despite of its size, it can do a great work.
I have tested it also with a 2x12" Cab (the powerful Orange PPC212) and a 4x12" with Celestions V30 and, of course the loudness increases significatively so, there is always a way to make it useful for each situation.


Tube Swapping

Even that with stock tubes the amp sounds good, you will never know how good can really sound until you swap, at least, the two pre-amp tubes for something better.
Sovtek 12AX7-WA tubes are the worst tubes, from a sonic-point of view, that you can load in an amp but, they have very low noise, very low microphonic issues and are cheap and consistently produced, what makes them a natural choose for amp makers (together with JJ's).

Any NOS tubes there will do an excellent job but, also lots of new production ones will work awesome and will give a great amplitude, definition and character to the sound than the stock ones.
Even the cheap JJ ECC83S will be one step over those.
You will start to notice a nice improvement with a couple of EH 12AX7 and, to my taste, the best you can throw there (new production) are the Mullard 12AX7 reissue.

Or you can choose the 12AX7 of your like (a Tung Sol or EH or JJ) for the first tube and some NOS Philips 5751 for the second tube, or a new production EH 12AT7 (long plate), or a NOS 12AT7 or a Mullard 12AX7 reissue.

With that change of preamp tubes, the Sovtek EL84 in the power amp will sound nice, since they are very well balanced and break up with a nice distortion grain. But, the Sovtek are a bit monodimensional and project the sound in a very centered beam.
Just swap those with cheap JJ EL84 and the amp will rowl like a tiger. I like those while clean but, I don't like how they break up but, without any doubt, are the powerfullest of new production EL84s.
The TAD EL84-STR is quite similar to the JJ but, less powerful and with a different EQ. I liked it more in this amp, since the way as it breaks sounds more natural to my ears but, both are in a very similar ball park.
The Mullard EL84 reissue is my personal election for this amp, since they are the ones with a greater 3D projection of the sound (with a wide beam), are very linear, very plain EQ'd and they go better and better the more you push them, with an incredible definition note-by-note even hardly driven.
I loved the sound of the Genelec Gold Lion EL84 a bit more but, those tubes are really weak and stand just few hours and, they are even expensiver than NOS tubes so, it makes no sense to buy those.

After tube swapping, I never had the need to change or upgrade the cab. I think the NT112 works really good paired with this amp and, just a tube swapping puts everything sounding as it should. And, that cab is cheap enough so, you can get head and cab for a funny price (taking into account that we are talking about a tube amp).


Videos

Well, that little lunchbox is appearing in many of my own videos but, there are some that are specially dedicated to this amp. The following one it's a travel along the several sample setting that Vox has in his site and, it's useful to check the different voices that this amp can deliver. Sorry, the guitar was so close to the recorder that there is a lot of feedback about the "acoustic" unplugged sound of the guitar.



But, this is one of my preferred demo (not mine):




And, if you are interesting on how different tubes sound in this amp, here you are the series of videos that I did while testing the different tubes for each position.






















04 December 2012

Wiring Diagram: Hermetico's LP Exchanger mod 2

Classification

Guitar Modded

Gibson Les Paul


Description
  • HH Pickup layout (4 conductors)
  • 1 Swiftcraft 3-way toggle switch
  • 2 volume pots with pull/push
  • 2 tone pots with pull/push

Difficulty Level

Hard

Features

  • Provides standard LP combos, plus a high variety of other combinations.
  • Independent volume and tone for each pickup.
  • Enhanced version of Jimmy Page's wiring design
Wiring Diagram

Click on the diagram for a full sized view.



Comments

Jimmy Page's wiring mod achieves a lot of different combinations but, in my honest opinion, it does it in a way that isn't easy to recall and, some of the combinations produce just silence (the guitar shuts up).
The Exchanger 2 mod is my own take around the Jimmy Page's mod but, making controls easier to map in your mind so, you will be able to easily achieve exactly the combo you were looking for.
 
Each Tone pot splits its corresponding pickup.
Neck Volume puts Neck pickup out-of-phase (changes polarity).
Bridge Volume puts both pickups in series, overwriting the 3 positions of the 3-way (instant booster).
 
But there are some tricks hidden under this design.
Default, NT splits the neck pickup to outer coil but, if you have also BT up, selected coil is inner, instead.
Default, BT splits the bridge pickup to inner coil but, if you have also NT up, selected coil is outer, instead.
Also, the NV (neck volume), when changing the polarity of neck pickup (OOP) is reverting which coil is split by the NT pull/push.
 
In this way, we are achieving one more unique combo than in JP's wiring mod and, the best of all: there is no combo that can accidentally shut up the guitar!.
 
Click on this picture to see a full size of the list of combos:
 
 
In red, unique combos (that appear at least once in that list).
Notice that when the serial switch is up (BV = Bridge Volume), the three positions of the 3-way toggle switch have exactly the same combination. Once you push down BV, whatever the combo that was before in the current position comes back.
By example, imagine we had BV = down, NV = up, NT = up and BT = down and we had selected Rhythm position, we should have selected Neck Inner Coil but, once BV is up, we are having Bridge humbucker in series with Neck Inner Coil Out-of-Phase.
Imagine that, while in series, we change to Treble position. There is no change in the sound, since we are getting the same combo but, once we push down BV, we are getting Bridge Humbucker, instead.
 
As in the case of JP's wiring, volume controls are independent and allow you to mix both humbuckers at your taste but, when both pickups are in series (BV = up), both controls are also in series so, rolling off a bit  one will also reduce the overall volume and, totally rolling off one we will shut up the guitar. In this case, the neck volume acts as some kind of master volume.
 
In the middle position (and in parallel, BV = down), you will achieve different nuances by mixing each pickup at different levels, since some frequencies will be reinforced while others will be dimmed.
Also, when in middle position and out-of-phase (NV = up), the different volume levels for each pickup, will give you different textures of the out-of-phase sound (Peter Green's mod), some are edgier, some are more subtle.
Just experiment with all this.

22 November 2012

Pedal Effects: Lovepedal Pickle Vibe

Introduction

The Vibe sound can be heard in so many classic rock sounds that is a effect well stablished in our mind.
Anyway, not easy to get a good Vibe pedal. Not easy to find a vintage-correct vibe pedal that can handle some of the impedance and buffering issues that happen when combining it with other moderner pedals.
And, definitivelly, not an easy effect. It can sound lush and awesome when played properly or totally weird.

Vibe is one of the signature sounds of Robin Trower and, you can hear it in several of his songs. Vibe was the ammo that used Hendrix in his "Machine Gun" song and, vibe is what you hear in "Us and Them" by Pink Floyd, just to mention a few examples.

This is not my first Vibe pedal. My first one was the Voodoo Lab Vibe. This was ok but lacked I-dunno-what.

My second one was Roger Mayer's Voodoo Vibe+. This has any possible control you can imagine so, it wasn't a plug and play type of pedal and, any accidental touch to one of the knobs would ruin the sound. Very studio-like sounding and big has a hell for a pedalboard but, a really nice one.

My third Vibe was Fulltone's MiniDeja Vibe 2. This one sounded really lush and very vintage-correct but, (as happens often with Fulltone pedals) had some impedance issues that made it very difficult to combine with other pedals and, the speed control cannot be fixed, since it's being controlled with the rocket pedal and, you need to push it up (oposite to a wah) to activate the effect, what means that you have to search for the wanted speed AFTER you switched on the pedal.

Any good phaser, at certain speed levels, can sound close to a vibe but, they will never sound exactly as a vibe. The vibe is some kind of mix between a phaser and a vibrato (and, sometimes, it has some kind of auto-wah sound) so, it's an effect on its own.
The Mad Professor Tiny Orange Phaser can go really close to a vibe (it's the phaser that I've found that can go closer to a vibe), in certain settings, by example but, the vibe has something else.

Well, I wasn't thinking on vibes anymore... until I saw some video around the Lovepedal Pickle Vibe and, liked a lot how it sounded. Easy pedal, straight forward, just a knob for speed, very small so, I thought "Why not?".


Presentation

It cames in a brown carton box, with just an small sticker that says "Pickle Vibe". Inside, the pedal wrapped in some protective plastic and a single sheet with very few information.
The unit is very small. Is one of those pedalboard friendly formats and, so small that it cannot really hold a battery inside so, be aware that you will need a power addaptor to run this pedal.
The instructions address you to play with the inner trim pot to get the sounds you want.


Playing it - First Impressions

Well, when I tried it first, my thought was: "excesive". I mean, the valleys and peaks of the sound are excesive so, some notes are really weak while others (mainly basses) peak really high. Also, the EQ range was excesive, the sound was a bit harsh, with piercing trebles.
So, time to unscrew the tap and go inside the guts.

The Trim Pot can be found inside, in the upper right corner (more or less) and, can be easily accessed with any plain head screwdriver. It worth the try, since you can shape the sound to your taste (between some limits) and it's a one-time operation so, I fully recommend it to you.
The Trim Pot adjustment is a bit tricky. There is a lot of change moving the pot just a hair to right of left.
To left, it seems to increase high end (or to move the sweep range closer to that frequencies) while, to right it seems to increase low end.
Take your time, move it a hair at once and check the sound (what earned, what loosed?). The trim pot is affecting both, the central sweep frequency (I guess) as the depth of the effect so, take it into consideration.

I know, this unit isn't based on photocells, as the original ones (something that Fulltone is also using) but, the sound is very convincing (once you tweaked that trim pot).

I've tried it before and after gain units and, its place is clearly before gain units, as usual with Vibe effects.
I'm still checking the pedal in a wider sense. I need to know if it's having some type of impedance issue when combined with other pedals. The pedal itself, doesn't seem to be affected depending on what do you put before but, still not sure if it is affecting to the following pedal.

Machine Gun's tones can be easily achieved with this pedal but, a depth control could be interesting to allow to tame a bit the excesive modulation for other kind of works, even that it sounds convincing with anything else. That Trim Pot remembers me the BIAS knob of the Voodoo Vibe+.

By now, I have a very small pedal that gives me the tones I wanted from bigger units, as the MDV2 or the Voodoo Vibe+ and, it's way easier to play so, not a bad thing. I still need more time for my final decision but, my first impression is that is practical, useful and nicely voiced.


The Video

The video demoes several speed settings and, how it sounds alone, with overdrive and with distortion.
No sense playing, just trying sounds. About 12 mins.



20 November 2012

Pedal Effects: 3 wah comparison

Introduction

Ah, the Wah!.
Who didn't hear Hendrix' accrobacies with his wah?. Who didn't loved the wah in "Shaft in Harlem"?.
The wah is one of the simpler effects (from the complexity perspective) but one of the most difficult to master.
The wah is all about its core voice, that depends a lot on the kind of inductor being used, the sweep range and the central frequency that has the biggest bump.
But, that's not enough. Most of us developed a high sensibility in our hands but, no so much in our feet and, the wah is all about feet sensibility.
It's an awesome expression pedal but, takes a while to make it work in the way you need at a certain passage. From subtles changes in the central frequency to wide sweeps, the control of a wah is a big weapon for a guitarist but, not all the wahs work the same. Every maker offers one or more models with different characteristics and, some wahs fit better the needs of a particular player than others.

In my case, I prefer wahs based in the Italian Inductor, the early British Wahs. I am not interested on wahs using the American Inductor type, because I fill more human-voiced the Italina one.
That's why, in this comparison, I am leaving out the Morley Bad Horsie 2 wah and, just comparing three British-voiced wahs, instead.


The 3 wahs

The simpler one is the Vox 847. A reedition of the old Voxes, with true bypass modification, what is a clear benefit over vintage units, that were well known as true tone-suckers.
Remember that Jimi Hendrix started all with a Vox wah, before it was hardly modified by Roger Mayer, as the taste of Jimi was changing while recording and performing.
I hear no noises in this wah and, the rocket works well. Nice and wide sweep range, can cover from low to high frequencies and have a good central frequency. Straight forward, simple and effective.
The drawback with the 847 is that it can lead you to issues if you are planning to use it with a vintage fuzz.
The 847 isn't buffered when on so, the fight for the pedalboard chain is assured.

The Real McCoy RMC4 goes so close as possible to the awesome Vox Picture Wahs that started all this.
The Vox Picture Wah was named like this because the picture of McCoy was stamped on the back. The Wah was trying to model the Trumpet accrobatics of McCoy and, that's why that picture.
The Real McCoy RMC4 bases its design in that early wah but, adds true bypass switching and a buffer to make it fuzz-friendly.
Without any doubt, this is the rawest sounding unit in this comparison. The sound is deeply vocal, very human-like and has an awesome sweeping range and central frequency.
The drawback with this wah is that goes noisy with the time and, that the electronics can catch RF interferences and other weird noises (do you remember Machine Gun's by Hendrix, catching some Radio talking in the middle of the song?).

The versatiler of all them is the Roger Mayer Vision Wah. Since Mayer was Hendrix' tech, he knows a lot about how to achieve outstanding effects that work flawless for studio work. Roger Mayer uses state-of-art electronics components, maybe because it has an history in the Navy, what makes him to every time choose military ranged components.
From those 3, the purest or hi-fi sound is coming from Roger Mayer's wah. No noises at all and, the wah has a lot of versatiliy.
One knob controls the tone of the wah so, you can make it sounding more bassy or more trebbly but, I choosed to let the control to match the bypass sound of the guitar.
Other knob controls the output gain. I choosed to let that control to unitary level, to don't hear any difference when switching on the wah. But, the good thing is that you can always tweak gain and tone to your needs.
Four switches provide 16 combinations, where the frequential content, sweep depth and middle frequency change radically, from very vocal to very thin and, everything in between.
I recognize, this can make a new wah-user to be scared and, makes difficult for a non schooled wah-ear to choose the right switch combinations. To walk around the 16 combinations can be a hard job but, at least, you have total control over which kind of wah you are after.
The Vision Wah is also buffered when engaged so, no issues with vintage fuzzes.
The case is made of Carbon Fiber, what makes this wah way expensiver but, it has some other interesting things. By example, the typical 3PDT swith isn't a mechanical one but an electromagnetic one. That means that the clicking pops of switching it dissapear and that the component will last more time, since there is no mechanical fatigue. Same happens with the rocket pot, that works with an optical cell instead of typical mechanical pot, what removes any noise or crack when rotating the pot and, makes it to last longer time.

Tone wise, I prefer the deep vocal sound of the RMC4 but, this wah is way noiser than the other two. When moving the rocket up and down, you can hear the mechanical noise in your sound and, the floor noise is always greater than in the other two wahs.
The best filtered one is the Vision Wah but, I didn't heard any kind of disturbing noise in the 847 at all.

Playing with the switches of the Roger Mayer's you can get close to the sounds of the other two wahs but, I wasn't never able to exactly mime the sound of the RMC4.
Since I can go very close and, I prefer to better control my floor noise, that is already an issue because I am using vintage-correct single coils, I would leave the Vision Wah in my pedalboard.
The drawback is that is a huge pedal, wider than the other two and a bit longer (Roger Mayer is used to big effect boxes, BTW).


The Video

Even that isn't an in depth walking on every pedal, the first part compares the sound in bypass and switched on mode for each wah, trying to cover different sweep ranges and wah works.
I am taking more time with the Vision Wah because, I wanted to check how each switch is actually affecting the sound, to choose the better combination to my taste at the end of the video.
My choosed combination goes close to the sound of the Picture Wah but, it isn't an exact clone.


Pedal effects: 3 buffer comparison

Introduction

If you are running a simple rig, with just a guitar and an amp and, eventually a couple of pedals you will probably never need some buffer in your chain (at least that one of those pedals uses it).
But, even with simple rigs, if the run of guitar cable is long enough, the lost of high end, strength and punch can start to appear. This is when a buffer can help you to restore your lost frequencies, signal strength and punch.

Buffers are very simple circuits and, one of the simplest of any pedal effect. In fact, they are some kind of unitary gain amp that works to make the next pedal to see the signal as if the cable between your guitar and the buffer didn't existed.
This sounds good enough!. But, we were already discussing in my entry "the cost of the cup of tone" that, even the simplest design with a single transistor is now the one that is creating the sound, your guitar isn't anymore. Therefore, how transparent a buffer can be will depend on the design and quality of their components.

Taking the oportunity that I will repatch my pedalboard with Mogami's cables and, that I've removed all the pedals, I wanted to check the three buffer pedals that I actually have.


The three buffers

First buffer I've ever owned was the MXR MC-401 Booster / Line Driver. This pedal has two functions. When the booster knob is on its minimum, the gain is unitary so, just the buffer (Line Driver) is working to restore the original signal's caracteristics. For this test, I was only interested on the buffer side of each pedal.

Second buffer I've bought is the Mad Professor Ruby Red Booster. This pedal has an inner micro-switch to activate or deactivate the buffer and, three knobs that work in two more additional boosters (a typical booster and a treble-booster). I've maintained the inner buffer active but, I didn't stepped over the pedal to avoid to run the booster sections of such a pedal.

Third buffer was the Wampler Clean Buffer. This is the simpler of all them, the buffer is just active when you step over the pedal switch, otherwise, true bypassed.

I don't know why but the MXR never worked fine for me. I remember having lots of troubles when I've tried it to push the rest of the chain. I've always feel it as thinning the sound and removing some of the body.

The Mad Professor one is a very good pedal, a real Swiss-Knife. The two additional boosters help to have exactly what you want to deliver to the rest to your pedalboard.

The reason to go for the Wampler's one was that, after loading the first Wampler pedal in my pedalboard, I've realized that those were the pedals that were delivering the sound I always wanted and, therefore, I didn't needed the booster function of the Ruby or the MXR and, then, a simple buffer should work in my chain.


The Test

To no compromise the results, I've feeded every pedal with the same Pedal Power unit and, plugged just to one at a time, without changing amp' setting and, with guitar controls all the way open.

Overall, I have the impression that all the buffers are bringing back lots of high end and, all them tend to make the sound a bit thinner and sharper but, the effect is more clear in the MXR, then in the Ruby and then in the Wampler.
When you strum hard power chords, I feel some hollowness in the MXR, a bit less in the Ruby and nothing in the Wampler, that retains full strenght and punch, while the punch is being tamed in the MXR.

The MXR is probably the one with more high end and, can sound a bit harsh or even piercing. This effect is less noticiable in the Wampler and a tad less in the Ruby.

What was a real surprise in the test was the tests with the pedals switched off. The Ruby one is out of this comparison, since the inner buffer was active all the time (no true bypass). When I've changed from the MXR to the Wampler I was highly surprised.
The MXR seems to be a tone sucker and, just pluging a cable in each jack makes the sound weaker, with less punch and a clear roll off in frequencies. But, the Wampler sounded strong, with less lost high end, full bodied and with punch. Why?.

Since both pedals are true bypass, I can only imagine that the components involved for both pedals are the ones making the difference. Is the Jack, is the switch, are the inner wires that link jacks to the switch, is the led?. I dunno but this unexpected results blown my mind.


The Video

Unfortunatelly the chained audio processing (24 bits to 16 bits to MP3 to Youtube) can hide the little details that are clearly audible live and, I am not very confident that you can hear them. Therefore this blog entry is a good complement to the video, resuming my feelings and experience.

Accesories: Mogami vs Evidence Audio Guitar Cables

Introduction

The goal of high end cables is just to transfer the original sound the most transparently possible, while preserving signal strength and frequential content.
In a previous test, it was very clear that cables make a difference. In fact, everything that is in the path of your signal and the final sound affects it in some or other way.

Thinking on my previous test, I can group cables in three categories: low, medium and high end cables and, this division isn't related to price but to the sound.
Low end cables are those that have microphonics issues, high floor noise, interferences... and sound dull, lifeless or their frequential content is so equalized that the guitar sounds different to herself.
Medium end cables haven't such a microphonics or noise issues but, deliver an EQ'd signal or lack some definition note to note. They usually work fine... until you compare them to a high end cable.
High end cables have an even representation of the frequential content, nice punch, high definition note by note and a strength signal, while preserving a good relationship between the signal to noise levels.

High end cables are often expensive. Period. But, some are astronomically expensive while others are reasonably "affordable".

Probably, the best sounding cables I've tested are Vovox and Evidence Audio ones but, both have a clear ergonomics issue. They are very thick and have poor flexibility and, are mess hanging from your guitar. So, even that I can use a Lyric II from the pedal board to the amp (because it's static), I don't find myself comfortable using it from my guitar to the pedal board.

In other side, to patch my pedalboard, I wanted to go for a cheaper high end cable and, I've already tested the George's L, Evidence Audio Monorail, Cordial among other low end cables. My last try was to patch the pedalboard making my own cables and using Sommer SC The Spirit cable and, even that they work good, I am finding the resulting sound as having a great amount of high end frequencies, that can result in a piercing sound sometimes.
Something I've noticed is that plated cooper strands tend to deliver a more defined sound but, with a bunch of high frequencies and, when reached some point, the sound can be honky or even harsh and piercing.
Silver plated copper strands have an outstanding definition (as the Vovox) and, sound bright but, comparatively more even than tin plated copper strands (as the Sommer).

There was a Brand that I always wanted to try, because it's an standard in lots of Recording Studios. I know most of the patch cables used with studio gear are usually made with Mogami' stuff. I didn't wanted a HI-FI like cable so, I went first to Mogami' site to explore their catalog and choose the cable that could probably suit my needs and, I found that Mogami 2524 instrument cable was what I was looking for.
I've run away of plated copper strands this time and, my election was that cable, without solid core copper (as The Lyric II) and with a thinner gauge and higher flexibility (even that the Spirit).

Well, today I was comparing the two cables that I was using till today (Evidence Audio The Lyric II and The Forte) against the Mogami 2524 and, this entry is all about my feelings with those three cables direct to amp, in a clean setting.


Comparing 3 cables

The thicker one is the The Lyric II, that has solid core wires inside and some complex geometry that makes the cable thick and very rigid. The Forte was Evidence Audio's approach to a flexible cable with the good things of The Lyric II, is less thick and more flexible than the Lyric II but, still rigid for a guitar cord. The Sommer cable is more or less equally thick than The Forte but, it's more flexible than The Forte, maybe because of the very special design of Evidence Audio cables.
The Mogami is the thinner of all them, with a gauge very similar to typical low end cables (what scared me at a first glance) and, just a tad thicker than the typical cheap Asian cables that come with cheap Asian guitars.

Tone-wise, the Lyric II stands its head over the other two. Has an outstanding definition note by note (same range as the Vovox) and a very even equalization. Every little nuance pops up in the sound. The sound is punchy (even overdiving the preamp gain, compared to the other two) and strong, while transparent clear and defined.

The Mogami 2524 has also a very even representation of frequencies, the sound is strong, well bodied and has a good punch (but a tad less than the Lyric so, it doesn't overdrives the preamp) and has an awesome definition note by note but, slightly minor than the Lyric. But, in the Mogami, notes seem to be better "glued", while in the Lyric, sensation is that they are somewhat "independently sounding". We are talking about very fine nuances and, not about big differences in the quality of sound. I have no doubt that the Lyric is just one step over the Mogami, even that this step is very short.

The Forte surprised me this time. More or less, it has the same strength and punch of the Mogami (maybe a tad less) but, the frequential reproduction isn't so even. It sounded to me as a bit hollow in the mids and with an slight bump on high end (specially) and low end frequencies. Compared to the other two, percussive chords sounded with less punch and with less body. Once again, we are talking about very fine details here but, I have no doubt that the Mogami is slightly better and, its flexibility admits no comparison with the other two.


The Video

I've prepared a very short video (about 8 mins) demoing the three cables. Take into account that the conversion process, from the original 24 bits audio to the 16 bits that allow the video editor generates a lost in subtle details of the sound (that at the end are which make the difference). The audio is then converted to MP3 format, when rendering the video and then processed by Youtube so, I am not very confident you can get the details I am mentioning above and, that's why this blog entry complements the video with the sound information that the video cannot accurately reproduce.

Anyway, you will notice that, once reached some quality level, any good cable can do the job with ease.



Final Comment

My original thought was to substitute the Spirit cable with Mogami's in the pedalboard, because I thought that they will probably not stand a comparison against the Evidence ones but, I was gratefully surprised with the results of the test so, I am thinking in substitute The Forte one with this Mogami. I don't see the urgent need to remove the Lyric, instead (because it rests on the floor).
Most Mogami cables are sell bulk so, you can make your own cables to your wanted length and, they are thin and flexible enough to patch a pedalboard and to hung from your guitar. Sonically are at same level than The Lyric or Vovox and are expensiver.
I have still to compare them against Sommer SC The Spirit ones and see how well they work on the pedalboard.

19 November 2012

Accesories: Neutrik Timbre Plug Test

Introduction

If your rig is limited to just one guitar and one amp (despite of one or more pedal effects), you can spend some time looking for the guitar cable that better fits your needs.
When you are using instead very different guitars and amps, the characteristics of a certain cable can be unwanted for a certain rig.
By example, imagine that we are using a Fender Stratocaster with vintage-correct single coils in an amp that's naturally trebbly (like a Vox) with a trebbly speaker (like a Celestion V30) and, using a high end cable that preserves or even pushes the high frequencies. The results can be really harsh and ear piercing.
Or, imagine that we are using a darker amp, with darker cab and/or speakers, with A2 humbuckers and, we use a cable with high capacitancy that still roll offs lots of trebles. The results can be really tud, muddy or dark, liveless.

So, it seems that the best approach wold be to preserve the most of your high frequencies possible and, being rolling off those later. But, this can lead to some other issues.
If you are using certain amount of pedals between your guitar and your amp (because you love pedals or because you cannot crank your amp and need a bit of help), you will probably end adding some buffer at the beginning of the chain, to feed the rest of pedals with a quality signal that preserves frequential content and signal strength.

Well, this last is my case. I was unable to remove the excesive high end that the Evidence Audio The Forte cable was delivering at the input of the pedalboard. So much high end makes the sound honky, a bit bonny, sharped and without body. The different gain stages (gain pedals) in the chain were increassing the loudness of such a high end, delivering a final sound that didn't liked to me.

Traditional approaches would be to roll off some high end content from your guitar, rolling off the tone control (what works the most of times) or to get a warmer cable, with higher capacitancy that can get rid of that excesive high end.

Some time ago, I saw some interesting video demoing the Neutrik Timbre plug. A plug that has 4 different positions that help to change the frequential response of your cable. I checked the price and, even that expensiver than other plugs, was affordable for just an extreme of a single cable so, I went for it and bought it. This is my short experience with that plug.


Presentation

Nothing great. Just a plastic bag with the plug dissasembled inside. No instructions.
You need to go to Neutrik's home page and search for assembling instructions to determine if the red wire inside the plug goes to ground or hot. It goes to hot (to the tip).


Assembling it

Overall, Neutrik plugs are very well designed and are easy to solder and mount. Just a child's game.
But, in the case of the TimbrePlug, things go a bit different. In first place, if you don't peal enough of the external isolant layer (the instructions say 2 cm, what ISN'T ENOUGH), the assembling screw (THAT IS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WIRE PATH!) will be a mess and, to put everything together becomes a hard work. While to prepare an standard Neutrik plug can take me about 5 mins, I spent more than 20 mins traying to assemble it in the right way. So, take into account to peel more external isolant layer than specified in the assembling instructions, check the clearance between signal wire, shield and that screw.
If you take this into account, this will become easier.
The red cable of the Timbre plug should be soldered together with the signal wire to the plug's tip.


Testing it

I've prepared a Mogami 2524 Intrument cable (with cooper strands, not platted), with such a plug and one silent plug in the other extreme. I've plugged my guitar, direct to the amp to check both things: the Timbre Plug and the cable. I had another Mogami cable of same length, with an standard plug in one side and one Silent plug in the other side, for comparison.

That was weird!. I've switched on the amp and, inmediatelly was scared... The volume was weak, weak, weak and, the sound was dull, dark, distant. I've checked the 4 positions of the TimbrePlug and, just a bit of enhancement or darkness in one or the other positions but, same incredible low volume.
I played with the amp controls, increassing the gain (that basically increassed the floor noise) and the volume that seemed to do nothing.

For a moment, I've run in panic: were my amp's tubes went wrong?.
I've switched the other two amps and tested the guitar in both and, same results.
So, I decided to test the other cable (regular + silent plugs) and, the volume became normal.

At this point, I desoldered the TimbrePlug and mounted just a regular plug in this cable, tested again, and everything was as usual.

I am then very disapointed with the TimbrePlug but, I am still not sure if the issue was the plug itself or that, due to the difficult assembly and narrow space between wires and screw, maybe the screw drilled the isolant layer of the signal wire and created some kind of derivation to ground, what can explain the weak signal.

Since the second thing that I wanted to check is how that Mogami cable worked, in comparison with the Evidence Audio and the Sommer SC The Spirit ones, and liked what I've heard, I will delay a further test of that TimbrePlug for any other day in the future.

I am now recabling the pedalboard with Mogami 2524, because I am suspecting that the current Sommer SC The Spirit, that has a tin plated cooper strands core is the responsible for this excesive high end. My experience with plated cooper strands says me that this kind of cables are very bright sounding. While silver plated ones seem to deliver a more even response (but still bright), tin plated ones seem to be really harsh sounding.

After recabling the pedal board with Mogami 2524, I will compare again Mogami 2524 against the Evidence Audio cables that I am currently using from Guitar to pedal board and from pedal board to Amp.

16 November 2012

Wiring Diagram: LP - 1 Prail - 4 sounds

Classification

Guitar Modded

Gibson Les Paul


Description
  • HH Pickup layout (1 4 conductors P-Rail, 1 braided single conductor humbucker)
  • 1 Swiftcraft 3-way toggle switch
  • 2 volume pots (1 with pull/push)
  • 2 tone pots (1 with pull/push)

Difficulty Level

Hard

Features

  • Provides standard LP combos, plus the 4 different sounds of a P-Rail
  • Independent volume and '50s tone for each pickup.
Wiring Diagram

Click on the diagram for a full sized view.



Comments

With pull/pushed down, we achieve the typical LP combos.
The requester wanted to control the P-Rail neck pickup just with the two pots assigned to neck pickup (NV = Neck Volume, NT = Neck Tone).
For more easy memory map, the Neck Volume (the upper one) selects the P90 coil (up) and the Neck Tone (the lower one) selects the Rail coil (down).
For the 4 sounds switching, I am not using the SD standard (by Frank Falbo) but, the approach of ArtieToo, that avoids the antenna effect when the outer coil is being selected.
Color codes correspond to P-Rail, therefore Seymour Duncan's ones. The white wire is being represented here in light blue.
Volumes are wired in an independent way.
Tones are wired as per '50s mod, to provide an smoother roll off of trebles, when rolling off the volume.
 

13 November 2012

Wiring Diagram: Jimmy Page's mod

Classification

Guitar Modded

Gibson Les Paul


Description
  • HH Pickup layout (4 conductors)
  • 1 Swiftcraft 3-way toggle switch
  • 2 volume pots with pull/push
  • 2 tone pots with pull/push

Difficulty Level

Hard

Features

  • Provides standard LP combos, plus a high variety of other combinations.
  • Independent volume and tone for each pickup.
Wiring Diagram

Click on the diagram for a full sized view.



Comments

When someone wants the highest versatility for its limited Les Paul (just 3 pickups combinations against the stock 5 combinations of a Strato), he/she immediately thinks on Jimmy Page's mod.
This mod provides 21 very interesting combinations, that can be read here: (click for full size pickup):
What I don't like about Jimmy Page's approach is the following:
  • There are several combinations where all what you get is a blackout (no sound)
  • It's not easy to map in your memory what controls to pull or push to achieve a given combination
This design is really tricky and needs a careful inspection and hard explanation.
I've seen many other wiring diagrams around there that are incorrect.
A nice one can be found on Seymour Duncan's forum (The Vault), drawn by ArtiToo, with the information that Robert S or Jeremy gave to him. That list above was prepared by some of those two guys (thanks!).
You can easily detect other false JP mods because you will see the two central lugs of the 3-way soldered together, what is not part of the JP mod and, one of the tricks that this mod wisely uses.

I have my enhanced version of this wiring, named Hermetico's LP Exchanger mod 3 that will introduce, once I update the design to a moderner look.

Wiring Diagram: Hermetico's Stratosphear mod 4

Classification

Guitar Modded

Fender Stratocaster SSS

Description
  • SSS pickup layout
  • 3 single coils, direct Fender replacement pickups
  • 1 volume pot with S-1 switch
  • 2 tone pots
  • 1 Fender Super Switch
Difficulty Level

Medium

Features

  • Provides standard SSS switching mode plus an alternate mode with interesting combos.
Wiring Diagram

Click on the diagram for a full sized view.

 
Comments

For this mod, an S-1 switch or a 4PDT on/on switch is needed. Even that most of the job can be done with a DPDT switch, some position can leave some coils hunging from the hot path, what converts the pickup in a very large antenna that can catch any kind of noise. This is avoided with the help of a couple more of poles and, the reason why I am designing this with a 4 poles switch.
Given that Fender includes in several of their strato models the S-1 switch and, that this kind of switch is really discrete and easier to actuate than a pull/push, I went in that director for this mod.
 
Due to the complexity of the wiring, there is a dedicated tone pot for the bridge pickup but, a master tone for all positions. So, you can tweak the overall trebles roll off with the master tone (MT) and roll off a bit more for the bridge position (BT), what is always convenient, since the bridge pickup has always more high end frequencies.
 
When the S-1 is up (unactive), we achieve the standard strato combinations but, tone controls work as described above. When the S-1 is down, we enter in an alternate mode, with the following combinations:
 
1. Neck in Series with Bridge (like the 4th position of a Tele mod)
2. (Neck in series with Bridge) in parallel with Middle (very open but strong)
3. Neck in parallel with Bridge (like the middle position of a Tele)
4. (Middle in series with Bridge) in parallel with Neck (strong an open)
5. Middle in series with Bridge (some kind of Bridge virtual humbucker)
 
I've tried lots of combinations but, those alternate one that this mod has were the ones that I liked more.
This gives a lot of versatility to your strato, without repetitive combinations (by example, neck in series with middle is quite similar to middle in series with bridge) and, all them delivering an interesting alternate sound.
 
For sure, there is more room for improvements or changes. By example, we could use a master treble tone and a master bass tone, to better narrow the sound. I cannot cover every variant.
 
As always, not represented ground wires (as bridge's or shielding's) should be soldered together with the rest of grounds (inverted triangle).

Wiring Diagram: Mike Richardson mod 03

Classification

Guitar Modded

Fender Stratocaster SSS

Description
  • SSS pickup layout
  • 3 single coils, direct Fender replacement pickups
  • 1 volume pot with pull/push
  • 2 tone pots
  • 1 Fender Super Switch
Difficulty Level

Medium
Features

  • Provides standard SSS switching mode plus an alternative mode with interesting combos.
Wiring Diagram

This is the original sketch from Mike Richardson's:



What can be a bit hard to understand for some people.
I translated that sketch to a more friendly diagram. This is the diagram:


 

Comments

This is a more standard alternative to mod 02 of same author, because we are achieving the 5 regular Stratocaster combinations when the pull/push is down.
This time, in the alternate mode (pulled up), we achieve the following combos, instead:

1. Neck in series with Middle in series with Bridge
2. Neck in series with Middle
3. (Bridge in series with Middle) in parallel with Neck
4. Bridge in series with Middle
5. Neck in parallel with Middle in parallel with Bridge

I would swap postions 5 and 1, to make it going from weak to strong.
Respect of mod 02, we are loosing the Telecaster-like intermediate position (Neck and Bridge in parallel) and, we are adding a virtual bridge humbucker (bridge in series with Middle) in parallel with Neck, what gives a very interesting combination with strength an openess, at same time´

12 November 2012

Wiring Diagram: Mike Richardson mod 02

Classification

Guitar Modded

Fender Stratocaster SSS

Description
  • SSS pickup layout
  • 3 single coils, direct Fender replacement pickups
  • 1 volume pot with pull/push
  • 2 tone pots
  • 1 Fender Super Switch
Difficulty Level

Medium
Features

  • Provides standard SSS switching mode plus an alternative mode with interesting combos.
Wiring Diagram

This is the original sketch from Mike Richardson's:



What can be a bit hard to understand for some people. This time, there is specific information about what to do with the 3 pots (volume and 2 tones).

I translated that sketch to a more friendly diagram. This is the diagram:


Comments

One more tricky design by Mike Richardson. This time using a super-switch and getting rid of the black out issue with the middle position of their mod 01 (see previous entry in this blog).
Also, in my opinion, the alternate combos that provide the "alternate" mode are more usefull for the real work.

While the volume's pull/push is pushed down, standard strato wiring takes place but, except for the middle position that, instead of select the middle pickup is selecting Bridge in parallel with Neck pickup.
When the the pull/push is pulled up, we enter in an "alternate" mode and we are getting the following combinations:

1. Neck in series with Middle in series with Bridge
2. Neck in series with Middle
3. Bridge in series with Neck
4. Bridge in series with Middle
5. Neck in parallel with Middle in parallel with Bridge

I would probably swap positions 1 and 5 to make the combos go from the weakest to the loudest one, by example in this way:

1. N + M + B (all parallel)
2. N & M
3. N & B
4. B & M
5. N & M & B

To me this makes more sense but, Richardson's design is very clever, anyway.
The drawback is that you loose your middle pickup alone sound but, you replace it with neck and bridge pickups in parallel, what is very similar to the center position of a Telecaster and, not a bad sound, anyway.

The tricky part of this wiring is related to that cap linking the neck negative and the lug 3 of the neck's tone pot. Not positive about the function of this cap there.

I will still introduce two more Richardson's designs in next entries.

Wiring Diagram: Mike Richardson mod 01

Classification

Guitar Modded

Fender Stratocaster SSS

Description
  • SSS pickup layout
  • 3 single coils, direct Fender replacement pickups
  • 1 volume pot with pull/push
  • 2 tone pots
  • 1 Fender 5-way switch.
Difficulty Level

Medium
Features

  • Provides standard SSS switching mode plus an alternative mode with interesting combos.
Wiring Diagram

This is the original sketch from Mike Richardson's:


What can be a bit hard to understand for some people. Even that the wiring of the 5-way is clear, there is no specific information about what to do with the 3 pots (volume and 2 tones).

I translated that sketch to a more friendly diagram and decided to have a master volume an independent tone controls for neck and bridge pickups. This is the diagram:





Comments

Mike Richardson was providing few tricky and usefull diagrams. This one is the first I would like to introduce to you but, a couple more will come soon.

You can see that when the pull/push is pushed down, the 5-way switch behaves in a regular strato way, delivering the typical strato combinations but, when the pull/push is pulled up, we enter in an "alternate" mode and the positions deliver the following:

1. Neck in series with Middle
2. Neck in series with Middle-out-of-phase
3. NOTHING
4. Middle-out-of-phase in series with Bridge
5. Middle in series with Middle

Not sure about positions 2 and 4.
For position 2, having the bridge negative grounded in one side and it's positive ground thru the cap on lug M but, also linked to neck's negative (also grounded thru the cap on lug M), it seems like if the middle pickup was shortcut and therefore, just the neck pickup should work.
Same case applies for position 4 and the bridge and middle pickups.
Maybe the cap between the ground and the link spot for both pickups is reversing the polarity of the middle pickup without shortcutting such a pickup. I am not 100% positive on this but, I have to rely on Richardson's design.

The weirdest thing of this wiring is the middle position that gives you no sound. I don't like mods were some position can accidentally shut up your guitar.

But, wait, Richardson have some other tricks in the hat. Wait for next mod.

Wiring Diagram: Guitar Tech Craig's Mega Switch

Classification

Guitar Moded

Fender Stratocaster SSS

Description
  • SSS pickup layout
  • 3 single coils, direct Fender replacement pickups
  • 1 volume pot with pull/push
  • 1 blender pot
  • 1 tone pot
  • 1 Fender 5-way switch.
Difficulty Level

Medium


Features

  • Provides multiple alternative combos to the original stock wiring..
  • The different combinations are achieved with the use of a blender pot and a pull/push under the volume pot.
Wiring Diagram

This is the original diagram found on Guitar Tech Craig.


Many people tried it and didn't success. I bet that the issue is that this diagram is showing the common lugs as they would be in an old Fender switch but, current switches have their common lugs swapped.
The following diagram is my take of the original one, fixing the issue with the lugs, clarifying the design respect of grounds and jumpers.


Comments

This request was originally made during Juny 2009, were some users were interested on use the Mega Strat Wiring mod presented in Guitartechcraig and, that reported as not working.
I suspect this was the case if they didn't understand the meaning of each lug and they tried to directly solder everything as drawn. Without taking into account which lug is which, a direct soldering of this design in a modern Fender 5-way switch will lead to unexpected results because, by example, you will be wiring the hot output to the neck pickup lug, instead of the common lug, etc. 

This is a very tricky design and, the major key is how the blender pot works. It's relatively easy to wire but, a clever and tricky design that, it's not easy to understand for everyone.
Just to give an example about how this wiring works. Let analyze Neck position.

When the pull/push is down, the center poles are in contact with the lower poles (in this diagram with the upper lugs, since the switch is seen as mounted in the pickguard).
So, at left, the neck pickup goes to its natural lug in the 5-way and, at right, the bridge negative goes to the middle lug of the blender pot and, the middle positive goes to the right lug of the blender. That makes a virtual link in series between both pickups, depending on the position of the blender pot.
When at zero, both pickups are connected together in series (in fact, when going from middle position to zero). When at 10, the bridge pickup is grounded and disconnected from the middle's positive (the series arrangement is broken).
And, in the right side of the pull/push, the center of the blender (negative of bridge pickup) is linked to the negative wire of the neck pickup.

So, if the pull/push is down and the blender is at zero, for neck position (position 5 in the original diagram), what we have in fact is the middle pickup in series with the bridge pickup and the neck pickup. The positive of the bridge pickup is disconnected in the 5-way for this position so, no sound middle in series with bridge.
But, the neck is connected to the hot path and the middle is always grounded so, what we have for this position is Middle in Series with Neck.
In this same case, if the blender is at 10, we are disconnecting the middle positive from the bridge negative and the bridge negative is being grounded but, since in the pull/push the bridge negative is linked to the necks negative, the neck results ground as well. Since the positive of the bridge isn't linked to the hot path in the 5-way but the neck positive is, we achieve just the neck pickup for this position.
So, blender at ten gives us neck pickup, blender at zero gives us middle in series with neck, instead.

But, what happens when the pull/push is up then?.
Now, the neck negative will be always grounded and the neck positive will be always on the hot path so, at least the neck pickup will sound always by default, if we don't do anything else to avoid it.
Remember that we still have that virtual link between the middle and bridge pickup in the blend pot so, let analyze all together and let see what happens.
Both (middle in series with bridge) pickups are unlinked of the neck pickup and, since the bridge positive isn't in the hot path, we will get no sound from those pickups, when the blender is at zero.
When the blender is at 10, the serial link is broken and the bridge pickup is being grounded but, since neither the bridge positive or the middle positive are in the hot path, we just get the neck pickup.

Let analyze the middle + neck position now (Position 4) in the original drawing.

First effect is that the bridge positive is being grounded (in the right side of the 5-way).
The bridge negative is linked to the neck negative in the pull/push, when pushed down.
This time, the middle positive is added to the hot path, together with the neck positive.
The middle positive can be also potentially linked to the bridge negative in the blender pot.
In one side, we have the neck pickup linked with the bridge pickup out-of-phase. The negative of the neck pickup is linked in the pull/push with the negative of the bridge pickup and, the positive of the bridge pickup is grounded so, we have a virtual humbucker with the bridge pickup out-of-phase.
In other side the middle pickup has it's negative grounded and the positive linked to the negative of both pickups, bridge and neck. So, what we have here is bridge out-of-phase in series with neck in parallel with middle in series with neck but, neck positive is also linked to the hot in the 5-way switch.
That shortcuts the neck pickup, removing it from the signal path and therefore, what we have is bridge-oop in parallel with middle.
When the blender is at 10, the link between middle positive and bridge negative is removed and the bridge negative is grounded. Since the bridge positive is grounded in the 5-way switch also, the bridge pickup is removed from the circuit but, since  the negative is linked to the neck negative, the neck pickup is being grounded now. The middle negative is always grounded and, the positive was already added to the hot path, therefore, we have here Neck in parallel with Middle.

And when the pull/push is up?.
Neck positive is always in the hot path and the negative is grounded so, this pickup should sound as default.
Middle negative is always grounded and for this position, the positive was added to the hot path so, in principle, both pickups should be in parallel.
Bridge positive is still grounded and, the negative is virtually linked to the middle positive in the blender pot.
When the blender is at zero, the three pickups are sounding in parallel.
When the blender is at 10, the link bridge negative - middle positive is being removed and, the bridge negative is being grounded and, since the positive is also ground, the pickup is being removed from the circuit. The other two pickups continue as they were so, we have neck in parallel with middle.

To go one by one can take very long so, try to understand the basics of how the combination of that blender with the pull/push work together. Maybe, it's easier for you to think on that blender as if it was just a SPDT on/on switch.

The good thing  of doing it with a blender pot is that you can reuse one of the stock tone pots for that job and the guitar still looks like it was and, between zero and 10 there are some grey zones, where you can get other nuances for each combo.
But I think it can be easier to have a toggle DPDT on/on there instead of the blender to do the job.

11 November 2012

Wiring Diagram: Custom Carvin mods 02 and 03

Classification

Guitar Moded

Carvin Custom HH


Description
  • HH pickup layout
  • 2 humbuckers (Seymour Duncan)
  • 1 volume pot
  • 1 tone pot
  • 1 Schaller Megaswitch E (regular 5-way) or 1 Fender 5-way switch

Difficulty Level

Easy


Features

  • Provides full humbuckers and split combinations
  • Simple treble bleed mod (just a cap)

Wiring Diagram

Two diagrams, this time. Both are designed for Seymour Duncan pickups.
First one is the solution with a Schaller Megaswitch E (regular 5-way), that will work also with any cheap Asian importation switch.
Second one is same wiring with a regular and trustful Fender 5-way blade switch.
Remember to click on the images for full size.






Comments

To adapt the Custom Charvel Wiring Mod 01 to Seymour Duncan pickups it's even trickier than the original mod was. While Charvel pickups split by default (grounding the link) to TOP pickup, Seymour Duncan split by default to inner coil (usually slug coil), except for some tricky pickups, like the P-Rails.

That means that while in Charvel, with regular split, with achieve the outer coil of the neck and the inner coil of the bridge (they are both their respective "top" pickups in their position), in standard SD' split, we achieve inner coil in neck (or bottom pickup for Charvel) and inner coil in bridge (or top pickup for charvel).

A direct remapping of wires, from Mod 01, doesn't give us the right combinations. When I split humbuckers to single coils, I prefer to favor the inside (or top) coil of the bridge and the outer coil (or top) of the neck, so we achieve two things at same time: first to get the louder coil for each position and, second to get hum cancelling positions if both pickups are being selected together.

So, I redesigned mod 01 for Seymour Duncan pickups, to achieve following combos:

1. Neck humbucker
2. Neck split to outer coil (screw)
3. Bridge split to inner coil (slug) in series with Neck split to outer coil (screw)
4. Bridge split to inner coil (Slug)
5. Bridge humbucker.

To achieve those results, I had to totally reverse the way both coils are being put in series in both pickups.