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H/s/h Config Options?

al heeley

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I'm going to go for a carved top PRS-type bolt-on neck job for my next project, with H/S/H pickup config, and 4-conductor HB's for coil-tapping. Probably a 5-way switch thrown in.

The possible wiring configs for this seem immense, I wondered if anyone having built or owning an instrument with this config had any input as to a good wiring config and where the most useful tone combinations lie?

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there are almost too many combinations..on my last build i wired a mini toggle on/off/on for each pup. the neck features humbucker/off/single coil. the bridge is standard humbucker/off/reverse polarity and the single coil features on/off/out of phase with whatever else is on. i think mathmatically that's 27 settings. the truth is that for a performance guitar it's almost too much. as a studio guitar i can make this one sound like almost anything on the market.

if i had used on/on/on switches my brain probably would have exploded. :D

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I would use the 5-way switch wired as normal with 3 (either v/v/t or v/t/t) push/pull pots. I would have two of the push/pulls as coil splits for the humbuckers and i would have the third as a neck adder switch that overides the 5-way switch and adds the neck pickup to what ever selection you have (i.e bridge and neck together or all 3 pickups). I like doing stuff like this because the guitar appears completely stock so doesnt scare people away but it can still give loads of options

Here is what you would get:


the red ones are all unique so thats 17 different pickup selctions from 3 pickups.

It gives you more of the bridge and neck sounds you might have on a LP or tele and dont usually see on 3 pickup guitars. Although obviously there are no series/parralel switches but i think i would get confused at that point

The only thing i would say is make sure you use good pickups, most dont coil split very well and can be a little dissapointing in those settings

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i use a 24-pole, 5-way superswitch and a push/pull DPDT tone pot on my H/S/H guitars. i have two separate "modes," a humbucker mode with the tone pot down that is very similar to the Ibanez JEM switching, and a single coil mode with the tone pot up that is like Strat switching.




i like the "mode" switch idea because it changes all 5 positions with just one switch.

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I used a "double barrel" switching arrangement, plus a push-pull volume pot. This gives me 17 unique sounds, but no copies - all positions are unique.

I used a rotary switch as my second 5 position so I wouldn't have to mod the face of my guitar. This replaced the tone pot that I never used anyway. But with a strat, you can have master volume, master tone, and the rotary switch.

I agree that splitting can be hit-or-miss, but if you choose the pickups carefully (and are willing to compromise a little on the humbucking sound), it can be very good. I use a Duncan Stag Mag at the neck, and an SK dualtone at the bridge. These (as well as Rio Grande's Tallboy & Muy Grande buckers) have one or more coils with alnico poles (like a single coil) - and it works well. If you don't want to have such limited options, remember that generally speaking, the higher output buckers split better.


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I really like that switching, but something is bothering me...With so many options at your fingertips, how can you live without the *both humbuckers on together in parallel* (ie Les Paul middle position). That would put the icing on the cake!


actually, i never use the both-humbuckers-together position. it sounds muddy to me, like a mix between bridge and neck that is less cool than either of them separately. so it was easy for me to drop that combination and replace it with others i use a lot--like the two outer coils, for that notched Tele sound.

i've seen that double-barreled switching scheme before, but it's way more than i would ever use. with humbuckers, i don't need single coils in series, and i never use out-of-phase sounds because of the volume drop-off. and 10 positions is pretty much all i can remember off the top of my head. :D

Edited by scott from _actual time_
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