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Dual P90 Install, Wiring Ideas?


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Hey all.

I have a '95 Yamaha RGX-120d which I am in the process of completely reworking in the pursuit of "that sound."

I am going to be installing two Wilkinson P-90s in it (they're what I could afford) and want to try some fancy stuff with the wiring. The guitar currently has one selector switch, a volume knob, and a tone knob. I want to maintain that factory look, but have more sound options.

What I was thinking of doing was using a stew-mac five way super switch to have these options:

1. Neck pickup

2. Both, parallel

3. Both, out of phase

4. Both, series

5. Bridge pickup

I am not completely new to electronics so don't be afraid to use jargon, but I'm not very good at coming up with complex wiring schemes, so this is where I am running in to trouble. After drawing circuit after circuit, I just can't figure out how to get these options with just the five way switch. Actually I'm not sure if its even possible at all. I've thought of using a small selector switch and a push-pull tone pot, but that is where I am really in over my head. Basically, I have no idea what to do.


On an aside; has anyone heard good/bad things about these pickups? I've seen a few good reviews. Also, would you recommend I just stick with modern electronics, or try to nail some vintage caps to help out the tone that little bit? Lastly, when people do out of phase mods, are the pickups in series or parallel out of phase?

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Hi...interesting idea...options are limited to the kind of five selections you have there with two single coil pickups. A 4p5t superswitch should allow pretty much any custom wiring along these lines but it is confusing to work out.

On the series or parallel phase, reasonable question...I imagine I have only really tried it in aprralel on strat type guitars. An out of phase series HB is generally poor as the coils are so close together...but perhaps with this combination...matter of trying it and seeing. Another way to modify the out of phase thing is to add a small cap or resistor cap into the circuit with one of the pickups...you can often get a more strat like 2 or 4 position tone in this way without the middle pickup (JD tele for instance I think has this)...

I am not sure what "that tone" is...but it should provide an interesting range of sounds. A strat tends to remain straty for other reasons regardless of pickups...scale length is a major factor...

You can go crazy with wiring options...check out DGB Studio...I see they have 93 circuits for 2 single coils alone...you need to look for something that uses a superswitch, generally a 4 pole switch...the circuit 2S09 is pretty close...



1 PU1 Neck

2 PU2-PU1 Out of Phase (Parallel)

3 PU1+PU2 Parallel

4 PU1xPU2 Series

5 PU2 Bridge

+:Parallel -:PhaseOut x:Series

4-pole 5-way switch Mod for Fender Telecaster

Note It is necessary to separate pickup cover's ground and pickup's ground.

Being for a telecaster it only features two knobs, vol and tone.

Guitar Nuts is a great forum for even more elaborate stuff, but your choices seem like plenty for such a guitar...

Hope that helps...


ps...you can change the order of these selections by adjusting the wiring....also, make sure you really do have or get the big 4p5t super switch...it will have 24 connections, you will often be able to recognize circuits that use them by what looks like 4 selector switches in the diagram, obviously they all switch positions at once.

Also, make sure you make the wiring neat and don't use too much heat...these switches are pretty big and often deep, they should fit in but if you are messy with it, it will look like a plate of spaghetti! Getting a pack of wires with different colors is advisable so you can colour code things and take it once step at a time, often you will need to check which is which and what is ground. Also, if the guitar is sheilded, protect the switch from shorting on it with a little tape over the shielding...with all these connections and the size of the switch, it is so easy for things to short when you screw the scratchplate down and throw you into an unnecessary panic (obviously speaking from experience here)

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psw, wow, great website, thanks for the link! That looks pretty much like the circuit I was thinking of. For actual materials . . . originally the guitar was not shielded, I guess since it has dual humbuckers. Since I am putting in P90s, which are known for humming, do I need to put shielding in the cavities, or can I get away with using shielded wire? (I would prefer the shielded wire since the cavity covers are actually clear, but if it won't work, I can deal with that).

Thanks again.


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See how it goes, you can always shield it later. I have often used shielded wire without a shield, or even no shield and no shielded wire with good results with single coils. Ideally, the neck and bridge will be rwrp so all the combination settings should be humbucking...but see how it turns out.

In general, the pickup leads should be shielded and the wire to the jack if possible but the rest minimum length wire is perfectly adequate and you will be only making it worse or creating ground loops if you try and get to clever with shielded wiring. Make it neat and it should be fine, ground the switch chassis and the pots but remember when you are reversing the phase, you are switching the hot and ground around so avoid a short there.

DGB studio is an insanely good site...especially for pickup wiring options and for many factory schematic...but it has a lot of other stuff about scale lengths, fret calulators and even string tensions that can come in handy.

I think you are shooting for a good combination there and leaving room for other options and tweaks with the 4p5t super switch without going over the top...adding more would be overkill for sure...but there is always the next guitar!


ps...p-90's are know to hum because like a strat, they are single coils...they will always hum a bit, but it is surprising how low you can get this down to...you will probably never be able to play directly in front of a monitor or with a flashing neon sign behind you...so don't!

Edited by psw
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I actually have another question about this.

On the page for the schematic, there is a note that says "It is necessary to separate pickup cover's ground and pickup's ground."

I'm not sure what this means. I don't have a pickup cover (solid mounted pickups, everything is in the back), but I do know that some guitars have shielding on the back electronics cover. What do I do in my case? Ignore this note and ground everything normally?

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You will see just above that, it says "4-pole 5-way switch Mod for Fender Telecaster" as this is a typical 2 pickup blade switch guitar and mod. On a tele, the neck pickup has a metal cover that is grounded, traditionally to one of the leads...if this isn't separated, when you reverse the phase, the cover becomes hot instead of grounded...so a separate wire to the cover is required like the string grounding wire to the bridge. This often applies to other pickups and phase wiring if one of the leads grounds the metal parts of the pickup or anything and with shielded cables...you don't want the shielding to go hot when phase is reversed...most likely it will short and you will get no sound...or a lot of noise!

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