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Electronics Configuration?


GarrettS
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I'm trying to decide a few things for electronics and need some guidance.

I'm building a neck through guitar with a maple top, ebony board for everything rock, from The Beatles, to Van Halen, Scorpions, Ozzy, Metallica, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, etc.

What are some considerations for electronics for that? Thinking:

  • Volume knob, 500k Linear taper pot
  • Three way selector: Bridge (Series), Split (Parallel), Neck (Series)
  • HH

How do you make the volume easy to ride?

Passive pups with the volume knob are loud until almost all the way down, at which point they get quiet really fast. This makes it hard to ride the volume knob because to get a very backed off sound requires controlling the knob to somewhere very specific between about 1.5-2.5. Anywhere above that and it's too loud, anywhere below and it's nearly silent. 

What about having volume knob turn down all the way physically to have that sweet spot of "2" and then use a killswitch or "soft stop" in the knob to shut it off all the way. Or is there any type of "volume cut" switch, not killswitch, to cut the volume by half, at which point it might be easier to ride the knob?

Tone for this music should be bright and loud. Should I go Bareknuckle, DiMarzio, or something else?

On HSH, I use three settings: Bridge (for riffs/leads), bridge+ middle (for clean tones), neck (for leads).

Piezo for clean tones in the split position are desired. How can that work that in the configuration. 

But 3 way selector is better than 5-way and I'd rather have two pickups if I can get the right sound. Two Pups are lighter and pulls on the strings less compared to 3 pups.

This is really like three questions:

1) What volume config is good for riding?

2) How can the sound be loud & bright? 

3) Can the pups be set for 3 way selector, for HH config, with piezos for the middle position?

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1) I guess you've already answered that: A linear pot instead of an audio taper.

2) A treble bleed circuit should keep the sound bright even when you lower the volume

3) I leave that to those who know about electronics

All the above can be utterly wrong but that's how I understood your questions.

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3 hours ago, Bizman62 said:

I guess you've already answered that: A linear pot instead of an audio taper.

The use of a linear pot is the reason you're finding the last couple of notches above zero are the most difficult to control. You want to use an audio taper, aka logarithmic taper pot for a volume control, not linear.

 

6 hours ago, GarrettS said:

Tone for this music should be bright and loud. Should I go Bareknuckle, DiMarzio, or something else?

Almost all pickup makers will offer something bright and high-output. Your choices shouldn't be down to one specific manufacturer as such. Are actives an option?

Your requirements for the bands and music styles is pretty broad given you only want a dual humbucker config with three switchable combinations.

 

6 hours ago, GarrettS said:

Can the pups be set for 3 way selector, for HH config, with piezos for the middle position

 

6 hours ago, GarrettS said:

Three way selector: Bridge (Series), Split (Parallel), Neck (Series)

I'm a little unclear - are you wanting piezo in the middle position or split humbuckers?

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3 hours ago, curtisa said:

The use of a linear pot is the reason you're finding the last couple of notches above zero are the most difficult to control

Duh! And I even checked it somewhere! Either the guy on that site mixed things up or I didn't understand right. So, one answer totally wrong, the other still unconfirmed and the third one left unanswered...

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10 hours ago, curtisa said:

I'm a little unclear - are you wanting piezo in the middle position or split humbuckers?

Yes, piezo in the middle with a split, and a blend knob to blend in piezo. 

  1. Bridge
  2. Bridge split + piezo (blended)
  3. Neck

I could add a Gold Foil P90 in the middle. That'd give more tonal variety for low gain crunchy rock. But it comes at a cost of an extra pickup, more weight, string pull, and wiring. In that case, it'd be

  1. Bridge
  2. Bridge split + p90 + piezo (blended)
  3. Neck

So it sounds like what I want would be best achieved with an an audio taper pot.

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1 hour ago, GarrettS said:

I could add a Gold Foil P90 in the middle. That'd give more tonal variety for low gain crunchy rock. But it comes at a cost of an extra pickup, more weight, string pull, and wiring

The wiring is already fairly complex based on your requirement of additional piezo - factor in a battery and onboard preamp/mixer of some kind for blending the split bridge pickup and piezo - so adding a P90 in the middle is not going to place much of an additional burden on the installation works from a wiring point of view. I'd be more concerned about how  to implement this kind of switching using a 3-way switch. What you're asking for (even without adding the P90 to the mix) is beyond what a regular Gibson or Tele-style switch can do, so you're either looking at something esoteric and really hard to come by, or some kind of rotary switch which you'd have to decide if that fits your requirements, both visually and ergonomically.

Additional string pull - is that really an issue in practice? Whatever extra pull there might be going from 2 humbuckers to 2 humbuckers and a P90 would surely be pretty insignificant? Same goes for added weight of an extra P90 compared to the total weight of the guitar.

 

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5 hours ago, curtisa said:

The wiring is already fairly complex based on your requirement of additional piezo - factor in a battery and onboard preamp/mixer of some kind for blending the split bridge pickup and piezo - so adding a P90 in the middle is not going to place much of an additional burden on the installation works from a wiring point of view. I'd be more concerned about how  to implement this kind of switching using a 3-way switch. What you're asking for (even without adding the P90 to the mix) is beyond what a regular Gibson or Tele-style switch can do, so you're either looking at something esoteric and really hard to come by, or some kind of rotary switch which you'd have to decide if that fits your requirements, both visually and ergonomically.

Additional string pull - is that really an issue in practice? Whatever extra pull there might be going from 2 humbuckers to 2 humbuckers and a P90 would surely be pretty insignificant? Same goes for added weight of an extra P90 compared to the total weight of the guitar.

 

Really appreciate the feedback. I don't know shit about wiring, so I'd leave that up to the pros. I imagine it's possible to have the Piezos wired to the middle switch and then have a blend knob to blend them in. 

For weight, the p90 might add 1/2 lb — about 8% of the weight. Balance is important, so less weight matters and less weight on the face of the guitar especially matters because of the guitar shape and strap button placement.

If I can get a substitutable tone from a split between the bridge and neck, that would save at least some weight in a place I want to avoid extra weight.

As for string pull, I don't know. I heard pickups add string pull but I don't know about it.

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4 minutes ago, GarrettS said:

I imagine it's possible to have the Piezos wired to the middle switch and then have a blend knob to blend them in. 

Not if you also want to split one of the humbuckers at the same time (at least, not without resorting to a different switching method).

Possible ideas:

  • Telecaster 2-pole 3-position switch could give you Bridge H -> Bridge H split (or Neck H split, but not both) -> Neck H. Piezo could be added with a mini toggle, push/pull or just on a direct blend, but you couldn't wire it so that it 'knew' to only be active in the middle position.
  • Try to get your hands on the switch used in the Ernie Ball John Petrucci model guitar. I ***think*** what you want to do can be done with this switch, but I can't say for certain without having one in my hands and analysing the switching pattern of all the contacts. Downside - it may be hard to get hold of and will be priced accordingly.
  • A rotary switch with enough contact wafers fitted will do all the right things, but you have to want a rotary switch. Not everyone likes them. I have one on a PRS Custom 22, and I find it's totally impractical if you want to quickly flick between one pickup setting and another.

 

32 minutes ago, GarrettS said:

For weight, the p90 might add 1/2 lb — about 8% of the weight

I take it this is some kind of ultralight guitar? 8% of the total weight makes the whole thing about 6.25 pounds, which is pretty light for an electric. Either that or 0.5 pounds seems heavy for one pickup (two 7-string humbuckers I have here barely weigh 0.5lb combined).

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