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so many coils, so little time....

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  • so many coils, so little time....

    Bought me a warman grail triple coiled humbucker for a project that promised to be more switchboard than guitar howeverthe guitar v didn't materialise.

    I'm now wanting to put the pup on my Ibanez art320 with parallel/serial switching however I do not want to put any more holes in it.

    Spoke to warman and they say that a standard push pull pot doesn't have enough connections to accommodate the pickup in that manner which frankly made me sad.

    Any suggestions on how I can go about this?

    Thanks in advance

  • #2
    I've done just about every mod there is over the years, yet I do have some stock guitars I'd never mod.
    In your case I'd likely want to know if the pickup does give you tones you'd want. I'd spend $100 on a junker
    you can use as a test bed and try out all the combinations before sticking it in a better guitar.

    There are ways of doing it of course. I'd sacrifice the tone knob and put in a rotary knob,

    then get something like the freeway switch.

    I'd have to set down with a piece of paper and figure out all the wiring combinations.

    Since the pickup would essentially give you three pickups in a 2 pickup guitar I might use all three knobs as volumes for the three pickups so I can blend them all. It really depends on the output strength. If the coils are hotter than the neck pickup you may need that control to get the blends you want. Some pickups have very little tonal benefits between running in series and parallel its not worth the effort putting in all the extra switching. Others have really big differences, You have to know before you make a plan.

    If the guitar has a rear access cover, I'd solder in some extension wires and simply twist the connectors from the pickup together using all the possible combinations and see which are most beneficial. Some may suck and you may not want to use them so you can eliminate that switch from being needed. You'll have that one stock pickup in there and it will influence you decisions of what combinations are worthwhile.

    Cavity space for switches is another factor. A rotary or freeway switch may not have the space to fit in there so those are all factors you have to weigh. ~~Stock pickups are usually chosen because they do give you the best tones for the instrument. If I needed a few millimeters of extra space I could use a dremmil to make some room in the cavity. A pickup would have to have the voice of god for me to go through the trouble of using a full sized router on the cavity for additional switch space. Its not an easy task at all.

    I've done all kinds of things to get components in guitars because I thought they'd give me that ultimate tone I been looking for. I'd have guitars with 9 switches and every possible combination of tones under the sun. When I played out with a band or recorded I'd wind up using two or three of the tones 90% of the time, and those tones actually sound better when you don't have all those switches and pots in there sucking tone and adding noise. Plus playing live you really don't have time to be switching tones all the time and your band mates wind up having to switch their tones to blend with yours.

    Fore recording it can be handy to have a load of tones. but you do need to realize it doesn't change the acoustic tone of the instrument. Pickups can change the gain and dynamics of the strings but they are limited to what the strings produce. Over time I found its easier to get different tones by simply picking up another guitar or using different gain and effects pedals. I usually dial up one pickup tone and use a small blend change using a volume knob where I can go from leads to rhythm and that's it.

    I do suggest you try it out with all the possible combinations however. I think every guitarist should experiment with the full gambit of possibilities when he's on his tone quest. It teaches you wants possible and what's not. You'll eventually find what's right for your playing skills and in the process you become fully competent is doing any repairs under the hood in the future. If you're going to drive a muscle car you're going to need to learn how to do the basic maintenance on them just to save money so they can be done.

    I'd dig up something like a cheap strat with a boat route under the pickguard, spend $10 for a SSH pickguard. Take the 5 way switch out and drill four holes there for DPDT switches. You can then wire them for Series/parallel with the center position off. Test the pickup out and see which positions you
    have to have and which are redundant. Then you'll know what might work in your other guitar and get the switches you'll need for it. The pup you pull out of the Ibanez can go into the Strat and nothing goes to waste.
    Last edited by WRGKMC; 05-12-2014, 12:40 PM.


    • #3
      Awesome post thanks for the reply. Would I be able to use a rotary with seven wires? Would it require six poles?

      The wire colours are as follows:
      Bare (i'm assuming this is ground)

      I'm only really interested in 3 combinations;

      Coil 1 (furthest from the bridge)
      coils 1 and 2 HB series
      All coils in series

      I would also be interested in the sound the pup would make if I HB'd 1+3 but left 2 as a single, though I fear it wouldn't be that much different to all three in series.

      Thanks in advance



      • #4
        Rotary switches come in all kinds and may be single dual or ganged. They can be very difficult for a beginner to map all the possible connections .
        Its best if you download any wiring guides for the rotary before you purchase it. Stuart McDonald does have a couple of rotaries and wiring guides you should look at.
        If you're going to buy someone else's switch then you have to make inquiries with them. There are hundreds of different rotaries and you wont know which may work.
        Trying to figure out the switching combinations on a stacked one involves three dimensional mapping. I've done many myself but its one of those things where you have to have the switch in hand and visually check it and test its connections with a meter. make a chart on paper, then see if the switch combinations will work for the pickups. Its not overly complicated if you've been shown how to chart them, but it can be as complex as a rubicks cube if you have no experience. Its not like you can just guess and try it. You have way to many connection possibilities and getting lucky just isn't in the cards.


        • #5
          Sweet thanks, I've ordered a 2 wafer, 6 pole, 4way switch so I'll get the meter out and see what's what