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Thread: Tell me about 50's wiring

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    Ultimate Kitten Puncher King IzzO)))'s Avatar
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    Default Tell me about 50's wiring

    I know how to do it, I've got schems, I just don't know why I would want to do it versus standard middle lug cap to ground. Anyone care to enlighten me?
    HAIL HYDRA

  2. #2
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    I think it helps retain highs and clear tone when I turn the guitar's volume down better than standard wiring, and accomplishes that without the need of installing a treble bleed resistor/cap combo. All of my electric guitars are wired "50's mod" style - even my Strat and Tele. All Hamer's with two volume and one tone control are wired that way, BTW, although the way they do it looks different. They'll attach the tone pot directly to the output jack but it's the same principle. Jol Danzig of Hamer put a new wiring harness in my Gibson 335 last year and did it 50's style. It's the best sounding 335 I've ever owned.

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    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    BTW, the tone pot itself does not change. The diff is that with the "50's mod" the tone pot is attached after the volume pot - the tone pot is attached to the middle lug of the volume pot, which is the output of the volume pot. With standard wiring the tone pot is connected at the input of the volume pot to the same lug that the pickup is usually attached to.

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    Ultimate Tone Member skynyrd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    The main difference soundwise I have found between 50`s and modern wiring is like plugging your guitar into the high gain input on a amp then plugging into the low gain input (50`s ) . The 50`s wiring doesn`t have the punch that modern does but thats why it sweetens up the tone like it does. Running the tone cap to the volume pot versus running it to the top of the tone pot allows more signal to not be directed to ground, instead its directed to the amp is the easiest way to explain it, you`ll notice more flexibility in the roll off of the tone pot with the cap going to the volume pot than you will with it grounded to the top of the tone pot. If you have a high gain amp and would like to sweeten the sound do the 50`s wiring, if you have a moderate gain amp and want a little more punch try the modern. Try them both with your set up and try the cap to the top of the tone pot and see what sounds best to you.

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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by skynyrd View Post
    The main difference soundwise I have found between 50`s and modern wiring is like plugging your guitar into the high gain input on a amp then plugging into the low gain input (50`s ) . The 50`s wiring doesn`t have the punch that modern does but thats why it sweetens up the tone like it does. Running the tone cap to the volume pot versus running it to the top of the tone pot allows more signal to not be directed to ground, instead its directed to the amp is the easiest way to explain it, you`ll notice more flexibility in the roll off of the tone pot with the cap going to the volume pot than you will with it grounded to the top of the tone pot. If you have a high gain amp and would like to sweeten the sound do the 50`s wiring, if you have a moderate gain amp and want a little more punch try the modern. Try them both with your set up and try the cap to the top of the tone pot and see what sounds best to you.
    I am not understanding why it matters where the cap gets grounded because ground is common. I think what Lew is talking about in terms of where the signal gets routed to the cap so to speak makes more sense.

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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by King IzzO))) View Post
    I know how to do it, I've got schems, I just don't know why I would want to do it versus standard middle lug cap to ground. Anyone care to enlighten me?
    The difference is where tone cap-pot combo is connected at volume pot.
    It makes no difference whether order is cap->pot->ground or pot->cap->ground. (If it sounds different than something is faulty/failed : pot or cap or solder or any combination of these).

    So,

    a. cap-pot combo attached at input (outer leftmost) lug of volume pot, where hot from pickup is - that's 'modern wiring'

    b. cap-pot combo attached at output (middle) lug of volume pot, where hot to switch or jack - that's '50s wiring'

    If posible try 50's wiring on LINEAR taper volume pot.

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    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    Here's a diagram of how it's done:
    Last edited by Lewguitar; 11-10-2010 at 05:50 AM.

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    Mojo's Minions blueman335's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by korus View Post
    b. cap-pot combo attached at output (middle) lug of volume pot, where hot to switch or jack - that's '50s wiring'
    Okay, this ^ is how I wire my guitars, tone pot (along with the PU leads) to the middle lug of the volume pot. The tone pots are wired with the hot on the right lug, and cap/ground on the middle lug. Does that make a difference?

    This also gives independent volume controls too, right? Is this all the same thing or am I totally confused?

  9. #9
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    To understand this more easily, picture a ONE pickup guitar with one volume pot and one tone pot. Don't confuse yourself with picturing a two pickup guitar with a selector switch.

    In the diagram I provided, the red "wire" labeled "input" represents where the pickup should be soldered and the pickup is always connected to the input of the volume control. NOT to the middle lug of the volume control, which is the blue colored OUTPUT of the volume control and leads to the output jack of the guitar.

    The tone control can be connected to the same lug of the volume control that the pickup is soldered to (labeled: STOCK) or to the middle lug of the volume control (labeled: REQUIRED) which is the OUTPUT of the volume control and which leads to the output jack. You can also connect the tone control directly to the output jack and achieve the same result.

    The way I see it and hear it, the tone control responds differently depending on where it is connected.

    If I connect the tone pot the way it is shown in the STOCK diagram and the volume pot is turned down, the tone pot still has access to the full output of the pickup and shunts treble to ground based on the full output of the pickup regardless of whether the volume control is turned down or not.

    If I connect the tone pot to the middle lug (output) of the volume pot, and then turn the volume down, the tone pot can only shunt treble to ground based on the attenuated signal.

    It sounds different.

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    Ultimate Kitten Puncher King IzzO)))'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    Next question, by what you're saying I get the impression there is not a discernable difference at full volume (vol/tone on 10), what say you?

    What does the "optional" cap placement on that diagram do differently?
    HAIL HYDRA

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    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by King IzzO))) View Post
    Next question, by what you're saying I get the impression there is not a discernable difference at full volume (vol/tone on 10), what say you?
    It's my belief that the guitar will sound brighter to some ears with the 50's mod in place. Our mod Robert_S has commented that he prefers STOCK wiring and that when he rewired his Les Paul with the "50's mod" it had more treble than he liked so he wired it back to stock.

    Quote Originally Posted by King IzzO))) View Post
    What does the "optional" cap placement on that diagram do differently?
    Maybe nothing. It's just the way some 50's Les Paul were wired and what one might see when opening up the control cavity of a 50's Les Paul.

    I'm 61 years old and have owned a few 50's Les Pauls, including 2 or 3 sunbursts. (Can you believe I can't remember if it was 2 or 3????)

    I was just a kid though and had no understanding of electronics. I did notice though that some of my 50's Les Pauls stayed clearer than others when I turned the volume control down and some got muddier than others when I turned down the volume control.

    Then, a few years ago, I discovered on the Les Paul Forum that some 50's Les Paul's were simply wired differently than others. After experimenting with both wiring methods, I found that I preferred the "50's mod".

    Really, it's simply putting the tone control in front of the variable resistor that a guitar volume control is (STOCK) or after it (50's mod).

    My '54 Tele (a real one...) is wired with the tone control after the volume pot like Gibson wired some Les Pauls in the 50's. I have never been accused of having a tone that is to bright. When I did a gig a couple of years ago with Jack Sherman, formerly with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, he described my tone as being like a Velvet Razor! I love that...especially the velvet part.

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    Ultimate Kitten Puncher King IzzO)))'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    Awesome, thanks Lew!
    HAIL HYDRA

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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewguitar View Post

    My '54 Tele (a real one...) is wired with the tone control after the volume pot like Gibson wired some Les Pauls in the 50's. I have never been accused of having a tone that is to bright. When I did a gig a couple of years ago with Jack Sherman, formerly with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, he described my tone as being like a Velvet Razor! I love that...especially the velvet part.
    Not to hijack the thread, but for us more newbies Lew could you post some pics of your guitars....it sound like an incredible collection

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    Ultimate Tone Member dvadneau's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    If I'm understanding things in the 50's style diagram, in a LP (or any 2 vol/2 tone guitar) the 2 tone circuits will then be in parallel when both pickups are on. So, adjusting the tone for one will affect the tone for both, when both pickups are selected? Basically having a master tone, split into 2. Weird.

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    Senior Member Roddy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    This is a great thread..Thanks Lew
    Instrumental Blues/Rock Music/Teaching/The RW Band
    www.rodwelles.com

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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    Very different results being reported on 50s wiring here: http://www.seymourduncan.com/forum/s...-vs-50s-Wiring

    It appears there's some mystery concerning WHEN does 50s wiring do a better job of retaining highs when the volume is rolled down compared to modern wiring and a treble bleed circuit.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Lewguitar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about 50's wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Petros View Post
    Very different results being reported on 50s wiring here: http://www.seymourduncan.com/forum/s...-vs-50s-Wiring

    It appears there's some mystery concerning WHEN does 50s wiring do a better job of retaining highs when the volume is rolled down compared to modern wiring and a treble bleed circuit.
    Tweakers should try both methods and see what they prefer.

    I'd like to point out that all Hamer guitars use the 50's wiring. In their guitars with two volume controls and a single tone pot, Hamer wired the tone control directly to the output jack which accomplished the same thing as connecting the tone control to the middle terminal (the output) of the volume pot.

    I have never noticed any weird taper when I turn down the volume. But I don't use 1 meg pots and don't have resistors attached to my volume controls so I can use humbuckers and single coils on the same guitar.

    I don't mix humbuckers with single coils on the same guitar and don't split humbuckers since the split tone never sounds as good to me as a Fender style single coil.

    My guitars are wired fairly stock and my Fender guitars with single coils have 250K CTS pots and my Gibson and PRS guitar with humbuckers have 500K pots. I like a .02 tone capacitor.

    I do prefer the tone controls to be attached after the volume controls - either to the output jack (ala Hamer) or to the middle terminal of the volume pot. And that is the essence of the 50's mod.

    The reason I like 50's wiring is the same reason Jol Dantzig (Hamer Guitars and Jol Dantzig Guitar Design) prefers 50's wiring: less treble is lost when the volume control is turned down and the result is that the guitar doesn't sound muddy.

    I've been playing guitar and working on guitars for 45 years. I do have some experience with this sort of thing.

    Modern players who play with a heavily overdriven tone most of the time may prefer "modern" wiring.

    Or maybe being plugged into a boat load of pedals has some negative affect on 50's wiring.

    Or maybe the loss of treble that results when the volume control is turned down with standard wiring sounds better to the ears of those who play with modo overdrive and distortion most of the time.

    I don't know - I tend to plug straight into my non-master volume amps. If I do use a pedal or two it would be a Klon clone and an EH Memory Man. But I haven't noticed any negatives to using the 50's mod even when I do play through pedals.
    Last edited by Lewguitar; 11-08-2013 at 07:02 AM.

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