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Thread: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

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    Mojo's Minions ItsaBass's Avatar
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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    It may literally be the single oldest Strat mod on the books!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gearjoneser View Post
    ...the bridge/middle tone...
    But "bridge/middle tone? When did Fender start doing that from the factory? The classic Strat setup has no tone control for the bridge pickup.

    I think the way Strats should have always been wired is with a master volume and a tone for each pickup. But Fender only wanted to use three pots, I guess.

    I posted this the other day (maybe yesterday), about possible mods to which pot does what on a Strat:

    A. Sacrifice tone control for either the middle or the neck in order to give it to the bridge.
    B. Have the bridge pickup share a tone control with the middle pickup.
    C. Wire all three pickups through a master tone control, and leave a dummy pot there (or wire the extra pot to be a separate volume control for one or two of the pickups).
    D. Sacrifice the volume control in order to have a tone control for each pickup.
    E. Replace one of your pots with a stacked pot, so you have four pots in three holes. This gives you a master volume and a tone for each pickup individually.
    Last edited by ItsaBass; 03-22-2012 at 10:03 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by LesStrat View Post
    Yogi Berra was correct.
    Quote Originally Posted by JOLLY View Post
    I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

  2. #22
    Gear Ho Gearjoneser's Avatar
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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by ItsaBass View Post
    But "bridge/middle tone? When did Fender start doing that from the factory? The classic Strat setup has no tone control for the bridge pickup.
    I almost forgot about that. Of all the things Leo Fender did right, the two things I'll never understand is the original strat and tele wiring. No tone on the strat bridge, and the tele neck dark circuit.

    Every once in awhile I'll hear some old recording with the plucky muddy tele neck sound, and realize it was suited to that era's use of a guitar neck as a sort of bass tone.
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    Fuzzy. Guitars the guy who invented fire's Avatar
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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Gearjoneser View Post
    I almost forgot about that. Of all the things Leo Fender did right, the two things I'll never understand is the original strat and tele wiring. No tone on the strat bridge, and the tele neck dark circuit.

    Every once in awhile I'll hear some old recording with the plucky muddy tele neck sound, and realize it was suited to that era's use of a guitar neck as a sort of bass tone.
    When you think about those old Fender wiring set ups you have to think about 3 things...the times, the music being played and the amp...

    If you've ever played through an early 50's Fender amp you'll find out that they don't have a lot of top end so the Broadcasters with no tone controls, the Strats with no tone control on the bridge pickup and the 3rd Esquire position with no tone controls are useful in those situations.

    Leo wanted his guitars to be able to get everything from VERY fat and dark to double the upright basses of the time to bright and steely to do those fast western swing runs and still be heard when playing through a dark wide panel Fender amp...

    Another thing to keep in mind, a lot of times if you had a guitar player and a singer the singer would sing through the guitar amp...those old Fender amps had 2 channels but still only a single tone control so you'd have to set the tone control to sound best for the mic for the singer...that meant that the guitar had to be able to get a wide range of tones on it's own.

    It's all about time line...
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    Just A Minion ErikH's Avatar
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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by ItsaBass View Post
    But "bridge/middle tone? When did Fender start doing that from the factory? The classic Strat setup has no tone control for the bridge pickup.
    IIRC, it was when Fender introduced the American Standard post-CBS in the 80's.

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    Mojo's Minions ItsaBass's Avatar
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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    I've played American Standards in shops, but never actually owned one. I never even realized that they had piped the bridge p/u through the bottom tone knob. Glad they finally wised up a bit!

    My favorite two-knob setup is to have the bottom tone do the bridge pickup with it's own cap, and the upper tone knob do the middle and neck together, with their own cap (parallel tone pots instead of series tone pots). I find that when I do roll back the tone, my neck and bridge tone settings are usually the same (7 or 8), so it seems to make the most sense for me.
    Last edited by ItsaBass; 03-23-2012 at 07:48 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by LesStrat View Post
    Yogi Berra was correct.
    Quote Originally Posted by JOLLY View Post
    I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

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    Heel Whacker tone4days's Avatar
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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    i like the EJ wiring on my EJ strat ... i find it very useful to be able to knock the bridge tone down a small amount to allow the amp to be set a little bit brighter so the neck tones are clear .. i usually run the neck/middle tone on 10 unless i am playing warm/clean in a jazzy-ish tune, then i'll back it down to 8 or so

    do you guys drop the middle pickup height pretty far down towards the pickguard so as to a) get it out of the way of your playing and/or b) to maximize 'quack'?
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Lewguitar's Avatar
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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    I have an EJ Strat. It's bone stock. No tone control for the middle pickup. The two tone controls work for the other four positions on the 5 way switch though.

    Except for my original '63 Strat, which uses a .1 tone cap like the EJ uses, I've modded my other two Strats with a .02 tone cap and the Fralin style master volume/master tone/blender pot wiring. I do not use Lindy's "volume kit" though, which is really a treble bleed circuit with a resistor and small capacitor across the input and output of the volume pot terminals. I just don't need it since I wire the tone control to the output of the volume pot rather than the input which is the essence of the "50's Mod".

    I'm starting to really get back into the traditional sound of my '63 Strat though - especially since I've started using a Klon clone for so much of my playing. I'm starting to feel that my efforts to retain a clean tone and retain treble and mids might not sound as good with the Klon as traditional wiring and cap values do.

    I like the tone control on the bridge pickup, but I'm thinking of going back to a .1 tone cap in my Strats and ditching the "50's Mod" wiring - which means connecting the tone controls to the pickups on the switch before the volume control or if you're doing the master volume, master tone, blender set-up you'd connect the master tone control at the input of the volume control instead of connecting the tone control to the output jack or output of the volume pot.

    As for the middle pickup, I do back it down into the body and set it further from the strings than the neck and bridge pickups. I think I get a better tone with less warble when the middle pickup is moved further from the strings - the warble caused by the magnets of the pickups pulling on the steel strings.

    I move the middle pu far enough away that there's less warble, but not so far away that it sounds to weak when I combine it with the neck or bridge pickups.
    Last edited by Lewguitar; 11-12-2013 at 04:22 PM.

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    Fuzzy. Guitars the guy who invented fire's Avatar
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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    Interesting thoughts Lew.

    I have tried several Strat wiring set ups and I always end up back to a traditional Strat wiring (not 50's wiring) a master volume, tone for the neck, tone for the bridge and a .1 cap....oddly enough, like you I lower the middle pickup lower than the neck and bridge. It cuts down on magnet/string interference and I think it gives a "better" cluck in the 2 and 4 positions.

    I am considering adding a treble bleed to my Strat again as I ride the volume control a lot and miss a little sparkle when I'm turned down but in the past when I've used them they don't stay long as I don't care for the effect they have with the volume up full.

    I'm wondering if your recent findings have to do with the buffer in the Klone...do you use it in buffered mode?

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Lewguitar's Avatar
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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by the guy who invented fire View Post
    Interesting thoughts Lew.

    I have tried several Strat wiring set ups and I always end up back to a traditional Strat wiring (not 50's wiring) a master volume, tone for the neck, tone for the bridge and a .1 cap....oddly enough, like you I lower the middle pickup lower than the neck and bridge. It cuts down on magnet/string interference and I think it gives a "better" cluck in the 2 and 4 positions.

    I am considering adding a treble bleed to my Strat again as I ride the volume control a lot and miss a little sparkle when I'm turned down but in the past when I've used them they don't stay long as I don't care for the effect they have with the volume up full.

    I'm wondering if your recent findings have to do with the buffer in the Klone...do you use it in buffered mode?
    Great minds think alike Christian and you and I have always tended to agree on many things.

    My Klon clones (both first generation AF1 models from PCE) don't have a buffer on/off switch. I believe it's always on.




    Last edited by Lewguitar; 11-12-2013 at 04:18 PM.

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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewguitar View Post
    Great minds think alike Christian and you and I have always tended to agree on many things.

    My Klon clone (a first generation AF1 from PCE) doesn't have a buffer on/off switch. I believe it's always on.
    Interesting. I wonder how much of the extra detail you're getting right now has to do with that buffer.

    I don't have many buffered pedals on hand and none of them are boosts or OD pedals plus my wahs are all all old style bypass so my signal does take a beating in terms of top end loss. Maybe a buffer would change my mind on the treble bypass kit!

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    Alnico 6/8 gibson175's Avatar
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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    call me a rebel, but i wire it so the the neck and middle are wired to one tone pot and the bridge has the other.
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Lewguitar's Avatar
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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Gearjoneser View Post
    I almost forgot about that. Of all the things Leo Fender did right, the two things I'll never understand is the original strat and tele wiring. No tone on the strat bridge, and the tele neck dark circuit.
    At the time, the sound of a Tele or Strat was so new to most ears that the bright tone of a bridge pickup without a tone control was like a special effect or something. Fender used to describe that sound as "Take Off"....it was a new and unique tone at the time.
    Last edited by Lewguitar; 11-12-2013 at 05:43 PM.

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    Tone Member mojosman's Avatar
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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    I have three Strats. Two have traditional wiring, and the third (which is my partscaster) I wired Jimmie Vaughan style. I have to say that I really like that set up. I am thinking about doing the Jimmie Vaughan mod to my Robert Cray CS Strat as well. I seldom use the middle pickup alone, and when you use it with the other two in position two or four, you can adjust the tone as needed. I think it's the way to go.

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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    The same one you are using. I found out about it off the Guitar-nuts website years ago. I like it because I can turn the treble down when using the bridge pickup to tame it.

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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    Wire the tone connections on your Stratocaster directly to the second (Middle) lug of the volume pot...

    50’s Gibsons did the same on Les Pauls.
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    Super Toneologist hermetico's Avatar
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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    Didn't know this was called EJ's mod.
    I am doing it since I had an iron on hands. To me, it's more important the tone in an strato's bridge pickup than in neck or middle.
    It would be even better if we had also separate volume controls stock.

    About '50s tone, I personally don't like results in Stratos but, I like it in LP's (well, mahogany bodied guitars)

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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Gearjoneser View Post
    For almost two decades, I always used whatever wiring came with my American Fender strats, and usually just changed the pickups. I usually use them with the bridge/middle tone turned down to 8 and the neck always up.
    I always lived with the Fender flaw of having the middle pickup connected to the bridge tone, so the 2nd and 4th positions would also have the middle turned to 8.

    Then, along came my discovery of the Eric Johnson wiring diagram a few years ago. All you do is move the wires around on the 5 way switch, and you've got volume, neck tone, and bridge tone. The middle isn't effected by either tone control.
    How sensible is that??? That's the way a strat should have been wired to begin with.
    My 2006 Highway 1 Strat (the year before they went to the 70's headstock and HSS) came stock with this tone wiring, as well as Greasebuckets, and a non-RWRP middle which I fixed with some GFS Greybottoms. Don't hate, I was po', spent all my discretionary money on the axe itself, and they turned out great.

    I agree, this is just the way a Strat should be wired. I love the solo middle pickup without the tone pot. If you don't like the loss of brightness on the bridge pickup, you can get a 500K pot to keep more high end, or a DPDT pot and wire in a simple disconnect, or get one with a true "off" detent position available here at Fry's.

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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Stratman View Post
    Wire the tone connections on your Stratocaster directly to the second (Middle) lug of the volume pot...

    50’s Gibsons did the same on Les Pauls.

    I believe there is a mistake in the cap values stated in that wiring diagram. It should be .022uf and .033uf, not .22 and .33.

    Al

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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Stratman View Post
    Wire the tone connections on your Stratocaster directly to the second (Middle) lug of the volume pot...

    50’s Gibsons did the same on Les Pauls.
    The only problem I have with that wiring is that in position 4, you're putting the tone pots in parallel, which causes two problems. First, the resistance when both pots are at max is halved, so switching to your neck-mid position with the tone pots at 10 will sound like you turned the tone back to 6 or 7. The second problem is related; turning down either tone pot further darkens the tone, so if you're taming the bridge a little, position 4 is going to be a rather muddy duck.

    Several solutions:

    * You could make the jumper a treble bleed cap, either to the neck or bridge terminals. Advantage is that it's just as simple as the wire jumper, and only the very highest frequencies have the choice of going to the bridge tone, reducing the amount of darkening that the bridge tone can do in position 4. Disadvantage, you still won't be able to turn the middle pickup tone all the way down (usually not a big deal; if you want it that dark you're usually on the neck pickup).
    * Use a DPDT pot or switch to connect the jumper. Advantage is every position can be selected with one tone pot in the circuit. Disadvantage is giving up a DPDT for such a simple task when it could be doing something more useful, like series-parallel (though if this is your only mod it's not a big problem).
    * Replace the stock 5-position with a Lonestar switch, a true 4P5T 5-way switch with discrete terminals for each position. Advantage is discretely choosing the tone control you want in the circuit for each position (you could even use one for 2 and 4 and the other for 1-3-5 if you wanted). Disadvantage is a lot of soldering.
    * Go with a master tone control and use the last pot for something else, or not at all. Advantage is that it avoids the problem completely. Disadvantage is that you have to twiddle the tone when you change positions to go from wide open neck/middle to darker bridge.

    And BTW, Stratman, love the sig GIF, but it makes visiting this forum on my lunch break an iffy proposition .
    Last edited by Liko; 11-15-2013 at 11:44 AM.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Lewguitar's Avatar
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    Default Re: I love Eric Johnson strat wiring

    In a normal Strat, with a tone control on the neck, and tone control on the middle, when you combine the neck and middle pickups you also combine the two tone pots - as Liko notes. Some players prefer this "warmer" tone and find it to be more "Knopfler-esque".

    When you put the tone control on the bridge pickup instead, you never combine two tone pots. I find this to give me a slightly clearer tone when the middle pickup is combined with the neck pickup or bridge pickup.

    If you use a Schaller 5 way switch that elimates the middle pickup alone setting, but allows for combining the neck and bridge pickups in the middle setting, you will be combining two tone pots again in that particular setting and you'll lose some treble.

    That can avoided by going to a master volume, master tone and blender pot set up. And you'll have every possible pickup combination available.

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