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Thread: Modern vs. 50s Style Wiring

  1. #1
    Ultimate Tone Member SchecMan's Avatar
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    Default Modern vs. 50s Style Wiring

    What would the tonal differences be between these two wirings, if any.

    Which setup would you prefer??

    I'm about to lay down some of my mad soldering skills and upgrade to CTS pots in the LP and was wondering which way to go with the wiring...
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    '05 Gibson Les Paul Classic
    '11 Taylor 414CE
    Orange Rockerverb 50

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    Super Toneologist Pete Galati's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern vs. 50s Style Wiring

    The '50s wiring maintains more clarity as you turn down the volume control.

    In my '82 Standard, I have the neck pickup wired '50s style, and the bridge pickup wired modern style. That guitar has unpotted Duncan '59 bridge pickups in both positions. Flipped magnet in one for the out of phase Peter Green thing.

    IMO, the modern style works better with the Norlin era Les Pauls that have maple necks.

  3. #3
    Super Toneologist Pete Galati's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern vs. 50s Style Wiring

    BTW, I wouldn't really replace Les Paul pots, or do complete rewires unless something's really messed up in there. The pots Gibson uses seem to be good for the most part, and a lot of times they're 300K pots. So if you change to 500K pots, which is what's easiest to get, that'll change the tone of your guitar as much as switching to '50s wiring. 500K pots make your guitar a lot brighter sounding.

    If you wanted to experiment with '50s wiring, first try moving the cap's connection from the volume pot's input terminal, to the pot's output terminal (center). Never mind which tone pot terminal is bent over and grounded.

    The only reason I ever rewired my '82 Les Paul is because years of pickup swaps, and wiring mods left everything a tangled up mess that I couldn't sort out. It was a nightmare.

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    Super Toneologist
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    Default Re: Modern vs. 50s Style Wiring

    Try it both ways and see which you like best. It's just one connection that needs to be changed.

    I have 50s in a couple and modern (stock) in a couple Les Pauls. I don't play with the knobs that much so I don't really notice the difference.

    The two Les Pauls I did rewire/re-pot I did because I wanted more brightness, more umph. One was an R0, and I put in 550K pots and NOS bumble bees. The cavity looks just like an old 50s Les Paul. The other was a Classic, and I went with push/pull 520K pots in the tone to split the 496R/500T, and 520K volumes as well.

    My 1977 Custom and 2002 Standard sound fine with the original wiring.

  5. #5
    Slutbucker Pimpologist ArtieToo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern vs. 50s Style Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by DonP View Post
    Try it both ways and see which you like best. It's just one connection that needs to be changed.
    Just to be clear, make sure you understand that the difference between the 50's mod and the modern way is only as you turn the volume down. With the volume on 10, there's no difference.

  6. #6
    Something Cool uOpt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern vs. 50s Style Wiring

    The wiring diagrams in the first post only as the tone part of what is commonly referred to as the '50ties wiring. It doesn't have the backwards connected volume potis that are commonly associated with that as well.

    The tone poti modification should do nothing, it only changes the order in which resistor and capacitor are, which makes it the same low pass filter. If there is a difference, then there will be a difference with the volume poti at 10.

    Connecting the volume potis backwards was originally done to make the two potis work more independently. With the normal/modern schematics they interact a lot. However, the backwards connected volume potis will kill the resonance peak (the amplitude thereof, not the frequency) even more badly when turning down the poti than modern wiring. How people perceive killing the resonance peak is people and pickup dependent, many say it kills highs but it also makes the sound thinner which some say retains highs. As mentioned, this does nothing with the potis at 10.

  7. #7
    Senior Member dressed2kill's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern vs. 50s Style Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Galati View Post
    The pots Gibson uses seem to be good for the most part, and a lot of times they're 300K pots.
    I rewired a couple LP's a few weeks ago, an 06 and 07 and found the pots to be all over the place, anywhere from low 200k's to just over 400k's. Not saying they are terrible or anything they just seemed to have a lot of variance. I thought they ran a 300k and 500k matchup.

  8. #8
    Mojo's Minions papersoul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern vs. 50s Style Wiring

    With 50w I do notice a slight increase in treble or brightness even on Ten! Yes, ten.

    Is that weird? Anyway, i am dropping my one LP to 300k pots to hopefull help. Problem with 50s wiring is your tone pot does not work as well......much less consistent!

    My thing is, I like to juts keep the gain up on the amp and turn the volume down when I want a less gainy sound, but retaining clarity I am currently trying to find the right balance. Modern wiring with treble bleed, 50s wiring, or modern, etc.

    I want to be able to roll back volume for a less gainy sound while retaining clarity, but I want my tone control to work well. For this reason the modern and treble bleed seem best. However, I read that a treble bleed can really start to make the tone bright as you roll off volume! Not sure what to do.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Modern vs. 50s Style Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by papersoul View Post
    With 50w I do notice a slight increase in treble or brightness even on Ten! Yes, ten.

    Is that weird? Anyway, i am dropping my one LP to 300k pots to hopefull help. Problem with 50s wiring is your tone pot does not work as well......much less consistent!

    My thing is, I like to juts keep the gain up on the amp and turn the volume down when I want a less gainy sound, but retaining clarity I am currently trying to find the right balance. Modern wiring with treble bleed, 50s wiring, or modern, etc.

    I want to be able to roll back volume for a less gainy sound while retaining clarity, but I want my tone control to work well. For this reason the modern and treble bleed seem best. However, I read that a treble bleed can really start to make the tone bright as you roll off volume! Not sure what to do.
    I think the tone pot reacts differently, (w/50's) only because, in the modern wiring, your volume control is acting like a tone control (w/modern wiring); getting darker, as you turn the volume down. With 50's wiring, this is no longer the case. So naturally, the tone control will act different, because the volume is not cutting highs. So w/50's wiring your tone is, well tone, and your volume doesn't change the tone, like it once did w/modern wiring. Logical to me. But does take a little getting used to. I love the subtleties and the quick changes that a couple numbers can make on the volume and tone knobs..Only takes about a day to get used to, and you get the tones of the classic rock masters w/great volume roll off (clarity) and a huge palette of tone options
    ..Each to his own.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Modern vs. 50s Style Wiring

    I will be doing modern and a Treble Bleed circuit Kinman style

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    Dean Hardtail Fanologist Jeff_H's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern vs. 50s Style Wiring

    I've changed all of my HH two volume two tone guitars to 50's wiring. Gibson has been using 500k pots since 13' or 14' if memory serves. If you never use your tone control or the middle position of your LP, and you keep volume on 10, don't bother changing it. But there are an amazing number of tones available if you roll down your volume and tone together, and especially in the middle position. I also appreciate the added clarity. You can always dial the clarity back with the tone control, but you can't add clarity if it's already lacking.

    IMO. New pots and caps, along with 50's wiring is the best and one of the cheapest tone mods you can and should do for your LP.

  12. #12
    Mojo's Minions Lewguitar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern vs. 50s Style Wiring

    I was a big fan of 50’s wiring for a few years.

    I still like it...but when I started playing PRS guitars with modern wiring and a 180 pf cap across the volume pot I found that I preferred that.

    It gives a humbucker a subtle, almost acoustic guitar clarity, when I turn down the guitar’s volume control for rhythm playing.
    “Practice cures most tone issues” - John Suhr

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