Prices have been updated to reflect my bad habit of paying rent. Come by Flipside Music to help feed my addiction!
It’s been a while since I’ve updated this site. Lots of action. The last month I’ve been moving and setting up my new benches at Flipside Music. I know this was promised sometime last year but it’s finally happened. No more low ceilings, no more late night drops. I’m a professional now with a real shop. Stop by and admire my laundry free guitar workstation!
Also started a gym in the old space. Come get ripped and torn while listening to Bloodbath.
I recently had a Schecter KM-7 mkII on the bench for an Evertune and Fishman Fluence install. These are deceptively thin bodied, thin necked shred machines that still have some heft being mostly swamp ash. I’ve worked on one of these before and had the sense when asked recently about installing an Evertune bridge it would be no problem.
Problem; turns out the KM7 mkII is only 1.575 inches thick. Adding in string height gets us to 1.9 inches. Evertune requires those two measurements to add to at least 2.1 inches. Seemed odd since I vaguely remember seeing Keith Merrow play one of these with an Evertune. I don’t drink and do drugs so much to dismiss it as a hazy mental YouTube mix up so I started digging around the google. I found that Evertune has installed (or had Fren Asken install) a bridge for Keith Merrow (he gets pissed if you don’t refer to him by his full name). So it’s possible, it just means the bridge will stick out the back.
To accommodate this protruding problem a plastic piece must stand properly proud. 1/4 inch will do it.
With the bridge problem solved however the new bridge pickup was getting pushed up into the strings by the saddle modules, so shaving the leading edge of the housing was necessary.
All in all it came together, plays great, but if Mr. Merrow wants an Evertune maybe he should go on the Dr. Nick Riviera diet to weight gain and fatten up his gear.
Seymour Duncan uses the terms “Passive Mount” and “Active Mount” but not universally across all models, needlessly confusing matters but it’s Seymour’s company, he do what he want. These terms are applied to certain seven and eight string models, refer to the shape of the route the pickups are intended for, and have nothing to do with whether the pickup itself is active or passive.
“Active Mount” Seymour pickups are in a rectangular soap-bar shape and need a larger route than most standard pickups. They take wood screws and are therefore direct mount. Why soap-bar? Because there was a time when guitar builders looking to install active seven string pickups as standard equipment only had one choice, a soap-bar shaped EMG. So there are a number of ugly guitars floating around with huge holes in them ready to get stuffed with after market replacements.
“Passive Mount” Seymour pickups are like any other Seymours that use machine screws (unless they are the active “Passive Mount” models**) for ring or guard mount but are labeled as such simply because they have an “Active Mount” variant.
So Passive “passive mount” are ring mount with machine screws, active “passive mount” are direct mount with wood screws, “active mount” are direct mount no matter passive or active and everything else may or may not be direct or ring mounted***.
6 string humbuckers are ring mount, 7 strings are direct mount, 8 are whatever? You just have to look at the pictures. It’s a pain in the ass but at least they don’t intentionally spread confusing bullshit Although they, along with Ibanez, caused a lot of this initial confusion (leaving EVH out of this for now****) by producing OEM models for Ibanez to direct mount before most other large manufacturers were doing such things. So much like our gaping EMG hole problem discussed earlier, we have a bunch of guitars floating around that look pretty without rings that need aftermarket direct mount options.
They don’t do direct mount. Guess your screwed, maybe.
6 strings are all direct mount, 7 and 8 strings have options for direct or ring but with direct you’re gonna get an ugly soap-bar. Sorry.
So what can be done when the pickup you want doesn’t have a direct mount variant for your direct mount guitar?
Provided it fits (it may not) easiest thing to do is modify the screws. I first sharpen the provided machine screws to a point, then chuck them into my drill press and file a smooth shank just below the head. Since machine screw thread is finer than a wood screws I’ll often plug existing holes without pre-drilling new ones so the thread has something to grip, the sharp point aides in threading the screw into the wood. The flat shank is so the screw can thread all the way through the pickup base hole and “bottom out” at the head, allowing the screw to turn freely without stripping anything.
If the pickup doesn’t fit, rather than grind the mounting plates or routing the guitar I’ll try to retrofit the new bobbins on the existing plate. Sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t.
Last resort is some routing, maybe a pickup ring, maybe some other custom solution like cutting or grinding your nice new pickup, which we can discuss. Call me so we can talk.
Or call me so you can listen to me breathe.
Most guitar players don’t get the most sounds out of what most humbuckers have to offer. Jimmy Page got around to it in the 80’s. Story is he had some engineer design a switching system for his Les Paul using four push pull pots that incorporated coil splitting, phase reversal, and one pickup running in series into the other.
I recently had a customer come in with his Les Paul for a pickup swap because his current tone wasn’t squeezing anyone’s lemon. He also asked for phase switching and coil tapping without naming he who has two necks. Since I only rely on the internet in matters of love I didn’t scramble for existing wiring diagrams, instead opting for a pen, notepad, and an amount of free time only an underemployed guitar tech has in the middle of the day.
I pride myself on my switch skilz. Jimmy can afford to pay an engineer to draw out this complicated scheme. I imagine a degree in such things will get you the result much quicker than I did. Point is I did it without a single class in electrons. And here I offer you a class in electrons. Or guitar switches. Yea, forget electrons, you don’t need to know about those to understand basic guitar electronics.
This is the mess we’re dealing with. Each push pull pot is a DPDT switch. Double pole double throw means that there are two independent sections that can be in two states. There are four switches total, each with two columns of three tabs. The teal lines represent the switch wiring tabs. The center row is known as the common. The common tabs will be connected to either the top or bottom rows depending on the switch position. The green lines are the potentiometer tabs. These control the volume or tone or whatever else you wire them to do. I don’t know about those other symbols, I just think they look cool.
So how do you wire all this to two humbuckers with four leads each (five including ground wires) to coil tap and reverse phase keeping in mind the goal that each switch state should give a unique sound? First draw the above as your starting point, connect the wires where you think they should go, then draw a subsequent diagram for each switch state and follow the electrical path all the way through to ensure proper functionality. Basically it’s just trial and error. LOTS of error. So best do it on paper.
Took several iterations but it’s better than burning up the switches trying to get it right. To explain the end result I’ll first explain our goal. It was not to copy the Jimmy Page wiring. While each humbucker does coil tap and the bridge reverses phase in relation to the neck, the neck reverses phase of one of its own coils while running them in parallel. Page opted to run one humbucker in series to the other. My tweak with the neck coil phase reverse gives you a very pinched, low output sound but with a bit of a boost can yield a great funk tone. Sonically as far as you can get from the wooly, slightly muffled tone the humbuckers in series with each other will give you. Here is the final drawing.
The green and black leads had to be reversed on the neck circuit to get everything in phase with all the switches in the down position but the drawing gets us where we want to be. Let’s start with the bridge. Reversing phase is easy, this is done on the bottom left switch. The left common tab gets the black lead. This allows us to change its path to ground or hot. Hot goes to the pots input, ground is ground. You see the “X” pattern connecting the hot of the 1st tab going to the 4th tab and the grounded 3rd tab going to the 2nd tab. Connecting them in this way allows the poles of the switch to be on opposite sides of the circuit no matter the switch state. That is, when the commons are connected to the bottom row, with tab 2 being ground and tab 4 being hot, the left common is going to ground and the right common is going to hot. When the switch is in the second position with tab 1 being hot and tab 3 being ground this sends the left common to hot and right common to ground. It’s important to make clear again that the common tabs in the middle are connected to either the upper or lower tabs depending on the switch state.
This alone does not achieve phase reversal as the other pickup leads are connected to the second switch. By connecting the 2nd common of switch 1 to the 1st common of switch 2 we allow for the 2nd common of switch 2 to change states in sync with switch one. This means that regardless of the state of switch 2, the phase will still be determined by switch one. When in the down position (state 1) switch 2 common 2 is connecting the green lead on tab 2 to hot. The “R/W” is the red and white wires together connected to tab 1 of switch 2. When in the down position they are not connected to anything but themselves allowing current to flow from the green/red coil to the white/black coil.
Following the signal path while both switches are in the down position we start at ground, follow from tab 3 switch one to tab 2 of switch one, up to 1st common to black lead, through the first coil to the white lead then on to red lead, through second coil to green lead, up to switch 2 common 1, to switch 1 common 2 to tab 4 up to tab 1 to hot. Which looks like this:
Ignore the bad ms paint job. Use this approach to figure out how each switch state will allow current to flow. I’d make a diagram for each path but that would take as long as wiring the thing in the first place and I’ve spent enough time on this article already. Switch one reverses the whole pickups phase relation to the neck, which means you won’t hear a difference unless the 3 way pickup switch is in the middle position. Switch two is the coil tap for the bridge. Neck switch one reverses phase of one coil only. The second neck switch taps that coil.
I suppose I should throw some subtle errors in there so when you try this yourself using just my diagram you’ll screw it up and have to bring it to me but I’m too busy to fix your mistakes. (Nothing worse that trying to salvage burned up switches). Here’s the final product. Lots of tiny connections in a tight space. Basically I’ve just taken a thousand plus words to explain you don’t need an engineer to plot out complicated guitar circuits, just a tech with a functional understanding of basic switch operation.
Have you ever woken up, wondered who these people are in your place and which one of them played your guitar last night? How could they have knocked it out of tune so badly? Why does peanut butter belong in tremolo springs? And on the day of your first recording session after receiving your advance from the record company. You could be screwed but you had the insight to install an Evertune in your back up. Pretty hard for your drunken party pals to pull that puppy out of perfect pitch.
I understand new things are confusing. Self driving cars, VR goggles, the zombie apocalypse, it’s all over whelming. That’s what I’m here for. I dig into the gritty details of perpetually tuned guitar bridges so you can succeed at guitar or whatever else you do, maybe botany? That’s why I’m excited, proud, and all around elated to announce the Guitar Gutter is now a certified Evertune installer. We’re also the only certified installer in the front range.
If you haven’t tried one I have one on hand. If you have questions just call. If you need additional advice outside the guitar realm I’ll do my best.
It’s that time of year when South Broadway in Denver, CO is jammed up with tasty jams. The Underground Music Showcase features too many bands for me to count and twelve venues. The Guitar Gutter with Flipside music will have a booth at the main stage area in the abandoned Kmart parking lot. Don’t let the setting fool you, the only blue light special will come in pill form from the dude with a curled mustache and wide brimmed hat. For artists playing the event, we will be offering a 20% discount on emergency repair services on guitars and basses!!!! We’ll have parts and strings on hand, just look for our coupon in your artist packages!Come check us out! www.theums.com