Checking your guitar wiring.
I bought this artist guitar because the price was right, the existing guitar wiring had nothing to do with the purchase. And not having preconceived ideas of how it would play or what it would sound like. It was a very pleasant surprise when I got it home and plugged it in. The action was better than the usual $200 guitar, and the sound was stunning! Most guitars in a beginners price range are a bit nasty when it comes to sound. They don’t usually put much effort into the sound because it’s probably going to be played through a small and cheap beginner amp. High quality parts are just too expensive and drive the overall price too high for a beginner guitarist. The Guitar’s Wiring is the most important part after playability.
Humming Guitar Wiring….
When I plugged it in I noticed that the usual hum from the wiring was fairly soft. That is until you turn up the gain on the amp and start to drive it harder. That’s when the sound breaks up and hum is an issue. This is normal for all single coil guitar wiring setups and that’s why Humbuckers were invented. But, hearing the neck and especially the middle pickup was a revelation! they were smooth with the Fender ‘Quack’. Sort of like a stoned duck! Just a nice honey clear tone with that bite at the start of each note. I immediately broke out the disco riffs and fell in love with it.
This guitar has been my main go to guitar since I plugged it in. I can get a huge array of sounds and this makes it perfect for hacking. It has a simple guitar wiring layout that is easy to follow. The same as any stratocaster. I plan on changing the original humbucker only to change the look. The bridge humbucker is my least used pickup and I know that I can get a good sound from any humbucker that basically works. A tweak of the guitar wiring should get a good sound.
The sound on the existing guitar wiring is the components and the pickups together. Both single coil pickups are 5.1k Ohms. This is fairly low for single coil pickups. Most are around 6.0k ohms or more. This may be the reason it sounds so good. The existing humbucker at the bridge position is a little warmer at 10.96k Ohms divided by 2 (Dual Coil) = 5.48k Ohms for each single coil or there abouts. All the pickups have ceramic magnets that are pretty strong so output is going to be strong as well. Exact output range and where they individually peak is unknown as I don’t have access to that kind of gear and info on these pickups is scarce.
How do you know your getting a well set-up guitar straight from the factory? Well the overall craftsmanship is cheap and that is to be expected, but the quality control on the electronics is just awesome. I measured the Volume and two Tone pots and they matched each other. I have never seen this before on any guitar I’ve worked on. All three pots were almost identical at 492k Ohms which is freakish.
Every pot has a tolerance it falls into. Some have as much as 10% tolerance (Standard) and some are as good as 5%. This means that there can be 50K Ohms variation up or down and they are still within tolerance. 100k Ohm variation can make a significant difference. If you put a 450k Ohm potentiometer (pot) on a single coil pickup it will sound super bright and clear. Drop a 550k Ohm resistor on a single coil pickup and it may end up being ear piercing and screechy. The higher the number the brighter the sound.
Humbuckers are normally matched to 500k Ohm pots to stop them being too thick and bass heavy. Having single coil pickups on 500k Ohm pots tells me the pickups are very warm and bassy to start with. Also all the pickups have been generously wax potted to eliminate micro-phonics and feedback and it works.
Fixing your existing guitar wiring
So have a look around inside your guitar and don’t be afraid to wiggle wires and also check for good shiny, smooth solder joints. Check that your guitar lead snaps in and out and adjust your pickup height to better get the sound you want. Understanding how the sound is made will help you to get the sound you want. I now know that the pickups are smooth and warmer than the average single coil because 500k pots are cleaning them up and giving the ‘quack’ back to them. I’m sure I would get a dark evil type of tone if I used 250k pots instead. I might just try that!
So, have a look inside your guitar and you’ll see the mystical art of Guitar wiring is not so mystical.