Advice on a HSS set up

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Offline Jonno444

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Advice on a HSS set up
« on: November 18, 2020, 07:00:26 am »
Hi All,
I'm currently working on a project of renovating an old strat copy, with an HSS set up. I'm pretty much settled on a crunch lab in the bridge and from a bit of research I'm thinking of the Air Norton S for the neck pickup as it is supposedly tonally similar to the Liquifire, which is normally paired with the crunch lab but won't fit with my HSS set up. My question is, with this set up in mind what would be an appropriate middle pickup? I've read that mixing single coils with humbuckers can compromise the tone of both, and if I'm understanding correctly the Air Norton S is really a Humbucker, just in the size of a single coil pickup, have I got this correct? Does this mean I should mainly consider other single coil sized Humbuckers when looking at middle pickups, or is the change in tone from mixing H and S only marginal?

Apologies if these are obvious questions, I'm an experienced player but never got much into the tech side of things before so have never had to consider pickup combinations.

Any thoughts, opinions or help very much appreciated.

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Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: Advice on a HSS set up
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2020, 12:08:06 pm »
Hi,

Interesting project.

The Crunch Lab is a pickup billed as high output so your choice for the Air Norton S for the neck position makes sense insofar that the outputs should be roughly balanced (keep in mind that you do not need as much output in the neck position as the string vibrates more over that position than at the bridge).

A compromise in tone in a HSS set up can result from the value of the volume pot - usually, humbuckers are  used with 500k ohm pots whereas single coils are usually used with 250k ohm pots. Since both the CL and the ANS are humbuckers, they should work well with 500k ohm pots, and that is what I would recommend to use with these.

Now the middle pickup - that depends on what you want to achieve. Do you use the middle pickup alone or mainly with either the bridge or the neck humbucker? If you are mainly interested in solo middle tones, another ANS or a Chopper, maybe a Satch Track could be considered. If you only use the middle pickup in combination with either the bridge split or neck split, a pickup like the True Velvet could work well there.

My personal favorite single for HSS is the Injector neck, which works great in HSS set ups for every H up to a Norton or AT-1. A Crunch Lab could be too much output though.

Good luck with your project and keep us posted,
Stephan
Area 67, Area 58, Area 61, VV Pro 54, Injectors, VV HB2, Virtual Solo, SDS-1, Area T, Area Hot T, Area T 615, Virtual Hot T, Chopper T, Bluesbucker, Breed set, Air Norton, Super Distortion, DLX+, DLX-90, DP240, DP198, DP168, VHPAF, AT-1, Norton

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Offline Jonno444

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Re: Advice on a HSS set up
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2020, 01:01:18 pm »
Hi Stephan, thanks for the really helpful information!

In all honesty I rarely play with the middle pickup in any guitar I own, I'd say 80% is rhythm playing on the bridge and 20% lead/legato in neck position. Then again I rarely play a guitar that isn't just two humbuckers which is why I'm straying a bit into uncharted territory here! From a little bit more research and listening I'm liking the sound of the Injector (doesn't hurt that I love Paul Gilbert) or the True Velvet, but I see that both are relatively low output compared to my other two chosen pickups, and also recommended for a 250k pot. Will these fall victim to using 500k pots because of the other two pickups? If these would be too low an output, what would you say is a baseline figure to be looking for on the Dimarzio site in terms of output?

Thanks,
Jon

« Last Edit: November 18, 2020, 01:17:41 pm by Jonno444 »

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Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: Advice on a HSS set up
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2020, 01:50:14 pm »
I always used the Injector neck with 500k pots - it sounds fine to me that way. I would not mind the 500k pots also for the True Velvet if you are only going to use it in combination with one of the other pickups.

Other candidates would be the Dark Matter 2 middle, the FS-1 or the Red Velvet.

Cheers Stephan
Area 67, Area 58, Area 61, VV Pro 54, Injectors, VV HB2, Virtual Solo, SDS-1, Area T, Area Hot T, Area T 615, Virtual Hot T, Chopper T, Bluesbucker, Breed set, Air Norton, Super Distortion, DLX+, DLX-90, DP240, DP198, DP168, VHPAF, AT-1, Norton

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Offline Jonno444

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Re: Advice on a HSS set up
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2020, 02:49:43 pm »
Hi Stephan,

Thanks again for your help and suggestions. I'm not buying anything until next month now so I'll explore everything you've suggested and try to remember to let you know what I've gone for and how it turns out!

Cheers,
Jon

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Offline HarlowTheFish

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Re: Advice on a HSS set up
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2020, 03:38:46 pm »
Something else to consider is that if you're going for the CL/AN-S for tones in the vein of JP's, then you might be better off with a setup for bridge (series)/bridge (split) + middle/bridge (split) + neck (split)/middle + neck (split)/neck (series). I'm pretty sure you can wire it up like this with a super switch, it gets you that split middle position tone, and you can either use a resistor on the middle pickup to make it "see" 250k pots or leave it to get some extra brightness out of positions 2 & 4.

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Offline Jonno444

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Re: Advice on a HSS set up
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2020, 11:52:53 am »
So today I found out from the luthier I'm working with that we can route the neck pickup cavity to potentially create a HSH setup. I know this now changes the question, but it adds another level of struggling to choose, haha. I'm thinking now of going with the Crunch Lab/Liquifire combo (John Petrucci is absolutely my idol and I love the tone on Black Clouds and Silver Linings, which I understand was recorded mainly on these pickups) and then the true velvet in middle position. I'm more likely to just use the middle pickup in conjunction with the humbuckers to flavour their tone rather than playing much with the middle pickup alone, so thinking this is a decent solution.

Any thoughts on this set up, are these 3 pickups a sensible combo?
Thanks,
Jon

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Offline HarlowTheFish

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Re: Advice on a HSS set up
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2020, 03:29:07 pm »
Yeah Jonno that sounds pretty good. I'd consider something like the old Tosin Abasi Ibanez wiring, which gets you a split neck and bridge in position 3 instead of just the middle pickup - it's still noiseless, and that's the traditional JP split clean sound. You might have to futz with it a bit to get it to split to the exact coils you want, but it'll sound pretty good and give you a lot of versatility.

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Offline Jonno444

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Re: Advice on a HSS set up
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2020, 05:07:13 pm »
Cheers for the suggestion, I just looked up that wiring and the diagram is intense, but does sound like it would be great. I'm discussing getting a 5 way selector and using one of the following set ups: position 1 - bridge humbucker
position 2 bridge humbucker single coil (can decide which coil in the wiring)
position 3 - middle single coil
position 4 - split neck pickup
position 5 - neck humbucker
or position 2 could be bridge split coil and middle single coil together and position 4 could be the same thing with the neck pickup. Honestly there's too many options, haha

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Offline HarlowTheFish

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Re: Advice on a HSS set up
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2020, 06:22:38 pm »
Wiring a 5-way switch when you have anything more complicated than 3 single-coils is a pain in the ass, but if you prioritize five sounds you're actually gonna get some use out of and plan it out well, you basically never have to touch it after.

I like thinking of it like 3 gears - I'm working on a noiseless SSS setup with no splits right now, but it's the same principle as HSH. Gear 1 is the punchiest, loudest, most aggressive sounds, neck solo and bridge solo. Gear 2 is something that's a bit lower output, but stays punchy and aggressive, leaning more to percussive than thick (middle+bridge and middle+neck for me). Gear 3 is the mellowest sound, not necessarily the lowest output but tonally a bit more reserved, which is position 3, neck + bridge. That way I can have all my amp channels to get 4 basic sounds (plus a boost), and use the switch to get different shades from those basic tones.

Something in that vein that I think might work well for you is this:
1 - Bridge, series
2 - Bridge outer coil + middle, parallel
3 - Bridge outer coil + neck outer coil, parallel
4 - Neck inner coil + middle, parallel
5 - Neck, series
Plus a separate toggle or push-pull to get the neck and bridge in parallel when in positions 1 and 5. You get your gear 1 with the neck and bridge in series, gear 2 with the b/n+m splits or with the bridge in parallel, and gear 3 with the neck in parallel and the n+b split. Pain in the ass to wire up and plan, like I mentioned, but you get basically every kind of sound you'd want with nothing being useless or superfluous and without any crazy impractical switching to deal with - the whole thing is pretty intuitive to use.

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Offline darkbluemurder

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Re: Advice on a HSS set up
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2020, 12:04:39 pm »
Very good wiring suggestion. Two powerful tones (bridge, neck), two strat-like tones (bridge split + middle, neck split + middle) and one tele-like tone (bridge split + neck split).

The challenge is to get everything humcancelling. You will need the following polarity stagger with Harlow's suggestion (from bridge to neck)

1) If the middle is a south coil: N/S-S-N/S
2) If the middle is a north coil: S/N-N-S/N

If you don't have a polarity tester you can test with another magnet (can be a pickup - I use an old SDS-1 for this purposes - that poor pickup will never see a guitar again, it's just used as a polarity tester) and just note whether the coil you are testing is attracted or repelled (then note A or R and going from the middle pickup, set the pickups accordingly).

Good luck,
Stephan
Area 67, Area 58, Area 61, VV Pro 54, Injectors, VV HB2, Virtual Solo, SDS-1, Area T, Area Hot T, Area T 615, Virtual Hot T, Chopper T, Bluesbucker, Breed set, Air Norton, Super Distortion, DLX+, DLX-90, DP240, DP198, DP168, VHPAF, AT-1, Norton

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Offline Aceman

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Re: Advice on a HSS set up
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2020, 06:03:47 pm »
I was just gonna say - just get a new pick guard.  Might already be routed for an HB underneath.

Then, get whatever you want and wire it for whatever switching you like!