By Esperanza Roux. Guitar Electric. Published at Friday, August 31st, 2018 - 08:08:10 AM.
Guitar Wiring Explored – Introducing the Super Switch, Part 1. In the first part of this two-part article, we look at the original five-way switch and find it lacking for some uses. The 2-pole super-switch steps in to help, and we look at how we would go about wiring a Strat in the standard way using that switch. Once we’ve understood that, we go on to create an interesting alternate wiring scheme for a Strat that wouldn’t be possible with the standard 5-way.
The first pickup that was created was in fact the single coil pickup. This was a mammoth invention at the time bringing the guitar player to the foreground of modern music. As the guitar became more popular the drawback to the single coil pickup became more evident. While being able to amplify the guitar signal when not being played there was a terrible hum that came from the guitar. The hum was caused by RF signals. The interfering signals could be caused by items such as radio signals, transformers and even fluorescent lights. It was discovered that you can change the phase or signals of the pickups by changing the direction in which the wires were wrapped around the pickup. If the wire was wrapped clockwise you would get a different signal from the pickup if the wire was wrapped counter clockwise, thus giving birth to the double coil pickup or what came to be called the humbucking pickup. The humbucking name was coined because when you put two single coiled pickups together the RF signals would cancel each other out ending the hum problem that plagued the single coil pickup.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong? The unsuspecting guitar. Well, a lot, actually. Single coil pickups hum, and humbuckers don’t. Even if you get a reverse woundreverse polarity single coil pickup for the middle position, there will be hum when the neck single coil is used alone, as well as when you use the middle single coil alone, and the middle single coil with the humbucker. That is three out of the five positions that have that annoying 60-cycle hum. While I can tolerate this in a Strat with three singles because the noise is always there, it’s hard for me to deal with it coming and going, especially with distortion.
In the last couple of years a few innovations have come along that have totally turned conventional wisdom - or at least conventional guitar electronics on its head. The first is the nylon string solid body electric guitar. I first saw one of these in the hands of metal ace Yngwie Malmsteen and was blown away by the sound. For any artist who is trying to incorporate elements of classical guitar in his or her repertoire, this instrument provides the mellow classical tone of a nylon stringed guitar with the comfortable feel and action of a traditional solid body axe. This has been made possible through the tremendous advances made in recent years in the field of Piezo pickup technology.
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