Tonal Benefit From Changing Pickup Selector Wiring?

MCT

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Hi all,

Here’s a dilemma I’ve never encountered- I’m contemplating switching the wiring of one of my
MIJ LP’s pickup selector switches from the default thin rubber coated wiring to vintage braided wiring. Has anyone done this and discerned a difference in tone?
 

Roxy13

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I don't think I've ever changed the wiring on an original switch. Usually I'm replacing the switch with a long Switchcraft one and then I use the braided wire unless the hole to the switch cavity is too small to accomodate it and I can't get at it with a long aircraft drill bit. The vintage wire is surely more robust, but I'd be surprised if you could hear a difference in tone.
 

MCT

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I don't think I've ever changed the wiring on an original switch. Usually I'm replacing the switch with a long Switchcraft one and then I use the braided wire unless the hole to the switch cavity is too small to accomodate it and I can't get at it with a long aircraft drill bit. The vintage wire is surely more robust, but I'd be surprised if you could hear a difference in tone.
When you’ve switched them (switch and all), have you noticed any tonal changes?
 

Roxy13

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When you’ve switched them (switch and all), have you noticed any tonal changes?
I don't think I can give an answer because it means I changed all the electronics: switch, pots, caps and jack and it's now 50s wired. So yes, definite tonal improvement, but how much does any one component contribute?

And on some of these guitars, if the switch was broken, then it had pots so dirty the knobs wouldn't turn, etc.
 

Roxy13

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On the MIJs, honestly I would rate Gotoh switches as being as reliable as Switchcraft long toggles. Now some of the MIJs have some other type of switch that isn't a Gotoh one. It's a rectangular box. If you've had any old ones I'm sure you've seen one. In which case, either switch would be a good upgrade.

And I'd put in a Gotoh anyday over some MIC piece of garbage.
 

MCT

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You guys laugh, but ole’ Dave Stephens is quite vocal on the matter...
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jkes01

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Every time I replace wires, pots, caps, switches or jacks, they always sound better to me. :cool:
 
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ARandall

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If you consider that your entire signal is generated/passes through the hair thin wire of the pickup, it is utterly inconceivable that changing from one massively thicker wire to another massively thicker wire will do anything.

Misguided hyperbole aside, a good analogy is your signal strength in any of the typical hookup wire types you care to use is like driving half a dozen cars down a million lane freeway.....there is zero chance of a traffic jamb to start with - adding in 100 extra lanes is not significant.

The only tonal changes you get are with physical component values. Taper is another important aspect.
 

MCT

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........and I continue to laugh. :rofl:
The best tone upgrade anyone can do is hours of practice....but it's easier to believe the wire will do the trick.
I don’t disagree!
 

dc007

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........and I continue to laugh. :rofl:
The best tone upgrade anyone can do is hours of practice....but it's easier to believe the wire will do the trick.
Good hands trumps good wire every time
 

freefrog

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Objectively, braided shielded wire can impact the tone because of its capacitance: stray capacitance shifts down the resonant peak of passive pickups, making them a bit thicker / mid-centric, and changes a tad their behavior when controls are lowered.

I've measured 268pF per meter on braided shielded wire, vs 87pF on Mogami 4 conductors cable...

And there's more than one meter of wire in a LP if we take in account the coaxial cables of pickups.

Consequence: with both pickups enabled (selector in center position), inner stray capacitance can reach more than 400 pF - as if the guitar has 10ft of guitar cable in its belly - while it would measure 130pF with Mogami (i.e.: the equivalent of one single meter of standard guitar cable... but since it's IN the guitar, with stray capacitance before and after the pots, it has not the same action that a longer cable between guitar and amp).

The tonal effect of this difference is not worse nor better (it's a matter of tastes) but is surely quite noticeable in some cases, although it may vary according to the pickups/ pots resistance / input impedance used.

In the LP's that I've (re)wired, it has always brought a clear difference.

In a SG, Flying V, ES335 or other models involving short inner cables, it would have way less impact (although I've somehow softened once the tone of a Flying V thx to an intentionnaly increased capacitance of inner wires).

Now, approximating the tonal effect of braided shielded wire with Mogami is really not that hard : it would just require to add a 100 pF capacitor between hot and ground of each pickup in a LP...

FWIW: my two cents (not far from the price of a capacitor). That being said just to share and really not to argue. :)
 
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ErictheRed

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Objectively, braided shielded wire can impact the tone because of its capacitance: stray capacitance shifts down the resonant peak of passive pickups, making them a bit thicker / mid-centric, and changes a tad their behavior when controls are lowered.

I've measured 268pF per meter on braided shielded wire, vs 87pF on Mogami 4 conductors cable...

And there's more than one meter of wire in a LP if we take in account the coaxial cables of pickups.

Consequence: with both pickups enabled (selector in center position), inner stray capacitance can reach more than 400 pF - as if the guitar has 10ft of guitar cable in its belly - while it would measure 130pF with Mogami (i.e.: the equivalent of one single meter of standard guitar cable... but since it's IN the guitar, with stray capacitance before and after the pots, it has not the same action that a longer cable between guitar and amp).

The tonal effect of this difference is not worse nor better (it's a matter of tastes) but is surely quite noticeable in some cases, although it may vary according to the pickups/ pots resistance / input impedance used.

In the LP's that I've (re)wired, it has always brought a clear difference.

In a SG, Flying V, ES335 or other models involving short inner cables, it would have way less impact (although I've somehow softened once the tone of a Flying V thx to an intentionnaly increased capacitance of inner wires).

Now, approximating the tonal effect of braided shielded wire with Mogami is really not that hard : it would just require to add a 100 pF capacitor between hot and ground of each pickup in a LP...

FWIW: my two cents (not far from the price of a capacitor). That being said just to share and really not to argue. :)
You do realize that the typical tone cap value in a Les Paul is a 0.047 uF capacitor, correct? That's 47 nanoFarads and 47,000 picoFarads. The tolerance on the cap is normally +/- 5%, which means that your capacitor value is anywhere between 44,650 pF and 49,350 pF.

So talking about the extra 100pF (which frankly I think would actually be closer to 10 pF given more reasonable wire lengths) that one type of wire will add or subtract, compared to a range of 44,650 - 49,350 pF is absolutely ridiculous. You're talking about a change of, AT MOST, one part out of 470.

Replacing crappy wiring jobs or getting better components can improve your sound, sure, but no-one on Earth can tell the difference between a foot of PVC insulated wire and a foot of cloth braided insulated wire in the control cavity of a guitar...whose signal is sent down 10, 20, 30 feet of instrument cable (with fairly high capacitance), through multiple connections and buffers (depending on number of pedals) all adding capacitance, into the front end of an amplifier with a set input impedance (it's own capacitance), which then conditions that signal in multiple preamp stages before sending it to a power amp....my God, come on people.
 

CB91710

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You do realize that the typical tone cap value in a Les Paul is a 0.047 uF capacitor, correct? That's 47 nanoFarads and 47,000 picoFarads. The tolerance on the cap is normally +/- 5%, which means that your capacitor value is anywhere between 44,650 pF and 49,350 pF.

So talking about the extra 100pF (which frankly I think would actually be closer to 10 pF given more reasonable wire lengths) that one type of wire will add or subtract, compared to a range of 44,650 - 49,350 pF is absolutely ridiculous. You're talking about a change of, AT MOST, one part out of 470.

Replacing crappy wiring jobs or getting better components can improve your sound, sure, but no-one on Earth can tell the difference between a foot of PVC insulated wire and a foot of cloth braided insulated wire in the control cavity of a guitar...whose signal is sent down 10, 20, 30 feet of instrument cable (with fairly high capacitance), through multiple connections and buffers (depending on number of pedals) all adding capacitance, into the front end of an amplifier with a set input impedance (it's own capacitance), which then conditions that signal in multiple preamp stages before sending it to a power amp....my God, come on people.
Agreed.

While the difference may indeed be measurable, and maybe even perceptable on the bench or studio (but not in a band mix), any difference will go out the window the moment the tone or volume controls are cracked down from 10.
It's in the realm of 3psi making a difference in tire life or fuel economy in your car tire. Ya, there's a difference, but your driving habits and fluctuations in traffic nullify any difference.
 

ErictheRed

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Agreed.

While the difference may indeed be measurable, and maybe even perceptable on the bench or studio (but not in a band mix), any difference will go out the window the moment the tone or volume controls are cracked down from 10.
It's in the realm of 3psi making a difference in tire life or fuel economy in your car tire. Ya, there's a difference, but your driving habits and fluctuations in traffic nullify any difference.
I would argue that it's in the realm of 0.07 psi making a difference in fuel economy, given that 1/470th of 33 psi (for my car) is about 0.07.
 

CB91710

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I would argue that it's in the realm of 0.07 psi making a difference in fuel economy, given that 1/470th of 33 psi (for my car) is about 0.07.
I just crank 'em up to 45.
Hey... it's a Corolla... it's going to ride like a covered wagon whether it's at 25 or 55, and it's nice pulling 70k out of a set of tires.
 


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