Useful Middle Position - 3-Pickup Gibsons

sangandongo

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Hi all,

I have a '63 Firebird VII. A real one. The wiring in the cavity has never been touched, but I can see that someone fussed with the switch a little.

Currently, it's wired to stock.
1: Neck
2: Mid/Bridge Out-of-Phase
3: Bridge

I hate the middle position sound. I wish the pickups were in phase. I've owned a dozen vintage era Firebirds and this one is the best... except that middle position.

Can I fix it so the middle and bridge pickups are IN PHASE, aka, full rather than the brittle, tinny, lifeless ice pick that it currently is? My preference is to do this without changing the cavity wiring. If I could do it just at the switch, I'd be happiest.

Thanks! Here's some VII-Porn for you.

1637349184228.png
 

LPTDMSV

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As far as I know that is the original configuration, to get that “Love is Strange” sound. “All“ you have to do is swap hot and ground on the middle pickup to get the sound back to normal. Heck of a good looking guitar!
 

sangandongo

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As far as I know that is the original configuration, to get that “Love is Strange” sound. “All“ you have to do is swap hot and ground on the middle pickup to get the sound back to normal. Heck of a good looking guitar!
Thanks - it's a looker for sure.

Sorry, but let me see if I can paraphrase what you're saying: Just flip the Hot and Negative leads at the switch for the middle position, right?

It's currently wired "stock," which is what I would consider "normal," since that's what it's supposed to be. I want it to be in-phase, not out-of-phase.

Cheers.
 

LPTDMSV

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Thanks - it's a looker for sure.

Sorry, but let me see if I can paraphrase what you're saying: Just flip the Hot and Negative leads at the switch for the middle position, right?

It's currently wired "stock," which is what I would consider "normal," since that's what it's supposed to be. I want it to be in-phase, not out-of-phase.

Cheers.
My only hesitation is that I don’t know if the earth wire is taken through to the switch on a FB, but otherwise yes, make earth from the middle pickup your live, and take the live to ground. There’s more correct/better ways of doing it, but involve taking the pickup apart etc. and the 2-wire swap usually works well enough in my experience. Drop @cooljuk a message if you want to speak to a real expert though! He’ll probably say I am an idiot :rofl:
 

sangandongo

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It's the same wiring as a Les Paul Custom, more or less. The middle pickup does not route back to the wiring cavity from the body. It terminates at the switch. I think I know how to get it done - I'll report back once I have.

I'm not taking the pickup apart, that's for certain. There are only 20 Firebird VIIs from 1963. The only reason I'm doing this is because the switch has already been fiddled with before. Thanks!
 

sangandongo

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Alright, I've figured it out, but it's not easy. I would need to isolate the external shielding of the middle pickup, then run a lead from the braid to the switch, since the braid shielding stops right after it exits the cavity on this guitar.

I'll do that another day, but at least I understand the process now.
 

LPTDMSV

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Maybe I have this wrong, butI was thinking that a snag with the out of phase sound on 3-pickup Gibsons is that you don’t have independent volume controls for the pickups in question?

Tweaking separate controls allows you to fine tune the amount of phase cancellation and get a thicker or thinner sound as you prefer. If the pickups share a vol pot, then you could lower the middle pickup to get a similar effect I suppose, not so convenient.

Useful discussion here https://www.mylespaul.com/threads/gibson-3-pickup-wiring.425008/
 

sangandongo

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Sure, on a 2-pickup guitar. But again, I'm trying to NOT touch the solder joints in the control cavity. I'm just trying to get these back in phase by only messing with the switch.

Once again, the control cavity solder has never been touched. Only the switch solder.
 

LPTDMSV

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Sure, on a 2-pickup guitar. But again, I'm trying to NOT touch the solder joints in the control cavity. I'm just trying to get these back in phase by only messing with the switch.

Once again, the control cavity solder has never been touched. Only the switch solder.
Yes, I understand that. Sorry I was going off on a different track really, like how could you make the mid position sound better even if you retained the out of phase arrangement.
 

sangandongo

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Fixed it with a little tweaking. I cleaned up the switch wiring, then raised the middle pickup. It vastly improved the sound and made it usable. It was a hollowed out ice pick that sounded so brittle before. Now, it's got a good surf sound in the middle position and even if I switch there accidentally while playing, it isn't jarringly shrill.

'63 Firebird VII (of course)
'59 Gibson GA-80T tweed 1x15" with the trem on.
No effects.

 

LPTDMSV

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Fixed it with a little tweaking. I cleaned up the switch wiring, then raised the middle pickup. It vastly improved the sound and made it usable. It was a hollowed out ice pick that sounded so brittle before. Now, it's got a good surf sound in the middle position and even if I switch there accidentally while playing, it isn't jarringly shrill.

'63 Firebird VII (of course)
'59 Gibson GA-80T tweed 1x15" with the trem on.
No effects.
Yes, love that tone! So you didn’t flip the phase, just re-balanced the pickups??

With my 2-pickup guitar (near identical p/u at neck and bridge) I have to back off one of them to 8 or 9 to get a nice sound. otherwise the phase cancellation is near total, thin sound.
 

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