Sunday, April 29, 2007


I recorded a couple of quick clips to demonstrate the effect that cutting the screw coil on my Fender Showmaster Celtic H's humbucker has on the tone. Both clips were recorded using the "Tweed 4x10" preset on my Vox Valvetronix AD30VT. The effects were bypassed. I ran a cable from the Vox's line out into the line in on my Sound Blaster Audigy. The recording and editing was done by Audacity. The clips were then uploaded to my account on

The first clip is a simple three-chord progression. The first time through my guitar is in humbucker mode. The second time it is in single coil mode. Download clip (145K).

The next clip is a lick from Doug Marks' Classic Metal Licks. Once again, the first time through my guitar is in humbucker mode. The second time it is in single coil mode. Download clip (169K).

I'm not intending to wow you with my chops (as should be painfully evident), but to give you a taste of the difference in tone. The more I play it, the more pleased I am with it. The difference is far more noticeable in low-gain/clean situations, which is mainly when I would switch into single coil mode anyway. Who wants extreme gain without a humbucker? :)

Friday, April 27, 2007

And Now for Something Completely Related . . .

On Sunday, April 22, I decided to install an Allparts 500K audio-taper push-pull pot into my Fender Showmaster Celtic H. I had done some test soldering and decided I could give it a go. Here is what the original wiring looked like. I took this picture for reference in case I messed something up. In general the original soldering was good. The only exception was the hot lead to the jack that was not tinned and had come loose from the pot. I repaired that earlier. Note: you can click on any of the pictures to see a full-sized version on Picasa.

Here's a picture of how I took over my wife's sewing desk to do the work:

By and large, the wiring of the pot went very smoothly. The only problem I had was at the beginning I tried to start soldering before my iron was fully heated. Thus the soldering of the grounds on the back of the pot is a little messy. It does work, however, and the leads are well-connected. Here's a close-up of the newly-wired pot.

Here is one final picture of the pot in more or less its final resting place. I had to get a 3/8" drill bit and carefully enlarge the hole in the body for the pot because the shaft is slightly bigger than the stock pot.

I immediately tested it and was very pleased to find that I had wired everything correctly with no shorts. Whodathunkit? So now the guitar still works the same way as it always did, but if you pull the pot, it taps the screw coil on the humbucker, making it a single-coil. I used this wiring diagram from the website of my friend, Duh Voodoo Man. The only thing I had to do was convert the wire colors from Seymour Duncan to Fender. I also want to thank DVM for his help/encouragement with this project.

The Fender Atomic II that comes with my Showmaster is pretty hot (16.4K impedance) and rather middy. That works great for hard rock stuff with lots of distortion. It doesn't work so well for clean stuff. Cutting the screw coil cuts the volume dramatically and gives it a thinner, more acoustic-like sound. In other words, it is exactly what I had hoped it would be. If I get some time, I'll try to record a couple of clips and post them here.

Wiring this pot gives me the confidence to attack my Tele project which will involve much more wiring. I only wish I could afford the new pickups right now. This little project also showed me that I need to get the pots I'm going to use before I repaint the guitar in case I have to do any drilling. I'd rather drill into the old, crappy finish instead of a new one.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Post-Op Pictures

I'm back from Green Bay and have gotten my guitar restrung. Here is a picture showing what the guitar looks like now, following the expansion of the neck pickup route to allow for any aftermarket pickup to be installed. Note that the picture was not taken directly over the guitar. The route appears to be off-centered due to parallax error. Click on the pictures to see a full version.

Just as a reminder, this is what it looked like before the surgery:

I want to thank Steve Dallman (of FDP forum fame) at Dick's Music in Green Bay for doing such fine work so quickly for a more than reasonable price.

Going in for Surgery

Well, today is the big day--one small step forward in this project. I'm going to Green Bay to have the route expanded on the neck pickup so that any aftermarket pickup can be added. Since I'm going to repaint this anyway, I don't care what happens to the finish. I'm also going to ask about the possibility and/or wisdom of adding a middle route to make it into a Nashville Tele. I don't know if I'm going to do that, but it's worth getting the info anyway. I just don't want to spend a small fortune in routing. I'd rather put that money toward better pups.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


I've made an executive decision. I'm going to get the route expanded for the neck pickup so I can put in any aftermarket pickup instead of just EMG-style. A guy who works in a local guitar shoppe said he'd do it for a very reasonable price. I've been looking into getting pickups custom-made for it, but that seems to be more hassle than it's worth. Hopefully I can get it done in about a week and a half. Since I'm refinishing it anyway, the new cut won't be a big deal.