I have decided to shield and rewire my HSS Fender strat based on the information from the GuitarNuts website. I have no experience in electronics but I have soldered before and I think I can get to grips with it.
I was originally going to just change my volume pot to 500K after talking to Tim from Bareknuckle Pickups who suggested that the reason my humbucker didn't sound right was because I had 250K pots on the guitar. Should I replace all three pots or just the volume pot? I don't use the other two pickups but I would like them to be still functioning and sounding good.
After reading the information on this site, I thought I might as well shield the guitar while I'm messing around in the cavity.
I also thought it would be a good idea to redo all of the wiring seeing as the suggestion is that Fender do some pretty rubbish wiring. I'd like to do the standard layout suggested by John on the GuitarNuts website. My question is about the wire; I don't know which wire to buy. I have found this Gibson wire on this website:
A change of your volume control to 500k will add a bit of extra brightness. Does your guitar have the usual 1 volume and 2 tone controls, with the tone controls working just on neck and mid? This is a diagram for that, with HSS:
If that is how you want it, then theres no need to change your tone controls, unless you want more sparkle on your mid ad neck pup too. But if you have (or want) a tone control to opearte with the bridge, then a 500k is a good idea with a humbucker. As to wire, theres no need to get fancy wire, especially inside a shielded cavity. A standard flexible stranded wire with plasic insulation is fine, and makes no difference to the tone. You might want to use a piece of shielded wire from cavity to jack - such as on an audio cable. thickness makes no difference.
Do they really sell official Gibson branded wire? I guess I wouldn't put it past them, but I certainly wouldn't bother. For the most part, wire is wire. Very small gauge wire can sometimes break a little more easily, but I use really quite small wire (ripped out of an old MIDI cable) and only really have the problem during the install process. Once it's in, it works fine. We usually prefer stranded wire rather than solid core because it bends more freely without breaking, but somebody around here uses solid core wire from telephone cables with reported good results. So yeah, wire is pretty much wire in these extremely low power applications.
The QTB instructions call for a two conductor plus shield cable for the run to the jack. A common application for this is microphone cable, or balanced (TRS) audio cable. Some of these might be a bit difficult to jam through that little hole, though. The cable attached to some headphones can work for this, or those cheap headphone extenders, or the cables meant to connect your computer to your powered speakers would probably be great.
That said, I'm not convinced that it's necessary. Shielded cable is a good idea, but why bother separating the shield and "signal return" along this run just to solder them together at the jack? It's maybe "best practice", but in practice won't make any noticeable difference. That means you can use any single conductor plus shield cable you can find. An old guitar cable (so long as it fits through the hole) or every household in the industrialized world usually has a stockpile of those red-white-yellow sets of RCA cables that come with every piece of A/V equipment. Pull one of those loose from the set and it should work fine. Use the shield braid to carry everything that needs to go to the jack sleeve.
Thanks a lot guys, that's really cleared things up for me. I've got the standard tone knobs set to the middle and neck pickups. I did consider switching a tone control to the bridge seeing as that's the only pickup I use, but in reality I'll never use the tone knob so I'll probably leave that as it is.
I've just read the "Blocking" Capacitor post in this forum, and from what I can gather, it recommends that you don't rewire the guitar in the way suggested by John (removing ground loops, etc). Has anyone got any advice on this? I was definitely going to change the wiring based on John's explanation but reading that post has thrown the spanner into the works for me.
ChrisK, in the "Blocking capacitor" post, doesn't recommend against eliminating ground loops, he's just pointing out that its not likely to be a major contributor to noise.
The main point of the post is to dissuade someone from thinking that using the "blocking capacitor" makes the guitar "safe" from shock hazards- it may help do so, but it's not a cure-all. Using the capacitor is marginally better, in certain limited circumstances, than not having it- but true safety means using a wireless setup.
By "John's explanation", I assume you mean John Atchley, the founder of the original guitar nuts site. Over the years here, we have extensively debated the merits of John A's ideas. While his ideas on shielding have been validated repeatedly here, most members here aren't as concerned about the issue of ground loops as he was in his original writings.
"Star grounding" is a good practice in wiring, but ruthlessly eliminating ground loops may not make much difference to noise, for the reasons ChrisK discusses.
Like newey said, we've debated and experimented quite a bit in that direction. I honestly don't believe this even really constitutes a ground loop. I star ground things because it makes more sense to me.
We've actually seen a few times where somebody will come along dissatisfied with the results of the QTB process. After some poking around, somebody suggests replacing the wires between the pot backs, and it seems to fix the problem. This doesn't make any theoretical sense to me, and may just be coincidental, but I've seen it too many times to write it off entirely.
Ohh right; so it's pretty much a preference then. I take it from your comments that John's original writings are a few years outdated and he doesn't update the website now. That's a bit of a shame. I think I'll go ahead with the work because I quite like the way that the wires seem a bit more organised in general. Thank you for answering that question for me.