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  1. #1

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    Hi there,
    Recently decided to make some upgrade of pickup and all electronic components on my archtop guitar. If you have any experience in parts, I'll be happy to get any help/advice.

    1) Potentiometers for Volume and Tone: what resistance is needed?
    2) Capacitor: what capacitance is optimal for set up with one humbucker?
    3) Wiring: gauge?
    4) Shielding: which of the parts should be shielded?
    Thank you


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  3. #2

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    1. 500K Ohms
    2. .022pf
    3. Whatever you have. Bigger is better, but only up to a point, and the point isn't very big. I've used lots of different wires, always whatever I had on hand. I can't tell any difference, as long as it's a reasonable size. Instrument cable wire works pretty well, or other coax cable.
    4. I've never shielded anything in an archtop. It's too hard to do, and the benefits are very small. Shielded wiring works well, with the external braid soldered to the pots and/or other grounds if you want that instead of instrument cable. Just be careful of ground loops.

  4. #3
    Thanks a lot!
    Is there some brands for all this stuff?

  5. #4
    There is different types of Pots: Solid Shaft, Short Solid Shaft, Short Split Shaft, Long Split Shaft etc.
    The Split Long one - that what I need?

  6. #5

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    I have no idea. It depends on the thickness of the top, and the knobs you plan to use. Probably short, but maybe not. As for the shaft, it depends entirely on the knobs that will go on it. If the knobs have setscrews, you need solid shafts. If they just press on, you need the split shaft. CTS is the usual go-to brand of pots, and you can buy them at many places. If you're buying the pots and knobs at the same time, buy whichever combination you prefer. Also, be aware that there are a couple of different sizes of split shafts, standard and metric. Again, it depends on the knobs and the size of the hole in the guitar top. I don't know what fits your guitar.

  7. #6
    Thank you sgosnell
    There is Seymour Duncan wiring diagram with 0.47pF instead of 0.022pF.
    Do you know what difference in sound can it make?

  8. #7

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    If I may, what kind of guitar are you upgrading?

    What pickup are you planning on using?

    What sound are you trying to achieve?

    These questions will help somewhat in determining what components to use.


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  9. #8

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    The .047 cap gives a darker, muddier tone. Benedetto uses a .022. It's mostly a matter of taste, either will work. I've replaced .047 caps with .022 with very good results, and I like the tone much better. But you can buy both and see which you prefer. Capacitors cost pennies each, perhaps a dollar or so if you buy them from a guitar parts vendor.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian B
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian B

    If I may, what kind of guitar are you upgrading?

    What pickup are you planning on using?

    What sound are you trying to achieve?

    These questions will help somewhat in determining what components to use.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    My guitar is Washburn J600 hollowbody Archtop:
    Washburn J600 - Solid Spruce Top?

    The pickup I want to use is Seymour Duncan Seth Lover:
    Seth Lover – neck | Seymour Duncan

    The sound.. I hope I can get something close to this:

    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    The .047 cap gives a darker, muddier tone. Benedetto uses a .022. It's mostly a matter of taste, either will work. I've replaced .047 caps with .022 with very good results, and I like the tone much better. But you can buy both and see which you prefer. Capacitors cost pennies each, perhaps a dollar or so if you buy them from a guitar parts vendor.

    Thank you for this info. I think I really going to buy both and try them on breadboard first. Here is:

  11. #10
    About caps.
    I think to connect both 0.022uf and 0.047uf and 2-way switch. Or maybe even to use 3-way switch to have .022+.047 big capacitance (don't know if I need it).
    Please share what you people think about this idea?

  12. #11

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    A switch would work, I guess, but they're not common. Most people decide on one or the other. If you plan to use both caps at the same time, you need to decide how you want to connect them. If you put them in series, the result will be a lower capacitance.

    If you wire them in parallel, the resulting capacitance will be .069uf, the sum of the two. Series should make the tone brighter, and parallel may make it too dark and muddy. But you can try things out and see how you like them.

  13. #12
    Good day everyone, here's my thoughts and asking for help/advice..

    Soldering all the stuff together:
    I have 3 capacitors 0.015, 0.022 and 0.047. Also I have 3-way toggle switch (Switchcraft) that can be used only for two caps in traditional way. In this case if I use 0.015 and 0.022 with 3-way switch - total capacitance can be 0.015, 0.022 or 0.015+0.022=0.037 (caps in parallel).
    If I use 0.022 and 0.047 in same way, the capacitance is 0.022, 0.047 and 0.069. The same about 0.047 and 0.015 pair.
    I don't really know how it sounds yet, but according to YouTube the first two pairs are ok for me.
    So, what you think is better the first pair of caps or second? (I still wait for the last cap from post office - so I cant try it yet).
    Please see my diagram for two caps and correct me if there is any mistakes:
    Upgrade of archtop electronics-1-jpg
    The next option can work if I find and use additional on/off switch that works like a kind of "NOT" gate. Please see the second diagram below:

    Upgrade of archtop electronics-2-jpg

    About the "magic" switch in diagram above. When this switch is "Off"- 0.015 and 0.022 caps in action. When in "On" position only 0.047 works. In this way I can get 0.015, 0.022, 0.037, and 0.047 values - all kinds off sounds that is great for my crazy experiment

    If you have better ideas for wiring please share, also please share your thoughts about all this stuff.

  14. #13

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    If it were me, I would reverse the wires coming to the tone control. It will work the way you have it, but IME the reverse sounds better. That's the Benedetto way, and I prefer it by far. The tone doesn't change with changes of the volume control. But either way will work.

    I'm not sure I'm visualizing the second diagram correctly, so I'll reserve comment on that. It's late and my mind isn't completely clear now.

  15. #14
    Can you pls give me more details on it? One of the Benedetto wirings for one pickup I saw was the same as Seymour Duncan (that I'm using).

    In second diagram the switch is kind of Dpdt or Dp3t.

  16. #15

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    Bravo wiring diagram.pdf
    This is the real Benedetto wiring diagram.

  17. #16
    Thank you, for that info.
    Also I have just found the right "magic switch" in my local store:

    Upgrade of archtop electronics-s2-jpgUpgrade of archtop electronics-s1-jpg

  18. #17
    As I can see in diagram you gave me, is no ground connection to tailpiece. This is right or I need to ground all circuit to tailpiece anyway?

    Is it necessary to use coax cable that leads to output jack? What kind of troubles can I get without it?

    The cable I have:
    Upgrade of archtop electronics-c1-jpg

  19. #18

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    The diagram doesn't show the tailpiece ground, but you do need it. The wire is the correct wire for the job. That actually is coaxial wire, but without an additional plastic cover around the shield. It's exactly what is shown on the Benedetto diagram. Or at least I think it is. From the picture, it's hard to tell if there is an insulated conductor inside the braid, but I'm assuming there is.

  20. #19

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    When I replaced the pup and pots in my Washburn J600k I ran into the small shaft diameter on the original pots problem and had to enlarge the holes in the top. I also had to ground the strings by running a conductor, copper tape in this case, from the metal string ball holder to the hinge on the tailpiece.

  21. #20
    I think my new pots are identical to the old ones. I got set of Seymour Duncan.
    About grounding the strings. Interesting, that means that there is no metal connection between strings holder and the metal part of the tailpiece.
    Thank you for this info.
    What is also interesting is - no grounding was found at all when I disconnected the old electronics from the guitar????

  22. #21

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    How to ground the strings depends on the tailpiece. If it's metal (and many wooden tailpieces actually have metal underneath) then the usual way is to just run a wire through the side underneath where the tailpiece goes, without bothering to attach it to anything, letting simple contact do the grounding. With a completely wooden tailpiece, you need to add metal somehow, and copper or aluminum tape is the easiest way. The guitar will work without grounding the strings, but it will be noisy in most situations.

  23. #22
    Today I connected all circuit together but when I switched between the caps there was almost no difference. The only small difference in tone I could hear when the tone knob is in lowest position. Did I do something wrong?
    Last edited by Mich; 05-23-2018 at 09:12 PM.

  24. #23

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    The effect of different caps is not dramatic, especially the small differences you are using. You may have been expecting too much.

  25. #24
    OK, it's finally done. I really enjoyed the process..
    The results:
    The difference in tone can be heard when the tone knob is between 0 to about 30%. When the tone knob above that there is almost no difference for me, (but some people hear some changes). It is a bit sad, but from another hand the guitar sounds really amazing (for me, I didn't expect for to much).

    sgosnell, TedBPhx, thank you very much for your help!

    Here is some pics of process:
    Upgrade of archtop electronics-11-jpgUpgrade of archtop electronics-12-jpgUpgrade of archtop electronics-04-jpgUpgrade of archtop electronics-07-jpgUpgrade of archtop electronics-08-jpg

    Upgrade of archtop electronics-2-jpgUpgrade of archtop electronics-3-jpgUpgrade of archtop electronics-09-jpg

  26. #25

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    Well, at least it looks good, even if it doesn't sound like what you expected. Learning is always beneficial, and you never know when something you learned in the past will become very useful.

  27. #26

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    Nice job. I admire the effort and skill you put into the modification. It was interesting but mostly beyond me.

    I was wondering if you had considered a rotary pot with different capacitors or a Bill Lawrence Q-filter. I have heard that is another method of getting a variety of tones from a setup, although they don't seem as "popular" as one might think. It's not a common option from a manufacturer.

  28. #27

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    Not common, but it still exists. The Gibson Varitone is one example. There are several ways to wire up different capacitors, and there are good reasons you don't see it very often. Few guitarists like it, and it costs more to make it, thus lower profits. For me, it just isn't worth the expense or effort, because I already have tone controls on the guitar and the amp. They work well enough for me.

  29. #28
    Thanks guys,
    Unfortunately I didn't hear about all this stuff before.. Rotary switches and other things I discovered after finishing this project.
    But I also got good and simple advice from nice guy whos name John Cooper, who has a blog about guitar electronics Planet Z and YouTube channel.
    The idea is in differences in nature of linear pot and logarithmic one. In linear (that I have) usually we can hear the tone changes only in beginning however in log pot the tone changes going farther from zero.
    My particular setup works only there, where the tone can be changed, that's why I can here four different caps (phisicly there only three), when my tone knob moved from 0 to ?3.
    So my next upgrade is to switch the ton cap to audio taper with good looking log graph

  30. #29

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    Hey man, it looks nice! I actually have a j600k myself, and and I'm thinking about putting in a humbucker in it (not me but a local tech). Did you run into any problems cutting the hole for the pickup? Also would you be able to post a sound clip to get an idea of what it sounds like? Looks good man!

  31. #30
    There were no problems at all with cutting the hole. I watched this video before cutting:
    I believe it will be OK if you give it to professionals to make this work. But special prudence is needed with the paint job of this guitar because of very poor quality of it - you can see the little piece of dye is missing at button of my guitar. I will try to make some video maybe tomorrow. The strings I have right now is D'Addario .10 Chromes flatwounds but I waiting for shipping of .14 Jazz Tapes from Labella to get better sound. But even with current setup it sounds very good imho.