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Bridge pickup vs singles on an HSS guitar

Dave Merrill

Power User
How do you HSS guys end up running your volume and tone controls?

I've never had an HSS guitar before, and I recently picked up an Ibanez AT10, HSS, Dimarzio pickups, 2 Cruisers and an AT-1. The AT1 is way louder than the Cruisers, pretty different tone.

I've tried turning the volume on the AT down to maybe 5.5. Going whole hog on that, I'd head towards 2 volumes and a master tone.

I also tried turning the bridge tone down about the same, which doesn't sound like it makes sense since the pickup itself has less top than the Cruisers already, but it's actually nice, cuts the volume a lot, and doesn't turn to total mush like you'd think. It's very different than tone all the way up, but cool.

So I'm wondering what other folks do with this pickup arrangement, what controls you have, how you set your controls.
 

Joe Bfstplk

Fractal Fanatic
I have the bridge pickup set up for series/parallel switching. Parallel knocks the level down a bit and makes the tone a little more like the single coils. My 5-way switch automagically switches it in all but the bridge-only spot, where I have a mini toggle that lets me choose. :)


The other mini toggle rewires the 5-way so positions 2 and 4 are series linked, for a little more beef in those spots....
 

Dave Merrill

Power User
I have the bridge pickup set up for series/parallel switching. Parallel knocks the level down a bit and makes the tone a little more like the single coils. My 5-way switch automagically switches it in all but the bridge-only spot, where I have a mini toggle that lets me choose. :)


The other mini toggle rewires the 5-way so positions 2 and 4 are series linked, for a little more beef in those spots....
Yeah more fullness in bridge-only is what I was trying to fix, relative to the straight single in my EJ. Gut level, parallel doesn't seem like a good plan, though you're right it would be quieter.

Maybe I'll look for a less overwound humbucker, instead of trying to fix it with the controls.

OTOH, I was playing my EJ this morning, and I really like it. Yes, bridge isn't as full as I wish, but it's good with tone rolled off, and 2 and 4 are great. That guitar is close to magic, I just have some beefs with it, like bridge fullness, hum, slightly high again, and some neck inconsistency.

I might like it enough to return the AT, not sure yet. Really wanted to try one, and it's definitely cool, but it's not exactly love.
 

unix-guy

Legend!
Yeah. There's enough room to get the volume down, but it loses some fullness. Still experimenting.
For me, the intent with an HSS is that the bridge pickup is both a bit louder and cuts thru better (due to the humbucker EQ).

I'm primarily playing clean-ish on the singles and go to bridge when I want the effect for lead or some distorted chords.

Of course, that's just me ;)

I also like the series/parallel option.
 

Dave Merrill

Power User
I just want fuller, way louder doesn't work for me, because I love lead on the other pickups too, and this kind of diminishes them. This is like having a boost pedal always on for that one pickup.

Separate bridge volume could work too, just keep it away down, except maybe occasionally. The volume jump isn't as bad if there a lot of gain to absorb it, which is sometimes me, sometimes not.
 

guitarnerdswe

Fractal Fanatic
I generally put the bridge humbucker in split or parallel, and then adjust the height of all the pickups to give the same volume on a clean tone. Running the humbucker in series will then make it a bit louder, but not too much.

I'm a big fan in having the level across all pickup combos be as even as possible. I use singles and buckers for all types of sounds, I don't "specify" them.
 
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