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Last night was a bad night.

I (accidentally) killed the bridge pickup in my 51.

Here's the story...

As long as I have had the guitar, the screws holding the bridge humbucker to its mounting ring have been far too short, and if I adjust the height of the pickup to anymore than about 1mm under the top of the ring, the pickup will just fall to the bottom of the route, and the only way to retrieve it was to kind of grab it with a screwdriver and hold it up to get the screws back in. It's a long, frustrating, and dangerous (to the pickup) process, and last night I paid the price. I think the edge of the screwdriver cut the windings. In any case, the pickup no longer works.

The reason I was adjusting the pickup is because ever since I got it back from the luthier, that pickup has been sounding AWFUL. I can only attribute its new, awful sound to the addition of a tone control and Orange Drop cap. The pickup seems to have gone from being balanced and grunty (think 'Money for Nothing') to being loud and harsh. Too trebly on the highs and waaaaaaay too loud on A and low E. Crappy tone too. Last night it was bothering me too much, so I tried to take the bass end of the pickup as low as I could, while raising the highs as much as I could. Needless to say, I lowered the lows too low, the pickup fell, and the rest is history.

Anyway, I will be getting a new pickup for it, probably at the same time as I buy the pickups for my strat project. I will probably just get one of the bargain basement ones from guitarfetish.

However, I do have a question. Since I don't use the middle position on the guitar, is it possible to rework the pickup selector so I have a neck pickup - bridge pickup - bridge pickup w/tone bypass setup? It seems this would be easy to achieve, but I am not sure, so I ask. I know nothing about this kind of thing.

Thanks in advance, folks.

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  • 2 weeks later...
A Squier 51 uses a 3 way rotary switch so if you want more options than get a 5 way rotary switch.

My 51 actually has a 3-way blade. Like many (most?) 51's it's had quite a number of modifications made to it. The rotary switch now lives in my Jagmaster.

It's not so much that I want more options, I actually just want the three. I don't need a both-pickups position because I NEVER use it. In fact, my Jagmaster has 3 pickups and uses the 3-way rotary switch. Neck. Middle. Bridge.

I think I will be able to get the tone bypass option that I want, I just might need a 4-conductor pickup to do it.

Also, it's funny you mention a 5-way rotary switch... I originally wanted one for my Jagmaster, but I absolutely could not find one. They seem to be rare around my part of the world :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was bidding on a Fender Diamondback humbucker on ebay, but someone wanted it more than I.

I have decided to go with GFS. So the question now becomes...

this: http://store.guitarfetish.com/gfsciial2zeh.html

or this: http://store.guitarfetish.com/v59clalpazeh.html

I'm after moderate output. Part of the reason my other pickup died was that it was just too damn loud. I use bridge and neck pickups for the same reason, and I like to switch between one and the other without any huge differences in volume. So I looked around guitarfetish, and narrowed my choice down to these two.

I'm leaning toward the classic II.

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  • 1 month later...

A new development...

When I went to the luthier to pick up my strat, I was explaining about the death of the 51 pickup. He was sympathetic, took me in to the workshop and showed me the box of junk, and he gave me a new humbucker. When I say 'new', I mean 'old'.

Nothing special, just a ceramic bar pickup, non-adjustable pole pieces. But it is 4-conductor, so I might be able to do that tone-bypass thing I was talking about. Failing that, I will probably go for an old-fashioned coil split. If this pickup doesn't work, he will probably give me a formerly celebrity-owned Epiphone pickup :-) When I am ready I can take the pickup and guitar back to him to be installed.

We also had a discussion about why the tone of the pickup changed after the modifications, and the luthier was adamant that the addition of the tone control and capacitor would not have made a difference to the overall sound. While I don't know enough to agree or disagree, my only defence was that before the mods, it sounded fine, and after the mods it sounded awful. I honestly don't believe it is just my imagination.

I actually really miss that pickup :'-(

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My luthier and I have become friends, so that helps a bit.

It's really not that big a deal anyway, it's just a cheap pickup that he had lying around.

But I am hoping I will get the Epiphone one :-D

By the way, I have no idea at all what the dead pickup is. It's not the original 51 pickup. Just another cheapie, I think.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Got the guitar back again today (same day as I sold my strat).

The new mods work really well. The new cheap pickup is nice and loud and grunty.

It has been coil-split, and ironically, the luthier actually used the same push/pull pot that he took from the guitar last time he worked on it. I never thought I would see it again, but now the stock volume pot has become the replacement tone pot :-D Only problem is that it's very loose, as in it turns too easily. The volume pot feels stiff, but the tone pot does not resist at all. Any advice for how to tighten it???

Interestingly (to me, anyway), is the fact that I asked for the pickup to be put in backwards, so that when the coil split is working, the active pickup is closer to the middle than to the bridge. I did this for a bit of tonal variety, and it works pretty well. The split coil now sounds exactly as it should: about halfway between the tone of a middle and a bridge pickup. The big drawback to this is that the in-between position is no longer hum-cancelling, even when the humbucker is not split. It's not a concern unless I am using overdrive.

In all, I'm pretty darm happy with the thing right now, and I plan to leave it the heck alone.

Next project will probably be some renovations to my Telecaster, but that will not be until some time next year. The next investment for me is a new amp.

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