Changing my P90s to have 2 volumes and no tone

Just about to embark on changing my mustang P90s to have 2 volumes and no tone.
The idea is to have as much brightness from the P90s as I can. I also like the idea of blending the two volumes.
However, upon reading a couple of threads on other sites, it seems this is common with humbuckers but many have advised against doing it with P90s! Something about sucking the tone and giving little control over the blending of the two signals.
I should add, I intend to keep the 3 way switch too. So I thought I'd have a nice range of either pup...with no tone control...or a blend of the two. Apparently it's not a good idea.
Anyone tried anything similar? Any advise?
I know it's not a big deal, I can do it and change back if I don't like it. But feeling a bit lazy at the mo.


  • LesterLester Posts: 1,627Member, Moderator
    edited March 2017
    My Burny has 2 P90s, 3 way switch, 2 volume and 2 tone controls and I don't have a problem dialling in the volume mix I want. It has different wiring to a Mustang so you may need to try it for yourself to know for sure.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,120Member
    I once fitted a guitar with 2 humbuckers with a switch which completely bypassed both the volume and tone controls, so the idea was I could quickly switch to a full volume lead tone, and have a lower volume, mellower setting dialed in for when I needed to back down a bit. BUT - the bypassed pot setting sounded just way too bright, really it was like an icepick, painful and absolutely horrible lol! Maybe that's just me, but I can't imagine the effect would be much different with P90's - for me anyway, never again...
  • LurcherLurcher Posts: 710Member
    Tiny, what you could do is, as you say, have twin volumes. Or maybe a master volume and a blend pot. Then I'm thinking the Gretsch option would be interesting. They don't use tone pots but a switch that gives open and bass options (just like the variable tone, i.e. with a capacitor on the bass wiring)
    I have by-pass on my SG on push-pull pots and there certainly is that advantage of having volume instantly switchable between backing and lead levels.

  • TinyghostTinyghost Posts: 834Member
    Cheers guys.
    Yes I think I might go for the twin volumes first...I'm guessing I shouldn't quite get "ice pick" unless I bypass all controls (resistance)?
    The gretsch option sounds very interesting and I may give it a go at some point.
    I like the sound I have but would like a bit more top, so if removing the tone pot doesn't do it, I might get 1 mg pots.
    Cheers again.
  • TinyghostTinyghost Posts: 834Member
    HI again.
    Can't work out the wiring. Any help?

    So imagine this...
    3 way (gibson lever style) switch
    2 P90s (with braided single wires)
    2 500k pots

    Should be simple right?
    How can i wire the two volumes? It's the switch bit that baffles me.
    Cheers smile
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,120Member
    I reckon you could use this diagram, and just miss out the tone control bit: - hope I'm right about that lol, and hope there isn't the icepick to contend with grin . Sometimes I guess you do have to try things to find out in the end!
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,120Member
  • HobbioHobbio Posts: 21Member

    What is this "ice-pick" of which you speak?
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,120Member
    The ice-pick... well, it describes the tone I got once when I installed a guitar with a switch which completely bypassed both the volume and tone controls - the idea being to be able to go to a completely open, full volume setting at the flip of a switch. But I found it was just way to sharp and trebly for me to use, pretty much unbearable in fact. So TG's plan to just have 2 volumes and no tone made me wonder if he might have a similar issue. I suspect we will find out before too long anyhow! grin
  • TinyghostTinyghost Posts: 834Member
    Thanks Megi.
    Yes, I may get an ice pick (that makes my ears burn...stranglers reference).
    I'm hoping the resistance of the vol pots is enough to an open tone from the pickups and not a harsh one. P90s are fairly warm and muddy anyway, so I'm hoping for just a little increase in top.
    If it doesn't work, i will just re-wire it as it is, but a 1meg tone pot (like they have at axesrus, with the notch that allows you to turn the tone up to 11!) .
    I'll check out the wiring diagram this evening. I don't know why, but I wire a guitar and then completely forget how or why I did it...poor technical retention.
  • HobbioHobbio Posts: 21Member
    Thanks for the ice pick explanation smile
  • TinyghostTinyghost Posts: 834Member
    I've disconnected the tone cap.
    Brilliant, fairly minor change in tone, but a little more top and more zing...weirdly sounds more harmonically expansive (excuse the fumble for words).
    I prefer this to the slightly more woolly sound it had. But it is a fairly modest change in no ice pick. Slightly brighter, but also less of the thick mid, I guess a slight scoop...but also the pups are more responsive.
    I'm just setting up to re-wire and have the two volumes.
    Will let you know how it turns out.
    Crossing fingers.
  • TinyghostTinyghost Posts: 834Member
    Not sure that wiring diagram is going to be best for my set up.
    I've got the 3 way switch under the neck pup (with pups wired left and right). But the channel from there to the control plate I cut quite can't squeeze in too many wires (pup wires are thick braided).
    Any ideas?
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,120Member
    If it was me, I would probably fit new wire to the pickups, using the narrowist coax I could find - due to the tiny current involved, it actually doesn't matter at all how thick the wire used is, so there would be no impact on the tone.
  • TinyghostTinyghost Posts: 834Member
    Thanks Megi.
    I have quite short wires on the pups anyway, so took your advice and added two thinner wires (from core and braiding).
    Wired it all up...seemed ok
    Now however, I find the bridge pup volume won't turn down all the way.
    I'm sure I've had this it when somethings touching something else...ha ha ha I'm a bit unfocussed today.
    Might get back to it another day.
  • TinyghostTinyghost Posts: 834Member
    OO is it earthing?
    I've earthed the switch to the back of the neck pot, but left old jumpers from pot to pot to jack.
    Maybe I'll get the meter out and test the earthing/ground?
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,120Member
    Sometimes I think it's best to start from scratch, rather than leave old wires in place. If you've got shielding in the control cavity you could have an unintended short to earth somewhere also.
  • TinyghostTinyghost Posts: 834Member
    Oh yes may be touching the shielding...thanks, will check that too

    Cheers smile
  • TinyghostTinyghost Posts: 834Member
    Because the second pot was a tone pot and wired in a particular way, I hadn't soldered the outside right lug to the casing! Hence it wasn't earthed.
    It works far.
    Could actually be room for more top from the bridge pickup.
    Might invest in a 1mg.
Sign In or Register to comment.