#1
I am planning on designing and building my own custom guitar. I have taken a lot of inspiration from Brian May and his Red Special. On his guitar, each pickup has its own on-off switch which means he can use 3 pickups at once. I have decided to do the same except using 4 pickups. I would use different pickups however. Would using 4 different pickups cause the sound to be murky?

Brian May also uses phase switching with each pickup, yet all of his pickups are the same. If I use different pickups, will phase switching do anything?

Thanks.
Last edited by Minions at Jul 12, 2009,
#4
Quote by Minions
I am planning on designing and building my own custom guitar. I have taken a lot of inspiration from Brian May and his Red Special. On his guitar, each pickup has its own on-off switch which means he can use 3 pickups at once. I have decided to do the same except using 4 pickups. I would use different pickups however. Would using 4 different pickups cause the sound to be murky?


Never tried it, but I think it would depend on how you combined them.

Quote by Minions
Brian May also uses phase switching with each pickup, yet all of his pickups are the same. If I use different pickups, will phase switching do anything?

Yes.
#5
I know Bison guitars used to have 4 pickups wired to almost as many switches as the TS wants. Having different pickups doesn't mean anything (ask Jim, his Strat has four different types of pickups in it) you would still be able to wire it for phase switching with a similar effect.

To everyone else, at least try to help before you try to talk him out of it. Seriously, there's been way too much negativity and discouragement in this forum lately.
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#6
I looked at the whole pickup thing before, and I have to say I felt only 3 standard pickups were necessary. Say you have humbuckers on bridge and neck, and you want to add a single coil for that single coil sound - you can only put it in the centre position. Therefore there's no need to have 2 single coils. Get it?

I haven't played P90's but I can't imagine anyone needing humbuckers, single coils and P90's (correct me if I'm wrong).

Of course if you want to add some Piezo's go ahead, or even a hex pickup so you can plug it into your friend's keyboard rig. Or if you want have a mix of passive and active pickups - that would be cool. Consider stereo outs if you have enough money to buy 2 of each pedal.
#7
Just because it isnt done by others doesnt mean it shouldnt be done. Think where music would be if nobody ever tried anything unconventional. There was a time in popular guitar music that vibrato and bending was frowned upon. Where would we be if Iommi hadnt started drop tuning laying down those "evil" riffs of his. So TS if you wanna wire up 4 pickups with a pickguard that has a dozen switches let us know how it turns out.
#8
Best idea ever: H/P90/S with a piezo in the bridge, a USB output, and a suspended jazz humbucker. I'd need to move the wiring to a completely different unit, like a backpack, for the amount of switching I'd add.
R.I.P. Les Paul, 1915-2009

A man chooses, a slave obeys.
#9
Quote by bv310
Best idea ever: H/P90/S with a piezo in the bridge, a USB output, and a suspended jazz humbucker. I'd need to move the wiring to a completely different unit, like a backpack, for the amount of switching I'd add.

USB OUT???? You're joking, right?
#10
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#11
Quote by Union Of V
USB OUT???? You're joking, right?

Hey, I'd make it good enough that it actually sounded right. Then I could record on my comp without needing another mic. (old one crapped out on me)
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#13
Quote by bv310
Hey, I'd make it good enough that it actually sounded right. Then I could record on my comp without needing another mic. (old one crapped out on me)

Wait what did you do? I'm completely confused...
#14
The Watkins Rapier 44 had 4 pups.

They all sounded terrible. Best switching/control arrangement would be zero middle faders with reverse phase on the back end. With different pups out of phase you need to be able to balance them up or the effect won't work. Then add tone controls to taste.
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#15
I formerly attempted to record my guitar with a mic. It failed and the mic broke. I was suggesting that it would be funny to include everything, and you questioined why I would include a USB-out.
R.I.P. Les Paul, 1915-2009

A man chooses, a slave obeys.
#16
Quote by bv310
Best idea ever: H/P90/S with a piezo in the bridge, a USB output, and a suspended jazz humbucker. I'd need to move the wiring to a completely different unit, like a backpack, for the amount of switching I'd add.



theres a company that makes a USB out thing for a piezo for about $700, have you seen it cheaper? i havent.

its a sweet idea though.
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#17
you may find this interesting as i actually own a brian may replica (one of the new ones from the self titled guitar company - brian may guitars) i've owned it for 2 years so i've had a lot of time to fiddle with them.

i would start by saying that the out of phase sound is interesting, however, having 3 out of phase sounds is overkill as they sound very similar, adding a fourth would not really give much of a difference. i have spoken to a lot of people who lown the guitar or have made thier own and like the out of phase, but almost all agree that having one out of phase sound would be enough, and that something with coil splitting would give far more variation if that is what you are after.

having a fourth pickup would also probably highly unuseful, the guitar picks up the vibrations from the string at certain points - now between the treble and neck there are big differences due to tension, but i presume you would have a central neck pickup and a central bridge pickup - the difference between these would be pretty minimalistic as they are going to be in a similar sort of place.

if you are going for variation in sound i would suggest a kill switch, a phase switch, and a coil tap. thats going to be almost more than you'll ever actually use anyway, considering you can make more variations in sound by varying your pick attack than adding a fourth pickup ever will. brian may himself has said in interviews that 90% of his own work is done with the bridge and the middle pickup in phase.

whatever you decide, good luck.

2 edits: though brian mays dad was a genius, there was a trick that he missed, with the three switches you get 2 that do the same thing, there are people on the internet who can give you more options by wiring this one differently, i think that gives you all the original options and a few more leading to 24 variations total

also the guy above me is very wise
Last edited by CobenBlack at Jul 12, 2009,
#18
Lol TS should see my strat.

I have alot of knobs, pups, and switches on my guitar. I have 2 series/paralell switches for the 490R and 500T humbuckers, a volume, tone, and anti-tone, a 6-way rotary pup switch, and another switch that determines whether the second middle pup (a single coil) or the 500T are going to the Bridge position of the main pup switch.

The reason I told you that was to tell you this: If you have a butt load of options on your guitar, going back to stock is gonna feel very boring and uninspiring. I recently went back to standard Strat configuration for a bit and it was so uninspiring and just plain boring.

Just figured I'd share.
#19
^ I think I still have the diagram of your strat. I'll try to find it.
R.I.P. Les Paul, 1915-2009

A man chooses, a slave obeys.
#21
Quote by Invader Jim
Lol TS should see my strat.

I have alot of knobs, pups, and switches on my guitar. I have 2 series/paralell switches for the 490R and 500T humbuckers, a volume, tone, and anti-tone, a 6-way rotary pup switch, and another switch that determines whether the second middle pup (a single coil) or the 500T are going to the Bridge position of the main pup switch.

The reason I told you that was to tell you this: If you have a butt load of options on your guitar, going back to stock is gonna feel very boring and uninspiring. I recently went back to standard Strat configuration for a bit and it was so uninspiring and just plain boring.

Just figured I'd share.


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#23
well, if you think about it, something like an Ibanez superstrat style layout (HSH) with coil splits is effectively 5 pickups.

TS, try googleing ultrastrat mod; it's a switch layout you can do with an ordinary strat that gives you alot more options. I've allways wanted to try it, just to muck about, it looks quite nifty.

EDIT: had this page up while I googled it masel! http://www.1728.com/guitar2.htm
Last edited by jimRH7 at Jul 12, 2009,
#24
I really dont see the need for four magnetic pickups, however HSH with coil tapping and a peizo under the bridge would definately be worth looking at.
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#25
Quote by Minions
I am planning on designing and building my own custom guitar.
oooh. sounds like fun.

Quote by Minions
I have taken a lot of inspiration from Brian May and his Red Special.
Among other things, Brian uses series wiring, not parallel. This is a large part of some of his unique tones.

Quote by Minions
On his guitar, each pickup has its own on-off switch which means he can use 3 pickups at once. I have decided to do the same except using 4 pickups.
If a little is good, a lot isn't always better...

the more pickups you add, the narrower your pick lanes. take that into consideration or you might be less satisfied with the result.

Quote by Minions
I would use different pickups however.
specifically?

Quote by Minions
Would using 4 different pickups cause the sound to be murky?
If you do series wiring and heavily overwound pickups, even 2 pickups can be murky. in parallel, this wouldn't present the same problem.

Quote by Minions
Brian May also uses phase switching with each pickup, yet all of his pickups are the same.
yes.

Quote by Minions
If I use different pickups, will phase switching do anything?
Of course it will.

Quote by Minions
Thanks.
You're welcome.
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#26
I'd just like to add, that the magnet in a pickup does exert some pull on the guitar's strings, causing some loss of sustain. Although I honestly don't know how great this effect is, it might be something to consider.
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#27
Thanks everyone. This really helped. I don't think I'll be making a guitar with 4 pickups now. Thank you so much.

But I have one more question.

Could someone explain to me in the simplest way possible what phase switching is?
#28
Quote by Minions
Could someone explain to me in the simplest way possible what phase switching is?
Phase switching is simply changing the polarity of the connections to ONE pickup. In the out of phase position, one pickup contributes a positive going signal as the string moves closer to the pickup. The other pickup contributes a negative going signal as the string moves closer to the pickup.

Out of phase produces a weak, thin tone. The closer 2 out of phase pickups are, the more the signals cancel. Two coils of a HB out of phase create a signal that is extremely weak and virtually useless.
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