It seems to me that the middle pickup selector position on the 3-humbucker-equipped Black Beauties is senseless (too strong a word perhaps?). The same or similar out of phase sound could have been achieved with two pickups ala 345, 355. What was the justification of the middle pickup on this instrument? Moreover, what was the reasoning behind wiring the instrument so that when the pickup selector is in the middle position, there is no volume (or tone) control for the middle pickup?
Further, what modifications (not including Jimmy Page [old or new]) have players done to their 3-humbucker-equipped Les Paul Black Beauties that kept the middle pickup alive and useful?
Here are my thoughts: Rewire the instrument so that the middle pickup is governed by the neck volume and tone controls but leave everything else the same. The neck pickup would remain under control of the neck volume and tone knobs. This would essentially make the instrument function like a 345/55. One could be playing in the middle pickup selector position and have the OOP sound with volume controls at the same level and the simply turn either volume up or down to get less OOP sound - just like on a 345/55. This makes the middle pickup somewhat independent. I wonder what a Black Beauty sounds like with only the middle pickup?