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  1. #1

    Tim Shaw humbuckers - 500K pots too shrill?

    Yes, at least in my case. I found the perfect balance with 300k volume and 500k tone pots rather than 500k all around.

    My recently acquired '83 black Custom had the original Shaws with the 300K (actually measured 350k) volume and 100k ton pots of the era. I really liked the sound of the pickups, but they sounded a little muted and dark. I thought I'd make them shine by wiring up some nice CTS 525k pots (measured at 550k), Emerson caps and 50's wiring. The result was not what I expected and was just too shrill at the resonant peak. The charm of the pickups was lost. After the fact, I read some other accounts where people came to the same conclusion.

    I suspected that returning to 300k volume pots and leaving the 525k tone pots and 50's wiring might get me what I was looking for. Rather than redo everything, I simply soldered a 1 meg resistor across terminals 1-3 of the 525k pot to effectively create a 345k pot. I left the rest of the circuit alone. BAM! The charm and unique character of the Shaws returned, but with more sparkle and clarity because of the reduced treble bleed through the 500k tone pots. The volume taper is a little accelerated, but I don't mind, since I like a quick cleanup with small movement of the dial. If it becomes bothersome, I'll put the original 300k pots back in.

    Anyway, if anyone has Shaw humbuckers and wants to really release their mojo, I suggest to keep the 300k volume pots and replace only the 100k tone pots with 500k pots. Also, I used a 0.022 mfd cap for the bridge and a 0.015 mfd for the neck, which seems to be an improvement for the neck.

  2. #2

    Re: Tim Shaw humbuckers - 500K pots too shrill?

    Looks like 300k/500k setup is worth trying. BTW haven't you ever tried using 1M pots? Always wanted to just try those out to hear the difference. Sadly never was able to find a good deal with shipping to worldpostalcode.com/united-states/nevada/las-vegas and throwing away money on the thing that I won't likely will install for just a few days doesn't seem to be a good approach.

  3. #3
    All Access/Backstage Pass Progrocker111's Avatar
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    Re: Tim Shaw humbuckers - 500K pots too shrill?

    This might be really an useful advice, cause i always havent liked the tone of early 80s Customs with Shaw pickups. Too dark, compressed and muffled sounding with very weak dynamics.
    My diagnosis is: Hiwatt and Norlinphilia


    2014 Gibson Les Paul Junior 1957 Custom Shop
    1972 Hiwatt DR103, 1972 Hiwatt SE4122

  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Re: Tim Shaw humbuckers - 500K pots too shrill?

    Yes, you are correct depending upon how rigid your amp settings are. As I recall they are unique in having an inductance about half of most humbuckers and a much higher resonant peak. They work fine with 500k pots but you can't push presence or bright and should roll down the bridge tone a little. I see much more value in 250-300k pots over 500+ as over 500k seems to shrill for most paf type pups.

    Modern amps are overhyped in the high end. Way too bright. You need to adjust accordingly and be flexible. I see no musical value in 1Meg pots at all on guitars.
    The older I get, the better I was.

  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member rays44's Avatar
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    Re: Tim Shaw humbuckers - 500K pots too shrill?

    My two favorite neck humbuckers in Standards and Customs are the Duncan 59 and the Shaw with 500k pots. I really like the clarity and articulation. It just works for me. I find the Shaw a bit too bright/thin in the bridge, especially in a Custom. For me any good aftermarket paf style pup works better in the bridge. For something different yet similar, I really like the Harmonic Design vintage style humbucker. A very pleasant surprise that no one ever talks about. For a point of reference, I play classic rock and aggressive blues through an assortment of combo amps.

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