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Another way the Rs may differ from the 50s

el84ster

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Sep 10, 2001
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I recently rewired my R8. I mean I took ALL the wiring out and replaced it. An amazing thing happened: the tone opened up big-time. I didn't use shielded cable like Gibson uses, I used solid core single strand wire.

So I started thinking that all that extra capacitance in that shielded cable was responsible for deadening the tone some (vs. my non sheilded replacement wire). So I measured the stray capacitance of Gibson's shielded wire vs. the single strand I used and found that the capacitance was about twice as high on Gibsons shielded/braided wire. Hmm.

Then I measured that the bridge pickup signal travels through almost exactly 3 feet (!) of wire before it gets to the output jack. And the bridge pickup goes through about 2.5 feet before the jack. THat's a lot of wire, and if you use crappy shielded cable with just a little bit high stray capacitance, it's going to effect your tone big-time!

So I didn't have any extra PAF cable to measure against the modern Gibson braided cable (I wasn't going ot chop up my PAFs) so I don't know if back in the 50s they used wire with less stray capacitance. But judging from the crappy Gibson guitar cable that came with my R8, I'd say chances are decent that the wire inside my Historic not be the most sonically transparent.

So, maybe this is another difference between the old LPs and the Historics. I dunno, but it's interesting to consider. What I do know is my guitar now sounds a lot better with less stray capacitance going on.

By the way, with the stock Gibson wire, I measured 200pf across the output jack...that's like putting a 200pf cap from your pickup hot lead to ground! All those highs are never making it to your amp. Maybe it was the same back then too...but somehow I doubt it.

Food for thought.
 

demundo

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Sep 12, 2001
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thanks for the report! it's great when an idea works out, isnt it? you never know with wire. i actually have one historic cable that sounds really good, it definitly sounds better than the other 9 i have(had,now, i tossed them).
 

Buzz

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I don't know how many manufacturers of the Gibson type shielded wire there are, but a few years ago, J.M. Rolph pointed out that his is a bit different braid pattern. I can't remember, but I think Tom Holmes uses the same wire as J.M, there may be others. You count the strands of braids, and his have two where the Gibson wire is single stranded. I didn't compare them all, but it seems that Gibson is using the same wire many other pickup makers use. How does the double stranded wire compare in measurements similar to yours? I don't know, didn't check for that.

I would be willing to bet that those that have stray pieces of shielded wire from authentic late 50's Gibson's will compare them, not that it means they will report the results here, but eventually somebody will do it evan it it comes up later in another thread. If they had a 6" segment of vintage wire, they need to cut the same size of the other modern makes.

Sure, I'll bet on the vintage wire sounding better, nothing is the same as it was back than, the copper in the windings, the plastic in the bobbins, the type of lacquer, the magnets in the pickups, the metal the tailpiece studs are made of, the voltage of the currency, etc, etc.

The tone does not allways show up on a digital meter, take the tone caps in the guitar, yeah the cheap modern brands read the same on a meter, but the vintage and high-end caps sound better to our most accurate meter; our ears. Same goes for the meter reading of a PAF type pickup, every new user of real PAFs says, "wow, I can't believe this pickup only measures 7.8 k ohms! In the case of measuring the wire, I'd say the meter readings would be accurate because your measuring loss of signal, noise and this would show on a meter.
 

el84ster

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Another factoid that may be of interest to tinker types like myself, was I found that if you run 2 lengths of wire together, a twisted pair will have a higher stray capacitance than just the 2 wires running side by side. This seems to make sense.
I measured 2 12" pieces of wire: side-by-side I got 50pf and when twisted together (like filament wires in an amp) I read 65pf. Interesting and applicable to amp-building as well obviously.

In my rewired guitar, I twisted the pair from the switch to the jack; if I go back and untwist, I could drop some more picos.

But back to Les Pauls...man I was surprised at how much wire is in there! 5.5 feet altogether, because the wires zig-zag back and forth to the switch. If that switch was near the pots then you'd only need a little bit of wire. This must account for some of the sonic differences between LPs and 335s, SGs, etc.
 

Pearly Grapes

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Jul 20, 2001
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el;
Are you saying you used unshielded wire? I know nothing about 'lectricity, so I ask the dumb question; Will the unshielded wire allow more radio inference?

Boy I hope the answer is "No", cause this sounds like something worth pursuing!

PG
 

korus

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Jan 18, 2003
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Yes, unshielded wire will be more like an antenna, but ... there is an alternative - if the cavity is shielded - that will compensate.
(cavity is a path/tube towards the toggle switch also)

Now, that would be interesting - to measure capacitance of and than compare it to capacitance of the wiring done fully with shielded wire.

Anyone?
 

el84ster

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Yeah, although I don't notice more noise, I'm not really advocating people rip out their wiring. I just thought it was interesting to bring this subject up, since most historic owners are obviously looking for that 50s sound.

On the other hand, it did make a big difference. If you want to see what the difference might be, put a 200pf cap from the hot to ground on your guitars output jack. Take that cap off and you'll see about what further amount of benefit you'll have. And I'm sure lots of people would prefer the stray capacitance of the braided wire anyway. Tone is so subjective, what's really better?

It would really be interesting to measure the stray capacitance of the old 50s braided with the modern historic wire...!
 
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Buzz

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Yeah, although I don't notice more noise, I'm not really advocating people rip out their wiring. I just thought it was interesting to bring this subject up, since most historic owners are obviously looking for that 50s sound.

On the other hand, it did make a big difference. If you want to see what the difference might be, put a 200pf cap from the hot to ground on your guitars output jack. Take that cap off and you'll see about what further amount of benefit you'll have. And I'm sure lots of people would prefer the stray capacitance of the braided wire anyway. Tone is so subjective, what's really better?

It would really be interesting to measure the stray capacitance of the old 50s braided with the modern historic wire...!

I just realised that I have all the wiring for both out of mine and could do the tests. One is from an '03 Historic, and the vintage is outa my 55 conversion which has been at Dave's for a refin. I've also got a Historic which somebody removed and replaced all the stock wiring except for pickup leads with a pvc coated shielded wiring of un-known origin, for equally un-known reasons. After the guitar show I'll find some time to do the tests. :hmm
 

steve(UK)

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Aug 28, 2006
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I don't think it will make that much difference. The coax cable that Gibson uses now does not look much different to the stuff from the 50s. I've worked on both. In any case, for me personally, all bridge pickups have too much 'tizz' at high gain and I always run them with some tone rolled off. So a few pF difference in the wiring will make very little difference. Furthermore, old pickups go mellow (not brighter) as magnets age, so if anything, you'd expect older guitars to be less bright than Historics, not brighter.
 

plaintop60

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Nov 20, 2006
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I don't think it will make that much difference. The coax cable that Gibson uses now does not look much different to the stuff from the 50s. I've worked on both. In any case, for me personally, all bridge pickups have too much 'tizz' at high gain and I always run them with some tone rolled off. So a few pF difference in the wiring will make very little difference. Furthermore, old pickups go mellow (not brighter) as magnets age, so if anything, you'd expect older guitars to be less bright than Historics, not brighter.

I agree.
 
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