Axes Xplained
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Axes Xplained

Seymour prior to or adjacent to Duncan

It’s all about the positioning

This one was a little bit more fiddly

After the roaring success of series / parallel choices on the old Washburn foghorn:

It seemed like a good idea to try just one more modification to the Seymour Duncan pickups.

And this time, with the added bonus of a blend switch and 2 humbuckers switchable to series or parallel there is good set of tones available.

Here is the circuit diagram, showing the 4 pole double throw switch

The results

And here are the 12 combinations, as recorded — bloopers and all

Recorded combinations
Bridge series (S) original
Bridge parallel (P)
Neck S original
Neck P
Bridge S + Neck S blend
Bridge P + Neck P
Middle + Bridge S
Middle + Bridge P
Middle + Neck S
Middle + Neck P + Bridge P
Middle + Neck S + Bridge S

This time, we’re using a waterfall view of the spectrum because it just gives a more visual fingerprint, because monitors are generally in landscape orientation (portrait users, God love them, and crazy IMHO).


What’s really going on?

Parallel and series will be discussed in more detail in a later post, as there is a surprising amount going on to generate this difference.

Empirical results

Parallel mode does tend to reduce total signal, which is continuation of the process we know from the “in-between” settings on Strat-type and Les Paul type. On the waterfall, as the colours are one a log scale these subtle differences are not visible as they are barely noticeable on the logarithmic scale that is the full gamut.

The newest sound is the bridge + neck in parallel mode, which has a nice distinctive clang, also the sound of all three in parallel is going to be the combination with the lowest total impedance, which goes some way to explaining all the extra high frequencies.

The “twangiest” to my ears though, are:

Middle   + Bridge S
Middle + Neck S
Middle + Neck P
and coming in strong with bonus points of ironyMiddle - just Middle

Does this correlate with any pattern?

We’ll need to put them side by side to see


bridge, series then parallel


neck, series then parallel


And, and 2:04 we have the twangiest combo to my mind …

middle + neck, series then parallel

From the comparisons we can see significantly more energy in the 4–5kHz region and even beyond in the parallel configurations — remember it’s a logarithmic plot, so small differences are (like the factor of ~2 difference in total amplitude between some recordings are not even visible), and large differences imply huge ratios in energy.

The middle plus neck combination seems most distinctive and indeed I preferred the series mode of the neck pickup before I saw the charts — this is the upper waterfall, and it does have an strong grouping of energy around 4–5 kHz, which is around the right place. In contrast, the higher frequencies are flattened out and extended a little further to the top for the parallel mode, which has the effect of suppressing the peak and making the tone less twangy.

And the bonus irony?

The middle pickup — the single coil, remember — is actually brighter than the bridge pickup in out of the box mode.

bridge series versus middle

Which really goes to show that a leopard can changes its spots only with the greatest difficulty!




Electric guitars, completely and utterly, 100% explained with added science (TM)

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Patrick Martin

Patrick Martin

Person. blah blah about me ... WAIT CLIMATE CANCER WE CAN BEAT IT PEOPLE ... all opinions my own

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