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Changing from JB humbucker (coil tap) to SSL5 your thoughts please!

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by Cellarstrat, Mar 24, 2020.

  1. Cellarstrat

    Cellarstrat New Member!

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    Hello folks,

    For many years my Tokai bodied Strat has had a SD Jeff Beck Humbucker with 3 position coil tap/phase switch paired with 2 SD Alnico Pro II single coils. Lately I changed those Alnicos for the Suhr Landau Classics and they are bit more rounder/ lively and think they sound better ..bigger for sure , but I always think its not quite strat like with this humbucker .

    I have a SD SSL5 bridge pickup new/unused in the box from yrs ago & wondered if I installed that pickup how it would be with the Landau Classics?
    (assuming I get a new scratch plate for the single hole cut out & understand wiring)

    I also worry I might miss the humbucker and have read that the SSL5 is not typical chimey clean and maybe muddy or dull lacking brightness ?
    Maybe I´m wrong but would appreciate the knowledgable people to comment on wether the guitar would be better off with the SSL5 & Landaus vs this current HSS arrangement. I did read about the imbalance with this HSS configuration & some players saying you never get the volume/tone right & I am aware of this fact.

    That is a primary reason to make the change and get more umph! & strat character from the real single coil as opposed to a split smaller coil of the JB humbucker . I think the split humbucker just isn´t the same sound as the larger strat pickup.

    Any comments welcome before I commit to the change after 25 yrs .

    Cheers
    Tony
     
    RevDoomBaritone99 likes this.
  2. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

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    I took the SSL-5's out. I had a novel set up with three SSL-5's that could all variable tap. The problem was that un-tapped they sounded thick and great for overdrive, a lot like a P-90, but while I like P-90's in Gibsons, I don't care for it in the context of a Strat. The tapped sound was anemic, because I found out later, the shorted out portion of coil acts as a load upon the active portion; it's even weaker sounding than if it were a regular single coil.

    The only virtue to an SSL-5, IMO is that it looks vintage correct. Otherwise there are better options, such as a Hot Rails, or a DiMarzio equivelent, or a $12 no-name equivalent on Amazon, all equally good. Those come with 4 conductor wire, so you can split (or better yet, variably split) the pickup, and you have a good variety of "fat" or "Strat", or something in between. I have three different Strats set up with rail style humbuckers. They look non-stock of course, but they're very usable guitars.

    I think a humbucker in the bridge of a Strat is a great sound, a Gibson sound, more or less. I think that unless you plan to replace it with a true vintage, non-overwound Strat single coil, you'll end up with something that sounds worse than with what you started. A JB might be too hot though, a lot of HSS Fenders come from the factory with a Pearly Gates, which has a little above half the inductance of a JB.
     
  3. Chont

    Chont Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    My SSL5 screams with OD

    A little too hot for cleans though.

    Something to consider


    My opinion of course
     
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  4. sgarnett

    sgarnett Senior Stratmaster

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    I’ve wondered if shorting vs opening the inactive coil made an audible difference. In theory, the back EMF from the shorted coil section should provide some damping, but I haven’t experimented with it enough to say whether the difference is audible. I generally try to avoid shorting coils though.
     
  5. fenderkev

    fenderkev Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Do you really think a no name rails pup is as good as a Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio? I'm interested to hear more.
     
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  6. RevDoomBaritone99

    RevDoomBaritone99 New Member!

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    I love the SSL-5, great sounding pickup but definitely going to sound different than your coil-tapped JB. I really like the SCR-1B Cool Rails bridge pickup for a Strat, it is a bit scooped but the highs are bright and not too harsh, I've gotten good use out of it for playing rock, blues and even some funk stuff. I love the Cool Rails when it's split. The SSL-5 works great but it is a bit more of a smooth, bluesy sounding pickup to my ears, whether or not it'll have enough brightness for your taste is tough to say, but I wouldn't describe it as dull.
     
  7. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

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    This design https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074H859WQ/?tag=strattalk05-20 , going for $15 right now, is nearly the same as the DiMarzio and the pre-PCB mount Seymour Duncans. They all use/used the same materials; 44AWG wire, steel blades and ceramic magnets. And all of them are a design stolen from either Bill Lawrence or Joe Barden, depending on who you believe. Since there are no nickel silver or AlNiCo, or even complex machined parts, they're dirt cheap to make.

    I own a lot of these pickups, and have rail sets in three Strats. I think that as far as "noiseless Strat pickups" go, a high inductance rail pickup wired in parallel is among the best options, and apparently MojoTone thought so too.

    Seymour Duncan't newer more convoluted PCB version doesn't have any technical benefits except that the coils are fully enclosed in plastic, which looks nice, but you can't change the color cover like you can on the DiMarzios or the the covered knock-offs, so I'd consider it more of a down grade, personally.
     
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  8. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

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    Shorting it causes much more severe loading, because it represents an direct inductive short in relation to the primary, but even leaving it open also loads the primary, because there is still a strong inductive and capacitive linkage between the two, since they are wound together and mutually co-axial. The only way to over come it would be to physically removed the secondary somehow. Splitting a typical humbucker does this too, but because the coils are seperated, the loading of the primary by the secondary is much less consequential. This is likely why coil tapping is not real popular.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
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  9. Seymour Duncan

    Seymour Duncan Senior Stratmaster

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    The SSL5 is a very different sound than a JB (btw, 'tappin' is a different process entirely than splitting). It is really a thick single coil sound. The attack is very different, and it doesn't compress as much as the JB. It isn't muddy, but it is thicker than vintage single coils. The JB has a lot of upper mids, so you are really talking about a very different feel and response. I'd say it is worth trying since you already have an SSL5, and all you need is a pickguard.
     
  10. Cellarstrat

    Cellarstrat New Member!

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    Many thanks for your comments ..I´ll maybe hold off a bit do more homework before ripping the JB out . Regarding splitting vs tapping I never considered that difference. I am guessing the 3 way pole switch is half the pickup and out phase and both on as humbucker with notable volume boost.

    I imagine the extra wood routing makes no real difference in the sound vs just 3 single coil routing but something I also wondered about .
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
  11. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

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    There's no meaningful difference between tapping and splitting, in both cases you're grounding out at a middle point of a coil, or series of coils. It reduces the sum inductance. The term tapping is carried over from transformer design.
     
  12. Seymour Duncan

    Seymour Duncan Senior Stratmaster

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    Yeah, splitting is using one coil of a humbucker. Tapping is almost always in single coils, and you wind the bobbin a certain amount, and add an output wire (tap 1), continue to add more wire around the bobbin, and add another output wired (tap 2). You can add as many taps as you want, actually.
     
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