Mustang Switching: Difference in Out of Phase positions

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thisisnickpaige
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Mustang Switching: Difference in Out of Phase positions

Post by thisisnickpaige » Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:53 am

So i'm picking up a '66 Duo-Sonic, and i had a '65 mustang in the past. I know people say if the switches are both towards the neck or both towards the bridge, it should sound the same, but i always found that there was a sonic difference in them: is this purely psychological or is there some truth to this?

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Re: Mustang Switching: Difference in Out of Phase positions

Post by Con-Tiki! » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:21 am

I think this is true on mine, too.
I was thinking the signal was better with both pushed forward. Thinner, both back...
Possibly, the po always switched them forward, and the contacts are cleaner in the switches?
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I've been to one World's Fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that's the stupidest thing i ever heard come out a pair of headphones.

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Re: Mustang Switching: Difference in Out of Phase positions

Post by Kinx » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:28 am

I believe this is due to degradation of individual contacts in both switches - both should sound the same, or at least they did on '65 I've had few years ago. I had recordings where I compared each setting somewhere...
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Re: Mustang Switching: Difference in Out of Phase positions

Post by thisisnickpaige » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:31 am

Yeah exactly, that was my finding too. Both forward almost had this Straty neck pickup vibe going, while both back was honky like a jaguar with the treble bleed on.

But scientifically, in a perfect world, they both should be the same?

I ask because i'm thinking of turning one of the switches to a three way switch, and the other to a series, in phase, out of phase switch, but don't want to lose that wonderful strat like position i love so much.

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Re: Mustang Switching: Difference in Out of Phase positions

Post by timtam » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:33 am

The theory would suggest 'no'.

But I've heard people argue in relation to pickups in general that if the hot starts with the windings nearest the magnetic pole pieces you might get a slightly different frequency response than if the hot starts from the outer windings. What evidence that is based on I don't know. But two pickups, despite being electrically in-phase both ways (and remembering that a pickup can only be in/out of phase with another pickup, not by itself), might sound slightly different both individually and combined, depending on which way they are switched (ie where the hot comes from).

You could compare the recorded frequency spectra, but that's a bit hard to compare over time. And even if you found a difference, it doesn't answer the question 'Can you hear it ?'. You'd have to do blinded tests with lots of people to get a consensus on that. You could do your own blinded "N of 1" test by recording the same piece say 8 times, 4 switched one way and 4 the other. Then get a friend to rename say 4 randomly selected files from the 8. Then you listen to the 4 files and see if you can hear enough difference to separate them into two groups (ie without knowing how many 'should' be in each group, or even if there is still 2 groups). Then your friend breaks the 'code' and tells you how well you did. ;)
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Re: Mustang Switching: Difference in Out of Phase positions

Post by thisisnickpaige » Tue Mar 26, 2019 4:04 am

timtam wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:33 am
...might sound slightly different both individually and combined, depending on which way they are switched (ie where the hot comes from).

You could do your own blinded "N of 1" test
Ah, that makes a lot of sense. I think the way you put it matches the perceived differences in my head. It's like which pickup is taking the sonic lead in the tone shaping of the 'middle position'.

I think i will end up doing a blind test, because things like this are fun to see: science versus perceived truth.

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Re: Mustang Switching: Difference in Out of Phase positions

Post by mbene085 » Tue Mar 26, 2019 4:26 am

If there's a difference, I'd have to think it was due to an issue with the individual switch not working properly (i.e. corroded contact or something).

The direction a coil is wound doesn't affect tone. Switching the leads just reverses this. Where the coil "starts" and "ends" is irrelevant, because the electromagnetic induction is occurring across the entirety of the coil regardless of which end of the wire is grounded. I think anyone claiming this online is conflating coil start/end position relative to the magnets with the actual coil position relative to the magnets, which absolutely does affect tone (e.g. if 20m of wire was wound directly around the magnets, vs if you placed 2mm of plastic insulation around the magnets and then wound the same length of wire around that).

That's one of the reasons why an equal length of wire wound wide and flat on a Jazzmaster bobbin sounds so different from the same length of wire wound on a tall and narrow Telecaster neck pickup if you control for magnet type/size/wire gauge etc, or why a loosely-wound coil with thicker insulation yields a different tone from a tightly -wound coil with thinner insulation, controlling for gauge and magnet type, etc.

I have owned a fair number of Mustangs and have never found any tone difference between the two "in phase" and two "out of phase" positions. In a parallel circuit, no coil "takes the lead" electrically or otherwise dominates the properties of the other when they're connected in phase vs out of phase.

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Re: Mustang Switching: Difference in Out of Phase positions

Post by thisisnickpaige » Tue Mar 26, 2019 4:41 am

mbene085 wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 4:26 am
I have owned a fair number of Mustangs and have never found any tone difference between the two "in phase" and two "out of phase" positions. In a parallel circuit, no coil "takes the lead" electrically or otherwise dominates the properties of the other when they're connected in phase vs out of phase.
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I know, bro. I know it's math, and science, but can't a guy dream?!

So am i really the only one who's heard the difference? It very well could have been mental or dirty switches, it was a gnarly bird i had.

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Re: Mustang Switching: Difference in Out of Phase positions

Post by mbene085 » Tue Mar 26, 2019 4:57 am

It's entirely possible that, with the tolerances of the switch, there was some more/less resistance or capacitance introduced in one switch position vs another. I'm not telling you what you heard. I'm just telling you what I've heard on my instruments, and why it "shouldn't" be different.

If I ever picked up a Mustang that behaved that way, I wouldn't doubt what I was hearing, but I'd probably bust out a multimeter and try to figure out what was going on. Parasitic capacitance and resonant peak shifts due to loading (resistance in series with the pickups) have dramatic impacts on pickup performance, so even a small unintentional change in these will give you an audible difference, especially when combining two signals together.

For example, check out this excellent frequency response curve generated by forum member Antigua regarding the AV65 jag pickups:

Image

The unloaded resonant frequency is over 7kHz, but introducing a 200k and 470pF load (which he chose as the values to use consistently across different pickups, equivalent to an average strat wiring harness) drops the resonant frequency by more than half, to around 3.4 kHz, and dramatically changes the amplitude and Q as well. These things make a huge difference.

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