This is a very high-level overview of this topic. Different Tone Caps, Pickups, body woods, playing styles, etc. will all affect the outcome of your tone.
50’s Wiring vs. Modern Wiring – What Gives?
If you have a Les Paul®, or Telecaster Deluxe, chances are you have run into this thing called “50’s Wiring“. What is 50’s Wiring? Is Modern Wiring better? (spoiler alert: Not necessarily)
Gibson 50’s wiring only refers to how the tone cap is wired into the guitar.
50’s Wiring applies to any guitar with two pickups, each with their own respective Volume Pot and Tone Pot. It involves how the tone cap is wired into the guitar. There are many ways to wire a Tone Cap, but, without getting too technical, the way the tone cap connects between your pots actually changes how your Volume Pots and Tone Pots interact with each other. There are subtle differences between the two that might actually suit your playing style better. Let’s explain the difference between 50’s Wiring and Modern Wiring:
With 50’s Wiring, the tone cap connects to the middle lug of the Volume Pot, and Lug 3 of the Tone Pot.
Pros of 50’s Wiring:
- Pickup tone stays consistent when turning down the Volume Pot.
- Pickups don’t lose high frequencies when turning down the Volume Pot.
- High frequencies tend to stay clear with the Volume Pot in it’s lower ranges.
- Turning down the tone pot can affect the pickup’s volume.
- Some high-gain situations can yield an overly bright tone.
With Modern Wiring, the Tone Cap connects to the Input Lug of the Volume Pot.
Pros of Modern Wiring:
- The Tone Pot will not affect your pickup’s volume.
- Smoother tone in general, which some players like.
- Turning down the Volume Pot will send some high frequencies to ground, darkening your tone.
Which Wiring Is Better For Me?
It depends! As listed above, you can tell that there are subtle trade-offs between the two wiring schemes. If you have a dark-sounding guitar, you might like the 50’s Wiring. If you play a softer-style of music, you might like the rolled off high frequencies provided by the Modern Wiring.
With such an easy modification to make, we urge you to experiment. See what works best for you, your guitar, and your playing style!