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Modern vs 50's Vintage Wiring June 06 2012

This popular and much discussed wiring mod relates to whether the tone controls are wired before or after the volume controls. Here's the general description and purpose for each type;

Vintage wiring has the volume and tone control wired directly out to the jack. The advantage of this setup is lowering the volume does not create treble loss since the high frequencies sidestep the volume pot ground. The disadvantage is you can only have one master tone control and the output signal is influenced by both the volume and tone controls which require you to make adjustments to both pots to get your desired results.

Modern wiring has the tone control signal connected to the input of the volume control, which passes through the pot, then out to the jack. The advantage of this setup is that the multiple tone controls and the volume control are independent of each other. This method makes it easier to control your output signal and get the volume / tone results you want. The disadvantage is since the tone signal passes through the volume pot, it may cause some treble loss as you lower the volume. This problem can be easily solved by incorporating a "Treble Bleed" circuit on the volume control.

For those of you who are looking for empirical data on this subject, here's some that was provided by JohnH on GuitarNutz2's website;

" At full volume, both are identical in response. The differences between modern and 50’s wiring start to occur when volume is reduced. The following have the volume pot set at 50%, which is about 7 on a log pot, resulting is a general 6db volume reduction:

Modern wiring, with 50% volume, tone pot 0-10:


50’s wiring, with 50% volume, tone pot 0-10:


Now you can see the difference. At full tone, and 50% volume, the 50’s wiring is in fact slightly brighter, which is due to it loading the pickups less. However, this does not compensate for the loss of the initial resonant peak. This extra brightness at reduced volume with full tone is the main reason some advocate 50’s wiring.

But as the tone is reduced, while the modern wiring acts fairly consistently on the treble, the 50’s wiring starts to cut deeply across all the frequencies except the very lowest, acting more like a volume control. The reason is that with modern wiring, the tone control acts consistently on the pickups, while with 50’s wiring, it is acting through the resistance of the volume control, resulting in it seeing a variable impedance, cutting much more deeply when the volume pot is reduced."

The consistency factor is probably why modern wiring is the one Fender uses on their guitars.

So which one should you choose? This question is why we provide you with both types on all of our Elek-Trix models. You get to try out both and hear for yourself which one sounds best to you.


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