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Thread: Steve Morse model - pickups in series or parallel?

  1. #1

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    Steve Morse model - pickups in series or parallel?

    Hi there folks,
    This is my first post, so please bear with me.

    I have only recently bought an original Morse (the one with the 4 pickups) as he is fast becoming my favourite guitarist! And now I know why he has stuck with EBMM for over 30 years!

    However, as I am not Steve, I am thinking of making some mods to the wiring of the guitar, but I am finding it is totally unique.

    I am thinking of adding a 5-way switch instead of the 3-way, but would like to not split the humbuckers in positions 2 and 4 when I add the 5-way, as the original wiring does not allow for splitting them.

    So, my question is, are the original singles wired in series or in parallel with the humbuckers?

    For example, when the 3-way switch has selected the bridge pickup, and I turn on the bridge humbucker, are the two pickups in series or parallel? Is the same the case if the 3-way toggle is on for the neck single coil to be in combination with any of the humbuckers?

    (interestingly, on the Y2D it actually states that the pickups are in parallel in the switching diagram)

    I cannot figure this out by myself to recreate it on a 5-way switch. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Tx,
    Nick

  2. #2

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    Hey there- congrats on the guitar!

    The pickups are all in parallel with one another, just like the Y2D.

    The wiring looks odd, but it's no so bad. If you want to add a 5-way switch, you have about a million things you could do. I've done it a few ways on mine, and currently have a 5-way set up like the Y2D controlling the bridge, neck, and bridge single pickups. (I left the neck single on the 3-way toggle.)

    If you go this route, you can basically use the Y2D wiring schematic (email MM for one) and add in the 3-way.

    This, of course, will leave you with the 2-way "add bridge" toggle, which you'd no longer need, and you can use it for something fun ... I have mine set up for a coil split on the bridge humbucker.

    But again, there are so many ways to wire this thing up. You have to decide which combinations are most useful to you at a quick flip of a switch.

  3. #3

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    Definitely all parallel, and if you want there are tons of things you could do. I have thought about changing the setup on the controls, but it definitely grew on me. It's great that whatever you have set up, you can still bring in the bridge pickup to add more power and definition.

    This is the original guitar that the Steve Morse model replaced:

    2007 Stingray 5 HS Cherry Burst / Maple FB / 3 Band EQ / Ceramic Pickups
    2012 Stingray 5 H Pearl Blue / Rosewood FB / 3 Band EQ/ AlNiCo Pickup
    2012 Steve Morse Morse Blueburst / Rosewood FB
    2012 Luke III SSH Vintage Sunburst / Rosewood Neck

  4. #4

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    Thanks guys, this is very helpful!

    Also, I would add that I own (and have owned) a mass of high-end guitars, and this one for some reason just works better than anything I have ever played for me. I like the various tones and combinations, and I guess I am coming to the conclusion that you can actually get all guitar sounds out of a single instrument (though I will never admit this to my gf!)

    Well, since the pickups are in parallel, this probably makes things a bit easier.

    What I was thinking was a hybrid of all your suggestions!

    My thoughts are:
    1) 3-way switch to select bridge single, both singles in parallel, neck single (this mod I found on the DiMarzio site).
    2) 5-way switch to select bridge hum, bridge hum (non-split) + 3-way, 3-way, neck hum (non-split) + 3-way, neck hum. Effectively using the 3-way as a middle pickup.
    3) 2-way switch to add bridge to any combination.
    4) coil tap on the tone for both hums. This would put it out of the way of the other switches, and will allow me to turn the guitar into a quasi-strat.

    After some time of trying this out, I opt to only tap the neck Hum, as the bridge one just sounds amazing through my rig.

    What do you think? Anything I should watch out for? Was thinking that I would need to know which coils of the Hums to keep to ensure noise-free operation when combined with the 3-way, but I cannot figure this out.

    This will be quite a challenge for me to come up with the wiring, but looking forward to giving it a shot!

    Tx,
    Nick
    Last edited by jukup; 10-30-2019 at 11:44 PM.

  5. #5

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    I had mine wired similarly for a while, except the 4th position was neck & bridge in parallel, rather than neck + 3-way. (Sounded great, but I found I rarely used the neck single or the two singles in parallel in my band, so it ate up a position I wanted for something else.)

    There isn't an easy way to wire it up for noiseless operation with the splits. The two singles will cancel out (a bit, they're different specs so it's not perfect), but that means one of them will conflict with the split bridge or neck, giving you twice as much hum. (Depends on which coil you use for the split ... if you use the inside coil, the neck single is the same phase as the split bridge, etc.)

    My solution was to use a Silent Circuit on the singles and split coils. While not perfect, it gets rid of most of the noise and made it workable. (Also makes for even more messy wiring.)

    Btw- my two cents is that the split bridge is fabulous, much better than the neck split. It has a tele-like quality to it.

  6. #6

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    My pet project for years has been a Morse Standard. In the time that I've had the Morse and have been planning what to do with it I've modded a couple of basses, a strat, a Tele, and learned how to finish instruments with nitro while putting together a Tele/strat hybrid. The Morse is my White Whale. I hope to complete it one day, but for now it has stock everything, while I work on my dream config on a separate pickguard. The switching scheme you laid out is 90% of what I intend to do, and really the backbone of the whole idea. I don't think you can go wrong with that. I would consider having the bridge humbucker splittable as well as the neck, if for no other reason than when you combine it with other pickups. Just a thought.

    Beej's posts on his personal Morse modding journey heavily influenced what I wanted to do with my Morse. If you can dream it, he's probably already done it.
    Last edited by Samoht; 10-31-2019 at 06:26 AM.

  7. #7

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    Hi Samoht,
    I am planning to get this done over the weekend next week! Cannot wait! It is such an incredible instrument, I keep thinking of how mind-blowing it will sound with these mods! I may take it one step at a time and ensure that everything is fine and I am enjoying the basics before adding the tap, but have to put in the 5-way and include the 3-way in the middle!

    To that, yes, Beej seems to have tried it all. I have read a lot of his posts now. Thank you Beej for the heads up on the hum on the singles, this is very helpful, and has actually now stopped me from doing the entire mod in one go. I am not intending to use a Silent Circuit. I will try and figure it out, might skip the tap altogether if I am satisfied with the combinations as they are (which I am sure I will be!).

    I am sure it has been said somewhere in these forums before, but once I picked up the Morse, I honestly do not know how I had played before without some of sounds and configurations possible. Combine this with what a great guitar it is overall, it is just un-put-down-able! Sorry, I am excited!

  8. #8

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    I haven't thought about splitting the pickups, and my experience with owning a bunch of guitars from Carvin, Ibanez, etc that offered splitting was that ultimately only pickups really designed to be split sounded good that way. That's just ME though, so definitely make your own decision.

    The pickups in the Morse are definitely UNIQUE. They are designed to sit a bit farther from the strings than most guitars, so I definitely recommend staying with the recommended morse pickup heights.

    The neck pickup is actually the most interesting of the pickups on the guitar in many ways. It has a DC resistance of 21 K ohm, which is one of the highest I have ever seen. It is however a medium power pickup, as it has a weak magnet. It's really designed to give a dark mellow tone, kind of like a 335, in the neck position. That is the thought that went behind why it was designed that way.

    I would definitely watch some videos of Steve Morse where he talks about how he uses the various pickup options to shape his sound.
    2007 Stingray 5 HS Cherry Burst / Maple FB / 3 Band EQ / Ceramic Pickups
    2012 Stingray 5 H Pearl Blue / Rosewood FB / 3 Band EQ/ AlNiCo Pickup
    2012 Steve Morse Morse Blueburst / Rosewood FB
    2012 Luke III SSH Vintage Sunburst / Rosewood Neck

  9. #9

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    Happy to help guys! The Morse is pretty much the perfect instrument. No matter what other guitars I play, I keep coming back to the good ole' beat-up blue Morse.

  10. #10

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    I just wanted to chime in here...the stock Morse humbuckers actually sound pretty good when split. Especially the neck. Of course, this is just my opinion.
    Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you.

  11. #11

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    Hi guys, I thought I posted a reply to beej and Samoht earlier, but it seems to have disappeared.

    Thanks for the direction! I cannot agree more with all your comments:

    1) Beej, you are absolutely right, the Morse is the best guitar I have ever played. I do not understand how after so many years of playing and collecting I hadn't actually picked one up. Thanks for all the guidance on the splitting, I am thinking I will hold off on the push-pull on the tone for now, and only try the combination of the 5-way with the 3-way controlling only the singles.

    2) Samoht, I am aiming to start the rewiring next week and be done by end of Sunday. Cannot wait!!!

    3) TBone, the pickups in the Morse are something special indeed. It is very difficult to figure out exactly what was developed first and why. I guess Steve always knew much better than I ever will what he wanted, and even knew exactly how to get it. The neck pup is just gorgeous through a very heavily overdriven amp, and also mellows out so well at low volumes. Just a chameleon of an instrument!

    My one is below, and is a total beaut! It is the PDN in Neptune Blue with the roasted neck (I am have been playing maple fingerboard guitars exclusively for over a decade, and this was a decisive feature for me), and recessed Floyd. I am rather obsessed with it!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Steve Morse model - pickups in series or parallel?-morse_body-jpg   Steve Morse model - pickups in series or parallel?-morse_fingerboard-jpg  
    Last edited by jukup; 10-31-2019 at 10:56 PM.

  12. #12

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    If you watch a video of Steve playing, he will switch pickups in mid solo to get the best sound in different areas of the fretboard. He loves the neck pickup for mid and high range solo stuff, but the harmonics from the bridge pickup are great in the lower range.

    Music Man Steve Morse Signature Guitar Demo - Sweetwater Sound - YouTube
    2007 Stingray 5 HS Cherry Burst / Maple FB / 3 Band EQ / Ceramic Pickups
    2012 Stingray 5 H Pearl Blue / Rosewood FB / 3 Band EQ/ AlNiCo Pickup
    2012 Steve Morse Morse Blueburst / Rosewood FB
    2012 Luke III SSH Vintage Sunburst / Rosewood Neck

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by beej View Post

    There isn't an easy way to wire it up for noiseless operation with the splits. The two singles will cancel out (a bit, they're different specs so it's not perfect), but that means one of them will conflict with the split bridge or neck, giving you twice as much hum. (Depends on which coil you use for the split ... if you use the inside coil, the neck single is the same phase as the split bridge, etc.)

    Btw- my two cents is that the split bridge is fabulous, much better than the neck split. It has a tele-like quality to it.
    Hi Beej, am I correct in assuming that all coils, starting from the bridge outer one, are in RW with each other as we go up? For example, inner bridge coil and bridge single would be hum cancelling, then bridge and neck singles are hum cancelling (which they are), neck single and neck inner coil would be hum cancelling?

    If that is the case, then am I correct in thinking that the coil splitting would have to be only the inner coils if they are to be hum cancelling when in combination with their respective singles? I am not considering here the case where both the singles are used together.

    Or am I getting myself too confused here?!?!

    Tx

  14. #14

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    My Morse is also a Neptune with roasted maple neck/fretboard. It's the best feeling guitar neck I've ever played!

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Samoht View Post
    My Morse is also a Neptune with roasted maple neck/fretboard. It's the best feeling guitar neck I've ever played!
    It is!!! And the roasting makes a massive difference compared to other non-roasted ones I have played. Can't wait to get home to pick it up!

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