jellodog

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I own a 2016 SSS Cutlass and I'm going to attempt to install an SSS set of Lollar Special Blonde pickups (a.k.a. "Dirty Blondes") which is a Blonde A2 pickup in neck and middle positions with a hotter Special A5 in the bridge. These are all standard 2 wire single coil Strat pickups. I've installed many pickups in other guitars, but of course the Cutlass is slightly different.

I wish to keep the Silent Circuit and use it as intended with the built-in buffer. I may also revert to the stock pickups if there's no obvious benefit from the new ones.

I've read other forum posts on this topic, but they are a little scant on details and naturally, I'm still worried about ruining an incredible guitar, so I have a couple of questions:

1. Just to confirm, I intend to simply unsolder the 3rd pickup shielding ground wires from the tiny circuit board connectior pads and ignore these circuit board connections for the new installation. These are the 3rd uncoated silver wires from each of the stock EBMM pickups in the attached photo. They are shown in green on the official EBMM Cutlass wiring diagram.

2. My stock Cutlass has the bridge pickup installed rotated 180 degress (upside down). See photo. I'm assuming that this is just part of the EBMM design and I can safely ignore this arrangement and install the Lollar pickups all oriented upwards in the same direction? Not sure why the original pickups were installed this way around, and it worries me that I don't know the reason for this.

3. I understand that the Silent Circuit, when properly adjusted with the trim pot, should impart no obvious colouration to the sound of my third party pickups?


Thanks for any help or information that you can supply.
 

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beej

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Hi there- great pickups. I have 2 of the Blondes in my Steve Morse Model (with a Silent Circuit)- really liking them.

1. Correct.

2. Not sure if it's intentional or not. It doesn't really matter- the only thing that will be affected is the stagger of the pole pieces. If you have flat poles, then you can have it in any orientation you like.

3. Correct.

The SC is like a pickup without a magnet- the coil senses the same noise your pickup would. The noise is fed to a small unity gain amplifier, so there's not loading effect on your pickups when you connect to it. Then, out-of-phase noise is added to your pickups via the ground wire - the noise cancels out and you get less of it. The trimpot on the board adjusts how much noise is fed back to your signal- you'll likely have to adjust that to find the sweet spot. (Best advice is to do that while in playing position.)

Good luck!
 

jellodog

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Hi there- great pickups. I have 2 of the Blondes in my Steve Morse Model (with a Silent Circuit)- really liking them.

[ ... ]

Thank you so much for the incredibly swift reply at the weekend (no less!). And thanks also for the encouragement concerning the Blondes.
 

KasperFauerby

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Please keep us posted on how this goes! I've got a Cutlass SSS myself and while I love the guitar I'm also considering a PU swap.
I wonder if it's (even if temporarily) possible to do a traditional Fender Strat wiring on a Cutlass, but with the option of easily going back to stock Cutlass...
 

Fantomaz

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I had a set of seymour duncan antiquity II in my cutlass because I never liked the original pus, I think that my noiseless circuit might have been badly setup at the factory, or just out of specs, it has a lot of unnatural compression . I installed the duncans with a vintage style passive circuit. It was IMO a HUGE improvement on the originals. These are now back in my vintage strat that just got refretted. I am now toying with the idea of doing a HSS setup with Lollar blackfaces and a low wound imperial but it is incredibly difficult to get hold of a HSS pickguard over here in europe.
 

Fantomaz

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Please keep us posted on how this goes! I've got a Cutlass SSS myself and while I love the guitar I'm also considering a PU swap.
I wonder if it's (even if temporarily) possible to do a traditional Fender Strat wiring on a Cutlass, but with the option of easily going back to stock Cutlass...
only one volume, one tone....
 

DonA

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Please keep us posted on how this goes! I've got a Cutlass SSS myself and while I love the guitar I'm also considering a PU swap.

I'd also like to hear your results. I have a Cutlass RS HSS, and it's a great guitar and sounds good, but I find the pickups sound a little "modern" or hi-fi compared to my more traditional Strats. It'd be nice to know if that's more due to the silent circuit or the pickups.
 

beej

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There's absolutely nothing about the Silent Circuit that makes pickups "hi-fi". All it does is reduce the hum. People have been using dummy coils (in different implementations) for years. Find an Albert Lee, Silhouette Special, etc. (something with a Silent Circuit but no buffer), pull the battery out and A/B test.

The buffer does keep some high end from getting lost, but it's not going to change the basic qualities of the pickups.
 

tbonesullivan

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The buffer does keep some high end from getting lost, but it's not going to change the basic qualities of the pickups.
People get used to the capacitance effect of cables when they have only passive electronics unfortunately, and assume "something is wrong" when they suddenly have a nice clear sound. The original PRS "Sweet Switch", as I heard it, was developed to simulate the sound of playing the guitar through a long cable. I think possibly Santana switched to wireless units, so that capacitance effect on the tone was lost. He wanted it back.
 

Fantomaz

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I didn't have other SSS cutlass to compare to mine (and, as I said, I suspect it has a defect that somehow went through the quality control) with but I am an experienced sound engineer and there definitely was something wrong with my particular noiseless circuit. The system that came with my cutlass was ok in terms of frequency response, bright and clear but compressed in a very unnatural way, actually more akin to a brick wall limiter. The guitar had no dynamics at all. I obviously checked the battery, and the different pots on the circuit board but no cigar. Once I switched to the duncans it sounded great!

If any one has an idea how to get hold of a HSS cutlass pickguard in europe I would be super grateful.

Either that, or ordering it through the music man webshop and sending it to me to Belgium.

Thanks in advance guys,
 
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DrKev

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Hey Fantomaz, welcome to the forum!

The shop on the Music Man website will ship internationally, so you can just order there yourself. Another alternative is to buy from pickguardplanet.com and have access to their full range of colors and materials. You could also call the BeNeLux distributor and see if you can order directly through them but you should be able to go to any authorized music man dealer in Belgium and order through them.

What you are describing with your Cutlass sounds (brick wall limiting) sounds completely abnormal and would be a warranty replacement. When did you buy the guitar.
 

Fantomaz

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Hi Dr Kev,

Thanks for your reply.

I bought the guitar new in 2018 from one of your official Belgian retailers, Groove Street 98. (I also bought a St Vincent which is absolutely perfect stock and became one of my main guitars) I asked the same retailer about the HSS pickguard and he told me that he could try to order through the importer it but It could be months. His words were "I can order and pray"
I didn't realise I could order from your webshop as it says "US Exclusive" next to the Cutlass pickguard but I will try that!

I won't bother with warranty claims as I bought the Cutlass as a replacement for my vintage strat while it was being refretted and now I want to modify it to add something different to my arsenal in the "superstrat" vein, hence the HSS setup.

My dream would be a honeysuckle Sabre, but I'll have to wait a bit for that... :)

Thanks a lot!

F.
 
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jellodog

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Success! The Lollar pickups are in the SSS Cutlass, connected to the silent circuit and buffer and it works really well... better than I'd hoped actually. The Cutlass has much more of a "vibe" now with these pickups installed. Sounds more open and less compressed. The Blondes are ridiculously quacky in 2 & 4 positions too.

I don't usually play high gain, but I turned the gain up on my amplifier and listened with my hands off the strings. Guitar didn't seem any noisier than before the pickup swap and was quieter than a regular strat, in my opinion.

Not much else to say here... it just works. It's a tighter work area and more fiddley than a regular pickup install though, so make sure you have an accurate soldering iron with a fine tip and take your time. The thick vintage cloth wires that came with the Lollar pickups made it harder to work in a small area, compared to the thinner stock EBMM wires, but that's about it.
 
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Fantomaz

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Belgium
Hi guys,

I tried buying an SSH Cutlass pickguard in mint green from the music man webshop and it said "ITEM NOT AVAILABLE FOR INTERNATIONAL PURCHASE" when I was checking out. :-/

So I guess, here I am again, any one willing to order one for me and just UPS it to me to Belgium against payment by PayPal?

I would be INFINITELY grateful.

Thanks in advance,

Frederic.
 
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