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Cutlass SSS vs HSS

mikeller

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Thx Mike but you're making me look bad getting to it first :)

Interesting, though. You're right, the HSS does sound brighter. I'm curious how much might be due to the pickups vs other factors.

I've been swamped at work and haven't gotten to make a recording yet but I promise it's coming. Hopefully by the end of this weekend.

Not sure - aside from the obvious difference in satin finish/rosewood and all wood is different - both guitars are set up very similarly and have the same string gauges/brand etc.
 

Astrofreq

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Interesting, though. You're right, the HSS does sound brighter. I'm curious how much might be due to the pickups vs other factors.

Interesting. I was thinking the SSS was brighter, even WITH the rosewood fingerboard. Both sound great for sure! Thanks for doing this!
 

DrKev

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Interesting. I was thinking the SSS was brighter, even WITH the rosewood fingerboard. Both sound great for sure! Thanks for doing this!

It's a good example of how the words we use to describe sound can be different. I initially thought the SSS was brighter, but that was part expectation bias and part it's a *different* kind of bright.

But, Mike's HSS sounds a lot brighter than my HSS. Go figure!
 

mikeller

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It's a good example of how the words we use to describe sound can be different. I initially thought the SSS was brighter, but that was part expectation bias and part it's a *different* kind of bright.

But, Mike's HSS sounds a lot brighter than my HSS. Go figure!

It sure is hard to describe sound. To me what I hear is that my HSS sounds brighter, but it also sounds (for lack of better words) "thinner" so maybe if it sounds brighter its really thinner or lacking some of the mid's of the SSS.
 

loocnmad

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Quick note to let everyone know I haven't forgotten. I recorded the first part with the HSS this weekend but ran out of time because of work deadlines. I'll try to swap the pickguard out tonight or tomorrow.

Just for fun I checked the recording against my daughter's SSS, both RS maple fretboard, and there was a very noticeable difference. Just about the opposite of Mike's experience.

The mystery deepens...
 

loocnmad

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Finally finished and I'm a little surprised at the results but there's a caveat, see below. I made two videos to make sure my ears weren't crazy. You'll have to excuse the garbage playing.

The first compares the HSS pickguard to the SSS pickguard. Here's what I did to eliminate variables:

  1. pickups set to the exact same height
  2. same guitar just with different loaded pickguards
  3. PCBs on both pickguards show model MC907W
  4. fresh set of the same strings before each take, D'Addario XL 9-46
  5. strings were stretched with 5 passes using a String Stretcha (such a dumb name for a cool tool)
  6. same cable
  7. same interface
  8. same gain staging
  9. only tested positions 3, 4, and 5
  10. comped to a single track

There are two things I didn't realize until after I was done. First, I normally use NYXL strings which are naturally brighter but I only had matching sets of the regular XL's to make the recording. It's still a 1:1 comparison just not my typical setup.

Second, I forgot I lifted the stock parallel resistor on the HSS pickguard. I don't remember hearing much of a difference before but, in theory, that should increase the overall brightness.


It definitely wasn't what I was expecting so I pulled out my daughter's Cutlass and did another pass. Both guitars are RS models with maple fretboards. Hers was significantly brighter and airier while mine had a fuller girthier tone. Now I'm going to have to swap the SSS pickguards

Only letting include 1 video so here's the link to the other:Green SSS vs Blue SSS - YouTube


In Conclusion:
This was not what I expected. On the same, guitar it was actually pretty close. There were a few minor differences but overall very consistent. The big shocker was how different the SSS models were from each other. I think this could also explain how Mike's test was so different, too many variables between different guitars.

It was fun putting it together so I may try this again with a few more options. Swap pickguards between the two, reconnect the resistor, go back to NYXL's, etc. Let me know if there are any combinations you want me to try.
 

mikeller

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Those are very close. OK - so in my tests I also used NYXL on both guitars. I really wasn't aware that they were brighter than the regular XL's.

Thank you for your time on this !!!
 

DrKev

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So the first video, a definite but pretty small shift between the HSS and SSS, HSS being a hair less bright. The lack of parallel resistor would make the HSS a little brighter so in principle the difference is underestimated but not by a lot.

BUT...

The difference between the two SSS guitars is simply stunning! The Green one is how I hear my HSS Cutlass compared to my Silo Special with the DiMarzio Area pickups: Cutlass is warmer and creamier. Clearly the opposite of whats happening with Mike's guitars, though I think less dramatic in Mike's case.

They all sound great though. Loocnmad, thank you for doing this and congratulations on such a great job! Top notch stuff!
 
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