Neil Young's "Old Black" Wiring

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by ftbtx, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. ftbtx

    ftbtx Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    Hi guys,
    I got inspired to make an homage to "Old Black" I bought an SX Callisto, off-shore B70, aluminium pick guard and truss rod cover, a Phat Cat for the neck and full sized Firebird humbucker for the bridge.

    I'm not 100% what his wiring scheme was. Is it pretty much just a phase reversal on the bridge and a blower switch as well? Or am I completely wrong?

    Thanks,
    FTB
     
  2. PARCO

    PARCO Tele-Meister

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    My understanding is that Neil has a way to bypass the tone control on the bridge pickup.
     
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  3. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

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    I think @PARCO ^^^ is right; here's a website dedicated to his sound with lots of details and pictures:

    https://www.thrasherswheat.org/sound.htm

    I don't really have the time to wade through all that, but maybe it will be helpful.
     
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  4. ftbtx

    ftbtx Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    Thank you!
     
  5. dogmeat

    dogmeat Tele-Afflicted

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    I think maybe the Whizzer has a lot to do with it
     
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  6. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

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    I'm going to keep looking around to see if I can find out where I read it, but one thing I recall is what @PARCO said. The tone circuit is bypassed at least on one pickup, if not on both. They're trying to get as much guitar signal to that first preamp tube as possible.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
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  7. Tuneup

    Tuneup Tele-Meister

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    This is off topic, but I read that link you posted and got floored by this paragraph... such an ah hah moment. (after I bought the wireless unit of course)
     
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  8. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

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    I do know that there's a two-page spread on Neil Young's Deluxe and Whizzer in Tom Wheeler's The Soul of Tone. I think it might have some info. on the guitar as well. I'm not at home at the moment to look it up myself.

    You need to get a hold of The Tone Quest Report, Vol. 7, No. 11, from September 2006. It has an interview with Larry Cragg, Neil Young's guitar tech, wherein he talks about Neils tone and rig. I can't find it online at the moment, but one can buy the back-issue for $10.

    http://www.tonequest.com/september-2006-volume-7-number-11
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
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  9. Jim622

    Jim622 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Nice link. There's wealth of info there. Nice.
     
  10. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    The switch bypasses the volume and tone and connects the firebird pickup straight to the jack.

    The Whizzer controls the volume on the deluxe. But you kinda need the whole amp setup.
     
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  11. Zipslack

    Zipslack Tele-Meister

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    People actually want to sound like Neil? On purpose?! :eek:
     
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  12. wabashslim

    wabashslim Tele-Holic

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    Even vocally, for a certain few. Just think about that....:confused:
     
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  13. wabashslim

    wabashslim Tele-Holic

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    Or any pedal, active preamp, inline tuner, etc.
     
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  14. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    Geez doesn't everyone know that the fragile harmonics can't survive in a crystal lattice?
     
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  15. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I must have a small fortune in old mags like this, eh?????
     
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  16. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    Neil had a real P90, Phat Cat/P94 gets close, but not exact.
    What do you mean by "Full Sized Firebird humbucker"? A real Firebird is minibucker sized and not built like a minibucker/full sized humbucker. This makes a difference.
     
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  17. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I saw a builder that had put a a Firebird size bobbin inside a humbucker cover/baseplate. A lot of space left within. Can't remember who it was. Maybe that's what he's referring to?
     
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  18. jrblue

    jrblue Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm always surprised when people want to emulate Neil's tone. I think he's a phenomenal songwriter, interesting person, and super-expressive, but I've never, ever thought of his tone as desirable in the least. (I've only seen him live twice.) Even more important than the tone is playing somewhat out of tune. In the same way that many people use James Taylor's "sweetened" tuning to make their acoustics sound more pleasant, you should be able to get a NY setting that throws everything off just enough to hit the most annoying frequency combinations.
     
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  19. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

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    I now have pp. 188-189 of Tom Wheeler's The Soul of Tone opened in front of me. Here is an excerpt quoting Larry Cragg:

    "Another thing -- most people don't realize how much they're losing just going through the volume and tone controls on the guitar. Even when your volume is all the way up, you're losing a shocking amount of tone to ground. So recently I modified Neil's Les Paul, Old Black. There used to be a phase switch in there. I put a little switch in that same hole, and it bypasses the volume and tone control on the bridge pickup and connects the pickup directly to the [output] jack. Your normally getting 85 percent of the sound, but Neil can get 100 percent, and it's amazing how much difference it makes. On Neil's guitar, it's always bypassed. It kicks butt."

    As the narrative expresses earlier, the whole concept is to disallow anything in the signal path from guitar to amp, except for a Fender reverb unit. It's pure guitar signal > reverb unit > amp. The Whizzer is an elaborate way to deal with the Deluxe's amp controls but also to do it in such a way that the signal path remain as unadulterated as possible.

    In short, the switch bypasses both the volume and tone controls on the bridge pickup.

    That's why I find it interesting that Neil Young is often cited for using a "Les Paul" into a "Tweed Deluxe." But the real story is that neither is in any way traditional.

    With the bridge pickup, it goes straight from a Firebird pickup, bypassing the volume and tone controls, directly into a Fender 6G15 reverb unit, from there straight to a Chinese 12AX7 in V1 of the 5e3 (and not a 12AY7), through the amp's circuitry that's being powered by two 6L6's (not 6V6's) and (I think) by a power transformer that's rated for 6V6's (which is why they've got fans blowing into the back of the amp all the time), and from there into a Jensen C12N (not an alnico).
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
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  20. Tomm Williams

    Tomm Williams Tele-Afflicted

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    I'd be willing to bet that when the day comes that the Whizzer comes up for sale, it will be the most highly pursued amp switcher in history.
     
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