At this point the build is turning out great, but I did hit a few snags on the electronics.
I wasn’t able to install the L500XL at first because the pickup ring was intended for a Lesson Paul. The team at Wilde pickups promptly sent me the ring I needed at no cost. ….but seriously who wants to wait for USPS to take a test drive?
I went ahead and attached the Duncan ’59 straight into the jack with alligator clips, cranked up my amp ……..and
Wow! Just wow! I could not put the guitar down for at least an hour. …and that was just with the neck pickup! Even though a ’59 is an industry standard, this is my first guitar to have one in that slot. I’m really impressed with this pickup and can see what it’s so popular.
I really like the no-load tone pot feature that some of the newer Charvels are including. Basically a tone pot being in the circuit will effect the sound. A lot of super strats leave off the tone knob for this reason. I really enjoy using tone pots, but the no-load option will give me the best of both worlds by not coloring the sound when it’s maxed. I couldn’t find a pre-made 500k push/pull no-load, but I did find instructions to make one. It’s surprisingly easy to take these pots apart and do the mod.
Now on to the problems.
I want to be able to switch these pickups from series to parallel resulting in a more versatile guitar. This schematic from Seymour Duncan seemed to have everything I wanted. Except I failed to realize that the series/parallel option only applies to the middle position and not to the individual pickups. This was fun for a couple days, but I didn’t like how when the neck pickup is selected and the volume pot is pulled out the pickups are completely shorted out and no sound is passed to the amp. That feels too risky for my tastes in a gigging situation.
This diagram from DiMarzio is more what I was looking for, and basically I failed to implement it. I converted the alpha style pinout to the CTS, but I wasn’t able to make it work. I spent 3+ evenings working on this and couldn’t figure out the problem(s).
I ended up just wiring the pickups in series and skipping the pull switches for now to get the guitar playable. The bottom line is it sounds amazing and I’m so happy with it that I may not even revisit the additional switches.
I should also say that I’m equally impressed with the L500-XL as I am with the ’59. My old N4 had a L500-L and I didn’t care for it in that guitar. Maybe it was the amp I had at the time or the woods, but I remember it being harsh and really trebly sounding. I’m not exactly sure which factor is different now, but I’m loving it in this guitar and couldn’t be happier.