5 way, position 2 and 4 too crispy


New Member
May 26, 2013
London, UK
hi all
I am new to the forum, so forgive me for posting a tech issue in my first post. I recently acquired a 2008 Custom 24 10 top, second hand. HFS and Vintage Bass, 5 way rotary selector. I wanted this spec, I had a CE24 with these pickups back in the 90s i foolishly sold.
This recent acquisition needed a bit of love, a setup has dramatically improved a few issues. My main issue with this guitar is that position 2 and 4 sound way too crispy and un-natural in the top end. The setup improved this, we changed the pickup height, but there is still too much there, and still a bit of a volume difference between the various positions. I realise some of this may be subjective, but I don't remember it sounding like this on my CE24. I can only think there might be any issue with the selector switch? I am yet to open the back up to check out the wiring, but assumed my setup guy did this and settled on the pickup height adjustment, which did improve things, but didn't solve them to my ear

any thoughts, suggestions? thanks for reading.

I have not run into this with a 5-way PRS, but have experienced something similar with Strats & Teles. When the pickups are wired out of phase, the positions that use both pickups will be much lower in volume and will produce a thin, unpleasant sound. The fix is to swap where the wires are soldered on one of the pickups. You might want to open up the pickup cavity in the back and take a look at how the wires are soldered. If you look at the 5-way switch below, you'll see the markings along the right side that tell you which wires get soldered where: "TRB" (HFS bridge pickup) and "BASS" (Vintage Bass neck pickup). They both have "B", "R" & "W" marked, which is where the black, red, and white wires should be attached from the respective pickups. I would check that first to see if in fact the correct wires are soldered in the correct spots on the switch. If two of the wires are not where they are supposed to be, I bet that would result in the crispy, unnatural high end sound you're getting.

thanks for the response, I will check the pickup wiring. So, you are suggesting that the wiring may have been changed since it came out of the factory? Thanks for the picture, very helpful. It seems to correspond with what i am seeing on my selector.
Yes, it's possible that the previous owner had different pickups installed, then re-installed the original pickups when he sold it, but didn't get the wiring right. Based on the sound you are describing, that's my best guess. If the wiring is in fact correct, then I'm not sure what the issue is. But the sound you describe is similar to what I've experienced when I've wired pickups out of phase.
Thanks TFC, it looks like the wiring is correct, and the previous owner has confirmed he did nothing with the wiring or the pickups. I may have to investigate getting a new rotary selector, in case it's that. The guitar is 2008, the volume and tone controls are quite loose, I know the previous owner used this guitar alot, and perhaps quite heavy handed, so perhaps there's an issue with the selector.
thanks for the reply though.
ok, I have resolved the issue, barring one last try, at volume on my mesa. I called the UK distributers, and spoke to a really helpful guy called Matt. He suggested checking the solder on the earth. So, a good friend of mine (an awesome amp tech) who really knows his solder, checked the connections. The white wire on the TRB pretty much just came out with a little pull. He used a solder sucker, cleaned it up, re-soldered, and now sounds amazing. So pleased. I only recent acquired this guitar, not sure how long the previous owner put up with it sounding like this, but it now sounds great.
Always worth gently tugging on the wires, if something is soldered well, and has not deteriorated, it shouldn't come out. Also, if the solder is good, it will look shiny, not dull and grey. thanks for your suggestions TFC, the image really helped.