Special 22 Semi Hollow (SSH) Modification Thread

neil godbole

New Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
38
Looks like I am moving strongly in the direction of modifying my guitar. I have been loving playing with it, but there are a few things I notice...

I want a bit more bite to the transient edge when playing clean. The stock tones from the pickups with the tone knob rolled off below 7 (volume all the way up) give a good tone overall, and they dirty up well but I don't like playing clean with the tone knob all the way up, it's a little too pokey for my taste without being brighter in the right part of the spectrum). So I am finding I want a little bit more definition. I also want the ability to isolate the middle narrowfield as well as coil tap it if possible. So, here is what I am thinking of doing:

- Installing a pre-amp buffer with a bright switch
- adding a switch to allow coil tapping the narrowfield
- adding a push pull to isolate the middle narrowfield

This will give me several more tones to play with in combination with the other pickups as well as give me hopefully, that singing midrange middle pickup tone.

I'm thinking of orienting the switches like the super eagle, except since I already have two coil tap switches on this guitar in the location they are stock, I will be adding three more identical switches in the location the super eagle has them on top/below (depending on how you look at it) the volume and tone knobs.

1) Pre-Amp On/Off
2) Bright On/Off
3) Narrowfield Tap On/Off

Soo...... anybody want to talk me out of it? I'm going to get it professionally done so it will look 'stock' in execution.

Neil
 

Glide-bpm

We were small but we were slow...
Joined
Feb 10, 2016
Messages
2,601
Location
Coastal SC
Looks like I am moving strongly in the direction of modifying my guitar. I have been loving playing with it, but there are a few things I notice...

I want a bit more bite to the transient edge when playing clean. The stock tones from the pickups with the tone knob rolled off below 7 (volume all the way up) give a good tone overall, and they dirty up well but I don't like playing clean with the tone knob all the way up, it's a little too pokey for my taste without being brighter in the right part of the spectrum). So I am finding I want a little bit more definition. I also want the ability to isolate the middle narrowfield as well as coil tap it if possible. So, here is what I am thinking of doing:

- Installing a pre-amp buffer with a bright switch
- adding a switch to allow coil tapping the narrowfield
- adding a push pull to isolate the middle narrowfield

This will give me several more tones to play with in combination with the other pickups as well as give me hopefully, that singing midrange middle pickup tone.

I'm thinking of orienting the switches like the super eagle, except since I already have two coil tap switches on this guitar in the location they are stock, I will be adding three more identical switches in the location the super eagle has them on top/below (depending on how you look at it) the volume and tone knobs.

1) Pre-Amp On/Off
2) Bright On/Off
3) Narrowfield Tap On/Off

Soo...... anybody want to talk me out of it? I'm going to get it professionally done so it will look 'stock' in execution.

Neil

Uhhh. PM with link to preamp and maybe a wiring diagram? LoL!
 

Glide-bpm

We were small but we were slow...
Joined
Feb 10, 2016
Messages
2,601
Location
Coastal SC
I think there's a little young dude that reverse engineered one, too, when turning his CE into a SE2 functionality wise. Think he sells them for around $80...
 

Chuck_P

New Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2012
Messages
49
I don't know anything about the construction of the Narrowfield....does it have two coils, of which you'll need to choose one to tap? When the middle Narrowfield is coil-tapped, will it be hum-cancelling in positions 2 and 4 if the bridge/neck are also tapped?
 

neil godbole

New Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
38
I don't know anything about the construction of the Narrowfield....does it have two coils, of which you'll need to choose one to tap? When the middle Narrowfield is coil-tapped, will it be hum-cancelling in positions 2 and 4 if the bridge/neck are also tapped?

I didn't investigate the narrowfield either, but I assume it can be tapped since the Super Eagle also has narrowfield that can be coil tapped right? I just dropped it off at my tech's bench and gave him some wiring schematics and a detailed itemization of what I wanted done, and told him to please be super duper careful when drilling holes for the 3 DPDT switches...

But he's a pro... can't wait to hear back from him this week.
 

neil godbole

New Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
38
I don't know anything about the construction of the Narrowfield....does it have two coils, of which you'll need to choose one to tap? When the middle Narrowfield is coil-tapped, will it be hum-cancelling in positions 2 and 4 if the bridge/neck are also tapped?

You bring up some very good points/questions. I'm going to look into this.
 

Chuck_P

New Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2012
Messages
49
You bring up some very good points/questions. I'm going to look into this.

If you don't mind, let us know what you find out - I've thought about ways to isolate the middle Narrowfield too, but I hadn't thought about tapping it until now. That would be...a lot of tonal options, even WITHOUT the two additional preamp modes...
 

Joesnewmatch

Semi-Special Guitarist
Joined
Apr 28, 2012
Messages
197
Location
South Florida
I never even thought about tapping the NF, as opposed to just being able to access play the NF by itself and not just the other two when in middle position. Interesting concept and I'm curious who has tried it and whether the results were good or not.
 

neil godbole

New Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
38
Well the idea came to my head as an obvious thing to try when I saw an interview with PRS and John Mayer in which they were discussing what the essential elements of the Jerry tone really were, and in general the misconceptions people have regarding what the recorded tone on various famous records really is in terms of being primarily bridge or neck pups etc... The exact conversation was two-fold, and hopefully I remember it right. One was a discussion about how BB King's tone is normally associated with a neck pickup sound. Interestingly enough, many of his famous recordings were actually done on the bridge and it was his hands and the recording itself that generated the changes that many associate with being a 'BB King Neck' thing.

Secondly, it was PRS asking several people, including I believe Jimmy Herring what the main thing about Jerry's tone was... and most of them immediately said 'middle pickup only'. And apparently when soling Jerry often times just used his middle seymour duncan pickup. My own experience with guitars that can isolate the middle pickup also points in the direction of these comments. I love solo'ing in that psych-country style and hence, my desire to isolate and possibly tap the middle pickup.
 
Last edited:

neil godbole

New Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
38
Just as an update to this thread, and because people have been asking me, I will post the latest on my guitar modification journey...

So I heard back from my tech last week and he expects to have my guitar done by the end of the coming week. I told him at the beginning to take his time, and not to feel like he needed to get it to me in a hurry. I find people do their best work when they don't feel rushed - especially with jobs that need to look aesthetically clean.

Here's what we decided on:
- Push Pull on Volume Knob for Narrowfield Isolation
- Install PreAmp. 9V Battery fits inside electronics compartment so no additional routing or battery cage needed.
- Rewire Stock Coil Taps to be be Pre-Amp On/Off and Bright Switch On/Off
- Route 3 additional mini toggles to allow for Coil Tapping 3 pickups. Location will be parallel to the 5-way blade and above the the two stock toggles.
- Rewire Narrowfield pickup to allow for Coil Tapping (stock wiring for humbucking use only with a braided cable).
- Replace Output Jack with a TRS Jack (will be used with regular guitar cable) which will be wired to shut off Pre-Amp when guitar is not plugged into a cable.
(after discussion, my tech said that most people will forget to either shutoff the PreAmp or take out their guitar cable, and it will kill the battery quickly, so this is an easy solution.
The Preamp can be turned on and off when a guitar cable is plugged into the guitar, but when it's unplugged, it is always off regardless).

Additional Work:
- Replace Treble Bleed Pot on Volume with a slightly higher value. We determined that rolling off the volume makes the tone slightly darker. My preference is for it to either remain unchanged, or get slightly brighter. This cap can easily be played around with until the desired affect is achieved. He thinks I'll like it at (I believe) .005pf.
- Frets analyzed with a computer and double checked with handheld calipers. Determined that fretwork could be optimized.
- Guitar will be PLEK'd to allow for best setup possible. I was a bit surprised it needed a PLEK, but I'm happy that it should will play even better afterward.
- Strap Locks

Additional Info:
So some good points were brought up about noise cancellation when narrowfield is tapped along with either tapped bridge or neck. The answer is, if wired correctly, the narrowfield should act just like position 3 on the blade. That is to say that if any two coil tapped pickups are used in conjunction, they will suppress that slight noise that single coils are prone to produce. This noise was already very low with the stock tapped pickups (bridge/neck) on this guitar anyway.

There wasn't enough room to place the 3 mini toggles on the outside of the blade. Since the orientation of the tone knob is different between the SSH and the Super Eagle, it wasn't possible to place the mini-toggles 'between' and on the outside of the blade. Placing the mini-toggles on the outside might be able to be achieved, but it would take considerable routing and that kind of invasive surgery seemed needless to me.

Costs:
The total cost for all the work came out to just shy of $1k. That includes the $275 for the PLEK and Setup. This is quite expensive and definitely something I wouldn't do to a guitar I didn't intend to use often, did not have an inherent value that justified the cost, or if the mods did not represent enough value in terms of features/usability added. In my case, all three of those conditions are untrue and thus the 1k price is totally worth it, and I am eagerly anticipating this guitar very soon.

I'll make sure to post pics once I get it and comment on what I notice.
 

neil godbole

New Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
38
I don't know anything about the construction of the Narrowfield....does it have two coils, of which you'll need to choose one to tap? When the middle Narrowfield is coil-tapped, will it be hum-cancelling in positions 2 and 4 if the bridge/neck are also tapped?

So based on my conversation with the tech, he tells me the answer to this is YES - assuming wiring and phase is correct.
 

Chuck_P

New Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2012
Messages
49
So based on my conversation with the tech, he tells me the answer to this is YES - assuming wiring and phase is correct.

Hey, thanks for the follow up. This project is completely awesome. I don't understand what the three new switches will do - don't the two existing switches already tap the bridge and neck?
 

neil godbole

New Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
38
Hey, thanks for the follow up. This project is completely awesome. I don't understand what the three new switches will do - don't the two existing switches already tap the bridge and neck?

So as described above, the two old mini toggles are re-wired so they control the pre-amp on/off and the bright switch on/off that is part of the pre-amp similar to how the Super Eagle electronics operate.
The three new mini toggles will tap EACH of the three pickups - neck, middle, bridge. So I gain the ability to tap the middle narrowfield. In addition, the push/pull volume pot allows me to also isolate the narrowfield.

So quite a few additional tones added to this guitar. The only visible addition will be 3 mini toggles.
 

Chuck_P

New Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2012
Messages
49
So as described above, the two old mini toggles are re-wired so they control the pre-amp on/off and the bright switch on/off that is part of the pre-amp similar to how the Super Eagle electronics operate.
The three new mini toggles will tap EACH of the three pickups - neck, middle, bridge. So I gain the ability to tap the middle narrowfield. In addition, the push/pull volume pot allows me to also isolate the narrowfield.

So quite a few additional tones added to this guitar. The only visible addition will be 3 mini toggles.

Oh, right. Got it. Can't wait to hear how it turns out!
 

neil godbole

New Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2021
Messages
38
UPDATE TEASE! So I finally got my guitar back! Here's a teaser pic!

So I got a chance to play, just for 30 minutes or so to check all the electronics out.

I am very happy, and so far have zero regrets! This is rare as I initially tend to nit pick a little bit. The added tonal options are incredible and exactly as I was hoping for. The new tones are very even sounding and fit in well with the stock tones of the guitar. The tapped narrowfield by itself sounds very different to the 'house SSH sound' however, and really takes this guitar into a jerry-esque direction and opens up a lot of new sounds.

The mini toggles are all the same size, the pic is a bit misleading. The bottom two, originally stock toggles, are now pre-amp on and bright. The volume knob has the push pull that allows for the narrowfield isolation. I wonder if a push push might not have been a bit better and more easily allow for switching without moving the volume knob (the turn is a bit loose for my taste).

The preamp is a real surprise. It seems to take off a 'veil' from the sound of the pickups without making it overtly either louder or brighter. Very cool - like a high definition, more full range sound - somewhat subtle and 'classy' sounding. I definitely prefer it on. The bright switch sounds like it will be really fun especially while arpeggiating. It seemed a little unnecessary for me for solo and rhythm tones from limited initial impressions.

My tech made a video, and asked me to do a video to go along with it that goes over the different options and how they sound. Once I get around to doing this we'll combine the making of this mod along with how it sounds into a fun little overview.

I'm looking forward to getting some time tomorrow to play around some more!

Feel free to ask me questions if you have any.

The slightly higher value treble bleed cap also is wonderful and I prefer it vastly over stock. Lowering the volume is now very usable for me.

IMG-4182.jpg
 
Last edited:

Alnus Rubra

Loving nature’s wonders
Joined
Oct 17, 2017
Messages
18,790
Location
Scotland
UPDATE TEASE! So I finally got my guitar back! Here's a teaser pic!

So I got a chance to play, just for 30 minutes or so to check all the electronics out.

I am very happy, and so far have zero regrets! This is rare as I initially tend to nit pick a little bit. The added tonal options are incredible and exactly as I was hoping for. The new tones are very even sounding and fit in well with the stock tones of the guitar. The tapped narrowfield by itself sounds very different to the 'house SSH sound' however, and really takes this guitar into a jerry-esque direction and opens up a lot of new sounds.

The mini toggles are all the same size, the pic is a bit misleading. The bottom two, originally stock toggles, are now pre-amp on and bright. The volume knob has the push pull that allows for the narrowfield isolation. I wonder if a push push might not have been a bit better and more easily allow for switching without moving the volume knob (the turn is a bit loose for my taste).

The preamp is a real surprise. It seems to take off a 'veil' from the sound of the pickups without making it overtly either louder or brighter. Very cool - like a high definition, more full range sound - somewhat subtle and 'classy' sounding. I definitely prefer it on. The bright switch sounds like it will be really fun especially while arpeggiating. It seemed a little unnecessary for me for solo and rhythm tones from limited initial impressions.

My tech made a video, and asked me to do a video to go along with it that goes over the different options and how they sound. Once I get around to doing this we'll combine the making of this mod along with how it sounds into a fun little overview.

I'm looking forward to getting some time tomorrow to play around some more!

Feel free to ask me questions if you have any.

The slightly higher value treble bleed cap also is wonderful and I prefer it vastly over stock. Lowering the volume is now very usable for me.

IMG-4182.jpg

I’m sure @Tosca would approve this message!;)
 
Top