In pursuit of maximalist tone, a guitarist bestows his favorite S-shaped guitar body with three versatile pickups, ’50s wiring, and two toggles to help him do it all.
Name: Bruce CauthenLocation: Charlottesville, Virginia
Guitar: Peavey Predator
I’ve spent the last 10 years chasing tone, learning how guitars work, and trying to discover what works best for me. You name it; I’ve tried it. Nothing could do everything I wanted, so I decided to build my own guitar.
I started with a late-’80s (or early-’90s) Peavey Predator. This S-style guitar isn’t special, but it has a fantastic neck: smallish C profile and wide, low frets. The pickups and wiring are the best part. I installed a single-coil pickup in the neck, which gives me great glassy cleans (almost acoustic) and a wonderful overdriven sound when pushed. I love Tele bridge pickups, but the music I play doesn’t require a lot of twang, so I went with a P-90 in the bridge. By itself, it can generate Green Day snarl and thick, bluesy leads. To fill out the pickguard, I installed a Duncan ’59 in the middle. But wait, there’s more!
A Telecaster 4-way switch controls the neck and bridge pickups, which allows me to select the P-90 alone, the P-90 and single-coil in (hum-cancelling) parallel, the single-coil alone, or the P-90 and single-coil in series (a really thick sound). The mini toggle switch between the volume and tone controls works like a 3-way switch on a Gibson. I can select the signal from the 4-way switch, from the humbucker, or from both (which yields a pretty good “quack” when I need it). The Duncan ’59 is a great pickup and has more treble than the P-90/single-coil series sound.
Finally, I used ’50s wiring to help me retain treble as I roll down the guitar volume. My current setup is to plug straight into a 5E3 clone (with a couple of mods, of course). I can get a pretty clean sound with the guitar’s volume at 5 and add dirt simply by turning the volume up to 7 or 8.
I know there are purists who will recoil in horror when they read this, but for me, it’s awesome! It’s my No. 1 by a mile because I can get so much out of it. Perhaps others will read about my guitar and consider creating their dream guitar!
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