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Thread: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

  1. #1
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    Default 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Hello, I have a stock Futura with the Sidewinder P90 and a Burstbucker 3. I am considering a move to a more standard P90 in the neck. I miss the magical compression of a 'noisy' P90

    If anyone has gone down this road, please tell me how it went.

    I think I might as well pull the PCB and replace with 50's wiring. Is there an SD P90 that is RWRP paired with a Gibson bridge humbucker? I will definitely want hum-cancel in the middle position.

    Or;
    Is a typical neck-position SD P90 RWRP with a typical SD Humbucker?

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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    I've changed the electronics on a Futura SG before for a friend so I'm fairly confident in how this goes, but in that case we were replacing both pickups with two other Gibson pickups, not mixing in SDs or keeping either of the stock pickups, so here's your disclaimer that your experience may vary.

    I've not done SD neck P-90 with a Gibson bridge humbucker, but I have done a SD bridge P-90 with a Gibson neck P-90 and those were hum-cancelling together. SD neck P-90s and SD bridge humbuckers are also hum-cancelling. So I would assume that an SD neck P-90 would be hum-cancelling with a Gibson bridge humbucker.
    The only hiccup I can possibly see is that the Burstbucker 3 the Futura has is a very inconsistently-made pickup. The ones that come stock in some Epiphone models are always reverse phase magnetically, unpotted, and use single-conductor wiring. The ones that come stock in some Gibson Custom Shop guitars except the Joe Perry model are regular phase, single-conductor, but potted; the ones in the Joe Perry guitars have their magnets flipped, even in the single-pickup guitars. The Burstbuckers you can buy aftermarket are the usual phase, unpotted, and can be either four-conductor or single-conductor. So there's a big mix of Burstbuckers out there.
    Now, I know the one that is in the Futura is four-conductor and potted, but whether its in regular Gibson & SD phase or flipped, I don't know. I didn't test it for that when I took it out of the Futura SG, we just stuck it up on eBay right away. I don't see why it would have the phase changed; there's nothing in the Futura that would require it to be reverse phase. But if they reused pickups from the Joe Perry or Epiphone batches then they could be reverse phase, and since the Sidewinder P-90 they're paired with also isn't seen in any other guitars, who knows what phase that is.

    Good news is that since the BB3 you have is four-conductor, you could actually use any P-90 in the neck and then simply swap the humbucker's wires around to match whatever direction and phase is required to match the P-90. But I am 90% sure an SD neck model P-90 will be the right direction and phase to match with the BB3 as it is, anyway. I think the chances of the BB3 you have being one of the reversed-phase ones is very low.

    Now, that bit of scaremongering aside...

    Do play a bit more with the Sidewinder's split mode. I made a point of playing with my friend's Futura for a few hours before changing the pickups over, because I really wanted one myself (love that metallic purple + the tuners) but didn't want to drop the cash without test-driving it. Once the pickup swap was done I played it a bit again, to check I'd gotten the action and pickup height right, and I found that there was almost no change in the tone between the split Sidewinder and the mid-90s regular Gibson P-90 (IIRC somewhere around 8k with A5s) that we replaced it with, at least with my rhythm playing. Someone who plays complicated jazz figures might have noticed more of a difference, and my friend was happy with the change, but to me it may as well have not been changed at all. So before you go buying new parts and opening the guitar up, I strongly recommend giving the existing pickup a second chance because, to my ears, the split Sidewinder is already 95% the same as a standard run-of-the-mill P-90.

    I also must say there is zero difference in changing from the PCB to ''real'' pots unless you're going to install some radically different wiring. After all, a 500k resistor is a 500k resistor. (Unless it's a super-cheap one that has strayed well away from the printed value.) I've changed several Gibsons over from their stock PCBs to CTS pots, in one case even installing the ridiculously overpriced 'bumblebee' capacitors, and I've never actually heard any difference as long as the resistor and capacitor values were the same, nor have I noticed any change in feel to the controls. Really all it does, from my point of view, is introduce more potential points of failure and a vulnerability to changes in climate. Of course in the case of the Futura you'll also be giving up the active boost, or at least the boost was a fixed part of the PCB in the SG version. If you want to go full 50s and use 300k pots then sure, that's going to make an audible difference and you should yank the PCB out, but if you'll just be using 500k then save yourself the bother. You can buy the connectors to fit any aftermarket pickup in there, they're a totally standard connector used in phones, military radios, cars, and can be bought at pretty much any hardware store. And of course if you do it this way, if you ever come to sell the guitar you can very quickly restore it to its factory state by just unclipping the neck pickup(s) and clipping the old ones back in.

    All that said and to boil it down to a TL;DR version:
    - Yes, SD RWRP neck P-90s will be hum-cancelling with SD bridge humbuckers.
    - SD RWRP neck P-90s should be hum-cancelling and the right phase for the Gibson humbucker, but I can't 100% guarantee it because the Burstbucker 3 is so random.
    - Think hard about how much work you're willing to do because changing so much about the Futura is, at least in my experience, a lot of trouble for very little tangible difference.

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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    A P90 can't be RWRP with a humbucker. You'd have to split it for it to do that.
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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Thanks, Ace, exactly what I was hoping to hear. I will give it some more time in split mode before I get too mental. I did notice a difference, but didn't explore much when distorted. I love the compression and touch responsiveness of a standard P90. Power chords like Social Distortion, leads like mondo-distorted Neil Young. As far as the PCB board, I agree about tone, but it can be a nightmare splicing in a new un-crimped pickup into the mix. Especially when Gibson changes things up and uses different colour codes from model to model.

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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Chistopher View Post
    A P90 can't be RWRP with a humbucker. You'd have to split it for it to do that.
    It always affects phase, and the Futura does have a coil split, so both are relevant concerns for OP.
    Though even without a split, you can get a slight reduction in hum when using a P-90 with both coils of the humbucker, if the humbucker is a warmer and more dominant wind, just as it will also take some of the treble out too. Fun things also happen if the humbucker has significantly mismatched coils or if its wired up parallel. The DM Bluesbucker cancels a lot of the hum with a neck P-90, for example. This is why SD makes some of the hum-cancelling stacked single coil models with RWRP versions. There are degrees of hum-cancelling; it's not just an all-or-nothing situation.

    As it happens I have a Tele Deluxe on my bench right now that the owner tried to install an Invader and Phat Cat in. Problem is they bought a bridge Phat Cat, hoping it would balance better with the Invader. In a way they succeeded... silence is a kind of "balance", right? The middle position is not just out of phase, but is the most phase-cancelled tone I've heard. Or not heard, as the case may be. It's practically a killswitch. That's a big problem, and one they wouldn't now be paying for me to put right if they'd just used the neck Phat Cat instead.

    Quote Originally Posted by ColdUpHere View Post
    but it can be a nightmare splicing in a new un-crimped pickup into the mix.
    If you really can't face it but did want to keep the boost, splits and so on, there are lots of people on eBay selling premade cables with the right connectors, colour-coded for SD-to-Gibson and they're entirely up-to-date. You can just solder + heatshrink them to the pickup and clip it in. I haven't seen Gibson change their colour coding since 2012, so your Futura should be fine to use those.
    I do get the appeal of ripping the boards out and putting in regular pots, it's just one of those things I think should always be thought through very carefully because it's time and money spent doing something that doesn't affect the end tone. I got tired, years ago, of pulling PCBs out for people and then having them complaining that I must have done it wrong because they can't hear a difference. Now when someone asks for it I warn them upfront. I wouldn't choose to use PCBs in the first place, either, but if they're there and they're getting the job done then... well, you get the point. I'd just feel my answer was incomplete if I didn't crush some hopes and dreams.
    Last edited by Ace Flibble; 11-13-2019 at 12:33 AM.

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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Chistopher View Post
    A P90 can't be RWRP with a humbucker. You'd have to split it for it to do that.
    You can't split a P-90, it's already just a single coil.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Ace Flibble View Post
    So I would assume that an SD neck P-90 would be hum-cancelling with a Gibson bridge humbucker.
    All "hum"buckers are hum cancelling (to a great extent, depending on how matched the coil winds are). When mated with another pup they are still hum cancelling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ace Flibble View Post
    Now, I know the one that is in the Futura is four-conductor and potted, but whether its in regular Gibson & SD phase or flipped, I don't know. I didn't test it for that when I took it out of the Futura SG, we just stuck it up on eBay right away. I don't see why it would have the phase changed; there's nothing in the Futura that would require it to be reverse phase. But if they reused pickups from the Joe Perry or Epiphone batches then they could be reverse phase, and since the Sidewinder P-90 they're paired with also isn't seen in any other guitars, who knows what phase that is.

    Good news is that since the BB3 you have is four-conductor, you could actually use any P-90 in the neck and then simply swap the humbucker's wires around to match whatever direction and phase is required to match the P-90. But I am 90% sure an SD neck model P-90 will be the right direction and phase to match with the BB3 as it is, anyway. I think the chances of the BB3 you have being one of the reversed-phase ones is very low.
    You are speaking a lot of goblety gook here, and can be confusing to someone who knows about guitar electronics. It will certainly be misleading to a noob. I think you are either getting very confused with this phase issue or you just don't know what it is. "Phase" has nothing to do with any single pickup...it is how it relates to another pickup. In other words, a pup is neither in nor out of phase. But two pups together can be in or out of phase with each other. It has to do with how the pups are wired into the circuit with other pups and not how each pup is individually wired. An individual pup certainly can be "reverse wind, reverse polarity", but that doesn't make it out of phase.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Are we talking about a split humbucker and a P90 being in-phase and humcancelling?
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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    I'm not sure where your confusion is there, GuitarDoc. When I say the pickup is out of phase I very clearly mean in relation to the other pickup(s) in the guitar. E.G. the Burstbucker 3 has sometimes been made by Gibson in reverse phase (magnetically) to their standard, so when paired with other pickups (typically Burstbucker 2s) you get the out of phase middle position.

    And yes, we're talking about the combined positions and pairing it with the quasi-mystery polarity of the Burstbucker 3 and the split switch on the Futura. The hum-cancelling ability of a single humbucker by itself was never in question or even mentioned at all.

    Again, sorry GuitarDoc, but I've no clue how you got the wrong end of the stick so drastically there. However you went about it you've misread the thread rather magnificently.

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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Ace Flibble View Post
    I'm not sure where your confusion is there, GuitarDoc. When I say the pickup is out of phase I very clearly mean in relation to the other pickup(s) in the guitar. E.G. the Burstbucker 3 has sometimes been made by Gibson in reverse phase (magnetically) to their standard
    Well I guess I'm still confused, because a pup cannot be made in reverse phase. It can be reverse wound, but that is NOT "phase". You say..."I very clearly mean in relation to the other pickup(s)", but then in the same sentence you also "very clearly" say that "the Burstbucker 3 has sometimes been made by Gibson in reverse phase"...NOT in relation to another pup, but the pup by itself is made in reverse phase. This simply is NOT true!

    You also say that the BB3 is "in reverse phase (magnetically)". "Phase" is NOT a magnetic condition! It has nothing to do with the magnet! It is ONLY how the pup is wired in the circuit in relation to how another pup is wired into the circuit (whether hardwired or by p/p or any other switch).

    Clearly YOU are either confused or you don't know how to appropriately/accurately express your thoughts.
    Last edited by GuitarDoc; 11-14-2019 at 08:30 AM.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarDoc View Post
    You can't split a P-90, it's already just a single coil.
    I'm pretty sure the Sidewinder is actually a P90-shaped humbucker - likely using opposed coils, rather than stacked or side-by-side.
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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Just out of curiosity, what are opposed coils if they aren't either stacked or side-by-side? (The only humbuckers I've seen have side-by-side coils, even "single-coil-sized" humbuckers. Pups that have stacked coils are usually single coil pup referred to as hum cancelling single coils, not humbuckers).
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarDoc View Post
    Just out of curiosity, what are opposed coils if they aren't either stacked or side-by-side? (The only humbuckers I've seen have side-by-side coils, even "single-coil-sized" humbuckers. Pups that have stacked coils are usually single coil pup referred to as hum cancelling single coils, not humbuckers).
    Opposed coils like the cylinders in a flat engine. I think the huge old Gibson "mudbucker" bass pickups were designed that way and if I remember correctly, they also were called Sidewinders for a while.

    Here's one of Jerry Sentell's opposed-coil P90s; here the poles aren't adjustable but this is the coil configuration I suspect may be inside the Sidewinder P90s.



    Or maybe the Sidewinder P90s are stacked. Not sure. But I'm pretty confident they're both hum-cancelling and splittable - they have a DCR up around 16KΩ.

    EDIT: Sentell's are a whopping 23KΩ.
    Last edited by eclecticsynergy; 11-16-2019 at 12:33 AM.
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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Oh, now I get what you meant by "opposed"... kinda like a BMW motorcycle engine compared to a Honda or Harley. Thanks for the explanation and especially the pic.

    It's interesting that he would call that very unique style of pickup a "P-90" since it has very little in common with a traditional P-90 (the only thing in common is the placement of the poles down the center of the pup). The common P-90 has one coil with poles down the middle and two magnets on either side of those poles. This has two coils with poles down the middle between them and one set of magnets as those poles.

    But with the poles being the magnets, it seems to be closer related to a hum-cancelling Strat pup than a P-90 (but with the two coils opposed rather than stacked).

    So, yeah. in any case HE may CALL that thing a P-90, but in my mind it doesn't make it so. To me, that has really nothing in common with a real P-90. I see more similarity between a humbucker and a single coil pup than I do between that and a P-90.
    Last edited by GuitarDoc; 11-17-2019 at 07:08 AM.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarDoc View Post
    Oh, now I get what you meant by "opposed"... kinda like a BMW motorcycle engine compared to a Honda or Harley. Thanks for the explanation and especially the pic.

    It's interesting that he would call that very unique style of pickup a "P-90" since it has very little in common with a traditional P-90 (the only thing in common is the placement of the poles down the center of the pup). The common P-90 has one coil with poles down the middle and two magnets on either side of those poles. This has two coils with poles down the middle between them and one set of magnets as those poles.

    But with the poles being the magnets, it seems to be closer related to a hum-cancelling Strat pup than a P-90 (but with the two coils opposed rather than stacked).

    So, yeah. in any case HE may CALL that thing a P-90, but in my mind it doesn't make it so. To me, that has really nothing in common with a real P-90. I see more similarity between a humbucker and a single coil pup than I do between that and a P-90.
    I agree and I'm not sure Jerry even calls it a P90; it's just listed on that page of his site because it's P90-sized.
    Still think that may be the coil arrangement for Gibson's Sidewinder, because of the name.
    But as I said I'm not positive.

    Here's an original 1960s Gibson Sidewinder, the mudbucker bass pickup in an old EB3:
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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    The Sidewinder P90 does use opposed coils - I found this page about the Futura models which includes a small pic of an uncovered one.

    http://www.flyguitars.com/graphics/part25_2.jpg
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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    "Mudbucker" is definitely the appropriate name for that. Was that the same pup used in the EB0 bass as well? I had an early 60s EB0 that couldn't play a clean note if you put it though a dishwasher.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarDoc View Post
    "Mudbucker" is definitely the appropriate name for that. Was that the same pup used in the EB0 bass as well? I had an early 60s EB0 that couldn't play a clean note if you put it though a dishwasher.
    Yup. I think they tried to alleviate that and give the basses better clarity when they added the small bridge pickup for to the EB-3 model.
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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarDoc View Post
    You can't split a P-90, it's already just a single coil.
    I think he meant splitting the Humbucker when mixed with the P90.
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    Default Re: 2014 Futura Les Paul - pickup recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by beaubrummels View Post
    I think he meant splitting the Humbucker when mixed with the P90.
    The Sidewinder isn't a true P90; it actually is splittable.
    See link in post#16.
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