Improving the PCB board and other electronic ideas.
Posted 16 July 2010 - 08:57 AM
I'd like to thank you for allowing me access to this forum. I'll admit I don't know if I'm qualified as a consumer per se to offer useful discourse on all topics, but in regards to a few...I would like to toss in some constructive criticism. (And for that I am glad the forum is available and here to use.)
I can see where Gibson is really pushing the boundaries of technology when it comes to designing and building guitars. Personally I think this is a good thing because if one doesn't consistently try to improve one's product, it will inevitably become outsold by someone who will. But at the same time, technology is a double edged sword in that it can work to make a product more affordable, but at the same time it has to make the consumer's life easier (or the product easier to use), it has to have components that the consumer has faith in in regards to the lifespan of said components.
So, with all of "that" aside, some things I'd like to see on the PCB board that was introduced on the 2008 Les Paul Standards and some other things I wouldn't mind seeing on other products in regards to the components that allow for a Gibson guitar to maketh sound.
First, the PCB board. Personally, I think it's a great idea, but I think it fails in that it does not per se make a consumer's life easier and it does not allow for easy installation of aftermarket boutique products (such as Gibson's own pickups.) I can see the advantages from a cost cutting perspective, but as far as an electronic component its usage is limited. If Gibson is going to continue to use these boards, some ideas to make the product more accessible and user-friendly:
First, designing a more advanced board: With resistors applied against the potentiometers and capacitor values in the board, it would be really nice if a bank of dip switches was available for changing the values of the pots and caps. 2 dip switches for the pots that could change the value between 300k for a warmer tone vs. 500k for a brighter tone. And, dipswitches against the capacitor values from .022 to .047 for those who want more active tone controls. An upgrade could include a board that includes push/pull potentiometers for coil splitting...right from the factory, and available to use against any pickup whether it comes with vintage braided wiring or a 4-wire configuration off of the pickups.
The second would be to have a quick connect pickup system. The second problem with the board is that if someone wanted to buy boutique pickups (even Gibson's pickups..especially Gibson's pickups), they could not do as such w/o bastardizing or doing away with the board which would ruin the warranty. I'm all for the sale of these products. If someone had a quick connect system against the board in which they could replace a set of pickups in less than 10 minutes once the strings were off..in my opinion this is something that would make the consumer's life easier. (and, offering the system up in the aftermarket pickups so that consumers were encouraged to buy Gibson's pickups before other brands.)
Other thoughts: I'd like to also see someone develop a 500k push/pull potentiometer with screw terminals for those that have regular pots. (similar to what is used for power compenents in smaller, low amperage electronic devices.) 3 banks of screws that could allow a consumer to literally install a Jimmy Page push/pull harness in an hour would be something that would make the consumer's life easier (or if they wanted to install coil splitting, or reverse phase against their pickups.) This is also a product that would not be voided since no soldering would be required for the installation, and could be re-used again and again even if a consumer decided to go with different pickups.
And finally...(This is just sort of a wistful thing)...a boutique pickup that is specifically designed to be split ala the coils. I don't know if this is feasible, but based on other designs I've seen out there, I think it's a shame that Gibson doesn't offer something similar or comparable, especially since many of these products find themselves within Gibson's guitars. (an example of this are the P-Rails being offered by Seymour Duncan.)
Either way...I like the products, and the guitars. Keep up the good work, and I hope you guys never stop trying to improve the product. (And thanks again for allowing someone like me to offer up 2 cents on the product on this forum.)
Posted 16 July 2010 - 07:09 PM
The intent behind this....develop a board a consumer might want in their guitar...even something more advanced than this.
"What? I don't have to solder to install 2 push/pulls, series and reverse phase? I could just...buy a board, plug it in, connect a few wires and have a full Jimmy Page mod with pot and cap values that can be changed on a whim?"
I dunno....I'll admit if I was someone who wanted to upgrade immediately....
Posted 17 July 2010 - 12:33 PM
Posted 17 July 2010 - 01:21 PM
And no, you can't do this with the current PCB board...but IMHO you should be able to (especially if they're going to challenge long time guitar players with this newer addition to the models.)
PS: Unless I'm mistaken, if you buy a guitar with the PCB board and you rip it out, the warranty on the guitar is voided.
Posted 17 July 2010 - 01:52 PM
But I'd be all over that. At this point I would be grateful if I had the ability to buy raw plugs for the 2008 Standard so that I could swap pickups. I do love the BB Pros, but I am a helpless tinkerer.
Right now as things stand I'd have to do some snipping of wires or gut the whole guitar and re-wire.
Posted 19 July 2010 - 01:52 PM
Yupper... I read your thread too. I guess I'm thinking of something more basic. As a one-time "build it yourself" computer guy from waaaaay back in the 8-bit chip days, I have mixed emotions on having too much "there" already on a board.
I think having a bus that one might mess with in the guitar at the total amateur level, but that then one could add to - not unlike the old S100 bus concept.
Guys like you - I'm no engineer - could add all the dip switches, etc., you wanted, if you could find room for them, but in basic form almost anybody could follow a "to convert volume pot "A" into a master, use plug "1f," or to convert volume pot "B," use plug "2e."
I guess I'd prefer something like the old Ford Maverick concept that anybody could do basic maintenance, but that a pro could do wild things with it.
EDIT: I just got a chortle reading my own note. How about using a 6502 as a controller and software switching via USB instead of any physical switches at all????
Posted 19 July 2010 - 02:43 PM
I guess the way this would work...in truth, you'd have 500 k pots and .022 capacitors actually residing in the board. All the dipswitches would do is open a path to a couple of 200k resistors against the 500k pots and another set of resistors for darker capacitors.
Either way...I'd love to see it if for any other reason, you'd see these tone purists arguing about how they could top something like "Well, I can just change it by flipping the switch here", or better yet, if you need new pots and caps, buying a full board that not only had this, but a full blown Jimmy Page setup with coil splitting, reverse phase and series wiring all on a board, and that could be installed in less than an hour. I will also admit that despite a lot of debates I've seen on this, I'm still of the impression that at the end of the day, you're dealing with 2 leads, signal and ground.
PS: I like the idea of a USB connection. But at that point is it getting to the Darkfire/Dusk Tiger territory? (I just imagined someone like myself instead of needing a PC, a simple screwdriver to pop the back cover off and a pen to adjust the dip switches back and forth.)
Posted 19 July 2010 - 02:59 PM
At this point no one has made a move toward this market at all. Duncan hasn't put out pickups with the plug-in connections, and I doubt that third parties would have much trouble creating PCBs to accommodate more sophisticated features.
No one has done so yet, and I bet that it might simply be because the market isn't big enough yet. Of course most folks that pay thousands for instruments typically prefer to pay another $50 or $100 to have a pro do the tweaking, so the lack of tinkerers is also not too surprising.
To be honest at this point I'd settle for finding a source for the actual connectors so that I can plug in a couple of different pickups without irreversibly altering the guitar's electronics.
Posted 19 July 2010 - 09:01 PM
You can probably make the plug mod yourself using appropriate M/F pairs as long as you're good with a soldering pencil. YMMV.
Thank you, no, I am not a Fan: I am a Player/User, and I expect to be treated respectfully like a repeat customer.
Seeking owner(s) of Natural Bird's Eye Maple Les Paul. I wish to use a photo for non-commercial purposes on my webpage background. Please PM me if you own such an axe.
Posted 30 July 2010 - 11:19 AM
This goes beyond the DIY stuff. This is something I could see that would significantly reduce labor costs while offering more features to the end user.
Here is an atypical 2 gang dip switch. You'd have one in front, one in back...(volume, tone). Note the size. I can personally testify to the durability of these as someone who has installed boards with switches like these in remote areas here and far...
Earlier I mentioned applying a resistor to the 500k potentiometer, making it 300k with 200k resistance for that "warmer tone". ON the capacitors...here's an atypicaly PCB cap...
I gave this some thought and something to consider for the .022 to .047....have 2 of these residining in the circuit path back to a tone "pot", with the dip switch activiating the second cap or introducing it into the circuit path.
There's also some other reasons to go with quick connector cables for all components.
1. Labor is reduced in assembly. No longer would any soldering be required during assembly. All of this would be taken care of prior to final assembly. The PCB board is also far less expensive than individual potentiometers, capacitors, resin, and the labor or materials used to make the final product.
2. Customers could get advanced circuit designs at that reduced cost as well. Coil splitting/reverse phase/series...it would all be done in the board prior to assembly. Once again the costs of materials and labor is decreased. (And at that point the guitar could be offered at a lower cost to offset the difference or in the case of Gibson, more labor could be allocated towards the setup of each guitar which is becoming an increasingly common complaint.)
3. The consumer would be able to use this product with more ease than say...a soldering iron. Flip the dipswitch...change tone. If they didn't like the PCB board, they would still have the ability to completely remove it via the quick connect system w/o voiding their warranty (or if they wanted to upgrade their pickups.)
I'll be honest...I'm pretty amazed that electric guitars are still utilizing the same technology as they were 40 years ago. I liked the PCB board in the '08 Standards, but it didn't go nearly far enough, and it didn't make the customer's life easier.
Any debate on this is welcome....(and yes, if I had it my way, all new guitars would be shipping with these boards...hahahaha.)
Posted 31 July 2010 - 03:18 AM
Posted 31 July 2010 - 08:32 AM
You'd fall into the latter range of "you'd probably rip it out anyway". At least in this sense you could keep all of the electronics intact in case you wanted to sell the guitar down the road.