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Re-wiring my Westone Spectrum SX

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Re-wiring my Westone Spectrum SX Empty Re-wiring my Westone Spectrum SX

Post by Siskin Sat Sep 23, 2023 12:37 pm

Just thought I'd share how I've re-wired my Spectrum SX in case anyone else finds it useful.

I bought my Spectrum SX way back in 1986.
At the time, I was looking at Kramers, Arias, Washburns, etc. but when I found the Westone, that was it.
The neck was so comfortable for me, and the sound was great too.

It didn't take long to do my first mods though.
And that's how it stayed for many years until the other day when I decided to go a bit further.

[NOTE - When I refer to stock wiring, I'm referring to a diagram I found on the web. At this point in time, I can't remember what the stock wiring was - I'm sure I drew it out years ago, but finding it now...]

Initial Mods
------------
[1] Automatic Bridge Humbucker coil split in Position 2.
Since there are two poles on the 5-way lever switch, one of them can be used to split the Bridge HB in Position 2.
The stock circuit uses the second pole of the lever to select the Tone Pots and they share one capacitor.
I took that wiring off and changed it around a bit. See [2].
On the lever's second pole I connected the HB red wire to P1 and connected a Ground to P3.
So in Position 2 (Bridge || Middle), the HB is automatically split to give a nice Strat sound.
You lose the (full HB || Middle) sound, but it's no big deal.

[2] Re-wiring/re-voicing the Tone controls.
Having removed the Tone control wiring from the lever switch, I replaced the 47nF capacitor for a 10nF for a less muffled sound at 0.
I removed the link tying the two Tone Pots together and added a 10nF capacitor to the other Tone Pot.
I connected the nearest Tone Pot to the Neck output and the farthest Tone Pot to the Bridge Output.
Now I have a Tone Pot for the Neck pickup and a Tone Pot for the Bridge pickup, with milder treble loss.

[3] Rotate the bridge Humbucker 180 degrees.
Doing this means that when split, the active coil is in the neck-facing position, closer to the Middle pickup, rather than the bridge-facing position.
Then in Position 2 (Bridge || Middle), the Strat-type quack sound is MUCH better than the stock orientation. Very Stratty.
I physically turned the pickup around instead of electrically splitting to the other coil because the magnetic orientations keep Position 2 humbucking.
[ The Middle pickup is N up, the default split HB coil is S up ]
Since the mounting ring is sloped, I took the pickup out of the mount and turned it around 180 degrees.

After these mods, you never really need to use the push-pull pots to get the best sounds.

New Mods
--------
It occurred to me the other day (only took nearly 40 years) that since my original mods gave me the best sounds without having to use the push-pull pots, there's two switches that could be put to better use.
I never liked the out-of-phase sound on the Tone Pot switch and never used it, so quite happy to ditch that.
The coil split is useful.
All my previous mods were kept.

The "Tele middle" sound has grown on me lately, so I thought I'd add that.
So, this is what I decided to do

[4] Tone Pot Switch   - Up = Split Bridge HB (according to Volume switch) and Add it to the Output.
[5] Volume Pot Switch - Up = Select the Bridge-facing coil of HB when split. Down = Select the Neck-facing coil of HB when split.
This selective split is also copied to the lever switch for automatic splitting in Position 2. Replaces the Ground I had there previously.
[6] I also added a Treble Bleed circuit to the Volume Pot - 1nF capacitor in series with 75k resistor.

So now I can get all combinations of single coils, plus the full HB on its own.
I could get better results using a 4-pole, 5-way mega-switch but I wanted to keep the original lever switch and work with that.


Last edited by Siskin on Wed Apr 03, 2024 12:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re-wiring my Westone Spectrum SX Empty Re: Re-wiring my Westone Spectrum SX

Post by Barry Sun Sep 24, 2023 1:35 pm

Sounds like you've been a busy fella!

The stock Spectum guitars are amazing as is, but of course there's always room for tinkering.

For many it's just a straight pickup swap that will satisfy, especially so for the model years that had the impressive MMK45 humbuckers replaced by the wimpy UBC version (ask me how I know!)

But there is certainly a whole world of modification beyond that. Thanks for detailing your wiring modification, I'm sure it will inspire a few folks to try something new.

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