Adding an Alumitone and a Free-Way to a NiteFly

Discussions of the NiteFly NFV1-8, NFV-M, and NFV-SA models
valrus
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Re: Adding an Alumitone and a Free-Way to a NiteFly

Post by valrus »

Got the Zexcoil! I'm eager to install it but trying to wrap my head around this diagram from Lawing's site:
Zexcoil Silent Split Wiring.png
I'll be swapping it in for one of the Dimarzios, which has the following wire colors:
N start: red
N finish: black
S start: white
S finish: green

For the Zexcoil, the wire configuration is the same as the Dimarzio when unsplit: the "outer" wires (red/green for Dimarzio, white/black for Zex) are hot and ground respectively, and the "inner" ones (black/white for D, green/red for Z) get tied together.

The splitting seems different though. Normally (e.g. with the Dimarzio) you tie black and white together for humbucking and ground them both to split it. The hot wire (to the NH terminal on the Free-Way) is the same, split or no. That's why I can use my SPDT to split it, and presumably how the Free-Way works for splitting. But for the Zexcoil, both the hot and ground connections need to change.

Needing to connect the red and white wires to split the Zexcoil presents a problem. I see two options:
1. Put the Zexcoil in the middle pickup slot rather than the neck (though it's advertised as a neck pickup). Replace one of my pots with a push/pull pot and wire the Zexcoil up per the diagram above. Then my existing SPDT will just split the Alumitone.
2. Put the Zexcoil in the neck slot. Figure out how to make the Free-Way split the Zexcoil??? Probably it would have to use those mysterious G3/+4/+3/+2 terminals??? I think figuring this out is beyond my current abilities. Free-Way doesn't provide a diagram of what's connected to what in what position so I'd have to reverse engineer it somehow.

OK, so really 1 option. But maybe you can think of something else???
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Patzag
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Re: Adding an Alumitone and a Free-Way to a NiteFly

Post by Patzag »

valrus wrote: Sat Mar 11, 2023 9:36 pm
OK, so really 1 option. But maybe you can think of something else???
Trial and error?
:D
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mmmguitar
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Re: Adding an Alumitone and a Free-Way to a NiteFly

Post by mmmguitar »

@valrus, as the diagram states, the Zexcoil doesn't actually "split" - It's series/parallel switching between a group of three coils wound in the same direction and polarity under the E, A, and D strings, and another three in opposing wind and polarity under G, B, and e. White = hot, black = ground, red/green = series connection between the two (the series connections between each individual polepiece coil are likely epoxied inside the pickup casing). With the four conductor wires you have to work with, a minimum DPDT switch is required to alternate between series and parallel modes.

If you were to replace the SPDT with a 3PDT or 4PDT, you can have one switch toggle between Alumitone and Zexcoil modes. The model Free-Way switch you have is for coil-splitting three typically-constructed humbuckers via shorting (sending series connections to ground). The single coil Alumitone was able to be adapted to this switching because the tap point for the one coil gets grounded (rather than the connection between two coils, as in a humbucker) - But the Zexcoil requires a more complicated switching which swaps between pairs of hot wires. In short, the Free-Way 5B5-02 can only combine the Zexcoil with other pickups (just don't have anything wired to the NT contact). A 4P5T selector switch (such as The Schaller M or Oak Grigsby) can do series/parallel switching for certain pickup selector switch positions, but wouldn't necessarily be as versatile as your current setup.
Summary of the Parker Guitars speculator market from 2020 onward: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_fool_theory
valrus
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Re: Adding an Alumitone and a Free-Way to a NiteFly

Post by valrus »

Oh, I hadn't thought of it because I think we're getting a bit esoteric for guitar parts and I hadn't seen any for sale in the usual places, but of course there's such a thing as a 3PDT! Thank you for the explanations, that makes a lot of sense — Zexcoil has a diagram for how to wire a DPDT for their so-called "silent split." (Don't blame me for my imprecise wording, I was just borrowing from Zexcoil's own materials! But I do see that understanding that it's actually a series/parallel difference is critical to getting why the wiring needs to be how it is.)

The 3PDT (with ⅔ devoted to the Zexcoil and ⅓ to the Alumitone) seems like the most straightforward replacement for sure, I just need to make sure it fits in the hole where the SPDT lives now.

This guitar is going to be so ridiculous, I love it.
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mmmguitar
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Re: Adding an Alumitone and a Free-Way to a NiteFly

Post by mmmguitar »

valrus wrote: Sun Mar 12, 2023 3:03 am Don't blame me for my imprecise wording, I was just borrowing from Zexcoil's own materials!
No blame at all: The Imprecise terminology and jargon that brands push are the turtle and elephant holding up the guitar industry; and it's up to us to decipher it.
valrus wrote: Sun Mar 12, 2023 3:03 am I just need to make sure it fits in the hole where the SPDT lives now.
If the new switch shaft is smaller, use a washer. If it's larger, use a round file or larger bit.
valrus wrote: Sun Mar 12, 2023 3:03 am This guitar is going to be so ridiculous, I love it.
:D The thrill of the chase is its own reward.
Summary of the Parker Guitars speculator market from 2020 onward: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_fool_theory
valrus
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Re: Adding an Alumitone and a Free-Way to a NiteFly

Post by valrus »

Switch received on Friday, pickup swap completed yesterday. I finally put new strings on to signify my intention not to mess around with the insides of this guitar for a while. 😄

Finding a [3+]PDT with the configuration I wanted (3 position) was more challenging than expected. In the end, good old guitarelectronics.com was the place. And fortunately the switch actually fit between the piezo volume and tone pots, since I didn't measure it aside from the pickguard hole. It was pretty close though!

The Zexcoil is a significant improvement over the Cruiser IMO, not least because it's loud enough to be usable for me in both humbucking and split — I mean series and parallel modes. I do still want to do a more systematic overview of the tones but in thinking about it I'm finding that I don't really have a good vocabulary for it. All I can say right now is the Zexcoil is satisfyingly fat in series mode and that "Throaty Bucker" is the worst sequence of syllables in the English language.

Once again, thank you so much for the help with this @mmmguitar, this would have been drastically harder without your advice and recommendations!
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