Find New Chemistry With Your Gear – Big Leg Circuits

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Find New Chemistry With Your Gear

How Big Leg Circuits Can Help you Explore New Sounds Hiding In your Favorite Guitar

 

At first, Steve Rowley of Big Leg Circuits wasn’t impressed with the electric guitar.

 

My philosophy was that if I couldn’t play it in front of a campfire, I wasn’t interested,” he recently joked with TheToneKing.com in a phone interview. Though he was a steadfast acoustic picker for several years, things quickly changed when he heard the power of an electric guitar in the hands of revered players like Mark Knopfler and David Gilmour.

 

Knopfler and Gilmour may seem poles apart; Knopfler practically set the standard for electric clean sounds with ferocious-yet-fine finger style moves while Gilmour’s soaring, wide-as-the-horizon fuzz leads and seemingly eternal sustain. But Rowley heard a common thread in both approaches that not only ignited his passion for electric guitar, but a keen interest in understanding how it worked.

 

Rowley heard an aspect of tone that seems to get passed over in most discussions and debates; articulation. What Knopfler and Gilmour were doing went beyond just lows and highs; it was the clarity and voice of the notes they played, whether clean or fuzzed out, that caught Rowley’s ear. It also inspired his thinking about why instruments sound the way they do. This journey, informed by Rowley’s background in chemistry, gave life to Big Leg Circuits.

 

So he did what many of us do: he dug in. And he discovered that he could develop a solution that enabled other guitarists to easily dig deeper into the possibilities that lay within the most common wiring schematics while avoiding burned fingertips, goof-ups, and rat’s nests of wiring.

 

The result is a wiring harness design that is truly plug and play. Rowley’s design uses as a basis, a switching scheme devised by Jimmy Page. Page’s particular wiring mod greatly expands the options available in a dual humbucker design connected through a three-way switch. Phase reversal, coil-splitting, parallel, and series wiring options are accessed via combinations of push-pull potentiometers.

 

The downside of all of that is that getting to a particular tone in the Page circuit can be a daunting operation. Not to mention that wiring up a harness like that may sound like something cut out for an uber-experienced electrical engineer. Big Leg Circuits does all the heavy lifting for you, thankfully. It drops right in. You can also leave the soldering iron in your toolbox; wiring connections use screw terminals for solid connections.

 

Breaking It Down 

 

Rowley didn’t create Big Leg Circuits just to make switching easy. He did it to tap into the nuances of tone!

 

Slight detour: Rowley’s other gig is in chemistry. As a chemist, he has developed a keen understanding of breaking down the building blocks of matter and compounds to discover what they’re comprised of. Of course, sound can be broken down the same way, and Rowley’s analytical skills led him to develop some interesting points-of-view when it comes to tone.

 

Take a great vocalist, like Steven Tyler,” Rowley said. “Ask him to sing A440. When he sings that note, you can tell it’s a human voice.”

 

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Heck, you’ll probably be able to tell it’s Steven Tyler!

 

Now, ask a trumpet player to play A440,” Rowley continued. “You can probably guess it’s a trumpet, but even if you can’t you can definitely tell it’s not a human voice.”

 

That’s because there are other frequencies, undertones and overtones, occurring around A440 that distinguish it’s source. Those undertones and overtones give it the characteristics that help the listener distinguish between a human voice and an instrument.”

 

Rowley discovered the same phenomenon can apply to pickups. Most of us can hear the difference between the typical single coil and typical humbucker, based on a general rule that single coil are, for the most part, going to be brighter and twangier while humbuckers are, again generally speaking, fatter and (relatively) hotter.

 

To Rowley’s ear, a single coil pickup is akin to a solo vocalist; it has a more focused frequency spectrum and stronger fundamental tone. A humbucker, by comparison, is sort of like a choir or vocal ensemble; a greater number of frequencies are floating around and contributing to the tone.

 

Rowley also came to another conclusion.

 

Say what you will about Fender and Gibson, but they got it right when it comes to tone. You may only get three or five different settings, but they sound great and have endured,” Rowley said. So the aim of Big Leg Circuits is not to reinvent the wheel, but let guitarists easily explore and experiment within the realm of classic tone while keeping things as simple and straightforward as possible while incorporating ways to achieve a greater range of articulation beyond what a stock wiring scheme can provide.

 

To do this, Rowley took the original Page harness circuit and streamlined it to avoid redundant, confusing, and unneeded settings (like “all off“) that would just cause more trouble than they’re worth. He also provides the customer options on capacitor values, treble bleed circuits, and even switch tip colors to make sure you get a harness that suits your needs without a lot of fuss. And it all comes ready to drop in to your LP or ES-style guitar. You can see how it easy is when The Tone King himself installs one in an upcoming video (stay tuned for link).

 

If you’ve ever wanted to experiment with new switching possibilities but have shied away because you didn’t want to drastically alter your guitar’s natural tone or just weren’t confident about your electrical skills, Big Leg Circuits is here to give you plenty of options (in more ways than one). Check them out at http://www.biglegcircuits.com/ and on TTK’s demo once released. (Stay tuned for link).

 

In the meantime, here was TTK’s Unboxing video on the Big Leg Circuit Jimmy Page Guitar Wiring Harness:

 

 

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