|Gibson 50s Style Wiring|
50s Style Wiring refers to how most Gibson Les Pauls in the 1950s had their volume and tone pots connected. Most people who like this wiring agree that more treble is retained when you roll the volume back. The main difference between modern and 50s wiring is what lug of the volume pot the capacitor (cap) wire from the tone pot is connected to. Generally, it can be expected that a stock modern guitar has the tone cap connected to the ouside lug of the vol pot whereas the 50s vintage guitar would have its tone cap connected to the middle lug. Click the images below for larger, more clear versions.
Many people describe this mod then as just "moving the capacitor wire from the outside lug of the volume pot to the middle lug." This is bad.
It is an over-simplication to think of the 50s mod in terms of just moving the cap from one lug to another. The essence of 50s wiring involves connecting the cap to the output of the pot instead of to the input of the pot. Usually, the output comes from the middle lug and the input goes into an outside lug. There are times, however, when this arrangement is not used. In such instances, the "swap from the outside to the middle" simplification will not provide 50s style wiring.
With independent volume control wiring for instance (which enough people prefer that it warrants mention), the pickup (input) is connected to the middle lug and the switch (output) is connected to the outside lug. In this case, connecting the cap to the middle lug is connecting the cap to the pickup, which is back to modern wiring.
If the cap is not connected to the output of the pot, you do not have 50s wiring. Correctly then, 50s wiring should be described as "swapping the cap from the input connection to the output connection" and not as "swapping the cap from the outside lug to the middle lug."
Changing the tone pot's lug connections is considered more aesthetic than functional.
In a 50s Wiring thread on the Les Paul Forum, member Lewguitar put it this way:
In diagram #1 (stock) the tone cap is connected to the pickup itself before the output of the pickup passes through the volume pot.