Do Cutlass pickups still sound great without the silent circuit? Answer: YES!
When I recently purchased a used Cutlass SSS, I noticed there was just a bit of hiss from the number 1 and number 2 pickup positions (bridge and bridge/middle). I assumed it was a bad ground on the bridge pickup. I checked the wiring and there was a loose connection where the bridge shield wire connects to the circuit board. To make a long story short, I couldn’t fix it, and the circuit board needs to be replaced. When I order a new board, I need to send the old one in (as EBMM customer service explained, it is a proprietary part, so they’d like me to send it in), so I thought to myself as I went about desoldering the connections: “Well, as long as everything is being disconnected, let me just wire up some CTS pots and a .22uf capacitor to it, and see how it sounds.” Pretty much exactly the same, albeit with the usual amount of 60 cycle hum on positions 1, 3, and 5… so if you were wondering how much the silent circuit affects the tone… I don’t think it does. And the pickups are pretty quiet even without the silent circuit. It’s a great guitar, and my favorite Music Man that I’ve owned… It’s a shame about the circuit board (bought used/buyer beware, blah, blah), but it will be back to normal soon.