I'm plotting to mod my strat to do just about everything, but I can't decide which way to do it! I have 2 circuit plans I cobbled together from my ideas + other peoples mods, but I'm undecided as to which will be easier to use Both replace the five way switch with 5 mini toggles, but operate a bit differently:
mod 1 uses 2 toggles to control series/parallel combos of bridge/neck, and either one on its own. 2 more switches reverse the phasing of the neck and bridge. Another switches the mid pickup between series/parallel wiring, in conjunction with a fader in place of a tone pot (Hastings' design) Master Volume, Master tone.
mod 2 controls the bridge/neck with a 4 way rotary in place of one of the tone pots. 2 switches turn the mid pickup on/off and select series or parallel wiring. 2 more reverse the bridge and/or neck pickups. The fifth switch chooses between 2 tone capacitors. Master volume, master tone.
As you can (hopefully) see, both mods look the same on the guitar, and do just about the same thing, but I cant decide which would work better.
If you have these two plans drawn up, either as schematics or wiring diagrams, it would be helpful if you posted the pix. Without pix, it's difficult to see what you're planning to do here.
You state that:
Another switches the mid pickup between series/parallel wiring
Wired in series or parallel with . . . what?
Also, what type of mini- toggle switches are you using? SPST? SPDT?
At first blush, and without knowing more, it seems to me that what you want to accomplish could be simplified considerably. For example, in your mod 2, using a 4 position rotary switch to control neck/bridge pups, I'm assuming your design is using only 3 of the 4 for Bridge/Bridge+Neck/Neck. You could therefore use the 4th position for Bridge * Neck (i.e., in series) and eliminate a toggle switch.
I also built a 5 toggle guitar (Tonemonster2, see schematics page), and based also on a study of what had been done, I went for an on/off switch for each pup, and overall series/parallel, a phase switch just on the neck and a blender. It’s intuitive to use. I did it on a $100 ebay Hondo, so it was low risk experiment that worked out fine.
It’s hard to form an opinion of which of your designs is better, it’s very personal. So instead some questions:
What is the design for? Here may be some reasons and factors:
To experience the thrill of designing something yourself, understanding it, wrestling with switch wrangling and making it work. That motivation I can understand, and it is one of the best reasons to build your own design rather than one that is already presented.
As a test-bed, to hear the effects of many different combinations, so that you can decide which are best for you. To that end, which design gives you the most sound differences? There are 47 different ways of wiring up three single pickups in singles, pairs and threes, in combinations of phase with series and parallel. Then you can add changes made with capacitors, faders etc. You’ll never get it all on one design, but you could start by adding up the number of variations in what you are getting from each.
As a practical way of wiring a guitar for stage use. That would depend on how your brain works. You will probably get used to any design. But can you make quick useful changes with minimal switch movements? (eg, neck single to bridge&middle in series). Or does that even matter to you? For playing, three or four sounds are all I actually use.
Does anyone else need to play this guitar? – either design like this will probably blow their minds. For understanding by others, the best mods feature the standard switch operation, with simple enhancements added.
To increase its value? – probably not, and if it is a valuable guitar, mods usually decrease value, even if they are well designed.
To impress females? Yes that will work fine. Women love complex electrical switching diagrams, particularly if you spend enough time explaining them in full technical detail.
Hi guys, thanks for the comments and perserevence. I understand it's not too easy to work out my designs without schematics (they are all scribbled on scraps of paper and I have no scanner)
Anyway, to clarify about the designs. Basically the switching follows a seqence: first you choose neck/bridge/parallel/series (using either 2 switches or a rotary, depending on the design) The middle pickup can be connected in series/parallel with the other 2, or switched off. Lastly there are phase switches to put any pickup out of phase.
The real difference between the mods is that one gives you a fader for the mid pickup, the other allows you to select 1 of 2 tone capacitors.
I think perhaps mod 2 (with the rotary switch) would be more logical to operate, since the 'main' pickups are controlled by a single knob, then the 5 switches control the mid pickup, phasing and finally tone range.
Though mod 1 allows the middle pickup to be faded in/out, it seems like it would be a bit less clear to see what is selected. I'm not sure how useful the fader would be anyway. Anyone built one with a fader and found it useful?
Last Edit: Feb 3, 2008 5:48:06 GMT -5 by pete12345
That clarifies things a bit. You will find several threads here about using blend pots, it's a favorite topic of discussion. I haven't built one yet myself, so I can't give you an opinion on that.
Personally, I like the rotary switch too, but for stage use, the toggles give you more of a "shift on the fly" capability since you can quickly flick them with a finger, while you have to grab the rotary switch with at least two fingers. So you may want to consider that aspect if switching mid-song is something you do.
I now have a 3rd way of doing this damned mod! This one uses either a tele 4 way or strat 5 way switch to control the neck/bridge, and 2 toggle switches to control the middle, plus 2 for phasing. One tone pot needs to be removed and replaced with a switch, and the other 3 are clustered around that.
I might have a go with this first as I already have 2 extra holes in the pickguard, and removing the neck tone will give a 3rd hole. For now I will just use a neck phase switch, maybe adding one for the bridge at a later date.
Last Edit: Feb 8, 2008 16:30:52 GMT -5 by pete12345
Before one gets too concerned about the apparent density, the left top section is a schematic, the left bottom section is a wiring diagram, and the right side is a chart of all possible combinations including phase.
The phase push pull pots can be left out of the implementation since they are circuit modules upstream of the actual pickup switching.
This particular drawing of Mike's original design was implemented in The Padouk Caster several years ago.