I recently had a customer slip into the Gutter with his American Strat (I greese the sidewalk to “attract” customers). At some point he had a push pull pot installed giving him three series modes. You can see the mod detailed here.
While in series mode these are the pickup switch combinations.
- Bridge and neck in series
- Neck and mid in series and neck and bridge in series as parallel pair
- Neck and mid in series
As you can see position 4 is boring and redundant. The customer is an adventerous go getter and wanted another option for that switch position. The circuit doesn’t lend itself easily to other options.
Fortunately the customer, we’ll call him Cus for short, also wants a master treble and a master bass cut. This frees up one half of the 5 way pickup selector…. Interesting. Thinking, head scratching. I could just google a solution but I prefer a novel approach.
Let’s look at that middle bastard and figure out why he’s too subborn to TURN THE FUCK ON when pup switch is at 4. So a litle about electricity. Like water (and myself at times) it has little will of its own so will follow the path of least resistance. Pickup coils are essentially just a long, winding, miserable, grueling path of resistance. When a pickup circuit is connected correctly from ground through the coil to positive the electrons have no choice but to rejoice when the strings excite the magnet mist. (Stay with me). Looking at the PP switch (it’s a technical term, look it up) we see that the middle negative can either be connected to the ground lead or the wire going to the 5th lug of the pickup switch which also happens to be connected to the positive lead of the neck pickup. Same with the bridge but we don’t care about that right now. When PP switch is down electricy can flow from ground through neck coil to postive out to the negative entry of the middle,through its coil and to the 4th switch lug creating the series connection. But you can see all that. (Nevermind that pickups induce an AC current, it’s just eaiser to think about it this way).
So now that we are all electrical engineers we can clearly see what the problem is. No? Since water, er, electricity is kinda lazy it doesn’t want to go through the middle even when it has a path because while in the 4th position there are two paths and one is much easier than the other, through the neck and out the jack.
Cutting to the chase since Cus needs his guitar back I decided to use the now free half of the pickup switch to change the middle pickups ground path while in the 4th. But there is a snag. For reasons I’m too tired to explain the 3rd and 2nd terminals cannot be connected on this half of the switch to work correctly. My hack solution was to cut the wiper in the switch that connects them. Only it’s a fender switch and they are a pain to disassmble. So I used an asian enclosed five way and opened it up. See below, go ahead, you can look, it’s asleep and won’t mind a peak at its insides.
open switch surgery
Long story short I wired it up so the neck and mid are in parallel in the 4th position. Cus already has that option when the series switch is disengaged and the strat functions as usual but fuck it, he’s happy with it.
Next post we will discuss the treble bass cut portion of this.