The Electronics

By John Fisher

As for now, I wired the guitar like a standard Strat but I plan to maybe do some modifications in the future like phase switching of the pickups and an extra switch built into one of the knobs so that when pulled out, it will activate the neck pickup at the same time as the other 2. As of now, you can only activate each pickup individually or if the switch is in between 2 pickups it will activate those 2 but there is not a way to for example turn on the bridge pickup and the neck pickup at the same time leaving the middle pickup inactive, or there is not a way to have all three pickups on at the same time. So by installing a simple pull out switch it is possible to have this flexibility and thus open another world of sound possibilities. Installing a second switch will enable me to switch the phases of one of the pickups in relation to the others. This is simply reversing the polarity or reversing the wires on one of the pickups. This will further open a door to a lot more sounds. The out of phase trick gives a very thin twangy sound as the signal of 2 pickups cancels itself out. The more similar the 2 pickups are the more the signal will be cancelled out or the thinner the sound. You would not want to use this feature in all of your music but it is a unique and interesting sound and can add a lot of variety.

You will notice in the above picture that the plastic pick guard cover is lined with aluminum foil to help shield the electronics from noise.

Here is the standard circuit for a Stratocaster and this is the one I am using at the moment. One ingenious feature of this wiring configuration is that by using the double pole triple throw switch, you can switch to the different pickups and independently set the tone of the middle and neck pickups. This also happens using only one condenser in the circuit. Something that is not indicated in the diagram is that when using a 5 way switch the circuit is similar to the diagram above except you are able to switch in between pickups giving you the flexibility of using any 2 adjacent pickups at the same time. For example: if the switch is positioned in between the bridge pickup and the middle pickup, then both those pickups will be activated at the same time. If you have the switch between the neck pickup and the middle pickup then both of those will be on. This is nothing new, as most Strats have this. I think that just some of the very old Strats do not use 5 way switches but 3 way switches. All the potentiometers are 250 LOG. The pickup wiring color code will differ from brand to brand but the important thing is that the phasing is correct. If when you are using any 2 of the pickups and the sound is extremely thin, then you probably have one of the pickup out of phase with the other.

Here is probably the simplest mod that exists but it is my favorite. You simply have an on and off switch that connects from the hot wire of the neck pickup and goes to the top end wire of the volume control. The above modification is in Red. With this little mod you can have all 3 pickups on at the same time or just the neck pickup and the bridge pickup on at the same time without the middle pickup on.

Here is how to hook up a phase switch with a DPDT (double pole, double throw) switch. The modification is in red. This can also be incorporated in one of the pots by installing a pot that has a pull out switch.

Here is a potentiometer with a DPDT switch incorporated. I got his at the local music store. They are usually 250K or 500K. The are very useful for doing just about any mods. There are many other different modifications that can be done on a Strat like connecting all the pickups in series which will yield all different kinds of results. You can check out the "Stewart Macdonald" web site for all kinds of ideas.

Here is a drawing of the wiring of a typical Strotocaster. The wires with arrows on them are ground wires. Some are soldered to the metal case of the pots.

The Pickups

As always, I am continually trying to scrounge parts whenever possible. Many of the parts to make this guitar were given to me by friends. I got the pickups from a guitar that belonged to "Jeremy Spencer" Jeremy (a friend of mine) used to play with "Fleetwood Mac" way back in the beginning. He has always been known by his incredible slide guitar playing. He had this Yamaha Strat copy guitar that he used for years and then at one point changed the pickups. I don't know what other pickups he put in his guitar but I have the old ones that I used for this guitar. The single coil pickups measure a DC resistance of about 6K7ohms.


Back to Main Page


Back to Home Page