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Blend Pot/three Way Switch


El Dangerouso
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I've been thinking about rewiring my guitar with a three way switch blend pot combo. I've got two humbuckers.

I'm sure everyone is thinking, well, just use the blend pot. Here is why I "can't" do it that way.

I'm an old shredhead from the late eighties. I want the three way to slam to the neck pickup for some sweeping, and then slam back to the bridge for alternate picking stuff. If I'm playing with both pickups for some rhythm stuff, I want something other than the 50/50 blend of the middle position on the switch. I might want a little more bridge on this part, a little more neck on this one, etc. Could this be done, and how?

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I've been thinking about rewiring my guitar with a three way switch blend pot combo. I've got two humbuckers.

I'm sure everyone is thinking, well, just use the blend pot. Here is why I "can't" do it that way.

I'm an old shredhead from the late eighties. I want the three way to slam to the neck pickup for some sweeping, and then slam back to the bridge for alternate picking stuff. If I'm playing with both pickups for some rhythm stuff, I want something other than the 50/50 blend of the middle position on the switch. I might want a little more bridge on this part, a little more neck on this one, etc. Could this be done, and how?

So... what kind of 3-way switch are we talking about? The Tele or the Gibson kind?

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Yeah, it's doable - you'll want to get one of those "mega switch" blade type switches though - one of the ones with a separate set of poles for every position - this way you can send the signal through the blend pot when in the middle position, and bypass the blend pot and go direct to your other controls when in the neck or bridge solo position. Using a conventional tele switch, you wouldn't have enough lugs - the signal would go through the blend pot even when selecting just one pickup - so if you switched to just the neck pickup and the blend pot was set at say, 25/75 mix, you'd have a volume drop when jumping there.

Two things to add - if all you want is "slightly less neck pickup" on your middle setting (as I see most people do when they're using a blend pot) you could wire an extra volume knob for just the bass pickup that's only in the path when in that middle position. Saves you a little bit of $, as blend pots are more expensive, and if you had to do a repair on the road or something, standard pots are easier to come by. (Heck, if you knew how much you wanted to cut one pickups' signal, you could use resistors or a trim pot mounted in the cavity to set this, and save yourself a knob and hole, as well!)

When ordering blend pots - get them from Universal Jems if you can, or through Allparts of another one of their suppliers. (Allparts Part# EP 0386-000 for 500K, replace the 6 with a 5 for 250K)

Supporting Brian and this board by ordering Allparts stuff through Universal Jems is always nice, but they turn out to be the reliable source of these pots that I've found. The last several times I've ordered blend pots through Stew Mac, I've gotten regular dual-gang audio pots - so they don't function as blend pots very well if at all - the halfway position is not full volume for both pickups, and the taper for one pickup is messed up. Despite trying to explain to them the problem several times, (and returning them twice) they still don't get it. (They seem to think I'm installing or measuring wrong or don't know what I'm doing - understandable, it would be my first assumption in their position, but I sent them a detailed explanation in an email and spoke to one of their "tech" guys and thought I made the whole situation clear.)

I have also ordered them from another supplier - (WD music I believe?) And the quality of the pot just wasn't good enough for me - one of them fried during installation (and I know you can overheat and damage pots if you aren't careful with soldering, but I haven't done that on any other pot in *years*) and the other one is started to go flaky on me three months in. The Allparts ones I've gotten through Brian and my local music store have treated me well.

If that wiring description up above doesn't make sense, I can try and write up a diagram.

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Makes total sense. That was more than awesome, thanks! I did already get the blend(through Allparts), so I'll have to go after a megaswitch. I really appreciate the time you invested in your answer. It was really thoughtful and helped tremendously. One last quick question; where would be the best place to find said three position "super switch". I can find the five position easily enough, but could not find a three position even with allparts. Might I be stuck with using a five position?

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  • 1 month later...

I fitted a blend pot to my jazz bass build but had same problem with the centre detent position having a residual resistance, so when you blend from full bridge (or full neck) thru to half and half, there is a significant drop in volume - significant enough to render this wiring useless. Now i still need to find a true blend pot with zero residual resistance in the middle so the volume of the 2 pups together is as loud as either one selected on its own. Any ideas?

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