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Switches, Pots And Zillions O' Stuff.


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Hi to everyone. I wanted to start a thread for those who like lots of switches and options on their guitars (like, B.C.Rich Bich users). I want you to share opinions, experiences, ideas, tips, schematics, instructions, advices, and everything you know about:


do you like independent volumes? master volume? neck + master volume?


do you use 1 pot? 2? none at all? or use switches instead? varitone switches?

-pickup selectors:

3-way toggle? 4-way, 5-way, rotary switch, megaswitches, superswitches, ultra switches, switcheroo systems


do you like series/parallel, coil splitting, phase, to series/parallel the humbuckers, or a varitone rotary-switch with, killswitch, Varitone in and out switch, etc


treble boosters, mid boosters, bass boosters, volume boosters, dual boosters, active varitones, buffers, sustainers, GPS, etc

if your guitar looks like this (or has more options), then share all you know...


Edited by Anti-Idiot
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GPS? All my guitars have differential GPS correction, WAAS and EGNOS built-in.


well, since everybody is a little shy, i'll start:

i have a LP with series/parallel switches for each pickup. i'm thinkin' bout changin' the tone pots (since i barely use 'em) for a tone rotary-switch for the neck pickup, and replacing the Bridge tone for a master volume.

i used to have preamps on another guitar, "Till preamp". two of 'em, one for each pickup. both pots used to look those EMG thingys, but since i hated to unplugged my guitar everytime, i took 'em off.

now, i want a new guitar with some features like those BCR Bich, i love em. or at least, i want to know if Hanneman or Mustained used the boosters (i love their sound).


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I have an Epiphone LP with a Kent Armstrong Distortion HB in the bridge and the stock neck humbucker. I have fitted a coil tap to the Armstrong (not possible on the stock pickup, only two wires) controlled by a puch/pull on the volume pot. In addition I have put in the "Strawberry Ice" or "Black Ice" overdrive mods (if you don't know what they are, just do a search and look on the Project Guitar home page tutorial section)

Instead of fitting a switch to bring in the overdrive, i connected it to the bridge tone pot instead, seeing as I never use it. However, the effect does not really come in gradually, but comes on when the tone pot is turned to ten, and off in all other positions. I don't really mind though, because the effect can be controlled quite well with the volume and attack. It sounds quite good with one coil tapped and espesially when the neck pickup is added as well (the neck PU is not affected by the overdrive). 

With the bridge PU humbucking, the overdrive can get a little bit muddy when playing riffs on the low strings, but the top strings sound good. It's quite a useful overdrive for blues/rock sorta stuff, and sounds good with open chords, particularly on the higher strings. The main drawback is that there can be a slight loss of volume when bringing the effect in.


Edited by heggis
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In addition I have put in the "Strawberry Ice" or "Black Ice" overdrive mods (if you don't know what they are, just do a search and look on the Project Guitar home page tutorial section)

oh, i totally forgot 'bout that! i did use a Germanium diode as Black Ice. i took it away since it was, as you said, a volume sucker. thanx for your reply :D

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OK...I'll bite, why not!

There are two sites you must know when thinking custom wiring...Project Guitar is not one of them!

First, the guys over at Guitar Nuts 2 Forum have a bunch of great tested schematics...but also quite a few experienced people good at the logic and advice...I know because thay have helped me in the past probably more than I can help people here :D

Second, the most amazing and comprehensive site comes from Japan (fortunately there is an english version)...DGB Studio. There are hundreds and hundreds of wiring diagrams for every combination of pickups and a lot of the standard wiring in stock instruments too. For builders there's plenty of other unusual stuff like scale lengths, fret distances and string tensions. But the wiring schemes are astonishing...

1H Mod (93)

1S Mod(26)

2H HH Mod(208)

2S Mod(87)

HS Mod(36)

SH Mod(60)

3H Mod(33)

3S Mod(86)

3S_2 Mod(129)

HSH Mod(67)

SHS Mod(20)

SSH Mod(107)

Bass Mod(84)

W-Neck Mod(18)

The above is just the passive section...yes that's right 208 different wiring schemes for 2xHB's...215 for a 3xS strat!. Not only that, you can even work out combinations and make up your own. They have active systems and the wiring codes for most available pickups!

For pickup makers, there are calculated turns, impedances and wire diameters for a huge range of common and unusual pickups...data on position of pickups...even the positions of the harmonic nodes along a strings length...I really don't know who is behind it but it is regularly and continuously updated and so only gets bigger!




VR2=0:Humbucker (High Cut)

Here is an example of a simple but innovative one. A single HB...the tone control however is rigged so that in the middle it is a full HB, towards ten it splits the HB and towards 5 it works as a normal tone control. No added switches or parts at all...how clever is that!

Coil splitting can be done by shorting the coils. In the above tone pot, you can see that the tone pot (VR2) has the wiper (middle) and one side connected to the second of the HB coils. That means as you turn towards that side, the resistance gets gradually less towards completely shorting and so knocking out that coil.


On the other hand...you can get way too complicated for your own good. A lot of mods really depend on the guitar, it's pickups and the player and what they expect from it. Most of them can only be appreciated fully if you play fairly clean...something generally lacking for a lot of players.

Some sounds like out of phase can sound really bad, particularly if applied to the two coils of a Humbucker, but sometimes it can work out well...my new tele has a phase switch on the neck pickup but the huge bridge HB means that it's second coil is half way to the middle and effectively all coils are on...this is a little bit like having all three pickups on a strat on but the neck out of phase (a really nice sound, but difficult to achieve).

I learned a lot of my wiring ideas by working on a cheap strat. I highly recommend this as a way to play around with all kinds of ideas and not just wiring either...

This guitar has now become famous at PG for a whole range of reasons for different people...


I bought this guitar for $50 and then went berserk with it. Extensive and ever changing wiring ideas of course but I also refinished it, substantially hollowed the whole thing out and cut that f-hole right through the guitar! I put on a new bridge and learned to set up tremolo's to stay in tune and float. On this guitar I added washers behind the tuners to get a staggered effect so that the string tree simply rocks to cut back on resonance...stays in tune amazingly well with cheap non-locking tuners and a standard plastic nut. Eventually, I cut another cavity in it for the control knobs towards the back and installed one of the first fully working and installed sustainers...the black neck pickup is the actual one made in the pictorial on winding a driver. I notice when this photo was taken, I was experimenting with putting a piezo in the neck socket...you can see an orange wire behind the neck...this worked surprisingly well...but I took it out later. Almost all of this was done with very little cost, no fancy pickups just the stock cheapo single coils that came with the guitar, stock pots and selector.

It was so much fun, I wore it out...it now hangs on the wall next to my front door! Anyone in Melbourne, Australia want a cheap guitar I got a bunch of them, new and perfect for this kind of thing...I got to get rid of them :D ...seriously!

The lesson learned though is that only a few sounds are really useful and 3~5 is probably enough for any instrument.

To get a better tone out of a guitar thicker strings make a significant difference...but then you can't do all those vai like shredding if you move up. A higher action will generally improve tone as well. Learning how to intonate and set up the guitar to your playing style also helps...a guitar that plays really in tune will always "sound better" than one that doesn't.

A lot of players get lazy or used to a certain setup...often the way a guitar came or that suited the beginner or a trend. I know I am old, but 10-46 is still considered "light", 9-46 super light. If you want to play fast lead, sweeping and tapping and legato shredding, well lights probably are the way to go but they are a little like rubber bands, the lower tension gives far less force into the guitar and so the character of the wood is lost a fair bit as they just don't have the energy to really transmit into the guitar. If you do a bit of rhythm work (even fast metal stuff) or blues and classic rock like lead then a higher gauge will substantially help...but you have to really work at it to begin with.

I know this is a little "off topic" but there have been a lot of threads seeking "creative wiring" but all the wiring in the world can't do much with a guitar that doesn't play to it's optimum...at least in my opinion.

Before hacking into a decent guitar, I suggest a practice guitar to play with all of your ideas is well worth the investment. That way you can learn how these wiring things sound and practice other stuff and go wild finding the things that work for you. I now have another strat that replaced this old one...I have set it up to play well...but all the electronics have been removed so I can stick pickups anywhere under the strings without removing them and play with as many switches and pots as I like with a small plywood control plate.

Anyway...if wiring is something you want to get into, there are an infinite range of possibilities and even trying to work out how a lot of these DGB studio or other diagrams work can be entertaining in itself...see what you can come up with too...


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wow peter, thanks. i did check DGB Studios website once, but i couldn't find it anymore. thanx, it was an orgasmic experience; i have sooooooo many mods to satisfy my need for a fix... i mean, my curiosity. i'm not an addict.

one question, does anybody know where i can find the schematic for the 80s BCRich preamp?(single or dual boost and varitone)

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