Simple Guitar Sound Modifications & Basic Electronics

Volume 1: Mods with single coil pickups

Bert van der Moer

logo zonder achtergrond.jpg


Filename: Guitar_electronics_and_soundENv6epub3

First English edition, published by Guitars Recycled 2013

No part of this book may be reproduced without written consent by the publisher/author

NUR code: 667

ISBN: 978.809090.xx



In no way does the author accept liability for direct or indirect damage or loss as result of (mis)treating a guitar following these ideas ? there are many variables and improvisation is unavoidable.

If your guitar is still under warranty, changes will make that utterly void.

The author is in no way associated with FMIC Fender?, Gibson Inc, or any other musical instruments factory mentioned in this book.








Simple Guitar Sound Modifications & Basic Electronics. 1

Volume 1: Mods with single coil pickups. 1

Copyright 1

Stuff. 1

4word. 5

A bit of background. 7

Electronic mods for sound. 9

Warnings. 9

A labstrat 10

Switches represented in the drawings. 12

Modding single coil pups Fender style. 14

Adjust magnet to string distance. 15

Adjust individual pole pieces. 16

With adjustment screws. 17

Without adjustment screws. 17

Add additional options - tone control adventures. 18

Mod 1 tone control: Swap bridge pup and midpup. 19

Mod 2 tone control: bridge and midpup share one tonepot 22

Mod 3 tone control: Splitting neck and mid (add capacitor) 24

Mod 4 tone control: Additional pot for the bridge pickup. 25

Neck plus bridge position added. 26

Tele no load circuit! 28

Telecaster Stereo output & no-load (combined) 31

Strat no-load switch! 32

Stereo output Strat (+no-load) 35

Tapped SC pickups. 41

Treble Bleed Capacitor 44

Combinations of two and more SC pups. 47

Parallel / series switching (in phase) 47

Strat bridge/mid in series. 48

Telecaster in series: bridge / neck (that?s all you have) 54

Strat neck/mid in series. 56

Strat bridge/neck in series. 56

All (three) pups in series. 56

All series mode ? without standard Strat mode. 58

Parallel out of phase ? bridge/midpup. 59

Phase switching with a 2-pickup Tele-style guitar 63

Variation: add separate volume control for the outphase pup. 63

Series and phase switching ? bridge/mid pup. 64

Magnetic polarity switching. 64

Madmod: All series, parallel and phase combinations. 66

Replace by a better pup set 69

.. 71

Winding your own pups. 71

Other sound influencers. 72

Amplifiers. 72

Tubes. 72

Transistors. 73

Hybrids (tube preamp) 74

Cables. 74

Capacity en impedance. 74

Contacts and interface resistance. 74

Guitar electronics blurb. 75

Pick-ups introduction. 75

How do you buck the hum?. 77

Magnets. 80

Just a bit of electronics theory. 80

Phase, wosdat?. 81

Magnetic in/out phase. 81

Phase test 82

Series and parallel 82

Calculations with resistance/ impedance. 83

Mismatch impedance. 85

Switches and switching. 85

The S1 switch. 87

Megaswitches. 88

The super 5 way switch. 89

The Les Paul 3-way switch. 90

The ?pot? or? ?potmeter? 92

How do we connect the pot?. 92

Tonepot circuit -potmeter as tone control 93

The capacitor. 93

Tone capacity values to play with. 94

Oil paper capacitor 95

The Strat PU switch, 3 or 5-way?. 95

The Tele PU switch, 3-way. 97

The ?jack? 98

A (more-or-less) standard Strat circuit 99

A (more-or-less) standard Tele circuit 100

The more-or-less standard Les Paul circuit 100

Measuring. 102

Spectrum analyzers. 102

Scope: Wave forms, phase differences. 102

Multimeter: Resistance, Voltage and Current 103

Impedance measuring. 104

Coils and uncle Henry. 104

DB Meter: decibel 105

Measure with wot?. 105

Logarithmic relations - Decibel 105

Tools. 106

How to make a PCB ? printed circuit board ? nice if you can. 106

Aluminum or copper foil - must 107

Ruler(s) - must 108

Soldering iron and kit - must 108

Multimeter - must 108

Magnet polarity indicator - nice. 109

Tuners - must 109

Normal $. 109

Expensive $$. 109

Stroboscopic (even more expensive) $$$. 110

Problems. 111

Humming amp. 111

Creaky pots. 113

Reference and sources. 114

Books shops shows. 114

Trademarks. 116

Keyword list 117



My first three books dealt with the construction of frankenstein Strats, Teles and PBasses, with used (or new if you have the cash) components available on the open market, i.e. the net.

Some time after I sold a number these books, I was increasingly swamped with questions about the how?s, the what?s and the wherefore?s that make the sound of a guitar. The effect of particular paint, wood, pups and how you could influence that sound. Very often questions about modifications or ?mods?.


Sound is subjective, what one person likes - the bite of a Tele bridge pup, or the clean single coil sound made famous by Hank Marvin - is a nightmare for others, who might prefer the woolly jazz tone of a Gibson super C400 or ear tearing noise of a heavily distorted BCRich Warlock. I published a mod on the web (videoclip) where you can hear the effect of two pups out of phase, when I got some remarks ?why the hell one would do that to get such an awful sound? whereas some big names use the somewhat thin and throttled out-of-phase sound on purpose.


There are a large number of reasons to want a special tone; it is worthwhile to experiment a bit. Sound results from a combination of design details that can have a different effect on each individual guitar. In this book I focus on Electronics mods, but I may add a bit about wood, paint, strings and other hardware.


As my other books, this one is intended for the non-professional electronics buff. Dummy takes it a bit too far, but definitely those who want to do something about the sound of their instruments without having to delve in too much theory.


Regretfully, and by necessity a small amount of Electronics theory understanding is necessary (and also interesting, honest!), but I try to stick to the basics. It helps if you can do some simple soldering, for starters.


All this information can of course also be found on the Internet. With a long history of IT management behind me, I know how much time that ?finding? takes. Moreover, it still requires a basic knowhow in order to weed out the crap from the credible. Google for example all the different explanations for coil split and coil tap.


IMPORTANT: When writing the book I realized that the subject was far more complex than I had foreseen. I like to keep the books smallish, therefore decided to make two parts:


Volume 1 about single coils as in the standard Fender guitars (this part)

Volume 2 about humbuckers as in the Gibson family



Bert van der Moer

Borger, Nederland 2014

You are visitor:


A bit of background

When I was about 14, my parents gave me a guitar. Ah well, the largest part I had scraped together as delivery boy for a small laundry shop. I drove an old fashioned granny bicycle with a large rack in front. They?re cool nowadays again, my daughter wanted one badly.

The next twelve years the guitar would play a crucial role in my life.

Across the street lived a good friend of my age, suffering the same early onset of guitar mania.

His auntie ? singer with the Kilima Hawaiians ? was my first guitar teacher. Fairly soon my friend and I played all kind of stuff. Move It by Cliff Richard had a great intro that we could repeat endlessly, but also ?Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley? was on the very first rudimentary set list. Btw, Tom Dooley was a real person who was actually hung somewhere around 1890?s ? a sad story.

The first song I really learned to comp was ?Living Doll? also by Uncle Cliff. A fairly famous guitarist (albeit in the Netherlands) gave guitar lessons in a shop in The Hague ? one of the first shops in the late fifties where you actually could see, feel and smell Fender USA Strats and all the kit like Echolette. Then of course came Guitar Boogie and all the stuff by Chuck Berry and all the stuff by the Shadows.

As we didn?t have any money we decided to build electric guitars ourselves; not really bothered by our complete lack of knowledge. Modeled after the Les Paul, the body was not solid, but quite airy, too airy in fact. Front and back were plywood and the sides from an easy workable but not very strong wood (maybe balsa). Those sides weren?t structurally very clever, we had no idea yet of the forces involved. When stringing up for the first time, the guitars folded nicely double ? end of exercise.

But, we had learned quite a lot. Making the pickups, necks, fretting the fretboard, setting up the scale etc ? all that without the internet! We made the pups ourselves, winding them on a 78 rpm turntable and counting.

My old friend became a pro musician and after that luthier and guitar collector (amazing collection he has) and he lives in Canada. We saw each other for the last time in 1967, and ? time passes - we found each other again on the net in 2011!

I had played in the rock scene in The Hague but stopped in 1969. Marriage, kids and career.

I started using the knowledge we had collected in 1959 again in 2004 when I retired after a reasonable career in ICT.

Initially I set out to build guitars, but the Dutch tax system is not very friendly for that type of business, where much has to come from the US. All duties, vats and other taxes make it far too expensive to put a reasonable margin on top. Moreover, building guitars is hard work, with deadlines and such. I?m a lazy sod, so no thanks.

I built a few Strats from used parts and made so many notes that a little book was easily put together. Writing is fun. So ?how to build? books on Strat, PBass and recently Tele came out in Dutch as well as in English. Don?t make me rich, but yield enough dough to buy more parts and tools to build yet another guitar.

Researching, writing and selling these books produced many contacts and a lot more questions, many about sound and Electronics. So, as my previous incarnation in ICT gave me quite a lot of Electronics knowhow, I decided that was to be my next book ? Guitar Electronics and how to modify sound.



Electronic mods for sound

Following are modifications to broaden, tighten, flatten, sharpen, distort, clean up, or dull your guitar?s tone. The underlying theory and other boring stuff are given as much as possible in separate chapters. I?m sorry but here and there you need just a tiny bit of theory understanding in order to start a mod ? if only to avoid deadly mistakes.


You will find that a number of mods I have described in a DIY format are also available on the net as kit with all parts and Construction Guide complete, but not all follow my design principle that you want to switch easily back to the original non-modified situation.


In order to actually build mods, the only thing you have to exercise just a bit before starting is soldering, yep indeed. The eyes of many guitarists will unfocus and glaze over when you mention the word, but it is not really difficult. Get a cheap soldering iron and do try it out on a few pieces of scrap wire and board or else you may end up with a drama with large lumps of blackened solder on mortally burned contact lugs. And, don?t forget a soldering iron is very hot; your skin will sizzle and stick to it. Smells horrible.


If that happens immediately hold the spot (not the iron, but the burned piece of skin if still attached to your body) under streaming cold water and if you have it apply some lavender oil (essential oil, works wonders on burns).


First I deal with simple, single mods, say those that involve one switch or something doing one thing. Thereafter we deal with mods that do more than one thing or combinations of mods. You?ll see that that rapidly becomes more complex.


As? a matter of principle, all my mods are set up such that you can easily go back to the standard (stock) Strat, Tele or PBass situation. Be careful with some mods you see on the internet which are quite permanent.



Here a few thoughts to consider before attacking with screwdrivers, drill and soldering irons:


Firstly. If your axe is still new the guarantee will be void the moment that you unscrew one tiny screw, let alone stick a soldering iron in its innards. So that?s definitely a ?don?t do this at home? - yet.


Secondly. There are a lot of mods. Plan ahead very well what sound you want to achieve and try to listen to guitars that have the mod (some on my website). A lot of simultaneous mods make a setup messy, vulnerable and confusing on stage.


Thirdly. Lines on a drawing look nice and straight. When you translate that into wires and solder it quickly becomes messy. Work neatly. Also as a rule of thumb, the better (regretfully this normally equals more expensive) equipment you have, the cleaner your result and more reliable.


Fourthly. I have not made the drawings in this booklet conforming to engineering standards, formally I am not one of them just missed the stamina to go for degrees. I rather try to make things clear. Some drawings I give as component views with wires, others I may give as generalized more formal electronic schematics. Both have their merits.


Fifthly. For each mod I will give a complexity grade. So take heed, when I say that a mod is complex and difficult, it really is.

A labstrat

If you plan to do more than one mod, it is a good idea to have one old, written off or very cheap guitar on which to test your mods before fucking up your expensive custom shop Fender. It certainly worked for me.


As I wanted to test each mod that I describe, this would require me to repeatedly construct and deconstruct various instruments in order to mount yet another set of modified electronics. Let alone the damage on all the sets of strings you would need.


So I found on eBay a cheapo (not even very bad) poplar body and had almost the entire top routed out, such that you can take a loaded pickup and easily move it into place, without replacing strings. So if you plan to do more than single mod, a labstrat is a good idea. Took care though to add a lot of shielding!!


The trem is fixed in place with a little wooden block (? la Clapton) eliminating the need for springs and spring claw and adjustment.




At a later stage I may do some frequency measurements with tremolo springs added as these have an effect on sound, a bit like old spring reverbs.


On my reference Labstrat I roughly set the factory adjustments. String to pole piece distance around 2.2mm with string depressed at last fret.







Switches represented in the drawings








Toggle switches are represented (by me) as follows:




Here as example the most commonly used DPDT (dual pole double throw) switch, seen from below. The letter identification of the lugs as I use it throughout the books is shown next to it.


The position of the switch is always given with a transparent blue square. In the example the connections B-C and E-F are active.

In some cases you need a simultaneous SPDT switching function which can be either a separate simple SPDT switch, or can be integrated as a 3PDT switch; if you need to do the two switching functions simultaneously.


Below is a schematic of the standard 5-way ?rotary? switch, with three real positions (3 stops) and the 2 stops in between. That is for the Strat; for Tele there are only three stops. And then there are of course variations to the standard on the market with more stops and possibilities ? here I stick to the ?vintage? standard.


The Strat switch has a make before break runner, which will connect with two adjacent contacts if you place it right in the middle between two, the extra stops will hold the runner in the in-between place. The very early Strat switches didn?t have these dummy stops, but players fiddled around, or filed stops and eventually Fender provided them standard. The blue dots in the drawing are the stops, you can see that only three of the five coincide one to one with one of the three contacts.


These switches are in fact double rotaries, but on a single axis.


The drawings will show the two halves separately, so it?s easy to follow the flow of signal.

The Tele 3-way switch is the same, but without the in-between stops.






Modding single coil pups Fender style

The mods in this book are based on Strat or Tele single coil configurations, but are applicable (with small adaptations) to most two and three pup SC setups. Some of these mods can of course also be done with dual coil humbuckers.

Here is a summary of what we can do with SC pups to change sound and in the following chapters we will explore each of these in practice.


a.     Changes with one pup

a.     Fiddle with magnet to string distance

b.     add or modify tone control

c.      Coil-tapped single coil

b.     Modding with two or more pups in combination

a.     Series / parallel

b.     In phase, out phase (electronic)

c.      In phase, out phase magnetic

d.     Adding Neck plus bridge pup option (for classic 3 SC Strats)

c.      Replacing pickups (better) sets

d.     Stereo outputs

e.      Bypass tone & volume pots (no-load option)

f.       Pups DIY coils


A section on each mod follows.



Adjust magnet to string distance

Complexity: basic

In fact this is part of a good setup. However, by ignoring the factory settings you can adapt sound/volume of one or both sides of a pup to your liking.


This is definitely the easiest way to do a little modding or fuck up your sound completely. Normally pups are mounted with two screws on the scratchplate (Strat, Tele) or in the body (vintage Tele, PBass). In most cases easily accessible with a Phillips screwdriver to change the distance between pup and strings.



Vintage Telecasters are a bit more unwieldy as the screws are under the pickguard (see picture), so you need to remove the pickguard in order to get to the adjustment screws.


For most guitars you can find a factory recommendation which is a good point of departure for your experiments. For Strat and Tele the string to magnet distance is defined as around 2.3 to 3 mm, with the strings depressed at the last fret.


The max height will be achieved when the strings hit the pole pieces when depressed at the last fret. So go a bit lower than that in order avoid funny noises, strings sticking to the magnets, loss of tone and at best problems with intonation.


The magnets pull the strings, so when they get too close for comfort the sound will be throttled; too far away the signal becomes too low. As with many things, make small changes and then try the effect.



measure jpu.jpg





Adjust individual pole pieces

Complexity: not really but be patient.


In addition to the whole pup you can in some cases adjust the individual pole pieces.

With adjustment screws

Never seen those on Strat and Tele family, many humbuckers (Gibson) have them on one or on both coils.


Without adjustment screws

In cases where the underside of the pup has a long metal strip you can?t do anything per pole piece, end of story.

In many Strat pups however you can access the pole pieces from both sides, so here you can ? extremely carefully ? move a pole piece up or down a tiny bit.



Be very careful; the fit in the coils is very tight and if you handle this roughly or to far up or down you can damage the coilwire ? end of pup.


Doing this is your own responsibility and as the pups are not designed to suffer this treatment your warranty if still present is immediately void.


That said, you can improve for example an E1 or B2 string that sounds a bit weak ? out of balance ? by moving the pole piece a bit closer.


Wound strings have a slightly smaller magnetic field compared to non-wound, for example G3. So you could compensate it with the polepiece when changing between the two string types.


Strat standard setting: The polepieces have three lengths. The largest are for D and G, the shortest for B and remaining for the other strings.





Tele bridge standard setting:

Polepieces have two lengths. Longest for D and G, for the other strings they?re shorter but the same length.


Tele neck standard setting: All polepieces same length.



Add additional options - tone control adventures

strat 5way switch p5.jpg
Complexity: not so bad



On the standard (stock issue) Strat the bridge pup has no tone control. These mods are variation on the single them of adding bridge tone control

If you follow the drawing above (representing position 5 of the switch) you will notice that the VOLUME pot is connected to the bridge pup (so there is volume control) but NOT to the corresponding tone pot ? the red wire indicates ?nc? which stands for no connection (in reality there is no wire but just a blank lug as we will see below).

Compare that to position 4 which connects the volume pot as well as the tone pot.


Some players would like to have tone control on the bridge pup, so cando as follows:


There are 4 approaches:

1.     Swap bridge pup and mid pup on the switch (after that the mid pup on its own will have no tone control).

2.     Bridging bridge and midpup, they then share the same tone pot.

3.     Split neck and mid (add another cap)

4.     Add an additional tonepot/cap for the neck pup.

5.     Treble bleed


Mod 1 tone control: Swap bridge pup and midpup

Complexity: simple

strat 5way switch mods 1.jpg



This is the simplest mod. Just swap the lead coming from the mid tonepot to the open (NC) lug on the switch.

The pictures 1, 2 and 3 show this in real life on a real vintage type switch. Note that there are other switches, look different but behave exactly the same.


Carefully desolder with small soldering iron en move to the other lug.


The result must be clearly audible. You can now get rid of some of the squeaky tones of the bridge pup. The mid pup is now without tone (position 3) but will have tone control again in position 4 together with the bridge pup.


The midpup without tone control circuit can sound slightly different (maybe better) as there is no leakage of high frequencies to earth at all in position 3.


You be the judge of what you prefer. Don?t like? Go back or try one of the following.













Mod 2 tone control: bridge and midpup share one tonepot

strat 5way switch mods 2.jpg
Complexity: none



mod2bridgemidcommonrtone.jpg strat 5way switch mods 3.jpg

This mod is actually simpler than the previous one. You just mount a piece of wire between the open lug and the lug that connects the mid tonepot. The red wire in the drawing corresponds with the red arrow in the pic.


You have to test if the result is acceptable, electronically you influence the whole circuit, and two pups together have different impedances, capacities etc compared to an individual pup.



Mod 3 tone control: Splitting neck and mid (add capacitor)

Complexity: not too bad



Here you split the tone control circuit in two independent parts, with each pot its own capacitor.

You can do this in combination with the standard wiring, with mod 1 but with mod 2 you can do this as well. For the bridge tone you could get a 0.022uF of 0.01uF capacitor.


With the mod3+1 combination there is no tone control on the midpup. The 5way switch positions now do the following:


Mod 3 with mod 1:

Position 1 = neck pup with tone pot I

Position 2= neck+mid with tone pot I

Position 3= mid t, no tone control

Position 4= mid+bridge pup tonepot II

Position 5= bridge pup, tonepot II




Mod 3 with mod 2 gives the following options:


Position 1 = neck with tone pot I

Position 2= neck+mid, tone pot I

Position 3= mid, tonepot II

Position 4= mid+bridge, tonepot II

Position 5= bridge, tonepot II


Mod 3 with standard Strat wiring gives the following:

Position 1 = neck with tone pot I

Position 2= neck+mid, tone pot I

Position 3= mid, tonepot II

Position 4= mid+bridge, tonepot II

Position 5= bridge, no tone control


The pic shows where you are going to cut and add another capacitor.


Note change this pic.














Mod 4 tone control: Additional pot for the bridge pickup

Complexity: not too bad if you can find the right pot


If you can find one you could replace the current mid tonepot by a double pot (possibly concentric), taking the previous pictures one further you just add a separate tone control pot for the bridge pup. You need an additional cap as well.

Difficult to find, nonlinear concentric pots with these values 250 or 500K are hard to find.


You can of course drill a hole and add a separate tonepot. Not preferred really.

Neck plus bridge position added

strat 5way  mods stock 0.jpg
Complexity: not too bad

The standard Strat doesn?t have this option, Tele does but there?re only to for starters.


Taking the standard circuit above we can add a simple switch to swap neck and mid with the 5way in position 2.







A fairly straightforward mod.

Project plan:

Prepare a DPDT switch (best is a pushpull pot) with a crosswiring (connect A-F and C-D).

If you use a pushpull replace a pot with this one and rewire the original pot connections (not change there)

No connect the mid plus bridge lugs from the 5way switch to C-F as drawn and wire the signal side of mid and bridge pups to the switch points A-D.

Done with the switch in the normal position (use up or down as you like) the Strat will behave as usual, when switched to active the following situation suddenly available:

Position 1, neck pup

Position 2, neck plus mid pup

Position 3, bridge pup with tone control!

Position 4, mid plus bridge with tone control

Position 5, mid pup, no tone control.



Another method is to buy an E-model megaswitch (Stewart McDonald) which includes instructions for several mods you can do.

See chapter on electronics for more on the megaswitch.


Tele no load circuit!

Complexity: not too bad


The whole set of pots and capacitors even if completely zeroed still have an impact on sound, there?s always some leakage.


You can consider bypassing the whole set, by channeling the output from the switch directly to the jack. As a consequence you have to do volume and tonecontrol on the amp, footswitch or PA but your tone gets a bit more brilliant (and louder of course). All RC effects in the guitar are bypassed.

This is called the ?no load? mod, and also known as the ?solo? mod.


You create indeed a solo mode. If you activate the no-load your volume goes to max and the tone also ? so, good to swap from comp to solo.

Effective and rather simple.


The implementation is a bit different per type of guitar, but the principle is that you decouple the output of the pups (mostly by cutting a wire) and also decouple the output of the volume pot (mostly by cutting a wire). In general the rule is to decouple each link between the volume pot and the coils; otherwise some signal continues to leak to earth. Many circuits you find on the Internet forget to do this.



Take a DPDT switch (pushpull is neat). Wire the switch as follows:




For a two pup Tele or similar guitar the circuit then is as shown below.


Above drawing is the standard situation, the little scissors indicate where to cut!




Project plan:

De-solder (or is it unsolder? Whatever) the output of the volume pot


Prepare a DPDT switch (or a pushpull if you have one) with the bridge between points A and D as in the drawing and the photograph xxx.

Connect = solder the output lead (now loose) from the jack to point B of the switch.

Solder the lose output lead from the volume pot to point C of the switch, and

Solder point F to the lug on the volume pot that links to the tone pot (or solder it to that lug on the tone pot).


If you have to lengthen leads, make certain that you have shrink-wrap isolation available in order to protect the link.


How does this work?

In the upper (mod active) position of the switch the connections between

a.     Switch output and input pot

b.     Output pot and signal output lug of the jack

are cut off by the switch and thus the pups are decoupled from volume as well as tonecontrol.

In the other position the situation is standard Tele.


Telecaster Stereo output & no-load (combined)

Complexity: ah well, mmm



-         Stereo jack

-         Stereo cable


Stereo amp or two amps of mixer

-         A toggle switch with a middle position (both active) or on/on/on, or alternatively a double pan potmeter.

-         Solder soldering iron etc.

-         4PDT switch



In the drawing I have shown two DPDT switches. These can be very well combined as one 4PDT switch or ? one better ? an S1 switch (which basically is a 4PDT switch on a pot, neat).


You now of course need two amps or whatever in order to realize the stereo sound.

The single on/on/on switch functions as selector for KLOPT DAT WEL die is in feite niet nodig de dpdt switch doet dit all. Je zou alleen een panpot kunnen toevoegnen ?




?Strat no-load switch!

Complexity: not too bad



As with the Tele you can bypass the Strat volume and tonecontrol, with similar effects in sound ? max volume and clearer/brighter tone.


This may vary for various types of SC guitars, but the principle remain the same. Output from the pup coils is decoupled; output from the volume pot is decoupled from the jack. In between comes a DPDT switch.


Start with wiring the switch as in the picture, bridge between points A and D.

For a three pup Strat the connections then are as follows:





Project plan:


Cut the bridge on the 54way switch en replace by two leads of sufficient length. This cuts out the influence of the tonepots.


Cut the connection between volume pot en output jack, which eliminates the influence of the volume pot (but see modified mod).


Wire a DPDT switch with a bridge between Aand D, as per pic,


Two wires coming from het 5way switch now go to one side of the SPDT switch, leads to the jack and volume pot on the other side.


Don?t mix up the jack connections, if you do the effect will be noise from hell when you plug in. The signal wire goes to the long clip; the corresponding lug sits normally straight across. In case of doubt (there are always deviations) pick up the multimeter and measure...



How the peep does it work?

In the lower position (see drawing) situation is normal. In upper position (move the blue square up) the standard links are broken; all goes directly to the output jack.




Modified mod:

The above mod is what you find mostly in some form on the internet. It has a problem though. When the switch is active the volume pot is still in the circuit and also one side connected to mass. It will therefore continue to have an effect on the output.


In order to completely eliminate the effect of the pots add one SPDT switch in the circuit ? in effect what you see now if you add everything up is one 3PDT switch.

Below is the drawing where the switch is split in the DPDT and the SPDT component, reflecting the active situation.



Stereo output Strat (+no-load)

Complexity: reasonable


Here you need the following

-         Stereo jack (guitar)

-         Stereo cable

-         Stereo amp or two amps or a mixer with stereo channel

-         DPDT or 3PDT switch

-         Splitter cable from stereo jack to two * mono

-         Flexible leads for extra connections

-         Solder, soldering iron


The mod is for two of the three pups (your choice which ones).

For orientation purposes see below again the standard electronics Strat setup. The 5way switch picks up all signals and routes them to the tone control and output.

strat 5way  mods stock 0.jpg
A design criterion for this mod is that we do not do real stereo, the mod is hard left and hard right with no panning between them. You could introduce that by adding a double pot, but don?t see much benefit there so we will leave this for another issue of the book.


If we accept the general design criterion for all my mods that we want to go back easily to the standard Strat situation then there is only one point where we can tap the pup signal and that is before it hits the 5way switch.


Now there are two options.

Firstly. In drawing 4 you still have the output of the volume pot connected to the tip of the output jack, and therefore the whole volume/tone circuitry therefore is still live for the pickup that is connected to the tip of the jack. The other pup is 100% no-load in stereo mode. If you go for this one you only need a DPDT switch, which can be a pushpull pot ? no holes in your pickguard.


Secondly. If you want to cut out all leaks to ground an additional SPDT switch is required, in which case you might as well go for a combined 3PDT. Here you need a tiny extra hole in your pickguard.


On my labstrat I will use a DPDT and an SPDT separately, as its easier then to hear and demonstrate the differences but in practice take a 3PDT.









I have named the lugs on a 3PDT switch as indicated here.

A to F are the lugs I use as a 2PDT (= DPDT) switch and G-I are the additional three lugs to be used simultaneously as a SPDT switch.



If you take the DPDT option you only have to make do with lugs A thru F.


The project plan:

1.     Be careful when soldering on the tiny lugs of the switches, you easily overheat them with the result that the plastic casing of the tiny switch melts. Use a very small tip and work quickly.

2.     DSCN4952.JPG
First replace the jack receptacle by a stereo one, leave the live output dangling for a while, and only solder the ground lead.

3.     Look for a suitable spot to drill a small hole for the extra switch and mount it in place. Of course you have to remove the pickguard first.

4.     Decide which combination of pups you want to be able to switch to stereo. I did neck plus mid, but neck plus bridge may be better

5.     Solder the wiring as in drawing 5, which is stereo & no-load unless you decide to go for the simpler version in drawing 4.

a.     Desolder the live leads of the selected pups from the 5 way switch and solder to the points B and E of the DPDT switch.


b.     Make two new leads of the same color and solder these to the now empty lugs on the 5way switch and to the lugs A and D on the DPDT.

c.      Make two new leads (not black!) and solder one between the tip connection of the jack (together with the original still dangling lead from the volume pot) and point F. The tip is now one of the channels plus the original Strat output.

d.     Solder the other new lead between the middle connection of the jack and point C. The middle connection is your other channel.

e.      Optional. Now desolder the output lead from the volume pot and connect it to the middle lug H of an SPDT switch. Make a new lead and connect it between the volume pot?s output and lug G of the SPDT switch. Take care that you solder the connections such that the normal output link is disconnected when stereo is active.

6.     Now get two amps (or whatever rig you may have) and a stereo cable or splitter. Place the amps a reasonable distance apart so the stereo effect is clearly audible. Enjoy. Use earplugs.


Here are some pictures of the process:



This is the type of cable you may need to connect to two separate amps. Stereo split into two mono channels (left). It?s probably not easy to find, so you make one yourself. Not difficult.



Above is the DPDT switch that takes care of the stereo/mono operation.



Here are the connections to the stereo receptacle. In general the same rule applies as for a mono nephew; the soldering lug associated with the contact is right across it. You see that the tip connects to both the original output (red) as well as one of the new outputs for stereo.


How does it sound?

Big. The effect is literally a much broader sound and not only that, it has more depth, space or perspective if you like. I used the neck and middle pups, which are not very dissimilar so maybe ? while I go and setup quite a different mod ? you can try neck and bridge, which is interesting anyway because that?s not standard available. So a triple whammy mod: ?stereo, no-load and neck/bridge together.

Tapped SC pickups

Complexity: more expensive than difficult


This mod ? actually falling in the category of replacing pups ? you can do for one or for all pups, depends on your wallet. You can of course try to unwind a pup, tap somewhere in the middle and rewind ? probably not a good idea.

Making a coiltap in a single coil is not really a good idea, so it comes down to buying one.

Producers of pups make a very hot pup; say 20 kOhm, so when you tap the middle you get a more reasonable pup.


If you use one tapped coil pup, the sound in untapped mode (that?s the full whammy) is much louder i.e. hotter with respect to your other ? normal ? pups.


A tapped pup has a connection in the middle of the coil (the coil is left unbroken) en that connection is brought to the outside World. So you end up with three leads (sometimes four depending on how the mass connection is produced). The drawing below clarifies this.

So, taking the three wire example your options are a. full coil or b. half coil.


Using the four wire version you have an extra choice in that you can have a. full coil, b. left half, c. right half of the coil (some more complex switching necessary).


A number of vendors make these tapped pups. A bit difficult to find also because many people confuse the terms coiltap and coilsplit. Examples are Lindy Fralin, Seymour Duncan and some small scale custom manufacturers. Seymour Duncan produces single coils in the SSL series with tap. That by the way is the one I will be using in this book to do some testing.


The confusion with coilsplit is that with a tap the coil is left unbroken; a coil split really cuts the wire in the middle and provides actually two small (lower impedance) pups.

The best example to clarify this is shown in the humbucker section where I really cut the wire between the two coils so that you could use them as separate pups. See humbucker chapter.

With a tap you can either use the whole coil, or one half, that?s it.


In drawing 1 you can use the right hand side of the coil by deploying a simple toggle switch. If you use a DPDT switch you could at the same time activate another coiltap.


You can opt to use the other side of the coil, it depends where you place the mass connections; see option 2.



What?s the effect?

The tapped modus has a bit more clear sound; the whole coil is louder and fuller with more low.


The SD pup I have for the example in this book is with 20kOhm very hot,

I mounted it on a Strat neck position, and it?s completely out of balance with the other two pups.


Tapped the result is about 11 kOhm, with a more balanced result in comparison with the other two.




Treble Bleed Capacitor




Complexity: dead simple

If you use the standard Strat with the volume low, you lose highs with a somewhat muddy sound as a result.


By applying a so-called ?bleed capacitor? between in- and output of the volume pot there will always ?bleed? some higher frequencies to the output and thus the amp.

As a result you will have a much clearer sound at low volumes.


Use a soldering iron with a fine tip and obviously you need a Phillips screwdriver to remove the pickguard.


Try it out with 0.001 ?F or 680 pF. The theory behind it is in the Electronics section, but more important is to go by your ears and try.


I tested this with a 0.001 ?F on the labstrat; with a little switch allowing me to activate the capacitor easily so I could hear the difference well. Treble bleed works equally well on other guitar types.


It?s rather hard to get the cap plus switch clear on the photographs. The mini switch is in between one side of the cap and the pot.




What is the effect?

A short soundtrack on my site and a video clip lets you hear the difference.

With bleed the sound is much clearer.










Combinations of two and more SC pups

Now get your running shoes out and dig up the soldering iron, these mods really get interesting.

The chapters before we only considered one pup on its own and a bit of stuff around it, here are looking at all kinds of combinations with two (like Tele) and three (like Strat) single coil pups.


Subjects of series and parallel and in/out phase you always look at least at two pups.


Think about that. One pup in series doesn?t make sense, that?s always with something else.



Parallel / series switching (in phase)

Strat and Tele pups are off factory always place parallel and normally in phase, so anything you do to change that is a mod ? and has a sound effect..


Here are the modding possibilities:

a.     Bridge/mid in series


b.     Neck/mid series


c.      Neck/bridge in series


d.     All three in series


Note that these are all separate mods. Towards the end I consider a more complex setup allows you more than one as a matter of choice.


As a design principle I ALWAYS want the possibility to go back to the standard setup.


You have to decide whether one of these mods is what you would like to have, or that you want to have multiple choices to make on stage.


Let op dit zijn aparte modificaties. Verderop behandel ik ingewikkelder schakelingen die een keus uit de opties hierboven mogelijk maken.


It is important to consider that more possibilities require more switches, more wiring and soldering and on stage are less reliable and probably give more possibility to make the wrong choice at the wrong time!

Keep it simple.

Strat bridge/mid in series

Complexity: not too bad


Note: push (down) is the standard situation; pull (up) activates the mod.


Stuff you need:

1.     Preferably a loaded pickguard, i.e. completely wired.

2.     Soldering iron and solder (if you want to work cleanly a solder remover device is really great)





Pushpull pot with the correct value ? for Strat single coils mostly 250kOhm, 500kOhm is also possible




Step 1

Remove the pickguard (store the little screws separately; otherwise you?ll lose them for sure).

Turn upside down.


Step 2

This step is only necessary if you want to make the mod permanent, if not skip steps 2, 3 and 5 for the moment.

In order to check if you like the sound, you only use the SPDT part.


If you want this one permanent now desolder one of the pots. Doesn?t matter which one, an easy one on the Strat is the neck tone pot.

Make a note of which lead went where or mark them with pieces of tape or make a pic.


Pull the knob off the shaft and with 10 or 12mm pipe wrench remove the nut. Remove the pot and put the nut back on, you never know then you will need a spare.


Step 3

Mount the pushpull pot in place.

Step 4

Now restore the pot connections as they were.





I haven?t done that for the simple reason that I need to make a lot of circuits and these thingies are expensive.


Step 5

Solder de bridge A-D with a tiny piece of blank or ?better ? insulated wire.


Step 6

De-solder the mass side of the bridge pup and solder to point B of the pushpull.












Step 7




Measure off a piece of black (in my Photo Brown) isolated wire and connect between point C of the switch and mass somewhere. Doesn?t matter too much, the housing of one of the pots will do.



Step 8

Solder connection for signal carrying lead with white (or anyways colored) wire, from the point on the 5way switch (point 2) to point F on the pushpull.






Step 9

Unsolder the midpup?s signal lead from the

5way switch (normal point 2) connect to point E on the pushpull.


Step 10

Mount the pickguard and test.






How does this one work:

With the pushpull pushed (down) you should have the standard situation, that?s to say E is connected to F, and therefore the signal and therefore the midpup?s signal wire with the 5way switch normal fashion. Likewise, B is connected with C, and thus mass side of the bridge pup is on earth ? standard.


Now we pull the switch up:

Now D is connected to E and also with A. A is now connected to the mass side of the bridge put. With that the signal side of the midpup is connected to the (previously) ground side of the bridge pup ? and therefore they are now in series.


The signal lead from the bridge is still connected to the 5way, so that takes the combined signal of bridge and mid.


Implicitly now the middle position (3) of the 5way doesn?t do anything, for this position the midpup has disappeared, gone.


Now positions 4 and 5 can be used both for the series mode.


Using the 5-way switch you now have the following options with mod active (pull):


Position 1 = neck, tonepot I

Position 2 = neck, tonepot I

Position 3 = nada hombre!

Position 4 = mid+bridge in series, tonepot II

Position 5 = mid+bridge in series, tonepot II





How does it sound?

On the website are two fragments, one for each situation in position 4 to let you hear the difference.

If you have the eBook version in your hands you can now click to go to the YouTube clip here:

????? http://www.youtube.com/


The difference is clearly audible; I like the series mode, louder, and somewhat more brilliant.

Still a single coil, but with more meat.


Try it out, if it?s not what you are looking for, try some more.


On the labstrat I haven?t mounted the pushpull pot completely; I am just using the SPDT part to demo the effect as I need the guitar for other mods.


Telecaster in series: bridge / neck (that?s all you have)

Complexity: not too bad


To get the Tele?s two pups in series you need basically the same circuit as for the Strat above.


Prepare the dpdt switch again with the little bridge over lugs A and D.


Then the same procedure but using the points on the 3way switch as indicated.


The traditional Telecaster has a slightly different approach to its Electronics compared to the Strat.


You may hit a slightly different version of the switch; you then want to determine lugs that connect the pups preferably using a multimeter.



If you have those two points the story is the same. It becomes different if you have a Tele with a coiltapped humbucker or other adventures ? another story.


It is strongly recommended to have a multimeter to check all kinds of things ? you only need a very basic and therefore cheap one.













Strat neck/mid in series

Complexity: not too bad

The same approach as the bridge/mid above, different wires. It is recommended to adapt the drawing before you start to work.

I won?t go into the detail as that duplicates most of the earlier chapter.

Strat bridge/neck in series

Complexity: not too bad








Same approach as the bridge/mid above, different wires. It?s useful to adapt the drawing before you start to work.

All (three) pups in series

Complexity: A bit more, erh, cumbersome.


All three in series creates an ultra hot pup, add all impedances together.

Let?s see if we like it, Brian May does, so who am I?





If we stick to the design principle that we want to go back to standard simply, you need more than a simple DPDT switch. You need a 4PDT, Four Pole Dual Throw.


You can do this with a simple 4PDT toggle switch, or be extravagant and get a S1 switch by Fender (which is a pushpull with a 4PDT actually).


So you can buy an extra pickguard to fuck around with, or you can make an extra hole or you jus invest in the S1. Do not drill an additional hole in your old brittle 1963 scratchplate. The scratchplates are worth a lot in their own right.


Whatever you do I would (like I do indeed) make the circuit by having a 4PDT switch dangling loose before investing a log of mounting effort, in order to see if you like the sound at all.



Another way to try the sound if you like is to just daisy chain the three pups without switch ? they are one big fat neck pup.

You can do that as follows:







?        Neck pickup unsolder mass from the pot, unsolder signal midpup from the switch and connect these.


?        Midpup unsolder mass from the potmeter mass, desolder bridge pup signal (wit) from the switch and connect these two.

?        Yu leave mass on the bridge in tact (black).

?        Position 1 and 2 will give three pups in series, all other positions are quiet.

?        If this is what you like (AND you want to be able to switch back to standard) then you get the 4pdt or S1 switch and wire it up conform the drawings above.


All series mode ? without standard Strat mode.

Complexity: yes

If you only want series mode, and don?t need to go back to standard Strat you can look at the Brian May mod.



Parallel out of phase ? bridge/midpup

Complexity: not too bad

Two pups out of phase gives an interesting effect, once you have heard it you will recognize players using this.


We can switch the mid pup in reverse phase which gives an effect in neck/mid and mid/bridge positions.


By adding volume control you can determine how strong the effect (amplitude) is. We?ll deal with that later, first the straightforward switch.







Phase switching mod on a 3-pup Strat-style guitar

The drawings (1 & 2) show the use of a DPDT switch wired as a phase inverter. You can use a simple pushpull or a separate miniswitch, your choice.

If you use the pushpull, just copy the wiring from the old pot to the new pot. No issue there. A separate switch requires a separate hole, not everybody wants that.

In drawing 1 with the pushpull pushed we see the normal situation, which is in phase

Drawing 2 shows the situation pulled (i.e. up) which turns around the two wires of the midpup coil.

What?s the effect?

With two pups combined the inverted phase will suppress part of the signal, and some of the frequencies which gives an interesting sound, a bit like talking with your nose closed.

The plan:




In general the signal wires are white or colored; wires for the mass connections are and should be colored black.

The connection between the DPDT switch point B goes to the lug on the 5way switch that normally houses the midpup. Check this beforehand, some switches look physically different.

The steps:

a.     Prepare the DPDT switch with the cross connections shown in the picture i.e. A-F and D-C.

b.     Desolder both ends of the midpup coil.

c.      Take piece of lead with white isolation en solder between point B of the DPDT and the lug on the 5way that holds the mid pup.

d.     Take piece of lead with black isolation and mount between point E of the DPDT and a point of earth, normally the housing of one of the pots.

e.      Now solder the midpup?s signal lead to point C of the DPDT.

f.       Solder the midpup?s earth ?side to point F of the DPDTY.

g.     Done, time for testing.


The out of phase sound can be heard in the two in-between positions (2 and 4) combining neck/mid or bridge/mid. The other positions (1, 3, and 5) sound as usual even though the midpup is reversed, but on its own that has no effect.


As said before, the sound is a bit asthmatic, but for a lot of material quite usable. John Scofield uses it and BB King as well.


The pictures made from the oscilloscope screen show two pup signals, one normal and one inverted. If you look vertically you see that where the one signal goes up, the other goes down. The small picture shows the signal with the result of the mix. Clearly the level (amplitude) is much lower than the originals but also a lot of the lows are suppressed.

More background on this phenomenon in the Electronics chapter.




Phase switching with a 2-pickup Tele-style guitar

This is basically the same setup as for a Strat. You only have the neck/bridge option so let?s assume we phase invert the bridge pup.

Start with wiring the same DPDT switch as shown above for the Strat.




Variation: add separate volume control for the outphase pup

Complexity: not too bad


Annoying for this mod is that you need an additional pot. I haven?t found concentric pots (=two pots in one, which can be separately used) of the audio (logarithmic) persuasion.


The original drawing above only inverts the midpup and has a shared volume control. But if you give the mid pup an additional volume control you not only influence its volume, but also the resulting sound coloring of the mixed output as you then influence the remaining frequencies as well.

Interesting stuff.




This is the same way for the Telecaster; just add the pot between the two switches.


Series and phase switching ? bridge/mid pup

Difficulty: yes


Here we are going to switch the two pups in series and at the same time reverse the phase of the second one (or the first if you prefer).





Magnetic polarity switching

That?s not easy without a screwdriver.

In some single coil pups you could (careful!) press out the polepieces and put them back in, oriented the other NS way. You could also then turnaround the pup 180 degrees, achieving the kind of situation described below for the Telecaster.

I?ve tried this here with a spare single coil Strat pup to see and hear what happens.

So let?s? say you treat the neck pup in this way you could then emulate a humbucker by switching another unmodified pup in series with it (note that the standard Strat mode is parallel!).






However, there is a tremendously nice set for Telecaster from Stewart McDonald (no I?m not sponsored by them, it?s just good stuff).

Golden Age pickups for Telecaster? are manufactured to replicate the tone and response of late 50's Tele pickups. However, unlike vintage pickups, the neck pickup is reverse-wound, with reverse-polarity. This gives you hum-cancelling output in the middle position of a 3-way pickup selector switch (when the two pickups are combined).


I mounted this set on my Tele (permanently nicked by my son) and it?s really very good, the sound is good and the middle position is indeed noiseless. The price is not bad either, low enough to give it a try, expensive enough to make clear you don?t buy crap.







Madmod: All series, parallel and phase combinations

Complexity: very, madness; but does everything.


All previous mods take effort and give you one mod. This may be sufficient but here is one that gives you almost all above. It is a bit of work though.


This mod is just doable under certain conditions.


Don?t try this with 9 mini or micro switches mounted on a piece of Perspex, nine little holes in your pickguard or whatever. There is so much soldering going on here that the tiny plastic housings will melt and you will short circuit. If you are very skilled at soldering and really, really like it be my guest though.

I?ve opted to have small printed circuit board (PCB) developed on which you can mount the switches relatively easily. With a single side board you only need to bridges in addition to the connections to the outside world, which is not bad. See later for info on the PCB.


The circuit allows you to choose between:

-         Normal Strat mode

-         Normal mode with any pup inverted phase

-         Series mode, any combination including

-         Series mode with any pup inverted phase


How?s that?

A kind of crazy Brian May mode.


How the bleep does this work?


The drawing views the switch from below (that?s the way I solder the connections). The little blue square indicates the position of the switch and therefore which lugs are connected to each other.


The middle set of three switches between normal parallel Strat and serial mode. You could replace the middle set by one 6DPT, but then you miss out some silly combinations.


The lower three switches change phase for each pup. The phase switches can be used in either Strat or Serial mode. Don?t change all three of them, you can guess why (because then they are all in phase again, dummy!)


If you have selected serial mode, then the upper three switches select the pups you want in series.


The standard 5way switch?s function doesn?t change, except in serial mode where only position 1 makes sense. In fact you could eliminate the switch altogether as this function is taken over by the board. CHECK TONECONTROL!


Some combinations are silly. However when you are lost, it?s easy to reset to standard Strat mode again.


Don?t do this at home (Photo) you will end up with a terrible meltdown.


Mounting on a PCB is the only neat way to do this, but well worth the effort and not terribly difficult to do and not necessarily expensive.


You have to look around a bit for print mounted switches (DPDT), some are really expensive but there are some decently priced products available, bearing in mind you need nine of the little buggers.




The PCB then becomes a nice unit, with 6 inputs for the coils, 3 outputs to the 5way switch and 1 mass connection.

In addition you only need 6 wire bridges, not bad in view of this being a single sided PCB.








Replace by a better pup set

Complexity: not very but need cash, a lot of it


As I said, this is going to cost you. Regretfully better normally means more expensive.


As a result of a dramatic shortage of cash I couldn?t try out a number. Would have liked a set of Texas specials or Lace; however that will have to wait.


What I did do is to get a set of EMG-S active series, as I was very curious how that would sound compared with standard singlecoils.


Here?s my white Strat which improved considerably with these active pups, approaching reasonably closely Eric Clapton?s sound, which, uhh, is good enough for me.






Here are a few brands that are generally available with their single coil product which provide very good alternatives to the original Fender PU's.


Van Zandt - Vintage Plus

Seymour Duncan - California 50's

Fralin - Vintage Hot

DiMarzio - Virtual Vintage

Nordstrand NVS - standard

Rio Grande - MidBottom

Kinman - Traditional

Suhr - V60













Winding your own pups

Complexity: not too bad, but hard work


Back in the late fifties pups were beyond our financial capabilities. So we set out to make them ourselves using a turntable with 78rpm. Given you have some polepieces to start with, the frame is not difficult.

The result is reasonably interesting as the quality and the sound is a surprise because the whole setup is not very accurate.


Todate there is kit available from a piece that fits on an electric drill to complete winding benches ? at a price. Check out Stewart McDonald and a few others.


I?ve never done it again after 1959, but it?s definitely fun as well as worthwhile as the sound of these manually produced windings is unpredictable. Can be great, can be junk.




Other sound influencers

This book deals with mods to the guitar electronics itself. That?s of course not all there is.

There are the amplifier and cables that bear a direct relation to what we are doing here,


Of course there are interesting subjects such as wood for body and neck/fretboard, and what paint does to sound. These latter are subject of another book.




In the early years amplifiers were tube driven, the only thing available. Later everything became transistorized ? more efficient and especially much lighter.

Tubes generate some tone properties by themselves, they are not absolutely clean. Nowadays tube amps are very much the in thing again, especially when you play jazz or blues the warm tube sound is much more appropriate.


A tube is a lamp, complete with filament - they have do have a tendency to get hot.

As electrons are emitted by the cathode you can control the amount of current between anode and cathode with a small voltage on the grid. So with a small voltage (let?s say a pickup output) you can create a much larger voltage and current.



A tube amp disadvantage is its weight. You need large transformers and that is pure iron weighing a lot. If you are on the road a lighter transistor amp definitely can help avoid back issues.




Playing jazz or blues a tube amp is in fact the only valid option. They give a nice warm tone because of the little impurities inserted by the tubes. An alternative is to use an amp with tube preamp.

But you can add a raw edge of course if by increasing overdrive or other kit.



After WWII someone figured out that you can cause a slice of silicium to become conductive between C and E (collector and emitter) by applying small voltage to B (basis). Like the tube you now can cause a large current to flow using only small voltage to drive the lot.

That?s now called transistor. After that more transistors are etched onto one slice of silicium becoming Integrated Circuits

Not only computers as Intel pioneered, but also complete audio amplifiers, preamps, mixers, the lot.



Transistor amps can do anything from super clean like the legendary Polytone to the big boys like Marshall for the raw work. But they miss some of the warmth of a tube amp.

Hybrids (tube preamp)

These amps have tube in preamp stage, which inserts a bit of the tube sound. They are lighter than tube amps and definitely a good alternative.


Don?t underestimate cables. They have a number of electronic properties that definitely impact your sound.

Capacity en impedance

A cable has a certain amount of resistance (Ohms) and therefore in case of AC certain impedance. It also has a certain capacity (i.e. it behaves a bit like a capacitor). Therefore the cable acts like an RC filter (a b it like the tonepot in your guitar) passing thru some frequencies better than others.

Good (obviously expensive) cables have the least impact on your sound. The choice is yours but a better cable is definitely worthwhile.

I don?t think you hear the diference per cable, but if you add up all possible quality measures there definitely is an effect.

Contacts and interface resistance

Above I mentioned the resistance R of a cable. Another important source of resistance can be found between the jacks and the receptacles both in the guitar and in the amp. There?s always a certain interface resistance, but oxidation and dirt can make it worse.

If you are serious then use gold contacts, gold doesn?t oxidize.




Guitar electronics blurb

In order to understand basic electronics and allow you to avoid noisy mistakes, we?ll look at the main components and then how they hang together. Warning: If you have absolutely no idea or interest in electronics you might read but consider hands off.


If you acquired a fully wired set you may skip this, although it may be useful if you have to desolder connections, or replace a PU. With the Strat, life is easy with a loaded pickguard or completely prewired set as the only soldering to do is some mass connections and connection to the output jack.


An inherent issue with the construction of a Strat is the fact that the electronics are connected to the bridge and strings via the spring claw. That eliminates buzz, but if you are for example singing thru a badly earthed/isolated microphone then you suddenly may find a voltage difference where your body is conductor. Not nice. Apart from burning lips and smoke gets in your eyes, you may end up stone dead.

Interestingly active pups like the EMG specifically do NOT have this bridge connection. So; always check your kit!


pickup assembly
Pick-ups introduction



If you make a coil of insulated very thin copper wire wrapped around a magnet you create a simple electricity generator. If the magnetic field of the generator is held close to an oscillating (vibrating) ferrous material, then an alternating (or AC) electrical current will be generated in the coil. Coils generally have anywhere from 6,000 to 8,500 turns of wire. We used to make some ourselves back in the sixties using a 78rpm turntable and timing it. Not extremely accurate but it did work and still does I presume.


If you want to take the easy way get a completely wired set of pups. The number of connections you have to solder are minimal, for Strat only the jack. This also called a ?wiring harness?.


Types of coils (bobbin)

?        Single coil

?        Humbuckers, always two coils combined


Humbuckers are dual coil pups; with the coils in opposite phases to eliminate RF external hum (see below for the technical blurb).?


Humbuckers and the pickguards/bodies they are made for are recognizable as normally they have different dimension. So holes in the body for example are twice those of a single coil setup.


A few famous brands for pups are DiMarzio, Seymour Duncan, Mighty Mite, Floyd Rose, and Stewart McDonald. Some are expensive, some less expensive and some outrageously expensive.


Strat and newer Telecaster pups are mounted on the pickguard, with springs or rubbers ? nono, not condoms. The metal springs can cause unwanted noises (microphonic), so check that out.


Tele and Precision bass pups are mounted in the body. Humbuckers are mounted in the body or in a plastic frame with spring method.


Preamps and filters can be added to improve or change sound. Active sets are made for example by EMG. Many of these need an extra route in the body to accommodate a 9B battery ? although it must be said that the EMG set I placed in my favorite Strat fitted without woodwork.


How do you buck the hum?


We will deal with humbucker mods in Part II, but here are some general observations.

The design of the humbucker is patented by Seth Lover and Gibson.


A string causes an alternating current in a magnetic pup that is sufficiently close to it. That process is called induction, great huh?


These magnetic coils are also ideal antennae for all kinds of electromagnetic fields in the environment. Mains, powersupplies, computers, televisions, old fashioned computerscreens, TL light all transmit fields. A single coil guitar pup will pick that up and obediently pass it on to your 500 watt Marshall stack ? you know the effect.


A humbucker has two coils

a.     Would in opposed directions

b.     Magnets in opposed orientation, i.e. One N/S the other S/N.

See the pictures above.


NB. In the picture you see a very handy little device that shows the magnetic orientation (source Stewmac), recommended and not expensive.


The movement of the metal string inducts a current in both coils in the SAME direction. This is because the inverted phase of the coil combined with the inverted magnetic orientation case (double inversion) a current in the same direction.


The trick now is that a current caused by electromagnetic interference (not caused by the string) will generate currents in opposed directions. So the signal caused by this external situation is in two coils but out of phase.

Two signals of the same nature and strength but opposed phases will null each other out (see more blurb on phases later).


This design will zero out the noise.

Technically this has a nice name ?common-mode rejection?. Ok, I?ve said it, now you can forget that again.

magnets alnico

Two types of magnet are used mainly:

?        magnets ceramic magnets
Alnico - aluminum, nickel, cobalt alloy. The typical vintage clean Strat sound. A bit more expensive than the ceramic family. Typical clean Strat sound. Colour is metallic, shiny.


?        Ceramic (ferro) magnets. A bit sharper sound. If you have some cash to spare try out. The color is less shiny.



Just a bit of electronics theory

Doing these mods we talk about phase, series, impedance, Henry, inductance and more. It is not always necessary to know exactly what it all means, but it?s useful to have some background info here.

Phase, wosdat?

If you connect two coils (bobbins) in phase the peaks and lows of the signal will roughly coincide.

In fact ? if you then mix the signals the highs and lows will be added together and thus create a stronger signal.


The same goes for speakers in a sound system, it?s important that they are in phase!

If the coils are out phase (see the pictures from the oscilloscope) you will see where one signal goes up, the other goes down. If we mix these signals will be added again, but now as they are opposite the result is zero (if the signals are equal). In practice on a guitar there?s always differences, if only caused by the position of the pup, so the end result will be some sort of signals.

The resulting sound can be uh, interesting.


Magnetic in/out phase

Normally the magnetic orientation of the polepieces is the same for a particular brand, for example north towards the strings.


Stewmac has a handy little device to determine magnetic orientation.? Not expensive and for this type of work you can?t do without.


Another way to check if pups are aligned magnetically is to place one on top of the other. If they attract each other than they are aligned differently, if not the magnetic orientation is the same.

Phase test

With magnetic polarity the same here is a little test to determine if pups are in or out phase.


No expensive equipment necessary, only a multimeter.






Series and parallel

When you start fiddling around with your pups? its good to understand a bit of this terminology.


Series means that pups are connected to each other in a row like elephants walk in the jungle (proboscis/tail/proboscis/tail etc.). Parallel means that all elements are next to each other (elephants? walking next? to each other proboscis/proboscis, tail/tail etc.), they don?t normally walk like that.


strat seriesparallel.jpg
Series and parallel connection each have a different influence on resistance and impedance and therefore on sound ? which is what we are after.




The ? somewhat clumsy, yes I did that myself! ? drawing above illustrates the various possibilities with two single coil pups. When you add more pups there?re more possibilities. If you take three humbuckers fully coilsplit you have six single coils ? then it gets bewildering.


Calculations with resistance/ impedance

Resistance of electricity can be compared to the tubing of your home water supply; thin tubes can transport less water (per second) than thick ones.


Resistance is the measured for DC and expressed in Ohms, easily measurable with a simple and therefore cheap multimeter.?


Impedance also is resistance but specifically for alternating currents (AC) rather than direct current (DC), the difference being important for coils (such as in pickups, mikes and loudspeakers). Important, because sound in electronic form is always represented by AC.

In many cases for pups the DC resistance is given as indication (a lot of Ohms = hot), convenient as you can measure that with a standard household multimeter.


When you place two resistances (or impedances) in parallel then the resulting impedance is the average of the two, so two 7K pups in parallel result in about 3.5K.

In series however these to 7K pups would result in a single resistance of about 14K, the sum of the two.

You can see one gets less hot, the other hotter. Each with a different impact on sound.


Impedance being for AC is defined as the resistance in Ohms at specific (standard frequency) ? so if impedance is mentioned you need to know in fact at which frequency this has been measured.


Impedance meters generate a frequency of 1 KHz en can measure the resulting impedance for let?s say a coil ? the result is also given in Ohm.


There?s a rule of thumb that the relation between DC resistance and AC impedance if about 1.25. Thus a coil with a DC resistance of 1 KOhm would have an impedance of about 1.25 kOhm. Comprende?


As an aside; being a musician you are confronted with the series ? parallel issue also when you are fiddling around with loudspeakers to your stack or PA. If you connect two 4 Ohm speakers series the result is like one speaker of 8 Ohm. Connected to an amp stage set up for 4 Ohm, the result will be that your output volume is killed.


Mismatch impedance

When you measure DC resistance on a single coil you see 6 kOhm at the low end, 7-8 k in the middle and higher to around 15 k for very hot humbuckers or single coils.

Important is to take account of this when combining the two extremes. For example with a low ohm coil in the neck position, combined with a high ohm in the bridge position, will largely reduce the influence of the hot bridge? pup when placed parallel and in phase (normal situation).

The reason is the result of the previous paragraph or in other words the low ohm neck pup leaks away the signal of the high ohm bridge pup.

Switches and switching

Many of the mods in this book use a DPDT switch, dual pole dual throw, in fact two toggle switches operated with one toggle.

The advantage of needing only a DPDT switch for us is that we can use pushpull pot that is a potmeter with a DPDT switch built onto it.? This allows you to replace one (or more of the pots) adding a switch without drilling holes etc.


Sometimes however we may only need a SPDT (single pole) or 3PDT (three poles) and more if you really get in the mood for modding. In that case it?s almost unavoidable to drill a hole in order to accommodate the switch(es).


The mods in this book are designed such that one position of the switch represents the standard (factory) situation and the other the mod.






With the pushpull the DPDT switch mounted under the pot, the contacts we name as per the drawing A thru F.

B and E are the ?common contacts?. Depending on the position you have connection between AD and BE (pull) or CF and BE (push).

You switch therefore A or C to B, and at the same time D or F to E.?

Use your multimeter if you have an alien type of switch and are in doubt in order to check what the common lugs are and how the switching goes. Make drawing like the one above. By the time you start working with real soldering irons and leads you easily get confused otherwise.

For some mods it?s necessary to have a switch with an in-between position, these exist as DPCO (dual pole center off), or DPTT (dual pole triple throw, also named on/on/on) where the middle position can have no connection or both connections. To keep it interesting these are also available as single pole, three pole, 4pole.

The S1 switch

Difficulty: yes

The almost mythical Fender S1 switch in fact is a simple pushpull pot with a 4PDT (executed as two times DPDT). The contacts are available on a small PCB for soldering ease - indeed easier.

It?s not quite a pushpull; the switch is operated by a concentric knob. You need one of these as well.

Used in a production Fender version together with the megaswitch, look on the net for an example.


In 2004 heeft Fender de S-1-schakelaar ge?ntroduceerd. Die werkt als volgt:


Klopt niet met de tekening

S-1 uitgeschakeld (omhoog) geeft de standaard Strat combinaties

S-1 ingeschakeld (ingedrukt) geeft:

1e positie alle drie elementen in serie

2e positie brug en midden in serie

3e positie midden en hals in serie

4e positie brug en hals element uit phase, in serie

5e positie brug en midden element uit fase, parallel



The 'P' Model Megaswitch
The 'P' Model Megaswitch accesses the five pickup combinations available on a Paul Reed Smith? guitar. It is designed for use with two 4-conductor humbucking pickups. Switch positions are:
1. Bridge humbucker
2. Inner coils in parallel
3. Outer coils in series
4. Outer coils in parallel
5. Neck humbucker

For the 'P' Model Megaswitch to work properly, the pickups must be correctly installed. The outside coils of the pickups must have opposite magnetic polarity. To check this, place one pickup over the other. If the pickups repel each other, the coils have the same polarity. The pickups will attract each other if their polarities are opposite.

The 7 switch lugs should be wired as diagrammed:
1. Series link (coil-tap) of neck pickup
2. Hot output, to volume pot
3. Series link (coil-tap) of bridge pickup
4. Ground (without shield) from bridge pickup
5. To ground (back of volume pot)
6. Hot wire from neck pickup
7. Hot wire from bridge pickup




E-model Megaswitch

The E-model Megaswitch has a selection of the 5 best sounds for 3 pup single coil or humbucker? combinations. It? replaces the standard 5-way Strat?-style switch.

You gain new combinations and coiltapping plus a few that perform? humbucking.

It is recommended for the following pup combinations but doesn?t work for coiltapped singlecoil pups such as produced by Seymour Duncan. The coiltap options below are based on humbuckers with a tap.


The super 5 way switch

This again is another animal. It is a four layer, 5 position switch, doubling the standard switch with its classic two layers. This can make life again a bit more interesting, especially in combination with an S1 switch.



The Les Paul 3-way switch

There is a lot of urban blurb on the internet on what type of switch is used actually. Here is the best I have found, which makes sense with the behavior in a real LP.

It behaves like a SP3T (on, on, on) switch but the technical rendition in most cases is two on/off toggle switches (SPST, single pole, single throw) in a single casing and connected to one toggle.


It?s not clear to me if there is a conscious design solution behind this switch type choice.

However, at? first glance we can see that it is very easy to create a stereo LP (each of the pups one channel) by cutting the bridge between the common lugs and leading each pup to a different channel (need a stereo jack of course). A no-brainer as our friends across the big water call it. See under stereo possibilities.




potmeter adapted

The ?pot? or ??potmeter?

This name is short for ?potentiometer? and it is nothing more than a variable resistor. If you place a resistor in an electronic circuit it will reduce the amount current ? a variable one acts like a tap in household water supply.


If you want to control your output level, then a fixed value resistor is not handy. A potmeter is a fixed value resistor but with a gliding contact in the middle. Now the resistance between the middle lug and either outside lug depends on the position of the glider.


volume pot standard
Good to know that there are two types of potmeters, linear and logarithmic. That?s heavy stuff, only remember that for audio (like on an electric guitar or an amplifier) we use the logarithmic because that?s how our ears work. More or less.

How do we connect the pot?

In order to control the volume of the guitar electronics the signal is routed thru a potmeter. The pot sends the signal with a variable degree to earth (volume down or up)


The glider normally is the output of the pot and also in general the middle soldering lug.


If in the drawing the glider is 100% towards ground, all signal goes to ground, moving the glider away from ground reduces leak to earth and therefore increases volume.

The value of the pot is determined by the type of pickup and the preference of the builder. For single coils 250 kOhm and for humbuckers 500kOhm (or K to make it even shorter).

Higher values can produced a slightly more brilliant tone as less high frequencies are attenuated.

Because always some signal goes to earth, a higher value results in less attenuation. Experiment.

This effect has also caused mods like the no-load mod and the bleed capacitor.



Tonepot circuit -potmeter as tone control

The schematic in shows a pot connected as tone controller. Here the capacitor comes into play in order to leak certain frequencies to earth. Values typically 0,02 ?F for a 250 kOhm pot, and 0.033 ?F with a 500 kOhm pot.




?The capacitor

We use capacitors to control frequencies (tone). A cap is made of two sheets of conductive material with isolation between them. If you place a capacitor in a circuit ? for example between the two poles of a battery ? on sheet will load itself with electrons and as a result of electrostatic principles a bit later the other sheet will load.

That ?bit later? is determined by how capacity there is to buffer electrons, hence the name capacitor.


Placing a resistor before (i.e. in series with) the capacitor again slows down the process of loading.

If we consider alternating currents (because that?s sound) that delay means that some frequencies can pass easier than others.


That capacity is expressed in Farad. Where an Ohm is a very low resistance, 1 Farad is extremely high capacity, so we express this in micro and pico Farads.

We can see ? or experiment with ? values of 0.020 to 0.1 ?Farad.


Tone capacity values to play with

Here are some values used and/or to experiment with. The higher the value in Farads (and the smaller the pot), the more high tones will be leaked away. ?


.01?f ?This relatively low value tone cap seems to be all the rage in Nashville lately.
Great alternative to .022 in P-90 and humbucker equipped guitars. Woman tone!
The traditional value for P-90 and humbucker equipped guitars.
.047?f The traditional choice for Fender and other similarly equipped guitars with single coil pickups.

0.1?f This value was used originally in old Fender guitars and basses but most modern players feel that it rolls off the highs too much, a relic from the days when guitar players had to 'double on bass'.

Usually, when your tone pot value is high (500k), you'd use a higher value capacitor such as a 0.047uF or a 0.033uF one. With a smaller pot value (250k), 0.022uF or 0.01uF capacitors are usually used. No hard and fast rules here, though.

capacitor oil paper - Copy.jpg
Oil paper capacitor

It?s said that these old fashioned caps result in a nice sound. Perhaps it is because they have more leakage ? I don?t really know.

These are the most basic caps, metal sheet and oily paper as isolator.


For the time being I think this is a so-called ?Urban Legend?. But when I can get one (eBay) I may try it when time permits.




?The Strat PU switch, 3 or 5-way?

I found that a good understanding of the classic 5-way switch is really essential in order to use the pickups, but also to make mods or repairs.


Here a bit more blurb on the issue.

There are several technical realizations but the working is the same (except of course the mega- and superswitches).


Leo designed the Telecaster with a 3 position dual pole switch. Initially he used the same switch (connected a bit differently) for the ?Stratocaster? up to 1977.

Players rapidly tricked the system by placing the switch in between two positions, giving two other PU combinations. Initially additional ?stops? were filed into the switches, which thus became the first 5-way switches.


strat 5way switch
This was possible because the glider that makes the contacts (make before break!) is wide enough to hit two contacts simultaneously. The picture shows that in real life. Fender adopted the 5-way approach as production.


It?s clear now that it?s important to understand that the 5f-way switch in fact is dumb 3-way switch with some in between stops.


In the drawing representing the switch schematically you can see that it?s a double (dual pole) 3-way rotary switch, with some annotations:

-         De gliders are on one axis, and thus move simultaneously. In the Fender switches the common of the two poles is connected, forming the output going to the volume pot.

-         There are the two extra in between stops where the switch makes two contacts. These are 1-3 and 3-5, creating (Strat) positions 2 and 4.

-         The glider must be broad enough to hit two contacts at the same time (make before break). The picture of a classic style switch clearly shows that.


Strangely I couldn?t find much info about the connections to the second pole for the volume control. Clearly one pole is used for the pup selection, the pole is used to select the appropriate tone control.


The sets I have in stock (and know off) are per the drawing. Obviously there are deviations, but not from the principle.

-         Position 1, switch 2 leads to the tonepot for the neckpup.

-         Position 2 , switch ?2 to both tonepots. But only for the neck en mid PU.

-         Position 3, switch 2 to tonepot for the mid PU, ?and then switch 1 is connected? - yep ? to the mid pup.??

-         Position 4, switch 2 only leads to the mid tone pot. Switch 1 is then position at mid plus bridge pup.

-         Position 5, switch 2 is not connected. Consequently for the bridge pup (position 5 of switch 1) there is no tone control.



Knowing this immediately gives some ideas for mods and experiments, huh?


On YouTube I have made an animation (of sorts) of the 5 positions and what they do.



tele 3 way  switch p1.jpg
The Tele PU switch, 3-way

strat 5way switch detail



The ?jack?


The output jack has to swallow it all and lead it to the amp.

Formally the name is different, output receptacle for example, but we will continue to call it the output jack.


Here is a typical mono receptacle and how it?s connected.? You can use the stereo incarnation with which you could create a stereo (surprise) signal or you can switch a battery on/off for active preamp situations.


Actually these 4.5mm jacks or telephone jacks are an archeological remnant of the hand-switched telephone exchanges from the past. Find a picture, hundreds of clever ladies connecting telephone calls in 1910 and before. Guitarists are conventional lot.


A (more-or-less) standard Strat circuit


If you have been modding around and lost what the original situation was this drawing gives a bit of orientation to find your way back to a known situation.

In general keep track of your changes so that you can perform an ?undo?, and another rule ?never put change upon change? that?s a recipe for disaster.


The drawing is the more or less standard Strat circuit with 3 SC pups and a classic style 5-way switch. See the notes about the switch and note lug without connection (formally called ?nc? ) where you could expect a third tonepot for the bridge pup.


Preferably use shielded cable (also called coax, although that?s not exactly the same thing) for longer leads, for example to the output jack.

Not in this drawing but a useful addition is a connection between the housing of one of the pots and the shielding in the pup cavity.


For shorter leads you can use normal wire. Use black isolated for mass/earth and use colored leads such as white, red, yellow for live signal wires from pups and the like.


A (more-or-less) standard Tele circuit

telecaster pu wiring.jpg

Here also a more or less standard Telecaster circuit as undo reference when you are playing around with Tele-like instruments.





The more-or-less standard Les Paul circuit

For more info see Part II on humbucker modifications.



Measuring is the best way to get to know properties, whatever branch of technology you look at.

In electronics there are a lot of units and properties you can measure. For some you need special equipment, others are simple.


Here a bit about measuring and what you need if you can and want to afford the kit.

Spectrum analyzers




A spectrum analyzer will show you which frequencies are contained in particular signal.

With the PAA3 Graphic Analyzer I recorded a single a tone on the d string (position 7) with a vintage 1963 Musicmaster, and a Frankenstein MIM body, Mighty Mite pup (neck pups).

So what you see here is the relative loudness (in dB) of particular frequencies in the total sound, kinda fingerprint. Useful


Scope: Wave forms, phase differences

A scope (oscilloscope), but probably too much of an investment if you don?t use it frequently. There are older devices with CRT?s (cathode ray tube), like TV?s had in the past, but also smaller devices with an USB connection that display the same on a PC. The older ones you can find second hand (what else) for around 50 Euros or less, the modern USB types cost around 100 euro and more. You need at least two channels, four become increasingly expensive.


With a scope you can visualize a signal and with a two channel scope you can compare to signals, like I did in the chapter on out of phase switching. Basically you can then see what you hear.


You have two probes each with ?hot? side and a clip to connect to earth (don?t forget that, signal is always between two poles). Connect both clips to a common point for earth, then hold or hang the probes at the points where you want to observe the signal.


Then adjust the amplitude and time basis such that you see something useful.

For example for a guitarpup output a setting of 0.02 volts (20 millivolt) per square is ok to see observe the output signal. If you forget that and have say 1 volt per square, you still see the signal but more or less as bumpy straight line. You will get a feel for it soon enough.

Also the time base has to be adjusted in order recognize the wave details.


The manual of your device explains more.

Multimeter: Resistance, Voltage and Current

You really need a multimeter; a cheap one will do nicely,

You will use that mostly to verify if two points are short-circuited (0 Ohm resistance) or have a very large resistance (e.g.) where it shouldnt. Or you can just measure the resistance of for example a pickup coil round 6 kOhm to check if it is actually as hot as been sold to you.

Here you have two probes, normally a red one for hot or signal or plus and black one for mass.


Set your multimeter to measuring resistance and hold the two probes to each side of the thingy you want to know the resistance of.


Disconnect the mains (230volts AC) before you start and avoid making short-circuit while measuring.

The photograph shows that I hold the two probes against each other, and to our not so big surprise the meter informs us that it sees 0.00 Ohms.



Impedance measuring

Actually measuring impedance requires another device. For incidental use you don?t really need it. As said before impedance is a relation between the straightforward resistance and a frequency you send to a circuit.


The higher the frequency the more difficult is to send thru a circuit. Impedance is normally specified as the resistance measured at a frequency of 1 kHz.


On average the impedance for AC therefore is slightly higher than the resistance for DC of a circuit, as a rule of thumb a factor 1.2.


So our good old 250K pot has an impedance of 300K for a 1 KHz tone, and more for higher tones. Hence the influence these things have on tone.


Coils and uncle Henry






DB Meter: decibel

Measure with wot?

There are dB meters around if you want one. The PAA graphic frequency analyzer I have also works as dB level meter.

Logarithmic relations - Decibel

Decibels reflect logarithmic relations.

A way to look at such a relation is as follows:

Two signals have a difference of 10 dB if one is 101 (=10) times as large as the other, 20 dB in case of a factor of 102 (=100) and so forth.


Just as a nice one to have available in a quiz, the difference is 1 dB if one signal is 100.1 times (= 1.258925412...) the other.

Forget this; you don?t really need it unless you go into designing audio kit.


How to make a PCB ? printed circuit board ? nice if you can

Even when only working with passive components like switches and potmeters sometimes it gets very cumbersome to make the circuit with wiring and soldering.


It is not very difficult to design a simple single sided PCB which you then either hand to a PCB producer or you do it yourself with photographic tools and etching.

Here is the output of a simple application for the Madmod switching array. Looks a lot nicer than the messy drawing doesn?t it?


I prefer the latter, but only if you can find a smalltime producer who is willing to make one-off (sometimes called prototype) PCBs. You have to search a bit, but they are definitely around.


Here?s the tools you need and how to go about it.

1.     A piece of software. I use a product called ?Layo1?, which is free to download in its demo incarnation. But even then very complete and easy to use, no ads or whatever. It contains a stock of standard components you can fit on your design and adding routes and islands is easy. It produces a printable file with your design.

2.     If you find a producer you now either send him the file or you print the design on sturdy transparency, preferably using a laser printer.

3.     Now you wait for the prints to arrive.

4.     Make certain that you have the correct components with the right footprint for your design.


If you want to do it all yourself, you need photosensitive PCB material, a UV lamp of sorts, some photographic chemicals (fixing and developing) and etching stuff with the necessary plastic trays. If you only do this once I wouldn?t bother with this DIY route.


shielding tape
Aluminum or copper foil - must

You can obtain fairly expensive but nice copper foil at the luthier branch, but cheaper and works almost as well is self adhesive tape used for isolation central heating stuff.


It?s easy to cut and apply.

I order to close the gaps between strips you could use graphite or silver paint.

Copper is better in that respect as you can solder the gaps.



Ruler(s) - must

Metal rulers where the lines start right at the end of the ruler ? see picture.

Soldering iron and kit - must

Soldering iron with various size tips, solder, desoldering stuff and a damp piece of cloth. Between soldering actions clean the tips with damp cloth, really improves the neatness of your work. Take care of your fingers.

Human skin stinks when burned.

Multimeter - must

Mentioned before. There are very cheap devices available, which are complete adequate for what we do here.

So do get one.









Magnet polarity indicator - nice


A very useful device to determine the polarity (N/S) of the polepieces.


Get one. Stewart McDonald has them.







Tuners - must

Normal $

Small tuners ? especially those that clip on the headstock ? are handy and cheap, below 20 Euros.






Expensive $$

In my own little workshop I use the Korg here, somewhat more expensive but adequate for intonation adjustment etc. In the same price range around 80 Euros there are lot of good ones like this.







Stroboscopic (even more expensive) $$$

If it must be extremely precise, for example you tune kit for an expensive studio, for Bruce Springsteen or BB King (to name a few); this is what you really need. But if you work there you know that anyway. Price range 200 Euros and more.





Humming amp

Annoying, especially at high volumes. If it?s not the amp or its powersupply, you need to check the pickup wiring, shielding and connections to the bridge and so forth.

Bad soldering points: check them and leads that may not be connected optimally.


Loose wires, also the windings in the pups, can cause nasty effects. The latter can?t be helped by yourself normally. They can be waxed by a specialist.


Bad pups?

Is there a difference when place your hand on the strings?

If you reverse the connections to the jack, the result is terrible.


mounting pg3 shield contact shielding and connection

It can do no harm to shield the cavities under the pickguard as well as the back of the pickguard in order fight hum.


Newer Strat body?s have a layer of graphite paint and connection point to solder a lead connecting the electronics and the shield.

?Get some alu- or copper tape cover the inside leaving no gap.

The foil must overlap a bit on the top of the guitar; if you then place a pickguard with shielding you have a nicely closed Faraday cage.


Take a small screw, a spare pg screw is ok; place that as in the photograph. I there is no dedicated wire from the pups, make one . Connect one side the back of one of the pots and buy a soldering eyelet.

For backrouted guitars the same principle, shield where you can.

shielding example small

Creaky pots


Pots can and will pollute internally as beer, coffee, sweat and other organic stuff is sprayed over them. You know the sound when you hear it.

When it becomes annoying ? at high volume it can be painful and also bad for the speakers ? treat the pots with contact spray. All pots can be handled like that, amps, mixers etcetera.

Contact sprays come with a thin straw that you can wriggle into the housing of a pot, spray, move the pot a few times and normally the problem is gone.


On the pic I am dealing with a noisy tube amp, injecting contact spray into the pot.

Reference and sources

Books shops shows

?        A tremendous reference for all things guitar are Dan Erlewine?s ?Guitar Player Repair Guide? and Ralf Denyer?s ?The Guitar?

?        Google will provide a tremendous amount of info, if you use the right keywords. Often in the USA of course, but also in Germany a lot stuff and info.

?        A good source of info are several fora? on the web, for example URL http://projectguitar.ibforums.com/

?        The site of Stewart-MacDonald ??http://www.stewmac.com/freeinfo contains lots of good info and useful downloads. Subscribe to their newsletter!

?        Check ?vintage guitar show? via Google and have a look at the happenings in Veenendaal (Holland), Oldenburg (Germany). A visit, if only to mix with guitar nuts, is worthwhile. If you have lots of $ or live in the US, Arlington, Texas is where you have to go.

?        Seymour Duncan has a site with drawings, information and sound samples.




All (registered) trademarks used in this book are used for reference purposes solely and are owned by the respective companies.


To name a few:

Mighty Mite?, replacement kit

DiMarzio?, pups

Frankenstein?? registered in the US trademark owned by Eddie van Halen

Seymour Duncan?, pups

Wilkinson?, pups, tremolo?s

Kahler?, tremolo bridges

Floyd Rose?, two point tremolos

Warmoth?, all kind of replacement kit

En natuurlijk:

fender logo

Stratocaster?, Telecaster? en Precision? Bass and a lot of variations on these themes are registered trademarks owned by Fender?.






Keyword list



????? Acoustic???? hollowbody

????? Alder????????? Els, elzen

????? Allen wrench?????? used for many things but need one for trussrod

????? Amp?????????? amplifier

????? Archtop????? Acoustic jazz guitar with sculpted top

????? Ash??????????? Essenhout


????? Basswood? Lindenhout (not associated with basses)??

Bathtub?????????? Badkuip, body met ??n gat voor alle elementen

Beat ??????????????? zweving, verschil tussen frequenties

????? Blackie???????????????? Eric Clapton?s beroemde Frankenstein (sorry Eddy)

????? Bridge????????????????? Brug, hierop zitten de snaren vast

Bushings????????? Bus, penlager, houdt de as van de stemknop


Capo??????????????? Capo d?astro Klem. Changes the zero position

Cavity????????????? Uitgefreesde ruimtes in de body

Coax??????????????? Coaxial, coaxiaal. Signaal draad afgeschermd

????? Convex??????????????? Bol, afstellen met trekstang

????? Concave?????????????? Hol, afstellen met trekstang

????? Customizen????????? Nengels - naar eigen inzicht aanpassen


????? Decal????????? Transparant plakplaatje

????? Deskundo?? Een deskundige, veelvuldig op TV

DPDT????????????? Dual pole dual throw switch (on, on, no middle)


eBAY????????????? Internet veilingdienst

Els????????? Alder (engels)

Esdoorn?????????? Maple (engels), ook wel ahorn


????? Ferrule???????????????? Zelfde als bushing, bus in NL penlager

????? Farad?????????????????? eenheid van capaciteit voor condensatoren

????? Faraday?????????????? kooi van, elektromagnetisch gesloten ruimte

????? FF????????????? Effe, Internet lingo voor eventjes

????? Fingerboard???????? Toets, hier zitten de frets in vast

????? Fingerpicking?????? Met de vingers spelen ipv plectrum

????? Frankenstein??????? Fictie; gekke geleerde, gitaarmerk EvH

????? Fretboard?? Fingerboard

????? Fret dressing??????? De frets gelijkmatig afschuren - 8

????? Fretless??????????????? Gladde toets zoals bij een viool of contrabas


????? Grommet??? Bushing, Nederlands bus of ?penlager?


????? Headstock? Kop van de hals

????? Humbucker Dubbelspoels in tegenfase geschakeld element??

HSS???????????????? Humbucker and twee enkelspoels configuratie


????? ICT???????????? Information and Computing Technology

????? Impedantie Weerstand voor wisselstroom

Intonation??????? Intonatie, het afstellen van de snaarlengte -5.9.2??????


????? Jankarm?????????????? Whammy bar, pook


Kam???????????????? Bij klassieke gitaren de brug op de klankkast

Knoop???????????? Nul- of stilstaand punt in een trillende snaar

Kilo???????????????? aanduiding * 1000



????? Lefty?????????? Linkshandige stratocaster

????? Leo???????????? Leo Fender, de man die geschiedenis maakte

????? Loaded???????????????? Onderdeel compleet met andere onderdelen


????? Machinehead?????? Tuners

????? Mega????????? aanduiding miljoen , bijv megaOhm

????? Microtilt???? Verstelbare shim of wig

????? ????????????????? (Griekse letter m) micro, ook u, voor 1/1000000e

????? MIJ???????????? Afkorting voor ?made in Japan? - 13

????? MIM?????????? Afkorting voor ?made in Mexico???????????????????????


????? Neckpocket????????? Halspocket, de uitfrezing waar de hals in de body past

????? Nut???????????? Metaal, ivoor, been of plastic snaargeleider


????? Ohm ????????? Eenheid van weerstand voor elektriciteit

????? Infinite???????????????? symbol ?is


????? PCB?????????? Printed Circuit Board

Peghead?????????? Kop van de hals

????? Peg???????????? As van stemmechaniek

Penlager Bushing of grommet.

????? PG????????????? Afkorting voor Pickguard; slagplaat

????? Player????????????????? Mooi licht spelende gitaar

????? Plectrum???? Engels ?pick?, plaatje van schildpad of kunststof

????? Pookje???????????????? Whammy bar, jank arm

????? PRS??????????? Paul Reed Smith - gitaar merk en bouwer

????? PU????????????? Afkorting voor pickup

????? pup??????????? Veel gebruikte afkorting voor pickup


Radius???????????? Kromming van de toets als deel van een cirkel - 11

Relief?????????????? Hals afstelling, afstand tussen snaar en toets - 5.9.6

????? RI?????????????? Re-issue van een vintage type

????? Relic?????????? Nieuw instrument kunstmatig oud gemaakt, nep

????? Roller?????????????????? De as van een stemmechaniek - 5.1.5


????? Saddles??????????????? Zadels, verstelbare a brug punten per snaar

????? Scale?????????? Distance between nut and bridge saddles

????? Scratchplate???????? used sometimes for pickguard

????? Shim?????????? Wedge (hals en body afstelling)

????? Skunk????????????????? Stinkdier, heeft zwarte streep over de rug, vandaar - 4.1

????? Slab??????????? Plank, blokvormig. Tele versus Strat - 4.2

????? Solidbody?? Body van massief hout, dus niet akoestisch

????? Springclaw Veerklauw, haakjes die de trem veren huisvesten

????? Stock????????? Standard, off factory settings

????? Strap????????? Draagband, zit vast aan strapholders op de body

????? SRV ????????? Stevie Ray Vaughn

????? SSS??????????? Three single coil configuration

????? Sustain??????????????? Sound, length of sustain


????? Topkam?????????????? Ivoren snaar geleider aan de kop kant van de hals - 4.1

Trem??????????????? Afkorting voor tremolo brug

????? Trussrod??? Trekstang., metalen staaf om hal af te stellen - 5.9.6

????? Tuners???????????????? Machineheads, stemmechanieken


????? Undo????????? Nengels. Een foutieve actie ongedaan maken

????? ?????????????????? microFarad, 1/1000000e Farad - 10.2

????? Urban legend?????? broodje aap verhaal


????? Veerklauw? Zie springclaw

Vintage??????????? Voor Fender gitaren pre CBS - 1965

????? Volumeweight???? Soortelijk gewicht - 12


????? Whammy bar?????? Pookje, jankarm op de tremolo brug - 8

????? Wiring harness??? Gesoldeerde bekabeling + pots, los van de pickups - 4.4


Xylotheek??????? Collectie houtsoorten


????? Zadels????????????????? Snaargeleiders op de brug, zie saddles

????? Zweving???? Interferentie, beat (bij verschillende frequenties) - 5.9.2