Guitar wiring

Finally! I’ve been blogging about my guitar work here for a while, and now I’ve  got a chance to show off my guitar wiring skills. I’m no electrical engineer (although I have taken a handful of electrical engineering courses over the years), but I’d like to think I’m pretty handy with a soldering iron. When it comes to guitar wiring, the devil is in the details: EVERY point of the circuit needs to be in place, all solder joints must be solid (I like to go the extra mile and collar all the joints with heat shrink tubing), and all the wires should be kept neat and tidy. One can’t be too thorough.

This week, I was approached by my friend John Lisi who had an interesting idea for his Tom Delonge Stratocaster. Typically, the Tom Delonge Strat comes with nothing but a single Seymour Duncan Invader pickup in the bridge position, controlled by a solitary volume knob. John wanted to add a Telecaster neck and bridge pickup – but in the neck and middle positions, respectively. He also wanted to add a few twists:

  • He wanted the ability to split the Invader, activating the neck-most coil, instead of the bridge-most coil.
  • He also wanted the ability to change how the 5-way switch would work. Typically, the five way switch provides five tones: neck, neck/middle, middle, middle/bridge, bridge. He wanted a switch to make it function thusly: neck/bridge, all three pickups in positions 2,3, & 4, and neck/bridge.

First, we had to get or make a custom pickguard. Fortunately, the good people at Pickguardian specialize in this kind of thing, so we had them make the guard with a black abalone pattern. Once the pickguard arrived, I shielded both the body and guard (see Shielding A Guitar from January 11), and then wired everything up. Check it out:

guitar wiring

As you can see, all my solder joints are secure and reinforced with heat shrink tubing. The leads are kept tidy by using either cable ties or larger pieces of heat shrink. Of course, I used only the best components – no point in skimping on hardware just to save a few bucks. This will last for a long, long time.

So here’s what I did: I installed two spring loaded push/push pots for the tone controls, which function as switches which eliminate the need to introduce extra components. The first tone knob switch engages the bridge and neck pickups, and runs their outputs directly to the input of the volume pot, so that when pushed they’re both on all the time, and the 5-way switch just turns the middle pickup on in positions 2,3, & 4. The second tone pot switch splits the Invader pickup, running one of the coils to ground.

tele strat les paul hybrid

This guitar went from having just one solitary tone to twelve, all instantly accessible at the push of a button or flip of a switch. I’ve never seen a guitar with a Tele bridge pickup in the middle position, and I’ve got to say I’m impressed. This thing sounds really, really good. John is a really busy guitarist playing all over New Orleans, so if you want to hear this guitar head down to one his shows and check it out!

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