Friday, October 4, 2013

Tips for soldering your guitar wiring.

To start off with I use a weller 35 watt iron. It gets hot enough to heat the part being soldered quickly and melt the solder at the same time. Quick is the key you dont want your iron touching a capacitor or resistor lead as well as your potentiometer lugs or body long enough to damage the part.  You can take an old piece of metal or an old damaged pot and practice a bit till you get the hang of it. Run the wire through the lug you are soldering to touch the soldering iron tip to the lug and hit it with solder. It should usually take a second or less to solder the joint and on to the next lug or wire. Another good idea is to tin the wire ends with solder before you attach them to the lug they are soldering to. Strip the wire end give it a twist then apply heat and solder to the wire.  It is the same with soldering the ground wires to the back of the pot. Now with some pots you need to scratch or buff the metal where you are going to solder. This removes any finish or oils that are left behind from the manufacturing process. I use a small file to clean a spot for the ground wire. For connecting wire to wire or splicing strip the wire ends to be attached tin both ends with solder. Touch the tinned wire ends together and touch them lightly with the iron. The solder will fuse and you have a very clean splice then you can tape or shrink tube the connection. That is about all there is to it. After just a little practice you will get the hang of it and be on your way to building all of your own harnesses. I use a 60/40 solder for fine electronics it has a diameter of .032. You can find it at your local radio shack or ace hardware. You wont find many guitar wiring parts though you will have to purchase online or from your local music store if they carry parts. A good source for parts is ebay or guitar center also carries a lot of parts. Another good source for electronic parts is Mouser especially if you order in bulk.If you have no desire to learn how to solder or build your own wiring harnesses then there will always be guys like me who will build them for you. If you have a custom project or an instrument you need to wire up give me a shout at my email address I will be glad to help. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Using a 3 pole 4 position pickup switch

A customer sent a request about using a 3 pole 4 position rotary switch for pickup switching. Here is a diagram that shows how to wire it up. First diagram is series position #3 second diagram is series out of phase position #3. Also something I noticed about the first diagram the switch is drawn as if you are looking at the face not the back. So its a good idea to mark your switch and you have to go by the numbers. The second diagram I drew and I show how it looks from the back side going left to right positions 1-4.

This is the same switch used in the EB3 bass as well as a few others. You can ad some different tone caps into the configuration to enhance your tone for different positions. This gives you the basic design and will allow you to have neck, neck/bridge parallel, neck/bridge in series, and bridge. You can also use these types of switches for coil splitting and reverse polarity.  I use 3 different switches for many different applications. 2 pole 6 position, 3 pole 4 position, and the 4 pole 3 position.
Here is a little diagram for neck, neck/bridge parallel, neck/bridge in series out of phase, and bridge
This was my prototype I was just thinking about the series out of phase so it came out from left to right starting with the bridge pickup. In the diagram the neck pickup ground isn't shown it can solder to any ground. If you want to start with neck pickup left to right just swap all the pickup connections and then the bridge pickup can solder to any ground IE: the back of the pot etc..

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cram a varitone into any guitar or bass. CTS makes a nice potentiometer that is called a stacked pot. It isnt like most stereo double deck pots the stacked pot has a separate shaft for each pot so they work independently. There is a center shaft and an outer shaft one inside the other. So when you are dealing with a guitar or bass that has 1 volume and 1 tone and you dont want to drill any new holes you can use the stacked pot to combine volume and tone then you have room for the varitone. The stacked pot is available in 250k/250k, 250k/500k, and 500k/500k. Here is an example of one of my harnesses for a precision or a tele type of guitar.

Most often I use the 250K/500K since most often the people who are interested in a varitone are those who like a lot of tone and as well many variations of tone. I think they are referred to as tone junkies! :)The 500K pot I wire for the tone pot this gives you a little more than a 250K. Either way it is a simple fix and eliminates the need to drill holes in your expensive guitar or bass and still upgrade to more possibilities. I sell this harness complete and ready to install for $58. If you want to build one for yourself I also sell kits. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Varitone wiring harness

This is designed to fit a Les Paul or similar models that have 2 volume and 2 tone controls. It can be customized to fit any bass or guitar.  A lot of guitar players claim position 3 of the varitone is barely useful and positions 4 & 5 are completely unusable. Part of the problem is the db cut. It was designed for very early amplifiers. The resistor at the input of the varitone is a 100K I build my varitones with a 51K resistor which reduces the db cut by 50%. The varitone capacitors are connected directly to ground through a choke in most cases.
Here is a photo of my latest example of the harness.

Position one is full bypass or wide open there is no db loss and the input signal is sent directly to the volume pot.  When you Switch to position #2 the input signal travels through the 100K resistor and out the position 2 capacitor and then to ground. you will notice a slight db cut caused by the 51K or 100K resistor and the .001uf capacitor in series. As you switch through positions 2-6 each position has a little more db cut and is a little darker. Many varitones I build are replacements for the ES335, 345, 355 etc how ever many custom builds require different value capacitors. A strat is a little  different than a tele to a les paul and so on. Gibson wires the varitone before the volume and tone controls using two volume pots and two tone the varitone is built using both poles of the 2 x 6 switch this allows for stereo output or dual mono  using two jacks. For most other guitar and bass mods a mono switch will do and can be wired pre or post volume and tone controls.
For help with your next project or to order a custom harness mail to
You can also find more about guitar wiring at my google site. Guitronix