Looking for help learning how to develop custom wiring for my partscaster

Troxy

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If you're reading this I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to possibly help out another human. So thanks in advance, even if you can't help me (or don't want to after reading this lunacy).

I'm a big fan of my partscasters. I mostly live on the strat side of the fender tracks. Specifically, this abomination.

I'm trying change the wiring in this strat up and I'm getting way out of conventional territory and I lack the fundamental understanding of how all this mess works to design my own wiring.

This is a huge departure from what I've done in the past. I've always wired my strats up S-S-S and just followed diagrams. I'm realizing now that I haven't ever really learned anything about this by following the diagrams. At this point in time I've just gotten to the point of knowing just enough about this stuff to know what I want to accomplish but I cannot figure out how to design a circuit myself.

When I read different articles on how to accomplish various parts of this project I have actually left with more questions than answers. While I would happily take a finished diagram to tell me how to do what I'm wanting to I'm really hoping/looking for any advice, reading material, or suggestions to get to a point where I can understand how to put a circuit like this together and why it works.

So, this is what I'm trying to do.

H-S-S strat with 1 volume, and 1 tone with the following features

  • I'm using dual potentiometers for the volume and tone. These are stacked pots where one is 500k and one is 250k. All the single coil stuff is going to run to a 250k and the humbuckers will be 500k.
  • I'm using a 5-way super switch, I would like to have the following options when switching;
    • Position 1; humbucker
    • Position 2; humbucker w/ middle
    • Position 3; humbucker w/ neck
    • Position 4; middle w/ neck
    • Position 5; neck
  • I have two 4PDT mini switches (ON/ON) that I want to add.
    • 1st mini switch will split the humbucker
    • 2nd mini switch will take all positions where I have pickups wired in parallel and switch them to series.
These are the pickups I'm using;
Why am I doing all this silliness?

Because I really want to. 😂 There are so many cool sounds I think I can get out of this configuration and it excites me.

To get a bit more specific, this little partscaster has somehow gotten ahold of me. I put it together from a mishmash of parts. It was my first fret leveling job (low risk because the fretboard is pretty much fubar). The first nut work I've done (kind of cheated, it is an LSR from fender). I replaced the bridge with one that is lower profile so I had to shave the neck down a bit to get the action right. I've put a lot of love into this thing and it has paid me back.

But the bridge singlecoil always left something to be desired in and, while I love positions 2 & 4, I never used the middle pickup by itself. I also didn't love the physical presence of the pickup. It bothers my picking hand.

That's why I originally decided to go the H-S route. I picked up the SSL-1 and a StagMag humbucker. I mostly followed this wiring diagram and everything sounds pretty awesome. I knew going in I was sacrificing the 2&4 positions but I've liked it. The way I have it wired gives me the tele middle position, which I love.

BUT, I really have missed having the 2 & 4 option with the middle pickup and by total surprise one day I accidentally found the Brad Paisley Secret Agent. I talked with SD and they confirmed it is RWRP so I had immediate, acute, and somewhat excruciating GAS. I've decided to put it in my middle position to get 2 & 4 back.

I also want to include the mini switches so that I can toggle the humbucker between single/humbucker mode, and also have another for switching to series wiring (I want to see if I can do that Brian May thing sometime). I really dig that sound and having it in my favorite guitar would be awesome.

I appreciate any sage advice or wisdom you fine folks can impart on me. I love browsing this forum and seeing all the rad stuff you all do.
 
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thechad

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you’ll need much more that 1 volume pot and 1 tone pot to do this, even if they are “double stacked pots”….I’d recommend learning how the circuits “work” that you have wired up so far. Once you get the basics sorted out, you’ll be able to figure out what you want to do. I will say this: do not try to make the switches you have in mind do all the tone options you want. Rather, figure out what controls and switches you will need based on the options. It’ll likely be different than what you have in mind.
 

redhouse_ca

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If you're reading this I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to possibly help out another human. So thanks in advance, even if you can't help me (or don't want to after reading this lunacy).

I'm a big fan of my partscasters. I mostly live on the strat side of the fender tracks. Specifically, this abomination.

I'm trying change the wiring in this strat up and I'm getting way out of conventional territory and I lack the fundamental understanding of how all this mess works to design my own wiring.

This is a huge departure from what I've done in the past. I've always wired my strats up S-S-S and just followed diagrams. I'm realizing now that I haven't ever really learned anything about this by following the diagrams. At this point in time I've just gotten to the point of knowing just enough about this stuff to know what I want to accomplish but I cannot figure out how to design a circuit myself.

When I read different articles on how to accomplish various parts of this project I have actually left with more questions than answers. While I would happily take a finished diagram to tell me how to do what I'm wanting to I'm really hoping/looking for any advice, reading material, or suggestions to get to a point where I can understand how to put a circuit like this together and why it works.

So, this is what I'm trying to do.

H-S-S strat with 1 volume, and 1 tone with the following features

  • I'm using dual potentiometers for the volume and tone. These are stacked pots where one is 500k and one is 250k. All the single coil stuff is going to run to a 250k and the humbuckers will be 500k.
  • I'm using a 5-way super switch, I would like to have the following options when switching;
    • Position 1; humbucker
    • Position 2; humbucker w/ middle
    • Position 3; humbucker w/ neck
    • Position 4; middle w/ neck
    • Position 5; neck
  • I have two 4PDT mini switches (ON/ON) that I want to add.
    • 1st mini switch will split the humbucker
    • 2nd mini switch will take all positions where I have pickups wired in parallel and switch them to series.
These are the pickups I'm using;
Why am I doing all this silliness?

Because I really want to. 😂 There are so many cool sounds I think I can get out of this configuration and it excites me.

To get a bit more specific, this little partscaster has somehow gotten ahold of me. I put it together from a mishmash of parts. It was my first fret leveling job (low risk because the fretboard is pretty much fubar). The first nut work I've done (kind of cheated, it is an LSR from fender). I replaced the bridge with one that is lower profile so I had to shave the neck down a bit to get the action right. I've put a lot of love into this thing and it has paid me back.

But the bridge singlecoil always left something to be desired in and, while I love positions 2 & 4, I never used the middle pickup by itself. I also didn't love the physical presence of the pickup. It bothers my picking hand.

That's why I originally decided to go the H-S route. I picked up the SSL-1 and a StagMag humbucker. I mostly followed this wiring diagram and everything sounds pretty awesome. I knew going in I was sacrificing the 2&4 positions but I've liked it. The way I have it wired gives me the tele middle position, which I love.

BUT, I really have missed having the 2 & 4 option with the middle pickup and by total surprise one day I accidentally found the Brad Paisley Secret Agent. I talked with SD and they confirmed it is RWRP so I had immediate, acute, and somewhat excruciating GAS. I've decided to put it in my middle position to get 2 & 4 back.

I also want to include the mini switches so that I can toggle the humbucker between single/humbucker mode, and also have another for switching to series wiring (I want to see if I can do that Brian May thing sometime). I really dig that sound and having it in my favorite guitar would be awesome.

I appreciate any sage advice or wisdom you fine folks can impart on me. I love browsing this sub and seeing all the rad stuff you all do.
I am still pretty new to guitar wiring, so this probably doesn’t count as sage advice, but it was helpful for me. I’ve built circuits and other things since I was a kid so I had some familiarity with the basics but I really didn’t understand why things were wired as they were and so I decided to try and learn that first. In other words, rather than just wiring up a circuit I found here or on-line, I dug deep on the fundamentals (how are pots wired and what’s the effect, grounding, how does a fender switch work, etc. All that was super helpful. I started with an on-line wiring, but ended up changing a few things around and at some point (I tweaked a lot of stuff), I was wiring what I wanted without a wiring doc. It was also fun. So for what it’s worth, there’s my non-sage advice number one. Number two, I started out wanting a ton of tone options and I ended up sticking with something pretty basic and I love it. What I found was I really just need the three tele positions some really specific tone knob options (and smooth volume control). So wire away, but in the process I’d suggest experimenting with different tone capacitors (and possibly resisters - I went without them but I see why some might want them). Anyhow, I hope this is helpful.
 

Troxy

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you’ll need much more that 1 volume pot and 1 tone pot to do this, even if they are “double stacked pots”….I’d recommend learning how the circuits “work” that you have wired up so far. Once you get the basics sorted out, you’ll be able to figure out what you want to do. I will say this: do not try to make the switches you have in mind do all the tone options you want. Rather, figure out what controls and switches you will need based on the options. It’ll likely be different than what you have in mind.

Thanks for the input man, I recognize it is an overly ambitious project. I'm definitely already trying to make out how my current circuits work, I'm just not getting it. If you've got any good reading/watching material, I'm all ears!
 

Troxy

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I am still pretty new to guitar wiring, so this probably doesn’t count as sage advice, but it was helpful for me. I’ve built circuits and other things since I was a kid so I had some familiarity with the basics but I really didn’t understand why things were wired as they were and so I decided to try and learn that first. In other words, rather than just wiring up a circuit I found here or on-line, I dug deep on the fundamentals (how are pots wired and what’s the effect, grounding, how does a fender switch work, etc. All that was super helpful. I started with an on-line wiring, but ended up changing a few things around and at some point (I tweaked a lot of stuff), I was wiring what I wanted without a wiring doc. It was also fun. So for what it’s worth, there’s my non-sage advice number one. Number two, I started out wanting a ton of tone options and I ended up sticking with something pretty basic and I love it. What I found was I really just need the three tele positions some really specific tone knob options (and smooth volume control). So wire away, but in the process I’d suggest experimenting with different tone capacitors (and possibly resisters - I went without them but I see why some might want them). Anyhow, I hope this is helpful.
Thanks for the tips!

I'm trying to go down the road you described but I feel like everything I find is over my head, even really basic stuff. I think the 5-way super switch might be what is really causing my head to spin :lol:
 

thechad

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Thanks for the tips!

I'm trying to go down the road you described but I feel like everything I find is over my head, even really basic stuff. I think the 5-way super switch might be what is really causing my head to spin :lol:

Sorry, I don’t have any particular recommendations for learning. I learned circuits in physics class and went from there, so I never had to go search online. I’m sure there must be a handful of good ones on YouTube or something that people could recommend. Those 5 way switches are tricky. You should be able to work on your series/parallel needs prior to your 5 way switch which would be a good place to start and get your mind thinking about things. Best of luck!
 

redhouse_ca

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Thanks for the tips!

I'm trying to go down the road you described but I feel like everything I find is over my head, even really basic stuff. I think the 5-way super switch might be what is really causing my head to spin :lol:
I hear you, I felt the same way, and something’s are definitely not intuitive to me (the fender switches, for example). It took me a while to understand it and it probable wasn’t time well spent. There’s great wiring docs on line and here and I think your wise to just focus on the end game. You can always change it up again if you don’t like it.
 

Freeman Keller

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I'm trying change the wiring in this strat up and I'm getting way out of conventional territory and I lack the fundamental understanding of how all this mess works to design my own wiring.

Troxy, one of the best discussions of how electric guitar wiring works is the chapter in Melvyn Hiscock's book Make Your Own Electric Guitar. I have the second edition, he has recently released a third edition (and unfortunately passed away). Hiscock goes thru the function of each component in the volume/tone circuits of many different guitars, building from very basic ideas.

He does not specifically discuss the 5 way switch but with the background and a continuity tester you should be able to sort it out.

In my opinion Hiscock's book should be on every builder's work bench, he just covers everything you ever need to know.
 
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Steve Holt

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The best thing that helped me was just doing the work and over time it came. But first you have to understand how each component works, but more importantly be able to follow the signal from place to place. I'm not electrically minded at all, but after a few years of work and several builds I have a pretty good grasp on electric guitar wiring.

What I have to do is imagine each switch in the circuit in each position and ask myself what is happening with each pickup with each adjustment made.

"Okay, switch all the way forward, neck pickup starts here, goes here, goes there, goes to output. Bridge pickup goes here, stops." Etc. for every position and combination.

Remember that an electric guitar creates electricity. The signal is created by the magnetic field of the pickup being disturbed by metal strings. So the signal originates from the pickup and makes it's way to the output jack.

Whatever obstacles and barriers you place between the pickup and the jack create the combinations and options you desire. And you're right, it's fun!

You have some work ahead of you. First of all you absolutely do not need a 4PDT switch to split a humbucker, but you can use it. Especially if you want your two switches to match. You're really adding some complication by having a switch that turns all the pickups from parallel to series. I don't know if it can be done. Though I don't know that it CAN'T be done. Definitely a new one for me.

I would speculate that you would want to start by sending the signal of your pickups to the 2 4PDT switches and then route them to the super switch, and then to volume/tone and to the jack. That's how I would approach it, but that's just a guess. Hope you figure it out! If you get close, but it just isn't working, post what you have and maybe we can help tweak it.
 

Troxy

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Man, I really appreciate all the replies!

I actually ordered a custom schematic from the guys over at guitarelectronics to do part of what I'm after. I'm abandoning the full series/parallel switch for now and instead opting for two mini switches. One that will split the bucker, and another that will switch it between series and parallel when not split.

After I get the schematic and do the wiring I'll definitely pop back in here to give you guys an update. Thanks again everyone!
 

Freeman Keller

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I'm going to add one more thought for what it is worth. I've built and wired a fair number of electric guitars and I mostly try to follow "normal" wiring schemes - in other words if I do a Gibson inspired guitar with two humbuckers I do the traditional 2V2T wiring, if I do a dual P90 guitar or two singles I'll do a three or four way switch with 1 V and 1 T. I have never heard a split coil humbucker that I would like to play, altho I'm sure that they exist.

Some years ago my son wanted me to wire up a guitar for him - he was tired of taking several guitars to his church gigs and wanted on to do everything. We put two very nice SD humbuckers in it with those cute little SD rings with the switches that allow coil split, series and parallel for each pickup. Three way switching with blend. Plus he added an "acoustic" piezo bridge brought to a separate output so he didn't need an acoustic guitar.

The guitar to do everything did nothing well. Frankly my favorite sound out of it was the neck humbucker all by itself. The piezo was terrible, all the various coil splits were just unpleasant. I know you want to do something entirely different from what we did, but maybe you are trying to do too much.
 

Troxy

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I'm going to add one more thought for what it is worth. I've built and wired a fair number of electric guitars and I mostly try to follow "normal" wiring schemes - in other words if I do a Gibson inspired guitar with two humbuckers I do the traditional 2V2T wiring, if I do a dual P90 guitar or two singles I'll do a three or four way switch with 1 V and 1 T. I have never heard a split coil humbucker that I would like to play, altho I'm sure that they exist.

Some years ago my son wanted me to wire up a guitar for him - he was tired of taking several guitars to his church gigs and wanted on to do everything. We put two very nice SD humbuckers in it with those cute little SD rings with the switches that allow coil split, series and parallel for each pickup. Three way switching with blend. Plus he added an "acoustic" piezo bridge brought to a separate output so he didn't need an acoustic guitar.

The guitar to do everything did nothing well. Frankly my favorite sound out of it was the neck humbucker all by itself. The piezo was terrible, all the various coil splits were just unpleasant. I know you want to do something entirely different from what we did, but maybe you are trying to do too much.

Guilty as charged, I am 100% trying to do too much! :)

I'm not a gigging musician and I like tinkering, I'm not trying to do anything other than see how it all sounds. But I do already have some context for the decisions I'm making. For example, I know I like this humbucker split. Especially in parallel with the neck. I also like it full by itself and in conjunction with the neck. So if I can wire this thing up to have a few more options and have those rock-solid tones I already know I like it is a win/win for me. There is nothing particularly practical about this project :lol:
 

RodeoTex

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What @Steve Holt said above^^^.

Get yourself familiar with all the switch and pot diagrams (and understand what's going to happen when it is moved other than what is drawn in the paper).

Go buy a graph pad and draw out all the devices you want to use. Start at the pickup and follow the signal with a highlighter all the way to the jack.

Redraw as necessary. Redraw the switches in different positions.
Does your highlighter still show a signal path you intended?

Walmart sells graph pads in 3-packs for guys like us.
 

Steve Holt

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What @Steve Holt said above^^^.

Get yourself familiar with all the switch and pot diagrams (and understand what's going to happen when it is moved other than what is drawn in the paper).

Go buy a graph pad and draw out all the devices you want to use. Start at the pickup and follow the signal with a highlighter all the way to the jack.

Redraw as necessary. Redraw the switches in different positions.
Does your highlighter still show a signal path you intended?

Walmart sells graph pads in 3-packs for guys like us.

I would disagree with you on one point though 😅

Use a software program to draw it out, I use inkscape (free) and draw all my own components and it makes different schemes so easy because I can copy the layout and then just draw in the wires. However learning to use illustrator software and drawing components takes time and diligence.

There's another software I used to use that I can get you some info on that already has all of the components rendered. You just click and drag them to place and then make your connections. It even has a function that evaluates your diagram. I never used that though so I can't speak for how well it works.

I'm no good at hand drawing stuff, so graph paper is a no for me.
 

RodeoTex

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Ok Steve. I know you're right, and that's certainly the most expediouscious way for sure.
I just like putting my feet up with a glass of something and working it out old school.
 

Steve Holt

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Ok Steve. I know you're right, and that's certainly the most expediouscious way for sure.
I just like putting my feet up with a glass of something and working it out old school.

I can't argue with you there! I just can't draw very good circles for potentiometers, and always end up crossing out too many things.
 

Chipss36

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If it were me, I would start with getting the pickups running without mods, and start down this list , one mod at a time, every idea, should be thought out, drawn out, and understood, and try it to see if you even think it’s worth the trouble. Then move on to the next. this is exactly what I did, and my first few wire jobs, I wanted to throw In everything. Some mods are just not as cool as what I thought. Some flat out do not work with others. Tons of switches and push pulls , really, I think, become a confusing mess, of a bunch of tones, and many just suck, a few like coil cuts on a hb, I still use. many others I do not.

But that is a great learning path, to go down, you will understand how to wire things, why some things do not work with others, and that a lot of it, is just not even needed, In The end. Resources to learn this abound. Just look for them. If you want to actually learn this, you on your own will find the resources you need. Poor dimarzio people had to deal with me on the phone back in the day, with no internet….while I learned and burned.

Just learn one mod at a time, to the basic h-s-s. Master volume and tone.
break this bigger idea down to smaller chunks.


Fast forward 40 years later, today, I wire very much like 1950 fender girls…..imho, it was some of the best, cleanest,easy to service, and to even swap pickups.
I spend more on the basic components, than dual element pots, switches, and other stuff.

more tones lie In This basic setup, if high quality parts are used, than most will ever need.
Just some things to consider.
 

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Freeman Keller

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There was a recent thread at the Home Depot by forumite Bancika for some software that will allow you to draw guitar (and other) wiring diagrams


I have not used the software and can neither recommend for or against it, but it might be something to look in to. I'm old school enough that I just use a pencil and paper but if I did very much of this I would sure look into the free software.
 

Hodgo88

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DIYLC is great but if you don't understand some of the underlying concepts like series/parallel or how the components work then it will be a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.

It is a slick piece of software and very easy to use otherwise.
 

Freeman Keller

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DIYLC is great but if you don't understand some of the underlying concepts like series/parallel or how the components work then it will be a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.

It is a slick piece of software and very easy to use otherwise.
Yeah, if you combined it with the Hiscock reference that I made earlier which should help him understand how the various parts work it should be a good tool.

The other thing that I find very helpful when I'm wiring a guitar is to bread board everything outside the body and make sure its working correctly before burying it in wood. You can tap on pots to make sure they are all working as expected and test pots and switches for correct order of operation.

On guitars like semi hollows I like to do all the wiring with the back off and test everything before it becomes inaccessible. Also get the main tone and volume circuit(s) working, then add the fancy stuff.
 




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