HighPhiMusic

TDPRI Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2022
Posts
3
Age
42
Location
Maine
Hello all. I have been lurking and reading/learning here for a while and love this site as a premier resource for hands-on information. After over 20 years of playing and owning a handful of guitars I finally decided to build my first guitar and figured that it was time to finally add a tele to my collection. After much research I decided to do a number of modifications to increase the versatility of this classic instrument.
I decided to flip the control panel to make the volume knob accessible to my pinky for volume swells and to avoid accidentally hitting the pickup selector. I did the “Gibson tone mod”. I used a push/push for my volume knob to allow for a direct-out signal. I installed a kill switch for obvious reasons and decided to try the 5 way super switch for additional tonal versatility. Once everything was wired up I plugged the body in to test the pickups and had some puzzling findings.
The push/push seems to work as does the kill switch, but when I tap the pickups to test the super switch the pickups don’t seem to be selecting properly. I haven’t added the neck or strings yet (in case I need to remove the pick guard to fix things) and have decided that it might be time to ask you professionals for some input.
I suspect that the problem might have something to do with the wires from the pickups themselves. On all of the diagrams I have seen there is only a positive and negative wire coming from the pups, but somewhere along the way it seems like the positive has secondary wires wrapped around the central wire. I think that I had read that these need grounding so I did. The bridge pickup seems to work on its own. The neck seems to work on its own (although the bridge seems to make a reverb-like artifact when I tap it. Not quite as loud or defined as when it is selected by itself, but seems to have some noise?) The middle 3 positions seem to feature the bridge, but the neck doesn’t seem to be functioning.
The wiring on the super switch seems correct, but I am still suspicious of the wires coming off of the pups themselves. Also, there is a buzz when the guitar is plugged in that disappears when I touch the neck pickup or the control panel. I started making this guitar about a year ago so my memory is a bit hazy, but I seem to recall one of the mods disconnected the pickup wire from the cover (which ungrounds it causing a buzz). Simultaneously one of the other mods has a separate wire going from the cover to the common ground.
I am hoping that somebody on here can see an issue with my schematic or recognize a common problem with the wires coming off of the pups. Any information would be greatly appreciated as I am finishing designing the headstock decals and working on getting those on and laquered and I would really love to have a situation that when all of that dries I can finally put things together and see how it sounds so here I am.
Any help/ideas are appreciated and I would love to be able to share what I have created with the forum.
 

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AAT65

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What pickups are you using? Have you got photos of the pickups?
If there is braid wrapped around the pickup lead that is screening and should indeed be grounded: but it can also be the signal return (other end of the coil from the “hot”) and if so you will probably find it noisy if you try to do phase switching.
If the neck pickup cover has been disconnected from the pickup (which you need to do if you want to do series or out of phase as per your switching) then it should have its own ground connection independent of the switching.
The switch layout looks like it will work as you’ve intended.
Do you have a multimeter? You really need to be able to test all wiring connections - it greatly reduces pain and distress when debugging wiring!
 

HighPhiMusic

TDPRI Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2022
Posts
3
Age
42
Location
Maine
Thank you so much for the reply. The pickups that I’m using are what came with my telecaster kit from thefretwire. I will probably replace them at some point, but I figured that I should hear them first before swapping them out (20 years ago I replaced the pickups on my strat with lace sensors before ever listening to them and I still wonder whether it would have sounded like). I looked around to try to find out who made the tele pups or what the particular make is, but they only say that they use electronics comparable to a squire or epiphone to keep the kit prices low. I took a picture if it helps. The neck pickup is top-mounted I believe and the bridge is a trapezoid.
I think that each pickup had a single wire coming off of it. I have been operating under the understanding that the main wire is the coil positive and the braiding is the coil negative. With the bridge pickup I wired the positive to the common of the one side of the super switch and the negative to the common/ground. I have an additional wire coming from the bridge pickup that I might have wired to the metal of the pickup that also goes to the common/ground. I think that I may have read something about grounding it this way for the switching.
As for the neck pickup I sent the coil positive to the opposite common on the super switch and the negative to the other common on that side. I attached an additional wire between the cover to the common/ground. I read somewhere about cutting the wire that connects to the case to brighten the tone and I am wondering if I may have cut the coil negative that was connecting the case to the switch common rather than simply not adding the additional wire from the case to the common/ground.
I do actually have 2 multimeters that I can use for debugging, but I am not entirely sure where/how to do that with the double-decker super switch. I think that I understand that the 1-2-3-4-5 will play with the top and bottom on both sides for the different positions, but I am a little confused about the commons on the corners.
Thank you again for the thoughtful response and I look forward to getting things figured out.
 

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HighPhiMusic

TDPRI Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2022
Posts
3
Age
42
Location
Maine
Update:
I did some further investigation and found that there was indeed a wire pressed between the body and bridge plate that runs to the ground/common. It looks like I also cut the braided coil negative that seemed to attach to the neck pickup case to the common on the super switch. In addition, the additional wire that I added to connect the pup case to the ground/common was disconnected for the brightness mod. I tried touching the disconnected neck wires (one at a time and together) to see if it changed anything with positions 2 or 4, but to no avail.
After taking these notes I did some experimentation with the pickup selector. I noticed that the “tapping a piece of metal on the pickup to test for noise” was actually marking my neck pickup case. A little bit of a bummer, but I don’t mind the relic-ed look (and will probably replace the pups in the future anyway). Coincidentally I noticed that the pickups seemed to be amplifying the sound from my phone so I used this as a non-contact way of testing.
Position 3 (both pickups in parallel) did indeed have both pickups operating. Wether in series or parallel or in or out of phase I cannot be sure. Position 1 (neck alone) had the neck playing louder than it was in position 3, but the bridge was also amplifying things slightly. Similarly, position 5 (bridge alone) has a loud bridge with the neck playing through quieter.
I am going to start experimenting with the multi-meter and checking to make sure things are going to the appropriate places with no bleed-through, but otherwise still a little confused.
Here is the updated wiring (although the coil negative that was connected to the case [not the disconnected added wire between the pickup case and ground/common] is currently disconnected from the super switch common/end pole next to the neck coil positive):
 

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