Guitar Pickup Testing (part 3):
So here is the last and most complex bit of guitar pickup testing kit in this blog mini-series.
Unlike the previous examples, the idea here was to maximise the experimentation possibilities with Strat wiring. So the speedy interchangeability of the pickups is a secondary consideration. The key then was to have the ability to experiment and alter the control gear and wiring with the pickups (and strings of course) intact. Because the tone, and variations were much more important, this guitar also needed to play pretty well. So it was based on an inexpensive after-market neck and a solid body with swimming pool routing. Once again, I must say how useful the swimming pool routing is when it comes to guitars to experiment on. All that extra space makes wiring easier, allows more switch gear to be installed (and is great for all forms of active electronics and the associated battery).
A few more switches than usual, but otherwise a fairly normal looking Strat clone. Note the 'split' line across the scratchplate, parallel to and just below the strings.
Note the bridge slot can take a single coil or humbucker (that's silver foil cavity shielding you can be through the gap).
The 5 way switch and volume / tone controls are pretty standard. Things do get changed about fairly often, and when these shots were taken, one of the mini toggles was a tone capacitor selector for A / B comparisons. I had never been convinced just how much tonal difference there was between different cap manufacturers.....).
The main feature of the current switching set-up is the parallel / series configurators. With the S / P switch in P position, its a normal parallel configured guitar working off the 5 way switch. But put in the S position, it becomes a full series mode guitar. The 5 way is disabled and the row of 3 mini toggles allows any combination of the 3 pickups in full series.
If you have never played or heard a series configured single coil guitar its quite a treat. Assuming it has the conventional RWRP middle pickup, you can get some impressive quasi humbucker tones (both in volume, 'fatness' and hum cancelling).
Finally, a quick look under the covers. Here you can see the lower part of the scratchplate removed for access and the terminal block pickup connection method. Not recommended as a secure connection before you step in fount of a Stadium full of people, but great for ease of experimentation.
The wiring around the switches themselves is of course an ever changing feast, and the best way to keep track is some form of updated circuit diagram. Though sometimes when you get an idea and a need to tinker, any kind of circuit diagram lags far behind!
If you feel the need for some regular experimentation, its well worth having an inexpensive guitar modified for some easy(er) tinkering. And of course there are plenty of other cool examples out there too.
For as many switches as you can fit on a guitar, my personal fav from a google search has to be;