Guitar wiring modifications

Guitar Wiring Modifications

Guitar Wiring Modifications:

Electric guitar wiring modifications allow a standardly configured 'stock' guitar to be turned into something very very different. There are a variety of active modifications and circuitry available (especially popular amongst bass players and in the USA more generally), but this blog concentrates purely on 'passive' guitar wiring modifications.
Apart from a little knowledge, all that is needed are some basic tools and a bit of practice soldering (Youtube is a great source of videos for soldering beginners). This blog does not give you detailed instructions for any single modification, but gives a general introduction and some great links.
So what can be achieved with a 2 or more pickup electric guitar?
Phase switching;
When 2 pickups are selected together (see below for parallel / series), they will be in the phase relationship set by the guitar manufacturer. Using a relatively simple switch, this phasing can be reversed. The result is a thin tone, a little like listening to a guitar through a small radio speaker.
Parallel vs. Series:
When any 2 pickups are selected together in normal Strat / Tele, and other guitar set-ups, they are normally electrically connected in parallel. That simply means both the negative wires of the 2 pickups are connected together, and so are the 2 positive ends. If each pickup is 6kOhm in value, the resulting pair will measure just 3kOhm.
In a series configuration, the pickups are electrically 'added', so the same two 6kOhm pickups would produce a 12kOhm 'effective' pickup. In fact if the phasing is correct, this can become a quasi-humbucker pair.   
See Ironstone's Electric Guitar Pickups Explained
Tone control options:
Some of the easiest mods surround the tone control functionality. This can range from altering which Strat tone controls impact which pickups to treble bleed circuitry to the famous 'Gibson vintage' tone control wiring.
Guitar Potentiometers & Capacitors
Treble Bleed Circuits

Humbucker options:
As you can see from the Guitar Pickups Explained link above, Humbuckers are really 2 entirely separate single coil pickups mounted side by side. Cheaper versions have just a 2 wire output like a normal single coil pickup. But more versatile humbuckers (like ironstone's) allow access to both coils individually, so called 4 wire humbuckers. These allow the 2 coils to be switched and added together in different ways as well as 'turning off' one coil (known as coil tapping).
Humbuckers and Coil tapping
Other combinations;
There is then an array of modifications to combine pickups differently (e.g. the famous 'Gilmour' Stratocaster mod adding the Bridge and Neck pickups), 'kill' switches, and 'solo' switches (bypassing tone and volume controls. Start putting some of the options above together and there are some seriously complicated possibilities.
In fact there is wealth of information out there on the web already, so I am not going to duplicate the brilliant efforts of others. Highlighted below are 4 of the best sites. Each has its own compendious listings of diagrams for every guitar and combination you can imagine! So dive in and see what is out there. If you are serious about custom modding, its worth investing in a cheap and cheerful guitar just to experiment on, before your pride and joy gets some treatment. Enjoy! 
related web resources;

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