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Anyone ever A/B'ed a Strat with 3 position vs 5 position toggle switch...


...to see which produces the best tone or to see if there's really a difference? Was it speculation or was there an obvious difference? I've read where some say there's a difference, but how did they arrive at that conclusion? I've only had 5 position switches for the last 15-20 years so I don't honestly know if there's an appreciable difference in tone quality.
I also have the back pu hooked to the back tone control, so you can adjust the tone and have push-pull tone pots allowing for the bridge pu and neck pu to be played together and some OOP positions. All this allows for a lot of tonal versatility but my top priority is good tone, so I don't want to compromise it with too much switching. I've been playing professionally, semi-professionally, and non-professionally for 48 years and have a very discerning ear. Thus, as I said, tone is the priority vs versatility. So, is there a genuine improvement in tone with simpler switching? Thanks for your comments.


Member 995

One typical difference is that the middle pickup on a 3-way switch doesn't need to be RWRP, as it never serves a hum-canceling role.

I'm skeptical about the 5-way vs. 3-way switch having much of an impact on the sound.


I bet a high quality part could sound better than a really cheap one, especially after a few years of use. Nothing to do with the number of stops though.


Gold Supporting Member
I'm skeptical about the 5-way vs. 3-way switch having much of an impact on the sound.
Some people swear it does but electrically they are identical so...frankly I can't see why there would be a difference in sound.

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