Rotary Switches - Stew Mac Alternative?

jhawk

Member
Messages
125
Hi all,

I’ve been scouring the internet for rotary switches suitable for guitars that use a knurled split shaft for push-on knobs. I’m looking for 2p6t or 1p11t (or any throws in between).

One of my criteria is that the threaded portion be long enough to be mounted through a rear control cavity (not mounted on a pickguard).

I want the rotary switch to be indistinguishable from the other controls (no height differences). I’m using top hat reflector knobs, and these pots: https://www.philadelphialuthiertool...shaft-linear-taper-potentiometer-fine-spline/

I’m finding stuff that’s kinda close, but only one perfect match so far at StewMac: https://www.stewmac.com/Pickups_and_Electronics/Components_and_Parts/Switches/Rotary_Switches.html

The stew Mac switch is $12! Shipping is another $12 on top of that! I don’t want to fork out $24 for a single switch...but I can’t find these anywhere else. I’m afraid StewMac special-orders them from the manufacturer (maybe Oak Grigsby? Who were just bought out by Electroswitch). Nobody else seems to make/carry these.

EDIT: Actually, I just realized the StewMac knobs are coarse spline, so I’d need to find a metric reflector knob for it...ugh
 

pdxken

Member
Messages
27
If you join the stewmac max program shipping is free, depending on your future buying plans it might pencil out.
 

walterw

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
37,408
I’ve been scouring the internet for rotary switches suitable for guitars that use a knurled split shaft for push-on knobs. I’m looking for 2p6t or 1p11t (or any throws in between).

One of my criteria is that the threaded portion be long enough to be mounted through a rear control cavity (not mounted on a pickguard).
not split-shaft but i've had good luck with the alpha brand solid shaft ones from mouser

drill out a typical plastic knob to exactly 1/4" and it'll jam on tightly to the smooth shaft and turn it fine, especially if you scratch some vertical knurls into the metal shaft. (i do make a point of prying up the little leaf spring holding that ball bearing inside the switch to make it easier to turn though)
 

jhawk

Member
Messages
125
If you join the stewmac max program shipping is free, depending on your future buying plans it might pencil out.
Yeah, perhaps for my next build I’ll invest in StewMax...sadly my near future plans can’t justify the cost.
 

Steve_U1S

Supporting Member
Messages
731
not split-shaft but i've had good luck with the alpha brand solid shaft ones from mouser

drill out a typical plastic knob to exactly 1/4" and it'll jam on tightly to the smooth shaft and turn it fine, especially if you scratch some vertical knurls into the metal shaft. (i do make a point of prying up the little leaf spring holding that ball bearing inside the switch to make it easier to turn though)
... somehow it figures that I'd note this commonality; I've been gradually adding switchable treble bleed networks into my 'shredder' guitars for many months now.
In those instruments, I immediately disconnect the tone controls, so they're 'spare tires' from then on... so I started repurposing the 'tone control' knob by replacing the pots with switches, without changing the appearance of the instruments.
That has had me using rotary 2-position switches of the above style (unfortunately not long-enough threaded shafts to pass through deeper rear-mounted situations for the OP).
And the first thing that I do to them is carefully pry up the tensioner for the ball-bearing that follows the detents to create the positions in order to lighten the action of the switch, exactly as you described...
=]
 

jhawk

Member
Messages
125
not split-shaft but i've had good luck with the alpha brand solid shaft ones from mouser

drill out a typical plastic knob to exactly 1/4" and it'll jam on tightly to the smooth shaft and turn it fine, especially if you scratch some vertical knurls into the metal shaft. (i do make a point of prying up the little leaf spring holding that ball bearing inside the switch to make it easier to turn though)
This could work. I think maybe I’d file the shaft to a D shape, drill out the knob, and then use some epoxy to convert the knob to a d-shape?
 

walterw

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
37,408
This could work. I think maybe I’d file the shaft to a D shape, drill out the knob, and then use some epoxy to convert the knob to a d-shape?
nah, that's way too much work and you'd then need to destroy the knob and possibly the switch itself to ever remove them from the guitar!

i have a 2-way just like this in my les paul (converted it to single volume so i used the other volume spot for a phase switch) and it's had a regular LP bell knob drilled out to 1/4" and just jammed on there for more than 15 years now and rock-solid the whole time.
 

walterw

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
37,408
In those instruments, I immediately disconnect the tone controls, so they're 'spare tires' from then on... so I started repurposing the 'tone control' knob by replacing the pots with switches, without changing the appearance of the instruments.
a friend of mine called this kind of thing "secret sauce", where you had nifty wiring mods but it looked totally stock
 

jhawk

Member
Messages
125
nah, that's way too much work and you'd then need to destroy the knob and possibly the switch itself to ever remove them from the guitar!
I was thinking I’d add a little oil to the shaft before adding epoxy, hopefully allowing the knob to be easily removed from the shaft.

A simple bench grinder could probably take the shaft to a D shape pretty quickly.
 

Steve_U1S

Supporting Member
Messages
731
Applied to cars with way too much engine for a "Sunday go-to-meeting" car, it would be called a "sleeper" ;)
You fellows are awesome - now I shall have TWO different terms to quote when trying to summarize what I feel I've done to these instruments =]
Thank you for that!
 




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