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Whats the coolest guitar wiring scheme you've ever seen?


That's gotta be this one, my go-to guitar for tribute shows--

--Five EMG passive buckers
--"Rhythm" circuit is p/u's 1, 2, & 4 (with neck as #1) with a regular Strat 5-way, plus a toggle to throw the #1 on independent of the 5-way.
--"Lead" circuit is p/u's 3 & 5 with a Tele 3-way, plus a toggle to put them in series.
--3-way toggle on the upper bout selects lead, rhythm, or both.
--Master volume & tone.
--Volume & tone bypass toggle.

I created it years ago to emulate the guitars that were coming out of the Italy during the '60s. As if all that weren't enough, I used to have a built-in synth driver but I took that out to use on a different guitar.


I love my Juniors but the most impressive I've owned is the one on my Valentine. It's pretty simple: 3-way switch, one tone, one volume, split, boost, both adjustable. To me it's both visually (you can see the pic) and acoustically impressive (huge palette of sounds and really effective split and boost)


Kurt L

The Forshage in my avatar gives me a lot of versatility in a fairly simple setup.

1) Lollar Imperial high-wind at the bridge

2) Fralin P-90 at the neck

3) Master volume with push/pull for coil split on the Lollar

4) Pan pot with center detent instead of 3-way switch. Can have either pickup by itself or mix them in whatever proportion sounds good

5) ToneStyler instead of traditional tone pot (rotates through a range of different capacitors)
Coolest was what I came up with. It looks more complicated than it is & it's no different wiring wise if passive. Passive brand leads would different of course.

EMG 89/SA/89 with all on capability.
3way Strat for the 89s wired as a normal HH.
3way LP for the SA wired as, up SA, mid all 3, down 89s.
P/P on the tone for the neck, mini for the bridge.
1 volume, 1 tone.

Plans are to...
Talk to Rob Turner for possible options to keep it as solderless as possible & to ask for a little more gain on the SA & the tapped 89s. I want to add a Freeway blade switch to remove the taps & add a few more options. Then add an EXG & SPC with an extra tone added. The mini could be a boost for the more gain needed.


Probably the coolest (imho) but most functional I can think of is a Les Paul that belongs to a friend of mine. He has a master volume and tone where the neck volume and tone were. Where the other volume and tone originally were are now a rotary switch to select the voice of the Fluence Classic humbuckers and an EMG Afterburner boost. What makes it cool to me is it looks completely stock (other than the fact that it has Fishman pickups), but once you start turning knobs you see how far it really is from a stock LP.

On a slightly simpler note, my last Les Paul had a master volume and tone and bass cut (like the Reverend BCC or G&L PTB), the 3 way switch moved to where the bridge volume originally was, and a kill switch where the 3 way originally was so I could still make it stutter without separate pickup volumes. Nothing excessive or crazy, but very functional, and adding the bass cut is something you don't see many people doing to Les Pauls.

And my Strat has a master volume and tone with a 4 way switch. Again, nothing all that special, but not very common. It gives me each pickup by itself (3 single coils), and the bridge and neck together kinda like the middle position of a Tele.
If you have a diagram or other info on the bass cut circuit it would be appreciated.


Tone is Paramount
Gold Supporting Member
This wiring Dennis Fano came up with for the Rivolta 3 pickup Mondata is brilliant. All combinations of pickups with just 2, 3 way switchesView media item 135295


If you have a diagram or other info on the bass cut circuit it would be appreciated.
This will give you a general idea of how it's wired

Personally, I've always used a 1M pot when I do it. Linear or audio taper is up to you, but I like audio taper. And I usually use a .001 cap with mine, although it's cheap and easy to experiment with different capacitor values if you want.

Yamaha 350

Wilson guitar. The switching and electronics system is slightly complex, and I’d bet many a beginning guitarist was more than confused by the tonal options! The switching runs down like this:

  • R switch is neck pickup only, with its own volume (reads at 5.32k)
  • S switch engages all the other pickups and has its own volume
  • Postion A uses (bridge) #1 and #2 pickup and reads at 2.72k
  • Position B uses bridge pickup #1 and reads at 5.30
  • Position C uses pickups #1, #2, and #3 and reads at 1.84k
  • Position D uses pickups #1 and #3 and reads at 2.73k
Wem guitar.
Every successful and innovative company like Watkins/WEM are entitled to put out the occasional turkey and here it is! Finer than frog's hair and rarer than hen's teeth, the Project 4. This is a weird combination of a guitar and an effects unit having fuzz and phase sounds built in. It is best described by Charlie Watkins:

"This guitar evolved from the WEM guitar Organ (the Fifth Man)which played an organ generator from the fretboard. It was too big, too expensive. If he wanted organ sound he would probably buy an organ!

The Project 4 fuzz sound comes from the bridge itself and not from the pickups. The drive comes from the funny magnet arrangement by the bridge designed for me by a professor at Sussex University in 1965 .Part of the scary electronics under the scratchplate of my Project IV # 51507

The Project IV guitar is certainly full of mysteries. Charlie Watkins has said that the key to the guitar's operation was a magnetic arrangement in the bridge. Having examined my guitar carefully, all I can see which is special about the bridge is that each string is electrically insulated from the rest and a wire is taken from each string under the scratchplate where some circuitry is applied (see photo below). It looks extremely complex under the scratchplate but this is because a three transistor effect circuit is reproduced six times on the circuit board (once for each string). There are preset pots on the circuit board which appear to be used to adjust the tone of the sound and amplitude for each string.

A further mystery has arisen. A picture of his guitar which shows two magnets attached either side of the neck at the junction with the body. No other Project IV I have seen has these magnets and their purpose is still to be investigated.


This was the only Watkins model to be mass produced in white polyester finish although a few early Rapiers had a similar finish. Two scratchplate types are known, the angular one shown right and the Rapier type shown in the picture above. A feature of the Circuit 4 was a very complex combination of pickup and tone combinations made possible by a rotary selector switch and a set of three push buttons. One unforeseen construction fault was the push button caps eventually falling off in virtually every one produced.



Jeff Baxter got me into hot-wiring guitars. I've had so many different types of hot wiring that it would take too much time to go through them all.

However, all the various types of wiring I have had and used, has brought me to a point where I know what I use and what I don't use. This has made the wiring scheme far simpler to use.

The player needs to choose specific wiring types for their personal playing style. Too much wiring in a guitar will do the same thing to the tone as having too many pedals on the floor without buffering and switching appliances to keep the tone pure.

Learning to use different wiring schemes takes time, and playing out to get used to quickly changing the wiring as you play via switches AND making the right decision on which wiring position to use in a given song. It's not just having a flexible guitar wiring scheme, but actually being able to use it judiciously that counts.

The guitar in my avatar has the last wiring scheme I decided to use.

The controls are master's Volume, tone, and blend, with a center detent on the blend.

There is a 3 way toggle, which works in conjunction with the blend.

2 mini 3-way toggles are each hooked up to one pickup per toggle. Each of these toggles can get the individual pickup to be series wired (which is how a humbucking pickup is normally wired), single coil, or parallel wired.

It's a simple, yet very useful wiring system for this specific guitar. I've had other, more complicated wiring schemes for other guitars, where once I found what sounded best for that particular guitar, the wiring was simplified to just the things I used more often, due to the song selection.

I have also gotten back to using some of my guitars stock, as I bought them. The three that are wired stock are my 2 Gibsons, a 335 and LP, and my Vigier. I have gotten used to the way these guitars are and they just sound very good as is, to me.


Gold Supporting Member
Lots of switches are fun, but playing live I prefer simple. I like the G&L PTB, but I also like the standard tele layout.

For recording and experimenting, gimme all the switches!! Aria Pro II Thor/Tri-Sound (TS-500, TS-600) are an inexpensive way to get a funky quitar with all sorts of options: phase switch, coil cut, variable boost, 6-way varitone.

The G&L F-100 also has coil cut and phase switch plus the PTB circuit. A little more manageable and usable live, but still a lot of possibilities.


a person

The Jerry Donahue wiring is pretty cool. It uses a super 5-way switch, and a strat pickup in the neck position, and does some great phasing things. Not sure where to find the diagram these days, but here is a description:

Position ONE:
The neck (Strat®) pickup with the tone circuit OUT, affording a clearer, brighter tone to compensate for the inherent dullness normally found in this position. The result: a lead guitar sound that echoes the blues shadings of Clapton, Hendrix, etc.
Position TWO:
The neck (Strat®) pickup with the tone circuit IN, allowing the guitarist to soften the tone for rhythm or mellow leads, as per a stock Tele rhythm pickup.
Position THREE:
The neck and bridge pickups are in the standard stock parallel wiring with the tone circuit IN, enhancing the customary Tele® sound.
Position FOUR:
By combining both pickups with a capacitor and resistor in a controlled degree of reversed phase, the guitar offers a bell-like, rich tone that echoes the classic Strat® sound. Until now, this sound could only be obtained by the use of the bridge and middle pickups on a typical Strat.
Position FIVE:
An updated stock-style bridge pickup with symmetrically staggered pole pieces for great string balance and a special wind for increased sustain. It captures that great old Tele® lead sound that launched post-War popular music in America, and has the same gutsy, “punchy” tone of Jerry’s prized ’52 Tele®.
By the way, the Fender® Custom Shop Jerry Donahue Signature model uses a Seymour Duncan APTL-3JD Jerry Donahue Model bridge pickup and an APS-2 Vintage Flat pickup for Strat® in the neck position. In any event, the wiring is fairly complex and the key to the Strat® sound is using a Strat® pickup in the neck position.

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