02 August 2012

Wiring DIY - Part 04

Blade switches

Blade are the quickest switches for a pickup selector. From the very beginning, Fender's guitars come with some blade switch to selecting the different combinations of their guitars.

There are 3-way switches, with just 3 real throws and positions, that just individually select one of the pickups (neck, middle or bridge), there are 3-ways with a pair of notch-positions that allow 5 positions, there are 4-way switches used in Telecasters and, there is the Super-Switch, with 5 real throws and 4 poles.

Usually, those switches have 2 poles and from 3 to 5 throws so, we are talking about DP3T, DP4T and DP5T switches, except in the case of the super switch that, since it has 4 poles, it is actually a 4P5T.

Each pole of this switches have a lug for the pole (named common) and a lug for each throw.
Let see some examples:

The one named Fender is the typical DP3T (5 handles) switch found in Stratocaster guitars. The common lug is labeled C in this picture. Lug B corresponds to Bridge pickup, lug M to Middle pickup and, lug N to Neck pickup. Each side is independent of the other one.
As you can see the Stewmac is similar but, arranges lugs in different order and, Mega-Switch (Schaller) and Asian importation switch arrange the two sides in the same row but, they also differ on the position of the lugs corresponding to the two poles (or commons).
The lug labeled with a G corresponds to GROUND, the grounding lug for this switch.

Look at this picture:, that corresponds to a Fender's old 3-way blade switch, a DP3T with just 3 positions..

On light blue are being shown which lugs of the first pole are being connected, when the blade is on the 3 different positions, being Pos 1 the typical position to select the neck pickup and, the highest position number is the typical position to select the bridge pickup. But, for sure, you can do anything else!.
Each side of the switch, that corresponds to the different alternative ways (B, M, N)  for a certain pole (C) is totally independent of the other side.

Now, look at this new 3-way switch, with 3 throws but 5 positions (2 notch-positions) that is being spread used in Stratocasters:

As you can see, positions 2 and 4 (the notch-positions) are tricky, since there are two throws connected to the common at same time. This is the typical DP3T-5 positions switch of Stratos.
The Stewmac, the Mega-Switch and the Asian importation switch, all work in analog way but, lugs are being arranged in a different order.

Be careful with Ibanez switches, some are following the same connection pattern shown above but, there are some models that work in a very different way and that are being designed to cover some special coil combinations in axes with a pair of humbuckers.
Also the 4PDT with 3 positions that they are using in some axes to select pickups, works with a center position very different of the 4 types that we described before.

The upper switch corresponds to the most common implementation of a 4PDT on/on/on switch (we named it Type 2) but, look carefully to the lower switch, the Ibanez version arranges the central position in a way that doesn't corresponds to any of the types we already described. So the learning is: be sure on how the central position of your switch is being implemented, in case of Toggles and, in case of the rest of switches, it is also important to understand how they work, before facing any project.

The Fender's 4-way is typically found in moded Telecasters with the bridge in series with neck additional position. This works like the old 3-way position but, with one more lug, throw and position. It is a DP4T switch.

And now, we have the Fender' Super-Switch, probably the most interesting type of switch for any kind of modification in a guitar. Since it has 4 poles, it allows to select 5 different ways for 4 different wires at a time and, that is a bunch of different possibilities.

As you can see, there are 24 lugs on this switch, separated into 4 groups (one by pole).
Lug 1 corresponds to position 1 that corresponds to when the blade is in the upper side (typically, neck), and position 5 corresponds to when the blade is in the lower side (typically, bridge).
Each group (common and lugs 1-5) is completely independent on the rest of groups.

There are also Mega-Switches and Asiatic switches that work similarly but, they have two groups in each face of the switch.

We will describe some more typical switches in next part, as the Gibson's, the Stewmac's Freeway, the Fender' S-1, slide switches and rotary switches.

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