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  • Need some help understanding switch wiring

    I see this site mentioned as one of the places to be to try to wrap one's head around guitar wiring. When I mess around with my guitars I usually just find a diagram somewhere and follow it. Being under quarantine has inspired me to try to understand what is actually happening with different wiring schemes. If someone could explain to me exactly what's happening at each switch position on the following photo I would be very grateful. Not just "Bridge in series" or "Bridge North coil parallel with middle single" I'm speaking of what the wires are actually doing. I might even follow up with some annoying questions. I realize this is probably a lot to ask and there are lots of resources online but I haven't seen anything very specific like what I'm looking for. Much thanks.

    Last edited by FSharpMinor; 04-10-2020, 05:30 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Need some help understanding

    It helps if you understand the switch. A blade switch has two independent sides to it. There is a 'common' lug on each side that is always connected and 3 lugs numbered and connected according to the switch positions. A 5-way switch like the diagram is really a 3-way switch that adds the 1+2 and 2+3 combined in between positions. To describe what the switch wiring does, I'm going to re-number a 5-way like this (I'm using A and B to identify the two halves of the switch):

    A1 BC
    A3 B1
    A5 B3
    AC B5

    Position 1, electrons flow from the ground sleeve of the jack, through the South start of the bridge pickup, through the pickup finish/series connection, out the North start of the bridge pickup to the switch A1 lug, then out the AC common lug to the volume pot, through the volume pot and out the tip positive/hot of the jack. (Electrons are negatively charged particles and flow from negative to positive; opposites attract.)

    Only lugs A1+AC and BC+B1 are active on the switch in position 1. Note that the bridge finish wires connect to B1, but since BC is not connected to anything, the switch is doing nothing on the B side in position 1 and the bridge humbucker is functioning normally, alone, and in humbucker mode.

    The tone pot is tapped off the volume lug, and when turned down will route a portion of the signal to ground through the tone cap (C) in the diagram. This functions the same in all switch positions The tone circuit is an RC network (Resistor/Capacitor network) that works as a low-pass filter removing high frequencies down to a particular corner frequency determined by the capacitor value.

    In position 2, switch lugs A1+A3+AC and BC+B1+B3 are active. On the A side of the switch, the bridge pickup and the middle pickup are being combined in parallel to each other (they are not connected one after the other in series, but both have their own ground and positive connections running in parallel.) On the B side of the switch, now the ground wire on B3 is connected to the bridge finish wires on B1, so electrons would be flowing from the sleeve ground of the jack, through the switch and short circuiting one of the bridge coils (note the South coil now has two ground connections and no positive connection, so actually there is no electron flow and it can't function when in position 2.) The result is the north coil of the bridge combined with the middle single coil, pickups in parallel to each other.

    In position 3, switch lugs A3+AC and BC+B3 are active. On the A side, electrons are flowing from the sleeve ground of the jack, through the middle pickup, to the positive wire connected to A3, then going out AC to the volume pot and out to the positive Tip of the jack. On the B side, the ground wire on B3 is connected to BC, which isn't connected to anything, so nothing is happening on the B side.

    In position 4, switch lugs A3+A5+AC and BC+B3+B5 are active. This is the same scheme as position 2, just with the neck and middle pickups this time. The neck pickup has one coil inactive and short-circuited via the finish wires on B5+B3 to ground, while the middle pickup is combined with the remaining active coil on the neck pickup.

    Position 5, switch lugs A5+AC and BC+B5 are active. Electrons flow from the sleeve ground of the jack, to the neck pickup South start, through the neck pickup, through the coil 'finish' connection, out the North start to A5, then out AC to the volume pot and out to the positive Tip of the jack. On the B side, the neck finish wires are connected to B5, then to BC, which isn't connected to anything and is not doing anything. Therefore position 5 is just the neck functioning alone as a normal humbucker.
    Last edited by beaubrummels; 04-10-2020, 12:50 PM.
    Originally posted by Demanic
    Incompetence is widespread in a world that rewards mediocrity while punishing excellence.
    Originally posted by GuitarFanatic
    I am currently using Skullcandy headphones I found in the garbage.
    I did find the DS-1 in the garbage.
    I once found a guitar amp in the garbage, a Peavey Studio 110. It caught fire at the first gig I played it at.. But it was at the end of it, thank god.

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    • #3
      Re: Need some help understanding

      Originally posted by beaubrummels View Post
      It helps if you understand the switch. A blade switch has two independent sides to it. There is a 'common' lug on each side that is always connected and 3 lugs numbered and connected according to the switch positions. A 5-way switch like the diagram is really a 3-way switch that adds the 1+2 and 2+3 combined in between positions. To describe what the switch wiring does, I'm going to re-number a 5-way like this (I'm using A and B to identify the two halves of the switch):

      A1 BC
      A3 B1
      A5 B3
      AC B5

      Position 1, electrons flow from the ground sleeve of the jack, through the South start of the bridge pickup, through the pickup finish/series connection, out the North start of the bridge pickup to the switch A1 lug, then out the AC common lug to the volume pot, through the volume pot and out the tip positive/hot of the jack. (Electrons are negatively charged particles and flow from negative to positive; opposites attract.)

      Only lugs A1+AC and BC+B1 are active on the switch in position 1. Note that the bridge finish wires connect to B1, but since BC is not connected to anything, the switch is doing nothing on the B side in position 1 and the bridge humbucker is functioning normally, alone, and in humbucker mode.

      The tone pot is tapped off the volume lug, and when turned down will route a portion of the signal to ground through the tone cap (C) in the diagram. This functions the same in all switch positions The tone circuit is an RC network (Resistor/Capacitor network) that works as a low-pass filter removing high frequencies down to a particular corner frequency determined by the capacitor value.

      In position 2, switch lugs A1+A3+AC and BC+B1+B3 are active. On the A side of the switch, the bridge pickup and the middle pickup are being combined in parallel to each other (they are not connected one after the other in series, but both have their own ground and positive connections running in parallel.) On the B side of the switch, now the ground wire on B3 is connected to the bridge finish wires on B1, so electrons would be flowing from the sleeve ground of the jack, through the switch and short circuiting one of the bridge coils (note the South coil now has two ground connections and no positive connection, so actually there is no electron flow and it can't function when in position 2.) The result is the north coil of the bridge combined with the middle single coil, pickups in parallel to each other.

      In position 3, switch lugs A3+AC and BC+B3 are active. On the A side, electrons are flowing from the sleeve ground of the jack, through the middle pickup, to the positive wire connected to A3, then going out AC to the volume pot and out to the positive Tip of the jack. On the B side, the ground wire on B3 is connected to BC, which isn't connected to anything, so nothing is happening on the B side.

      In position 4, switch lugs A3+A5+AC and BC+B3+B5 are active. This is the same scheme as position 2, just with the neck and middle pickups this time. The neck pickup has one coil inactive and short-circuited via the finish wires on B5+B3 to ground, while the middle pickup is combined with the remaining active coil on the neck pickup.

      Position 5, switch lugs A5+AC and BC+B5 are active. Electrons flow from the sleeve ground of the jack, to the neck pickup South start, through the neck pickup, through the coil 'finish' connection, out the North start to A5, then out AC to the volume pot and out to the positive Tip of the jack. On the B side, the neck finish wires are connected to B5, then to BC, which isn't connected to anything and is not doing anything. Therefore position 5 is just the neck functioning alone as a normal humbucker.
      Dude! Thank you so much. I'm looking forward to digging in to your reply and hopefully absorbing it.

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      • #4
        Re: Need some help understanding

        Hey, that reply helps me, too!
        Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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        • #5
          Re: Need some help understanding

          this is going in the vault, well done sir

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