Designing a complete guitar circuit

It's hard to know where to begin when organizing a complete circuit for a particularly complicated instrument, especially when there are so few unorthodox models on which to base your designs.  This page covers the basics of how to approach design a comprehensive (complete) circuit of a modified guitar.


The basics
1) Start with the pickups

2) End with the output jack.

That's pretty obvious, so after that, here's what else you need to do:

Just view the entire thing as a flowchart:

Step by Step...

1) Add within pickup sounds first, before you start adding mods that deal with combinations.  These include coil taps and series/parallel combinations when dealing with humbuckers.  One approach that addresses both is to use an on-on-on toggle switch that will give you series/tapped/parallel combinations for your humbucker.

2) Now you can begin to think about how to combine pickups, so add in a phase switch here if you want one.

3) Before you proceed to the pickup selectors, do you want individual controls (e.g., volume and/or tone) on individual pickups (i.e., like on a Les Paul) or just a master controls (i.e., like on an typical Ibanez)?  If you want individual controls, add them in at this point where they only affect each pickup.  After this point, the entire output of the instrument will be affected by any controls you add.

4) At last, combinations!  Add in your pickup selector switch.

5) Now you can add in any "master" controls such as a master volume, tone, varitone, and/or any preamps or EQs you want applied to the whole system output.

6) If you have a piezo bridge, this should enter the circuit at this penultimate stage.  Ideally you should connect your piezo to a three-way (i.e., Les Paul type) switch so that you can either either your magnetic pickups, the piezo, or both.

7) Finally, make sure everything is grounded (don't forget the string ground if you have passive pickups!) and go out to the output jack.

8) Rock out!



You can bet I've left a few things out.  But this is a starting point.  If you can imagine beyond what I've covered on this site, go for it!

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