Guitars can have their
any number of different ways, but they tend to fall into just a handful
of specific configurations. This isn't a very scientific
doesn't look very closely at heritage, which is actually the basis of
many taxonomies, but I think it's a good summary of the most common
designs, and is thus a useful way to consider approaches for designing
(or modifying) your own instrument.
- Most classic Strats (whether made by Fender or knock-offs) have this
Controls: 3 knobs by the
Examples: Nearly all Strats, and even some superStrats with an extra
SuperStrat - Almost certainly the most ubiquitous
configuration today. Simplifies things to 1 vol/1 tone and the
Controls: 2 knobs by the
Examples: Ibanez and Jacksons, Steinbergers, Telecasters (sort of), the
Gibson Nighthawk, and even the Teuffel Birdfish, although that looks
very different. Modern PRS
guitars too, only the blade switch
is between the pots rather than the pots together and switch
elsewhere. However, PRS guitars from the '90s and '00s had a rotary switch, so their controls looked
like three pots and no pickup selector.
SuperStrat togglers - A variation of the above: The
pickup selector was traded out for on/off switches.
Controls: 2 knobs plus
individual pickup on/off switches.
Examples: Brian May's "Red Special", lots of superStrats, Hohner
The Gibson quadrant - This is the
familiar configuration of 1 vol/1 tone control for each of the two
humbuckers, plus the selector on the upper bout.
Controls: 4 pots and a switch
somewhere else, almost always the upper bout, though occasionally on
Examples: Les Pauls, most Gibson hollowbodies such as the ES-295, even
the Fender 72 Tele Custom.
Minimized Gibsons - This is just one less pot than
usual, although it's still not a Strat.
Controls: 3 pots and the
Examples: Explorer and Flying V, though
in other respects these really belong in the groups above and below,
Clumped - All the controls together in one area.
Controls: 4 pots, switch,
possibly the jack, and even extras like a Varitone or pickup balancer.
Examples: SG, ES-335 (and most
derivatives such as the 355, etc.), Rickenbackers, BC Rich Mockingbird,
Danelectro U2, the Parker Fly, the Moog guitar, and others.
Scattered - Controls all over! There's
something on both bouts in addition to the usual assortment below the
Controls: Two or three pots
below, plus one on the lower bout, and one or two switches above
(Numbers depend on the presence of a tone switch vs. a tone
knob). Occasionally a silent switch too, but that's rare.
Even rarer are those with extra controls relating to stereo wiring.
Examples: Nearly every model of Gretsch,
plus one-offs like the Gibson Chet Atkins Country Gentleman. A
variation on this might be some other hollowbodies such as some Gibson
models that move the pickup selector switch to the lower bout.
Stripped down - As few controls as possible.
Controls: One vol pot, no
tone, and a pickup selector or other switch such as a ser/par toggle.
Examples: Gretsch 6120 Hot Rod, Gretsch
6131my I, several EVH-preferred guitars/signature models: Ernie
Ball/Music Man Axis, some versions of the Wolfgang, several of his
custom creations and Kramers such as the Frankenstrat and 5150.
Jazzy - Controls
are on (or even under) the pickguard. There's so need for a
pickup selector since there's only one pickup.
Controls: One vol and tone for
the one pickup.
Examples: D'Angelico New Yorkers, Eastman hollowbodies, Gretsch 400JV