The Control Panel

If you're thinking about what you want your guitar to do, then you also need to think about the other side of the coin: How you're going to control the options you have available to you.  Most folks are going to go with the stock options on the instrument they start out with, but if you want to maximize the potential of your instrument, you need to think in terms of all the possibilities where the placement and types of controls are concerned.



Three places for controls
Near the bridge/jack.  This is by far the most common place for controls as there isn't a mainstream electric guitar out there that doesn't use this area for the majority of their controls, mainly for vol and tone knobs, but also for the pickup selector on Strats/Teles/super-Strats, etc.  In some cases (e.g., the SG) you also have an input jack crammed into this area as well.

On the upper bout.  Most famously, Gretsch guitars and LPs place their pickup selector switch in this spot, but the piezo-equipped specimens of Godin's LGX use this area for the acoustic vol and EQ for their preamp.  Some Gretsch guitars also have a tone switch here as well.

On the lower bout.  This is easily the least-visited area, design-wise as many shapes don't really allow enough room to accommodate any controls to speak of.  You see this almost exclusively on hollowbodies such as the master volume knob on most Gretsch guitars (including the solid body Duo Jet, incidentally) and the pickup selector switch on many Gibson jazz models such as the L5.

Under the pickguard.  I'm not thinking so much about pickguards on top-routed models like Strats as in the 3rd dimension: Floating pickguards.  Jazz hollowbodies often house their volume and tone controls here, sometimes discretely.  There's no reason why similar can't be accomplished on a Les Paul.

Note: There's a fourth quadrant, obviously, but that's ruled out by the ergonomics of having your picking arm in the way.  It's the hardest to get to with your hand, but you're going to bump any controls there with your forearm.  I'm not aware of any guitar design (even the most exotic) that places any components in this area.



Types of controls
Knobs (e.g., vol and tone pots)

Sliders (e.g., acoustic preamp EQs)

Toggle switches (e.g., Gibson-style pickup selector switches, mini-toggles for coil taps)

Blade switches (e.g., Strat/Tele pickup selector switches)

Rotary switches (e.g., PRS selector switches)

Slider switches (e.g., Jaguar/Jazzmaster switches)

Momentary switches (e.g., kill switches)

Push-button switches (e.g., series switches on S-1 equipped Fenders)

Push-pull pots (e.g., coil taps Schecters)

Note also that many electronic applications can accommodate either a switch or a potentiometer since the latter are little more than "on/off" switches with gradations along that continuum.


Putting these two concepts together
Think outside the box.  Let's say you have a Les Paul.  Who says you have to put the pickup selector switch on the upper bout?  Many guitars place it near the jack, after all.  Why not there?  Maybe place the control for an active circuit on the upper bout.  And so on.






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