Designing Your Dream Guitar, Part I: Electronics

This section is designed to give you a starting point in designing your dream guitar on all levels, this part is just about electronics.  Use the below chart to help you organize your thoughts on the hardware you want in your axe.

There are two other related documents on design to check out after this: Playability and Aesthetics.

Pickups:  What kind do you want and how many? (See also the pickup Combinations page.)
  • Magnetic
    • single coils
    • humbuckers
    • both
    • and add to the above:
      • Active
      • Passive
  • Piezo bridge
  • Synth access
  • Sustainer. Actually, this isn't a pickup, but it will take the place of one.  It magnetically induces vibration in your strings so you can hold a note until the batteries run out.  The eBow is a handheld version of this.

  • Volume
    • on each pickup
    • master volume
  • Tone
    • standard tone controls
    • tone controls variations (Woman tone, etc. selectable through push/pull)
    • unique tone modification: Varitone - a rotary switch of capacitors
    • active controls:
      • filter
      • eq
  • Pickup selection
    • standard:
      • toggle switch (Les Paul)
      • blade switch (Strat or Tele)
      • rotary switch (PRS) (see my schematics for this approach)
    • blender: like the "balance" control between stereo speakers.
    • odd combinations: i.e., on a Strat outside coils or all three at same time (e.g., see the Super Switch and the Megaswitches at Stewart-MacDonald).
  • New combinations
    • coil cutting/tapping: reversibly converts a humbucker to a single coil by inactivating one coil. (Read more here.)
    • phase switching: makes your signal really thin and brittle. (Read more here.)
    • series/parallel switching: often used for lead/rhythm switching. (Read more here.)
  • On-board active electronics (Read more here.)
    • preamp: "cleans up" and boosts your signal before leaving the guitar; makes it more responsive.
    • compressor: same as above for the most part.
    • graphic EQ: preferentially enhances various frequencies.


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