To benefit from the series option, you need to use your Strat’s dual-pickup settings—bridge + middle or neck + middle.
This month, we again dive into parallel/series pickup switching for your Stratocaster. As you may recall from last month's column [“Stratocaster Parallel/Series Switching," December 2011], an individual single-coil Strat pickup cannot be wired in parallel or series by itself—you need a minimum of two pickups for this. To benefit from the series option, you need to use your Strat's dual-pickup settings—bridge + middle or neck + middle.
Fig. 1 shows how to wire two pickups in parallel with the option of running them in series. Here, both pickups are wired to a normal DPDT (aka 2PDT) switch. In the down position, both pickups are connected in parallel—the standard Stratocaster configuration. This setting yields maximum chime and twang. With the toggle in the up position, pickup No. 2's ground is lifted and no longer connected to ground. Instead, it's now connected to the hot output of pickup No. 1, with the red jumper wire on the toggle switch making the connection.
Note: With normal Strat pickups, this works right from the start, but be careful when using humbuckers with only two wires (shield + hot), or one conductor pickups, in which the pickup ground and the shield wire are not separated. If you're working with humbuckers, be sure to use a unit with a 4-conductor wire that has the pickup ground separate from the shield wire, or let someone who knows what he's doing convert your standard humbucker. Desoldering the metal case and working with the super-thin internal pickup wires requires the right tools and some experience to avoid ruining the pickup. Ungrounding the shield will work, but you'll hear a buzz when you touch the pickup's metal casing, because the metal case will be included in the pickup circuit. The same holds true for single-coils with a metal casing that is connected to the pickup ground—and this includes all standard Telecaster neck pickups! We'll discuss this topic in detail in future columns.
So how can we add series switching to a Strat? There are many ways to do this, and if you do a Google search you'll find several approaches to series switching. Unfortunately, some of them are simply wrong. Most use two additional switches or complicated rotary switching, or wild combinations of these elements—sometimes even in conjunction with a 5-way super-switch.
Yes, we have to move more wires for this mod than we've done before, but after more than three years of Strat mods, you're no longer a novice, right? Series wiring is one of the supreme challenges in Strat modding, but you can do it!
My favorite Strat series-switching scheme only uses one normal DPDT switch and only affects the dual-pickup positions.
Fig. 2 shows the schematic in all its glory.
As always, you can use an additional mini toggle DPDT switch for this mod. Or, if you Adding Series Switching to Your Strat BY DIRK Wacker don't want to alter the stock appearance of your Strat, you can use a push/pull or push/ push pot of your choice. Most push/pull and push/push pots include a DPDT switch, so this shouldn't be a problem.
Operating this circuit is very easy: With the switch in the down position, both pickups are wired in parallel—the standard setting—when you select position 2 or 4 (bridge + middle or neck + middle).
But flip the switch up in position 2 or 4, and the respective two pickups are then wired in series to beat the devil out of your tube amp. In the other single-pickup positions (1, 3, and 5), the DPDT switch has no effect. That's easy enough, isn't it?
Another benefit of this particular approach to series switching is that it moves only the minimum wires required to do the job. Simple and clean. (The only downside of this mod occurs if you also use the “seven-sound mod" on your Strat. In that case, it will not connect the bridge and neck pickup together in series as well. If you need both mods, there's no way around having to install a second additional switch or a rotary switch with enough poles to accommodate all the positions.)
The schematic also incorporates individual tone caps for the middle and neck pickups, something I highly recommend for series wiring. You should lower the standard values a little bit, to prevent your tone from getting muddy in the series settings. Try 0.015 μF for the middle and 0.01 μF for the neck pickup.
As you can see, I chose to connect the middle pickup to the DPDT toggle switch. Because the middle pickup is involved in both dual-pickup positions, you only need one switch to give you two new tones. (This also explains why this wiring won't work for the seven-sound mod's combination of bridge + neck pickup. The middle pickup isn't active in this setting.)
On this note, we'll close out our Stratocaster mod series and shift over to Telecaster and Esquire mods next month. We'll start with a brief inspection of your guitars and look at some cool mods to enhance their primary tone. Until then, keep on modding!
- Strat Series Wiring for a New Decade - Premier Guitar ›
- Three Must-Try Guitar Wiring Mods - Premier Guitar ›
- Mod Garage: Four Ways to Configure a 4-Conductor Humbucker ... ›
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.