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The Anatomy of the Stratocaster 5-way Switch, Part III

Wrapping up our primer the Stratocaster 5-way switch

Previous Installments:
Part I
Part II

Part III: Transferring the Basics to Other Switches

Hello and welcome back to “Mod Garage." Believe it or not, this is the last installment on the Stratocaster 5-way pickup selector switch, and you've almost mastered your switch degree. Now that you know about the basics of the switch and how to wire it up, it's time to talk about the different switch types from different manufacturers, and how to transfer the standard wiring to all of these switches.

Below, you can see again the schematic of the CRL 5-way switch we used as the standard. It has two stages (two “rows") with four soldering lugs each.

Besides the open CRL switch, you can find many other switches in guitars, and I'd like to show you the most important ones. All you have to do is to transfer the wiring from the CRL switch to the corresponding lugs of the other switch, and that's it—it's like painting by numbers. See the wiring chart below.

Stage 1
Stage 2
to lug A / stage 2
to volume pot
hot wire from bridge pickup
- unconnected -
hot wire from middle pickup
to tone pot (middle pickup)
hot wire from neck pickup
to tone pot (neck pickup)

OAK 5-way Switch

The open OAK/Grigsby (now Electroswitch) 5-way switch is very similar to the CRL. It has the same high quality and a similar switching sensation, but the lugs are oriented a little differently.

StewMac 5-way Switch

The open StewMac 5-way switch from Stewart MacDonald is a very commonly used switch in the USA, but a rare bird over here in Europe. It's a very high quality switch, with improved gold contacts and a very smooth switching sensation. I have one in one of my own Strats, and it hasn't let me down for almost 20 years. The orientation of the lugs is a little bit unusual.

Far East 5-way Switch

These closed switches are often called budget or import switches. They have only one row of lugs, but still two stages. Often, they come from Japan or Korea.

EYB Megaswitch S

The Megaswitch S, from the German company EYB, is a combination of open and closed switches, offering an open PCB-based construction. This switch offers an extra ground lug, marked with a red G in the diagram.

Congratulations! That's it. I think your new knowledge about the basics of Strat switching is very valuable, and you can develop your own mods from there. We'll have a similar lesson when we switch over to the Telecaster and the Les Paul mods, and talk about the different 3- and 4-way switches. But before that, we'll do a lot more Strat mods—starting next month with some email questions I received about the mods we did during the last few months. Until then, keep on modding!

Dirk Wacker

Dirk Wacker lives in Germany and has been addicted to all kinds of guitars since the age of five. He is fascinated by anything that has something to do with old Fender guitars and amps. He hates short scales and Telecaster neck pickups, but loves twang. In his spare time he plays country, rockabilly, surf and Nashville styles in two bands, works as a studio musician for a local studio and writes for several guitar mags. He is also a confessed hardcore DIY guy for guitars, amps and stompboxes and runs an extensive webpage about these things: