Reader Guitar of the Month: Jade

A PG fan designs a killer 5-way circuit for all his tonal needs.

Name: Travis Johnson

Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Guitar: Jade

I started making “guitars” at age 12, when I figured out I could glue headphones into wood and plug them into a mic input on a tape recorder that had its headphone jack plugged into the aux input on my old stereo. I still have the cassette recording of me playing to Led Zeppelin II on one nylon string and no frets.

This is my most recent, and satisfying, rebuild project. I found the original (Indy Customs, according to the headstock) at a local shop for $100, with a mix of quirks and minor issues. But the neck felt good with fresh frets and locking tuners, so I wanted to make something unique. The first step was to get through the standard thick red paint, and reshape the generic S-type body. I sanded through the veneer top to get to the multi-piece body grain, hoping for something interesting. I had a shade of green in mind, and let the wood do its thing.

The kicker is the circuit I designed for the Screamin’ Demon bridge humbucker and Golden Age neck humbucker. I used a 5-way Megaswitch and push-pull, so I have three output levels. Positions 1, 2, and 3 are the standard bridge, both parallel, neck; coil cut for singles. Position 4 is a series connection of neck humbucker into the bridge humbucker, with the pot acting as a blend mix. In a happy accident, there’s some phase cancellation that makes for a calming of the signal in the middle of the blend. Coil cut to bridge single-coil. Position 5 is an uninterrupted series connection of the bridge into neck; coil cut to neck single-coil. This pickup combo, with a treble bleed on the volume, is well balanced and with a dynamic moderate gain goes from Tele clean, to LP distortion, to sweet fuzz. I blocked the trem with a tailstop stud, so pointed contact lets full vibrations ring.

It’s my No. 1 guitar. I play soulful post-punk with my band Lottery Store and this guitar lets me get to any tone or noise without running to my pedalboard.

Send your guitar story to

Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.

Read MoreShow less

Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.

Read MoreShow less

Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.

Read MoreShow less

Mojotone will manufacture and market over 60 of their speaker cabinets and amp kits as “Licensed by Fender.”

Read MoreShow less