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Three Way Lever/Blade Switches

posted Apr 26, 2014 14:26:06 by ChibsonsandMore
Hey guys,

So wiring up my latest guitar with the three way switch, I wanted to make sure I had my pin-out diagrams correct before I start soldering things on.

I've got a new "import" style three way switch. It has eight pins in a single file row. To my understanding the switch really only needs one half of the pin outs since I'm using two humbuckers and don't need the multiple poles.

You'll see below the type of switch I've got.

I'm seeing pin-outs online that it should be from left to right: A1 A2 A3 A0 B0 B1 B2 B3

The zeros are your output from the switch obviously, and the 1-2-3 are the positions. Do I need to connect both humbuckers up to opposite poles (i.e. connect bridge to A1/A2 and neck to B2/B3)? Or can they all be on one side (i.e. connect the bridge to A1 and neck to A3)?


I assume using just one pole would mean I do not get a middle position that blends both.
[Last edited Apr 26, 2014 14:28:33]
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12 replies
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MichaelWamback said Apr 26, 2014 14:50:32
My fist piece of advice - throw the damn thing away. These switches are rubbish, and will fail on you at some point. That's what gave Epiphone their bad reputation. I would never put one in a guitar, and immediately replace any that came with one.

The switches you want are Oaks Grigsby - cost about $9 on Ebay. They are the best quality switches on the market.



Also, what guitar are you putting this in? Assuming it's a 2 pickup guitar (Telecasters in particular), you might want to consider doing the Oaks Grigsby 4-way switch mod. I can talk you though it, but basically it allows you to reverse the polarity of the neck pickup with the 4th position, so when both pickups are active you can have them in either series or parallel. It's an incredibly useful tone, and all Telecasters should come with that as standard in my opinion.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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ChibsonsandMore said Apr 26, 2014 15:15:43
Looks like Philadelphia Luthier has a three way version of the Oaks Grigsby.

This is going in a PRS-style guitar, two humbuckers. I could split them (they're four lead Lace pikcups).
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MichaelWamback said Apr 26, 2014 17:03:15
Oaks Grigsby makes 4 and 5 way switches. You could get really clever with the wiring. With these, it's just a case of custom wiring them by soldering jumper wire from various post to another. You should be able to find lots of different wiring diagrams online for doing different wiring configurations with them.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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MichaelWamback said Apr 26, 2014 17:05:26
I should also mention that with the Oaks switches, there is a definite "front" and "back". I learned that the first time I did a 4 way Tele mod. I wired up the switch and only had 3 tones. After scratching my head a while, it occurred to me that there might be a front and back. Unsoldered all the jumper wires, turned the switch around 180 degrees and wired it up again. Worked like a champ. So you will need to watch for that when you wire it up.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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MichaelWamback said Apr 26, 2014 17:11:03
Just to give you a clue - on my Tele, the side that looks like what is shown in the photo faces the bottom of the guitar, and the side that is solid metal faces the top (strings). Or put another way, when you are looking at the side in the photo, the right faces the neck and the left the bridge.

It also doesn't hurt to solder a ground wire to the solid metal back of the switch to make sure the switch is well grounded, although you could also clamp a ground wire between the metal plate the switch lever is on and the wood of the guitar you mount it in. But I think a soldered wire is more reliable.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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TomS. said Aug 19, 2014 23:20:12
Michael,

When you installed that 4-way switch incorrectly what 3 tones were you getting?

I recently installed a 4-way oak grigsby in my Tele, and I can't really tell the difference from what should be the both PUs in series vs bridge only positions.

I used the older Stew Mac diagram. (The one with only one Cap) See attached diagram.


Basically, position 1 and 4 sound pretty much the same to me.
[Last edited Aug 20, 2014 01:04:14]
This is my Chibson. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
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MichaelWamback said Aug 22, 2014 14:48:46
I think it was the standard Tele tone (both pickups) with the switch in both positions. There were only 3 tones. When I flipped the switch around (resoldering the jumpers of course) the 4th tone immediately jumped out at me.

Using the above diagram, the metal casing side of the Oaks switch should be oriented to the right, and the plastic looking side that shows the switch contacts should be oriented to the left.

Trust me, when you get all four tones you will notice. The extra tone is much louder than the other 3.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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TomS. said Aug 24, 2014 13:36:02
Michael,
Thanks for the info. I have reviewed my wiring multiple times and it along with the switch's orientation are "correct" or at least as depicted in the diagram.

I wonder if the issue is with the pickups I am using. I have installed Fender N3 noiseless pickups in this guitar and they do seem to have a little less bite over all, but also a much smoother tone.
This is my Chibson. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
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MichaelWamback said Aug 24, 2014 15:48:06
Possibly. I used pretty standard Tele pickups from Sheptone. I've never tried this with noiseless pickups. But I would think you should still get 4 different tones, since you would still be flipping the polarity in theory. But I don't really know how the noiseless pickups perform their magic.

I would say that the 4th tone is humbucker like, so you probably wouldn't notice a reduction in noise if using them.

Try flipping between all the way toward the neck and then the 3rd position toward the back. Those are the two setting where both pickups should be on. You should be able to hear a difference in tone.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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TomS. said Aug 24, 2014 15:57:04
I definitely get a difference in tone between position 1 and 3. It is position 1 and 4 that sound pretty much the same to me, which I find very odd. Basically, position 4 sounds like a slightly more anemic version of position 1. Position 2 and 3 are the loudest volume wise.

My setup should be:
1 - both in series
2 - neck only
3 - both in parallel (standard tele)
4 - bridge only
This is my Chibson. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
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BuddhaPickups said Aug 24, 2014 16:38:56
I go ahead and do 5 way on my teles, it looks stock and it gives you another tone option. This is how I do it but I'm sure there are other good combinations.
1. both in series
2. both in parallel with a tone cap roll off (I normally use a .002 for just a little roll off)
3. neck only
4. both in parallel
5. bridge only
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MichaelWamback said Aug 24, 2014 23:16:20
Position 1 and 4 should sound a lot different. 1 is going to be the new tone with both pickups activated, and 4 would be the bridge pickup only - so they shouldn't sound remotely alike. The only thing I can think of (assuming you have the wiring on the switch right) is that the pickup height is allowing one pickup to drown out the other - so you might want to experiment with pickup height.

Defintely have a look at your switch though. A bit of solder or a stray strand of wire that you can barely notice may be causing a short. Always good to double check.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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