Instructables

Guitar Killswitch

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Guitarists such as Tom Morello of RATM and Audioslave and Buckethead are known for their use of killswitch in their songs to add cool effects. Although killswitches are used infrequently, they are pretty cool to have on you're guitar, and they only cost about three bucks (depending on what you have) to install. In this instructable, you'll learn how to install a killswitch in your own Strat style guitar. Keep in mind that I also explain how to install a killswitch in all style guitars, however I show with pictures Strat style guitars.

A demonstration of my killswitch...I also demonstrate the "pop" that many of you have questions about.


Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any damages that may occur while modifying your guitar. This is merely a guide. If patience is utilized, then no damage will come.
 
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Step 1: What is a killswitch?

For those of you that don't know what a guitar kill switch is, it's basically a momentary switch, that when pressed, stops signal from going out of the guitar and going into the amp. Basically, when the button is pressed, there is no noise. Les Paul players usually achieve this effect by setting one pickup's volume to zero, and switching back and forth between pickups, creating a stuttering effect. However, this cannot be done on a Strat., since there is only one volume potentiometer.

The basic concept of my killswitch design is to create a circuit in which the output signal can reach the ground. When the circuit is completed (by pressing the switch), there no sound is heard.

IMPORTANT: Simply putting an on/off switch on the outgoing signal wire is VERY BAD. The resulting sound is that of when you unplug or plug your guitar in. That annoying buzz.
Source - http://www.stinkfoot.se/andreas/diy/mods/killswitch.htm

The popping sound is normal, due to the physics of the killswitch. Adding resistors and capacitors wont do anything. Source - http://alexplorer.net/guitar/mods/killswitch.html

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saguilar71 year ago
hey bro!! i have a kill switch but the problem is, my ampli got damage, i dont know why? its grounded!
gschtein1 year ago
Thanks so much bro! The sound is sick!
HEY AUTHOR OF THIS INSTRUCTABLE!! PLEASE LOOK HERE!! So do I solder one of the wires from the switch to the same contact on the volume pot that has the wire going to the input jack?? the one I have is a white wire. PLEASE RESPOND!!
itsachen (author)  chickencoop2131 year ago
Yes, you need to intercept the outgoing signal. Sorry about the delay.
what exact wire did you use?? i know nothing about wires and what kinds and such. can You tell me what brand and gauge etc.??
smatt12 years ago
WIll this mess up the tone of the guitar at all? Cause I'm about to do it.
itsachen (author)  smatt12 years ago
It will not.
smatt12 years ago
If I literally attach my wires to the spots shown, will it work? Or do I have to move any other wires than the ones on the switch?
itsachen (author)  smatt12 years ago
Yes. You just need to set up a connection between hot and ground.
kevlad772 years ago
Just bought a guitar with a killswitch,it has the guitars main hot wire cut right in half then one side spliced to a killswitch wire and the other half doing the same with the other wire and what appears to be a ground.It stopped working when I put on pickup mounting rings,anyone have any idea?
Hey, this is a really good set of instructions! But I was hoping you could help me out, this is my first guitar mod and i want to do it right the first time. I went to radio shack and bought a R13-24a-05 button-style kill switch, and i want to make sure this will work if i solder both tabs on it to the tabs on my output jack. This switch is an Off (On) switch, and thats where I get lost. Is that what I need? Or do I need On (Off)? Also, I bought a toggle switch (On Off) that i want to install while I'm in the guitar. What would the wiring look like if i installed them right next to eachother (between the volume and tone knobs on a Telecaster)? I definitely want to solder these to the output jack, not the volume. Thank you for any help -Shane
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_8PZDKoNkY&list=FLpXVcS9keRjkPiisMtjYbTA&index=1&feature=plpp_video
Will this work for a Fender style guitar?
Ah man I am getting confused, am I pretty much putting the switch between the volume and output along the hot wire, or can I do this from the two prongs on the output jack?
dodla2 years ago
hey itsachen can u pls tell me how to make an external killswitch.i hv tried once using a toggle switch but i play a high gain patch like bulls on parade for scratching e heavy buzzing noise is coming
"push on" or "push off" momentary switch? I'd imagine "push off", but I want to be absolutely sure.
itsachen (author)  stevenvachon2 years ago
Push to make, or I guess "push on". When you push the circuit is closed. You want to short the signal on the push.
wardog2 years ago
tell me im crazy, im gonna install one for my electric-acoustic guitar XD haha the pick-ups are similar to the electric guitar.. will it work?
itsachen (author)  wardog2 years ago
It will work, but be warned!

1) Your circuitry might be different than a strat circuitry. If so, no fear, just bypass the hot and ground at the input jack

2) Using a killswitch on CLEAN settings makes a noticeable popping sound! This may make you not want to install it...
Sponnie2 years ago
Hi, thanks for the cool instructions. I just received my button but what's puzzling me is the nature of it's PUSH ON/OFF. When I push it there is a click and I assume it stays in the OFF position so I would have to push it and get it to click again to get the sound back ON? Don't they make buttons that just release when you release your finger so you'll never have to worry about leaving the sound OFF?
itsachen (author)  Sponnie2 years ago
Ah. Looks like you picked up a toggle button. What you want is a momentary switch
josh13242 years ago
You can just connect the switch between live and ground on the output jack in the guitar.
itsachen (author)  josh13242 years ago
Yep, this is just one way to find the signal and intercept it.
Yea, and the way i did it, was that i mounted the switch inside a project box and taped it to the body of the guitar. That way, if i change my mind, i can just take it off.
itsachen (author)  josh13242 years ago
Ah! Reminds me of this similar instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Removable-Guitar-Killswitch/
stratattack3 years ago
When i touch the wire of the switch to the wire that goes to the output jack, my amp (which is connected to my guitar) makes a wierd, buzzing noise. Even if i use a noise gate it won't stop. Is this a normal thing? How do i fix it? If I will solder the wires, will the guitar still make that sound?
itsachen (author)  stratattack3 years ago
Are you making a connection between the hot output wire and the ground? This ensures a short, which would result in no sound.
I did the connections exactly like in the image above. When i connect one of the wires to the ground every thing sounds normal but when i connect the other wire to the output wire it makes a wierd, buzzing sound (like hum, but louder). But if i press the killswitch i get no sound at all (That means i did the connections properly). The only problem i have is that noise
It might be a bad switch, try using another one.
Would an spst toggle switch work? And how can you be sure where to make the connections so that it's on when flipped down and off when flipped up?
spst toggle.jpg
It will work if you use one which has a 'on-off' or 'on-off-on' configuration.

On-Off (two way) - the sound will cut out when its in the off position.

On-Off-On (three way) - good because when the switch is accidentally turned on it doesnt cause embarrassment :P

Have Funn!!
you could probably just spin the switch around after you wire it up... or use alligator clips to find out what should be wired to get desired results...?
bspurrier2 years ago
The switch you recommended works great for my needs. One problem which is important to note, for those of us who don't own a strat, the switch's bushing is nowhere near deep enough to get through an archtop guitar. I tried this on my Schecter C-7 and now I have an empty hole in my guitar because I didn't think to measure the thickness of the wood in that spot. I'm going to have to carve a hold in the front of my guitar and put in a plate to hold my switches.

I opted for a two way toggle which switches between two seperate parallel circuits. One has a Normal Closed button, one is Normal Open. The electronics work great as is.
dtyler3 years ago
Would this be the kill switch I would need to use on a "Sky" Flying V design?

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062545&prodFindSrc=cart#
itsachen (author)  dtyler3 years ago
That switch looks right. The Flying V design might have a different circuit design than strat style guitars, so you might not be able to use this 'structable for your killswitch though :/

Theres an easy hack to get around this though. Just wire the switch so that it shorts the hot signal to the ground.
Azayles3 years ago
If you wanted to build this as an external unit, for example if you don't want to poke about in your guitar and risk damage, could you use a foot pedal which activates a zero-crossing switch circuit? For example, some chips used for muting audio signals use zero crossing circuits to eliminate clicks and pops.
Of course this means the unit will be active, and hence require batteries.
optocoupler could be used here.
tshipman3 years ago
thanks for making this! i just did it, drilling the hole was the hardest part, but it turned out great! it's going to be interesting messing around with it.
itsachen (author)  tshipman3 years ago
No problemo!
Happy playing!
COMPLETELY OFF TOPIC

I haven't even read the 'ible yet, but i noticed that your frets look funny... are they scalloped?
itsachen (author)  BobMarleyFan3 years ago
Why yes they are!
http://www.instructables.com/id/Scallop-Your-Guitar-Standard-Scallop-Frets-14-21/
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