Picture of How to Wire a Guitar for 2 Volumes Instead of 1 Volume 1 Tone
This is the pick guard from my last project, The Skateboard Guitar. It will soon be going on the Fabric Stencil Guitar.

For this project, I am converting a two humbucker guitar with one volume and one tone into one that has a volume for each pickup and no tone control.

This is my favorite setup for guitar wiring because:

1. I rarely use the tone knob on any guitar.

2. I like to keep one volume on zero so the toggle switch becomes an on/off, and can also be used for stuttering, killswitch-type effects.

3. I like to keep the neck pickup at a lower volume for cleaner sound coming through my tube amp, and the bridge pickup on ten for more output at the flick of a switch.

The guitar in this case is a Jagmaster, but this would also work on many other 2 pickup/2 knob guitars that have a 3 way toggle switch.

The whole process took about an hour.

Tools Used:
-40 Watt pencil type soldering iron (maybe overkill, but works fast, and I'm not worried about frying any capacitors for this one).
-Needle nose pliers.
-Wire cutters
-Soldering probe tool thing (has paid for itself a thousand times)
-Delsoldering braid
-Razor blade (for stripping the ends of wires)
-Alligator clip extra pair of hands thing (also paid for itself many times over)
-Lead free rosin core solder
-Electrical tape
-Wet rag (to wipe soldering iron tip)
TimothyH1129 days ago

Honestly, Thanks man. I would not have a functional guitar without this instructable. My 3-way broke and i managed to work out how to use the guitar without it (using your diagrams of course)\. The only downside is that the pots cant be turned to absolutely one pickup with how i have it or they both cut out. Maybe if i rewire some of the grounds i could fix it but i cant be bothered. Thanks again!

poop poop5 years ago
i was wondering if any one could give me a wiring diagram on how to wir 2 pickups with a 3-way toggle with left position being one pickup, middle being both, and right being the other position?
ntagn33 (author)  poop poop5 years ago
sleeler695 years ago
Ive got a Les Paul that I want to rewire so that it has the look of the Nikki Sixx Gibson Blackbird Bass  No knobs, just a toggle switch for on/off. Im putting in a Dimebag Duncan in the bridge and nothing in the neck. simular to the look of Ruyter Suys SG(although she has a single knob and a switch. Now I know the first question is gonna be WHY? I have other guitars and I want something a 'lil different than the others and I really like the stripped down look of NO knobs and just the switch. Ive never messed with the wiring on any of my guitars before but if this switch isnt to difficult I would like to do it myself! Any suggestions would be GREAT! THX
ntagn33 (author)  sleeler695 years ago
That should be pretty easy to do. If you have never soldered anything, you might want to practice on some stuff first and do a little research, or get some help.

Here is the wiring diagram for a les paul

Step by step, you could 1)Disconnect everything except the wire that goes from the output jack to the switch. 2) Solder black wire from pickup to one side of the switch. 3)solder a wire to the ground tab of the switch, this will go to the output jacks ground. 4)solder green and silver wire from pickup, ground wire from bridge, and ground wire from switch to ground of output jack. 5) cross your fingers and plug it in.

There might even be a way to do it without soldering. you could: 1)cut the wire that goes from the neck pickup volume to the switch. 2) remove the knobs and the nuts that secure the pots. 3)make sure everything is on 10, pull the pots out of their holes, with wires still connected, tape all that stuff up and leave it inside the control cavity. ta da!
Thx alot for the quick reply.  I appreciate the helpul hints. You sound like you know what you are talking about ,so I whave another question for you or anybody else who might be able to help. I have an original Bill Lawrence L500XL bridge pickup and the S.Duncan Dimebag SH-13 bridge pickup and I would like to be able to compare the two to one another. Rather than having each installed in 2 different guitars,could I install one in the neck and the other in the bridge and get a fair comparison between the two? Or would the pickup in the neck be deprived of its full potential capabilities by being in that spot? By the way, that stencil job turned out really well. Thx again for the reply and for your time.
ntagn33 (author)  sleeler695 years ago
I have a guitar with Bill Lawrence  500XL and 500 XXL that I've had for almost 10 years and I love them. I think I got them from Stewmac. I haven't really kept up with the story, but it seems they have been hard to find, and made by different people at different times, and I guess the Duncan is a copy of the XXL.

My opinion regarding your question: The exact same pickup will sound very different depending on what position it is in. It will sound more treble-y in the bridge position, and there will be an output difference too, I think. It really is hard to tell unless you have 2 identical guitars with different pickups, or can play one through an amp you are familiar with, then change the pickups and play it again on the same settings. That is kind of a pain. If I were you, I would be tempted to use the Bill Lawrence just because it is cool and rare and a smaller company. Then again, I might assume the Duncan to be hotter, if it is a copy of the XXL.

You could also try to measure the resistance in Ohms of each pickup, and then assume that the one with more resistance is hotter and rock that one. That is probably what I would do.

When it comes to tone, there are so many variables, and people have so many opinions. Remember to trust your own ear before anything anyone else says.

JAZ975 years ago
Rok on man i use a website for all this stuf though but thanks
iamtoats5 years ago
 do you think i would be able to make 2 tones and 0 volumes if I switched a few things around? I would love that........ Then when I solo, I don't need to fool with the knob.... (I leave the volume on full all the time anyway....)
ntagn33 (author)  iamtoats5 years ago
Yeah, that should work. Just wire them like tone pots instead of volume pots. Kinda like a Les Paul without the volumes. seymourduncan.com has lots of wiring schematics. I forget what size capacitor would be needed but they are super cheap.
black kujo6 years ago
this is a good, basic Instructable. and very precise