Instructables

Removable Guitar Killswitch

If you're not ready to drill up your guitar to install a killswitch, here's an easy way to make one that you can take right off if you don't want it.

If you don't feel like reading, you can watch this video. Also, I played a little demonstration in the video.


 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Materials

Here's what you need to make this.

Wire
Guitar Cable
Small Project Box
Button
Electrical Tape
Guitar (Obviously)

Tools:
Soldering Iron (optional)
Wire cutter/stripper
Drill

A note about the button. I got mine at RadioShack. MAKE SURE that the button is usually open. That means that when you aren't pressing it, it's off. If on the back of the packaging the button came in it says "Usually Closed" DO NOT buy that button!

Step 2: Attach Wires to Guitar Cable

Unscrew the metal casing from one end of the guitar cable. Take off any plastic or rubble protection inside it. Wrap two wires around the things highlighted in red on the picture. To make sure you did it right, plug the cable into a guitar, play a note, and touch the two wires together, if the sound stops, you're doing great so far! If not, make sure you have the wires in the right places.
Trainguyxx2 years ago
Wow, I can't tell you how great this tutorial is! I have an ok quitar, but i didn't want to drill into it just for the killswitch. I used speaker wire, so it wasn't as streamline, so I had to use electrical tape over the solder-ed spot, but it worked very well none the less.

Thanks for a great and simple kill switch alternative!
stratattack3 years ago
The button used turns Off or On when pressed?
jairwhipple3 years ago
Last night i built your kill switch :) Though instead of a button, I used a toggle switch. It rocks. Thanks for this instructable!
cdousley4 years ago
so cool i love this
i love projects were u can get all the parts at rs i have one in town
kobezbro4 years ago
ooh ooh ooh!

i saw you before a couple years ago when i made that cardboard head! i thought you looked familiar!


still have that thing lying around. i put a wig and sunglasses on it and called it Wally.   but thats for another day...
kobezbro4 years ago
i wouldnt do an invasive switch for my FIRST tele but i would love to start playing around with my second guitar.  I am a Sentimental packrat so i have a first everything that i wouldnt touch. first CD, first CD with that sticker, first CD with that sticker and a mark on it.   i am talking about the same album.

so i would like to do stuff with guitars. i would want to make my own one day but i am young and poor.


oh, BTW you would make a cool teacher.  cause really we are all talking about the rubber thing and not the flux capacity or whatever its scientifically called.

cubester8084 years ago
the kill switch works great, but when i put on high gain for a scratching solo like tom morellos, i get a really loud hum, is there anyway to eliminate this?
Cool. You should do a heavy metal cover of "Dr Who"
Pei01725 years ago
Hey Camera, could you be a nice fellow and post the guitar tab for "Jordan", or show me how to play it? I'm having a hard time near the end of riff 1, and pull-offs are kinda hard with my quiet amp. Thanks!
Go to www.ultimate-guitar.com... it has any guitar or bass tab you could ever want.
Flash199505 years ago
how much does the guitar cable cost?????????????????
it cost 5.95
lier, i got a 18.5 foot cable at guitar center and it costed almost 50 bucks.
he isn't a liar.....that just means you spent your money on a more expensive cable.....mine was 8 bucks and something, and the killswitch works the way it should.
is this jack above me
BrandAid234 years ago
That's very awesome.....I built this for my SG, and it only costs about 12 bucks.....it works perfectly, and i love using it now!! Thanks!!
Inderpal885 years ago
can't you just get it drilled and stuff at the store?i dont wanna break it!
maxxxem6 years ago
Can this short circuit your amp? don't you want to open the circuit?
maxxxem maxxxem6 years ago
Because all your doing is sending the electricty back to the amp, aren't you????
electricity goes back to the amp without this killswitch, thats how the signal gets sent.
I would use a normally closed switch in series with the jack. Instead of the normally opened switch in parallel with the jack.
noo you want to send the electricity back to the amp but through the ground :D that means that the signal is lost, and u get no sound, when you press the button
k
Is there any chance my guitar equip. could get damaged if i make and use it? I'm not worried about the process of making it.
no chance, its just like unplugging your guitar (without the noise). all it does is create a circuit that closes before the power reacheas the guitar.
Canas5 years ago
This is awesome! I need a killswitch effect for an upcoming show, yet I feared I would have to drill a whole in my Dean. Will be starting this tomorrow after the snow lets up! Thanks!
no duct tape! use a suction cup or someting. that would work better and not damage your guitar! great instructible by the way. me and my dad are going to try this tomorrow.
alcohol will remove any leftover adhesive left on your guitar. i believe it doesnt damae ur guitar when u put alcohol.
st.paul5 years ago
i finally got around to making one of these myself using this guide and it turned out great, so thanks for the awesome Instructable! oh and for the wire going from the guitar chord to the project box i used a curly phone line that i liked the look of.
IPlayGuitar5 years ago
Great instructable, makin it now. Quick question, if you made it with a switch instead of a button could you leave it on?
yup
st.paul5 years ago
great idea. i was thinking about putting it on my bass too! a microphone would be cool too.
4ng3l5 years ago
nice dude thanks so much
IPlayGuitar5 years ago
forget the last part of that comment does yours stay off whenever you push the button or is it off just while is pressed in?
Super Cameraman (author)  IPlayGuitar5 years ago
It only stays off when the button is pushed in, but you can get a button that you can push to turn it off, then push it again to turn it on, if that's what you want.
can u do this with any guitar or cable?
rada1945 years ago
what if your top of cord doesn't screw off
Johnne5 years ago
nice job of esplaining your noninvasive momentary guitar off/on switch...as for teaching, everyone has their own way to teach, yours my friend was very cool, kept me interested - as for cost of guitar cables...you may purchase these for less than $10bucks depending on quality and length..the cable you used is a nice choice by-the-way...so peeples, get a momentary contact switch, a box, size is dependant upon personal choice, wire up to the silver thingy, tape galore, and make awesome new sounds with your homemade noninvasive guitar switchy thingy!
emachine5 years ago
It's not completly removeble is cause it would just be hanging if you took it off the guitar right?
emachine5 years ago
Does it matter what size the box is cause i think it would be better with a smaller one
lespaul6785 years ago
Yeah.... It's nice that your showing people how to fashion this device, but for future reference, you should spend a little more time learning about what your trying to "Teach" before you "Teach" it, to avoid referring to vital components as "Rubber thing" or "That" and "The thing that looks like this". I'm not trying to flame you, but it makes you look very unprofessional as a "Teacher" Other than that, nice.
Super Cameraman (author)  lespaul6785 years ago
Thanks for the tips, I never realized how stupid I sound. The next video I make I will try to use more descriptive language. Oh and nice username.
Bob Bobson5 years ago
Could i do the same thing with a toggle switch? or should anything be changed (as far as you know)?
megafeltch5 years ago
thanks a lot it work well I bought a momentary switch for two dollars yesterday and made one 5/5
Thanks! I just built one and it works great! if I meet you in real life I'm buyin you a beer 5/5
captainjohn5 years ago
Oh, the "Usually On" is called a momentary switch. I asked the guy for one that was "Usually Off" he said they all are until you turn them on. Thought this might help.
Does the wire need to be any specific gauge? Not sure if this will affect it or not.
Instead of the black project box, i used an altoids tin. I also thought of maybe connecting wires to the inside of the guitar like on a killswitch that is drilled but instead install a 1/8" jack on the side of the guitar then adding a 1/8" plug on the wires connected to the button. Then you could remove the killswitch and will be able to use more than one cable if you go to your friends house, Etc.
I love the finish on your guitar, is it stock or custom?
Super Cameraman (author)  old_bass_masta6 years ago
It's totally stock.
dang! man id totally buy that guitar. but what about slash's/zakk wylde's killswitch technique? its handy
Super Cameraman (author)  old_bass_masta6 years ago
Haha, if you really want it, get it, it's probably under 100 dollars. It's a Jay Turser JT-300 or something like that. It looks nice, but it's not the greatest guitar in the world. You get what you pay for I guess.
buy the body and add a warmoth neck and the david gilmore pickguard and pickups and some grover tuners and you have an impressive system
ojochris6 years ago
Ok, I'm confused, how does this kill the sound?
Paine956 years ago
Hi, just made this and went to test it out, but whenever I touch the strings I get excessive feedback so I can't really hear it when I play hammer-ons etc. Is this supposed to happen???
Paine95 Paine956 years ago
Fixed it, had the wiring around the wrong way..
jjay106 years ago
sweet works awesome on my guitar it rocks
GrafKID6 years ago
Damn. this thing broke my audio cable. now im pissed.
Super Cameraman (author)  GrafKID6 years ago
Sorry to hear that, how to did you break it? I'm sure you can fix it.
the spot that looks like it has a hot glue casing on the guitar cable snapped off. so now i need a new one. im gunna try to make the killswitch into a pedal now.
GrafKID6 years ago
Does it matter what kind of wire you use? i have everything else i just need to know if any wire will work or not.
Super Cameraman (author)  GrafKID6 years ago
No. Does not matter.
actually buckethead has a les paul guitar and they have built-in toggle/killswitches
Most Les Pauls don't come with built-in killswitches; in fact, there's only one recent model I've seen in any magazines with one built into it. And Buckethead's killswitch is indeed that button (actually called "The Red Button), he probably modded it himself along with the pickups in the guitar. (Which means don't expect to just buy a Les Paul and expect to sound exactly like Buckethead.)
Yes they do actually. They have a separate volume control for each pickup. - You know this is where the whole killswitch thing actually came from, right? - Anyway, turn the volume off for whatever pickup you won't be using and then your pickup selector switch is effectively what kids today call a kill switch. This is nowhere near a new invention.
That's like saying a Neanderthal is the same as a modern human. =P There's an evolution there. That is not a killswitch, that's a pickup selector switch. I know about the trick, and I know that's where it came from, but that doesn't make it a killswitch.

I see he said "built-in toggle/killswitches," but the problem there is that they're not the the same thing. If what he was referring to was the toggle trick, he should have specified, because a Les Paul also isn't the only guitar in the world with two volume selector knobs. If he didn't know the difference, fair enough, but now he does (or I suppose "can," because I doubt he's even reading anymore). If he just bought any old Les Paul and expected to play Jordan with just the toggle, he'd have a tough time of it (tougher than it would need to be, at least). The built-in killswitch turns the trick from what it was (a gimmick or just something to keep the damn guitar quiet) into a legitimate, easy to use tool. There's a reason guitars with killswitches on them still have their pickup selector switches, too.
I have an Avenger with a volume knob for each pick-up and I can use my selector switch like a kill-switch if I turn the volume of one of my pick-ups off, also you if you modified your guitar already and you are like Van Halen (meaning you only use your bridge pick-up) you can bypass (or remove) your neck pick-up and switch to your missing neck pick to kill your signal. HarveyDanger is right though, it's not a new trick. Also for someone who doesn't use their tone knob much and leaves it running at 10 you can just completely remove your tone knob and put the killswitch in it's place (or if you generally leave your tone knob at 0 you can turn it to whatever you like to work with and rest it inside the electronics cavity in your guitar) Just for anyone who doesn't want to be drilling extra holes in their faceplate. Another way too is to find a tone pot that is made for a humbucker pick-up that can tap out (or kill) one coil in the pick-up and then hook it up to a single coil that so when you pull on the tone knob to tap it the only coil in the pick-up will get killed Nice job on the Instructable! I wish I would have tried the remove-able one before ripping out the tone pot on my Squire to give it a kill-switch
Super Cameraman (author)  Davvik6 years ago
I just kept the pot (component the knob attaches to, short for potentiometer) connected and floating around under the pickguard. There's a lot of hollow space under there, on my guitar anyway. That way, you can take the killswitch out, stick the pot out, attach the knob back, and it's like the switch was never there.
I'm pretty sure I mentioned that you can keep the pot in the electronics cavity, but the guitar I was doing it to didn't have much room, and since I almost always play at 10 tone I just bypassed it
That idea (removing the tone knob and putting the killswitch in its place) is awesome... but what would you do with the wiring from the tone knob? I do usually leave my tone knobs cranked all the way up (I just like having a more defined sound), and that seems like an awesome way to find somewhere for the killswitch. Of course, I'm sure it wouldn't do much for the value of the guitar, in the long run...
It doesn't take much to bypass the tone knob wiring, like on most styles there is the ground, the incoming, and the outgoing signals. You can just solder the incoming to the outgoing and take off the ground to the pot so it's like it was never there. But I think it wouldn't change the value of the guitar much because you can always just take the killswitch out and drop the old tone knob back in. I find it has less impact on the value than if you drill another hole for the switch. But that's just my opinion
A similar method can be used on a Mustang because each pickup has its own three position switch that allows the player to select whether it is on and select its polarity. By putting one switch in the middle (off) position, the player can use the other switch like a killswitch (however it is not truly a killswitch). Unfortunately this can cause increased wear on the switch. Other effects can be achieved by turning one pickup on and toggling the other switch between reverse polarity, off, and/or the same polarity.
well whatever he uses, it's just an momentary on/off pushbutton switch. wired before the volume pot, it will have no pops and work fine. it's like $3 at ratshack
Super Cameraman (author)  u_r_teh_svck6 years ago
Yeah, I know. I don't have a Les Paul (yet) so I can't do with with that! (yet)
yeah i was just saying that its not he same button buckethead uses
Super Cameraman (author)  u_r_teh_svck6 years ago
Actually, if you watch him on Youtube, I think he actually uses the same kind of button I used, but his is built into his guitar.
w/e
I regret making this. Its hard to pick the higher strings without hitting it, its a handicap. I would rather just drill my guitar.
Super Cameraman (author)  Mentis Nebulus6 years ago
How big is your project box? Maybe find a smaller one.
alsome instructable but before i do it i wanted to ask.. has this ever messed up the cord/guitar/or amp/ on anyones equipment?
It can't mess up your amp or your guitar. It COULD mess up your guitar, but only if you attach it with glue or something, then the guitar would be sticky. Not good. You might mess up the cable, but if you just take off all the wires and put everything back together like it was, it'll be like nothing happened.
kool thanks cant wait to start this and play some buckethead
Wouldn't duct tape ruin the finish of your guitar great instructable though.
sorry didn't read the other comments. But would it ruin it with duct tape right on the wood?
It might, but I hear WD-40 gets duct tape off of anything. Maybe try masking tape, or velcro if you want to get really fancy.
duct tape on the pick guard wouldn't ruin anything as a temporary solution, but a coulple strong magnets (like from an old hard drive), one under the pick guard and one in the case of the killswitch would be a nice clean way of doing it. You'd just have to be mindful of how close the magnets are to the pickups, I'm not a guitar expert, but I think it might make them play hotter if they're too close. Great visuals in the video and a useful hack to anyone who could use a killswitch.
Magnets would interfere with the pickups and depending how strong they are actually pull on the strings making all of your notes out of tune. Just go to home depot and get some 3M quick removing double sided tape. Problem solved.
purecool6 years ago
Very nice ;)
I used this to make a killswitch footpedal for my bass
damaster6 years ago
just one thing. when you play jordan, you should do hammer ons and pull offs, don't pick the string. but very good tips there man, i'm shaking for my first electric guitar (should be here within the new year). wish me luck!
jdthedj6 years ago
tanks really fun !!! I don't want to drill my new guitar!!!!!!!!!
nice idea! looks it it gets in the way tho. i just finished drilling up my guitar, and needless to say, it sounds exactly the same. and try playing jordan without strumming, just hammer-on.
I hate to tell you, but you dont pluck the strings when you play Jordan
i happen to be a huge fan of buckethead, you guys should listen to "Soothsayer" its a great song. anyways, your button is either the one buckethead uses for his killswitch, yours is a 3amp soft touch button which is somewhere over $2.50 @ radioshack, but i think he uses the one i showed in the picture below.
butoon.jpg
wow it works great! you have just made my week
pbpenguin56 years ago
this is the awesome, easy to make and a great use. Off to find the tabs to Jordan...
Fortran6 years ago
This is really really useful for people who don't have pick guards on their guitar, and don't want to drill through the wood. Also it works amazingly well. One thing you didn't mention, which I guess is common sense, is don't let the two wires touch while they're wrapped around the cable, or switch, or it won't work at all. There is no sound. so with some tweaking I got it to work. But I still gotta drill through my project box, my drill doesn't work.
gamer6 years ago
ur preatty good at playing jordan. vary nice idea, i think i will build this for my bro so he can become a jordan player and a guitar killer. haha. nice idea -gamer
doglogs6 years ago
wicked-sweet idea. you should move to chicago (where I live) and be my pal. definitely gonna make me one of them little suckers this weekend and psych out the fellers at band practice. keep on rockin in the free world. -maybe use velcro for promotion of guitar finish-friendliness. video is perfect!
Super Cameraman (author)  doglogs6 years ago
Well my pickguard is plastic, so I have no finish to wear off. Thanks for the comments everyone!
sugg226 years ago
looks good! might try it on my bass ( I know that bassists don't normally use killswitches, but I think it might be interesting.).
Metal4God6 years ago
deff need a +1 from me! and a fave!
itsachen6 years ago
really nice instructable i never thought of this before..its pretty cool thanks for the mention
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!