Guitar Killswitch Installation




Guide to mounting a killswitch/cut of switch on your guitar. I'm aware there is already a guide to this, however I am hoping to give my two cents on installing a killswitch.

Little heads up on what they do, basically they kill the sound at a press of a button, Commonly heard on RATM tracks in standard E 400 tuning, in which Tom Morello's guitar for this tuning has a 3 way Toggle switch with 2 active pickups, which he uses as a toggle switch by turning one of the two volume pots, to zero and one to ten. Of course with a strat or tele, this cannot be achieved without modification. However, I am hoping to show an easy, understandable way, to still aquire a killswitch, without a Les Paul :P.


Step 1: Picking Out a Switch

Right, well there is many switches to chose from so I can't cover them all, You can purchase the right type of switch for the job from I think is 'Radioshack' (I live in the UK, so I don't have radioshack's) There is basically two basic types of switch's.

Button switch's (Non Locking is FAR better than locking) you cannot do anything really with the locking type I would imagine.

For a toggle switch, if you have a toggle switch with 6 prongs on it, You would follow this guide as normal, and leave the middle prong for a "ON/OFF/ON" effect, if it is a 3 WAY switch.

if you have a two way toggle switch (like me), you will want to solder wires onto the middle and the side the oppisite end, of where you want your switch to turn off. So it will be an "ON/OFF" switch

It is hard to explail so hopfully, you should get it now after seeing the crappy picture I produced.

And now the pic of toggleswitches:

Step 2: What You Will Need...

After you chose your switch, you will also need:

Soldering Iron
Some Solder
Possibly a drill depending on where you want to mount your switch.
Screwdriver to fit the screws on the output/input jack, and for the cavity control plate.
Wire (not to thin, not to thick, check your guitar control cavity for apppropiate wire sizing (doesn't have to be exactly the same as the wire width that comes stock in your guitar.) I *THINK* the wire I used was 1.5mm for this project.
Wire Cutters or Wire Strippers - To cut the wires, and to expose the ends of wires (i.e Remove the outer casing)

Plus a area to do this work.

Step 3: Deciding Where to Place the Switch..

Well you kinda have to decide where you want your switch now, I would of liked to of bought a toggle instead of the push button switch however this wouldn't of worked that well in the cavity area, between the volume and tone pots.

If you have a pickgaurd, you can have it basically anywhere under the pickgaurd, due to this part always being hidden. However! you must take into consideration that you need to create a path for the wire's to the control cavity and the output/input jack. I do not have a pickgaurd so it was easiest to do this in the control cavity area so I would have to do no routing for the switch and wires etc.

My switch between my Volume and Tone controls =

Step 4: Wiring...

Very simple, however can be confusing, here's my diagram.

The silver circle is a volume pot, the other semi circle with the 3 black rectangles coming out of it is the output/input jack with the three prongs (hot and ground).

At first, I thought you could wire the wire to the output jack onto any of the two prongs, tried it first time, switch didn't work, so I used the other taller prong and it worked so I left it. Trial and error here basically, sorry, but it isn't that much hassle to swap the wire from prong to prong.

Of course you have to unscrew the output/input jack plate and the cavity control plate at the back to get to these areas.

To sum this up, one wire goes from the switch to the base of the volume pot, and the other goes to one of the two prongs on the output jack (Mine was the tallest prong, If you attach a wire to one prong, plug in your guitar to your amp, and the switch doesn't work, then solder the wire to the other prong.

Step 5: Drilling and Final Steps...

Assuming you wish to mount your switch on your guitar, you are gunna have to do some drilling.

Only other alternative is to remove a tone or volume (volume if you are crazy) pot if you do not wish to drill your guitar. However the switch might not fit perfectly so you may have to do some filing etc to make the switch fit.

Test the switch before you place the cavity plate back on. (I highly recommend screwing your output jack back on before you test the switch, Because you are going to be pluging you're amp in)

If it works, and if your switch is mounted on your guitar then congratulations, This is my first guide so I may have forgotten somethings in the step by step, If you notice any thing or have any questions, comment me.



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    17 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I installed a killswitch today, but it only works in reverse. I only get signal through when I press the button, any ideas?

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    It depends on if the switch is normally open or normally closed.

    Normally closed switches are installed in series, while normally open are installed in parallel.

    Installing one as the other will produce the opposite effect & sound will only be heard while the button is being pressed.


    5 years ago

    How to install a killswitch on your guitar


    7 years ago on Step 1

    I DOnt understand hoe to use 3 prong switches could you please explain?


    Tom Morello doesnt use a killswitch. He turns the volume on one pick up all the way down and one up then switches between the two.

    2 replies

    actually he uses a killswitch in his "soul power" guitar because it's a strat and strats don't have two volume knobs and they have a 5 way switch pickup selector


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    its pretty much the same thing, tom said it "acts as a kill switch". Quit trying to sound smart, ya prick.


    9 years ago on Step 4

    are you doing this on an Yamaha ERG 121C?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    BUCKETHEAD!!!!!!!!!! great use of killswitches. i recommend learning bucketheads jordan to get a good feel for crazy possibilities


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Huh, so how would you do this w/ a toggle switch? B/C in your pic of the toggle switch there's 3 posts (can't think of a word for it lol) from it instead of the 2 on a button switch. Hope you can understand that. BTW Arm The Homeless!

    4 replies
    Soul Powerproswimmer89

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I understand what you mean I think, Like there is 3 prongs (or sometimes more) on a toggle switch, but only two on a push button switch. Sadly I can't help you for this one :(, However when I can be bothered (lol) I am going to swap my current push button switch, for a toggle (I find that you cannot do much with the button switch) so when I get around to installing the toggle,I shall post images etc. Sorry I couldn't be of more help, However I know for a fact that there is a killswitch thread on ultimate-guitar dot com, so hopefully that will help you. (just search for "ultimate killswitch thread" in the search bar on U-G).

    proswimmer89Soul Power

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Jaja, that's exactly what i meant. Damn, too bad. And it's funny you mention the ultimate killswitch thread b/c i was just checking it out yeterday lol. Well, i'll be waiting for you to post one, if you do a toggle switch one. Thanks!

    Soul Powerproswimmer89

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Damn I can't add a 3 way switch in :(, just checked out my control cavity and just rememebered that I placed the switch SO DAMN close to the end of the routing, therefore the back circuit part that toggle switches require will not fit :@. The only way I could put a toggle in is if I drill a hole in a new area in the cavity, however it's tight for space in there, and I would have a hole in my guitar or a big red button AS WELL as the toggle, which sucks and now I'm pissed so I'm gunna have to stick with the button -.-. Well sorry I cannot help you with that, However if you buy a 3 way toggle, with 3 PRONGS mounted on, Surley you could wire it EXACLY like a switch with TWO PRONGS, but leave out the center position? (The center position on the toggle will NOT have a wire on it) I think that would work but you'd have to give it a go yourself, Good luck if you decide to proceed.