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February 29, 2008

Wiring strat bridge pickup with tone knob

I like Fender Stratocasters, always have. There is one thing that always bothered me, however. The bridge pickup. The default wiring of most Strats makes it so that there is no tone knob for the bridge pickup - only for the middle and neck pickup. Why? That is STUPID! I don't think many people do use the middle pickup very much - I know I don't, because it tends to sound a bit thin (regardless of what you do with the tone knob).

There are some Strats that come with a tone knob for the bridge pickup, but my Deluxe Players Strat certainly didn't. I decided the time has come for a tone knob for my bridge pickup!

I started googling for info about how to wire the bridge pickup with a tone knob. Found some schematics and some descriptions. I opened up the belly of my guitar and took a look.

It is very easy to do, really. You don't really need any schematics, if all you want to do is to have your bridge pickup use the tone knob your middle pickup currently uses. Here's what you do:

  1. Find the wire that goes from your middle pickup to the tone pot, via the 5-way switch .
  2. Desolder this wire at the 5-way pickup switch.
  3. Solder the wire to the where the wire of the bridge pickup is attached at the 5-way switch. Done.

You see, it is just a matter of moving one wire from one spot on the 5-way switch to another. It is very logical, I would say.

Why do this in the first place? Well, man - you can really use the bridge pickup now! I roll off the tone knob half way or so, and I get a great, fat tone without that ice-pick sound I always had before.

I think this is a mod that everyone who owns a strat should do. It is really a must for myself. It's quick and simple to do, and it makes your strat so much more usable. The bridge pickup on a strat CAN sound great and be a great asset in your playing, but without the tone knob, it's very hard to use the pickup well.

I used to roll off the volume knob a bit to tame the highs on the bridge pickup, but then I get a lot less gain and grit - a compromise I don't worry about any more. I keep the volume knob almost, or all the way up and set the tone knob to 5 or 6.

Great tone is now within my reach - all I gotta do is to start playing something that sounds good. Which isn't always that easy, as we all know. At least, I can't blame it on the bridge pickup any more...

By Robert Renman -

Comment on this?


Posted by Robert Renman on February 29, 2008

Comments on this blog entry

doug h said...

how to do a non-Fender switch with a centered rotary switch ... 2 clicks each way from middle? The reference to a Fender switch went out the window! Tell us what wires from the pickups or pots to look for and how to reconnect them.

Comment added on May 10, 2013
Bart said...

I have a 92 Stat Plus with Kinman Woodstock p/ups, the bridge p/up is a little too shrill. The tone control has a detent. anyone know how to quiet the p/up down a little?.

Comment added on December 27, 2012
Carlos said...

this trick worked very well on my Standard American strat,but will it work on my Deluxe Players Stat ?. If anyone has done it please drop me an E-mail explaining how it,s done . thank you for posting this.

Comment added on October 22, 2012
Paul Dyckman said...

Does anyone have information about the "Sonny Landreth" Strat rear pickup mod? His Strats have a Tele rear plate installed with tele pickup configuration. He has some kind of tele sized h'bucker on the plate.

Comment added on May 13, 2011
Ming said...

Very easy to put tone control on bridge.. No need to desolder wire, locate where your bridge pickup wire on the 5 way selector, and look for the wire of the tone1 in the 5 way switch.. Jump the bridge wire to the tone1 using a small wire in the 5 way switch.. That way you can control bridge as well as your middle pickup....if your still confused, check Seymour Duncan wiring diagram and look for tone control bridge..

Comment added on April 03, 2010
E. Visser said...

It can be done much easier and have the middle pickup also one the tone control.
Just 1/2 inch of lead. Solder it on the innerside of the 5-way switch between the not used solderpoint and the solderpoint, right next to it, that goes to the middle tonepot.
Now you control the bridge aswell as the middle pickup by the same control.

Comment added on June 16, 2009
dash said...

Does anyone have any knowledge of Keith Scotts'set-up,i love the tone he uses live on songs like heaven and everything i do,?

Comment added on November 08, 2008
kyle said...

Great mod ! I've never been happy with the shrill treble sound out of the bridge and had just been to lazy to mod my guitars. So I got off my lazy a++ and did it , but I went with the mid and the bridge to the yone and I love it now !

Comment added on October 12, 2008
AJ said...

GREAT JOB! I've been playing around for months now trying to get this done. But I've not been able to get it. Today I found this how-to and I tried it, only I got an extra peice of wire to add so that my middle pickup gets the tone knob too, (I use middle for Rythem). I love my Sttrat now, but it's still not my Tele :) Haha. Thanks for this how-to!

Comment added on September 24, 2008