Planning The Electronics

Grab some coffee as this might be a rather long read.

As I mentioned on previous posts. I have another Fender Blacktop Stratocaster, which is one of my favourite guitars. One of the things I really like about it is the pickup configuration (HH), and the 5 position switching. As logic would dictate, I will configure the new guitar with the same configuration and pickup selection options.

But it’s not a mere pickup replacement operation. Something I dislike in ALL my guitars, are the tone knobs: I never use them. I’ve played for 30 years, with several hiatus while I pursued other hobbies, and played different styles of music, and never used the tone knobs…. maybe if I played Jazz….I have even disconnected them in a couple of guitars when I replaced the pickups.

So now I have the opportunity to remove the tone pots altogether… and also do a few other things.

Here’s is what I want from the electronics:

  • 5 way “Blacktop” pickup selection

1 – Bridge Humbucker

2 – Neck + Bridge Outer Coils

3 – Neck + Bridge Humbucker

4 – Neck + Bridge Inner Coils

5 – Neck Humbucker

  • No tone knobs
  • Suhr like Blower switch (AKA True bypass)
  • Better volume control

so here we go…

The pickup selection

So first I needed to find the correct schematics of the Fender Blacktop Stratocaster. Unfortunately, Fender website was no help, as the HH strats service manuals are for HH strats with different switching options.

After digging for a while, (and is incredible the number of incorrect diagrams out there) I found what I was looking for in the Strat-Talk forums. I verified this against the wiring of the actual guitar. The wiring diagram can be found below.

actual blacktop wiring

This was very useful, but I quickly realised that the color coding is for Fender’s proprietary humbuckers, and I would need to translate to the brand pickups I would be using (Suhr Humbuckers, more about that decision on another post). I would also need to remove the tone pots, and add the blower switch.

The Blower Switch

I use my volume knob a lot to control my sound and dial the sweet spot, and also like more gain and byte when soloing. Sometimes you have found the sweet spot, switch to your neck pickup, full volumen…. shred!…then time to go back to that sweet spot… uh… where was I?…

So the idea behind the blower switch is that this mod allows the guitar to completely bypass all the switches and controls when engaged, the bridge pickup is connected straight to the guitar output.

The Seymour Duncan blog explains how to do this mod, so I will bypass the explanation.

I initially thought of using a push/pull volume, as It would give a more minimalistic look to the guitar, but then, the whole idea of the blower switch is to avoid messing with the sweet spot, so HANDS OF THE VOLUME. as a result, I will use a DPDT on/on switch. This will make soldering easier, and any service easier. I also have plenty of room to put this in the guitar, as now I don’t have tone controls.

The volume control issue

There are essential two types of taper (volume) pots: Audio (Logaritmic) and Linear.

Most guitarrist (and most guitars) use Audio pots. The problem with that is that audio rolls off faster (at the halfway mark the audio is anything between 25-35%). and to address mantaining tone, people use treble bleed mods.

A linear taper gets rids of those issues, and there’s a smooth volume sweep from 1-10.

The final wiring diagram

So here’s what the partscaster wiring will look like… for now 🙂






Its all about the sounds, and your comments :-)