I've had a couple of dimarzios just laying around for a few years now, and I think that I'm starting to become handy enough to swap them myself. I have an old Ibanez S420 that still has stock pickups, and the plan was to swap the infinities out. I won't take it to a tech because it costs too much money and because I want to be able to swap pickups myself. I have done electronic work before, and I just recently fixed my friends guitar. So not a complete newbie.

Here's the plan: I really want to have a coil split mod,so I'll need some push/pull pots. The guitar currently has a five way switch, with positions 2 and 4 being wired for some poor man's single coil tones, 2 being the inner coils only and 4 being the neck humbucker parallel connected iirc. If I wire the new pickups for proper coil splits, these two positions will become unnecessary. So, the 5 way switch inside will also be unnecessary, alongside the hellish tangle of wiring that comes with it. Instead, I'd like to switch it for a three way switch. Last, I'd like to wire a treble bleed mod and swap the caps for some better ones.

So, in other words, I'd like to completely redo the control cavity and the pickups, with only the jack staying original. The question is, am I thinking of a way too complicated solution for a simple problem? Or on the contrary, am I still missing something that will add to the workload?

Here's my shopping list atm:
Push/pull pots. DiMarzio and EMG seem to make some good ones for a nice price, as well as this brand called TAD.
New switch. I'll probably get a simple fender three way.
New caps and resistors. I'll decide on these when I settle on a treble bleed mod. There are a lot of them.
Possibly new wires
Possibly copper foil/tape
Cool knobs

Any recommendations on the behalf of parts that are reasonably priced are welcome. Thanks in advance to you all.
this is going to be a fun project I'll help you out how I can.

a super 5 way switch you can get surprisingly cheap from Korea if I remember right. I paid about 15$ for a CRL 5 way blade toggle. But 19$ american for a fender super 5 way or this ebay seller had them in Korea as well.
guitarelectronics.com for the best super 5 way switch diagrams , remember the contact patter is slightly different.
012345123450 instead of 13500135

linear is what Ibanez tends to use - B500k for example , this is volume and tone
I've taken 3 ibanez guitars apart recently and they all had them

brand? - CTS or Bournes people swear by. I wanted to put Yngwie Malmsteen bournes knobs in one of my favorite guitars for example. Nothing wrong with Dimarzio though.

shaft type? and diameter matter too for the push pull. They ensure the shaft goes through proper, isn't too big and the knob fits on securely. CTS for example on cheap import guitars don't fit and I had to widen the holes.

interesting fact you can do coilsplits without a push pull. You can modify a tone knob and it adjusts the output of the pickups it's called the spin a split mod (seymour duncan has a diagram). An ON/ON/ON mini toggle is another alternative too. I really like these because you can either accentuate on each coil of your humbucker like the seymour duncan p-rails offer... or .. my personal favorite , series (full power humbucker) , coil split and then parallel for three totally different sounds.

by getting a linear potentiometer the kinman treble bleed or 1950s wiring to retain the highs is a complete waste of time. Linear drops in equal increments of resistance already.

new wire? cloth wire , nickle braided wire is great too. One tip I learned from reading about Eric Johnsons strats what made his special is the ground wires he used very minimum amounts of wire. It's a cleaner looking control cavity and apparently it has some other benifits. On one guitar I wired up I was going to use some high end shielded wire but chose not to. Think it was military grade or something.. gotta love ebay.

now this is interesting. If you use the tone knob option 1
sprague orange drops (balanced tone), paper in oil capacitors (ussr surplus on ebay) , or mallory 150 capacitor I really liked. When working with higher end capacitors remember to use heat sinks so they don't break.

0.047uf for humbuckers
however the larger the value like 0.068uf or 0.1uf would be larger the treble cut
the smaller the values like 0.033uf , 0.022uf the smaller the amount of treble cut

mid scoop - torres engineering
Fender greasebucket (bass cut) - surprisingly useful for metal guitarists
the fender TBX tone knob - cuts bass and treble
varitone - check out the BB King lucille guitar with it or youtube is full of it , it's a fixed cut of treble, it's surprisingly useful.

if not two volumes if you're more comfortable with that you do get a clearer tone people say because without a tone capacitor in the guitar you still get 100% of your guitars signal as if the tone knobs on 10. Makes sense?

and for the push pull you have many more options
parallel - hum cancelling coiltap (weaker tone of course)
out of phase - for a twangy sound
half out of phase
and some more unorthodox ones.

you've got a lot more options in an ibanez or anything than people think with that super 5 way. One of my favorite wirings I've recommended a lot is below.

copper tape - ebay , you'd need about 3 meters minimum. It's about 3 dollars american roughly. When I would sell it I couldn't keep it in the house how popular it was. I did a blog for people to properly copper shield their guitars. The secret is to have a wire soldered under each pickup say on a les paul as there will be parts of copper not touching each other like on the neck and bridge pickup so you have to solder directly to the tape and trail it out to a grounded potentiometer for the best clarity.

qparts.com or guitarheads.net for knobs and all
axetremecreations.com for custom pickguards, i love their synthetic abalone ones
stringsandbeyond.com if you need strings, they ship all over the world and why I bring them up is international buyers will love their selection and they offer free international shipping every now and then.

switchcraft makes great input jacks too

this is a diagram I recommend , you can add a regular 3 way blade switch. This offers you 12 tones. My biggest tip is to use lots of heat shrink tubing. It's on ebay as well (what isnt on ebay) and use 60/40 rosin core lead solder to connect the wires. Remember to use dimarzio color code when doing this.
Last edited by Tallwood13 at May 5, 2015,
Quote by Tallwood13

by getting a linear potentiometer the kinman treble bleed or 1950s wiring to retain the highs is a complete waste of time. Linear drops in equal increments of resistance already.

Wrong. Treble loss has nothing to do with a pot's taper. A linear pot will drop highs just like an audio taper. Treble bleed mods create a little high-pass filter to correct the uneven treble loss inherent to any volume pot you'll see in a guitar.
Huge thank you to Tallwood for the comprehensive post, and Roc for the correction.

I have a pretty comprehensive idea for what I want to do. I of course appreciate all the new ideas, but I'd like to keep it simple, and I've already decided against a 5 way/super switch and out of phase mods. Two humbuckers with coil splits is what I want to do, nothing fancier. I know that there are other wiring options for the splits, I could just wire them straight to the current switch, but I like the push/pulls for the versatility. But thanks for the heads up with the shaft type and diameter, I'll check the right values. Your explanation about the caps will also be useful, thanks

And keep in mind that price and availability are huge factors here. I don't want to get a 30e pot if I can get the job done with a 12e pot, and I need to be able to order the parts to Finland. I'll find any parts I can from local shops, but for example push/pulls are completely absent here for some reason.

I have a special, three component treble bleed mod in mind that one finnish guy came up with and presented in a local forum. If I recall correctly, it used two resistors and a cap and was really transparent and smooth. But let's see, maybe I'll try a simpler one first.
Last edited by Kevätuhri at May 5, 2015,
no problem, I was waiting for the mail to come and had some time to kill. Out of phase can also be achieved without special parts just wire north start and south start in opposite and it affects only the middle. If you don't use the middle that is something to try like a secret weapon as I'm usually a bridge or neck guy.

yeah shop around and see what works best for you. As long as you don't use chinese push pull pots that will break faster than a CTS or whatever.

by the way audio taper vs linear here's a chart. I don't see any point to put a treble bleed on a linear pot. It's equal increments of resistance turned down so you keep more highs. The chart suggests it and the name of "linear" suggests a line.. the swell we get going 10-0 from an audio taper pot we can see clear as day. Probably not the best choice of words I used to describe it but I was more focused on suggestions and all. So I still stand by it. Coming from a guy with a drawer full of resistors and capacitors.

Last edited by Tallwood13 at May 5, 2015,
The problem is that you are not understanding what the treble bleed mod does and clearly do not understand what pot taper means and does not mean. The issue is not what you think it is. The problem is the dynamic interaction between the pot and the pickup loading, resulting in a change in resonant peak. This has little to do with taper, and it certainly does not cease to exist with a linear pot. There is far more to volume pot response than simple resistance.

The chart you posted does not show the problem, because the problem is that a lower pot value bleeds highs to ground faster than it bleeds bass. The intended volume taper is not the issue. You could wire discrete resistors in for volume control and they'd do the same thing. In fact on high end audio systems this is exactly what is done: a rotary switch is used with a discrete R-C network on each setting to allow for customized and precise flat response. If they could simply use a linear pot they surely would. If you want to see a more relevant set of graphs you might start here:

If you turn the volume down, you lose treble faster than bass. The pot taper is largely irrelevant, if your linear pot is at 100k it will bleed treble just the same as an audio pot at 100k. Treble bleed mods mess with taper, so if you tried and didn't like them with linear pots perhaps that's what you were reacting to.

Having a drawer full of resistors and capacitors doesn't mean you understand how they work.
Last year. I routed out the middle of a Randy Rhoads / Jackson for 3 humbuckers with three concentric ( stacked) pots with a 5 way Fender pickup selector switch..... Man, the versatility, tone wise !!!!
And it was a blast doing it !!!!
Last edited by AJ6stringsting at May 8, 2015,
Yeah, I have some vague plans to wire a three mini-humbucker guitar with coil-splits in the distant future... Can't get much more tonal options than that.

And sure, I am mostly doing it because I think it'll be fun. I'll definitely appreciate the new tonal palette, but half of it is just me wanting to things myself and learn how to mod guitars, so that I can pull off some crazy projects in the future. Upgrading my current gear is a fun project, but I'd like to get into partscasters as well. Can't really beat a guitar that you've put together from scraps yourself.