Hello everyone,
I'd like to preface this with the fact that I am a guitar tech/electronics noob. I have relatively limited knowledge of this.
So I've been customizing parts for a stratocaster that my local guitar shop has offered to put together for me for a couple hundred bucks (or I could try it myself, but I'm worried I'd fuck up)
And I really want to make this strat modded to my EXACT specs. So I chose an alder body, rear electronics rout, HSH, an original Floyd, and some pickups (I know I'm doing a little 59 for the strat one, the other two I'm still deciding on. I play several genres, and I need a combo with a good clean tone but also the ability to do metallica style tones)
Well, it only has 3 routed knobs on it, one volume control for each. I want to add a 4 part preamp with one knob for each (Gain/Treble/Mid/Bass, found here: http://www.guitarfetish.com/Guitar-Preamp-GainBassMidTreble-Our-Best-Unit_p_411.html)
I also want to add an on/off switch hooked up to the neck or bridge pickup to give me a 7 way switch setup, a master tone control knob, and a killswitch.
Any other recommendations are welcome as well.

But for this I would need 8 routed holes (3 individual volume, 4 for preamp, 1 for master tone), and a place for a killswitch and an extra switch, and I don't know how I could fit all of that on the body. Where could I add it? How could I add it? All advice is welcome. Thank you!


When it's done I will post a thread about every spec on it and I will make audio recordings of the tone and versatility for you guys. Thanks!

Update: Budget is pretty high. The middle pickup doesn't necessarily need its own volume knob.
' ' "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky' - Michael Scott' - Melania Trump
Last edited by codeloud at Aug 22, 2016,
Ok, this is a pretty classic example of new-modder-itis. My first suggestion is to take a step back and seriously re-evaluate how much of this stuff you actually need. This post might come across a little rough, but I promise I'm trying to help. A lot of us have been here and don't want you to make the same mistakes.

Remember that every thing you add to this guitar is going to be a compromise. Maybe good, maybe bad, but I think it's healthier to approach it from that angle than to try to throw every possible circuit and mod at the guitar and then figure out in the aftermath if any of it was worthwhile. I know it's exciting to build your "custom" dream guitar but remember two things: success with these hardcore guitars on the first try is low at best, and you are never going to get this money back once you sink it into a shotgun mod custom guitar. If both of those are cool with you, let's forge ahead.

Question one:
Why do you need the preamp? Understand that it's going to add bulk and power requirements and complexity to your guitar, and that anything it can achieve built into your guitar could also be achieved with a pedal or at the amp, without the downside of building the guitar wiring around a cheap, always-on preamp. If you've used this preamp or one similar to it and like it so much you want to bake it into your guitar, let's talk about fitting those controls in. Otherwise, and this is my suggestion, lose it. Output is cheap. Space on your guitar is at a premium.

Question two:
Do you really need a volume control for each pickup? Maybe think about rolling some of these controls up into a master volume. You already have a master volume and the preamp gain, do you genuinely want to wrestle 5 volume controls on your guitar?

Concentric pots could help fit a few more controls in. You could fit a master volume, master tone, then the Gain/T/M/B controls of the preamp all into the guitar if you put all three knobs on concentric pots, so you can adjust two parameters on each shaft. That's still a rather unwieldy layout, though.

Killswitch and adding the bridge/neck pickup is trivial, and are decent enough mods. If you want a momentary killswitch you'll want it on its own toggle switch, which means drilling the body for another control. The bridge/neck switch could go on a push/pull pot, but not if you've already jammed the controls full with concentric pots. I don't think anyone makes a concentric push/pull pot.

Suggestion one: Simplify this. A lot. This is an absurd amount of controls and I worry that you'll get all done and end up with five miles of messy, noisy wiring and a bunch of features that sounded good on paper but aren't at all useful to you. It's cheaper and easier to add these mods later if you decide you really need them than it is to squeeze them all in at once. I would start by trying to devise a more coherent vision, something practical and geared towards your specific needs, instead of what I assume is a laundry list of things that sound awesome.

Suggestion two: consider the cost and the source. Who is doing this for you, for how much, and what is the finished product they are promising? If this is a friend build, and they're going to get the parts together for you cheaply and then have it properly set up, that might be ok. If you're getting premade GFS parts slapped together by a bored shop employee for full retail parts and labor, this is going to suck super bad when you realize what you could have had. What are they charging you? What exact parts are they using? What is your budget?

Here's my rearrangement of your design: One master volume (with push/pull switch to add bridge pickup), one master tone (with push/pull switch to split the neck/bridge pickups), one clean or midboost control. Drill for a killswitch, drill for a switch to engage the boost. That gives you a ton of switching and flexibility, while retaining some sanity where wiring is concerned. That's still a lot more than I'd personally put in there, and if it were me I'd buy a nice used Ibanez and add about half of those mods, but if you want lots of options that's one way of doing it without going apeshit on the wiring.
Roc8995 Thank you! Your advice is very helpful. I think I'm gonna start with just a basic setup, and then I'll add stuff later. I think I'm going to drop that preamp; it's probably not super useful to me, I just thought it would sound like a good way to mix my levels live if I don't like what the sound person is doing. I'm going to use your suggestion for the design rearrangement. Thank you!
' ' "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky' - Michael Scott' - Melania Trump
I liked Roc's post. Not because I found the information content itself helpful, but because the post worked well beyond the source material, asked intelligent questions and was really well structured. I appreciate that.

You get a gold star next to your name tag, sir.
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I also have to do that. Cottaging this weekend
Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE at Aug 23, 2016,
And a pat on the head from me as well.
Good advice all round.

I have a few highly modified LPs, but I had both a model (someone else's guitar) and some highly intelligent (and competent) help.
I started with the wood; all of the guitars have Floyds, all of the guitars have modified neck heels that do away with the clunky LP neck heel and allow better upper-fret access.

All of the guitars have the same electronics. A volume control was moved (routing required) toward the bridge/bridge pickup (better for pinky swells) and made the master volume. The pot behind it was moved into the volume pot's spot and became the master tone (treble rolloff). The remaining hole became the Buckethead-style kill switch.

All have Sustainers, which required more routing for the PC board and a battery compartment. The two miniswitches associated with that are located behind the Floyd. The second volume pot became the Sustainer Intensity pot. The second tone pot was swapped for a push-pull that became a sweepable active mids boost (16 dB, Chandler Tone-X, and I don't know if they're still available) like a parked wah, on one of the guitars. On the others it became a sweepable passive mids *cut* (the frequency could change but the amount of cut remained constant).

While most Sustainers use the Sustainer Driver as a neck pickup, these guitars were set up to allow a DiMarzio Fast Track II single coil size pickup to occupy the same pickup ring as the single-coil-size sustainer driver (you've got a choice, with a full humbucker-size as the second choice). This became the neck pickup when the Sustainer wasn't in use. And all guitars were PLEK'd and their frets superglued (StewMac has information on the process).

There were a few cosmetic changes, largely immaterial, but the poker chip was swapped for one that read, "Bitch/Moan."

The changes are visible if you look for them, but the guitars don't seem festooned with miniswitches and knobs, and most don't even notice the changes from the front at first. But the backs look like a checkerboard.

Last edited by dspellman at Aug 23, 2016,