How to wire a 5 way switch for a guitar

Written by matthew anderson
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How to wire a 5 way switch for a guitar
Stratocaster style guitars use a 5-way switch to select the active pickup or pickups. (Guitar player #1 image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com)

A 5-way switch is commonly used in Stratocaster and Super-Strat style guitar wiring to change the active pickups. This style of switch allows guitarists to individually select each pickup or the neck and middle or middle and bridge pickups. The wiring for this style of switch is identical to a 3-way switch. The switch has two different "stages" of lugs that are divided into input and output stages. The positioning and order of lugs can vary based on the manufacturer, but all switches do have corresponding lugs.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Solder iron
  • Electrical solder
  • 5-way switch
  • Wires
  • Guitar

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Connect the two common lugs on the 5-way switch with a small piece of wire. The common lugs will usually be labelled as either "A" or "0." Solder the wire to both lugs using the solder iron.

  2. 2

    Solder the hot wire from the bridge pickup to lug "1" of the input stage.

  3. 3

    Solder the hot wire from the middle pickup to lug "2" of the input stage.

  4. 4

    Solder the hot wire from the neck pickup to lug "3" of the input stage.

  5. 5

    Solder a wire from lug "1" of the output stage to a tone potentiometer if you are wiring an individual tone pot to the bridge pickup. Otherwise leave the lug alone.

  6. 6

    Solder a wire from lug "2" of the output stage to a tone potentiometer if you are wiring an individual tone pot to the middle pickup. Otherwise leave the lug alone.

  7. 7

    Solder a wire from lug "3" of the output stage to a tone potentiometer if you are wiring an individual tone pot to the neck pickup. Otherwise leave the lug alone.

  8. 8

    Solder a wire from the common lug of the output lug stage to the master volume potentiometer. This will complete adding a 5-way switch to the guitar wiring.

Tips and warnings

  • Check with the switch manufacturer if you are unsure which lugs are the input or output stage. The position and order of the lugs in a 5-way switch can vary drastically from manufacturer to manufacturer.
  • A 3-way switch and 5-way switch use the same wiring.
  • Be sure to use solder intended for electrical applications for guitar wiring. Plumber's solder will corrode the electronics in a guitar if used instead.

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