How to Fix a Guitar Footswitch

Written by floyd drake iii
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How to Fix a Guitar Footswitch
Due to excessive use, guitar foot pedal switches often wear out. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Guitar foot pedals, or stomp boxes, offer a variety of special effects to guitar players simply by stepping on the foot pedal's switch. Most problems with guitar foot switches stem from loose wiring or worn-out switches, although placing a new battery in the pedal is suggested before replacing switches. Often, it is just as easy to replace the switch as it is to troubleshoot the problem. Replacement foot switches are readily available at local electronic stores, or on the Internet, and since guitar foot switches are inexpensive, replacement is easily affordable.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Replacement foot switch
  • Small Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Small wire cutter/stripper
  • Small soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Paper towel

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  1. 1

    Remove the foot pedal back plate. To access the foot switch and input jacks, unscrew the back plate using a small Phillips-head screwdriver. Also, unscrew the nut holding the switch in place in the top of the guitar pedal. Needle-nose pliers will loosen the nut sufficiently to unscrew it manually.

  2. 2

    Examine the wiring set-up on the bottom of the foot switch, as there are different configurations, depending on the guitar pedal. Draw a simple diagram for reference when soldering the new switch. Pedals with single switches are connected to the circuit's input and output jacks, while those with multiple switches complete a circuit, with terminals used to connect to the next switch, down the line. For single-switch pedals, the extra terminals are not used.

  3. 3

    Line up the new foot switch with the one still connected. According to the diagram on General Guitar Gadgets, the three terminals on the right-hand side of the switch hold the wires, while the three on the opposite side are unused. The terminal at the bottom of the foot switch goes to the input jack and the top terminal leads to the output jack. The Black wire connects to the ground. There may be slight variations, depending on the switch; be sure you know which wire goes to which terminal before disconnecting them.

  4. 4

    Disconnect the wires as close to the terminal as possible. Heat the soldering iron and place the tip on the old solder to melt it, wiping the solder off with a paper towel. This cleans the terminal so the wires have a good connection when resoldered.

  5. 5

    Strip about 1/2-inch off of the ends of each wire, exposing the bare wire. Wrap the bare wires onto the proper terminal one or two times to secure them for soldering.

  6. 6

    Heat the solder iron and place both the iron and the solder together over each terminal, allowing only a small drop of solder to fall onto each wire. Allow the solder to cool completely.

  7. 7

    Install the foot switch into the guitar pedal. Place the top of the switch into the hole on the top of the pedal. Secure it in place by screwing on the nut by hand. Screw the back plate on and slightly tighten the nut on top using needle-nose pliers. Plug the foot pedal into the guitar and amplifier to give the new foot switch a test.

Tips and warnings

  • While replacing the foot switch, check the wire connections on the input and output jacks. If they are loose or disconnected, resolder them.
  • To purchase the proper foot switch for your guitar, simply identify its electrical ratings, clearly marked on the side of the switch. Match these ratings with the replacement switch.

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