FAT-O-Caster Rotary Switches for Strat

FAT-O-Caster Rotary Switches for Strat
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FAT-O-Caster Rotary Switches for Strat-type guitars
Memphis Mods - The Memphis HSS
Take off your pickguard.
To wire your lower tone as a "master" tone, like a Telecaster (see drawing):
What it is:
The Memphis HSS is a four-position ROTARY switch that expands the potential pickup
combinations available in your Stratocaster or other "S-type" guitar with a HSS pickup
configuration, specifically one in which the bridge humbucker DOES NOT SPLIT.
It installs where one of your old tone controls was. The FAT-O-Caster does NOT replace your 5way pickup selector switch - your 5-way still works just like it always did. The FAT-O-Caster
works in conjunction WITH the 5-way to give you new combinations. You lose a tone control,
but gain a lot of tones – it goes to ELEVEN!
The traditional Strat 5-way selector gives you only five of the seven parallel combinations
possible, and no series connections. With the Memphis HSS, you can get all seven parallel
combinations, PLUS some series and a series/parallel combo, for a total of eleven different
pickup combinations.
1. Move the lower tone control’s lead from the center lug of the tone control side of the five-way
over to the common (first) lug on the pickups' side of the 5-way (see drawings). Do NOT remove the
jumper between the 5-way’s common lugs. If this jumper is not present, add it now.
2. Remove the lead to the center tone control from the 5-way.
3. Remove the grounds from the center tone pot, and clip any jumpers between the center and lower
tone pots. Remove the center pot from the pickguard.
4. Remove the capacitor from the center tone pot and wire it to your new MASTER TONE pot, with
one leg on the center lug and one leg grounded to the back of the pot.
5. Run an insulated ground wire from the back of the volume pot to the back of your new master
tone pot, with enough slack to go around the FAT-O.
That's a lot of tones!
Just put your old tone knob back on the FAT-O, and your Strat looks completely stock!
Your stock Strat is probably wired like this:
NOW, mount the FAT-0 switch in the place of the center tone pot.
You will notice that the switch is NOT perfectly round, more egg-shaped - align it so that it's widest
parts "point" to the other two controls. If your control cavity is shielded, be sure that the lugs on the
switch DO NOT touch/short out on the shielding.
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Wiring the Memphis HSS Switch:
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The pre-wired leads:
The center lugs:
Unsolder the neck and mid pup's negative (aka “ground” ) leads from where they currently in your
guitar (typically on the back of the volume pot) and solder them to the center lugs on the FAT-O.
The RED lead is soldered to the 5-way switch. It goes on the lug that would be the neck lug of the
second pole of the selector switch (the side typically used to connect the tone pots - see drawing).
The BLACK lead is soldered to the neck pup's lug on the 5-way.
The NECK negative (aka "ground") lead goes to lug "1" (with the string tied through it).
The WHITE lead is soldered to the bridge pup's lug on the 5-way
The MIDDLE negative (aka “ground”) lead goes on lug "2", the next lug counter-clockwise (see
NOTE: Sometimes there is not enough wire on the leads to make it to the FAT-O, so just add on
a little "tail" to the lead to get there. Be sure you insulate the solder joint on this "tail" to prevent
contact with the pots or any other grounded surface in the control cavity – black electrical tape
will do…
Three wire pups? MOST COMMONLY, two of the three leads are twisted together and soldered
to ground. You will have to determine which wire of the two that goes to ground is actually the
coil’s “-“ lead, and which is the ground/shield drain. The easiest way to do this is to unsolder
them from ground and separate them. With a multimeter set in the 20k ohm range, touch one
probe to the pickup’s “+” lead, and then try the other probe on each of the other leads. The
pickup’s “-“ lead should show you the impedance reading for the pickup – typically between 6k
and 8k for a Strat. The ground/shield lead will show “open” – no resistance, no continuity. Solder
the ground lead back to ground, and solder the pup’s “-“ lead to the switch as instructed above.
The bare wire is soldered to (any) ground - shown here as the back of the tone pot.
Put your pickguard back on, and you're ready to rip!
Here’s a drawing of a typical “import” 5-way:
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How it works:
Basically, the FAT-O re-routes the hot and ground leads of the neck and mid pickup to various
places in the guitar's circuitry. Each of the switch's four "clicks" connects the pickup's leads to a
specific point in the guitar's wiring to get the desired combination of pickups, phasing and
series/parallel wiring. These "clicks" - I call them "NOTCHES" - are named for how they route
the bridge pickup into the circuit.
Wuzzit do?
Well, for starters, you now can select from 11 different pickup and phasing combinations!
Yes, some of the tones are repeated - but that's what makes this thing so darn easy to use…
So, WHAT are the new tones, and WHERE are they?
I like to count the settings this way: this FAT-O-Caster switch has “notches” we'll call 1, 2, 3
and 4, numbered as you turn the switch COUNTER-CLOCKWISE. So, if it was a tone control on
“10”, you would be at notch 1. As you turn the control “down,” like from ten to, say, six, you go
through the notches 1 through 4. Remember the 5-way still controls the tones - here's what to
expect from the 5-way at each Memphis HSS notch:
Notch 1 (“tone knob” on “10”) is just normal Strat tones.
NOTE: As a reference for the rest of these instructions:
On the 5-way: 1=neck, 2=middle and neck, 3=middle, 4=middle and bridge, 5=bridge
Notch 2 (“tone knob” on “9”) is the "NECK on with BRIDGE" setting –
the neck pup is ALSO routed to the bridge end of the 5-way switch.
The combos are all wired parallel.
As you throw the 5-way in this setting, you get (from 1 to 5):
1 = neck
2 = neck and middle
3 = middle
4 = bridge, middle, and neck
5 = bridge and neck
Notch 3 (“tone knob” on “8”) is the "MID in SERIES with NECK " setting.
In 1 and 2, it's just the neck pickup;
In 3, you get the mid and neck in series - it's a Gibson-ish tone, as your mid and neck pups work
like the two coils of a humbucker;
In 4, you get the mid and neck in series PARALLEL to the bridge pup, which will simulate
the sound of the middle (both pickups) throw on the 3-way of a two-humbucker guitar;
In 5, it’s the plain ol’ bridge humbucker.
Notch 4 (“tone knob” on “7”) is the “NECK in SERIES with BRIDGE" setting.
In 1, you get the neck in series with bridge - another FAT tone.
In 2, you have the < neck series bridge > parallel to the middle - fat with some quack.
In 3, 4 and 5 it's normal Strat combos.
Here are a few more Strat 5-ways:
The replacement 5-way from Stewart-Macdonald (and others).
Note that the common lugs are at the opposite end
of the switch from the stock Fender 5-way drawing:
The MEGA-S switch’s lugs are in a completely different configuration:
If NONE of these 5-ways matches yours, e-mail me at eb@deaf-eddie.net
and we’ll figure out a scheme & drawing to git-r-done!
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