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Danelectro Series Parallel Pickup Switch

I was musing in the last post about putting a series/parallel pickup switch on the Daddy-O-Yellow Danelectro DC-2. I strung it up and used some test leads to see if there was enough of a tonal difference to justify putting a switch on.

Yes, yes there is.

Now, you may be aware that the stock Danelectro wiring has the pickups in series out of the box. Which explains why the middle position sounds so thick and midrangey, and has a lot more output than the other two positions.  Most every other guitar with 2 pickups has the pickups wired in parallel in the center selector switch position, but a Danelectro does not. A popular mod to those non-Danelectro guitars is a switch to allow the selection of series or parallel wiring. I have it on my Teles - with a 4-way switch.

Anyway, I liked both the series and parallel tones on the Danelectro, so I stuck a switch on to select either option.

With the pickup switch in the middle on a stock Danelectro, the positive output of the bridge pickup volume control (middle lug) goes to the third lug of the neck pickup volume pot.

The negative lead of the neck pickup is connected to that same lug, so what is happening with the switch in the middle is that the output of the bridge pickup is passed to the negative lead of the neck pickup, through the neck pickup volume and on to the output jack. The pickups are wired in series.

(Layout drawing is here for reference.)

In the picture above, you see this wire running from the center lug of the bridge pickup volume pot to the third lug on the neck pickup volume pot. And the red wire connected there is the negative lead of the neck pickup.

To run them in series, we just break that connection and give the bridge pickup a separate, parallel, path to the master signal output of the guitar. That connection could be made at the output jack, or alternatively, at the center lug of the neck pickup's volume pot. In my case, I ran this separate output to the input of the Blaster. Any of these work - we're just giving the bridge pickup's output a separate path to the output of the guitar.

And if we put a switch in there, we can direct the bridge pickup's output to its original place - that lug on the neck pickup's volume pot (series), or the second, parallel, location at the jack

On the right is the drawing I made to illustrate this (and to help me wire it correctly on my guitar).

If you've done this before, it will make perfect sense. If it's your first attempt, hopefully the diagram will help.

You can use an SPDT switch or a DPDT. I used the latter since that's what I had on hand. I used both sets of poles so mine is like a pair of switches in parallel. Maybe that's more reliable too. Who knows.

I needed to decide where to put the switch - I finally decided to plunk it between the new control for the Danoblaster and the output jack.

That's a knob on the new pot just for testing. I used another one in the end.

It will be a close fit between the pot and the output jack, but it will work. Hopefully.

If you've read the blog before, you know I hate to cut or drill stuff. But in this instance, after all the work to drill the new output jack hole, I wound up cutting more of the top away to make mounting the switch - and the jack - easier.

A razor saw made quick work of the new hole.

If you're going to break your own rule, be sure you demolish it.

At least it's sort of tidy.

The hole will get covered up by the pickguard in any event.

The wiring looks a little wild, but it's actually straightforward. (I notated the pic so you can see what's what if you click on it).

Note that I used coax (RG-174) for all of the runs of cable. I suppose you could use plain wire, but don't blame me if you have hum problems. I figured I was in there wiring all this stuff, and didn't want a noisy mess afterward. Just ground the cable shield on one end of each run of the coax - I have a couple grounds at the jack and one at the ground for the bridge volume.

The lead that formerly went from the bridge volume now goes to the new series/parallel switch on the center contact on the switch per the drawing.

One of the outside contacts on the switch has a lead that goes to the input on the Danoblaster switch, along with the lead from the selector switch. This is the parallel connection. This way either pickup individually, in series, or in parallel, passes though the Danoblaster, even if the Blaster is not engaged.

The other contact on the switch goes back to the original series location, on the third lug on the neck volume pot. That's not shown on the picture above, but it is on the one below.

This picture on the left shows everything connected.

With the neck pickup selected alone, you get that pickup with or without the Blaster.

With the bridge pickup selected, you get that pickup alone, with or without the Blaster.

With the pickup selector in the middle, you get both pickups in series or parallel, with or without the Blaster.

Again, the series/parallel switch really just breaks that original connection between the volume pots, and sends it to the Blaster on its own (parallel), or through the neck pickup per the stock wiring scheme, and that pickup goes through the Blaster.

I don't know if everyone with a Danelectro would want the Blaster in their guitar, but the series/parallel switch adds another very useful tone, and is easy to wire on its own. It gets a thinner, chimey tone good for rhythm.


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