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Rickenbacker Pickup Switching Mods: Phase, Series/Parallel

While I had the guitar apart I decided to do some additional electric mods. What the heck.

I'll probably garner the wrath of the Rickenbacker forums, not to mention John Hall. Thou shalt not modify thy Ric! (John Lennon, Pete Townshend and [horrors] Roger McGuinn are excepted).

I mentioned the CTS push-pull pots I procured from Stew-Mac in the last post. I have 2 more on hand, so that's perfect for two more mods.

I'm going to wire it with phase switch and a series-parallel switch. I've written before about my dislike of drilling holes, so these pots are perfect. I'll have three switches total but it will appear to be totally stock, and of course with everything switched out, it will sound totally stock as well.

None of these wiring mods involve rocket surgery. Very common and not hard to do if you know which end of a soldering iron to pound on.

I drew a diagram to follow, but you can use it to follow if you choose to do this. For personal use as a guide, no problem but:

Please, please, please - if you would like to copy this to your site or another site, ask me first! I am quite reasonable about sharing, but this is MY work and as such it has a defacto copyright. I recently found 2 instances where my images were stolen copied and used on other sites - one of them a commercial site. There is such a thing as copyright infringement, and taking images or other content wholesale violates copyright! Just because it's on the internet does NOT mean it's free for the taking.

Rant over, just please ask first. Thanks.

So back to the wiring. The neck pickup is the one that I decided to put the phase reverse wiring on. It's also the one that has its ground lifted when in series mode.

I tried this with the phase wiring 'before' the series wiring and after it in the circuit. I found it was more dramatic as it's shown ('before'). It's a really cool tone with the neck out of phase and the pickups in series. The phase alone is pretty cool also on a 12-string. I have the series wiring on one of my Telecasters, and it's almost too 'dirty' sounding (Lindy Fralin says this too). But here it gives a nice volume and midrange boost.

Obviously, this will work on any two-pickup guitar - I just happened to do it on my 360/12C63.

Here's the phase switch being wired.

I like these pots for the most part. They are a little bulky - I think putting them in something like a Tele with a small control cavity might be a bit tight.

But the basic idea of using a PC board to connect the switch posts to eyelets is a good one. I found that heating the eyelets and putting solder in them, then heating again and inserting the stripped end of the wire in question worked best. I did that instead of trying to insert a wire and solder it in one shot.

As usual with this sort of thing, do as much pre-wiring/subassembly on the switch as you can.

Another thing I did was to unsolder the factory pickup wiring (!) and add a bit of extra wire length on both the hot and ground leads. I did this since the pickup leads need to be able to reach to new locations.

Note that I also used shrink tubing on both leads, and I also put a larger tube (blue on this one) to help support the joint where the leads exit the main cable.

Almost there.

Note the leads in the foreground - I was still testing at this point and had yet to extend the pickup leads.

Better to use test leads and unsoldered connections first to make sure it all works!

I also labelled the switches as well as the selector switch - you're working upside down and backward and it's easy to get everything confused. At least it is for me.

Side note: many kudos to Rickenbacker on their workmanship. Not only are their guitars beautifully made, but the wiring is super tidy Compare that with the nest of wires that my Squier Jazzmaster started with.

All finished. You can see what I mean about the pots being bulky - I had to swivel the treble cap pot a bit to clear the series/parallel pot.

The phase switch is on the neck tone (top in this shot), the series/parallel is on the neck volume (lower left here) and the treble cap is on the bridge volume.

There are lots of new combinations to be had now.

And the best part (for me) is that it looks totally stock from the outside.




 
 
 
 

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