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Selector vs. toggles

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by patplaysbass, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. I'm designing a passive bass with 3 pickups. I've really only seen these with 5-way selectors to choose pickups, but I'm thinking about using 3 on/off toggles instead. The idea is I'd rather see the toggles to know which pickups are on and off as opposed to accidentally putting the 5-way in the wrong spot (which sounds difficult but I've totally done it before). It's not that big of a deal really, but since it's a custom bass I'd like everything to be optimal. Are there any disadvantages that I'm not thinking about, or would this work?
  2. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    There's no problem with having three pickup toggles. Try to find the schematics for a Fender Bass VI, that had the same switching layout.
  3. Cadfael


    Jan 4, 2013
    Germany, EU
    Hi ampelman,

    I was asked about the MM "Big Al" wiring two weeks ago and found out how it works - or at least find a method which works the same ...

    The special thing about this wiring: When all 3 on/off toggles are "off", the bass is not quiet. Two of the PUs are wired in series!

    My wiring compilation is only in German but yoz will understand it anyway (and there's a small dictionary at the end)!

    Have a look at wiring 2.9.15 and 2.9.31 (page 362/363 in version 3.92).
    (The PDF at the bottom has 6.5MB and 424 pages full of bass wiring information. Click the link at the bottom, wait till it has been loaded and save it on your HD)
    The good thing about this wiring: 8 possibilities which make sense. All down = 3 parallel, all up = 2 in series.
  4. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    The Stu Hamm/Urge wiring is a really cool setup, just as another option.

    It's got 2 pickups on a blend and a middle pickup alone.
    They wire the blended pickups to one side of a 3 way mini toggle and the middle to the other, giving the option of all 3 pickups, fade between just the 2, or solo the 1.

    I was toying with the idea of this setup on a 3 pickup bass, though using the 2 on blend next to each other (Bridge) and the other as on/off (neck).
  5. Many Stratocaster players have done this, and the general consensus seems to be that it is a very inconvenient setup, since it takes multiple switch flips to get from one pickup selection to another. However, the needs of guitarists tend to be different than the needs of bassists. You would not be as likely to need to go from one tone to another mid-song. It's something to think about, in any case.
  6. Cadfael


    Jan 4, 2013
    Germany, EU
    concerning line6mans post ...

    I am a "child of the late 70s/80s" where "switch as switch can" was motto ...
    The Strat player in my second band (1980) had such a Strat, too - and (as most) with an On/Off/On switch in the middle for In-/Out-of-Phase.
    So, I have to agree at some point!

    So, I would NOT recommend a wiring with more than three On/On switches.
    If one of the three switches says more than "On/Off", it gets to difficult (why clocks with hands survived - they are much faster to read).

    On a Jazz Bass with a PU between the normal positions, Neck + Bridge makes sense (which doesn't so much on a Strat). The only thing you have to think about with a Big Al wiring is the "all up" position - but the series wiring of neck+bridge is liked by may bass players and provides a real benefit.

    The combination of three switches is more useful to me as a combination of a regular Strat 5way + "series mini".
  7. Another thing to keep in mind is that just because you have a ton of options does not by any means ensure that they will all be usable. What generally happens when you can make a million combinations of coils is that you get two or three tones you like, a ton of useless tones you will never use, a lot of similar-sounding combinations, and the surprise mute setting.
  8. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    A dissenting opinion: I absolutely love the electronics in this bass:


    It's two Duncan MM pickups, treated as four separate coils. The positions of the switches correlate directly with the coil locations, which makes it easy to select different voicings quickly. However, I don't typically change settings mid-song.

    The coils are all wired in parallel with each other, and the output feeds into a Bart NTBT preamp (which isn't really germaine to the discussion, but it doesn't detract either). Gives the instrument a huge array of tones!

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