Guitar tone: episode 83

Well, my apologies to those of you who tune in with the naive hope that I've actually got some song writing or recording done.

Nope, I haven't, but I am a step closer to getting the sound I want out of my guitar.

Last week, on the Clarity and Sparkle Show, my custom guitar, Fergus, was exposed. At low volume, his tone was muddy and dull. I'd already changed the pickups to try and remedy this fault but the broadcast - sorry - podcast revealed the depth of the failing. Fergus was booed off the stage by a shocked audience.

Shunning the press, Fergus and I retreated to a health farm in Wales, where we've been studying the recordings, researching wiring diagrams. soldering and screwing...

And, slowly, the pieces of the puzzle are beginning to unravel.

At first we suspected the capacitor used as a safety device in the star-grounding technique which we had first learned at A capacitor is after all, the device used to affect the tone of your guitar. But removing this one made no difference.

So, we painstakingly drew up the stock Fender Strat schematic, and then used exactly the same format to draw up our custom wiring.

Stock Stratocaster wiring schematic
My flawed custom Stratocaster wiring schematicOur intention was to create a wiring system that worked like a Telecaster, but included a bonus middle pickup on a separate volume control which didn't go through the switch.

If we ignore the changes to the switch and volume controls, the only outstanding difference (if I've understood my potentiometers and schematics) is that the stock wiring has the capacitor leading to earth. In my wiring diagram, the capacitor is in the signal chain.

Is this where the fault lies?
Will the operation be successful?
Can Fergus return to the Clarity and Sparkle Show and save the day?
When will we get out of this health farm?
Where did I put that yoghurt?

Update: I've tweaked that dodgy wiring schematic since publication at least twice in the cold light of day. I think it's accurate now. But fortunately my misguided attempts at schematics don't change the essential analysis - the only real difference seems to be the position of the capacitor.