Guitar Wiring Explored: Adding a Blower Switch

Posted on by Richard Irons

We’ve all been there: you’ve dialed in a sweet rhythm tone – the neck volume is on seven and the bridge volume is on… whatever it’s on, you weren’t looking. And the tone controls are turned to the precise value of “where it sounds right.” You’re grooving away and suddenly it’s time for the solo! You switch to the bridge pickup, roll all the controls up to full, and rock out.

At the end of your “moment,” it’s time to get back to that sweet rhythm sound. But where the heck did you have all the controls set? There’s no time to dial it all again again, you’ll just have to make do. There must be a better way.

I’m sure you’ve heard of a “blower switch” before, so you’ve probably seen where I’m going with this. It’s a fairly simple mod that gives you an extra switch on the guitar. When the switch is disengaged, the guitar behaves as normal with all the switches and controls performing in the normal way. But when you flip the switch, all the other switches and controls on the guitar are bypassed, and the bridge pickup is connected straight to the jack. It’s like you’ve flipped to the bridge pickup and turned the volume and tone controls all the way up.

You can use any DPDT on/on switch – this is the type of switch that you find on push/pull pots, and it’s the standard “mini toggle” switch you find on most guitar parts websites too.

In order to make this article relevant to as many types of guitar as possible I’m going to approach the wiring in a slightly abstracted way. Here’s a diagram of how at least part of the wiring in your guitar probably works:

There will be a wire from your bridge pickup to ground, and there will be an output wire too (represented by the blue wire – Wire X – on the diagram). On a single coil Duncan pickup, this output wire will be the white wire; on a humbucker it’s probably the black wire (the red and white wires aren’t relevant to this mod). Point A on the diagram represents wherever that output wire connects to – a switch, a volume control, or whatever.

Similarly, with the jack,  there is a hot and a ground connection. The hot connection is represented by the red wire – Wire Y – on the diagram, and the point to which this wire is connected is Point B.

This is a diagram of what the wiring will look like after the mod is completed:

In order to complete the mod, first disconnect Wire X from Point A, and instead connect it to the middle contact of one side of the switch. Then add another wire from the same side to Point A, such that when the switch is turned off, Wire X is still connected through the switch to Point A.

Next, follow a similar process with Wire Y from the jack – disconnect it from Point B, and connected it to the center lug on the other side of the switch. Then add a wire to Point B from the same side, again so that it is connected when the switch is turned off.

Finally, add a short jumper wire across the two as-yet unused contacts on the switch. This will mean that when the switch is turned on, the bridge output is connected directly to the jack, and the rest of the guitar wiring is disconnected completely. And you’re done!

This mod is great for switching between rhythm and lead tones instantly – much like the Jazzmaster circuit (although much less complicated). Do you have any other simple mods that you like to apply to guitars to simplify live playing?

Written on July 8, 2013, by Richard Irons

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Comments (21)

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    could you modify this wiring to add the bridge PU to another selection? so allow you to voice all three PU’s on position 4 and bridge and neck on position 5 of a strat?

    • Richard Irons 6 years ago

      Neil you just want your neck pickup hooked to a mini switch, so you can kick it in when you need it. Like when your selector is on bridge position, you kick the switch in to turn the neck on for Gibson-like sound. Position 4 on the strat switch would give you all three.

    • Richard Irons 6 years ago

      look up the “neck-on switch” its quite easy, add a cable from where the
      neck pickup hot wire is connected to the 5-way switch, piggy-backing it
      on top of where its already soldered. stick in a simple on/off switch
      (spst) and connect the other end to the cable to the hot output from the
      5-way switch (the one that goes to the volume pot). so, adding to the
      existing electronics on the 5-way, you make a bridge with an on/off
      switch between the pickup input to the hot output. this also works for
      the bridge pickup, only it changes the order on the 5-way, same results,
      same sounds, reverse order is all. i prefer the neck-on its more
      comfortable, and the neck/bridge in parallel is the sweetest mod to make
      on a strat!

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    Awesome you are Adjusting the adjustments

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    I tried all this stuff years ago and for me a treble bleed is a must on any guitar and the “Greasebucket” with a treble bleed on my strats. That makes my controls functional and useful and it’s easy to dial in wanted tones on the fly.

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    I use 4 push pull pot’s on my SG, the first 2 (i.e the 2 volume control’s) are Coil Split’s for their respective pick ups, the tone dial for my neck pick up switches the phase for my neck pick up to give me an out of phase middle postition, and I use a switch similar to this on my bridge tone pot to take any unwanted load of the circuit.

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    Because I prefer “vintage” style pickups, I like a mini toggle switch to put the neck (or middle) pickup in series with the bridge pickup for a “hotter” option.

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    On my main guitar, i have 3 switches, a split for the humbucker, one treble bleed and one “blower” (I’ve discovered the name just now, hehe). For those who gonna try the mod, keep in mind that when the bypass is on, you get a little more treble and volume also.

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    Would there be a way to wire this so when the blower switch is engaged, it ALSO splits the bridge humbucker?

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    Richard, I need help with wiring a blow switch. I have another guitar with a master vol/master tone, and 3 humbuckers, with mini-toggles for series/off/parallel, and a blow switch for the bridge humbucker (series). But my volume and tone still function.
    I am trying to figure out the wiring for a Les Paul setup, with 2 volumes and a master tone, 3-way toggle. I am going to install triple shot rings on the guitar, and therefore want to be able to bypass that complex switching options and the 3-way toggle, and go straight to my bridge humbucker. I know how to wire that.
    What I am asking of you, is whether I can bypass the 3-way LP toggle, and still use the bridge’s volume pot and the master tone?
    I don’t think it’s possible, but that’s why I’m coming to you.
    PS – I use a 4 pole ON/ON as my blow switch, so that I can pass the bridge wiring through it, and send it back to the Triple Shot wiring harness. It then comes out of the harness as 2 wires, and goes into the bridge volume. The trouble is, that the output of the volume normally goes into the 3-way LP toggle, and in “blow mode” I want the volume to go to the Jack.
    HELP!

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    OK, i need a bit of help as well. I’d like to put a blower switch on my strat, but I’m unsure how to accomplish this as i have a HSS set up with the humbucker tapped with a push/pull knob. All the “blower” schematics I’ve found seem to be fairly direct without the complication of a coil tap, can someone advise me?

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    *necro mode on*
    I have SH-4 wired with a blow switch in LP. The only difference is that I used 3pdt switch to control the coil tap simultaneously. Then I realized that palm mutting sucks while the blower is on. Am I doing something wrong or it’s just higher treble level due to a lot smaller pickup load?

    • Richard Irons 6 years ago

      Off the top of my head the first think I would wonder is where your palm is when you use palm mute. If the bridge pickup is on behind where you palm mute, then you might get some unwanted sounds. So if your bridge pickup is on, make sure you mute behind the bridge, or switch the bridge pickup off. I’m new to blower switches I haven’t read if they work for all pickups, but if it’s turning on the bridge pickup, then where your palm in would be important.

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    I just figured out that if you have split/parallel switches you need a 4PDT with the left side wired as the DPDT depicted in this article and the right side managing the interconnection/disconnection of the two coils: bridge the two bottom contacts, solder the north and south finishes to each of the middle lugs and the top ones to the points where said finishes would be normally connected in your wiring diagram.

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    This is real late to the party, but can anyone provide a wiring diagram with this installed with standard les paul wiring using a DPDT switch?

    • Richard Irons 6 years ago

      Ask this on our User Group Forum, as you will get many more responses, and custom wiring diagrams.

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    Honestly, this is where digital electronics could give us a boost. Imagine a system that “remembers” a certain number of setups for your controls, and the blower kicks in the digital control (instead of the analog pots). It would have a small led display with up-down scrolling buttons. Setting 1 might yield a lead sound, 2 a very specific rhythm setting. Imagine a system that *remembers*, one that can use wifi or bluetooth to talk to an app in your phone to set up the digital settings you love the most and NAME them (names appear on your guitars display). A bit like having banks of presets for midi all there for the songs you gig with.. only right on your guitar with the controller on the upper edge of the body. Hmmm.

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    What about adding a blower switch for all pickups?

    I like the idea of by-passing the controls for soloing and then being able to go back to exactly the same settings just by moving one switch instead of turning many knobs. The thing is, I like to solo with the neck pickup as much as the bridge, and sometimes I alternate between the two of them while soloing. So, instead of taking the HOT from the bridge HB, I can take the HOT from the 5-way switch and do the same wiring (shown above) with the DPDT mini toggle switch and it will work, right?

    Therefore , during normal operation my H-S-H would go through the volume-treble-bass controls (think PTB) and when I want full raw power for the solos I flick the switch and I can go nuts with the bridge and neck HBs.

    What do you think?

  • Richard Irons 6 years ago

    I use one of these on my ’65 Melody Maker, but I take the ‘output’ of the pickup selector switch to the blower, that way I can solo on either pickup or the combination. I also have a kill switch for those times when I’m soloing at the end of a song and need a silent hard stop without feedback (depends on how high your rhythm volume is set & amp gain, proximity to amp, etc., but it came in handy back in my ‘metal’ days.) =) I also use a pot with a push/pull DPDT switch for a ‘blower’ switch, works pretty well as long as you don’t twist the knob when you push or pull it, generally ends up about where you started. No need to drill another hole.

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