So You Want to Get a Bit 'More' Out of Your Pickup…
So you’ve got a great bridge pickup that just really shoots flames when running through a hot guitar amp. It’s awesome, but you find yourself wanting just a little bit ‘more’. Not more in the sense of hitting the amp up with a boost or overdrive pedal, but ‘more’ from your pickup. There is a pretty easy way to achieve this with a DPDT on/on switch or push/pull (or push/push) potentiometer, some wire, and some simple soldering skills.
A few manufacturers have offered variation of this particular modification on some of their guitars. Fender calls the modification the “Passing Lane” switch, while Suhr’s variation is called the “Blower” switch. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, the goal is pretty much the same. To give your bridge pickup more volume and high end to really drive and cut through.
The way this modification works is by bypassing your guitar’s pickup selector, volume and tone potentiometers (if any), and essentially hard wiring your pickup directly to the output jack. This essentially lowers the circuit’s load, which in turn gives you the extra volume and high end.
To demonstrate this modification I’m going to use a DPDT on-on switch, which will replace the tone potentiometer in my 1995 Ibanez RG470. I never really use the tone control on any of my guitars, so this switch will be perfect for filling the hole left by the tone potentiometer. If you don’t really want to drill extra holes in your guitar then you can use the aforementioned push/pull or push/push potentiometer.
Attach a short wire between the two left hand side lugs on the DPDT switch. I use a set of “helping” hands”, which can be found at many electronics stores to hold the switch in place while I solder to it. this is the wire that bypasses your pickup selector switch and any potentiometers on board your guitar.
De-solder your bridge pickup’s ‘hot’ wire from the pickup selector. You can use de-solder braid to make this job easier. Then solder the ‘hot’ wire to the lower middle lug on the DPDT switch. I had to extend the hot wire to reach where the “Blower” switch would reside. Heat shrink is the best thing to use to cover up the two soldered ends, but electrical tape will do if that’s all you have on hand.
Solder a new piece of wire to the lug where the bridge pickup’s ‘hot’ wire originally connected to. Solder the other end of the wire to the lower right hand side lug on the DPDT switch, next to the bridge pickup’s ‘hot’ wire.
De-solder the output jack’s ‘hot’ wire from the middle lug of your volume potentiometer. Connect it to the upper middle lug of your DPDT switch.
Solder a new wire on the middle on the volume pot. Solder the other end of the wire to the upper right lug on the DPDT switch. This completes the circuit.
Install your DPDT switch and get ready to rock!
The “Blower” switch is a really useful control to add to your guitar for a several reasons. The aforementioned boost in volume and treble is one, but it’s also useful for simulating channel switching on your guitar if you use a single channel amplifier. You can select a pickup and volume setting that enables you with a clean tone, and then flick the “Blower” switch to your high gain distorted sound.
So there you have it! It really is easy to get a bit ‘more’ from your bridge pickup, and pretty much anyone who has used a soldering iron once or twice will be able to perform this great DIY project.