The Stratocaster Five Way Switch

Wiring 5 way switch

The five way switch on the fender stratocaster can be a little confusing to understand. If you're wiring up you're strat for new pickups, a scratchy pot, etc., there are a wide array of places you can find wiring diagrams that show you how to wire the switch. However very few places explain how it works.

For the seasoned electronics person, or an electrical engineer, this is really easy. But for most folks, including myself, the five way switch is a little confusing.

Take a look at the diagram above, and forget about the connection I have between pin number four and five. The first thing to understand is that there is no link between pins one through four, and pins five through eight. Regardless of what position the selector switch is in, there is never a connection between these two sets of pins, unless one is made.This switch is a dual pole, 5 way switch in electronics lingo.

Ok, now pins four and five are common pins, meaning depending on where the selector switch is, Pin four connects to either Pin one, two, or three, and pin five connects to either pin six, seven, or eight. For example if the selector switch is in position one, which is the neck pickup, with the switch pointing at you. Pin four is connected to pin three, and pin five is connected to pin eight.

Wiring vintage strat

Take a look at the diagram above. This is a very typical wiring scenario for a strat. Now look back at the diagram of the five way switch above, and note that pin four and five are connected, as they are in the strat diagram. The connection from pin four to pin five is always made. If you wanted a strat with no tone controls you could simply wire the volume pot to pin four and control the volume. Wiring pin four to pin five gives you the option to control the tone of the pickups you select to control.

Lets look at the five switch positions, and there corresponding connections. Position one, pointing at you, neck pickup: Pin four is connected to pin three, pin five is connected to pin eight. position two, neck and middle pickup:Pin four is connected to pins two and three, pin five is connected to pins seven and eight. Position three, Middle pickup: Pin four is connected to pin two, pin five is connected to pin seven. Position four, middle and bridge pickup: Pin four is connected to pins one and two, pin five is connected to pins six and seven. Fifth position, pointing away, Bridge pickup: pin four is connected to pin one, and pin five is connected to pin six.

Look closely at the strat wiring diagram above. Note that pin six, on the five way switch, has no wire connected to it. This means that the bridge pickup has no tone control whatsoever. On many strat wiring diagrams there will be a jumper between pins six and seven, giving the bridge pickup tone control. Like the old saying goes there's more than one way to skin a cat, there's also more than one way to wire a strat.

I'd like to point out that there is a newer five way switch out there. I don't know if it's better but it functions the same way. I haven't seen it on an American strat yet, but that doesn't mean it's bad. Check out the diagram below.

wiring new five way


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