Transform Your Strat Into A Blues Monster!
7 of the Best Strat Wiring Mods Around

In pursuit of the holy grail of Strat tone.

I get tons of questions and emails about Strat tone mods.   There are many mods out there, and in my 15+ years working with guitar electronics I have pretty much seen them all, and even created a few of my own too.  Some of these mods provide more versatility and better tone than stock wiring, but quite frankly some mods will actually degrade your tone.  In this article, I will separate the wheat from the chaff, and describe what I have found to be the absolute hands-down best Strat mods out there. Most of these mods are available on our various prewired Strat assemblies. For a mod to have made my “A-list” it absolutely must have met certain requirements:

  • It MUST provide a truly great sounding and musical tone that is not present on stock wiring.
  • It MUST be simple to use from a live playing perspective.
  • It MUST be reasonably simple to implement.


This unbelievably simple mod will keep all of your Strat controls (switch and pots) in the very familiar and comfortable stock wiring, yet give you 7 pickup combinations instead of just 5.  The 2 additional pickups combinations are neck/bridge and all 3 pickups on simultaneously (in parallel).  The neck/bridge combo in particular is a terrific addition that sounds very much like a Tele, due to the physical distance between the 2 pickups relative to one another (one being located near the bridge the other all the way by the neck).

All you will need is a mini-switch which can be implemented as a stand-alone switch or housed on a push-pull pot. 


Using a blender pot is another great use for that 2nd tone control on a Strat. A blender pot allows you to blend (mix) the neck pickup or the bridge pickup into the signal which will provide you with 2 extra sounds, namely: bridge/neck (very Tele like) as well as all 3 pickups on simultaneously.  You can think of it as a kind of “variable” neck-on switch. If the 5-way is in the neck position, the blender pot blends in the bridge pickup. If the 5-way is in the bridge position, it blends in the neck pickup. The advantage of this over the neck-on switch is that with a blender pot you can dial in as much or as little of the other pickup as you want. For example, one of Lindy Fralin’s personal favorite ways to use blender wiring is to add just a little bit of the neck pickup to warm up the bridge pickup.

Blender pots ideally should be “no-load” pots so when the pot is on 10, it is completely removed from the circuit, and therefore not loading the circuit in any way (think “true bypass”).

Here is a summary of how the blender works in relation to the 5 way selector switch:







Blends in neck pickup




Blends in neck pickup








Blends in bridge pickup




Blends in bridge pickup




PTB stands for “passive treble/bass". This was developed by Leo Fender at G&L and used on models including the Legacy. Although not for everyone, you definitely get more tone shaping opportunities than a Stock Strat for sure.

In stock Strat wiring, both tone pots are configured as low pass filters, and provide the typical treble cut feature, but they each affect different switch positions. In contrast, with the PTB system both tone controls function as "master" tone controls, but one provides a treble cut, and the other a bass cut. More specifically:

  • The first tone pot is a low pass filter, like you will find on just about any guitar. A low pass filter allows frequencies lower than a cutoff frequency to pass and higher frequencies are rolled off. The mathematical formula for calculating the aforementioned cutoff frequency is listed in the graphic below.

  • The second tone pot is a high pass filter, which rolls off the low end. A high pass filter is the opposite of a low pass filter. A high pass filter allows frequencies higher than the cutofft frequency to pass and lower frequencies are rolled off. Notice how the order of the cap and resistor in the schematic has been reversed.

It is important to point out that since both of these tone controls are passive, neither one will "add" anything, but rather they willcut frequencies. If you want the bass cut to me more dramatic, then use an even smaller value capacitor such as a .001 uf. If you want the treble cut to be more dramatic, then use a larger value capacitor such as .047 uf or higher.

This mod will work equally well with single coils and humbuckers, and is not mutually exclusive with the other mods I have discussed. In particular, players who use distortion and overdrive a lot will appreciate the bass cut control, which can definitely add some clarity to your overall tone!



One of my favorite mods is reminiscent of the G&L PTB system in that each tone control functions as "master" tone control. The difference with our Voodoo Tone Strat wiring is that the 2nd tone pot is a master passive midrange shape as opposed to a bass cut as found on the Legacy.   Our very own RG500D midrange shaper is housed on special pot that we had custom made from CTS to have a center detent and a custom taper.  When you turn the pot counterclockwise it provides a noticeable dip in the midrange frequencies.  The “scooped” sound has an almost acoustic like quality to it. The actual frequency dipped is in the 850 Hz range (see graph below), but will vary somewhat depending upon your pickups. When you turn the the pot clockwise from 5 up to 10 you get a thicker tone exhibiting a more midrange “honk” to it.  When the pot is centered on 5 it is neutral.

This kind of circuit is referred to as an LC Network, where L stands for Inductance and C for capacitance. . The cap and inductor are wired in series. As you probably know, caps let treble through easier than low frequencies. The inductor does the opposite by allowing low frequencies to pass through easier than treble. Let’s say the cap allows frequencies over 1000 Hz to pass, and the inductor allows frequencies under 200 Hz to pass. When the 2 are combined in series they act as a kind of midrange filter. Below is a graph obtained by running the circuit through a network analyzer. Following that you will see a wiring diagram.


In the vast majority of guitars, including Strats when pickups are connected together they are done so in in parallel.  A common and useful mod is to provide an option for a series connection.

How does the series sound differ from parallel? 

A parallel connection provides a clean, bright and crisp tone.   That signature “quack” you get in positions 2 and 4 of a Strat is a classic sound of 2 pickups connected in parallel (think Mark Knopfler).

In contrast, a series connection will demonstrate more power, with strong bass and mids, and a smooth attack…..a distinctly different tone.  A lot of players like to engage the series connection for guitar solos.

Below you will find our Voodoo Tone Monster Strat wiring that combines several of the aforementioned mods. It has a series/parallel switch, neck-on switch and passive midrange control. All in all you get a total of 9 pickup combinations. Here is the control function, followed by the complete diagram:

Series Switch Neck-on Switch Pos 1 Pos 2 Pos 3 Pos 4 Pos 5
ON OFF B,N in series B,N in series + M B,N in series + M B,N in series + M B,N in series
(note: this has no effect when series switch is engaged)
B,N in series B,N in series + M B,N in series + M B,N in series + M B,N in series



For those of you who play a Strat with a Humb-Single-Single pickup configuration, here is a mod that uses variable coil-splitting coupled with a neck-on switch to ultimately achieve 11 pickup combinations! 

First, let’s talk a bit about coil-splitting (or more commonly referred to as coil-tapping). This is when you short one of the coils of a humbucker to ground.  The result will be that only one of the 2 humbucker coils will be“live.”  One of the dilemmas with coil tapping is that many pickups that sound great in full humbucking mode, sound weak when tapped.   One great solution is to use a dial-a-tap pot, you using a pot to gradually ground out one of the coils, which allows you to effectively implement a partial-tap.  Ideally, this should be a no-load pot, so that when the pot is on 10 it is entirely out of the circuit. Here is the full setup.

  • The first pot is a master volume
  • The first tone control is a master tone which controls all pickups
  • The lower pot is a no-load "Dial-A-Tap" which means you can dial in just the right amount of the split humbucker. It will short out the "screw coil" and leave in the "slug coil" (the slug coil is the one furthest from the bridge).
  • A mini-switch (or push-pull pot) is used as a "neck-on" switch to engage the neck pickup at any point (as described in the 1st mod in this article).


In the old days guitars had either humbuckers or single coils but somewhere around the 80’s we saw the growth in popularity of blending of humbuckers and single coil pickups in the same guitar. This had many advantages for the working guitarist, most notably the ability to bring a single axe to a gig and get all the required tones! Of course with that advantage came a new dilemma with regards to pot value. If one selects 250K pots, the single coils will sound right, but the humbucker will be a bit too dark. If however one selects 500K pots, the humbucker will sound right, but the single coils will sound too bright.

This then begs the question:  Can we dynamically fake out the pickups in such a way that the humbucker will see 500K pots and the single coil pickups will see 250K pots.  To accomplish this, we either need to dynamically increase the value of a 250K pot or decrease the value of a 500K pot.  Well, there is no way to dynamically “increase” the resistance of a pot past its maximum, but there certainly is an easy way to decrease its resistance. As a pre-requisite to understanding this, one must know a simple formula for resistors in parallel.

The math becomes really easy if the value of R1 and R2 are identical. R-total then is simply 1/2 the value of R1 (or R2). For example, if we have two resistors each with a value of 220K, then putting those 2 resistors in parallel will yield 110K. Simple.  I bet you can see where I’m going with this! If you put a 500K resistor in parallel with a 500K pot, the resulting resistance will be 250K ! Now, 500K is not a very common value for a fixed resistor, but the closest common value is 470K. So an easy thing to do with readily available parts is to to put a 470K fixed resistor in parallel with the 500K pot, which will yield approximately 242K in resistance, which for all intents and purposes is close enough to 250K (close enough for Rock-N-Roll as they say).

The trick is to do this ONLY when the 5 way switch has selected the single coil pickups, and NOT when the 5 way switch is pointing towards the humbucker.  To achieve this, one must use a multi-pole 5 way switch, commonly referred to as a “super switch”.

The wiring diagram we have posted below is based upon Fender Lonestar wiring, with the added twist of employing this mod where the humbucker sees 500K and single coils see 250K.  This is the exact same setup we offer in one of our Prewired Strat Assemblies which we refer to as “Smart Lonestar.”  If you are not familiar with Fender Lonestar wiring, a 5 way super switch is employed to “auto tap” the humbucker when in position 2.  The super switch is also used to assign a 500K tone pot with a .022 uf cap to position 1 (bridge pickup), and a 250K tone pot with a .047 uf cap  to positions 2-5 (for the single coils). Below you will find our mod which takes it one step farther by putting employing a 470K resistor in parallel with the volume pot for positions 2-5.  Note: we use two 470K resistors, one for positions 2- 4 and another for position 5. The only reason this was done, was so as to integrate the mod into existing Lonestar wiring without changing any of the standard control function.

HSS Strat Wiring