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Fender Stratocaster 7-Way Switching or Gilmour Mod

Fender Stratocaster 7-Way Switching or Gilmour Mod  ·  Source: Fender

Ever wanted to make your Stratocaster more versatile tonally? How about modifying the switching on your guitar to give you new pickup combinations? The simplest of these is the 7-way switch, also known as the “Gilmour mod”. This adds more tones to your guitar with minimal modification. Even if you’ve never used a soldering iron before, you’ll be able to accomplish this quickly and easily.

The Gilmour Mod

Back in 2011, Fender Custom Shop released a David Gilmour model that used his 7-way wiring and a recessed mini switch positioned between the Volume and Tone controls of the guitar. And you can modify your Strat to get the same tones! It’s easy to do. The “neck and bridge on” setting is very similar to a Telecaster’s middle position, which is something a Strat won’t do as stock. All three pickups on in parallel is also a useful tone, too!

Switches

My first tip would be to upgrade your guitar’s switches, especially if they use those cheap Chinese plastic covered versions, as it will make them more reliable and less prone to cracking/noise. Companies like Oak Grigsby make great quality switches that I would recommend. Because they are so well made, they are easy to maintain and often used by Fender on their USA-built guitars.

If you have never used a soldering iron, then I would suggest you read my article here on the basics of soldering. You may also want to check out my article here on upgrading your potentiometers.

The neck pickup modification

This modification is so simple because it requires no rewiring of the original circuitry. All you do is add a tiny switch to the hardware that’s already there. This simple mod will keep all of your Strat controls as they are and keep your stock wiring. But it will give you seven pickup combinations instead of the standard five.  The two new pickup combinations are 1) neck/bridge and 2) all three pickups engaged simultaneously in parallel.

To add the mini-switch to your guitar, you need to drill a small hole to accommodate it on your pickguard. Just like David Gilmour did on his famous Black Strat. Then you’ll have to decide which one. There are three different mini-switch types you you can use.

First is the SPST (single-pole single-throw switch). This uses just two terminals. With a SPDT (single-pole double-throw switch), you use the centre terminal and either of the outer terminals. Last up is the DPDT (double-pole, double-throw switch). This will also work if you wire it in the same way as the SPDT switch but only use the terminals along one side.

Göldo EL11C Mini Switch SPDT

Göldo EL11C Mini Switch SPDT

Wiring

The wiring itself is simple. All you need to do is follow the simple diagram below. You can see the extra wires (red) that you must solder to add this extra neck pickup option to your existing wiring. No need to remove any of the wiring already in place, just add these extra wires to complete the modification.

With the centre pin off the mini switch, you can solder it either directly to the switch or the Volume pot lug. Because they are both ends of the same connection. The outer pin on the mini switch is wired to the neck pickup lug on the five-way switch (the red wire at the bottom top the diagram).

This mod adds your neck pickup to any of the other pickup combinations. You are essentially taking one wire and soldering it to the neck pickup contact on your five-way switch and the other wire is going to the outer lug on the same switch.

Video

Dave Gimour Mod Circuit Diagram

Dave Gilmour Mod Circuit Diagram

Video

Here’s a video by S&S Customs that takes you through the mod step by step. In this video they wire the middle red wire to the opposing lug on the 5-way switch, which is actually the same as in our diagram, above, but soldered at the other side of the switch. If you follow the ‘circuit’ you will see that the two opposite sides of the switch are actually wired together, so it will work on either of those lugs. Or as I mentioned earlier, you can just attach it to the Volume pots outer lug instead, as it too is part of the same connection. So you have three points of possible attachment to choose from.

Running into problems doing the mod? Drop me a line on the comments below.

by Jef

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David
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My first electric guitar was a Gibson firebrand’ the Paul. Solid walnut body. And yes it was heavy but I sold it for $200. With the great little guild amplifier I had bought with it and a little compression box that was custom made. But when your ship is sinking you gotta do what you gotta do. But I have a Mexican strat that I’ve had for some years now and I really enjoy it. I’m not crazy about the fender pick-ups but the bottom pick up is a Symour Duncan someone else had put in before I bought it.… Read more »

Mike Stewart
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I have this setup on my strat I went with David allan echos pickups and instead of installing a switch I have the push pull volume pot. Much cleaner and no surgery.

D in /va
Guest

why not tell the viewer which way to orient the switch at the start ? No need to check it at all if it is done right, and if it is a ‘flip a coin’ guess, you may have to rotate the switch or re-solder the connections…. why have to bother taking a guess?

Guest
Guest

The image captioned as a SPDT switch is actually a DPDT switch (it has six lugs, instead of just 3 shown in the wiring diagram and as there would be on SPDT swtich)

Matt
Guest

What is the wiring that this is supposed to be added to (i.e. what wiring are you expecting the guitar to already have)? I have a custom HSS with non-standard wiring. So, I’m wondering how I would need to mod your suggestion in order to play around with this idea.

Matt
Guest

Never mind. I realized where I became confused. I over complicated it. I understand that it doesn’t matter how it is wired. I just need to connect those two wires to the volume and wherever my neck pickup is wired.

Raa
Guest

Hey there, really love this detailed instructions for this mod. I do have a question.

My strat is a new player series HSS but they did make the humbucker as a coil split for position 2.

So I’m position one – it is just the humbucker
Position 2 – its coil split inner coil and combined with the middle pickup.

If I did this mod, position two with the neck on will work fine, but will there be any issues running the neck on while the humbucker Is on as well?

john
Guest

Hi.ive just added a gilmour mod to my squier affinity.went well for first attempt.tried the same mod on my squier bullet and whenever i switch the mod switch on i lose the neck pick up,getting annoyed now,maybe im using bad solder?please advise….cheers…john

David
Guest

Hi Jeff, thank you for providing this. My question is: my guitar presently has HSH configuration, with a 5 way switch plus a mini toggle switch to coil split the two humbuckers. If I were to swap out the existing mini toggle for one with 3 positions, could I implement both the Gilmore mod and the coil split function using the one switch, and if so which switch would I need to replace the existing two way mini toggle switch with? Otherwise, I also have a push/pull pot I could replace one of the pots with, and use that for… Read more »