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Microphone Month 5

How To: The Roland Janes/Reggie Young Strat Mod

The concept of re-wiring a Stratocaster goes back to the days of Sun Records. Roland Janes, noted rockabilly guitarist and part of the house band at Sun Studios in Memphis, and session guitarist extraordinaire Reggie Young both used this wiring change to gain maximum tonal flexibility from their Strats. In the days when 3-way pickup switches were factory installed on Strats, the only way to access the “in-between” sounds was to literally balance your pickup switch between the bridge and middle or neck and middle positions and try to find the sweet spot. At that point, don’t dare bump the switch! Also, the bridge/neck or all-three pickup combinations weren’t available, which is still true with a 5-way switch and standard Strat wiring. This simple wiring mod fixes all of those issues and it provides tone control for the bridge pickup.

The Roland Janes/Reggie Young Mod reconfigures the Strat’s 3-way pickup selector in this way: bridge pickup for position 1, bridge and neck for position 2, and neck pickup for position 3. The knob closest to the bridge pickup controls the volume for the bridge and neck pickups, the middle knob controls the volume for the middle pickup, and the third knob becomes a master tone control over all three pickups.

The best part is that this mod works just as well for a standard 5-way switch. From the underside of the switch, a 3-way and a 5-way look exactly the same so the wiring is identical. The wiring mod reconfigures the standard 5-way switch in this way: bridge pickup for position 1, neck and bridge pickups for positions 2, 3, and 4 and neck pickup for position 5. This eliminates positions 2 and 4 from being silent, which could cause some serious mishaps while changing pickups on the fly!

If your Strat has a foil-backed pickguard, which is common on most newer models, you may need to connect ground wires to all three pots and the switch. This will eliminate noises, hum, and faulty grounding through the thin foil.

Enjoy the new tonal options on your Strat!

NOTE: If you are unsure of how to proceed with re-wiring your guitar, please have the work done by a qualified tech. Sweetwater is not responsible for damage to your instrument or any other negative results from performing this or other mods! Modifying your guitar will void the warranty.

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