Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Squier Fender Strat switches and knobs

I just got a new Fender Strat made by Squier, from Guitar Center. It was part of the Strat Pack. This is a standard Fender Stratocaster design, but it is made in Indonesia to encourage fair labor standards. Just kidding, it's for the low cost. A decent American-made Fender will set you back over $1000, but a Hecho en Mexico model is somewhat less, and then these are an entry-level option for essentially the same design, but made in Indonesia. I am just getting started in electric guitar, so I opted for the low-priced model. The Strat Pack, for $250, included the guitar, 15-watt practice amp, strap, bag, picks, whammy, tuner, and an extra set of strings, along with an ultra-beginner "fender method" guitar-playing book. What it did not include, however, was instructions on how to use the dang thing. I don't mean play it, because coming from an acoustic guitar I was familiar with the concept of frets, chords, and strumming. What I mean is, what do all those damn knobs and buttons do? There was no instruction along those lines in the Strat Pack. So, after literally hours of searching the internet, I was able to find the answer, and have reproduced it here. The Squier Strat mimics the Standard Stratocaster found here, which site also has wiring diagrams and whatnot in case you need those.

Pickups
Starting with the basics, the standard strat design has three single-coil pickups. These are labeled number 6 in the diagram. The topmost one is the neck pickup, the middle one is just called the middle one, and the bottom one is the bridge pickup. The switch, labeled 5 in the diagram, has five positions available. By switching it to the top position (closest to the neck), this activates the neck pickup only, so that any sound picked up by the other two pickups is not sent to the amp. The next click on the switch turns on both the neck pickup and the middle pickup. The third position activates just the middle pickup. The fourth position activates the middle and bridge pickups, and finally the fifth position activates just the bridge pickup.

Hum
Since they are single-coil pickups, there is a natural 60hz hum that will occur whenever any single pickup is selected. Special humbucker coils are available which are wound in two different directions and cancel out each others' hum. Short of that, most Stratocasters have the middle pickup wired in the reverse direction from the other two, and whenever you select position two or four, the hum is cancelled out.

Tone
Meanwhile, the tone knobs also work in conjunction with the pickups, and consequently are affected by the pickup selector switch. The tone knob labeled 3 in the diagram works with the neck pickup only, so it is only active when the switch is in the first or second position. The other tone knob labeled 2 in the diagram will adjust the tone for the middle and bridge pickups. Having the tone turned up to 10 will bring out all the rich, clean tones from the pickups, but turning them down will mute the sounds somewhat. Experiment with these knobs to get the sound you are looking for. Naturally when the pickup selector switch is not selecting the appropriate pickup, the corresponding tone knob does nothing.

Volume
The knob labeled 4 in the diagram is for volume. Set this in the middle and adjust the amp accordingly, so that you can turn volume up or down directly from the Strat body.

Whammy
Screw the whammy bar into the hole in the bridge, labeled 11 in the diagram, made for that purpose. Don't screw it in too tight or it will damage the bridge. Leave it one turn from tight, so it will fall by itself when you let go of it. To use the whammy, press down or pull up on it. This will bend all notes that are currently ringing out either down or up, respectively.

Amp
The FrontMan 15 amp which comes with the upgraded strat pack is suitable for a practice amp, which means it's plenty loud for old fogies like me. The cord connects from the output jack, labeled 1 in the diagram, to the input jack on the amp. The amp has two main modes, selectable by a pushbutton on the front. It has treble and bass adjustments, too, but the dirty/clean sound is the most radical difference. Out, you get a clean sound; in you get something like the effect of a distortion pedal, great for that "Iron Man" powerchord sound. When out, the volume control works, when in, the gain and dirty volume work together for varying levels of distortion/loudness. The highest gain is the dirtiest sound, and of course the regular volume does not work in this mode, but the other volume controls that.

Rounding out the diagram
The remaining parts of the diagram are: 7, frets, 8, neck, 9, keys, and 10, headstock. Number 1 is where you connect the amp to the guitar, by plugging in the included cord. To adjust the tuning of each string, turn the keys in one direction or the other to get a higher or lower pitch until it is in tune. The included tuner helps with this for standard tuning. To play a note, strum the string(s) you want to sound, with your fingers in between the appropriate fret bars. Rarely, you will actually want to put your finger on the fret bar. Now go take some lessons.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I got the same instruction-less pack, thanks for the helpful guide.

Anonymous said...

It sucks whats number one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Number 1 is where you put the lead in.. duh..

elhaf said...

Sorry, fixed that. As anonymous says...

Martin said...

yah thanks alot. I tried to google to find out what all the buttons meant, and how the tremolo works, then I found this. Thanks alot.

One question, how do you know if you break the bridge when attachin the tremolo? I took it one turn too far I think, when I read this I made it looser again and tuned it, still works fine and everything. What exactly can break, and how do I know if it does? Thanks :)

elhaf said...

If you turn the whammy bar one turn too far I think it will be OK. I think the issue is that it won't work properly when in that position, but if you unscrew it again it will be fine. Don't quote me on that, though.

patersin666 said...

ehh... question... i got a fender strat standard and i cant get the tone knobs to work.. like no different tone variation at all.... what do i need to do?

elhaf said...

Keep in mind that each tone knob is associated only with the neck, or the middle and bridge, pickups only. So make sure you are turning the right knob with the right selector switch position.

Anonymous said...

Hugely helpful. I also recently bought this guitar (sans pack) to relive the youth I never had. Even as a solo purchase, the instructions are non-existent. IMO, a completely terrible oversight by Fender (who doesn't post this info on their site either). Good guitar to start or re-start on, though!

Daniel said...

Pretty sure that the tone knob (labelled 2) only affects the middle pickup, not middle and bridge. Excellent info apart from that though, thank you very much. =)

Jalex said...

Bought an american standard strat...same lack of explanation. I had an idea of what things did, but I like to see it written so I am not making assumptions.

http://www.fender.com/support/instruments.php

I also found the 1970's downloadable manual to have a good explanation.

Jalex said...

Download the switching/tone controls here.
http://www.fender.com/support/wiring_diagrams_parts_lists.php#stratocaster

This is a 2000 document but really nicely done.

fireb0x said...

Just picked up a Squire and looked at it confused when I pulled it out of the case. Thanks very much for this guide. I have a Marshall amp but was able to decipher the equivalent knobs using your guide. Thanks very much!

Anonymous said...

very helpful, just starting out so great to find your page

Anonymous said...

I think the bridge pickup isnt connected to a tone pot, thats what i hear on ultimate-guitar.com. Yet on my strat copy if i put it onto the bridge pickup the 2nd knob does seem to effect it, maybe its the wiring but i'm not complaining. Just bought a pre-wired scratch plate with nicer pickups on to install and will see if the bridge is effected by the tone knob. Thanks though and if its any help to anyone theres a nice wiring diagram for strats on axesrus.com just cick on diagrams and scroll down til you find yours

sue said...

thank you!

crazyhorse said...

hey thanks! this is exactly what I was looking for

Anonymous said...

Thanks a million times, man.
I've searched the youtube for a whole hour hoping that somebody would explain the knobs and switches on a strat.

Thank you, it is very useful !

SUNDANCE said...

I got that Squier about 16 years ago, I had to figure it out all on my own,
Would have been great to have this info back then.

SUNDANCE said...

Adding a Reverb pedal makes a great addition to the distortion on the amp

Jake said...

Thanks dude I couldn't tell what the "tone" knobs did. One question though does the same rule apply for all guitars? I don't meen to sound stupid but I'm only 14 and realy don't know. This realy did help though, again thanks.

Anonymous said...

many thanks, sorted my problems too!

Anonymous said...

Thank a bunch fella,searched high an low this imfo.

Oswald said...

This is a standard Fender Stratocaster design, but it is made in ... fenderbridge.blogspot.com

Merrin H said...

And years later you are still getting complemented !! Many thanks, excellent guide