MOD YOUR KC JAGUAR (series/parallel, split coil)
This mod is a walk through for those of you who would like to add some versatility to the KC Jaguar. The stock configuration is setup so that both pickups are wired to series, giving you a FAT sound that works excellent if you’re playing distorted, going for slight overdrive or going for mellow cleans, but that’s about it. For this reason I’ve been very reluctant to play my KC Jag’s with content. Especially knowing the endless possibilities the layout of the guitar leaves open for you. This mod will make each pickup switchable from series, to parallel, to split (single coil) using two 2-position slide switches (one in the vacant position on the toggle plate, one replacing the rhythm switch) and a pull switch control in place of the main tone control. Doing this mod will also eliminate the “rhythm” section controls, which in my opinion is no big loss what so ever. One note to make is that you will not be able to blend a split coiled humbucker with the other humbucker in “series” mode, because both pickups must be set to the series position in order to tap the coils for single coil operation from both pickups. The option is possible if you feel like swapping out the two volume controls instead. I personally didn’t want to swap out both of the volume controls for switching controls for each pickup so I left the coil tapping of both pickups to the tone control only, just to keep things simple. This mod is nothing special, unless you count going from the 4 sounds the guitar can give you stock, to about 18 sounds with this mod. All I can say is that I am now fully content with the sound of this guitar. And for those willing to do this mod, I hope you will be too. I modified my righty KC Jag first, and that took me about 1hr 15min. But that included drawing out the switching configurations from scratch. On my second time around with my lefty, it took me about 58min from the time I laid the guitar on the bench to the time I strummed the first note through an amp to check my sounds. PLEASE: IF YOU ARE A NOVICE, USE CAUTION WITH THE SOLDERING IRON AND MATERIALS; YOU MAY INJURE YOURSELF, DAMAGE THE GUITAR, OR EVEN RUIN COMPONENTS IN THE PROCESS. DO NOT GET IN TOO DEEP IF YOU ARE NOT READY. THIS MOD IS MEANT TO IMPROVE YOUR GUITAR, NOT RUIN IT. All work can be performed without lifting the pickguard completely or even detuning the strings. So for all you guys with the skills, have fun, those of you just starting, good luck!
#1 PREP WORK
Gather your materials: Have a well lit area to work in. You’ll need a soldering iron, solder, solder sucker, wire cutters, wire strippers, Phillips head screw driver, slip joint pliers, mini needle nose pliers, 1ft of shielded wire, an ALL PARTS 500k push/pull DPDT switch control, 2 DPDT slide switches (fender part #0017079000), 3ft of single light gauge wire, (2) 1meg resistors (optional), and a rag or thick paper towel to keep solder off the guitar should it drip from the site you’re working. If I’m forgetting anything, I’ll bring it up as we go along.
Assume the position: I found it best to have the guitar in front of you with the neck going off to the left of you, whether it’s a lefty or righty. Unscrew the 5 pickguard screws on the lower side of the pickguard (you’ll see why later). Unscrew all the chrome covers from the guitar (and place the screws together in an area that will not be disturbed) and get familiar with the components. All plates should be able to lift up enough to turn them upside down if turned the right way. Do not force the plates if the wires are giving you a hard time, you may have a hung up wire or another plate is pulled out too far, thus shortening your slack elsewhere. If you want to have a Jaguar schematic handy, that’s ok, but this guitar is more of a mix between a Jaguar and a Gibson, so the normal jaguar schematic will give you a general idea of the layout, especially the rhythm circuit, but that’s about it. Note where wires are going to, how things are laid out, and general operations. Take pictures if you want, but I recommend taking notes and drawing diagrams of what you see. That way you have a reference if you need to back track for any reason.
#2 GET TO WORK
Let’s start with the Super Distortion (bridge) pickup. Note that the four conductor wire for this pickup is located at the center control of the lower control plate. The center control is the bridge volume control. The RED (hot) wire is connecting to the wafer tab opposite of the tab soldered to the casing (not the thicker red wire connected to the wiper in the center), the GREEN and BARE (ground) wires are soldered to the control casing, the BLACK and WHITE wires are soldered together and have the white heat shrink tubing over it. Unsolder the THIN RED wire from the tab. Unsolder the GREEN and BARE wires (they should stay together) from the casing. Once the four conductor wire is free, you’ll need to move it over to the toggle switch section. I found the easiest way to perform this task was to lift up the lower edge of the pickguard and simply feed the wire from the one cavity to the other using a pendulum motion, holding the wire with one hand and swinging it out past the pickguard until you reach the toggle section, then simply push it through to the cavity. Once the wire is in the toggle switch cavity, check to make sure the pickguard is flush with the body, ensuring no wires have gotten caught between the body and the pickguard. You can at this point screw in the 5 pickguard screws if you wish or leave it unscrewed in case you can’t feed the added shielded wire through the channel easily. So now you have you’re four conductor wire in the toggle cavity, prepare your new DPDT slide switch. There are six tabs to this switch. Two tabs are going to need a jumper wire. AS I DESCRIBE THE SWITCH, THE ORIENTATION WILL ALWAYS BE WITH THE TABS FACING YOU AND THE JUMPER GOING FROM LOWER LEFT TO CENTER RIGHT. So solder your jumper wire from the CENTER RIGHT and feed the other end to the LOWER LEFT, but do not solder that end yet. Take the RED, BLACK and WHITE wires of the four conductor wire and cut them evenly using the white heat shrink tube as a cutting point. Once those wires are of nice even length, strip the ends, twist the stranded wire, and tin them with solder. Now wire the switch while it is not installed. First the easier connections: Solder the BLACK wire to the CENTER LEFT tab. Next, solder the WHITE wire to the unsoldered end of the jumper wire on the LOWER LEFT tab. Easy enough. Now, prep your added shielded wire. Strip one end for soldering to the new switch and feed the rest through to the lower control plate side. The ground of the new shielded wire will be soldered to UPPER LEFT tab with the GREEN and BARE wires from the pickup. The hot of the new shielded wire will be soldered to the UPPER RIGHT tab with the RED wire from the pickup. So to review:
UPPER LEFT = GREEN and BARE from pickup, New Shield/Ground to control
CENTER LEFT = BLACK from pickup
LOWER LEFT = WHITE from pickup, one end of jumper wire
UPPER RIGHT = RED from pickup, New HOT wire to control through shielded wire
CENTER RIGHT = Other end of jumper wire
LOWER RIGHT = COIL TAP WIRE (to be wired later)
Your switch in now wired. Make your new shielded wire connections at the control. Strip the end and solder the new HOT to where the RED wire was going to (which is now the only empty tab on that control) and solder the ground right to the casing. Now, carefully using the slip joint pliers, unscrew the nut holding the toggle assembly together. I’ve found it loosened up pretty easily and no marks were left on the nut. Remove the assembly from the plate and keep the hardware together off to the side. There is a black cover over the entire plate meant to black out the empty slide switch hole. Unscrew the 2 nut and screws where the slide switch goes. KEEP THE SCREWS and mount your new switch in the hole. I prefer to have my PARALLEL in the DOWN position, and SERIES in the UP position, Which ever way you deicide you want it, the side with the jumper wire is the SERIES side. So now that your switch is mounted, remount your toggle assembly. I have not had any issues with the toggle and the slide switches touching, but check your work and make sure nothing is touching each other. Your bridge pickup is now switchable from series to parallel.
#3 NECK SWITCH AND RHYTHM CIRCUIT ELIMINATION
Now for the PAF (neck) pickup. Note that the four conductor wire is located in the upper control cavity. The WHITE (hot) wire from the pickup is going to the CENTER RIGHT on the rhythm circuit slide switch, and the BLACK and BARE wires are tied together and soldered to the control casing. First thing, and I did this to keep a reference or if I ever decide to return this to stock for any reason, cut all wires leading to this switch leaving a 1/10 of an inch of each wire color on each tab for future reference and remove the switch (again, save the screws). Now, clean it up. Take the disconnected BLUE and GREEN wires leading to the upper thumb wheel controls and either tape them off or throw some heat shrink tubing on them to keep them neat and isolated. Next, locate the THICK WHITE wire (NOT the THIN WHITE wire from the pickup) and the THICK ORANGE wire, strip them back, twist the strands, tin the ends (and if you are using heat shrink tube, remember to slide it on before you solder) and solder the ends together, this has officially eliminated the rhythm circuit. Now wire your new neck pickup switch. Same deal, insert a jumper wire and solder one end to the CENTER RIGHT tab, feed the other end to the LOWER LEFT tab, but don’t solder that end yet. Locate your four conductor wire and cut the WHITE, GREEN, and RED wires to an even length, strip, twist the braids, and tin the ends. Easiest wires first; solder the GREEN wire to CENTER LEFT tab. Solder the RED wire to other end of the jumper on LOWER LEFT. Locate the THICK YELLOW wire and prep the end. Solder the THICK YELLOW wire and the WHITE wire from the pickup to the UPPER RIGHT tab. The left over BLACK and Bare wires will go to the UPPER LEFT tab, but you also need to add a short jumper wire from that tab to the control casing ground that the BLACK and BARE wires were previously soldered to, this is your ground, so do not forget make this connection. Now install your new switch in your desired orientation (jumper is located on the series side) So to review;
UPPER LEFT = BLACK and BARE from pickup, New Jumper Wire to Ground/Casing of control
CENTER LEFT = GREEN from pickup
LOWER LEFT = RED from pickup, one end of jumper wire
UPPER RIGHT = WHITE from pickup, THICK YELLOW
CENTER RIGHT = Other end of jumper wire
LOWER RIGHT = COIL TAP WIRE (to be wired later)
Your neck pickup is now wired for series/parallel operation.
#4 TAP THAT SH#T!!!!!!!!!!
At this point the guitar is ready to rock, but if you’ve come this far, then why not go a little further. Coil tapping is essentially taking a humbucker and turning it into a single coil pickup, hum and all, yay! I’ve kept this part simple, so again, it’s easily reversible should I ever want to return it to stock. Here you will need to swap out the 1meg tone control with a 500k push/pull DPDT control. So go back over to the lower control cavity and note that one end of the tone control has a cap that is being soldered to the casing, and the WHITE wire from the jack, and the WHITE wire from the wire channel are both soldered to the center tab. Unsolder the cap from the casing, then from the tab. If you have any trouble with removing the cap from the tab because it is wrapped around it, just cut it close to the tab, leaving enough legs on the cap. Unsolder both WHITE wires from the center tab. Remove the control using a mini flat head screw driver for the knob and a driver on the nut (or carefully use pliers). Changing the tone control from 1meg to 500k is of no serious consequence. Prep your new switching tone control. Just like the slide switches, this control has six legs for its switch. UPPER will refer to the tabs closest to the control itself. Make your ground connections. Take a piece of wire and run it through both UPPER tabs closest to the control leaving enough wire to go from one tab, through the other, and then straight over to the side of the casing of the switch. Solder the wire to both tabs and then solder the other end right to the casing, then cut the excess if any. This is your ground for the coil tapping. Now install the cap from the one side of the control to the casing as well. Now install the new control with the tabs facing the jack (it will fit back into the cavity better this way). Solder both of the WHITE wires back to the center tab (the wiper) of the new tone control. Next you’ll need about 3ft of wire. I didn’t bother using shielded wire since the body is well shielded and it’s for a single coil operation any how, so there will be some hum. Now, cut the wire so you have one 1ft piece and one 2ft piece. Prep one end of each, then solder one to the CENTER LEFT tab and one to the CENTER RIGHT tab, it doesn’t matter which goes to which side because it’s a dual operation when engaged. Now snake both wires over to the toggle cavity. Cut and prep the 1ft wire and solder that to the unused LOWER RIGHT tab of the new bridge switch. Next feed the 2ft wire through the channel past the neck pickup to exit out of the upper control cavity. Cut and prep the wire. Solder to the unused LOWER RIGHT tab of the new neck switch. Now, when the tone control is pulled while the switches are set to series, you’ll go to single coil operation. Put the knob on the new tone control.
#5 CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF
I’ll address at this point that I also knocked down the volume controls to 500k’s by adding a 1meg resistor across each control’s outer tabs. That’s strictly user preference. I decided to do that so that no matter what setting I was in, it would sound decent. A 1 meg control when in single coil mode can get a little funky, jaguar pickups excluded. Now, check all of your connections. When satisfied, screw all the plates back in, but be on the lookout for wires that are preventing any of the plates from going back into place. Once done, plug into a clean amp and check out each pickup as such: toggle switch down, note the bridge pick up is on, slide your new bridge switch in the opposite direction, depending on how you installed your switch, it should get louder or softer. REMEMBER: SERIES IS FAT AND MELLOW, PARALLEL IS THINNER AND CLEAN. Once you’ve confirmed the switch is operating correctly and you are happy with its orientation, move the toggle to the neck position and perform the same task. Once the neck checks out, then play around a bit with the toggle in the middle position and your neck and bridge pickups in either series or parallel modes, soooo many sounds, so little time! Next, check your coil tap. Set each pickup switch to the fatter SERIES mode, checking the bridge pickup first, move the toggle to the down position, now pull your tone control upwards to engaged the coil tap switch. You should hear some hum through the amp or you can test the coil with a screwdriver. Just tap on the pole pieces of each side of the pickup, one side is solid and one side has the slot heads. Only one of these poles should make a “loud” pop when touched by a screw driver. You may hear something in the “off” side, but it’s only sympathetic noise through the working pickup. As long as one pole is way louder when touched than the other, then you’re good. Do the same for the neck pickup. Also note that in single coil mode, the middle toggle position should defeat the hum as well with the two pickups on at the same time.
#6 IT’S BETTER TO MOD OUT THAN TO STOCK AWAY
At this point, you should be basking in the glow of a super versatile guitar. The sounds are many, the applications are many. Before, I was very selective about what songs this guitar would even be useful for, and I thought it a shame because it looks so bad ass!!!! But now I can say it sounds just as good as it looks. I hope this mod has helped those like myself who wanted more from this guitar. I know they were just basing the wiring off of Kurt’s guitar and that means chances are his guitar was the same one trick pony that this guitar seemed to be, even sans the taped down switches, you weren’t left with much. But with this mod, you can go from stock series, to parallel, to coil tap, to most places in between, essentially opening the floodgates of possibilities. I have some pics but I’m not at all savvy enough to label each one, but I'll keep them in order if I post them. So with that, I hope nobody f#cked up (because you’re really missing out) and to those who
finished..... congratulations on a job well done!