Ask HBS: Fender Mustang Tone Knob Only Affects Bridge Pickup

Fender Mustang tone knob

Reader Question:

I would like to modify the wiring of my Fender Mustang tone knob so that it affects only the bridge pickup. It’s a newer model and I have attached the wiring diagram from Fender. Is this an easy mod? Is it even possible?


Mike in Kansas City


Hello Mike, I’ve been looking through all of the diagrams I could find, and I even tried to invent something, but unfortunately, there is no easy way to do what you are asking. I do have some things you can try, though.

Many Fender Strats use different tone controls based on the pickup selection, through clever use of the 5-way switch, but the Fender Mustang uses a three-way toggle switch, and there is no easy way to convert it to a five-way.

Possible Solutions for Your Fender Mustang Tone Knob Modification

1. You can use a no-load pot for your tone control.

Standard pots still drain your signal and are still slightly “on” even when it’s turned up. A no-load pot fixes this problem and completely removes the component from the circuit when at max.

If you leave the tone control all the way up while you use the neck pickup, it will be as if you have no tone control. This solution doesn’t require any special wiring, and you install this tone control in exactly the same way that you would if you were installing a standard one.

2. You can use a push-pull pot.

The push-pull pot is our recommended solution for your tone knob modification because as long as it fits into the control cavity, you have the flexibility of removing it, since it’s non-permanent. By changing the pot and completing the simple wiring seen in Example 1, you can enable and disable the tone control by pulling out the knob. This mod will allow you to quickly turn off the tone when you use the neck pickup.

One downside to using these push-pull pots is that it might be hard to find the 375k value that the Fender Mustang uses. A 500k pot will result in a brighter tone, while a 250k pot will result in a darker one.

Example 1

3. You can use a mini-toggle switch.

This Fender Mustang Tone knob modification is basically the same as the last one, but instead of a push-pull pot, you’re using a mini-toggle switch. By the look of the new Fender Mustangs, there is plenty of room to install the switch behind the pickguard, or even the metal control plate. You would wire it so it looks like Example 2. A push-pull pot is just a standard pot with a toggle switch built in, so you’ll see that both wiring diagrams look very similar.

If none of these examples work for you, try to find a pickguard that holds a five-way switch. If you do, and you’re able to get the mod to work, please let us know; we’d love to hear from you.

Ed Malaker Our resident electronics wizard came by his skills honestly — first as an apprentice in his father’s repair shop, later as a working musician and (most recently) as a sound designer for film. His passion for guitar led him to Humbucker Soup, where he continues to decode the wonders of wiring and the vicissitudes of voltage. Ed has never taken his guitar to a shop — he already knows how to fix it.