First Act ME301 Guitar Review


You may not know it, but First Act makes a lot of products. They are a musical instrument manufacturer. First Act produces Guitars, Basses, Drum Kits, Percussion instruments, Amplifiers, and an array of different accessories. First Act was founded in 1995, so they have been around a while. Today we are going to take a look at one of their guitars.

This is the ME301. Read More

Zoom HD16 Review and Walk Through

Zoom HD16

Multi-Track Digital Recorder

I actually wanted to get the Zoom MRS 1608. I suppose like some of you out there, I was reading about it and wanting to get it, but the price always had it on the wish list. Then I finally was ready to purchase it, and it became obsolete because of the Zoom HD16. Electronics and technology moves by so fast that, ya know what? This is now obsolete by the R16 and R24, but I think I’ll keep mine.

Zoom products, for as long as I can remember, have always been a quality product with more features than a man or woman can use. When I was looking for a home studio recorder  I naturally looked at prices. Their price initially drew me in, but after checking out the features, I was sold on it even if it would have cost more.

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5 Way Switches Explained

5-way Switches Explained

How 5-way switches work

On some of the guitars and basses, the manufacturers use a 5-way selector switch. You may be wanting to put one in as a replacement,  incorporating it into a project guitar, or maybe inquiring minds just want to know. For whatever reason, if you want to know what’s going on in there, read on…

Let’s look at some typical 5-way switches. Below is the Fender 5-way switch that is found on some of their guitars:

Understanding how the 5-way switch on a guitar works will help you in wiring your guitar. There are two common types of 5-way selector switches in the guitar world, the Fender type and the “import” type. Both of these are functionally identical but are different in physical layout. You can easily identify which type you’re dealing with. The Fender-type switch (when viewed from below) have two rows of 4 contacts on the circular body of the switch, and the import-type switch has a single row of 8 contacts.

Most Fender-type switches are usually found in Fender guitars, but are easily available so they could find their way into any guitar. There are a lot of Strat-styled guitars and the Fender switch might find its way into any of them.

Import-type switches are often found in other brands (like Ibanez). Below is a typical Import-type 5-way switch:


There is also a rotary 5 way switch, but I have never seen one actually working in a guitar, But if you wired one in, it would work.

The Basics:

A 5-way switch is actually a place where connections are relayed from one place to another.They are mechanically connected within the assembly. The contacts are connected and disconnected by the lever of the component.

A 5-way selector switch is not technically a 5-way switch, it’s a 3-way switch.Actually a 2-pole 3-way switch. Perhaps this will help you understand that:

The switch is just making the same connections twice and relaying them. If there is 3 pickups (like on the Strat) it connects the 3 pickups twice. When wired up in the conventional way, it will connect the pickups as follows:

  • Switch pointing toward Bridge         –           Bridge pickup only
  • Switch up one notch from Bridge    –           Bridge and Middle pickup
  • Switch in the Middle                             –           Middle pickup only
  • Switch up one notch from Middle   –           Middle pickup and Neck pickup
  • Switch pointing toward Neck            –          Neck pickup only

Of course you can feel free to express yourself and try different ways to wire it. You may just find something you like.


A Bit of history:

The original Fender Stratocaster had 2-pole 3-way switches and were intended to only select the neck, middle or bridge pickup. When the switch was moved from one position to the next, the last contact was made before the next contact was broken. People found that if you could position the switch in between the three positions, you could actually have both the neck and middle, or middle and bridge pickups connected at the same time! It became common to rest the 3-way switch in between the positions; so common in fact that in the 60’s people were filing notches in the detente mechanism of the 3-way switch to achieve that in between position. These became the “notch” positions. In the 70’s, Fender adopted this popular switching style in their stock switch thus becoming what we now use and call a “5-way” switch.


How to wire it up:

Before you begin, remember that the Fender-type and import-type switches are functionally identical. The only difference is in the physical layout of the contacts. The schematics are the same for both switches, but the switches are different as you can see by the photos.

The schematics might be labeled 1, 3, and 5 (with 2 and 4 being the in-betweens) or they might be labeled B, M, and N (which stands for Bridge, Middle and Neck). The best way of working out which contact is which is by using a multimeter and see for yourself which contacts as you sweep the switch through the 5 positions. On the Fender-type and some import-type switches you can see which contact is are being made. If the switch is open or see through, you will be able to see which contacts are being made by the wiper. This method of visualizing the switch also helps when it comes time to oriented the switch in the right direction.

I have an upcoming section on wiring schematics and doing the actual soldering that might be helpful. I will provide the links here once it’s done.

I hope this was informative and helped you out. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to ask.

Till next time, take care…





Adjusting the Height of the Pickups


After adjusting the action and string height, you should adjust the height of the pickups. If the pickups are too close to the strings, the magnetic field can cause undesirable distortion.Another by-product of a pickup being too close to the strings is that it can kill your sustain. The strong magnetic field will pull on the string causing it to stop vibrating prematurely. When checking the distance between the pickup and the string, always do so with the string pushed down at the last fret (the fret closest to the pickup). This is where the string will be the closest to the pickup. This is when you make your measurements and settings. Measure from the top of the pickup to the bottom of the string.

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Adjusting the Intonation

First of all, I would like to say that most acoustic guitars do not have adjustable saddles, the solid bridge is fixed and therefore, if the intonation is out, you may just have to live with it.

The intonation refers to the guitar being in tune with itself. The frets of the guitar have been placed at a specific place depending on the guitar’s scale. A guitar’s scale length  (or any fretted instrument) is the distance between the nut (or the open string) and the bridge’s saddle. In order to accurately determine an instrument’s scale length, measure from the front edge of the nut to the center of the 12th fret and double the result. This measurement not only determines where the frets are placed for proper intonation, but also has a profound effect on string tension and tone. I will give you an example:

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Ibanez RG370DX


I have had this guitar since 2008 and although I could have written a review a long time ago, I never did and I thought it was about time. At least by me waiting, you will know how it stood the test of time. They were originally made in Korea in 2002 and all the years after, Indonesia. Mine was made in Indonesia.

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