The FAT-O-Caster V.2 (c) Users Manual & Guide

What it is:

The FAT-O-Caster V.2 (c) is a four position ROTARY switch that expands the potential pickup combinations available in your Stratocaster or other "S-type" guitar. It installs where one of your old tone controls was. The FAT-O-Caster (c) does NOT replace your 5-way pickup selector switch - your 5-way still works just like it always did. The FAT-O-Caster V.2 (c) works in conjunction WITH the 5-way to give you new combinations. You lose a tone control, but gain a lot of tones!

The traditional Strat 5-way selector gives you only 5 of the seven parallel combinations possible, and no series or out-of-phase connections. With the FAT-O-Caster (c), you can get all seven parallel combinations, PLUS series, series/parallel, and out of phase settings,  for a total of TWELVE different pickup combinations.

That's a lot of tones!

BEST OF ALL, NO NEW HOLES!

Just put your old tone knob back on the FAT-O-Caster V.2 (c) switch, and your Strat looks completely stock!


INSTALLATION:

Take off your pickguard.
To wire your lower tone as a "master" tone (like a Telecaster):

AT THE 5-WAY:
1. Move the lower tone control's lead from the mid pup’s lug on the tone side of the five-way over to the COMMON lug on the pups' side of the five-way.
2. Remove the lead from the center tone control at the neck pup’s lug on the tone side of the five-way.

AT THE CENTER POT:
3. Remove the ground leads from the back of the center tone pot.
4. Clip any jumpers between the center and lower tone pot.
5. Remove the center pot and mount the FAT-O in its place.

AT THE LOWER POT:
6. Run an insulated wire (this is the new ground lead) from the back of the volume pot to the lower tone pot,
leaving enough slack to rout it around the FAT-O.
7. Wire a tone capacitor with one leg on the center lug of the tone pot and one leg on the back of the tone pot (ground).

You will need to be sure that the routing in your body will clear the bottom of the switch - it does on MIM and American Strats, but if you have a brand X import, some careful work with a dremil tool - or even a drill - might be in order (you also may have to enlarge the hole in the pickguard, if your guitar was assembled with "mini-pots").

WIRING THE FAT-O-Caster V.2 (c) SWITCH:

Unsolder the bridge pup leads from where they are currently in your guitar and solder them to the center lugs on the FAT-O-Caster V.2 (c) switch. Be sure you get the "positive" (hot) side - usually white - on lug “1,” and the "negative" (ground) on lug "2" (next one clockwise, see drawing). Unsolder the ground lead on the middle pickup and solder it to lug "3" on the FAT-O-Caster V.2 (c) switch.

NOTE: Sometimes there is not enough wire on the ground leads to make it to the FAT-O, so just add on a little "tail" to the lead to get there. Be sure you insulate the solder joint on this "tail" to prevent contact with the pots or any other grounded surface in the control cavity – black electrical tape will do…

Three wire pups? MOST COMMONLY, two of the three leads are twisted together and soldered to ground. You will have to determine which wire of the two that goes to ground is actually the coil’s “-” lead, and which is the ground/shield drain. The easiest way to do this is to unsolder them from ground and separate them. With a multimeter set in the 20k ohm range, touch one probe to the pickup’s “+” lead, and then try the other probe on each of the other leads. The pickup’s “-” lead should show you the impedance reading for the pickup – typically between 6k and 8k for a Strat. The ground lead will show “open” – no resistance, no continuity. Solder the ground lead back to ground, and solder the pup’s “-” lead to the switch as instructed above.

THE FAT-O'S PREWIRED LEADS:

The white lead from the FAT-O-Caster V.2 (c) Switch goes to the bridge pup’s spot on the 5-way - where you just removed its "positive" (hot) lead.

The red lead is soldered to the 5-way switch. It goes on the FIRST lug of the second pole of the selector switch (second row of lugs, the side used to connect the tone pots). This is the lug where the neck's tone pot was connected. Run a jumper from this lug to the bridge lug (the third lug) on this side of the 5-way (see drawing).

The black lead is added to the neck pup's lug on the 5-way. It's the wire that will route the "negative" lead of the bridge and middle pups back through the neck pup for the "series" settings.

The bare wire is soldered to (any) ground.

Put your pickguard back on, and you're ready to rip!


How it works:

To reference the rest of these instructions,
we'll say that the pickup selections on the 5-way are numbered like this:
(1) = neck; (2) = neck and middle; (3) = middle; (4) = middle and bridge; (5) = bridge.

Basically, it re-routes the hot and ground leads of the BRIDGE pickup (and the ground of the MIDDLE pup) to different places in the guitar's curcuitry. Each of the four "clicks" connects the pickups' leads to a specific point in the guitar's wiring to get the desired combination of pickups and series/parallel wiring. These "clicks" - I call them "NOTCHES" - are named for how they route the pickups into the circuit.

The NOTCHES:

NOTCH ONE (tone control on "10") is "NORMAL"
It is selected when you have the knob turned completely CLOCKWISE. The FAT-O-Caster routes the Bridge pup's hot to the 5-way switch (where it would be, stock), and its ground to the guitar's ground, along with the Middle pup's ground.. Plain ol' Strat tones.

NOTCH TWO (tone control at "9") is "Bridge with Neck"
It is the first "click" as you turn the knob COUNTER-CLOCKWISE . This jumpers the bridge pup's hot to the neck end of the 5-way, so that when you select the neck pup, you get the bridge pup as well. As you work the your Strat's 5-way pup selector switch, from neck to bridge, you will hear: (1) Neck and Bridge; (2) Neck, Middle and Bridge pups; (3) Middle; (4) Middle and Bridge; (5)Bridge alone.

Those FIRST two tones are the tones EVERY Strat player sez they wish they had!

NOTCH THREE ( tone control at about "8") is "ALL THREE SERIES!"
In (2) and ( 1), you hear the Neck alone.
In (3), you have the ALL THREE PUPS IN SERIES.
In (4) and (5) on the 5-way, you will get the Bridge and Neck pup in SERIES.

Pickups wired in series make the current flow through first one coil and then the other, effectively doubling the resistance/impeadence of the circuit. In a very real way, the Neck and Bridge (or Neck and Middle) coils become rather like a single big humbucker! This is usually characterised as a "fatter" sound than that produced by a single-coil pickup - though on your Strat, still plenty bright. The bridge and neck in series is a very Gibson-like tone, and ALL THREE SERIES, well, that's as FAT as a Strat can get with out a pup-swap!

NOTCH FOUR ( tone control at about "7") is "SERIES with NECK, Bridge out of phase"
In (2) and ( 1), you hear the Neck alone.
In (3), you have the Middle and neck in SERIES.
In (4) and
In (5) on the 5-way, you will get the Bridge and Neck pup in SERIES/out of phase. This is NOT a wimpy out of phase, it has some bite to it - reminds me of Albert King's tone...

Here's a link to a TONE CHART - where the heck ARE all these tones?


How the heck did I come up with this? The long story...

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