The FAT-O-Caster V.3 (c) Users Manual & Guide

What it is:

The FAT-O-Caster V.3 (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 V.3 (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.3 (c) works in conjunction WITH the 5-way to give you new combinations. You lose a tone control, but gain a lot of tones - it goes to ELEVEN!

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 V.3 (c), you can get all seven parallel combinations, PLUS series, series/parallel, and series/out of phase settings,  for a total of ELEVEN 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.3 (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 pots.
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).

WIRING THE FAT-O-Caster V.3 (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.3 (c) switch. Be sure you get the "negative" (ground) side - usually black - on lug “1” (it has the string through it), and the "positive" (hot) on lug "2" (next one clockwise, see drawing).

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.3 (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 third lug (would be the bridge lug) of the second pole of the selector switch (the side used to connect the tone pots - see drawing).

The black lead is added to the neck pup's lug on the 5-way.

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 hot of the neck 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 "NECK with BRIDGE"
It is the first "click" as you turn the knob COUNTER-CLOCKWISE . This jumpers the neck pup's hot so that it is ALSO on when you select the bridge pup. As you work the your Strat's 5-way pup selector switch, from bridge to neck, you will hear: (5) Neck and Bridge; (4) Neck, Middle and Bridge pups; (3) Middle; (2) Middle and Neck; (1)Neck alone.

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

NOTCH THREE ( tone control at about "8") is "NECK AND BRIDGE SERIES!"
In (1) through (3) you hear the normal Strat combos.
In (5), you have the NECK and BRIDGE PUPS IN SERIES.
In (4) you will get the NECK and BRIDGE PUPS IN SERIES plus the Mid parallel.

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 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

NOTCH FOUR ( tone control at about "7") is "NECK AND BRIDGE SERIES/OUT OF PHASE"
In (1), (2) and (3), you hear the normal Strat combos.
In (5) on the 5-way, you will get the Bridge and Neck pup in SERIES/out of phase.
In (4) you hear Bridge and Neck pup in SERIES/out of phase plus the mid parallel.
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...

Back to my home page...