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Description: This is the type of switch you often find used as the pickup selector on electric guitars. The lever clicks through five different positions so you can select from three different inputs and a combination thereof. While this is, strictly speaking, a selector switch (albeit a switch with some strange permutations) It's also very useful as an encoder and by connecting it to a microcontroller you can read five discrete positions from three GPIOs. Check out the connection diagram below for details.

Note: Colors may vary. The PCB may be blue or green and the knob may be black or white. Functionality and specifications are identical, however.

Documents:

Comments 17 comments

  • Cool! As a kid, I always dreamed of one day getting myself a “Five Position Binary Grey Code Encoded Position Sensor.” And now it can be mine!

  • The great thing about these for guitar use is that they are usually ‘make before break’ switches in that the second connection is made before the previous one is broken. This ensures continuity of sound in guitar applications. If these are the same, you should mention that feature.

  • So, no mechanical diagram?

  • I had some expectation that it was a 5 position toggle switch with a common lead, but found the example code and diagram more than sufficient. Overall I’m happy to only be using 3 pins instead of 4/5 for the same . The sample code has the worst combination of brace styles I think I have ever seen, but it is pretty simple and easy to follow.

  • question: does anyone know where to find a square switch plate for this? something that can be easily written on or etched to label the 5 positions?

  • I’m using a 4028 BCD to decimal decoder to obtain 5 discrete logic lines. Gray “counts” in a different order than BCD. As the switch is moved the sequence from the 4028 is 1, 3, 2, 6, and 7. Cheap decoding without a micro!

  • I hang out in just as many electric guitar forums as I do electronics forums. But I must say I’ve never seen a discussion quite like that so far about the Stratocaster 5-way pickup selector switch ! :-)
    The Strat has 3 pickups. The 5-way switch, as conventionally wired, allows them to be selected alone (positions 1,3,5), or in pairs (positions 2 and 4).
    Most guitarists who tinker with the wiring of their guitars require a wiring diagram to make sense of this switch, along the lines of ‘the red wire goes here, the blue wire goes here’, etc. Few understand, or care, how the switch actually works. Unfortunately every pickup manuafacturer uses a different wiring colour code. So guitar forums are full of messages from people who wired up their guitar ‘according to the diagram’, but their guitar doesn’t work !
    The switch comes in a number of different forms, of which the one sold here by Sparkfun is only one. See the 3-part series here, where it is described as ‘Far East 5-way Switch ’:
    http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/2009/Feb/The_Anatomy_of_the_Stratocaster_5_way_Switch.aspx
    I am sure Jimi Hendrix would have been pleased to know he was actually using a “Five Position Binary Grey Code Encoded Position Sensor”.
    I have a customw-wired 5-way ‘superswitch’ on my Telecaster, which is another beast altogether …. a 4-pole, 5-throw lever switch …
    http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Electronics,pickups/Components:Switches_and_knobs/Super_Switch.html?tab=Instructions#details

    • Right? I’ve built a few guitars in my time and if nothing else I hope this post provides some of those guitarists with a readable pinout of this type of switch, haha. I had to sit here and ohm it out just to be sure I remembered right.

  • As the description notes, it’s NOT a 5 way selector switch. It’s a two channel switch that can select 3 different pairs of sources in several combinations. IE: 3 stereo channels can be selected one or two at a time. Not all possible combinations are available, that would take a 6 position switch. I’m not a guitar player so I don’t know how this switch is used in that application.

    • I thought we mentioned this. It has 5 positions, but it’s not necessarily connected with 5 pins and a single common pin. Just check out the connection diagram, you can easily read 5 discrete positions from this switch.

      • Hi Robert,
        The issue is the the product description is ambiguous and misleading.
        You can’t say something is “in a way” x and say it is “actually” x; it’s a contradiction. It makes one wonder, which is it, in a way or actually.
        The misleading part is, it’s not remotely a 5T switch. The similarity ends with the 5 positions.
        A more accurate description would be, it’s “a dual, 5 position binary Gray Code encoded position sensor, in a panel mount toggle switch form factor”.
        To shorten that, it’s a dual 5 position, 3 bit, Gray Code selector switch.
        Thanks,
        -Mark

        • I’ll rethink it.
          It is a 5 position switch though, and most people might not really fully grasp the concept of a “binary grey code encoded position sensor”.

          • Technically, it’s not a switch, it’s an encoder.
            I agree with you, most people won’t grasp the longer description, that’s why I gave you a shorter one too.
            The major missing detail in the description is that it’s a Gray Code encoder. If people don’t grasp that, they won’t be able to use it. They’ll just wonder why it has such a strange set of permutations.
            If you tell them it uses GC, and link the words “Gray Code” to wikipedia, its “strangeness” will suddenly make perfect sense.
            -M
            P.S. When they know what it is, they’ll realize it has inherent debounce, and they won’t have to implement that in s/w. (or you can tell them)

            • I wrote the description, and you are correct about the grammar, it’s definitely poor practice to in a way, practically, sort of write just like that.
              This is a switch though, using it as an encoder (while that is why we carry it) is not what it was designed to do. It does it well and we encourage you to use it that way (see my example code). However, this is really a switch designed for a very specific purpose (guitar pickup selection) the output of the switch is not read as 5 discrete positions in a guitar but truly is used to mix 3 analog signals.
              You are correct though, most people here will be using the grey code output of three pins to determine it’s position, thus making it an encoder. Interesting, I’ve never examined the difference this carefully.

  • 1 analog input pin and 4 resistors should work, as would three digital pins.

  • cant wait to see who has the easiest way to connect this switch to an arduino with the fewest pins used


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