PupSwitch One

Monday, May 11, 2009| by Will Chen

PuPSwitch 1

By Will Chen

I admit it. I’ve been a tinkerer ever since I was a kid. Hot Wheels weren’t good enough for me; I had to paint them and tape toothpicks to them, creating a devilish battering ram. When I started skateboarding, the stock boards weren’t good enough for me either. Then came guitar…When I picked up the Indie Shape Total Natural I liked it so much that I really wanted to mod it to reach its full tonal potential. However, due to my reluctance to drill any new holes into it, I thought I was pretty limited in any custom wiring I could accomplish…until I saw the PupSwitch.

PuPSwitch is a new company offering active, solid state switching circuits, allowing different wiring presets to be selected and feed to your standard pickup selector. At first, I was very skeptical, thinking this was just another overpriced fancy switch. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I opted for PuPSwitch 1 (several models are available- each offering a unique switching strategy). When I received my PuPSwitch, I was immediately impressed with the nice canister the unit ships in (which has been recycled into a pick holder on my desk). Opening the little can, the unit was very nicely packed with a nice slab of pink foam protecting it, as well as a battery pack (including batteries), a stereo ¼ jack, installation manual, and some extra hook up wire. The PuPSwitch consists of a 12- way rotary switch with a dual deck, containing the switching circuitry and feels nice and solid. This isn’t some weekend project that someone threw together in a garage; it is a very professional product and feels solidly constructed.

Once I auditioned the unit, I was blown away. Using the combination of the PuPSwitch and my three-way toggle, I was presented with 18 unique tonal options...

Wiring the unit up requires a bit of prior experience, as the small PCB requires steady hands and there’s no room to be sloppy. In all, wiring the unit up requires approximately 17 solder points and the process took me around two hours, which included an initial mistake and intermittent interruptions from my three year old son. Now that I’ve done one, I think I could knock another one out in around 45 minutes.

Once I auditioned the unit, I was blown away. Using the combination of the PuPSwitch and my three-way toggle, I was presented with 18 unique tonal options: Bridge Series, Bridge Parallel, Bridge Split, Neck Series, Neck Parallel, Neck Split, Bridge Series/Neck Series, Bridge Series/Neck Parallel, Bridge Series/Neck Split, Bridge Parallel/Neck Series, Bridge Parallel/Neck Parallel, Bridge Parallel/Neck Split, Bridge Split/Neck Series, Bridge Split/Neck Parallel, Bridge Split/Neck Split, Bridge Split/Neck Split Out of Phase, Bridge Series/Neck Series Out of Phase, and Bridge/Neck kill (for pickup selector stutters). Whew!

Dialing through the options was a mind expanding experience…the kind that immediately spoils you, kind of like thinking back to before the days of cell phones and MP3 players. “How did I ever manage before?” I asked myself. After sobering up from the intoxicating switching power I had just been gifted with, I began really studying the switch positions and learning the tones of my pickups in depth, discovering all these little intricacies which had been hidden before. I haven’t been this excited about a switch since I installed my first push/pull pot to split a humbucker. My fears that the switch would be too complex for practical usage were almost immediately extinguished, as I found a few go to settings and remembering their position was surprisingly quick and intuitive.

All giddiness aside, the PuPSwitch isn’t a “be all end all” solution for everyone. With some time and a willingness to drill a few holes into your guitar, you could accomplish everything the PuPSwitch does with two on/on/on switches and a push/pull pot, though it will require a lot more soldering than the PuPSwitch. The innovation here is within a single control, which is relatively simple to install, your options are greatly expanded, turning any great sounding guitar into a great sounding guitar with more versatility. However, despite all its resourcefulness, don’t expect the PuPSwitch to magically turn a Les Paul into a Strat.

Suffice it to say, this is not a run of the mill rotary switch and is an excellent option for tone geeks (like me) who find themselves switching pickup selectors two or three times a song and changing guitars two or three times a set.

Price: $84.95 Direct
Pros: Powerful switching options in a single control space, excellent construction quality.
Cons: PCB soldering required (not a good first soldering project).

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