Obsidian Wire and Rear Routing (Also a Pickup Question)



I was directed by the kindly folks at Warmoth to posit my question here, so I'll try to keep this quick.

I'm a first timer in considering building a Partscaster, and the whole Warmoth deal seems really appealing to me, especially with my idealized, super adulterated instrument that I would likely never find at the casual GC or Sweetwater catalogue.

I'm particularly interested in going with a rear-routed option to preserve those sweet, sweet grain lines on a quilted maple top. My problem is this: I'm a complete novice when it comes to the mild electrician work required to wire up pots and pickups. I have experience building computers, which is why rolling my own Partscaster seems so appealing, but apart from the most casual enthusiast grade components in PC building, I've no experience in wiring/soldering/etc...

That's why Obsidian Wire seems so appealing to me, especially given they have a harness that uses a super switch for jumping between 500k and 250k pots for the HSS setup that I'm eyeing (more on that  later). I'm not averse to wiring or learning, as I've got a partner in crime who rolled a Partscaster back in the day to help me, but I like the cleanliness and the professional look of a pre-wired PCB (blame that on my PC builder upbringing), and I've read some pretty dang good things about Obsidian.

Here's my problem though: in order to get the setup I want, I'm pretty much forced into using a rear routed path, even though I would prefer rear-routed anyways because of my love for some good wood (enjoy that one). My question is this: has anyone here used Obsidian before and had experience with them, and have you ever used a harness in wiring a rear routed instrument? I'm concerned the pot shafts might not be long enough given that the distance between the back of the socket and the top of the guitar is longer than that of a standard pickguard.

If anyone has information regarding this, please don't hesitate to reply.

For those wondering what my idealized setup would be, I'm looking at a Thinline Tele/strat hybrid with the chambered body as a jazz/casual rock workhorse, as I'm a frail little old man who can't really heft a 9 pound slab of solid wood, much as I'd like to think I could. I'm hoping that this harness works out so that I can run with my pickup positions, which I've yet to see anywhere else, where I go with a reverse HSS setup, where I stick the humbucker on the neck with single coils on the bridge and middle so I can have classic jazz tones with just the neck, and when I go to any of the other positions, I can split the humbucker for the rest of the classic strat tones. I haven't really seen this setup before, and I still haven't after scouring the internet for a reverse HSS setup, so please feel free to critique and totally ream my dream. I ain't gonna learn any other way. As far as pickups, I'm looking at a Benedetto A6 for the buck on the neck, a SSL-1 RWRP for the middle, and a standard SSL-5 for the bridge.

Appreciate any help y'all can give me.
Welcome to the forum!

While I don't have any experience with Obsidian as a company, I can tell you a few things.

Typically with a rear-route setup, you need "long-shaft" pots to get through the wood of the top.  Added onto that is the fact that Obsidian's setups are through-hole mounted from the bottom, so now your pots have to go through the PCB and then through the wood of the guitar body.  Long-shaft pots will be a must in this case.  I don't know the length of the pot shafts that Obsidian uses, but it might be worth contacting them to find out.

Concern #1 would be being able to wire up the guitar the way you want.  It won't be as simple as wiring it up "backwards" because the blade switch is wired specifically to do what it says in the description.  In other words, Position 1 (bridge) will always go through the 500k pot, and Position 5 (neck) will always go through the 250k pot unless you redo the switch connections.  Which kind of undoes the point of buying a drop-in harness like that.  Alternatively, you could wire up your switch so that the switch works backward from the normal convention (all the way toward the bridge would be the neck pickup, and vice-versa).

Concern #2 would be fitting the PCB into the cavity, as the traditional rear-route cavity isn't the same size or shape as the top-route cavity on a Strat.  It looks like it would probably fit, though, since the footprint isn't really outside of what would have to fit in there anyway.  Getting it in place might be kind of tricky, but I don't think that'll be too much of a chore.

Being a novice is okay!  In fact, wiring up a guitar is probably the easiest place to learn how to solder (in my opinion).  And there's plenty of people here to help you (myself included) with wiring diagrams.  If you can tell us exactly what you want on each position, we can probably find a way to make it happen.

As far as pickup selection, The Benedetto is a 4-conductor pickup so you're covered there for splitting.  SSL-1 and SSL-5 are classic Strat pickups, so I don't think you'll get much pushback on those.

Good luck!
Appreciate the information, good sir.

When I first saw the whole Obsidian deal, my brain immediately ran full throttle on the idea of getting a frankly awesome Partscaster, but I'm unfortunately somewhat constrained by Warmoth's own offerings right now. I am pretty set on the whole tele/strat hybrid thing, as I utterly detest the forearm cut on the strat. Not to mention I just enjoy the aesthetic of a Thineline Tele body with a set of strat controls, especially given how I want the whole spectrum of tones available with a strat. Because of that though, I can't get any custom Tele body with a strat control cutout, save for the actual Tele Hybrid pre-set, but it doesn't allow F-holes for some reason. I'd honestly be completely fine with having a pickguard over the cutouts, but only if I can have legit strat controls.  :-\

As far as the switch goes, I probably should have mentioned that I was referring to the latter idea, where the switch wouldn't be re-wired in the sense of fiddling with the electronics, but doing the unconventional thing of letting the bridge setting be the neck, and all the corresponding positions would be reversed. 1=5, 2=4, etc...I'm not a veteran Strat player, so my lizard brain won't be totally flipped out by the reversed positions.

Also, I'm glad to know that my pickup selections will work, and that my SSH positioning is not inherently flawed. I really just want those classic jazz tones of a neck pickup, but I'm too cheap to go buy a Collings jazz or a vintage L-5/L-10.

Really wish Warmoth would let me put a strat control cutout on a Thineline custom. I wonder if I can ask them to do that...hmm.
Trying to understand.  If on the body builder, you select Tele Thinline, and select rear route, the Strat control layout is offered.  Is this not what you are wanting?
(I’ve played with that for a future build). 
Apologies for any vagueness.

If you select the Tele Thinline, you can choose between a standard Tele cutout or the rear-routing option and get the Strat controls cut out, but because it's being routed through the top of the guitar, it's going to be thicker than a pickguard. An immediate solution to my problem would be offering an actual Strat routing option, where it's the traditional route through on the top of the guitar and hidden behind a pickguard.

I would go with the rear-routing option in a heartbeat if it was guaranteed compatible with the Obsidian Wire HSS harness, but the posts for the pots and the switch might not be long enough to reach through, so it's somewhat a moot point. If I could get a standard pickguard option with strat cutouts though, that would be instant gravy, and I'd probably be ordering my parts tomorrow.  :icon_thumright:
I would suggest calling then. Or just wire/solder your own system.  Soldering is much easier ( to do and fix if you don’t get it right) than routing.

Order some awesome looking top wood and you won’t want a pickguard. 
I'd be willing to do that if I wasn't such a fraidy-cat. I have some mild woodworking experience, which is why I'm not so daunted by the idea of reaming holes for a trem, tuner screws, input jack, etc...I'm just not in any way savvy with electronic components that don't just snap together nice and tidy, and there's something particularly daunting (to me, anyhow) about wielding a soldering iron that melts metal, even though that's, well, pretty damn metal.

Now, if someone could boil me up a list of all the components that Obsidian is using and explain how they all fit together in the most neat and tidy fashion, well...that might be another way, *hintity-hink wink wink*.

Seriously though, what are all the components that go into the HSS Obsidian harness? I know it uses a super switch--not that I know anything about what a super switch does or how it wires up to the pots--250k pot/500k pot, and some newfangled plug and play piece which I'm pretty sure is proprietary, but apart from that I ain't got nothing. Never done heard of a treble bleed mod and a
If you really don't want to solder etc.

To summarise.

You intend to build a rear rout Tele
The Tele will have Strat type controls.
You want a harness for SSH where the humbucker is in the neck position.
You are not sure if the harness you have selected will work as the pots may not fit.
The switch positions would be wired backward for HSS in the harness you have seen.

Perhaps contact these folks. Here is an HSS version similar to what you describe.


If you contact them they can do custom work. They build the harnesses from scratch in any case. You probably in all likelihood want something similar to the one above but for SSH not HSS and also made with long shaft pots.

Hope it helps.

^^ What Stratamania said ^^

Or you could reach out to some folks here that might live near you.
They could solder whatever pickups you want in a body like that.
So, a Superswitch is just a 4-pole version of the standard 5-way switch.  Without delving too deeply into nomenclature, it's basically 2 standard 5-way switches that share a common mechanical actuator (a normal 5-way switch has two sets of contacts, making it a 2-pole switch.

A treble bleed mod is basically a high-pass filter that allows the treble frequencies from your signal to "bleed" past the volume knob.  Effectively, it's a way to preserve the clarity of your pickup when you roll back the volume.

Obsidian doesn't seem to be doing anything particularly novel in that setup, they've just made a PCB version and added a connector.  Given a bit of time, I'm sure this forum could reverse-engineer exactly what they're doing and modify it to your needs.  There's a crazy wealth of knowledge here on just about all guitar-related things.
Quite interesting. I really do appreciate all the information y'all are giving me.

As far as what Stratmania said, I was unaware that 920 did custom orders (probably should have been tipped off to that by their bloody name, but, well). In theory I could basically provide them with the basic components included in an Obsidian harness, and they'll wire it up for me with long pots, if I so specify, and all I'd need to do is solder the pickup leads to the switch? I'm not so daunted by that, as that's what my partner crime did when he Partscaster'd his Tex-Mex Tele a while ago.

Playing off what you said, Sovreign, if I were to simply boil the Obsidian thing down to its basic components, could I theoretically provide that list to 920, where they would be able to replicate it (sans that plug and play connector)?
I would imagine that a company that does custom wiring harnesses would be able to replicate what you want.  You'll need to give them the switching scheme Obsidian lays out and that there's a treble-bleed mod.  I don't think there's anything more to it than that, and I think that info should be enough for them to know what to do.

Let us know how it goes!
Provide 920D a link to this thread and what was discussed as it will save having to explain most of it.