A Generic Stompbox Wiring Diagram

I had to share this image sent by reader Gerald Good. (Thanks, man!)


Gerald Good made this pretty picture. (Click to embiggen.)

It’s a handy stompbox wiring diagram that’ll work with all the stompbox project on this site, and most other simple circuits. It’s not the only way to do it — there are other good options, especially for wiring that diabolical 3PDT footswitch. (You’ll find some of them here.)

But I like the configuration Gerald chose to illustrate, because it’s the most idiot-proof. And everything I touch need serious idiot-proofing. I’m embarrassed to admit how many pedals I had to build before I had these basic connections committed to memory. The footswitch wiring alone nearly used to bring me to tears. I kept an ugly, hand-drawn diagram glued to a plank alongside my breadboard for ages.

This is nicer. Print it out and post it at your workbench! :beer:

13 comments to A Generic Stompbox Wiring Diagram

  • Oinkus

    The footswitch was the hardest part of the whole project yeesh! Nice diagram but it can’t be foolproof ,trust me I am a fool.

  • Digital Larry

    I don’t grasp what “inner, middle, outer” mean on the audio jacks. Tip, rig, sleeve, or something else? And there should be two wires going to the output, don’t you think?

    This is just me, probably – I can read schematics well and these types of diagrams really confuse me. But if other folks like them I’ll let it be. I’d just as soon see both. What it’s really doing and what it really looks like.

    • joe

      Yes — the inner would correspond to the sleeve, the outer to the tip, and the middle to the ring. The description makes perfect sense to a technical dumbo like me, since it describes the relative position of the jack lugs as viewed from inside a stompbox enclosure.

      Two wires to the output? Theoretically speaking, the output jack’s sleeve — the “inner,” to us Luddites — ought to be connected to ground as well. But more often than not, omitting this ground connection makes no difference whatsoever in how the stompbox sounds or performs, and in fact, many stompboxes (even ones made by “real” builders) omit the connection with no consequences whatsoever. Though it never hurts to ground the output jack.

      • Digital Larry

        I could see that if the jack frame was not isolated from the circuit and it was in fact grounded through the metal enclosure. If that is the case it is preferable to have only a single ground path, to avoid ground loops. I could see dropping the wire if that’s the case. Otherwise there is no continuous ground from your guitar to the amp.

        But some jacks are insulated from the part that touches the enclosure, so it’s best to know exactly what we’re all talking about rather than making assumptions. The jacks I installed in my tube amp restoration are definitely isolated from the frame and definitely have a ground lead going to them.

        • joe

          I was thinking about what you said about finding illustrations harder to read than schematics. I’m sort of the same with traditional notation and tab — I go slower with tab. But I totally get why it’s essential to the vast majority of players. I guess I feel the same about bonehead-friendly tech stuff.

  • Willverine

    Thank you. Coming up with the wiring diagram for my current project took me a while and a good chunk involved the switch. I drew it out by hand out of sheer frustration.
    It’s based off the Matsumin ValveCaster circuit with a “few” changes. Most notable being built point-to-point in a cigar box.

  • BKW


    One question: Shouldn’t the “Inner” contact of the output jack be connected to ground? In the diagram, there is nothing connected to it.

  • joe

    Great question! In most cases the jack gets grounded against the enclosure. A number of boutique stompboxes omit a dedicated grounding wire on the output jack,

  • Dan

    Thanks for that, Joe. Just found a half built pedal on my desk. I think it’s a Tube Sound Fuzz. I’m not sure anymore! The diagram is great.

    Wish I had 9 lives–One for writing songs, one for electronics, one as an exact mathematician…

  • Swen

    I’m a little late to the party, but I just found this thread and wanted to throw in a plug for these.’


    A great little pcb. You solder your switch into this thing and the wiring is easy!

    • joe

      Oh, cool! I’ve bought a similar product from another manufacturer, and it worked great. The problem is, I only seem to remember that I have a stack of them AFTER I solder in the footswitches the old-fashioned way.


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