The SUSTAINIACâ "Stealth PRO Ô " electromagnetic-type sustainer


A list of ELECTRICAL CONNECTION DIAGRAMS for various pickguard guitars is located down near the bottom of this page.

These guitars include mainly Fender Stratocasters® (and copies), and Ibanez® Jems. Ibanez also makes some RG models that are similar to the Jem. The Parker® Nitefly is also in this category.

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IBANEZ JEM (RG pickguard etc.)

Toggles vs. Push-pull controls in Strat and Ibanez Jem


ABOUT PICKGUARDS AND THE STEALTH PRO The pickguard is both a blessing and a curse for doing installations. The good part is that it makes it easy to wire. The hard part is that multiple trips in and out of the guitar are usually necessary to get things tweaked up. If you make a mistake and things don't work, it can be very frustrating indeed. Plus, each assembly/disassembly cycle adds stress to the guitar and strings. This is why we charge more to install the Stealth PRO into a pickguard guitar.

    Shielding foil and uncontrolled squealing (oscillation) The pickguard foil must be removed from the pickup area for the sustainer to work properly. (Mirror pickguards have the same problem.) Otherwise, the symptom is poor performance, particularly in Harmonic Mode, and squealing (uncontrolled oscillation). Technical explanation: The driver radiates a pulsating magnetic field in response to the Sustainiac input signal (bridge pickup signal). This pulsating magnetic field induces pulsating electrical currents to flow in the conductive metal. These pulsating currents then in turn radiate their own pulsating magnetic fields which are received by the bridge pickup. The result is that the magnetic balance that is carefully designed into the Sustainiac driver no longer works. The only way to stop the squealing is to turn the sustainer gain down, which pretty much defeats the purpose of having one. has replacement Strat pickguards at reasonable prices, with no foil around the pickup area.

    However, if you have the Ibanez Jem "MIRROR" guitar, it works fine. The reason for this puzzling contradiction (we think) is that the all-mirror finish has SO MUCH conductive metal that the stray magnetic energy gets effectively dissipated before it reaches the area near the bridge pickup.

The Stealth PRO was designed so that it would fit into the Strat electronics cavity, with no routing required. This was a prime requirement. The circuit board fits in between the pot controls and the selector switch. The Strat volume control is not altered. The middle tone control is replaced by the Stealth PRO Harmonic Mode control. The bottom tone control is replaced by the Stealth PRO ON/OFF control. The tone control function remains, but it becomes a MASTER tone control. The pickguard wiring goes pretty quickly, 1 to 3 hours depending on skill and experience. We usually take off the neck (after capo-ing the first fret to keep the strings from flying away) to access the pickguard. Much faster than re-stringing.

SEMI-INSTALL OPTION FOR MOST GUITAR TYPES: $75.00-85.00 We do 90% of the work. We supply a completely wired and TESTED set of electronics for your guitar, including Sustainiac circuit board and controls, pickup selector, volume and tone controls. You simply remove all of your existing guitar cavity parts as a "glob", after disconnecting your output jack and pickups. You can then save this "glob" of parts to restore your guitar to its original condition if desired.

    Stratocasters: We supply a pre-wired option that mounts precisely to your pickguard for $75 extra. All Sustianiac controls plus a "CRL"-type 5-position pickup selector switch and CTS volume control come as a completely wired and tested assembly. The parts are assembled by Maniac Music onto a standard Strat pickgupard. Then, we remove these parts from our pickguard, and send them to you as an assembled kit. All you have to do is remove your existing Strat controls as a unit from the pickguard without unsoldering them. Then, mount ours in their place. (You need to remove all of the aluminum foil from the back of the pickguard, exept for that around the controls. Remove your neck pickup, and put the driver in its place. replace your mono output jack with our stereo jack, and mount the battery either using the optional battery box ($16, routing required) or in the tremolo spring cavity (optional quick-change cover recommended, $7.50. This cuts the installation time from 3-8 hours to about one hour. We supply a hookup diagram. You can later easily restore the guitar to its original condition if you wish, since all of your controls have been removed as a complete unit.

    Strat options:

      STANDARD STRAT SETUP: Sustainiac controls are push-pull. Bottom control is Sustainiac ON/OFF control, and doubles as MASTER TONE control. Middle control is HARMONIC MODE. $75.00 You can view the PDF hookup diagram for Stratocasters Standard Stratocaster installation.
      TOGGLE CONTROLS: We can make the ON/OFF and/or Harmonic Mode a TOGGLE control. Add $10.00 per toggle control to the basic $75 semi-installation charge. This leaves very little room for finger access, unless we leave out the middle control. Then, you end up with an unused hole in the pickguard.

    Special option for Ibanez JEM®: We supply a pre-wired option for $75-85, similar to the Strat option above. If your Jem has a VLX 91 switch, we do not stock these. Contact us for options.

      STANDARD TWO-POT JEM OPTION $75.00: Sustainiac controls are push-pull. Volume control doubles as Sustainiac ON/OFF control. Tone control goes away, and is replaced by Sustainiac Harmonic Mode control.
      3-POT OPTION $75.00: This is like the standard STRAT installation. Bottom MASTER TONE doubles as Sustainiac ON/OFF. Middle control is Sustainiac Harmonic Mode. Top is CTS volume control.
      TOGGLE CONTROL OPTION $85.00: Toggle controls go in between the top and bottom knobs, equally-spaced. Top toggle is ON/OFF, bottom is Harm. mode. Bottom pot can be either tone or Sustainiac drive control. We can also make this a push-pull neck pickup tone selector.
      Here is a drawing that shows how we fit the Sustainiac to the Jem pickguard: Ibanez JEM SEMI-INSTALL options

      ROLAND-READY STRATS : We occasionally get one of these in the shop. The Sustainiac fits OK. The hard part is the wires for the Roland system. They use the cheapest, most fragile wires we have ever seen inside an electric guitar. These wires aren't stranded, but are solid, and are very thin. So, after they are bent a few times (which will always happen during a Strat installation) they start breaking. We usually download a wiring diagram from Fender's website (or you can make a drawing showing the wire locations), and then we disconnect all of the Roland wires. This allows you to do the installation onto the pickguard with the freedom to move it around as needed. Then, we put everything back together.

      OTHER STRAT VERSIONS : The Stratocaster line has been expanded to include many variations on the basic guitar. There are versions with HSS and HSH pickup configurations, "Roland-Ready" versions with the GK-2S hexaphonic synth pickup, versions with their "S-1" push-push switch for coil-tapping etc. We have done useful and successful installations on numerous Strats with these options. The models having bridge humbuckers and bridge/neck humbuckers have built-in coil-tapping functions. Some have the 4-section Superswitch, with 24 contacts (the same switch that we sell for $18). On Strats with this switch, the Stealth PRO circuit board will not fit into the cavity unless the Superswitch is turned around. But then, the switch contacts face the outside of the cavity, and routing will be necessary to make it fit. The only way we can retain the bridge humbucker coil-tap function is to use this Superswitch. An easier installation option is to replace the Superswitch with a CRL selector. Then, you can replace the Strat volume control with a push-pull switch for coil-tapping. If a HSS Strat has their normal 2-section "CRL" switch, the coil-tap function will go away unless you put a Superswitch in there or a push-pull tap switch.

      TELECASTER AND COPIES : The Telecaster has a big problem (other than the extreme slant on the bridge single-coil pickup): The control cavity is tiny. It is just big enough to hold the volume and tone controls and the pickup selector. You have to route to install the Sustainiac circuit board and controls. You have two choices: (1) Extend the cavity underneath the pickguard, placing the Sustainiac circuit board so that the 8-pin connector is adjacent to the main cavity. See a typical photo: "Tele installation option #1". This installation option keeps the route hidden, but the hookup is pretty intimidating. You can replace the Tele tone control with a push-pull pot for Sustainiac ON/OFF, and then there is room for our 3-position toggle for Harmonic Mode. (2) A second option makes the cavity enlargement route from the back of the guitar, making the control cavity wider instead of longer. There is room for our Aux-TT board option and also the main Sustainiac board. "Tele installation option #2". "Tele installation option #2 routing detail" You have to make a cover for the new cutout on the back but this is a pretty minor task.

      IBANEZ JEM The Jem installation is similar to the Strat. We often fit the Stealth PRO board into the Jem electronics cavity like we do a Strat. This does require a couple of "mini-routes" inside the Jem cavity to make room for the connectors of the circuit board. These are really cavity "bump-out" routes only take a few minutes and are covered up by the pickguard. Newer Jems use the VLX 91 switch (see next section). This switch is larger than standard 5-position lever switches. Because of its size, there isn't room inside of the Jem electronics cavity to fit the Sustainiac board, unless you replace the VLX91 with a CRL or similar 5-position switch. In this case, we route a new cavity underneath the pickguard. This new cavity adjoins the existing cavity, and extends alongside the bridge, middle, and neck pickups. Here is a PDF link that shows what we do. Ibanez JEM INSTALL options Some earlier Jem guitars use an earlier version of the VLX91 switch that is the same size as the CRL switch, and therefore you don't need to route the new cavity. But these older VLX91 switches seem to have been discontinued.

      The best way to install the Sustainiac Stealth PRO into these guitars is to use our push-pull pot/switch controls. On Strats, this yields an installation that retains the original appearance. On 2-pot Ibanez guitars, you will lose the tone control unless you are willing to drill for a third control (Sustainiac Harmonic Mode control) in between the two original controls. Adding the third control in the middle is the way we now do most of our Ibanez Jem installations.

      You can use the optional toggle controls. Two toggles will fit nicely on the Ibanez guitars in between the two knobs. But, in a Strat, you will have trouble getting them squeezed in there in a way that makes them easy to access, without removing the middle control. We have put one toggle between the top and middle knobs, and the other toggle between middle and bottom knob.

      FURTHER INSTALLATION NOTES, BATTERY-MOUNTING, ETC: Go the INSTALLATION SECTION for more general info on installing the Sustainiac Stealth PRO sustainer.

      Stealth PRO installed in a Strat type guitar

      Strat pickguard wiring

      LIST OF PDF INSTALLATION DRAWINGS FOR STRATOCASTER AND JEM/RG GUITARS This list is for the most popular installation plans for these guitar types. We have other drawings not contained on this list. If you don't see what you want, send us an email. We have a large library of installation drawings. Once in a while, someone comes up with a request that we don't have. Then, we create a new drawing.

      PDF file of Stealth PRO Installation Manual One paper copy of this manual is included with each kit (a paper printout). The Installation Manual does not include any hookup diagram. Separate PDF drawings can be viewed below for each guitar type. Each kit comes with the proper hookup diagram. If you do not see the appropriate drawing, let us know by email and we will send the drawing you need.

      Standard Stratocaster installation. Strat with push-pull controls for Sustainiac.

      Stratocaster installation with toggle controls for Sustainiac. The Sustainiac circuit board lies flat inside the control cavity. This arrangement allows the toggles to be placed in optimum positions for easy access.

      3-pickup generic with Inline switch (CRL also shown), push-pull controls This is a basic "SHREDDER" guitar configuration

      3-pickup generic with Inline switch (CRL also shown), toggle controls This is a basic "SHREDDER" guitar configuration but with toggle controls for the Sustainiac.

      Ibanez Jem, RG etc. with Inline switch, toggle controls This is a basic Ibanez Jem setup with toggle controls for the Sustainiac.

      Ibanez Jem, RG etc. with Inline switch, push-pull controls This is a basic Ibanez Jem setup with push-pull controls for the Sustainiac.You will lose your tone control for this one unless you drill for another control in between the two existing controls. (Yes, there is room.)

      Ibanez Jem with VLX-91 pickup selector, push-pull controls; drawing shows an added 3-knob, which can be ignored if desired (you will lose the guitar tone control). It also shows the VLX-91 selector switch. This configuration coil-taps the bridge pickup in position #2, to blend with the middle pickup for "quack" sound.

      Ibanez Jem, with VLX-91 pickup selector, toggle controls; shows adding two toggle controls between volume and tone controls, also shows the VLX-91 selector switch to oil-tap the bridge pickup in position #2, to blend with the middle pickup for "quack" sound.

      Ibanez JEM INSTALL options This drawing shows an auxilliary cavity for those installations where the Sustainiac board won't fit into the existing electronics cavity.

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