On-Board Distortion

What does it do?

Built in effects provide on-board sound processing normally only found in effects pedals. Generally they replace one of the potentiometers with a rotary switch that selects the different options provided. These can range from clean volume boost to heavy distortion and may also be used to control EQ and filtering.

Why would you want it?

Gives easy to access effects without the use of pedal boards and complex rigs, they can be ideal for practice guitars and will give a range of effects on a small budget.

Other considerations

This is not going to be equivalent to a quality effects pedal, these are definitely at the budget end of the scale and the limitations of the package size means the circuits and components used will also be lower quality.

These circuits are active and will require a battery this will need to be housed within the guitar. You will also need to replace one of your pots (tone usually)  with the rotary switch. Depending on the guitar this might mean extensive re-wiring. These units are quite bulky and you may need to rout some extra space if the control cavity is quite shallow.

A stereo jack socket to turn the power on and off for the circuit will normally be included, this will replace the standard mono socket so that your battery will not run down when the guitar is not in use (provided you remember to unplug the guitar).

What do I need to do it?

A built in effects unit

Wire and soldering gear

A battery normally 9V

How does it work?

The effect will normally be connected between the pickup selector switch and volume/tone controls that then go to the output.

This diagram shows the wiring schematic from the Artec QDD that I installed in the ‘Dark Knight’ Stratocaster.Built in Guitar Distortion

The picture below shows the QDD installation, bear in mind there is a lot of additional wiring in view from the other mods to the guitar (phase switch, coil tap, kill-switch). Notice the QDD is almost as deep as the selector switch, hence the big whole hacked out underneath!

QDD Artec Distortion in Squier Strat


Panu Koskien on November 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm.

Could you please send me a picture of those wirings? I also have that unit but I don´t understand where the QDD:s IN should be connected. I know it should go to switch but all manuals I have fould have diffirent switch that I do. I am also putting it to strat so maybe you have the same connections?



rich on November 8, 2011 at 1:06 pm.

Hi this image shows the position on a standard 5 way switch that you need to solder the QDD input to.

QDD Input to Switch

This is the same layout of switch used in the guitar above if you have something different post or email me a picture and I will try to help.


Peter on December 17, 2013 at 6:09 pm.

Hi Rich

I have also bought a QDD and find the wiring diagram confusing because it dos not show the existing wires. Is it possible to install the QDD as a seperate unit and leave the tone pots in place, if so how? I can always install the unit somewhere else on the scratchplate. Any help would be greatly appreciated.




rich on January 15, 2014 at 2:47 pm.

Yes you can do that no problem, just wire it up the same way but leave the tone controls as they are. The wiring is actually pretty simple you are just putting the QDD between the pickup selector and the volume control most of the existing wiring stays the same.


Neil on April 5, 2014 at 8:48 am.

Got a QDD2 installed into my telecaster control loom replacing the standard tone pot, I was under the illusion that the QDD2 pot acted as a normal tone control while in bypass mode but to my horror it doesn’t. I now have no means of controlling the tone. Is there a way of adding in a tone pot to the circuit? I realise this will mean making a cavity on the guitar to accomodate the third pot but willing to do this to get my tone control back


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