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


juan doggie on March 11, 2015 at 1:46 am.

I’m QDD confused also by the negative connection of the battery sometimes showing up in these diagrams going to the tip and sometimes to the other connection. I bought a bunch of these units for several guitars as I like the on board gain setup. so I bought a bunch of stereo jacks online and they come with not three but four solder on loops. The 2nd stereo tip has a built in switch that separates from the ring when you insert a stereo plug into the jack. I guess that is for stereo pickups (?) anyhow where does the negative from the battery fit into all this so you don’t drain it when unplugged. I’m missing where that connection achieves it’s purpose.


Peter on April 13, 2015 at 11:34 am.

hi there do you have a diagram for H/S/H wiring with a ibanez 5 way switch like the 5p pictured above
Thank you


robert stevenson on April 15, 2015 at 2:48 pm.

Alright, Rich?-I’m building a guitar from scrap wood, and an ernie ball olp neck-it will only have the volume pot, and a qdd effects unit.Trouble is, my head is buckled trying to adapt the wiring from the above diagram – can you please advise? Also, if I don’t use a stereo jack, will the battery drain every time, even if I remove the jack? This would be a problem, as I am siting the battery under the bridge, due to lack of space-guitar is a long X-shaped beasty



rich on April 15, 2015 at 6:41 pm.

Yes the circuit will drain the battery if you don’t have a stereo jack, ignore Tone and selector switch if only using 1 pickup, I.e the pickup hot wire goes straight to the input, gnd to the volume pot casing and then the output jack, output to volume and onto jack socket as shown on diagram


robert stevenson on April 16, 2015 at 1:22 pm.

Thanks a-plenty man-That helps a lot.You’re the midwife’s supervisor at the birth of a bonny wee bouncing baby guitar-and as we all know, there aren’t enough guitars in the world-Cheers-R.S.



rich on April 16, 2015 at 1:48 pm.

No worries mate hope the guitar plays well for you! :)


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