If you're looking for an electric guitar with a kill switch, out of the box, you're going to have to do some digging. Most people add a kill switch as a modification, though this can be tricky and isn't something everyone wants to do.
Those who are in the market for a new guitar - who also happen to want a kill switch - have a few options for buying guitars that ship new with the kill switch already installed.
Before we get to those, lets make sure we're on the same page about what a kill switch is.
What is an electric guitar kill switch?
A kill switch is a switch on your electric guitar that completely cuts off the signal. It doesn't switch pickups or engage coil tapping. It literally just cuts the signal off completely.
This can be desirable for effects (the "stutter" sound) or for muting your guitar when you don't want it to make any noise.
One of the most popular examples is Tom Morello's kill switch on the "Arm the Homeless" guitar.
In the above image, Morello is using the kill switch with his right hand to create a "scratching" on/off effect that wouldn't be possible with a regular three-way tone control. Tone switches shift between pickups, but always leave the signal on.
Don't get it confused with a coil tapping switch
You might notice a switch -in addition to the pickup selector - on certain guitars like the Ibanez Iron Label that looks like a kill switch but is actually just what the guitar uses for coil splitting.
Take this screenshot, for example:
Then, further down the page:
Just keep this in mind: You can't always assume that a second switch is a kill switch. In most guitars it's going to be for coil splitting.
In a lot of cases, a kill switch may actually be a button, that looks like this:
If you think you've find a kill switch or button, make sure to verify with the specs sheet.
Thus far, we've only been able to find four guitars that ship with a kill switch already installed. We've put them in the table below for easy browsing.
Fender Tom Morello Signature Strat
EVH 5150 Series Standard
EVH Wolfgang USA Edward Van Halen Signature
Cort MBM-1 Matthew Bellamy Signature
As of the most recent update of this page, we weren't able to find any Telecasters - of any brand - that came with a kill switch already installed.
Why are there so few?
A kill switch isn't a highly-demanded feature, which means there are just a few models that come with one. Two of the four we have listed are signature models, built to the specs of an artist that modded their original guitar with a kill switch.
What about modding one myself?
Though installing a kill switch yourself is ambitious, it can be done with a little bit of studying up, beforehand. This video is one of the best places to start, in my opinion:
Here are a couple more written resources that can also help get you through the DIY installation process:
Anything to add?
I'll continue to add to this list as I find guitars that come standard with a kill switch. As I said before, it's an elusive feature that most manufacturers seem to stay away from.
By the same token:
If you know of a guitar that we've missed, drop it in the comments section here and we'll certainly add it to the table.
See you there.
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