I have this Vantage VS-696 guitar for decades that I used to use as a "Silent guitar" and never plugged in any amp.

Today I'm plugging it into a DSM & Humboldt Simplifier and I fail to understand what is the exact use of its controls.

Anyone knowing this guitar ?

guitar knobs

As far as I understand it :

  1. Pickup selector Neck/Both/Bridge
  2. Neck pickup volume or master volume ?
  3. Bridge pickup volume ?
  4. Tone
  5. Neck pickup split (Single vs. Double)
  6. ???

I don't exclude technical issues with the guitar also that could explain its strange behaviour.

Its "strange" behaviours are:

  • In the Middle pickup selection (so Both pickups), setting (2) to 0 leads to no sound, whatever the position of (3) is. But when (2) is raised to 1 or more, then there is sound (while in Bridge position, (2) has no effect)
  • In the Middle pickup selection (so Both pickups), setting (3) to 0 leads to no sound, whatever the position of (2) is. But when (3) is raised to 1 or more, then there is sound.
  • (6) has little effect in Bridge position or Middle position. Certainly as (5) has in Neck position.

Some more pictures and drawings##

Colour cables

Colour cables


  • It is not clear whether the white cable from knob 4 is connected to knob 3

  • The green cable from the incoming cable 2 seems to be connected to nothing.

Black cables (I guess the neutral point)

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EDIT: (I'm confused) it is VS-696 and not a 635
EDIT: added some of the strange behaviours
EDIT: Added pictures and drawings

  • An easy way to determine some of the controls is tapping pups with a house key, or similar piece of metal. That will give a clue as to which pups are controlled by which pots, and to an extent tone controls. Listening via a pair of cans makes the job easier.
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 10:29
  • Are there any identifying details on the guitar? The most common VS-635 is a completely different guitar. Knowing the actual model might help finding out what the controls are supposed to do but of course it doesn't guarantee that this one hasn't been modified and works correctly.
    – ojs
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 11:41
  • Why don’t you think 6 is bridge pickup coil split? Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 12:55
  • 1
    Can you open the back cover, look at the cable connections and draw a diagram? Also, please clarify what is the strange behaviour you mention. Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 15:34
  • 3
    It's typical that in the middle position, either of the two volume knobs mutes the whole signal, when turned all the way down. Typical guitar wiring is very simple, it's not a mixing console. Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 23:18

1 Answer 1


Made in the early 1980's at the Matsumoku factory in Japan.

The upper single toggle switch (1) is designed to be the pickup selector switch. Up = Neck pickup only active. Middle = Both pickups active. Down = Bridge pickup active.

  1. Neck pickup Volume
  2. Bridge pickup volume
  3. Master Tone
  4. Coil Tap switch. The coil tap toggle is "on" when flicked toward the floor, and is designed to offer a brighter "Fender like" tone, with some volume reduction.
  5. Phase Toggle switch. Also "on" when flicked toward the floor. Designed to reverse the polarity of the pickup(s) signal. This can be used to create a thicker sound, or to cancel out unwanted feedback.

Now. I say that the controls are "designed to" do the things listed above. An older guitar frequently builds up corrosion in the circuits and contacts, and things don't always work as advertised.

The solution is (in my experience) to spritz some DeOxit, or other quality electrical contact cleaner into all the pots and movable electronic contact surfaces. Work them around. You are usually good to go right away.

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