Tag Archives | 4-way

4-Way ‘bucker Tele Wiring with Sweet Switch

I came up with an interesting mod to the 4-way Tele wiring I posted previously.  I’m really a big fan of the 4-way switch option.  Maybe 4 is my magic number and 5 is just to complicated for me, I don’t know.

Anyway, what I’ve done here is take the Custom 4-Way wiring and add a Master Bass Roll Off, similar to what I put in the 4-way Strat wiring.  This type of bass control comes from the G&L Legacy.  I would recommend using dual stacked pots.  Unfortunately, I don’t think you’re going to find a 250k/1MC pot, but you can definitely find dual 250k as well as 250k/500k.  I haven’t evaluated how awkward or inconvenient it might be to stack the tone with the volume, leaving the bass by itself, but it’s here for your information.  You can always drop the bass control by shorting out its connections.

As shown, the wiring is humbucking in all positions,

  • Full Bridge Humbucker
  • Half Bridge/Half Neck in Parallel
  • Full Neck Humbucker with extra bass roll off (C3)
  • Half Bridge/Half Neck in Series

The 2nd thing I’ve done is to replace the bridge-activated tone control with a fixed “sweet spot” tone roll off that is paired with a traditional tone control.  What this does is allow for some extra roll off when using the bridge position, but also let the master tone do its thang.  C4 is the fixed “sweet” cap and will usually be a smaller value than C1.   You’ll have to experiment for find the right setting for you.  R2 should be 1M Ω.


I’ve also left on the 500kA Volume pot.  This will brighten the guitar in all positions, giving the tone switch and control more signal on which to work the magic.  Last but not least, I’ve added 2 coils to the setup, representing the additional options when using humbucking pickups in the neck and bridge.  Shorting L2 and L4 will return the diagram to the 4-way single coil wiring.


Super Custom Tele Wiring

I thought I’d share my own personal Tele wiring recipe.  My main guitar for the past 10 years has been an American-made Fender Highway 1 Tele.   A few years ago I installed Seymour Duncan Five-Two single coil pickups in both the Neck and Bridge, and I was instantly pleased with the smooth, punchy bridge.  At the same time, I installed a 4-way switch giving me the following wiring options,

  1. Bridge
  2. Neck + Bridge in Parallel
  3. Neck
  4. Neck + Bridge in Series

Although I was less than thrilled with the neck pickup itself, I found the Series setting useful for leads high on the neck.  The neck alone was just too muddy. It was a few years later that I found a simple mod for the 4-way wiring that would allow the bass to be rolled off a bit in the Neck position (#3) only with the addition of 1 capacitor.  This satisfied me for about a year before I decided to give my guitar a nice cleaning as well as modify the pickguard so that the neck pickup height could be set from the outside.  I never quite realized how crucial pickup height was until I was finally able to adjust it without loosening strings and removing the pickguard.  You see, my particular Tele has the 22 fret extension, which makes it impossible to remove the pick guard without loosening the neck itself, and you can’t adjust a neck pickup without removing the pick guard, at least in the stock configuration.

So with control over the neck pickup height, I finally had a neck and neck + bridge sound I was proud off.  This is how the guitar is currently wired.  For most of the last 10 years, I played on the bridge pickup exclusively, with tone and volume knobs at full, and I just set my amp and pedals to work best with that sound.  Set this way, the rig does not respond well to the neck and mixed positions, so I would just ignore them, and that’s a shame.

Recently, I’ve been rolling off the tone a bit on the bridge, and setting the amp and pedals to gel with that.  However, to use the same settings with the neck and mixed positions, I need to roll the tone back to full, and that’s too many changes to make when switching pickups.  All this has brought me to the following wiring scheme,

Coldcraft 4way Tele Wiring

This schematic can be interpreted in two ways with the same goal in mind.  In the first arrangement, ignore R2 and use a 250kA Volume pot.  This allows the tone control to only act on the Bridge setting.   Rather than bypass it in positions 2-3-4, the pot wiper is opened and the tone control is set to full (even though it is physical somewhere in the middle).  This is a great way to get the sweet spot rolloff for the bridge, while retaining full treble chime for the other 3 positions.

The 2nd arrangement mirrors what some people like to do with humbuckers.  Rule of thumb is, 250k Pots for single coils and 500k or 1M for Humbuckers.  Well what do you do if you have both, or switch settings that combine pedals into both?  Well, you can have the switch select the overall load on the pickups depending on its position.  To make this happen, the Tone Pot wiper (lug 2, should be disconnected from the switch and grounded to lug 1.  R2 should be used along with a 500k Volume pot.  The pickup options are the same as before, but when selecting the bridge pickup only, R2 will be grounded creating an overall load of ~250k (R2//Volume Pot).  In the other positions, the connection is open and they will see a 500k load.  The Tone Control works in all positions.

In both arrangements, R1 and C2 are optional “volume mods” that keep the guitar bright when the tone is rolled off.  I have not included values as I don’t have this in my guitar, but will probably add it when I rewire it next.  C1 is the tone cap, and is often 22n-47n.  C3 is the bass roll-off cap.  In my current wiring scheme I used 100n, but I may lower it in the future to cut even more lows from the neck pickup.

So there it is. This is the wiring used in Coldcraft’s #1 rock stick.


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