Tag Archives | stratocaster

Pickup Wiring “Tap Link”

Another wiring mod I’ve stumbled across is called a “Tap Link” and works for guitars with dual humbuckers.  Basically, you can link the mid-point of the two humbuckers together, so that when you activate just the neck (or bridge), there is 1 coil from the unselected pickup wired in parallel.

I find it easier to understand if we say that 2 humbuckers = 4 coils.  Using the “tap link” activates 3 of the 4 coils.

I’ve taken the previously shared “4way 3 knob Tele” wiring for 2 humbuckers and changed 1 connection to achieve a slightly different set of options that includes a tap link setting.  Can you find the change?

4way Tele Tap Link

If you guess the L2 (Bridge) to Pin 5 connection of the switch, you are correct!  The lower end of L2 now connects to the upper end of L1, which means, that the bridge is always active, always in series humbucking mode.  In position 2, the switch actual shorts L2, instead of leaving it dangling.

I also dropped the bass control, just for simplicity.  I left the “Sweet Switch” in, which is the additional treble roll off using C4 in the Bridge Setting only.

So the single change from the previous diagram affects the function of positions 3 and 4.  3 was previously 1 single coil from each humbucker (neck and bridge), in parallel, a traditional tele setting.  It is now both humbuckers in parallel.

Position 4 was 1 single coil from the bridge in SERIES with 1 from the neck, the usual 4way Tele mod.  A very nice, punchy humbucking tone.  After the change, the 4th position is now the full bridge humbucker, with 1 coil from the neck in parallel with the upper bridge pickup.  Kind of a series/parallel combo.  It should be somewhat hum canceling, but not entirely.  It would sound like the bridge humbucker, with a little bit of single coil neck mixed in.

It would be simple enough to use a push-pull volume pot to combine this new mod with the original 4way dual humbucker scheme to get the best of both.  I wonder how this would sound using some kind of split-coil humbucker where each coil only covers 3 strings?

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4-Way Hum-Free Strat Wiring

After the post on my 4-way Tele wiring scheme, someone asked how I would prefer to wire up a 3-pickup strat.  Not really being a strat-guy I tried to come up with something unorthodox using the same 4-way switch as my Tele wiring.  Traditional Fender wiring for the Strat gives the following options,

  1. Bridge (No Tone)
  2. Bridge/Middle (Tone 1)
  3. Middle (Tone 1)
  4. Middle/Neck (Tone 1+2)
  5. Neck (Tone 2)

Now, my 2nd guitar growing up was a Strat-style, so I am quite familiar with the ice pick bridge that comes from the lack of tone control.  I’m also not a big fan of hum, so after spending some time brainstorming, I came up with the following 4-way wiring scheme for a 3 single-coil Strat.

4way Strat Wiring

I’ve opted for a Master Tone control, and a Master Bass control, as used by Leo Fender when he designed the G&L Legacy.  The Legacy was Leo’s final say on the Strat-style guitar.  You may also notice that this wiring includes an extra cap to ground (C3).  I have not tried out this wiring yet, but it would seem to me that it would be quite smooth, without the ice-pick that annoyed me so much.  The bass control would definitely keep the guitar from sounding muddy.

On to the pickup combinations.  What I’ve done here is only used 2-pickup combinations, either in series or parallel, and always with the bridge pickup.  The combination of the bridge with either the neck or middle should work to balance out the highs and lows for a full sound.  In my experience with the Tele parallel/series, I would expect the series settings to be slightly louder and warmer, whereas the parallel combinations would be brighter and punchier.

One last caveat.  To achieve true, hum-cancelling operation, you must use/wire reverse wound, reverse polarity Middle/Neck pickups relative to the Bridge pickup.  You may see this used on a parts-caster in the near future.  Actually, its the refinished body of the Strat I mentioned.

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