Tag Archives | telecaster

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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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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