Three Cool Alternate Wiring Schemes for Telecaster®

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One of the great things about the Telecaster is the fact that there are so many cool alternate wiring schemes you can use. I want to tell you about three of my favorites.

Broadcaster Blend Wiring

The first one is the oldest one: the original Broadcaster wiring scheme with a blend knob.

Telecaster Broadcaster with Blend Fender

 

With this wiring, position 1 is the bridge pickup, position 2 is the neck pickup, and position 3 is a dark neck pickup tone with all the treble rolled off. That position 3 sound is too dark for a lot of players, though some guys like it for playing jazz or faking bass lines. But the coolest thing is, when you’re in position 1, the tone knob acts as a blend switch, and you can mix in as much or as little of the neck pickup as you like. There are some really nice blends in there that you can’t get with the standard wiring scheme.

There’s a trade-off, though: You don’t have a regular tone control. So this is probably not a good choice for players who like using their tone knobs for wah-type sounds. But if you don’t use your tone knob a lot, or just use it to take off a little top end when you’re in the bridge position, you may find you get everything you need from the blended settings.

For a super-authentic tone, try this with my Vintage Broadcaster Pickup Set.

Tapped Tele® with 5-Way Switch

The next idea uses the Tapped Tele pickup I developed. I’d always wanted a Tele or Esquire pickup with two output levels: a lower-output vintage sound and a hotter sound with extra volume and sustain. I designed a version for Alan Dutton, Jeff Beck’s road manager. Jeff heard and liked it, and he used it on his Guitar Shop album.

Fender Telecaster - Tapped Tele, 5 Way Switch Wiring Diagram

When you install this with a 5-way switch, you get the usual vintage Tele sounds in three of the positions. But in the other two, you get the beefier, full-output bridge pickup alone, and the full-output bridge pickup mixed with the neck pickup. I like this one because you get all the traditional sounds, plus two great higher-output settings.

We sell Tapped Tele pickups individually, and as part of the Custom Shop ’53 Tapped Tele Model T Guitar Shop Set, which includes a 5-way switch.

Tele with 4-Way Switch

This is another cool wiring scheme that gives you all the traditional sounds plus something extra. The only special part you need is a 4-way switch.

Fender Telecaster - 4-way Switch Wiring Diagram

This gives you the usual Tele sounds in the first three positions. But in position 4, you get both pickups in series like a humbucker. It’s a big boost in output and a big, fat tone.

But you need to make one important adjustment: The neck pickup’s cover has to be grounded with a separate wire. That means you have to flip the pickup over and cut the little un-insulated jumper wire that connects to the cover. That leaves a 1/4-inch nub of wire connected to the cover. Attach a new wire to that, and connect it to ground.

This wiring works great with any vintage-output Tele pickups. It’s also great with our Five-Two® for Tele pickups, which session players like Brent Mason and Dean Parks like because they provide great Tele twang, but with a slightly tighter, more focused low end.

Man, there are just so many great Telecaster wiring options. You can find even more of them at seymourduncan.com/wiring.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joshua-Bianca-Chaves/724363060 Joshua Bianca Chaves

    Thank you Mr. Seymour Duncan, my guitar is now better installing the AHB 2B, just an Ibanez Gio,  sounds so great!

  • Davblu218

    Any telecaster drawings available?

  • Placido Gaddi

    I am looking for a PANNING POTENTIOMETER instead of using the Toggle Switch to move the 2 pickups from bridge to neck to its fullest potentials. Please help!

    • Tsalvo

      Me too! With the picks out of phase there are fantastic nasally tones galore.

      • Tsalvo

        that’s “pickups” not “picks” obviously.

    • Scott Schneider

      look up “Blend Pot”…I haven’t tried it, but it can be done

  • Ian Baker

    I use the 3rd type, but with the addition of a pull switch on the tone pot to put the neck pickup out of phase for yet another range of sounds.

  • Francisco Barroso

    Can these wiring schemes be done with a Liberator?

  • colombo9

    Any suggestions for wiring Vintage Stack® Tele (lead & rhythm) STK-T3b & STK-T1n using 4-way switch ?

  • Guest

    How about wiring the standard 3-way switch (already installed) with the series (humbucker) wiring, replacing the bridge-pickup-only switch position How would I do this?

  • David Qualls

    How about wiring the standard 3-way switch (already installed) with the series (humbucker) wiring, replacing the bridge-pickup-only switch position? How would I do this?

  • jteshuwah

    Tried the 4-way switch thing, but found out I’m using just the bridge pup alone and the bridge and neck pup in series – which means I have to switch from the 1st position to the 4th position, which gets irritating while your trying to play solos. Is there an easy way to wire the 4-way switch so position 1 is the bridge pup solo, # 2 is the bridge/neck in series, #3 is bridge/neck in parallel and #4 is neck solo? How would I do this?

    • nashy

      There is. I’ve seen the drawing on the net, just google search it. The concern might be that when switching from series to parallel the current could, for a split second, travel both paths.

  • Terry Chastain

    Just got the little 59 for my tele’s bridge, and am thinking of a 4-way setup. Any thoughts?

  • niko

    can I use the 5 way switch without the tapped pickup? just with a regular?

  • Tsalvo

    Here’s something amazingly cool about the Broadcaster with Blend circuit: If you add a switch to put the neck pickup out of phase, there are a million cool tones available by using the bridge pickup and blending in the out of phase neck pickup. I’d use one of those push/pull switch pots if I was you.

  • tone4days

    i use the 4 way with my tele clone (tokai) … its fun to have a ‘more oomph’ setting available

    one of my fav tele wirings is very unorthodox … standard volume knob … then, a blender knob that is neck-only when rolled off all the way, 50/50 mix of neck/bridge at the center detent, and bridge-only when rolled all the way open … then, the 3-way blade switch becomes a tone control with a few resistors switched into the circuit to function like a partially rolled-off tone control … use a regular tele wiring to discover what ‘part way’ resistance readings of the tone pot sound good to you … i liked no resistance, 100K ohms, and 250K ohms for my 3 settings … to be honest, i rarely even left the ‘no resistance’ setting because the blender knob and varying in my picking technique gave me all the tonal range i needed

  • phfobric

    Can someone point me to a wiring diag for a Tele, Tele neck single (2 cond), Seymour Duncan STK T2b (4 cond), 5-way switch (neck only, neck and bridge series, Bridge parallel, Bridge one coil, Bridge Series), 2 VOL no tone

  • http://www.nealdawson.com Musician man

    Wow, these are some really cool options to consider. Thanks, Mr. Duncan.

  • https://soundcloud.com/the-fabulous-master-bats The Fabulous Master Bats

    That Broadcaster with blend will haunt me until i try it!

  • Gary

    I really like the tone in your video of the ’53 Tapped Tele. It must be ordered thru you guys I assume. Nobody has it listed anywhere on the web that I could find. I’ve been thinking about adding EMG’s but you need a battery. I was curious if that’s what you were doing. Funny coincidence, I’m looking to upgrade my Tele so it matches up with my Jeff Beck & Eric Clapton strats. All to avoid a lot of nob twisting when I change guitars.

  • Randy patterson

    I have a Seymour Duncan Tele bucker I bought used & set aside for a future project. How can I best identify the exact model? I have an idea about installing it in the neck position with another bucker at the bridge.

    • SeymourDuncanBlog

      Does it have a sticker on the bottom? What does it say?

      • Randy patterson

        I hope it has something to ID it, but I’ve temporarily misplaced it, shucks.. My idea is to cut up a stock Tele bridge plate so that it “hugs” the end of the fretboard, and routing the body enough to install a Tele bridge humbucker in both positions. I also am making a pick guard out of some quilted cherrywood that showed up in my firewood. I’ll find the pickup, and get back to you in a while, I promise.

  • cretins

    But you need to make one important adjustment: The neck pickup’s cover
    has to be grounded with a separate wire. That means you have to flip the
    pickup over and cut the little un-insulated jumper wire that connects
    to the cover. That leaves a 1/4-inch nub of wire connected to the cover.
    Attach a new wire to that, and connect it to ground.

    It would be nice to see a picture of this, not to mention your wiring diagram does not show a separate wire going to ground from the neck p/u.

  • Tim Halle

    Hey don’t know if anybody’s listening but I need a decent schematic or layout for a Tele with one single coil, one humbucker and a 5 way switch. Got one thats OK, but would like to see the official Seymore Duncan version.

  • Greg

    I just did the 4-way mod in a telecaster for a friend. It really added to the sonic capability of the Tele, and now you can get classic Malcom Young tones out of the guitar!