The addition of a 4-way switch to a Tele is one of my favorite mods. Today we had a customer bring his Tele in to have some work done for this 4 way selector mod. Here is how the pickup selector will be wired based on position for this project:
- Position 1: Bridge
- Position 2: Bridge and Neck in parallel
- Position 3: Neck
- Position 4: Bridge and Neck in series
The 2nd position of the Telecaster selector switch gives you both bridge and neck pickups wired in parallel (normal output); which is the standard wiring, and one of the classic Telecaster tones.
But what if you wanted a fatter sound out of your Tele using this position? By installing a Fender 4-way Tele switch you can get that richer tone. This will give you both sounds when you use the two pickups together wired in parallel (standard wiring) and the wired in series (richer higher/output) sound. There is more potential for a bit more noise, but only when in position 1. I will explain the reason and solution for this noise.
What the #**! is that noise?
The reason for the added noise in position 1 is due to the fact that the ground wire on the neck pickup must be grounded and soldered to one of the lugs on the 4-way switch. In a nutshell, when the bridge pickup is alone (position 1) your neck pickup isn’t grounded because of the ground lift, so you may experience some extra noise. Keep in mind humbucker setups are much quieter than single coil setups.
How do I stop it (or at least minimize it)?
Use the metal cover of the neck pickup as a shield. To do this, you will need to make a minor modification to your neck pickup. You will need to do these simple things:
Break the existing connection between the metal cover and the pickups ground wire.
Solder an additional wire to the metal cover. To do this, you don’t actually solder to the cover, but rather to the tab on the bottom of the pickup. Connect this new wire to ground the pickup to the casing of your volume pot.
Be sure to check the connections before putting the entire guitar together. This way you don’t spend unnecessary time going back and forth to see if everything is connected properly. For a mod under $20, how could you not want to enhance sonic capability of your Tele?