Information about the 4 Way Tele Mod

Adding a 4-way switch to a Tele is one of my absolute favorite mods. Without any visual differences to the instrument you get a totally different and really really useful 4th sound, namely bridge and neck pickups in series. Normally, when 2 pickup are combined in position 2 of a Telecaster, they are wired in parallel. This is a fine and very classic Fender sound. The nice thing about the 4-way mod is that you don't lose this sound, as the classic parallel sound still remains in position 2. However, you gain this really beefy tone with the added series connection in position 4. It provides a noticeably thicker and louder sound that is a bit darker as well. In esssence, you've taken the 2 single coil pickups and combined them to become a humbucker in this position. I like to kick this position in for solos.

The only drawback of this mod (which in my opinion is pretty minor) is the potential for a bit more added noise, but only when in position 1 (note: I refer to the "bridge pickup only" position as position 1). I will explain the reason for this noise. as well as a solution.

WHAT CAUSES THIS?

  • The reason for the added noise in 1 position is due to the fact that the ground wire on the neck pickup must be "lifted" away from ground and soldered to one of the lugs on the 4 way switch (henceforth I will refer to this as a "ground lift"). In a nutshell, when the bridge pickup is engaged alone (in position1) your neck pickup isn't grounded because of the ground lift, so you may experience some extra noise.

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

  • 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 three simple things (please refer to figure 1 below):
      1. Break the existing connection between the metal cover and the pickups ground wire. To do this, simply break the connection between point "C" and point "A" as depicted in figure 1 below.
      2. 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 (this is point "C" in figure 1 below).
      3. Connect this new wire to ground (usually this will be the casing of your volume pot).

figure 1

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