To understand why Tele wiring changed in 1967, it’s useful to review
some history. Leo Fender had suffered from a strep infection since the
mid ’50s, and in February 1965, he sold Fender to the CBS group because
he thought he was seriously ill and felt he could no longer lead the
company. (Ironically, he changed doctors shortly after the CBS sale and
The $13 million CBS paid for Fender was more than spectacular at that
time. As part of this deal, Leo signed a non-compete clause and remained
a consultant with Fender for the next two years. In retrospect, three
factors led to the change in the Telecaster wiring in late 1967: The
first was customer demand to abandon the bassy neck-pickup preset.
Second, once Leo quit CBS and lost his consultant status, he could no
longer insist on keeping his ’50s circuit untouched.
Finally, CBS was known for their cost-cutting policies. The
redesigned wiring was easier to produce than its predecessor and used
only one capacitor instead of two. In the ’60s, capacitors were much
more expensive than they are today, and given Fender’s enormous output
at that time, this yielded a huge cost saving for CBS.
After 17 years of existence, the neck pickup preset vanished and a new
wiring that provided a more traditional dual-pickup switching was
adopted. This old neck preset is mostly forgotten today because in the
past, many players clipped off the 0.1 µF preset cap and installed a
much smaller value for some warm rhythm playing. Other guitarists simply
rewired the whole circuit to their individual needs, and consequently
some experts credit Leo as the inadvertent godfather of the
guitar-modding scene. Here’s the switching matrix of the post-’67
Position #1 (switch lever on the right): Bridge pickup alone with tone control engaged.
Position #2 (switch lever in the middle): Both pickups together in parallel.
Position #3 (switch lever on the left): Neck pickup alone with tone control engaged.
Electronically, the original post-’67 wiring featured the following
components: Two 250k audio pots from Stackpole or CTS, a 0.05 µF/50V
ceramic disc cap (aka “red dime”) with SK imprint, a 1000 pF (0.001 µF)
treble bypass cap from Cornell Dubilier (aka “circle D”), and a 3-way
pickup selector switch with the 1452 imprint from CRL.
The small 1000 pF cap was soldered as a treble bypass cap between the
input and the output of the volume pot to keep the high-end alive when
rolling back the volume. This cap is not shown in the circuit drawing
and is no longer used today. The idea behind it was good, but 1000 pF
was way too much and only a good choice for funk or reggae players,
because it offered high-end galore but almost no bass. The absence of a
resistor in parallel to the cap transformed the treble bypass cap into a
treble bleed network, and it influenced the taper of the volume pot in a
bad way—another downside of this design.
For all wire-runs from the pickups, and to and from the switch and pots,
Fender used a waxed cloth wire in black and white, skipping yellow as a
third color. Black was for all ground connections, white for the hot
wires from the pickups, as well as all connections between the switch
and the pots.