Aqua Marine

Posts: 3,991 Member Since:20/01/2011

#61 [url]

Apr 20 17 12:48 PM

Here a description of the original wiring:


I did not know this (in bold):

...the original two-pickup Esquire wiring is characterized by the absence of a real tone control. Instead, the second pot acted as a blend or pan control between the two pickups, and this was only engaged with the 3-way pickup selector switch in the rear position. In May 1952, Leo modified the circuit to incorporate a true tone control by skipping the blend functionality and discarding any two-pickup combination.

And here, post 1967:


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 was cured.)

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 wiring:

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.

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Aqua Marine

Posts: 3,991 Member Since:20/01/2011

#62 [url]

Apr 20 17 12:55 PM

My 1972 Telecaster has those 1MΩ pots and a 0.001µf cap across the volume pot, which forms a 159Hz low cut shelving filter.. it's "interesting" you can get an incredibly midrangey sound by backing off slightly on the volume and tone pots.

I'm not a huge fan of the 1M pots, my favorite volume control is the one on my 1950s Rickenbacker Table Steel, which simply shunts the pickup to ground when the volume control is rotated counterclockwise. This has the effect of loading the pickup and reduces the HF response in a very natural and gentle way, makes volume swells sound fantastic, exactly the opposite of how they sound with that 1MΩ / 1000pf combination..!

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Aqua Marine

Posts: 3,650 Member Since:14/02/2011

#63 [url]

Apr 20 17 2:14 PM

It's interesting that "The Blend" pot is now being used in some Stratocaster wiring.
The way it works is the bottom tone control becomes the blender pot.
When the switch is in the neck position the blend pot brings in the bridge pickup, when in the bridge position it blends in the neck pickup.

I guess everything old is new again, a little different, but similar.

OK it's cold here

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Aqua Marine

Posts: 3,031 Member Since:23/01/2011

#64 [url]

Apr 21 17 9:04 AM

soapfoot wrote:

zmix wrote:
Yes exactly. It is a bit surprising that allowing the use of both pickups simultaneously wasn't available for the first 15 years of production...

And nearly as surprising that the Stratocaster didn't allow you to combine pickups until around 1977.

Any strat earlier than about mid '76 with a 5-way switch has been modified (either with extra 'notches' filed in the metal switch housing, or with an aftermarket switch).

I believe this was just because there were no mass-produced 5-way switches that would've fit the bill until that point, but still, it's interesting. My '58 still has the original 3-way. You can get the 2 and 4 positions by very carefully balancing the blade. Good enough to lay down a part, but not really reliable enough for live use.

I still remember 'breaking news' in the early days when Clapton had switched to a strat and joined Delaney & Bonnie & Friends: he did an interview with Guitar Player Magazine and said one thing he liked about the strat was that he could sort of jam the pickup switch between 2 positions to get a unique sound.  That was the first I had ever heard of it.  

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Platinum Blonde

Posts: 1,026 Member Since:27/01/2011

#65 [url]

I only use my tele one way...with the knobs fully clockwise. I rarely use the middle pickup-switch selection.

edit: actually, that's not true. Sometimes I do adjust the control knobs...and sometimes i do use the middle pickup selector. I think I just like it best when it's fully on. I try to adjust for things with how and where i'm playing a lot of the time.

Last Edited By: owlander . Edited 1 time.

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