Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ah, the smell of solder on a sleepy Saturday afternoon

This is one of those posts that's only going to be of interest to other guitarists, possibly only to other telecaster guys.

Stock telecaster wiring looks like this.*

Zooming in on the critical area:

Now, this works perfectly adequately (of course it does, otherwise Fender wouldn't do it this way), but it presents a few problems. I like to use the volume knob to control my level of distortion, but with the pot wired this way, the treble dies as I roll off the volume. Things get way too muddy way too fast. Plus, the tone knob doesn't seem to really do anything until it's turned almost all the way down.

But there's a very easy mod that makes all this better. Just move the wire from the outside lug to the middle lug of the volume pot. Piece of cake.

This changes the order of the two controls: the tone control now comes after the volume control in the signal path. It makes the machine come alive! My tone stays the same all the way through the volume knob's range, and for the first time on any electric guitar I've owned, the tone knob is useful. This is an enormous improvement to a guitar I already loved. I don't know why all telecasters aren't wired this way at the factory.

So now it's on to practicing my Roy Buchanan licks. Based on watching this video, I'd be willing to bet that his guitar was wired this way.

*The wiring diagram is copyright 2006 Seymour Duncan/Basslines. I shouldn't have cropped off the copyright statement, but the diagram would have shown up illegibly tiny otherwise.


mike said...

Good for you. Quaint. My heart sank the first time I saw the phrase "USB guitar," kind of like daily newspapers going out of print.

Rob said...

Yeah, well, we still use vacuum tubes too. The obsolete technology just happens to sound really, really good.

As it happens, this year Gibson started using printed circuit boards instead of point-to-point wiring in their Les Pauls. It means more consistency and less need for skilled soldering on the assembly line, but mods like what I've done to my Tele are impossible. It's a shame.

Di said...

Your first sentence was accurate ;-)

Rob said...

And that's surprising? I mean, you read the whole thing, right? You have only yourself to blame.

(Incidentally, and not that it means anything, but the word verification that I have to type to post this comment is "aimbowel.")