Can you identify this Telecaster wiring?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by jamhandy, Feb 4, 2008.


  1. jamhandy

    jamhandy Senior Member

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    I bought a used American Fender Telecaster and it has some strange wiring under the hood. First, the serial number is Z0037607 -- from what I have found, this dates the guitar at about 2000 or so. It says "Fender Corona, California" on the back of the neck plate.

    I will attach pictures and scans of my hand-drawn wiring diagrams to explain what is going on. I do not know how to draw schematics, but I tried my best to be very clear in the drawings pertaining to what does what and what gets connected to where...

    It is a regular Tele from the outward appearance, but as soon as you fiddle with the controls, you notice it has some interesting options. Either this was stock this way from Fender, in which case there is most likely a special model name for a Tele with these controls... or... it was somebody's ticker-toy, and someone along the way has added some new stuff to the stock Tele wiring. My only other thought was that this might be a drop-in wiring harness from some after-market company...

    I have not looked under the pickguard to see if their is a battery compartment.

    Here is what is different:

    - It has a 5-way switch instead of a 3-way switch. The switch is wired as follows (#1 pointing toward the bridge)
    - # 1 - neck pickup on (yes, the neck pickup in the # 1 position)
    - # 2 - both pickups on
    - # 3 - bridge pickup on
    - # 4 - both pickups on (again...)
    - # 5 - neck pickup on (again)

    - The tone control is a push-pull pot... it seems to effect the tone very subtly, possibly a difference in a slight change in mids or highs on the instrument. Its almost not noticeable

    - The volume pot has a transformer mounted to it. It is wired in as shown in the diagrams below.

    Here is the tone control drawing:
    [​IMG]


    Here is the volume control drawing:
    [​IMG]


    Here is the switch control drawing:
    [​IMG]


    Here are some actual photos of the wiring:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here she is all nestled in her case:
    [​IMG]
     
  2. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    nice diagrams! that is a standard-issue american series tele from about 2000 (it might have still been called the american standard then) with some aftermarket pickups (cloth wire) and some crazy wiring. i know torres engineering sells some screwball mods that use little transformers as inductors in various mid-scooping schemes, for example,
    http://www.torresengineering.com/bluestelwirh.html
     
  3. Chikn

    Chikn Supporting Member

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    I'd agree that looks like a Torres kit. The five way idea originally came from former GP dude Craig Anderton, and can be found in his book Electronics Projects For Musicians. You were supposed to get 1) Bridge 2) Both Parallel 3) Neck 4) Both In Series 5) Neck with Cap to cut highs. [Actually, the numbering convention for the switch is "backwards". Guitarists usually think of "1" as being the bridge pickup, but the guys who make the switches do it the opposite way.] Anyway, Torres basically used the Anderton idea, but did it kinda backwards. The "bridge again" position is supposed to be the bridge pickup with a "passive boost". If you know anything at all about electronics, you know that this is akin to digging a hole to the Moon. The pull pot appears to allow switching the tone pot from a normal tone control to a mid-cut, another idea Torres didn't come up with. That one, I think, came from Bill Lawrence.
     
  4. jamhandy

    jamhandy Senior Member

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    I'm not sure about the cloth wire pickups being after-market... one of the local techs claims Fender does the cloth wire thing... I wouldn't know personally because I'm not typically a tweaker or tinkerer or guitars... I just (usually) buy them and play them...

    Chikn, I think you might be right about the Torres drop-in... that was my first idea that it might be Torres drop-in assembly...

    walterw, thanks for the Torres link... I think that may very well be the wiring harness...

    It was an inch away from tearing it all out and wiring it back to standard Tele... when ya'll told me what it was supposed to do, I tried it out, and now I think I'll keep this gunk in there... what the heck... I bought it like this, might as well go with the flow...

    The differences the wiring make are really subtle... but they are there... it does have a mid-cut on the push-pull... it also seems to have the series in 2 or 4 and parallel in 2 or 4... not sure which is which...

    It sounds more nasily in the # 4 (one away from the neck)... so I assume that is the parallel setting (?)...

    The guitar is a tone monster, regardless of the Torres gunk... even in raw Tele mode type use, it really has great tone...

    $600 at Music-Go-Round... and they didn't have a clue what the electronics did... LOL... I'm sure if they would have known it was a Torres mod, they would (possibly) have asked more...

    thanks for the input!!!!!!!!
     
  5. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    american standard (or "series") guitars have never used cloth wiring, which makes me guess they're aftermarket pickups, probably a good thing.
     
  6. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    Custom Shop pickups such as vintage reissues or Texas Specials or Fat '50s have used cloth covered wiring, and there was a Texas Special -equipped Tele. 2000 was when they switched from American Standard to American Series (the easiest difference being the staggered tuning machines with only one string tree, more subtle differences included rolled edges on the fingerboards).

    You might try emailing your serial number to Fender and they might be able to tell you the original specs, but first I would pull the neck and look for a neck date stamp on the heel and whatever initials or name stamp you can find on the label on the back of the neck, and whatever dates or initials are written on paper labels under the pickguard. One would imagine that if a prior owner rewired the control plate it's likely that they swapped pickups as well. You might want to pull the pickguard and see what markings there are on the back of the neck pickup.

    That way you can figure out just how much money was spent on upgrades and you'll feel even better about your bargain.

    Not for anything (the polite version of "notfornuthin"), but the bridge saddles don't look like they've been adjusted for compensation, it's rare to see a properly intonated bridge with the saddles all lined up straight like that. Did that local tech give you a price for a pro setup?

    Nice color by the way.
     
  7. jamhandy

    jamhandy Senior Member

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    Actually, the intonation is dead-on... If it ain't broke, don't fix it... This guitar has sweet (natural) harmonics, even in the upper registers... its sometimes tough to get a guitar to ring out the harmonics at the 17th fret, but this one does it with ease... might be the pickups help... but I deem it that the intonation is not at all in need of a tweek... not sure how you can judge an intonation job by LOOKS anyways...

    "It looks like the intonation is good"... doesn't make any sense... (or if it looks like it isn't good...) LOL

    I bought this guitar because it matches my furniture (see pic below) (well... it worked with the girlfriend... LOL)

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    It's just that the saddles usually wind up in two little angled rows, with more compensation on the Low E and G strings, and your photos don't seem to show them in the usual staggered arrangement, so that's why I mentioned it. I'm not sure intonation has anything to do with getting a 17th fret harmonic, just use a good tuner (strobe or one capable of one cent sensitivity) and compare the open note to the 12th fret, just to make sure.

    Good luck with sorting out the mysteries of the guitar's origin, from here on out it probably can only be good news.

    Of course you realize this means you'll have to buy something shiny for her, too. Love is never having to explain why you "need" another guitar.
     
  9. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    bob's right, there's a typical staggered pattern that always shows up on a properly intonated guitar with good frets, good strings, and a proper setup, namely, a sort of "lightning bolt" zig-zag shape, starting with the high E and angling back, jumping forward at the first wound string, and then going back again with a slightly more pronounced angle.
     
  10. uvacom

    uvacom Member

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    You can get fantastic harmonics out of a terribly intonated guitar (intonation won't change the existence of harmonic nodes, it only shifts their placement slightly). It's fretted notes you'll have problems with.

    You can't tell by looks if a guitar is intonated correctly, but sometimes you can tell by looks if it isn't. That one looks like it could use some closer inspection.
     
  11. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    that's a good way of putting it.
     
  12. jamhandy

    jamhandy Senior Member

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    It "looked" like it was out of tune every time I would walk in the room...
    so I went out and bought one of those fancy Peterson strobe tuners for $200... LOL... I didn't tune it... I just bought the tuner to look at... and to sit it next to my Tele so they "looked" in tune....

    but what if it looks OUT of tune?

    I guess nobody read the part I wrote that said the intonation was exactly right?

    Its already been measured, by a tech (not from the store I bought it at...)...


    But since it looks out of tune all of the time... maybe I should relic it or something... then it will look... ummm... better... right... where's my Dremel... this thing looks out of tune... and it needs relicing....

    :jo:jo:jo:jo:jo:jo:jo:jo:jo:jo:jo:jo:jo:jo:jo
     

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