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Telecaster Pickups Out of Phase

Messages
1,381
I purchased a nice 52 Reissue Tele the other day and the owner said that the bridge pickup was replaced with a Seymour Duncan. I came home and all is well except when I put the switch in the middle position. The sound gets real thin, weak and a significant volume drop. Someone suggested the pickups might be out of phase with each other and it's a simple fix. They suggested just doing a 'flip flop' on the bridge pickup wires.

Before I get involved with this; is that all there really is to it? Just switch the wires around? If so, I suppose I can just lift up the Volume\Tone Control plate and do it there. Correct?

Thanks
 

jimmyj

Member
Messages
5,558
I intentionally like to match a Fender Tele neck pickup with a Duncan (Jerry Donahue model) because if you wire one of them backwards they are rw/rp in the middle position so I have a hum-cancelling option on my teles.

Yes, if you switch the wires from the bridge pickup to black is hot and yellow (or white) is ground they will be in phase. But if it's a vintage style Duncan there is a metal plate on the bottom of the pickup that's grounded to the black wire. You should switch that little wire that's soldered to the bottom of the plate to the other wire instead of the black one.
 

Whiskeyrebel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,731
I intentionally like to match a Fender Tele neck pickup with a Duncan (Jerry Donahue model) because if you wire one of them backwards they are rw/rp in the middle position so I have a hum-cancelling option on my teles.

Yes, if you switch the wires from the bridge pickup to black is hot and yellow (or white) is ground they will be in phase. But if it's a vintage style Duncan there is a metal plate on the bottom of the pickup that's grounded to the black wire. You should switch that little wire that's soldered to the bottom of the plate to the other wire instead of the black one.
If the bridge plate is grounded by another path, for example by a wire through the body that is trapped under the bridge plate, then it isn't necesary to reconnect the plate to the other wire. With both pickup wires disconnected, check if there's continuity from ground to the bridge. The baseplate will still ground through the screws. I just dealt with this a couple days ago.
 

jimmyj

Member
Messages
5,558
If the bridge plate is grounded by another path, for example by a wire through the body that is trapped under the bridge plate, then it isn't necesary to reconnect the plate to the other wire. With both pickup wires disconnected, check if there's continuity from ground to the bridge. The baseplate will still ground through the screws. I just dealt with this a couple days ago.
Yep, that's right. I was thinking that vintage style Duncans don't usually do that but if the person that installed the pickup used a separate ground wire to the bridge then you're in luck and you don't have to take the bridge loose to change the ground wire on the pickup.
 
Messages
1,381
Update: I lifted the control plate (switch\volume\tone) and switched the bridge pickup wires and gave it a try. The guitar sounds much stronger (normal) in the middle position and bridge. HOWEVER: Now there is a loud hum when I touch either the strings or the metal on the control plate. I guess that means I don't have a proper ground somewhere on the bridge.

What's next to check?

Pull the bridge assembly and see what's under there?

Thanks

So, I've pulled the bridge up and there is a metal plate on the bottom of the pickup with a ground wire connected from the metal plate to the solder joint on the pickup...

Do I need to redirect this ground from the bottom of the plate to actually a wire under the bridge?

thanks
 
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Mark Robinson

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
8,903
Update: I lifted the control plate (switch\volume\tone) and switched the bridge pickup wires and gave it a try. The guitar sounds much stronger (normal) in the middle position and bridge. HOWEVER: Now there is a loud hum when I touch either the strings or the metal on the control plate. I guess that means I don't have a proper ground somewhere on the bridge.

What's next to check?

Pull the bridge assembly and see what's under there?

Thanks

So, I've pulled the bridge up and there is a metal plate on the bottom of the pickup with a ground wire connected from the metal plate to the solder joint on the pickup...

Do I need to redirect this ground from the bottom of the plate to actually a wire under the bridge?

thanks
You can either snip the jumper to the copper base plate and run an additional string ground wire, or, de solder the jumper and move it to the white wire.
 

Whiskeyrebel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,731
Update: I lifted the control plate (switch\volume\tone) and switched the bridge pickup wires and gave it a try. The guitar sounds much stronger (normal) in the middle position and bridge. HOWEVER: Now there is a loud hum when I touch either the strings or the metal on the control plate. I guess that means I don't have a proper ground somewhere on the bridge.

What's next to check?

Pull the bridge assembly and see what's under there?

Thanks
If you swapped the bridge pickup wires on the switch and the pots, but you didn't disconnect the bridge pickup's baseplate from the wire, then the bridge and strings are now connected to signal + and they are acting like a noise antenna. you need to disconnect the wire shown here:


Be VERY CAREFUL not to let the coil's magnet wire come loose from the solder joint! I ended up using side cutters instead of a soldering iron.

I think it's safe to say that the pickup wire was the only connection from the bridge and strings to the circuit. If there were another ground path, the bridge pickup would have been shorted out.

You will need to connect the bridge to ground after disconnecting the wire from the pickup. If you are confident in your soldering, you can add a wire from the baseplate to the white wire's solder joint. You could run a third wire only to the baseplate. You could also just run a wire from ground into the pickup route and lay its stripped end where it will get sandwiched between the bridge plate and the wood.
 

K-Line

Vendor
Messages
8,481
I intentionally like to match a Fender Tele neck pickup with a Duncan (Jerry Donahue model) because if you wire one of them backwards they are rw/rp in the middle position so I have a hum-cancelling option on my teles.

Yes, if you switch the wires from the bridge pickup to black is hot and yellow (or white) is ground they will be in phase. But if it's a vintage style Duncan there is a metal plate on the bottom of the pickup that's grounded to the black wire. You should switch that little wire that's soldered to the bottom of the plate to the other wire instead of the black one.
What he said!
 

c_mac

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,246
Why don't you just switch the leads on the neck pickup? Then you don't have to worry about the grounding issues that could come about by messing with the bridge pickup.
 

jimmyj

Member
Messages
5,558
Why don't you just switch the leads on the neck pickup? Then you don't have to worry about the grounding issues that could come about by messing with the bridge pickup.
The metal cover on a Tele neck pickup is grounded in a similar manner. You really should switch that wire on the pickup if you reverse the leads on the neck pickup, too.

The reason I usually change the bridge Duncan instead of the stock Fender neck pickup (even though it's easier) is because you would need to switch it back if you decide to reinstall the original '52 RI bridge pickup.
 
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Whiskeyrebel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,731
The metal cover on a Tele neck pickup is grounded in a similar manner. You really should switch that wire on the pickup if you reverse the leads on the neck pickup, too.

The reason I usually change the bridge Duncan instead of the stock Fender neck pickup (even though it's easier) is because you would need to switch it back if you decide to reinstall the original '52 RI bridge pickup.
Or you could discard the metal cover. The neck pickup sounds a lot clearer without it.
 

jimmyj

Member
Messages
5,558
Or you could discard the metal cover. The neck pickup sounds a lot clearer without it.
That's a very good approach, too. I've done that a couple of times. But, I actually like the tone with the cover for some subtle things, especially comping behind a singer.

Also, I really like the way both the series and parallel positions sound on the 4 way switch I have on both of my Teles so I don't want to risk tampering with that sound by using an uncovered neck pickup.
 

c_mac

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,246
The metal cover on a Tele neck pickup is grounded in a similar manner. You really should switch that wire on the pickup if you reverse the leads on the neck pickup, too.

The reason I usually change the bridge Duncan instead of the stock Fender neck pickup (even though it's easier) is because you would need to switch it back if you decide to reinstall the original '52 RI bridge pickup.
Good point. I've so seldom used covered Tele neck pickups over the years and the only time I have, it came with three wires so it had its own dedicated ground for the cover.
 

Whiskeyrebel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,731
Just curious how to remove the cover should I want to try it
On mine it was just three tabs bent over to hold it in place. If it's soldered to a wire, it will probably be done on a middle tab that sits next to the connections from the coil to the lead wires.In which case, you'd need to disconnect that jumper first.

 






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