Lindy Fralin Pickups - 4 Way Switch

4-Way Switching For Your Tele

Last Updated: March 29th, 2020

We get asked about 4-Way Switching a lot. It’s a simple mod that when added to your Telecaster, puts your pickups in Series, instead of Parallel. You can get a pretty beefy tone with both pickups on like this, and it adds a new dimension to your favorite guitar.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PARALLEL AND SERIES?

Fralin Series and Parallel

In a standard guitar, like a Strat or a Tele, your pickups are in Parallel. What this means is each pickup has its own path of output. For instance, the White (hot) leads connect to the switch, and the Black leads attach to Ground. Series wiring puts your pickup’s outputs into your other pickups. To illustrate, we’ve made an illustration:

Parallel Wiring gives the pickup the shortest possible distance to the Output Jack. Series wiring gives the signal a much greater distance to travel. The signal experiences more resistance, thus getting bigger and beefier as a result.

You might have noticed a volume drop when you switch between pickups in the middle positions. With Parallel wiring, the perceived sound decreases when combined with another pickup.

For instance, if you only selected your Bridge pickup, it’s output is 100%. When combined with another pickup, say, the Middle pickup, it’s output seems to drop by approximately 25%. The combination of the Bridge and Middle might result in a total combined output of, say, 50%.

Series wiring combines the pickup signals in a way where the volume is louder and thicker. When your pickups are wired in series, the combined signals would equate to 200%.

Note: the above percentages are only used for explanation, and are not accurate.


HOW TO WIRE 4 WAY SWITCHING:

With a 4 Way Switch, you get the following switching capabilities:

  1. The Bridge
  2. Bridge and Neck in Parallel
  3. Bridge and Neck in Series
  4. The Neck
Fralin Pickups 4-Way Switching For Telecaster

To wire it up, take a look at the following diagram:

Note: If your Neck Pickup has a cover, you will need to separate the jumper connecting the cover to ground and run a separate wire off of the cover to be grounded separately. For a How-To, check out our guide here.

How It Works:

Position 1: Bridge Only

Neck White = Connected To Output
Neck Black = Connected to Nothing*
*(Since this is the coil wire, the Neck pickup doesn’t have continuity)
Bridge White = Connected to Output
Bridge Black = Hard Ground to Pot

Position 2: Bridge & Neck Parallel:

Neck White = Connected To Output
Neck Black = Ground
Bridge White = Connected To Output
Bridge Black = Hard Ground To Pot

Position 3: Bridge & Neck Series:

Neck White = Connected To Output
Neck Black = Bridge White
Bridge White = Neck Black
Bridge Black = Hard Ground To Pot

Position 4: Neck Only

Neck White = Connected To Output
Neck Black = Ground
Bridge White = Connected To Nothing
Bridge Black = Hard Ground To Pot

If you know this is the mod you would like to do, you can order our pickups with a “3-Wire Neck“. What we will do is give you a lead that runs off of the cover. If you already have a Tele Neck and want to convert to a 4-Way Switch, you will need to solder a wire to your cover and remove the ground connection from your coil. Basically, clip the jumper wire that grounds your cover to your black lead. To see how this mod is performed, check out our guide here: Convert your Tele Neck into a 3-Wire Neck


We hope you found this article helpful! Give us a call or shoot us an email with any questions.

Written By:

Tyler Delsack

I'm Tyler Delsack, the Manager of Fralin Pickups. Along with managing the shop and working on this Website, I run my own website to provide free Jazz Guitar lessons.

Author's Note: These blog posts are for educational and information purposes only. We do not offer custom wiring diagrams or wiring help or troubleshooting. For this, we recommend going to a local luthier or tech.

66 Comments

  1. Tyler,

    Is there a way to have the Bridge/neck series connection in position #2? I’ve tries 4-way switching before and I got frustrated since the “lead” positions that I like, Bridge only and Bridge & Neck in Series are apart for each other. Having them adjacent would seem to be a better arrangement if the 4-way switch can do it. Thanks in advance for whatever help you can offer.

    1. Hey Bob,

      Sorry for the delay in response. As it turns out, I haven’t seen a diagram that illustrates this. I’m sure one is out there though! Let us know if you find one and I’ll post it for sure.

      Good luck!

      Tyler

  2. Yes, this is by far the best explanation of how this switch is wired. The “How It Works” section is especially helpful. Using that I was able to go switch setting by setting and understand what was happening. Thanks so much!

  3. I’m looking at the 4 way Tele mod. Your wiring diagram is pretty clear. My question is, you show the ground wire from the neck pickup connecting to the last lug on the switch. Is there a specific reason for this? Can you just connect the neck pickup ground to the back of the pots where everything is grounded?

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