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.

69 Comments

  1. Landon Spencersays

    First off, I love the descriptions of how everything is routing in each different switch position, it’s (I think) helping me understand this way more than I have before. I’m hoping to gain some more understanding so that I can maybe modify the order of the pickup selection.

    I’m still lost about a couple of things though:
    Q1- Why is it that the neck doesn’t have continuity at Position 1?
    I also read your article about how blade switches work, which obviously doesn’t cover 4-way switches, but 3-way seems to function essentially the same just with an additional position. That lead me to understand that position 1 has A0 and A1 engaged as well as B0 and B1. Wouldn’t that mean that the neck has continuity since white is connected to B1, and black to A1 which are both engaged here? Is it the lack of a ‘jumper’ from A0 to B0 that’s preventing both sides from being engaged here? And if so, what is providing that continuity in positions 2-4?

    Q2- How are Positions 3 and 4 even reaching output?
    If I’m understanding this correctly:
    Position 1 – A0 connects to A1 and B0 connects to B1, and because B1 is wired to B2 which runs to output, it ends up there with one extra “hop” so to speak.
    Position 2 – A0 connects to A2 and B0 to B2 by the blade. With the B0 to B2 connection, we’re getting the bridge to output without the extra “hop” of the previous position.
    Position 3 – A0 connects to A3 and B0 to B3, but A3 is only wired to B3 and not connected to output or making any other hops I can see/understand.
    Position 4 – A0 connects to A4, but while A4 is run to ground it isn’t connected to another terminal that routed to output. B0 connects to B4 which isn’t wired to anything.

    I’m sure I’m missing something here (and will probably feel like an idiot when it’s pointed out, LOL) but can you help tell me what it is that I’ve missed?

  2. Can I get this mod wired for me if I order the control plate along with my pickups?

    1. Hey Joe,

      We actually don’t stock 4-way switches as they were swinging too wide for the plate’s slot, and preventing the switch from working as intended. We use the push-pull pot mod instead, which I personally believe is an upgrade, as you get the 4-way switch benefits, without dancing around the sound on a blade switch. Check it out further here.

  3. Bob Emmerlingsays

    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

  4. 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!

  5. Jeff Phillipssays

    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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