Fralin Pickups - 4-Way Telecaster Neck Conversion

Convert Your Tele Neck Into a 3-Wire Neck

Last Updated: August 31st, 2020

Due to the popularity of 4-Way Switching, we get asked a lot about converting a Telecaster Neck Pickup into a 3-Wire Neck. In today’s lesson, we’ll show you how to convert the Neck pickup to work with 4-Way Switching. Please note the only time you need this Tele Neck Conversion is when you have a metal cover installed. If you don’t have a cover, you don’t need to perform this modification.

TELE NECK CONVERSION STEPS:

  1. Locate the Jumper
  2. Cutting the connection from the coil ground to the cover tab
  3. Soldering a new wire to the cover tab

STEP 1: LOCATE THE JUMPER TO GROUND EYELET

Locate the jumper that connects the Black Lead to the cover Tab. This is the lead that we will disconnect.
Locate the jumper that connects the Black Lead to the cover Tab. This is the lead that we will disconnect.

Your pickup has two leads: White for hot, and Black for ground. If you have a cover installed on your neck pickup, your cover has a jumper going to the Black lead. This sends any unwanted noise picked up by your cover to the ground. In 4-Way Switching, you need to separate this connection for the modification to work.

Locating the jumper is pretty straightforward. Carefully remove the pickup from the guitar, and turn the pickup over to expose the back of the Neck Pickup. If you have a cover, you’ll see the jumper connecting the cover to the ground (black lead) eyelet. This is the connection you’ll need to sever in Step 2 of the Tele Neck Coversion.

STEP 2: CUTTING THE CONNECTION

Using a sharp pair of wire cutters, cut the connection.
Using a sharp pair of wire cutters, cut the connection.

After identifying the jumper, use a pair of wire cutters to clip the metal connection between the cover tab and the Black lead eyelet. The cover and the coil are now separated, and we can proceed to Step 3 of the Tele Neck Conversion.

STEP 3: SOLDER NEW LEAD

Using a new wire, solder a new connection from the cover tab to ground.
Using a new wire, solder a new connection from the cover tab to ground.

Now that you’ve severed the ground connection, we need to run a separate connection to ground the cover. You can use any insulated lead to do this, but Fender Cloth Lead tends to work best. Push back the cloth insulation around the wire and apply the lead with a bit of solder to the tab of the cover – any tab will do. You have now converted your neck pickup into a 3-Wire Neck. This allows you to run the White and Black leads to the 4-Way Switch, while grounding the Cover.

You’ve now just successfully performed the Tele Neck Conversion. Now What? Take a look at our article that provides an in-depth explanation of 4-Way Switching and how to wire it up.

Also, check out our article on how to perform the 4-Way Switching Modification with a Push-Pull Pot.

Written By:

Tyler Delsack

Tyler Delsack is the Manager of Fralin Pickups and spends his time editing and maintaining the website, designing graphics and ads, and making pickups. He's powered by Jazz Guitar, Vietnamese Food, Hiking, and Beer.

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.

9 Comments

  1. I have a schecter tele did the mod (i’v done this before). ran a yellow cloth wire to the center of the pup soldered to the back of the tone pot (not much room on the vol) still noisy. It has factory shielding paint. Any suggestions?

  2. Hello Tyler:

    “apply the lead with a bit of solder to the tab of the cover – any tab will do”

    I am confused by the “any tab will do” part of this statement – I thought after clipping the short wire all that was required was attaching another new ground wire to the same connection as the existing white and black wires. What am I missing?

    Thanks – Mark

    1. Hey Mark,

      You can certainly do that. There are normally 3 tabs on the cover (two on the long side, one in between the leads where the jumper is normally connected). Since all 3 tabs are connected to the cover, you can simply solder a new ground lead to any of those tabs. However, the easiest is to simply solder the new ground lead to the existing center tab. I hope that clears things up.

  3. Hello!

    I’ve got a Black guard project that I’m putting together. I am wanting to wire up two control plates – one with original Blackguard tone circuit and one with modern tone circuit with the intent of being able to change relatively easily (disconnect pickup & output leads and re-solder). Obviously I’m not planning on switching back and forth on a weekly basis – but to have the option to compare and decide which tone circuit I like best.

    I am thinking of wiring the modern tone circuit with a 4-way switch.
    1) Will modding the neck pickup to a 3 wire configuration affect the ability to use the neck pickup in the original
    blackguard circuit?
    2) Will it have any affect on the tone?
    3) Can I ground the cover directly to my copper cavity shielding? (separate Cavity shielding is connected w/ small
    jumpers soldered directly to shielding )

    1. Hey Geoff,

      Thanks for writing in.

      1.) Nope – by modifying your Neck Pickup to be a 3 wire Neck, you’re simply separating the Cover to be grounded separately. When in Series mode, your Bridge is grounded.

      2.) Nope – the Blackguard mod simply puts your Neck Pickup’s hot signal through a 0.05 Cap. It doesn’t have anything to do with the cover ground. This is simply to make sure your neck cover doesn’t buzz when touched.

      3.) You can, but I’d recommend connecting it to the back of the volume pot. If you choose to connect to the shielding, make sure your shielding is grounded, preferably through the casing of the volume pot.

      Tyler

    1. Hey Michael,

      Yes – it’s done the exact way as a normal Telecaster Neck Pickup.

      Tyler

  4. Hello
    Where can I find your in-depth article on Tele 4-Way pickup switching ?

    Thank you
    Kind regards
    Ivo Krizan

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