Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

4-way switch mod: inconsistent activation of 4th position

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by borismcorpheus, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. borismcorpheus

    borismcorpheus TDPRI Member

    Aug 7, 2010
    So I just installed the classic 4-way switch mod on my CV50s.

    I seemed to have run into a strange issue though. The 4th position (neck/bridge series) doesn't always switch on when the switch is placed into the 4th position. I've done my best to debug everything and have concluded that it is not a soldering issue.

    What does reproducibly happen is that the 4th position will always successfully switch on if I give the switch a reasonably firm shove into the 4th position. If I just kinda gently slide it from 3rd to 4th position, the 4th position doesn't always get activated, and instead all I get is the neck pickup (and it sounds the exact same as position 3). In this case, if I give the switch a firm press upward, it can correct itself from the failed attempt and successfully make the 4th position sound.

    FYI, I am using the standard Fender 4-way tele switch.

    Anybody have any input on this? Is the switch defective somehow? Can I fix it possibly? It seems to me that if it's just one of the contact points that is inconsistent, that could be fixed relatively easily, but idk what's going on at this point.

  2. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Dec 29, 2010
    The slot in many control plates isn't long enough to let the switch go firmly in its detent. You can lengthen the slot slightly with a hacksaw blade, or file a small notch in the switch lever where it's contacting the end of the slot. Sometimes you can simply loosen the switch screws and scoot it just a hair and it will work properly.

  3. borismcorpheus

    borismcorpheus TDPRI Member

    Aug 7, 2010
    It worked! dsutton, you are the man! I loosened the switch screws and shifted the switch slightly and then retightened, and now it works just fine.

  4. doof

    doof Tele-Holic

    this is what i ended up doing when i put a 4-way in my american special. much easier than lengthening the slot in the control plate and basically invisible. Didn't know about being able to loosen the screw and slide the switch over, good to know, thanks!
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013

  5. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    I also chose to cut a notch in the switch because (1) it's softer and only took a few strokes with a triangle file and (2) I've got some switches in a drawer but no spare control plates, so I thought at the time that it was a better idea to modify the switch and preserve the "reversibility" of the four-way mod. On the other hand, a notch in the switch is not completely invisible, whereas a carefully enlarged slot would be more stealthy if you're careful.

  6. doof

    doof Tele-Holic

    i file the complete side down, so for me it really is invisible until you take the switch tip off, then you can see the dissymmetry.

  7. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    Those are some cool solutions I hadn't considered.

    When Vince Stadler (Taipantone) made me a large batch of stainless control plates, we deliberately did the slot long so that there'd be no interference no matter which type of switch was employed. I believe Bill Callaham addresses this issue on his plates as well; I actually bought a couple entire finished 4 way switched control plate assemblies from him and use one as my "pattern" when I assemble my own.

  8. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    Happiness is a fast solution to that age old problem of "why won't position #4 engage?

  9. toneshaper

    toneshaper TDPRI Member

    Oct 27, 2008
    Doheny Beach
    The 4-way switch has a wider angle than a 3-way switch. This is the reason why a typical 3-way control plate will not fully engage in position 1 & 4. This is also why I had some custom 4-way switch control plates made to solve this problem. Here the link with more info...

  10. Tuxedo Poly

    Tuxedo Poly Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 19, 2011
    Merseyside UK
    A cheap "joint" needle file which is smooth sided with rounded file edges is pretty good for slotting the switch or the control plate

    Attached Files:

  11. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    Other possible solution if switch tip is landing on the plate - bevel the bottom "collar" of the switch tip. A single drop of cya to hold the tip in place, comes off when you want it to and not before.

  12. sjtalon

    sjtalon Poster Extraordinaire

    You normally don't have to take out much of the slot with the slop in the screw holes helping you.

    If you don't want to go buy a fancy pants file (no offense to Tuxedo) for that "one time job", use a hack saw blade to cut it back a tad.

  13. dadder

    dadder Tele-Meister

    Sep 10, 2011
    Northern Ireland
    What puzzles me is how come the Fenders, which come factory fitted with 4 way switches, seem to work OK?
    They also have Oak Grigsby 4 way switches but their, factory fitted ones, seem to work in a standard slot.
    Methinks all 4 way switches are not created equal even tho' they look the same.

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