3-Position Wiring - How Can You Know?

CryptCaster

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When it comes to the old double esquires, broad and nocasters, and the early telecasters, our tried and true 3-position switch likely isn't wired "bridge-both-neck" as most teles have since the mid 60s. So, when you have an opportunity to play an older Fender T-style, or a Custom Shop T doing its best to emulate the old school (and assuming you don't have paperwork or anyone who can just TELL you how it's wired) how can you deduce what the switch is wired to do?

For context, I'm very much a noob when it comes to the historical gear, and I'm eager to take my playing and my love of T-style instruments to a deeper level. Thank you all for your advice and input here.
 

loopfinding

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It’s pretty apparent with your ear, it doesn’t sound remotely like standard 3 position.

Earliest wiring is muffled neck (like if you turned the tone control all the way down) in the upper position, neck in middle position, neck with the bridge in the bottom position. no tone control, the tone control is a blender only in the bottom position (neck or the modern middle position sound).

Then the next wiring is muffled neck tone on upper position, neck on middle, bridge on bottom. The knobs are just master vol and then tone for the two lower positions.

If you think the wiring isn’t that, or you have to verify the dark cap...unscrew the plate and just look at the wiring or the cap value.
 
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OverlandLtd

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I think the cutoff year for the dark neck - neck - bridge wiring was 1967. The Broadcaster wiring with the blend was ended in 1953. So that's your tell if it's an older guitar or a vintage accurate Custom Shop model.

If you don't really care about the nerdy side of it, it's mostly a sound thing. That preset tone on the would-be neck position is super dull and you don't have that classic Tele middle position.
 

Peegoo

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How you hold a steel tool when doing a tap test matters. Look here:

Tap-Test-Pickups.jpg
 

CryptCaster

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This is really helpful and interesting. Looks like the one that inspired this thread is a "dark neck, neck, blended neck and bridge" variety - which is entirely new to me. Very cool. Thank you phart, overland, peegoo, and loopfinding! I appreciate the education and insight!
 

coolrene

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I did assemble a double ‘50s Esquire homage model to Jeff Beck. I used a CS Nocaster pickup for the neck and a Florance ‘50s voodoo T pickup on the bridge. It came like the 2 pickups are wound differently, so that they are out of phase in the middle position. I could have inverted the wiring and add a ground wire to the neck pickup to put them back in phase, but I found interesting to leave it like that (like on the J Mascis signature model): it gave me the usual twangy tone in the back position, a mellow, jazz type tone in the front and a Peter Green nasal sound in the middle (I then raise the volume and cut the treble a bit on the tone pot).
Here’s the beast;
 

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jvin248

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.

You can also plug a guitar cord in the guitar and measure the kohms at the far end of the cord as you cycle through the guitar switch positions.

This is how I found a couple of HH guitars where one pickup was dead and the seller wired the good pickup to both switch positions. Or one that swapped pickups and had the bridge in the neck position. Or the loaded pickguard with a wonky 5-way switch.

I have an old Harbor Freight multi-meter kept in the car where I removed the standard probes and wired the meter with a 1/4in jack so I just plug right in the guitar and get all the readings easily.

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