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Fender pickup wire colors

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Marc Morfei, Jan 16, 2021.

  1. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    This must seem like a dumb question, but my google research is turning up lots of conflicting information.
    I am swapping out my Fender tele pickups for new Cavaliers. Naturally the wire colors do not correspond. My current Fender Twisted tele neck pickup has 3 wires: black, green, yellow. Right now green is soldered to the back of the V pot (ground), and yellow and black are both going to the 4-way switch. The various Fender wiring diagrams I have found online say for Fender pickups white is hot, or green is hot. Well, I don't have a white wire, and green is going to ground. Most of the earlier comments I found say the yellow wire should be grounded to the pot. But currently it is going to the switch. So I am stumped. Any help? Is the yellow "hot"?

    For my current bridge pickup, white is going to the switch, and black to ground. So that at least makes sense. I know what each of the Cavalier wires are, so if I can confirm what my Fender wires are doing, I think I can make them correspond. Thanks,
     
  2. Geo

    Geo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think the green is to ground the pickup cover that is necessary if using a 4-way switch
    to prevent hum.
     
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  3. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Yuppers ▲
     
  4. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    So, you have a four-way switch, with both neck yellow and black soldered to it. Right. One of those wires can be traced (with your finger) to the volume pot. It's actually connected to the vol pot always, and just soldered to the switch for convenience. That one is your hot, and the other is your common. Green is shield cover.

    If I recall, yellow is usually the hot with that set, but still do that simple check.
     
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  5. teleplayr

    teleplayr Tele-Afflicted

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    Have you considered contacting Fender and asking?
     
  6. Tuxedo Poly

    Tuxedo Poly Tele-Afflicted

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    The Baja service manual shows the pickup wire colors. The water is muddied by the presence of the S1 switch. You may need to cut a link on the Cavalier and solder a new length of wire to one of the cover tabs.

    Service manual
    https://www.fmicassets.com/Damroot/Original/10002/014-1502A_SISD.pdf

    Tele_neck_pup_ground_sm.jpg

    The bottom picture is the current way Fender do it
    Twisted_Tele_Neck_Ground_Types.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
  7. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Friend of Leo's

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    So it would be great if all manufacturers used the same color of wires for every pickup. But they don't and probably won't. But we can figure out what the wires are by understanding where they come from.

    single-coil-pickup-winding-depicted-900 (1).jpg

    So I don't think of the wires as hot and ground, because they each work for both. You've got the start of the coil and the end of the coil. It's easy to tell if you know what you're looking for because the start will be buried under layers and layers of winds and the end will come right off the edge. The first wrap makes contact with the pole pieces. That picture should illustrate what I'm talking about. And this will indicate wind direction. So check out your original pickup. Which was is it wound? Now check out your new pickup and see if it's the same or opposite. If it's the same that's step one.

    This third wire that you have. Is it soldered to the pickup cover? With the 4 way mod you have to have a dedicated ground for the cover because both lead wires (start and end) are going to the switch. So it sounds like in your scenario yellow and black are your start and end and green is your dedicated ground wire for the pickup cover.

    So now figure out which wire is the ground on your new pickup, which one is the start and the end and wire it up the same way. It would also be a good idea to check for polarity on your pickups. Get a small magnet and put it near your pickup. Does it attract or oppose? Hopefully both pickups, new and old, will do the same thing, so the polarity would be the same. If not it's an easy fix, but the pickup manufacturer might replace it with a different one for you too. I know some of them will.
     
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  8. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Thank you!
     
  9. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Thank you for this excellent response. Part of the difficulty for a novice like me is not only do the different brands all use different colors, they also use different terminology. I am left on my own to infer that terms like “hot”, “signal”, and “start,” all mean the same thing. Or do they?

    that’s something that bugs me a little about instructions and videos. I appreciate being told where to connect the wires. But I have not yet found a video that explains why you connect them that way. If I could better understand the logic behind it, it would all make more sense.
     
  10. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Thanks, I didn’t think to check the Baja manual. I don’t have the S1 switch, but these are the same pickups and 4-way switch.
     
  11. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Simply think of a pickup like wiring light bulb wires. You can connect either the black or white romex wire either way and it will work.

    A guitar pickup is like that. BY ITSELF, or say, a one pickup guitar, it makes NO difference which color coil wire you connect to the switch ( called the hot or positive coil wire) and which goes to the back of a pot (coil ground or negative wire). Works either way. What wire is what is defined by what it is connected to.

    It seems most common us geetar folks don't use the fancy negative-positive terminology deal, just HOT (rarely called signal )and GROUND.

    NOW if you have two pickups, of the SAME MAGNETIC polarity, they have to be connected the same, (that is which wire you use as hot based on how the wind direction comes off the coil) or they will be out of phase (sound weak or thin, nasally).

    I'll post below about the RW/RP deal (noise reduction)


    https://www.fralinpickups.com/2020/04/10/how-to-reverse-pickup-phase/
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
  12. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Two pickups 101

    Remember that RWRP is a relative term, one pickup to its mate. A pickup per se, is not RWRP.

    The real term should be RC RP; that is, reverse CONNECTED. How a pickup is *wound doesn't really mean jack. What matters is how the MANUFACTURES wire them. That is, what color leads they use so that when wired, they are correct with each other PHASE WISE. For instance, Fender is usually black ground, white (sometimes yellow) positive.

    There is no standard as far as connection, OR polarity in the industry of a SET, so it's a crapshoot when you mix brands.

    One can get any two pups IN PHASE by reversing the coil leads on ONE pickup of the set. Sometimes a modification to the pickup has to be done if one of the leads is connected to a cover or base plate, which is often done to both ground the coil and cover with one lead.

    If you want noise reduction, ONE of the two pickups must be of opposite polarity and CONNECTED in reverse (or opposite how the wind is as far as it's positive lead).

    If you don't care about the noise reduction, then POLARITY doesn't matter, they can both be the same, only the correct connection (of leads) so the two are in phase with one another.


    So with two SEPARATE pickups, RC/RP, it's been wrongly characterized as humbucking you could say. Actually, it's more-so noise reduction, or noise canceling. Helps quite a bit with EMI.

    True hb is two coils in series, opposite polarity/connection.

    So to get close to the function of a real hb, one can wire two separate single coil pups in series, like what is commonly done with a 4 way switch on a Tele.



    *WIND:

    Actually means nothing, as phase wise to match any of the two to it's mate it will be playing with, the leads can be reversed so that they sound proper. So a manufacture just happens to solder the right color wire, to the right coil end on the flatware hole.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
  13. smoothrecluse

    smoothrecluse Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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  14. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Friend of Leo's

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    ^^^^^^^^^

    This is all excellent.

    Hot, signal, and start probably don't mean the same thing, but they could. First caveat, I'm no electrician, but I've wound enough pickups and wired enough guitars to know a thing or two. So with a pickup you have one wire coming in and one wire going out. If you only have one pickup wire it up either way and you will have no discernable difference.

    Adding more pickups causes the problems and then we have to start worrying about terms like hot, signal, start, end, clockwise, etc. Sjtalon said it perfectly that wind direction doesn't matter. You can flip two wires and recreate the effect of dropping in a different pickup with a reverse wind. If you're replacing all of your pickups with the same brand it shouldnt matter either. Just follow their wiring scheme, keep all the wires of the same color doing the same things and you should be good.

    So let's take a look at your guitar again. I would bust that thing open and try to take some detailed pictures of the wiring to share. I'd like to know if your bridge pickup is wound clockwise or counter clockwise and what color wire goes to the start and end. That will help us help you get this mess figured out.

    I always feel like I ramble so I'm not sure if I answered your questions or created more. But keep asking.
     
  15. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Since you're asking about terminology, one of the most confusing things I see VERY frequently, including all over this thread, is the use of the term 'ground' vs 'common'.

    Common may be connected to ground, but not always. In a guitar it may be it may be connected to another pickup (coil). In an amp there may be a network of components between common and actual ground.

    Guitar scenarios where the distinction is critical usually involve series, phase manipulation, and/or making particular coils active to hum-cancel or to get a different tone.

    ln your series wiring, you have yellow and black on the switch. One is conditionally connected to either ground (another part of the circuit, not part of the pickup itself), or to the bridge pickup, to form the series connection. The other wire is (as I mentioned) connected to the switch for convenience, but is actually hardwired to the signal path (vol pot input lug). In case you're wondering, the neck pickup in this wiring is turned OFF by lifting (disconnecting) the common. It's not connected to either ground or bridge.
     
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  16. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Well I think I have it all back together. I connected everything per the Cavalier wiring diagram. But I have one wire left over. My previous bridge pickup had two wires. The new bridge pickup has three. The Cavalier instructions say: "The Green bridge pickup lead is for string grounding, and is optional only IF the guitar the pickup will be put in already has string grounding with a bridge string ground wire." I have no idea what that means. Where do I connect this "extra" wire? Any ideas?
     
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  17. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    So if a bridge pickup has no metallic baseplate, they will add a dedicated wire to perform that function, id est, have the bridge plate grounded.


    Pickups with a metal baseplate can perform that function, by having a base plate ground wire, then via the mount screws into the metal baseplate from the bridge, the strings get grounded as well.

    I would go to a ground point with that new pup green wire.

    You can remove the bridge grounding wire that WAS there, or just leave it as it won't do any damage as is. It must have been grounded somehow.


    >already has string grounding with a bridge string ground wire<
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
  18. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Thanks! Yes that’s basically what I did. There is a grounding lug inside the pickup cavity that feeds up to the bridge. But I had already put the bridge and everything back on. So I grounded it to a lug in the control cavity that fed up the the back of a pot. All seems well. No buzz or hum, everything sounds good! Also I had emailed Rob asking for some guidance, and he emailed me back right away (even on Sunday!). So thanks for everyone’s help!
     
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  19. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
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