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Pickup selection for a 4 way set up.

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by 33Jayman, Sep 18, 2020.

  1. 33Jayman

    33Jayman TDPRI Member

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    I have a 4 way switch in my Standard Tele. I would like some suggestions for pickups that sound good in all four positions. The guitar sounds good in the neck, middle and bridge positions but not so great in the series position. Just wondering if there were better pickup options out there that could give the PAF humbucker sound with two single coils?

    Jayman
     
  2. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    What don't you like about your current fourth position?

    I can already tell you that you won't get a PAF sound.

    The fourth position sounds good and is a useful addition, but it sounds like the normal middle position, only with a bit less treble and more mids&bass.

    Therefore, overall I'd focus on finding pickups that will make the sound you want in the other three positions, then think of the fourth position as a useful bonus.
     
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  3. Jay Jernigan

    Jay Jernigan Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Three out of four ain't bad. Seriously, I understand what you are saying: not all series combinations are created equal.
    You didn't specify the p'ups, beyond being standard tele, and I don't know if I would go down a rabbit hole at this point; unless it just sounds heinous, I would consider it as an extra and wait for the right place to use it.
    Just my two cents.
    Edit: that being said, my first, and favorite, series combination was a Fender vintage Noiseless bridge and a DiMarzio virtual vintage Blues neck.
    YMMV.
     
  4. 33Jayman

    33Jayman TDPRI Member

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    That seems like good advice. I am not sure if there is a combination out there that will do what I want and that is ok.

    Jayman
     
  5. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    Pickups designed to be good as single coils don't generally sound good in series, and vice versa - I'm not a fan of the tele 4 way mod OR coil splitting humbuckers. My opinion of course, but it sounds like you agree.
    I think to make them sound right you need to do some trickeration with caps and resistors, such as a bass cut cap that kicks in when you got to series mode.

    Another option for a "beefier" setup is to get a tapped tele pickup. This is a single coil pickup that is wound pretty hot for high output, but has a secondary output in the middle of the coil. So you get two different kinds of tele bridge pickup tones in essence. I have one like that from Cavalier (Rob Distefano on here) - in "tapped" mode it's a vintage kind of tele pickup that works great with or without the neck pickup. In "full" mode it is pretty darn hot for a vintage type pickup, and responds a lot like a P90. Not exactly, but ballpark. I have it on a 4 way that goes: 1. Neck 2. Neck + bridge (low output) 3 bridge (low output) 4 bridge (high output). Nice and simple.

    Cavalier's is great. I think the Duncan Custom shop might make something similar or you could probably have Fralin or somebody make it custom for $$$. But the Cavalier one is highly recommended and very reasonable.
     
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  6. 33Jayman

    33Jayman TDPRI Member

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    The pickups are the original Fender standard Tele pickups. Not sure exactly which models.

    I dawned on me that I did play a "60s Baja Tele and that did sound nice. Maybe I need to get the "52 and "58 tele pickups?

    Jay
     
  7. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    Find someone who will let you play his/her Baja 50s (Twisted Tele neck, Broadcaster bridge) or Baja 60s Tele (AV '52 neck, AV '58 bridge). A 4-way switch is standard for these guitars. My Baja 50s sounds good to me in all 4 positions. The 4th position with pickups in series drives the amp with a fatter tone. It's not exactly a humbucker tone, but it's own kind of sound.

    I've also got a Squier CV 50s Tele with Fender AV '63 Custom Telecaster pickups in it with a 4-way. Those are great, all-around pickups with a slightly softer treble. Good in all 4 positions for me.

    You're going to have to make a choice and spend the money to find out. No 4-way setup can truely replicate humbucker tone, the physics won't do it, but may have the tone you're wanting anyway.
     
  8. buster poser

    buster poser Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

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    Texas Specials sound pretty good in mine; bright highs, low-lows, but the mids get a smidge overwhelmed in series so I'll sometimes push them a bit w/an EQ.

    To be honest, it's a nice to have, but is one mod I use a lot less than I thought I would at the outset.
     
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  9. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Tele-Afflicted

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    Just try it the way you think you will like. If it sounds awesome to you, big plus. If you don't like it, change it.
     
  10. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    I'm fairly happy with my setup: a hot/medium hot bridge pickup and a medium low output neck pickup. The two together in series aren't too overpowering, but are definitely fatter than the other positions.

    Here's something I wrote a while back for another member about how it works out on my guitar (he was wondering whether or not to install it):


    "In my opinion a 4-way takes nothing away from a normal telecaster: you still have exactly the sounds you had before, but you get a useful new sound. It's 100% reversible and should have no effect on the guitar's value.
    For me, just about every traditional telecaster benefits from a 4-way. It makes an already versatile guitar cover even more ground without adding excessive complexity.
    I'd go so far as to make it a standard feature, if it were up to me.

    Bear in mind that the throw of the switch might be slightly longer than the length of the slot. You might need to file off a millimetre (on the slot or the switch) to accommodate it.

    As to the sound of the new position: it sounds like the normal second position, but with more bass and mids, and less treble. It doesn't really sound like a Les Paul, but like a telecaster that was eq'ed to sound a bit like a Les Paul. Really useful boost for a solo, or those times when volume is all the way up, and you still want a bit more.

    On my guitar I get a lovely palette of sounds:

    1. Bridge (slightly overwound 7.8k 52 style): bright, snarling, muscular, but cuts through.

    2. Both in parallel: pretty chime and 'cluck', great for strumming when I turn down the volume a bit. Lovely combination of roundness and sparkle, with less output than the bridge by itself.

    3. Neck (vintage style, 7k, but a nickel silver cover for more treble): gentle, transparent, glassy. Can get lost in the mix, but works well for when you need a delicate sound. Position with the least output.

    4. Both in series: a fatter, rounder sound. Less chime than the parallel setting, but more snarl than the neck on its own. Not as 'pretty' as the neck on its own.
    The extra bass and mids can push an amp into much more distortion than the previous settings, but it won't cut as well as the bridge on its own. Great for occupying more space in the mix."
     
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  11. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    Could be you don't like Series Humbuckers, or it could be that your neck pickup is just too dark. Adjusting the treble side up may help.

    You may like the "Out of Phase" series humbucking tone more or you might want to consider using a Strat pickup or Lipstick Tube pickup in the neck position.
     
  12. Sollophonic

    Sollophonic Friend of Leo's

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    I loved all positions on my Baja Tele when it was original so I have to say that that set works. Twisted Tele neck plus a Broadcaster bridge.

    However, both of these stopped working over the years so now it has a Seymour Duncan Hot Tele st in which works great with a four way

    I'd also add that because with a four way you have to run a separate ground wire from the front pickup cover, this set up works easier with a front pickup that doesn't have a cover.

    I have other Teles with Lawrence Keystones and Microcoil sets in them, which have simpler open coiled front pickups that are easy to wire four way
     
  13. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Try lowering and raising the pickups, tipping them for more bass/treble, over several days. Sometimes an eight inch difference in pickup heights make all the difference.

    If the series position is too muddy, then swap the volume pot for a 500k. If that results in too bright of single coils then dial the tone knob back a little (that's what it's for). Any Les Paul type you play will have 500k on the humbuckers.

    Change the tone cap to the next smaller value ... 0.047uF to 0.033uF or 0.022uF to 0.01uF. That will let more highs and 'sparkle'/'presence' through.

    Then if none of that works go for pickup swaps. You don't want sort through several rounds of $200 pickups just to find out the problem is $20 in control parts...

    .
     
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  14. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Cavalier Fat Lion and Fat Lion King are a great set with the 4-way for jazz, esp. with 12s. They sound almost like P90s in the parallel and series positions...to me, anyway. I really like my Bootstrap Palo Duros for more traditional stuff. I use 4-ways on all my teles. It's a rare pickup set that doesn't sound good in all 4 positions.
     
  15. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    CSTS
    Keystone Dlx.
    CS Nocaster

    All great 4 w pups.
     
  16. 33Jayman

    33Jayman TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for the input guys!
     
  17. sjtalon

    sjtalon Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Greetings from a Yooper

    Question (just thought of something):

    How long have you had the 4 w in.

    Are you sure series is working ??

    What pups do you have anyway ?


    Take a paper clip or screwdriver and tap on the pickups in position 2 ( both pups parallel) and then 4 (both series).

    You should hear that 2 is a more-so brighter clicking than 4. That is 2 is click click click, 4, thud thud thud :cool:. You should hear some difference there anyway.

    Often the lever can't throw all the way in 4 way installs (need more travel space) and the slot it too short.

    If you don't have a difference in the sound check, loosen the switch screws and pull the knob off and try it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
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  18. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    If you have the sound you like from the standard three positions, don't take that for granted. People spend hundreds of dollars just trying to get that. The series position is going the have a humbucker tone profile, but you get what you get. It won't ever be PAF.

    You want PAF, add a PAF humbucker and be all the way there. It will be cheaper than experimenting with single coil sets.
     
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  19. Itgoesto11

    Itgoesto11 Tele-Meister

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    I have Boorstrap pretzels installed and Never run position #4 with the volume full on. If you have good wiring / pots try backing off the volume as much as 40% in position 4 and see if that gets you closer to PAF.
     
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  20. 33Jayman

    33Jayman TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions guys.

    I have to admit since I started this thread, if I play with my amp and guitar, tone settings I get real good sound out of the 4th position.

    Jayman
     
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