“Nashville” Tele Wiring . . . in a Strat?!

What do you get when you cross . . .

I’ve been coveting one of those “Nashville-Style” Telecasters — you know, the hot-rodded, three-pickup versions popularized by Nashville session superhero Brent Mason, and now a regular Fender production model.

Then it dawned on me: Since some of Mongrel Strats I’ve been playing with have strong Tele tendencies, why not flip the equation? Instead of a Tele that acts like a Strat, why not a Strat that thinks it’s a Tele?

The Fender version replaces the usual Tele 3-way switch with a 5-way, as shown in this wiring diagram, though many players prefer to keep the 3-way switch and add the middle pickup via a blend knob, as in this other wiring diagram.

I took the latter approach, and I am flipping out over all the new tones it unlocks. Check out this little video demo:

The disadvantage of the blend-knob version is, you no longer have access to the sound of the middle pickup alone. (As if I care — it’s the most boring sound on a Strat!) One the other hand, you get the splendid sound of the outer pickups together — something you can’t obtain on a standard Strat. Better still, you can adjust the amount of middle pickup added to the combined settings, unlocking many cool shadings unavailable on a conventional Strat. You can also dial in the sound of all three pickups together, another combo unattainable on regular Strat. (Generally, this setting doesn’t do much for me, though I love it when using a Tele-caster style bridge pickup, like the Seymour Duncan Twang Banger I have in this guitar. (The neck pickup is a Duncan SSL-1. The middle pickup is also an SSL-1, but reverse-wound, reverse-polarity version.) All that in exchange for sacrificing middle pickup alone? Such a deal!

Aside from the sounds, I dig the concept of this wiring scheme. Now I think of the “out of phase” sounds not as pickup-selector positions, but as a character accessible at all times. With the middle knob turned left, you get sharp, crisp Tele/Strat tones. As you rotate it to the right, the colors get softer, prettier, and more diffuse. As I mention in the video, it reminds me of the focus and aperture controls on a high-end camera. It makes me think differently and play differently — and those are almost always good things. :)

32 comments to “Nashville” Tele Wiring . . . in a Strat?!

  • Sam Geese

    Hey Joe
    Another great article and demo.
    I was wondering what that component is on both the 3-way and the 5-way switches.
    Thanks. 

  • joe

    Thanks, Sam!

    Do you mean, what switches do I use? I’m really into the Schaller Megaswitches, available from Stew Mac. 

    • Sam Geese

      Actually, what I meant was; if you look in both the wiring diagrams, you see some sort of component (resistor, diode,ect) soldered to lugs on the switches.  Just wondering what those might be.

  • I made a tele/Les Paul hybrid using the Megaswitch. I don’t have an option to blend the middle pickup, and only use it in the 2 and 4 positions.

     

  • el reclusa

    Hmmmm… wired my lone Strat with a blend pot to mix neck & bridge pups, but I’m intrigued by the idea of the blend adding in middle instead. Could be cool…

  • David Fung

    Love the sound of this guitar, and really love your riffing on this.  The outer pickup tone is great, and I really like the tones with the bypass middle pickup rolled in when the tone is down.  Two interesting questions- how do you wind a pickup to encourage the Tele squawk?  Is it less low end?  I thought the boingy tone was coming from the big Tele bridge plate distorting the magnetic field

    Also, wouldn’t you rather use the RW/RP pickup at the neck?  Then it will hum cancel with the bridge pickup (or at least partial do so if they don’t match electrically).

    Another brilliant and cool schematic! 

    • joe

      Thanks for the nice stuff you said, David! :)

      Yeah, I love the outer pickup tone too. There are a lot of way to get that. One of the easiest is install the Strat Megaswitch that simply replaces the position #3 with outer pickups together. 

      I believe the Twang Banger — and other pickups of its type — rely on a metal bottom plate similar to the ones on Tele bridge pickups. And the more I play it, the more I think twang and squawk aren’t quite the right words to describe it. To me it’s a metallic clang, like an iron gate slamming shut. 

  • Sergio

    Joe this wiring seems to be what i was searching for a very long time , outer pickup position is really interesting and that tone control is very effective . I’ve just a few questions : if i put the middle pickup volume all the way up , can I still obtain the hum-cancelling effect typical of 2-4 position in a regular Strat wiring?And what about putting the middle pickup volume at half or less?
    Oh , just one more thing : you’re amazing !

  • My main gigging guitar has an HSH configuration allied to a 5-way switch. The bridge is a PAF-style pickup, wired to an on-on-on switch that gives parallel/single/series sounds; the neck is a fantastic Seymour Duncan P-Rails, wired as suggested to give the rail/P90/humbucker sounds.  Once I’d installed these, it struck me that there are some great tones to be had from the ‘outer’ positions, as so ably demonstrated by Joe in his video.  I therefore wired the tone control up on a push-push switch, so it stills functions as a tone control should, but the switch engages the bridge pickup regardless of where the 5-way is set.  Obviously, in positions 1-3 this makes no difference to the sound, but position 4 gives you all pickups on, and position 5 gives you neck and bridge. Dial in the three sounds that each of the humbuckers can produce, then add in the middle single coil, and you have 31 possible combinations. Of course, some are just subtle variations on a theme, but the outer sounds are fantastic. It’s ideal because I play in an Elvis band, so I need twang, and then in a rock band where I need grunt; thanks to these wiring mods, this one guitar has it all covered.

  • Oinkus

    Didn’t the Stellacaster just come up recently ? Let me find and scan the schematic I got for that thing just for fun. My HM Strat has been heavily modded , now it is HSH Anderson pups and it has  Floyd Rose instead of the kahler. But the one thing I really use alot is the blend knob in the last spot it really opens up some great sounds and allows you to focus the pickups any way you might like. Very cool Joe we like it alot ! :stupid:

  • Oinkus

    Ok try this one?

  • JH

    Wow! that guitar sounds great!

    • joe

      Thanks, JH! Your words mean more than you might imagine, since that is, in fact, the first guitar I’ve ever assembled myself from scratch. Sure, it’s just a “parts Strat” of the sort any experienced builder could slap together in an hour. But it was pretty nerve-wracking for me! :)

  • Oinkus

    Makes a million times better since you did it yourself !

  • JTCM

    A couple quick questions. Could you put in a 4 way switch, allowing you to get both the outer pickups in series, without changing anything else? Also, you mentioned that this setup doesn’t let you get the middle pickup by itself. For those few of us that like the middle pickup sound (we do exist), could we add a push/pull that turns the outer pickups off? Or just turn the main volume knob to 0 and turn the middle pickup blend knob all the way up? Just wondering.

  • mngiza

    This gentleman has been selling Strat rewire kits and preconfigured switches off his website for years: lots of info here.

    http://deaf-eddie.net/

  • Oystein

    Is it just me, or is there something wrong with the link to the second wiring diagram? I get a “page not found” message.

    • joe

      I just tried it, and the link seems to work. Maybe something was screwy on the Duncan site, where it resides?

      Anyway, if you can’t download it, email me (joe_at_tonefiend.com), and I’ll just send you a copy. :) :ban:

  • pj

    I have 3 pickups in my tele and have the neck and bridge wired to a 4 way switch for series/parallel options and the middle wired to its own volume pot. This makes for an extremely versatile instrument and I initially came up with this wiring because the tele was my only guitar. The series option with the middle blended in sound pretty cool as does all three pickups in parallel.

    P

    • joe

      Hi pj!You know, I’m still addicted to that wiring scheme, or variations thereof. Overall I have far more experience with Strats than Teles, but I’m relating to my Strats much more with Tele-type wiring.

  • Vivek

    Hey Joe,

    I just discovered your website/blog and am really digging it. A question – I love the idea of blending in the middle pickup as in this wiring but want to keep the five way switch my Strat came with. The plan is to make the middle knob a blend knob and keep one master volume and tone.

    Anything useful I could use the extra two positions for?

    • joe

      Yes, it would work — but with some quirks. The idea with the blend wirings is that the middle pickup bypasses the selector switch, going directly to its own volume pot and then the output. With a five-way switch, that would mean you’d get normal strat operation with the blend knob all the way up/ But when the knob is down, you’d have silence in position 3, and positions 1 and 2 and positions 3 and 4 would sound identical. But the biggest drawback of that approach is you’d miss out on the great outside-pickups-together setting, one of the main reasons for the change. Alternately, you could convert one of your tone knobs to a push/pull pot that leave the bridge always on. That provides all seven possible settings, but wouldn’t let you blend.

      Here’s a relevant thread from the Strat Talk forum. Hope that helps!

  • Joe, this seems essentially similar to the Strat wiring I learned from Steve Kimock and which I use on two of my three Strats. You mentioned not being able to get the middle pickup alone — why not? Couldn't you just roll the main volume off and roll the second (middle p/u) volume up? That's how mine work, anyway. I kinda like the middle pickup alone sometimes, especially on my Strat that has lipstick pickups.

  • Karl Krueger

    Thanks for sharing the videos and the wiring diagrams. I'm going to be brave and try a project soon. I've messed some s**t up in the past, and I'm down to 2 strats at the moment. One is "gold", with dual Dimarzio PAF Joe's and a treble roll-off, and nobody better mess with it. The other is a basic MIM partscaster. I have the Twang-banger ready to go in, just pulled it from a project that was aborted a parts were sold. I'm thinking I might try to pick up a Squire really cheap, practice on that before I attempt the mod on my good strat.

  • Karl Krueger

    Wow! Really? People actually used the middle pickup by itself. What for?

  • Karl Krueger

    Do you have a diagram for the mod you did on those? I might like to have the option of the middle pickup alone, since I use it every once in a blue moon for some gritty lead.

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      • Discovering that hidden pickup tones appear to have seductive aphrodisiac-like qualities

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      More Supporting Evidence

      Scientists acknowledge that music has a certain influence over our emotions and thoughts. Here is a general definition of sentimental.

      sen·ti·men·tal [sen-tuh-men-tl] adjective
      Expressive of or appealing to sentiment, especially the tender emotions and feelings, as love, pity, or nostalgia: a sentimental song.

      In taking a close look at Frank Sinatra (aka: the chairman of the board), you can see that virtually EVERY hit song had a “sentimental context.” And that – plus the “tone” of his voice – was the secret to his success. Think I’m kidding? Here are some of his best songs. It is you decide if our upgrade products plus a sentimental music context has strong merit to put your flailing career into orbit.

      A Foggy Day [In London Town]
      All Or Nothing At All
      All The Things You Are
      All The Way
      Angel Eyes
      April In Paris
      Autumn In New York
      Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered
      But Beautiful
      But Not For Me
      Dancing On The Ceiling
      Darn That Dream
      East Of The Sun
      Easy To Love
      Fly Me To The Moon
      Fools Rush In
      Getting Sentimental Over You
      Ghost Of A Chance
      Here’s That Rainy Day
      How Do You Keep The Music Playing?
      How High The Moon
      Old Blue Eyes
      I Concentrate On You
      I Get A Kick Out Of You
      I Won’t Dance
      I’ll Get By
      I’ll Never Smile Again
      I’ll Take Manhattan
      I’m A Fool To Want You
      It Had To Be You
      Lady is A Tramp
      Moonlight In Vermont
      More Than You Know
      My Old Flame
      New York, New York
      Night And Day
      One For My Baby
      Polk-A-Dots And Moonbeams Stardust
      Strangers In The Night
      That’s Life
      The Song Is You
      What’s New
      Where Or When
      Witchcraft
      You Go To My Head
      You’ve Changed

      Although you can also create your own sentimental songs, some other “sentimental” songs include:

      Moonlight In Vermont
      My Foolish Heart
      Our Love Is Here To Stay
      Smile
      Summertime
      Prisoner of Love
      Moon River
      Tenderly
      Try A Little Tenderness

      To get an idea of how some of these sentimental song standards sound on guitar, go to John Amato’s website at: http://www.chordmelody.org.

      Do You Believe This?

      Music is also used to influence the length of time that you stay in a mall. Stores that target older shoppers play “elevator” type music at a lower volume, while stores that target a younger age group will use more upbeat music played at a higher volume. This is deliberately done to enhance the likelihood that shoppers will stay and spend more money in that store. If music did not affect a person’s mood, they would either play the same music in every store, or would not play music at all.

      During the Christmas season people listen to Christmas music at the mall. This helps them stay in that state of euphoria all month long and brings them back to happy memories of when they were children who still believed in the miracle of Santa Clause – singing songs of eggnog, mistletoe, candy canes, and snow – while deliberately increasing the likelihood of staying longer and spending more money.

      Music is a complex acoustic and temporal structure that induces a large variety of emotional responses in listeners. Put simply, music can affect a person’s behavior and mood. Scientific investigations show that basic human emotions; such as adulation, happiness, anger, fear and sadness can be created by musical stimuli. This also reveals just how often our thoughts and actions are deliberately seized and taken over by others using subtle tone and color “cues” for manipulative and agenda-driven purpose. Now that you are aware, you also can use this insight to deliberately influence people in a subtle way.

      Some Additional Facts

      The ongoing erosion of the guitar’s dominant clout by new trend genres like dance, electronica, techno pop, rap and hip-hop is putting pressure on smarter guitar players to get a defining edge on everyone else. In addition, the influx of millions of new wannabe players is glutting an already crowded market.

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      Even the “F” company gives legitimacy to parallel/series pickup configurations with their S1 switch. But their switching system will only gives you no more than 10 pickup tones, and is unlike our high performance Pickup Switch UpgradeTM products that will give you all the pickup tones ever created.

      Our upgrade products will give you performance that is light years ahead of any wimpy and obsolete “custom shop” instrument. So why would you want to upgrade your instruments with our products?

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      A customer recently asked us which pickup tones are the ideal ones to use. We cannot give them a direct answer because everyone is using different pickups. In addition, pickup “tone” is a matter of personal preference that only you can define. You must upgrade your instrument and then experiment to see which specific tone(s) produce the desired effect.

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      And now the first U.S. Company to offer 3D printed guitars.

      (Permission is granted to distribute this document unaltered.)

      That sounds totally credible, especially since you back up your claims with science! Just a few quick questions:

      1. Does this present a potential problem for heterosexual female guitarists? Do they have to fend off a lot of unwanted attention from other women? I’m not saying that in an anti-lesbian way or anything. I just mean in case they’re not into other chicks.

      2. Say I’m a guy who digs guys. Is there any trick that can make it work the other way? Maybe like a phase-reverse switch, or something? Does it work with transgendered women? What about ultra-feminine gay guys?

      3. How about on a left-handed guitar? Will that lure only dominant women? What about a reverse-strung righty? (I don’t mean to split hairs here, but I’d by lying if I said I didn’t foresee possible complications.)

      4. Any advice for metal and punk players who may not know the changes to “Moonlight in Vermont?” Do you need to play a complete chord-melody arrangement to achieve the desired effect? Or would it be enough if you just learned the melody from tab? Is it okay to use distortion? Can I still scoop my mids?

      5. You emphasize that it’s the “hidden sounds” that produce the effect. In your experience, are some more effective than others, or are all the non-standard settings equally potent? (If a few are particularly useful, I can imagine a “light” version of your product, with fewer wiring permutations, but an emphasis on the most advantageous ones. You can use that idea if you like — no charge!)

      6. Does it work with any sentimental music? Or just “Great American Songbook” numbers from the ’30s and ’40s? Have you tried it with sentimental non-jazz numbers, like “Beth” by Kiss, or Bobby Goldsboro’s “Watching Scotty Grow?” I know both of those.

      7. What would happen if you made an impulse response of one of your “hidden” settings, and then ran a conventional tone through it so the spectrum matches your product? Is that a plausible workaround, or does it have to be analog?

      8. How do dropped tunings affect the results? Do they attract chunkier chicks? How about when you play with a capo?

      9. What effect does pickup height have? Is the effect stronger when the pickups are closer to the strings?

      10. What about pickup output? Do pickups with a stronger magnetic pull exert, um, a stronger magnetic pull? (I’d assume so, but I figure it’s worth checking with an expert.)

      11. What if my “target audience” doesn’t like sentimental music? Say she’s really into Throbbing Gristle and Sunn O))). Will it still work? Will it make her a jazz fan?

      12. What happens after your invention becomes a hit? Will it still be possible to distinguish oneself after every other schmo has unlocked those “hidden” sounds? Or is it simply better to be an early adopter and milk it while you can?

      Wait, I almost forgot!

      13. Some people online say you never really hear your guitar at its best until you put in $100 capacitors. Other people say all caps sound the same. So my question for you is: Do you know where I can buy some of those $100 caps?

      I know my readers will have questions too. Hope you can stick around to reply.

      Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Neuro Linguistic Programming Institute

    You don’t need pickup “switch”, just good pickup “lines”.

  • Bebah Palulah

    I put a phase switch on the middle pickup of an SSS Yamaha guitar with individual toggles per pickup. So I got 3 new tones, not including the coil-tapping switch (which gives a softer, brighter tone to all settings).

    2 of the 3, in addition to being humbucking were so bright that they’d rip your head off for anything other than a special effect thin sound. The third one, with all pickups on, was nice and gave a scooped-mid kind of sound.

    The problem with some of these hidden tones is they deserve to be hidden. And can you imagine dealing with 6 toggles in performance?

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