Get meatier Tele sounds without changing your pickups.
Let's explore a common mod for Telecasters and other two-pickup guitars, but with a little twist: wiring two pickups in series rather than in parallel to get louder, meatier sounds. This mod is also known as Telecaster 4-way wiring.
A Telecaster with a standard 3-way switch and traditional wiring provides the classic pickup combinations we all know and love:
Position #1: bridge pickup alone
Position #2: both pickups in parallel
Position #3: neck pickup alone
But many players (myself included) like having an additional option with more balls, perfect for solos that easily drive your amp into saturation. This sound is also cool for playing jazz. Hitting this goal is as easy as wiring the two pickups in series rather than in parallel.
In parallel mode, the pickup inputs are connected, as are the outputs. This is one of the main reasons a Telecaster usually sounds very bright. The signal from each pickup reaches the output jack via the shortest possible route. High frequencies reach the output jack almost unchecked, giving your Tele its signature sparkling quality.
Fig. 1 — How to wire your Tele for an added series sound.
Image courtesy of Fender Musical Instrument Corporation
The sound of series.
In series mode, however, the ground wire of one pickup is connected to the hot wire of the other. They become a kind of "compound pickup," sharing one ground and one hot output. When pickups are wired in series, their impedance is summed, and the output is very high. However, some treble frequencies are lost because the long pickup wire acts as a resistor, and any resistor in the signal path suppresses the signal. Additionally, resistors attenuate higher frequencies more than low ones, which explains the prominent lows and midrange of series-wired pickups. Compared to parallel wiring, the signal must travel through twice as much pickup wire to reach the output jack.
The resulting tone increases a Telecaster's versatility, so it wasn't long before someone came up with a nice solution: the 4-way switch. Simply replace the standard 3-way switch with a special 4-way switch and follow the Fender wiring diagram in Fig. 1. The mod is invisible from the outside, and it provides this switching matrix:
Position #1: bridge pickup alone
Position #2: both pickups in parallel
Position #3: neck pickup alone
Position #4: both pickups in series
In series mode, the ground wire of one pickup is connected to the hot wire of the other. They become a kind of "compound pickup," sharing one ground and one hot output.
Important: Before performing this mod, you need to check whether your neck pickup sports the usual metal cover. If so, you must separate the cover from ground, as explained in my May 2013 Premier Guitar column, "Preparing Your Tele for Future Mods."
An alternative arrangement.
Some players don't want to change the standard 3-way switch, or don't like the order of settings in the 4-way switch mod. (The order can be changed, as we'll see in an upcoming column.)
It's possible to use a 2PDT switch to activate series wiring. You can do this using a mini-toggle switch mounted on the metal control plate between the two controls (there's plenty of space), or you can replace one of the standard control pots with a push-pull or push-push pot. Either option works as long as you use a 2PDT switch.
The basic idea is to have standard 3-way switch operation, plus the option of jumping to the series sound simply by hitting a switch, overriding the pickup selector regardless of its setting. Hit the switch again, and the 3-way switch is re-engaged at its current position.
Fig. 2 — Getting a series sound with an added switch rather than a replacement pickup selector.
Image courtesy of singlecoil.com
This wiring can work as a kind of preset switch: Dial in a neck pickup alone for rhythm work, hit the switch for a series solo sound, and then flick the switch again to return to your "rhythm preset." We usually use this wiring in our shop if the customer doesn't want to fumble with a 4-way switch.
Not just for Teles.
Naturally, this arrangement works with any two-pickup guitar, not just Telecasters. The wiring shown in Fig. 2 employs a push-pull pot with a 2PDT switch, but you can also use a DPDT mini-toggle on the control plate—just move the relevant wires to the new switch. Please keep in mind, though, that you must convert your neck pickup to three-conductor wiring as mentioned above, assuming it has a metal cover connected to common ground.
That's it! Next month we'll cover another cool mod for acoustic guitars, in keeping with that issue's unplugged theme. Until then, stay in tune and keep on modding!
- Mod Garage: '50s Les Paul Wiring in a Telecaster - Premier Guitar ›
- Ultra-Flexible Wiring for Your Duo-Sonic - Premier Guitar ›
- Decoding Jerry Donahue's 5-Way Telecaster Wiring - Premier Guitar ›
- Mod Garage: The Sound of Silence - Premier Guitar ›
- How to Change Pickup Wires (& Why) - Premier Guitar ›
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Recreating the preamp in Silvertone’ssignature ’60s amp results in a surprisingly multifaceted overdrive.
Great drive sounds, ranging from characterful boost to low-gain overdrive. Unique personality. Powerful, flexible EQ.
Arguably a bit expensive for what it does.
Jackson Audio Silvertone 1484 Twin Twelve
Once harvested for peanuts at garage sales and pawn shops—or free for lucky dumpster divers—the Silvertone Model 1484 Twin Twelve amplifier of 1963-’67 graduated to legend status over the past couple decades. Like a lot of ’60s gear with department store catalog origins, Silvertone amps and guitars provided great bang for the buck when they were new. But perhaps no Silvertone product—apart from the company’s Danelectro-built guitars—is as revered as the Twin Twelve. Mudhoney’s Mark Arm and Steve Turner discovered their charms early in their career, and Twin Twelves and their siblings remained backline fixtures for punks, garage rockers, and indie kids. But once the likes of Jack White and Dan Auerbach got on board, the market heated up considerably.
Now a collaboration between the revived Silvertone Guitars and Jackson Audio brings us the Twin Twelve pedal, an overdrive/EQ/booster designed to replicate the tone of the original 1484 piggyback tube amp. To accomplish this, Jackson essentially recreated the topology of the 1484’s preamp, effectively replacing vacuum tubes with JFETs. This method is common for many amp-in-a-box-style pedals. But the result here is a drive of many personalities.
Listen to the demo: https://soundcloud.com/premierguitar/sets/twin-twelve-review
The 1484 pedal does a beautiful job of evoking the look of the original 1484 amplifier, including the silver control panel, simple and elegant black lettering, black knobs with silver insets and red indicator lines, red amp-style jewel light, and even the humorous “Foot Switch” legend over the footswitch. What’s more, this pedal seems built to fend off home invaders and stage divers. It’s notably hefty in its heavy-duty folded-steel chassis, which measures 5" x 4" x 2".
Controls include treble, bass, volume, and gain—the latter of which never appeared on the original amp. A look inside the enclosure reveals a lot of space and few components. Juice comes from 9V DC that hits an internal voltage-doubler to improve headroom.
I tested the Twin Twelve pedal with a Fender Princeton combo and a 65amps London head and 2x12 cab as well as a Gibson Les Paul with humbuckers and a ’50s-style Fender Telecaster, and the first impressions were surprising. Expecting a characterfully sludgy mud machine and grungy pawnshop sonics, I experienced instead a toothsome and impressively versatile overdrive that works in a broad range of genres and playing styles. Fundamentally speaking, the Twin Twelve adds lots of character via a combination of thickness and edgy harmonic content. There’s a barky midrange bite that calls to mind the voice of many catalog amps. But it also has a lot in common with low-gain overdrives, like the Klon and Tube Screamer. Those similarities aside, it has a flavor and sound all its own.
Expecting a characterfully sludgy mud machine and grungy pawnshop sonics, I experienced instead a toothsome and impressively versatile overdrive that works in a broad range of genres and playing styles.
Silvertone may talk a lot about the 1484 as an exact recreation of the Twin Twelve circuit. But in some ways that might sell this pedal short. It’s a great-sounding overdrive by any measure. And, interestingly, it is better at generating American-toned twang, bite, crunch, and lead tones than just about any pedal I’ve played in a while. Clarity and articulation are good, and it makes a great clean boost at lower drive settings while retaining amp-like personality and sensitivity. The pedal is made even more flexible thanks to the 2-band EQ, which provides a lot of room for cutting and boosting the low- and high-frequency bands to taste. It means you have a very flexible boost before you even push your amp into overdrive. It pays similar dividends in overdriven settings, enabling players to explore both the dirtier, thicker side of the American amp tone spectrum or more sparkling variations.
The 1484 Twin Twelve is a great overdrive pedal. And the fact that it doesn’t simply clone one of the already popular drive circuits is a major bonus. The EQ is a great asset, too. But while the 1484 excels at capturing the spirit of the amp that inspired it, I’d argue that with most decent tube amps it sounds better than many real Twin Twelves I’ve played. Certainly, it’s more versatile. And that combination of tone and flexibility make it a very appealing overdrive alternative.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.