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Telecaster Four-Way Pickup Switch: What It Does for Your Tone

The Fender Telecaster hasn’t changed much in its 65 years, but one model in particular—the Baja Telecaster—has several features not found on the original. Among its most interesting mods is a four-way pickup switch. With the switch in its fourth position, the Baja’s neck and bridge pickups work in series to provide a more powerful tone similar to a humbucker.

And as many Telecaster players have learned, it’s possible to upgrade any standard Telecaster model with an aftermarket four-way switch to give your guitar even more tonal options.

Darrell Braun recently upgraded his Tele with a Custom 4-Way for Tele switch from Obsidian Wire, which gives the guitar the familiar master tone, master volume and three positions, plus the series option.

In this video, Darrell offers some sound comparisons so you can hear the results of his mod for yourself. His demos include a rhythm sound, a lead sound with light overdrive, and each standard Tele pickup position compared to the series position.

“It adds a ton of versatility to a standard Telecaster,” Darrell says of the four-position switch mod. “When you go to that fourth position and you have the two pickups together in series, it’s much warmer than the neck pickup by itself. Sounds great as a jazzy tone, sounds awesome as a blues tone—even as a heavier gain sound that’s really thick. It really adds a lot to a Telecaster.”

Check out the video to see for yourself.

Be sure to visit the Darrell Braun Guitar YouTube channel for this and other informative videos, including guitar tone comparisons, gear updates and tutorials.

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Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player (opens in new tab) magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World (opens in new tab), a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.