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  "Standard" Control Assembly

CTS/Switchcraft - Standard Control Assembly - Suitable for Fender® Telecaster®

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Description Technical Specs Wiring / Instructions

This is our standard, top specification Telecaster® control assembly, available with the 3 way switching system we’re all familiar with, or the increasingly popular 4 way variant. This variant delivers the traditional 3 settings, plus an additional option which uses both pickups wired as a “true humbucker” by wiring them in series. Tonally, this gives a rich, heavy bottomed option that gives your guitar a whole new dimension.

The Switching Explained

The 3 way system is probably the most widely used setup that you’ll see nowadays, and whilst others exist, this is certainly the main stay, having been in use since 1967. Originally it was deemed unnecessary to use both pickups at the same time, so the original employed a notably different setup.

In light of dipping sales at the time, the current system was developed to give more versatility, and, thankfully, it stuck.

The basic principle is that you’ll be working with 2 pickups and 3 switching options, so the switch is there to give you convenient access to those pickups in the most practical combinations.

The first setting is the bridge pickup, working alone, with a master tone and volume control. Normally, this will give those characteristic “ice pick” notes that really lend themselves to quick, almost aggressive picking, making it the ideal setting for clearly defined lead work.

The middle setting on the switch gives you access to both the bridge and neck pickups simultaneously, wired in parallel. As you’d imagine, this gives you a “blended” tone that carries some of the crisp attack from the bridge, but is softened by the inclusion of the neck. This is probably the most popular setting in use nowadays, partly because of the prevalent use of “reverse wound, reverse polarity” neck pickups which, when combined with the bridge, gives a pseudo hum-bucking effect. Occasionally you will see this touted as a “humbucker” setting, this is not strictly true because this is parallel wiring, where a “true” humbucker must be wired in series.

Tonally, you’ll notice a much smoother effect than with the bridge pickup - the sound is still distinctly rich and twangy, but it’s considered far more usable, and infinitely more forgiving than either pickup working individually.

The third setting is the neck pickup working alone. Originally, in the early 50s, the neck was primarily used to either “settle down” the bridge pickup in a blending system or as a standalone “bass” pickup (the first electric bass’ not coming to the fore until the mid-fifties), which suffered terribly reduced output thanks to the electronics used at the time (as seen in the 1950s wiring <Insert link>).This is still evident nowadays with its characteristic sound - some describe it as gentle and warm, others as soft and muddy. Whichever way you take the neck, it’s an out and out rhythm specialist that really fills the space.

The 4 way mod

The 4th setting (only available on the 4 way variant) is a relatively new creation, and is only rarely seen on production guitars, but it’s been a huge breath of fresh air for a design that’s been unchanged for 50 years!

Originally, humbuckers were shunned in the Fender® designs as they were considered too prone to natural distortion (thanks to the higher output) – as times and tastes have changed, this has obviously become a desirable feature, so the 4 way system (interestingly, originally developed by the DIY community in the 1990s) came to fruition.

In essence, it’s the same as the 2nd position, giving access to both the bridge and neck pickups simultaneously. But rather than being wired in parallel, which actually halves impedance and inductance (although, thankfully, not overall volume) it is wired in series which will double the impedance and inductance (again, no huge alteration to volume) – this basically turns both pickups into a very widely spaced humbucker, with a much more pronounced bottom frequency, a much more aggressive voicing and a natural tendency to start breaking up, making it ideally suited to heavier styles of guitar playing.

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong when it comes to the switching system, some prefer the traditional 3 way, others like the versatility offered by the 4 way, but we’re pleased to be able to offer both systems in the highest possible quality looms.

The Pots

With this assembly, we’ve used the highest quality CTS, solid shaft, 250k Logarithmic pots – just like the original Fender® designs.

The main attraction of all CTS pots is that they’re made in the exact same way as they always have been, so if you’re looking for that vintage tone, these should do the trick. This tried and tested design, with very few mechanical components has created an absolute classic guitar part – the simple, rugged design has means that CTS pots offer unrivalled reliability, with many of the original examples still going strong after nearly 60 years.

From a player’s perspective, your average CTS pots will have a much firmer action thanks to the old fashioned design which utilises non-degrading grease under the wiper blade – this ultimately means that a CTS pot will take the occasional accident knock and not spin off under its own weight.

The Caps

We have fitted a 0.047 orange drop capacitor to the tone control of this assembly. The 0.047 is that classic cap choice for this application, making its debut on the first true 3 way switching systems in the mid 50s, and running right through until the mid 70s. The slightly higher value helps to darken off the notoriously sharp pickups when the tone control is used.

Fender®, Squier®, Stratocaster®, Strat®, Telecaster® and Tele® are registered trademarks of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation and Axesrus ® has no affiliation with FMIC

Average Rating: 5 of 5 Total Reviews: 1 Write a review »

  1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Better than Fender October 16, 2015
Reviewer: David Ford from Cowes, Isle of Wight .United Kingdom  
Have built lots of guitars and thought I would try one of your pre made looms on a control plate - the kit was assembled beautifully and the quality of all parts seemed better to me than the Fender original - very impressed

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