How to Wire a Switch on a Fender Telecaster

Updated July 11, 2018

Altering the electrical components in your guitar seems like a daunting task. Even something simple like wiring a switch can feel virtually impossible to a newcomer. Fender Telecasters have been played by guitarists, such as Jim Root from Slipknot and James Burton, and if you've got one for yourself, learning to wire the switch can help you understand the internal functions of your guitar. Connecting a switch to your guitar allows you change between your guitar's pickups quickly and easily.

Remove the control panel from the Telecaster. The control panel is located directly underneath the bridge of the guitar, and houses the "Tone" and "Volume" knobs, as well as the original switch. Remove the control panel by unscrewing the screws on the far left and far right hand side of the metallic control panel.

Unscrew the two small screws on either side of the existing selector switch. These hold the selector switch in place, and must be removed if you currently have an old switch attached to your Telecaster. Pull the control panel out when you've undone the screws. Set all screws aside for reusing later on.

Draw a diagram of how the current selector switch is wired up. This will help you if you are attaching another Fender Telecaster switch, or if you ever need to reattach the old one. Make sure to note wire colours and positions.

Disconnect the wires from the current pickup selector switch. Use a soldering iron if required. This will completely remove the old switch from your guitar. Store the old switch with the diagram, in a safe place. Keep any small lengths of unshielded wire attached to the switch, as these will be useful later.

Locate the white and yellow wires coming out of the body of your guitar. These are the two pickup wires, which both need to be connected to the new selector switch. The white connection, from the neck pickup, should go around to the far side of the selector switch. Attach the white wire to the nearest terminal on the far side of the switch using solder and a soldering iron.

Attach the yellow wire to a terminal point on the closest side of the Telecaster's new switch. Ideally, use the terminal point closest to the wire's location, which should be at the opposite end from the white wire connection. Attach the wire using a soldering iron.

Locate the black wire that was previously attached to the switch. This runs from the volume pot, which is the dial next to the selector switch. Connect the wire to the terminal point on the opposite side to the yellow wire, the furthest point out. Using the unshielded wire that was on the original switch, connect the terminal with the black wire to the terminal next to it.

Connect the middle-right terminal, which you just wired to its neighbour, across diagonally to the central terminal opposite the white wire. Connect that terminal to the outer terminal on the opposite side to the white wire connection. The selector switch has now been wired, and the control panel can be reattached.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver.
  • Soldering Iron
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About the Author

Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.