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Sound Difference Between A Stratocaster And A Telecaster

Sound Difference Between A Stratocaster And A Telecaster

What Is The Sound Difference Between A Stratocaster And A Telecaster?

 The Stratocaster and Telecaster have similar electronics. First let’s look at the physical differences in the configurations.  They each have a master volume control, but where the Telecaster only has one tone control, the Stratocaster has dedicated tone knobs for the middle and neck pickup but NONE for the bridge pickup. I always wire the so all three pickups have a tone control. The player then has the option to take the “edge” off of any shrill sounds that degrade the music. More about that in a minute. The Telecaster has a 3 position blade switch as follows:

3-way switch
position 1    Bridge pickup alone
position 2    Bridge + Neck in parallel
position 3    neck pickup alone

The Stratocaster has a 5  position blade switch for more tones, but  then when we add the Haywire Seven sound switch it will add two more tones not available on any commercial Stratocaster built by Fender.

5-way switch standard  pickup selections                      Your 2 new selections with the                                                                                    7 Sound Toggle switch:

position 1    Bridge pickup alone                                          bridge + neck in parallel
position 2    bridge + middle pickup in parallel                all three pickups in parallel
position 3    middle pickup alone
position 4    middle + neck pickup in parallel
position 5    neck pickup alone

Strat Lacks A Tone Control On Bridge Pickup

So, why does the Stratocaster lack a tone control on the loudest most piercing pickup? Is it a defect? No, just a design that was only meant to please the inventor, Mr. Leo Fender.

Stratocaster and Telecaster

Leo wanted a pickup position that sounded similar to a steel guitar. So now, the bridge pickup selection has no tone control wired to it whatsoever and no one at Fender Corp. since then has seemed to notice. They have failed to hear what guitarists for years have asked. Can we simply have a tone control on our bridge pickup? I do it with all of my Stratocasters. I also add a toggle switch which will activate the neck pickup in any position of the Stratocaster 5 way switch.

Strats Secret Switching Option

The switching, however, is another story. The Telecaster has always carried a three-way switch, but after guitarists found that they could get more tonal versatility by jamming the Strat’s original three-way switch in between the first and second position and second and third position, Fender outfitted it with a standard five-way selector.

The Telecaster typically has two single-coil pickups, with the bridge pickup being wider and longer, heavier, more magnetics and more windings than its Strat counterpart which can give it a more powerful tone. I can add a Tele bridge pickup to a Strat (which I have done on my own guitar) to slip between Telecaster and Telecaster and Stratocaster sounds.
It was an idea born out of many requests from Branson and Nashville Show players to give their guitars access to BOTH Telecaster and Stratocaster and Telecaster tones so they wouldn’t have to keep changing guitars during a fast paced show. In short Whatever the difference between the two sounds it can be compensated for and ultimately eliminated giving a player full use of both The Stratocaster  and Telecaster and Strat sound spectrum with an added TONE control on the bridge and the 7 way toggle switch.
Rick Mariner

About the Author:

Mr. Rick Mariner Owner and Founder and CEO of Haywire Custom Guitars Inc. He is a member of The Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (A.S.I.A.) as well as a guitar player. Rick holds a bachelors degree from University of Md. and a Masters degree from George Washington University. Rick developed his exclusive 8 – Point “Gig- Ready” guitar process that allows for Custom Guitars that are “GIG-READY”. With Rick’s many years of development and guitar set-up experience, Haywire Guitar shop “Builds satisfied players… one Haywire guitar at a time”.

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