June 29th, 2011

Can I use a Fender S1 switch with JBE pickups?

YES!  Definitely.  But you need to know a bit about the switch and how it works.

The S1 is a 4- pole/double throw switch that Fender ships on select models of Teles and Strats.  The switch is proprietary to Fender and may not be readily available as an aftermarket part (at least not that we are aware of at this time).   The 4-pole/double throw switching function of the S1 is independent of the pot section of the switch so the S1 can be used as a volume or tone control.

S1 Switch bottom view

S1 Switch bottom view

The poles of the switch are arranged as 4 sets of three round solder points arranged around the underside of the switch’s circuit board:

S1 and the Tele

For a Telecaster, equipped with stock single coil pickups, Fender wires the S1 in the switch DOWN position for a SERIES connection between the neck and bridge pickups.  In the UP position the normal pickup wiring is active.  The S1 only works when both pickups are active (i.e. with the 3-way pickup selector switch in the middle position.)

This series connection gives your Tele a fatter sound by electrically creating one dual-coil pickup made up of the neck and bridge pickups.   As a by-product it also reduces (but may not fully eliminate) noise and hum.   Kudos to Fender on this!  It works well and helps an additional tone from stock single coil pickups that in themselves tend to be noisy, thin, and unbalanced.     Our T-Style pickups can also be wired in series. (See the wiring diagram on this  site)

Some Tele players use a 4-way switch instead of an S1 in this application.

Not surprisingly, JBE players have found that the series effect using our T-Style pickups is not as dramatic as with the stock single coils.  Why? Because JBE pickups already provide hum cancellation, offer better neck and bridge balance, and have greater output than stock single coils WHILE greatly improving overall tone, punch, and response.    These players generally find that the inherent benefits of JBE pickups far outweigh the advantages of series wiring and as such they tend not to engage the S1 switch on JBE-equipped guitars after they wired it   But, it does offer one more tone with marginally more output.

S1 and the Strat

For the Strat, the S1 switch in combination with a 5-way mega-type switch as provided in some Fender guitar models,  offers several different tonal and pickup selection options (some useful/some not).  Among them is the ability to use the neck and bridge pickups together…nice.   Kudos to Fender once again!    Customizations on the Fender-provided wiring can be quite complex and time-consuming. .   Given all the various pickup and tonal variations that can be accomplished using these switches, players requiring specialized wiring arrangements should seek the services of a good guitar tech that specializes in custom wiring options.

 Using the S1 with an HB Two/Tone Pickup

Another useful application of an S1 switch is with an HB Two/Tone  pickup.

The S1 can be easily wired to switch between the two modes of the HB Two/Tone See our website for a broader discussion on the dual-mode HB Two/Tone pickup and its advantages.

In this application we will substitute the normally suggested push/pull pot or mini DPDT switch with the S1 and use only two poles of the S1 to create a DPDT switch.  This application of the S1 allows you to switch back and forth noiselessly between the full humbucker and single-coil-sounding tones offered by the HB Two/Tone.

Remember, HB Two/Tone is not coil-split (i.e. one coil is turned off to derive a faux single-coil tone).  Rather, it uses coil-tapping to keep BOTH coils always operational regardless of mode.   This approach provides hum-cancellation in either mode, as well as authentic single coil tones similar to our S-Deluxe or T-Style pickups. 

In the following HB Two/Tone wiring example, the switch is configured so that the coil-tap mode (i.e. single coil sounding tone) is active when the switch is in the UP position.   The full humbucker mode of the HB Two/Tone is active with the switch in the DOWN position.   Prefer it the other way?  No problem, simply reverse the A and C leads at the two poles.


HB TT Coil Tap Wiring on S1 Switch

HB TT Coil Tap Wiring
on S1 Switch

Other common JBE wiring diagrams can be found in the Products Section of our website on the right-hand panel of the page.

 HB Two/ToneTM  is a trademark of Joe Barden Engineering (JBE)
Strat and Tele are trademarks of Fender Musical Instrument Corp.