Fender®

S-1 Switching

 

S-1 switch built into the volume knob of a Stratocaster.
S-1 switch built into the volume knob of a Stratocaster.

 

What does an S-1 switch do on Fender instruments equipped with it?

The short answer is that it gives you more tonal options by offering extra pickup-wiring configurations. Further, S-1 switching does this without significantly altering the appearance of an instrument, because it’s a “push” switch built into a single volume or tone control knob. Consequently, instruments with S-1 switching don’t look notably different than instruments without it.

The tricky thing about explaining S-1 switching is that it does different things on different instruments. That’s sensible enough, since different instruments have different pickups, different pickup configurations and different wiring schemes. S-1 switching on a Telecaster, for example, must be different from S-1 switching on a Stratocaster.

Not only that, but S-1 switching can vary from model to model within the same instrument type. S-1 switching on an American Deluxe Telecaster, for example, differs sharply from S-1 switching on a Classic Player Baja Telecaster. More on all this shortly.

And not only does S-1 switching do different things on different instruments, but it has done different things at different times. That is, it doesn’t necessarily do the same things today that it did several years ago. S-1 switching has been around quite a while, after all—it first appeared in summer 2003 and was offered on several Fender instruments throughout that decade; even on some Precision Bass and Jazz Bass models.

To answer the question more specifically, then, here’s what S-1 switching does on Fender guitar models currently equipped with it:

 

American Deluxe Telecaster

On the current version of the American Deluxe Telecaster (and its ash-body version), the S-1 switch built into the volume knob puts the two pickups in series when the blade switch is in the middle position (Telecaster pickups are normally wired in parallel). This creates a fatter, rounder tone kind of like a humbucking pickup with the top-end character of a single-coil pickup. When the guitar’s blade switch is in the bridge or neck position, both settings operate normally and the S-1 switch doesn’t do anything.

 

Fender Select Telecaster HH

In addition to its other high-end features, the Fender Select Telecaster HH packs a powerful pair of Wide Range Special humbucking pickups, with an S-1 switch built into the tone knob. Without engaging the S-1 switch, the three-way blade pickup switch delivers a straightforward dual-pickup wiring scheme, namely:

  • Position one: bridge pickup only
  • Position two: bridge and neck pickups in parallel
  • Position three: neck pickup only

On the Fender Select Telecaster HH, the S-1 switch serves a two-position “push/push” function that produces frequency modifications for each pickup. The selection of pickups with the three-way blade switch remains the same, but engaging the S-1 switch changes the actual sound of the pickups. Specifically, it selects the inside coil of each of the humbucking pickups, with the signal routed first through a capacitor/resistor combination that narrows the frequency bandwidth, and then through the outside coil of each pickup.

The resulting tones give you a dramatically expanded tonal palette that delivers the best of two worlds, because you get a fat single-coil sound with the welcome benefit of effective hum cancellation in each of the three pickup-switch positions. Therefore, engaging the S-1 switch on this guitar creates the following:

  • Position one: bridge pickup only, single-coil tone with hum cancellation
  • Position two: bridge and neck pickups in parallel, single-coil tone with hum cancellation
  • Position three: neck pickup only, single-coil tone with hum cancellation

 

Classic Player Baja Telecaster

The Classic Player Baja Telecaster is a specialized Telecaster model with a four-way blade switch rather than the three-way switch typically found on most Telecasters. Without engaging the S-1 switch, the first three blade switch positions deliver standard Telecaster wiring, with a special in-series fourth position that creates a thicker tone with more output. Like so:

  • Position one: bridge pickup only
  • Position two: bridge and neck pickups in parallel
  • Position three: neck pickup only
  • Position four: neck and bridge pickups in series

Engaging the S-1 switch on this particular Telecaster introduces out-of-phase circuitry to blade switch positions two and four only, with positions one and three remaining unaffected. This produces a thinner and more-hollow tone of the kind often heard in, for example, funk and early electric blues. Like so:

  • Position one: bridge pickup only
  • Position two: bridge and neck pickups in parallel and out of phase
  • Position three: neck pickup only
  • Position four: neck and bridge pickups in series and out of phase

 

James Burton Telecaster

The flame-finished James Burton Telecaster presents yet another Telecaster S-1 switching scheme, as it has three specially designed pickups with special “Strat-o-Tele” five-way blade switching. Without engaging the S-1 switch, here’s what this specialized Telecaster’s blade switch delivers:

  • Position one: bridge pickup only
  • Position two: bridge and middle pickups in parallel
  • Position three: bridge and neck pickups in parallel
  • Position four: middle and neck pickups in parallel
  • Position five: neck pickup only

Engaging the S-1 switch on the James Burton Telecaster introduces series circuitry for blade switch positions two and four only, with positions one, three and five remaining unaffected. Like so:

  • Position one: bridge pickup only
  • Position two: bridge and middle pickups in series
  • Position three: bridge and neck pickups in parallel
  • Position four: middle and neck pickups in series
  • Position five: neck pickup only

 

Fender Select Carved Maple-Top Jazzmaster® HH

This highly distinctive guitar debuted in early 2013 as the first-ever Jazzmaster with an S-1 switch. With its dual-circuit design and wealth of onboard controls, the Jazzmaster is already known as an instrument of remarkable tonal versatility. The Fender Select Carved Maple-Top Jazzmaster HH makes it even more so, with two potent humbucking pickups, three-way toggle pickup switching, and an S-1 switch built into the tone knob. On this guitar, the S-1 switch works exactly as it does on the aforementioned Fender Select Telecaster HH. That is, when the S-1 switch is not engaged:

  • Position one: bridge pickup only
  • Position two: bridge and neck pickups in parallel
  • Position three: neck pickup only

And when it is engaged:

  • Position one: bridge pickup only, single-coil tone with hum cancellation
  • Position two: bridge and neck pickups in parallel, single-coil tone with hum cancellation
  • Position three: neck pickup only, single-coil tone with hum cancellation

 

American Deluxe Stratocaster

On the American Deluxe Stratocaster (and its left-handed, HSS, ash-body and V-neck versions), the S-1 switch functions quite differently than it does on Telecaster models, adding five more pickup combinations to the five already offered by standard Stratocaster wiring. With 10 total pickup wiring options then, S-1-equipped American Deluxe Stratocasters offer enormous tonal versatility.

When not in use, the S-1 switch doesn’t affect standard Stratocaster wiring, which is:

  • Position one: bridge pickup only
  • Position two: bridge and middle pickups wired in parallel
  • Position three: middle pickup only
  • Position four: middle and neck pickups wired in parallel
  • Position five: neck pickup only

The S-1 switch offers five additional pickup wiring options when engaged:

  • Position one: all three pickups wired in series
  • Position two: bridge and middle pickups wired in series
  • Position three: middle and neck pickups wired in series
  • Position four: bridge and neck pickups wired out of phase, with a special tone capacitor
  • Position five: bridge and middle pickups wired in series and out of phase, in parallel with neck pickup

    Browse available S-1 Switches on fender.com here.


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