Hoagland Custom has specialized in custom guitar wiring and pickup making for over 25 years and we love what we do!
The original two-pickup Esquire wiring is characterized by the absence of a real tone control. Instead, the second pot acted as a blend or pan control between the two pickups, and this was only engaged with the 3-way pickup selector switch in the rear position. In May 1952, Leo modified the circuit to incorporate a true tone control by skipping the blend functionality and discarding any two-pickup combination.
Today, we know that it was not Leo’s idea alone, and this change was mostly made because of Bill Carson’s suggestions. Carson worked as a professional Western swing guitarist and was Leo’s favorite guinea pig for testing his Telecaster and early tweed amp designs. Carson never really liked the blender wiring on his Telecaster and came up with the idea to incorporate a real tone control.
This circuit is often referred to as the “dark circuit” or “Blackguard” wiring and was roughly used from mid-1952 up to late 1967. Within this 15-year period, the circuit stayed mostly untouched, but Fender changed the specs of the two capacitors several times over the years.
There is evidence (conversations with his guitar tech) to support the idea that Keith Richard’s beloved “Micawber” 1953 Telecaster uses the original “Blackguard” wiring.
- chrome control plate, mounting screws (available but not included)
- black control plate, nuts, washers, mounting screws (available but not included)
- gold control plate, nuts, washers, mounting screws (available but not included)
- nickel control plate, nuts, washers, mounting screws (available but not included)
- Included hardware – dress nuts & washers, switch mounting screws
- Sprague “Orange Drop” poly capacitors (2), as standard & no additional cost
- MojoTone Dijon Premium Foil/Film capacitors (2), $6 upgrade (From the manufacturer: “Mojotone Dijon capacitors are high quality foil/film capacitors made to our exact specification. We like to call them musical capacitors because of their good tone and transparency.”)
- Mallory “Mustard” caps (2), $8 upgrade
- Tai Han “Black Bee” paper-in-oil capacitors (2), $16 upgrade
- P1 – Bridge pickup alone w/tone control engaged
- P2 – Neck pickup alone w/tone control engaged
- P3 – Neck pickup alone w/a bassy-sounding preset, no tone control
- 2 CTS or Bourns Pro Series controls, volume & tone, 250k value, both audio taper
- 2 Sprague “Orange Drop” poly capacitors, .047mfd value
- 3-way lever style switch
- Switchcraft mono input jack
- vintage style, cloth covered wire
- easy-to-follow wiring diagram
- tech support phone & email
While all of our wiring solutions are built to be installed rather easily, we always recommend that you have a guitar professional at your local guitar shop install it for you. There are issues that sometimes come up during installation (grounding, shielding, etc.) and your local guitar tech is equipped to diagnose & handle those for you.
Contact Hoagland Custom with any questions regarding this wiring solution, our custom, handcrafted Hoagland Custom pickups, or any other guitar wiring solution that you might need.