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Old December 19th, 2006, 11:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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standard tele neck pickup or neck humbucker?

Well, now that I'm ready to slap my latest tele project together, I'm wondering if I should go with a neck humbucker (as originally planned) or a standard tele neck pickup.

Luckily, I decided to have the neck position routed for a humbucker when I ordered the body from Warmoth. I figured if it's routed for a humbucker, I can use either type of pickup, all I need to do is get the right pickguard.

I like the idea of a neck humbucker (I've been using an Air Norton in my current guitar, paired w/ a Dimarzio Chopper T in the bridge), but lately it's just sounded too darned "big" sounding on the neck position. On my latest trip to the guitar store, I played some standard tele's and really liked the neck tone, which I usually don't.

If I go the regular tele neck pickup route, I'll either get a Dimarzio Virtual T neck pickup ($60), a Dimarzio Twang King neck pup ($50), or possibly a Fender Classic Series MIM neck pickup ($23). Whichever tele pickup I choose, it won't be connected to the tone pot..I figure this will give me a smidge more brightness to the neck position, which I'd definitely like.

If I go with a humbucker, it will be either a Dimarzio PAF ($60), Dimarzio Humbucker from Hell ($60), or a Dimarzio Air Classic ($60). Whichever one I choose, it will be black/creme.

So should I go for regular tele neck tones, or just change up my choice of neck humbucker?

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Old December 19th, 2006, 11:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If I were to put a bucker in the Neck position I'd go for a Gibson Burstbucker #1, or a Duncan Antiquity. Both have the best PAF vintage vibe.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 11:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
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+1 on the Burstbuckers. Wonderful tone! I have one on my LP. They'd probably match well with the bridge pup too.

What kind of music do you play? Keith Richard's favorite tele had a humbucker in the neck. Andy Summers had one too, but he had so many switches on his guitar. If you're going to go without the tone control, the neck may be a little too powerful.. but you could try!
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Old December 19th, 2006, 11:56 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Huh?

I mean what's wrong with getting a humbucker in a single-coil casing?
I have a Fender Vintage Noiseless neck pickup...and I love it!
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Old December 19th, 2006, 12:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have the Fender noiseless pups in my partcaster and am not impressed. For one thing, they aren't really noiseless, and they are lacking the certain "something." Same with Kinman's. Now Barden's - that's another matter!
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Old December 19th, 2006, 12:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well, if I go with a humbucker, I'll go w/ the full-size version since the body's already routed that way in the neck position.

Also, I would only bypass the tone knob if I got a standard tele neck pickup-- if I went the humbucker route, I'd have the neck pickup hooked up to the tone knob.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 01:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
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When I'm using a bridge humbucker, I use a neck humbucker too. Otherwise, the normal Tele neck PU is a sweet sounding PU, and I like it a lot.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 01:23 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm in the (interminable) process of building an electric guitar, which will have a tele bridge, a tele neck pickup in the middle position, and a humbucker in the neck position.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 01:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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You might wanna consider a P-90 style neckpickup that's been put in a humbucker shaped housing too, especially if you're torn between a single coil and a humbucker. Bareknuckle Pickups, Harmonic Design and someone else all do ones that are very highly regarded, and I can vouch for the quality of BKP myself, much clearer than the SDs and modern Gibson's I've tried.

But, if you do go for a humbucker, having it a little underwound would help immensely with balance unless you're having something particularly powerful in the bridge, and most of the more powerful tele bridge pickups seem to do it at the expense of definition. Something in the Seymour Duncan Jazz ballpark would give you a nice bucker sound without having a massive gap in output, or if you want to throw for something handwound you can always request an underwind to match your bridge pickup.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 02:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Get a Lollar Mini-Humbucker man, they're 6.2K and match wonderfully with most traditional Tele bridge pkps.

I have a 'P-90-in-humbucker-housing' (SD Phat Cat) and while it also sounds great, it is VERY big and warm sounding (in a really good way btw), it easily would overpower a typical Telecaster bridge.
I have a Harmonic Design S-90 in the bridge coupled with the Phat Cat, the S-90 is like 13K, and that P-90 STILL almost overpowers it.
AND I have the Phat Cat lowered down to level with the mounting ring, while the S-90 is raised as high as I can get it.

It's a great sounding guitar, but I don't think that Phat Cat would cut it with a traditional Tele (6-8K) bridge pkp

I think the Phat Cat is around 9-10K, but it has a bigger WINDOW than either the Mini-Hum or a regular SC, which adds a lot of girth to the sound, so I can't imagine ANY regular HB (with an even bigger window) matching up well, unless you had it underwound down to 6-7K or so.

But long story short, if you want to use a typical 6-7K bridge pkp, get the Lollar Mini-Hum, it's a PERFECT match, and sounds fantastic.

If you want a much hotter bridge pkp, then you can choose to suit.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 02:51 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Amazing Phil
But, if you do go for a humbucker, having it a little underwound would help immensely with balance unless you're having something particularly powerful in the bridge, and most of the more powerful tele bridge pickups seem to do it at the expense of definition. Something in the Seymour Duncan Jazz ballpark would give you a nice bucker sound without having a massive gap in output, or if you want to throw for something handwound you can always request an underwind to match your bridge pickup.
That's been the trick on searching for a neck humbucker-- balancing the volume & output with the bridge pickup. Luckily, the Chopper T in the bridge has a pretty good output, but I still have a hard time balancing the current Air Norton in the neck with it. The Dimarzio PAF or Humbucker from Hell are less output than the Air Norton is, so that should make balancing things easier.

But my gut is telling me to get the Twang King neck pickup. Then, down the road if I ever want a neck humbucker, the body will already be routed for it and I can just slap a different pickguard on and I'm ready to rock. I just got off the phone w/ Warmoth and ordered two pickguards from them-- both are 1-ply, 5-hole, .060 white pickguards-- one is cut for the regular tele neck pup, the other is cut for a neck humbucker.

Twang King, here we come...
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Old December 19th, 2006, 03:52 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Just my .02

I have a SD Jerry Donahue in the bridge of my Peavey Reactor partscaster with a SD '59 in the neck. Extremely versatile. Fairly good match with the humbucker a little lower than normal and the bridge pup a little higher.

The Rice crew gave me some tips on wiring...I went with 500K pots with a 270K resitor across the bridge pickup to keep it from sounding too shrill. Final product? Great tone. I use the Reactor more than my '94 American Tele.

Check the Fat Tele wiring diagrams at the Fender website if you decide to go with a humbucker in the neck.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 04:30 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I'm wondering about a Seymour Duncan Mini-humbucker in the neck (like a Firebird). I've heard these are perfect for a Tele.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 05:16 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I don't know what the SD Mini clocks in at, but the Lollar, at 6.2K, sits perfect with the Fralin 6.5K bridge pkp, tremendous Tele tone and clarity, I love all three positions, it's a very good mix for a traditional Tele sound.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 09:52 PM   #15 (permalink)
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i have a phat cat on my squier, its coupled with a vintage (!) output strat neck pup, about 5.6k. it has to be lowered down waaaay low, but its still a great sound. maybe i should get a hotter neck so i can get more of that great p-90 rock n' roll vibe.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 09:56 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I'm often not too thrilled with "normal" Telecaster neck pickups.

For some guitars the full-sized humbucker is too dark, for me at least.

I was going to go with a P-90, but wanted a smidge darker...

I went for an Kent Armstrong AlNiCo mini-humbucker. When it gets here, I'll see how it sounds and let you know... I'm sure it'll be clearer than a full-sized, but smooth and darker than a single coil.

Now on my ES-135 or '57 RI Les Paul - full-sized neck humbuckers rock :)
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Old December 20th, 2006, 02:01 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drak
I don't know what the SD Mini clocks in at, but the Lollar, at 6.2K, sits perfect with the Fralin 6.5K bridge pkp, tremendous Tele tone and clarity, I love all three positions, it's a very good mix for a traditional Tele sound.
Have you tried the Allparts mini? I tried them on a tip from KBR, and have to say, they are fantastic. The old Gibsons are hit-or-miss (I have a mid-70's in my guitar that I love, and a few others that vary from OK to excellent), but the Allparts is consistently very good. Lollar is the top of the heap, but the Allparts holds it's own.
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Old December 20th, 2006, 02:26 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I've got a SD jazz humbucker in the neck with a push pull tone pot so I can split it if I want. There is a Lindy Fralin Blues single coil in the bridge. With some adjusting they balance well and sound GREAT! With the use of the tone control I can get a lot of different sounds this way.

Although I have recently been tormented with the thought of using a Jerry Donahue in the bridge....nothing is ever good enought is it?
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Old December 20th, 2006, 02:42 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Those AllParts are suspiciously similar to the Kent Armstrong's... I wonder...
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Old December 20th, 2006, 04:34 AM   #20 (permalink)
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A Telecaster with a Humbucker is no more a Telecaster (that's why I do not like all those "Keef"-lovings, he is much overrated).
The sound of the neck-pickup, especially together with the bridge-pickup makes that beloved Telecaster-sound (1 of 3 !!!).
A Gibson in a Fender Telecaster ???
I would wait, till I have the money to buy a 70' Telecaster neck-pickup.
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