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'54 Telecaster Pickup Cover Question

Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by telecasterbill, Aug 7, 2018.

  1. telecasterbill

    telecasterbill TDPRI Member

    10
    Sep 16, 2014
    California
    Posted this elsewhere but wondered if anyone here would have more knowledge:

    I have a '54 telecaster. The rhythm pickup was DOA when I got it, so years ago I had Lindy Fralin rewind it.

    It sounds very good, and original, but like most of that era, quite dark and dull. When I had it out, I noticed that it weighed like three pounds- the durn cover must be solid brass with nickel plating.

    I have had later telecasters, including a '61 Custom Telecaster, and the rhythm pickup was much lighter, and in fact sounded quite a bit clearer. I had a replica (Fralin vintage style) rhythm pickup in the guitar while Lindy did the rewind, and it too sounded clearer.

    So this got me wondering about whether switching to a lighter pickup cover would make for a clearer sound, a bit more usable like a strat (or later telecaster) rhythm pickup. My question is, has anyone ever had the cover of one of the early telecasters and heard how it sounded either with a lighter cover or no cover at all?

    PLEASE, I don't want to debate whether this is a good idea from an originality standpoint etc, the cover comes right off and would remain in the case with the guitar. Just wondering if this change might expand the usability of the pickup. Thanks!
     

  2. petebrown

    petebrown Tele-Meister

    215
    Sep 22, 2003
    No. Cal.
    I have a '53 that I had Fralin rewind, both pickups were shot when I got it. I specifically asked him to rewind the neck for a brighter, clearer sound, and it sounds like a million bucks, with original cover.
    I've also removed the covers on other teles, not that one, and doing so brightens them considerably. They can then be adjusted closer to the strings, which can help too-
    So not addressing your question fully, but hopefully useful-
     
    nojazzhere likes this.

  3. telecasterbill

    telecasterbill TDPRI Member

    10
    Sep 16, 2014
    California
    Thanks for the info! I may pull the cover briefly to see what change that makes.
     
    nojazzhere likes this.

  4. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Holic

    753
    Feb 10, 2010
    Low Lands
    prepare to be amazed!
     
    nojazzhere likes this.

  5. telecasterbill

    telecasterbill TDPRI Member

    10
    Sep 16, 2014
    California
    Update: Well, I took the pickup out and realized that the tabs on the original cover are kinda iffy, and I didn't want to risk taking it off.

    But I also noticed that the rhythm pickup was dialed down pretty low- so I brought it up to close to the strings (the lead pickup is also pretty close) and it made a world of difference- in addition to the fatness it has a bit of bite finally! Just a real pretty sound, and can drive the amp a bit better when needed. Yipee!

    I think that heavy cover needs a lot of string to get through to the pickup.

    Thanks to Petebrown for sending me down this path- if I ever get the cover off I'll report back!
     
    nojazzhere likes this.

  6. petebrown

    petebrown Tele-Meister

    215
    Sep 22, 2003
    No. Cal.
    Pickup height is essential to good tone- I adjust the rhythm pickup as close to the strings as it will go on the treble side, down a bit on the bass side for string balance, then adjust the bridge pickup so it sits in evenly with the neck one when i switch pickups, usually backed down a lot from the strings- on a tele the pickups are so uneven, I adjust to try to even that out-
     
    2 Headed Goat likes this.

  7. Adam Wolfaardt

    Adam Wolfaardt TDPRI Member

    Age:
    46
    52
    Oct 5, 2017
    France
    My '55 tele neck pickup sounds very bright and defined. I have it set very close to the strings though. If I set it further from the strings it gets super dark
     

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