Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

cheap but good pickups

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Mickey, Mar 26, 2003.

  1. Mickey

    Mickey Tele-Holic

    Mar 26, 2003
    L.A., CA
    Thanks for having me, my first time here.

    I've been playing a mex telecaster for about two years with a hum that humbucker friends said was normal for a single-coil, but I knew was not. So I went in and, what do you know?, the bridge pickup had no metal base, and thus was not grounded. The cheapo way they, in the factory, had tried to ground it was to split the groundwire going from the pickup to the pot, and to run this around a screw on the bridge. Even before the guitar had reached me (I got it through mailorder - stupid), this jimmmy rig grounding had come undone -- hence the serious hum.

    so I grounded the bridge, only to find that this larger hum was covering a lighter -- but still thoroughly annoying -- string grounding problem. The strings crackle upon light touch. Not nice.

    That's a long and sad story. This is my question. I've decided to go in there, play some Operation, redo all the wiring and pots, etc. and maybe learn something about my guitar in the process. But I figure while I am playing doctor, I might as well switch out the cheap pickups. I fear they are causing this ground problem in the first place. I'll check with a multimeter first, but in the meantime I do think they're the problem. (those of you who have had this same string-touch problem but have found another solution, please, your advice will be appreciated).

    Question: what are good BASIC telecaster pickups, both bridge and neck. Nothing exceptionally hot. nothing exceptionally fancy. But a bridge with LEGITIMATE METAL bottom piece for grounding (please!) and a fairly nice standard tele tone. I see Stewmac has a set for a total of around $80, called a Wilkinson? I cruise harmony-central for advice, but the pickup page is so vast, and the pickups that people buy are so expensive. This is the deal: I have a cheap tele; I have no talent; I have some time on the weekend to play with solder and otherwise burn myself and my instrument; I just want the guitar to sound decent.

    Advice? many thanks.

  2. Wayne Alexander

    Wayne Alexander Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Fender American Vintage pickups (I think that's what they call them), the ones that come stock in the 52 reissue. New or used.

  3. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 16, 2003
    Blacksburg, VA
    Shielding a MIM tele will reduce the hum significantly. The American Vintage pickups from a 52 RI sound like what you are looking for and can be found used pretty cheaply.

  4. PeterUK

    PeterUK Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 4, 2003
    Nottingham, UK
    Texas Specials on eBay

    The Wilkinsons you see on StewMac are made by Trev Wilkinson's company here in the UK. They're pretty good. But for the money you're talking about - around $80 - I'd go for the Fender Texas Specials. These are hot and will bring your Tele to life.

    Have a look at these on eBay:

    There is a "Buy It Now" options and they come with a wiring diagram. I'm not 100% sure but I think they work well / better with a 4-way switch.

    Alternatively, have a look on eBay. Tons of pick ups for not a lot of money.

    Good luck.



  5. JohnK24

    JohnK24 Friend of Leo's

    Mar 16, 2003
    Western PA
    Yep...those American Vintage Tele pups...

    fall nicely into your price range. Bridge pup has bronze base plate...great tone too not hot, just real tele !

    Check for pricing


    DADGAD Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 18, 2003
    The hum / ground problem can happen when the surgical tubing "spring" slips up inside the ground wire lug. This prevents the lug from contacting the bridge. A #6 flat washer between the tubing & lug will fix it.

    Good luck,


  7. Bob Mc

    Bob Mc Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Mo'town NJ
    Add Bill Lawrence 280s to your search

    I got a set here at the Garage Sale for about $60; I' suggest looking for them too. Dead quiet, really muscial PUPs. Make sure you're gettin' US made ones (long story, that StewMac had a part in).

  8. Mike Better

    Mike Better Tele-Meister

    Mar 16, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Used American Vintage pickups out of a 52ri


  9. Mickey

    Mickey Tele-Holic

    Mar 26, 2003
    L.A., CA
    This was extremely helpful. The majority says '52
    American Vintage pickups, and one vote for hotter Texas
    Specials. Exactly what I needed to know. Virtual reality is
    good. Many many thanks.


  10. xxicjoy

    xxicjoy TDPRI Member

    Mar 21, 2003
    Hey Mickey, Dont go a hatin yer tele

    Before you go a hatin your tele I woiuld assume that its a
    MIM Standard model. To my knowledge, the USA
    Standards have no baseplate either which actually
    contributes to the ground issue but more importantly
    changes the tonal dynamic range for the bridge PU> So
    in short its normal for your guitar to have the wiring it
    has. I have a set of Texas Specials I just swapped out of
    my new Ishibashi Music 52 RI Tele, I had to go for the
    fralins. The Texas specials have great get up and go, Nice
    tone and more output than the stock US 52 RI Pickups
    which will help get a little more action out of your Tele,
    especially if it is a standard rather than classic model.
    Give me an email @ if you are
    interested and we can come to a price. I'd also
    recommend you change out your pots and switch it was
    a noticable difference for me with my CIJ guitar.

  11. Phil Jacoby

    Phil Jacoby Tele-Meister

    Mar 18, 2003
    Baltimore, MD
    Proper shielding and grounding can make a huge difference. I just recently did a 52 RI with HD V+ neck and S90 bridge, shielded completely with copper foil and a shielded run from the vol pot to the jack and it quieted down noticeably. You'll never get rid of 60 cycle hum in a true single coil completely, but you can minimize it.

    The real Bill Lawrence PUs are great, quiet and well made, very affordable, many choices, you can talk directly to Bill and Becky. The are incredible bang for the buck. If price and noise are your two main issues, Lawrence PUs can address that and still give great tone. Do a web search and check 'em out. They are good folks with a good product. They cost less because you get them direct. No affiliation BTW...

    Good luck!

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