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

I'm always playing the neck pickup. Should I be concerned??

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by David Meiland, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. David Meiland

    David Meiland TDPRI Member

    I have four guitars--a stock Highway 1 Tele, a Fender parts Tele with Fralin Blues Special pickups, an AS Strat with whatever comes stock in those, and a ~2000 Gibson SG with whatever comes in those. I have one amp, a '69 silverface Deluxe Reverb that I run at 2-2.5 with a little bit of reverb from a pedal and usually little else. I have a lousy room to practice in, it's about 8 x 10 feet with a tile floor and drywall walls, and it doubles as my business office... yes, I am cursed with a wholly inadequate man-cave but no one can hear me and if my family needs something they send a text message... it's what I got for now.

    Anyway, I pretty much never change from the neck pickup, except on the Strat where I like neck+middle most of the time. Bridge pickups mostly sound thin, bright, and kinda harsh to me, they make me wanna switch back to the neck pretty quick. I know the hard surfaces in the room have something to do with it, and that maybe if I were playing in a more absorbent room and/or with other players it might make sense to have a brighter tone. It might also be a function of keeping the amp so low, it doesn't develop much bottom end unless it's turned up a lot more. But, if I look at video of other guys playing, especially with groups, they are often on their bridge pickup, and it often sounds great.

    For what I'm doing right now, which is learning the instrument and having fun, I'm inclined to try something else in bridge positions of the Highway 1 Tele and the SG, something that will have a warmer and fuller sound, but give me an alternative to just the neck.

    Any thoughts? Much appreciate the feedback, as always.
    JL_LI, CV Jee Beez and chemobrain like this.
  2. Hexabuzz

    Hexabuzz Friend of Leo's

    Dec 13, 2014
    Northeast PA
    Only if it's an Esquire...
  3. arielyitus

    arielyitus Tele-Meister

    May 4, 2016
    Clarkston, Mi
    I have always liked the neck pickup better on all of the guitars I've had. I have been worried about it because at some point I thought I may have some hearing condition which made brighter sounds not nice. It also troubled me how other guitarists seem to like the bridge better but now I just focus on playing what sounds good to me.

    I am interested in seeing what others have to say...
    hellopike likes this.
  4. tfarny

    tfarny Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    When you start playing with a bassist you will understand. I always end up on the neck pickup when I'm playing alone, because it's a fuller sound, but with a full band you want the guitar to ring out in the register where there are no other instruments - hence the bridge pickup. Basically.
  5. DougM

    DougM Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 5, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    Neck players unite! I am also one who almost always plays on the neck pickup on all my guitars, especially Strats and Teles, but even my Humbucker guitars. I sometimes use the middle position on my Epi 339 and Tele, and the 2,3, and 4 positions on Strats, but very rarely use the bridge position on any of them. I just prefer the fuller warmer tones to the brighter ice picky ones.
    songtalk, Owenmoney and PhredE like this.
  6. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

    I play mostly neck or neck middle on guitars....

    though now I play bass I have to remind the neck pu playing guitar player to leave out his bass notes on those full bars he likes to play... or switch to the bridge pos....

    the bass is mine dude... get some twang happening on your side.....;)
    Owenmoney and telemnemonics like this.
  7. ladave

    ladave Tele-Meister

    Sep 25, 2017
    Los Angeles
    I am the same. Neck on Tele, and sometimes neck + middle on Strat.

    Every time I try the bridge I don't like what I hear, although it's a little better with tone rolled off. I was really surprised when I heard Robbin Ford say he almost always uses bridge. And I have other guys switch around and get a nice variety of tones. Nick Johnston for one seems to use all positions on his Strat with good effect.

    I suspect bridge is useful for cutting through the mix also, but have never played with others. Also with a lot of distortion, bridge seems to sound better.
    PhredE likes this.
  8. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    I'm pretty much the same as you. Play at home with some SF amps (Twin, Super, Deluxe). Room is finished, used to have carpet, now it's hard surface, didn't matter either way. Play clean, mostly.

    On a Strat, most common is 2 and 4, then 5 (neck) alone.

    On any two pickup guitar (Tele, 335, LP, Gretsch, etc), it's neck or middle. Lots of middle.

    When I do play bridge, it's to achieve a certain sound, and it's got with the tone control rolled about half way back. It starts to sound similar to the neck at that point, but not really. More cut.

    I suspect the bridge pickup becomes a lot more important when playing in a band, where you need to cut through a mix.

    On my Strats, I wire Tone 1 to Neck, Tone 2 to Bridge, and never play Middle alone. It's just there for the quack.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
    Owenmoney and JL_LI like this.
  9. brbadg

    brbadg Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 11, 2008
    You have your amp dialed in for the neck pickup.
    You have to adjust the tone on the amp for when you change pickups.
    Use your tone control to brighten up the neck pickup when engaged.
  10. cabra velha

    cabra velha Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2016
    estados unidos
    . . .it may lead to hairy palms, or possibly "the hard stuff".

    but semi-seriously, I find getting a satisfying sound out of the neck pu is easier, getting the eq right on the bridge pu takes longer but the effort is usually paid off. Also, obviously I have a hard time switching quickly between the two. . .which is probably one reason I like single pickup guitars.
    brbadg and telemnemonics like this.
  11. nosuch

    nosuch Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2008
    It's OK. Me too. If you want to explore the bridge pickup more use the tone control (the second control on your guitar) to tame the harshness a bit, But it's OK to play the neck pickup – and approved by the TDPRI policy police.
    Richie-string, brbadg and PhredE like this.
  12. midnight340

    midnight340 Tele-Meister

    Dec 27, 2012
    Lawrence, KS
    I'm also in the neck club. Tele, Gretsch, or Jazzmaster, I always find myself staying with, or going back to the neck pickup.

    Yeah, carpet your floor and walls, adjust the amp, run an equalizer, etc and you might go to the bridge more, but why do that if your ears are finding their happiness on the neck?
    Richie-string, PhredE and raysachs like this.
  13. raysachs

    raysachs Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    May 21, 2017
    Near Philly
    I’m also a neck pickup guy, which is why I’m not a tele guy anymore it turns out. Maybe it has to do with playing solo mostly these days - I don’t have a bass player I’m trying to fit into a mix with. But I played with a lot of bass players in my younger, playing out days and I still liked a fuller, warmer sound than I could get out of the bridge alone on almost any single coil guitar. On my strat I play the 2, 4, and 5 most and the 3 some, but almost never the 1, and I have one of the tone pots controlling the bridge, which sometimes gets used in the 2 position. I guess my one concession to playing with bass players is I used to use the 2 quack position more than the 4 and now I play the 4 more when it’s just me.

    I recently moved away from the tele as a second guitar (anytime I’ve had a strat, which is almost all the time, it’s been my #1, and often one and only) and got a small body semi-hollow Ibanez with two buckers and I find I use the bridge more on that, but still mostly in combination with the neck - but with two volume and tone controls, you can customize the mix more and I’m going towards more bridge than with my strat or tele when I played one. I think I got away from the tele primarily because it’s most signature sound comes from the bridge and I just never took advantage of that. The fuller sounding semi-hollow body is a better second (for ME - not making a general statement) because it’s such a different playing and sounding axe that it almost becomes a co-number 1 dependingon my mood, whereas the tele was always just a slight change of pace for me, and given the way I played it, not much of a change at all, but just more limited. If I was more of a bridge guy, a tele probably always would have been the #1...

    moosie likes this.
  14. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    Here's something... I used to assume that BB King played neck all the time. Those silky sweet notes. Then I read an interview where he said he is almost on bridge, but dialed waaay back. So I tried it, and yeah, it sounded just like BB King. Without the great technique. And phrasing. And...
  15. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 2, 2009
    South Australia
    I have 7 guitars and take at least a few to a gig. A tele in Standard tuning, one in G tuning ( think Stones) and one in D tuning for different songs. Also a Strat. I use all positions on all of these because that's why the switch is there.
    I also use a small Martin and a Taylor- to get the different/ correct sounds. That's why they are different and I use all accordingly- for an authentic tone. BTW, I am no genius, but I expect to be paid well- always have.
  16. Carcinogen

    Carcinogen TDPRI Member

    Nov 13, 2017
    Tacoma, Wa
    I do bridge+neck pretty much all the time. I had to re-wire the 5 way switch on my Modern Player tele to even let that combo happen. The neck all by itself is what I use for certain leads that require a lot of playing on the higher frets on the lower strings, but for rhythm stuff its all both pickups. This started when I decided to combine a Duncan Invader in the bridge and a DeArmond goldfoil in the neck. It was like chocolate and peanut butter...
  17. Lobomov

    Lobomov Friend of Leo's

    Jul 15, 2013
    When playing at home with a clean sound the neck is as sweet as it gets!

    If you find a nice trio with bass and drums, where the drummer plays some nice dark smokey cymbals (like zildjian K) then it will still be the sweetest thing.

    But what happens if you sit in a trio geared for funk or rock. The drummer sports brigther cymbals (Zildjian A) and suddenly your guitars is suffucating in the mix and then you find bliss on that bridge pickup. I play mainly neck when I'm at home, but rarely with others.

    There are also other considerations. If you play with a bit of gain then the bridge pup might work better and also some genres simply call for a specific sound. To name and example I love that classic tele bridge into a cooking amp classic Roy Buchanon, Danny Gatton, Jim Campilongo sound :)
    Matt G and moosie like this.
  18. Thin69

    Thin69 Friend of Leo's

    Oct 28, 2009
    Galveston, TX
    In my early days as a players I almost used the neck pickup exclusively on all guitars. As I started to play in bands I discovered that the bridge cuts through way better than the neck. Lately I've been practicing solo and using nothing but the bridge. Overdrive and gain (not too much) work miracles for me. Give it time you will grow and value all positions when you play.
    cloink50 and Richie-string like this.
  19. Peregrino69

    Peregrino69 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Dec 12, 2016
    I've always been a fan of necking, myself :)
    Richie-string likes this.
  20. gimmeatele

    gimmeatele Tele-Meister

    Jun 5, 2014
    Alora Spain
    Always do on my 50's and 60's bajas
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