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

Is it normal for a tele to sound dark?

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by aequitas, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. aequitas

    aequitas TDPRI Member

    Jun 17, 2015
    So, I just got myself a first tele. I build it from an MJT body and Musikraft neck.
    It's alder body with maple/rosewood neck. The pickup is Seymour Duncan Tele Antiquity II.
    The wiring is modern style but I use 0.1uf cap (I like how 0.1uf cap roll the treble off when using tone control). The bridge is Gotoh vintage style tele with intonation saddle.

    I found out that my tele sound so dark. It's thick and full but the mid is dark. Especially on the neck pickup. I have play around with pickup height but it doesn't seem to help.
    I don't know if it's because what I always use before is a Strat or is it because of my guitar? Or is it a normal behavior of tele?

    Thank you!
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
  2. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Dec 27, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    I'm not familiar with the Antiquity II, nor have I ever used a 0.1 cap, but it's not unusual for people to dislike the neck pickups in their Teles.

    I've had a couple Teles where the neck pickups were too dark.

    I replaced both; one with a Fender '51 Nocaster neck pickup and the other with a Fender '64 Pure Vintage neck pickup and both are clearer and brighter than the pickups they were replacing.

    The '64 is the brighter of the two in my case.

    I've also heard that Fender's "Twisted Tele" neck pickup is clear and bright as well.

    Hope this helps and good luck!

    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017
  3. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd Friend of Leo's

    Jan 10, 2013
    The neck pickup is dark. It will vary depending on the particular pickup. The bridge pickup should not be dark at all.
  4. DaphneBlue

    DaphneBlue Tele-Meister

    Jul 22, 2017

    I'm not very good at modifying guitars but I've often read on TDPRI that some guys take off the metal cover of the neck pick up to make it sound more stratish (brighter I guess). Maybe this could help?

    Let us know!
  5. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 15, 2017
    Harvest, Alabama
  6. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    SD pickups for me are often too dark, it's from high internal capacitance of the windings (machine wound bobbins typically).
    Easiest fix is put a 0.047uF capacitor in series with the hot lead from the too-dark pickup or in line with the output wire if both pickups are too dark. You can try other capacitors but that one is common and seems to work well. If it is just the neck pickup (common for Teles) it may also be the chrome cover material/manufacturing process choices used. Same cap solution should fix it.

    Some brightness can come from swapping the volume pot for a higher kohm one, but this will impact both pickups. Measure your current pot, say it's 250k on the case but you may measure with a meter '230k' then find one that measures on the high end of the speck '300k' or jump up to a 500k nominal that reads high or low on its spec. Pots have a 20% normal factory tolerance range and this contributes to light/dark sounding guitars when they test two guitars side by side (and they explain the reason on fretboard or body wood).

  7. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Mar 3, 2003
    The particular neck pup you have chosen can be dark on its own since it a replica of a classic 50s/60s tele neck pup.

    Still it sounds AMAZING in the MIDDLE position when paired with a classic bridge pup from the same era/style.The SD antiquity set is one of my favorite sets but I never use the neck only position and I play 90% of the time in the middle position.

    There are hundreds of bright tele neck pups out there though if you want something brighter.

    If your BRIDGE SD Antiquity pup sounds dark on its own than you have surely messed up something with the wiring or you pup is broken.The SD Antiquity is the BRIGHTEST bridge pup in existence today.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017
  8. aequitas

    aequitas TDPRI Member

    Jun 17, 2015
    Thanks, everyone! The bridge sound great but the neck can be dark. It sound good but it's not as useful as my strat neck pickup. Maybe Seymore Duncan design tis pickup to be this way. I probably change the pickup in the future.

    I actually try this mod the other night! But I found out that in thin the sound of high strings too much to my liking and it doesn't sound as good as before good in middle position.
  9. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Didn’t @Antigua Tele ID the brass covers being the culprit for Antiquity neck pickup mud? IIRC, maybe it’s only Ant Is and not IIs.
  10. tubejockey

    tubejockey Tele-Meister

    Nov 25, 2015
    the bozone
    Just wanted to make sure all bases are covered. Are you sure you wired the tone pot right? Right cap and pot values?
  11. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Aug 17, 2012
    The way I dial in my amps for my Teles is start with the neck pickup. Get it sounding good, and when you switch to the bridge pickup just nudge the tone control back a little bit to take the edge off of that pickup.
  12. Geo

    Geo Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Hendersonville, TN
    It implies to me that you may have the vintage style wiring rather than modern version.
    The vintage uses a 0.1uf muffler cap and produces a bass sound in neck pickup position
    switch forward toward the neck. What does it sound like with the switch in the middle
    RadioFM74 likes this.
  13. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    ,1 cap is likely culprit. .047 is the norm. A treble bleed capacitor will help it not turn to mud especially with that big a cap. Also, keeping Fender specs on pickup clearance.
    drew1d likes this.
  14. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

    Nov 27, 2014
    Morley, England
    If you like the neck position on a strat I would suggest putting a strat pickup in the neck position or if you want to keep the tele appearance I would suggest a twisted tele neck pickup as they're suppose to sound stratty.
    Clifton C likes this.
  15. aequitas

    aequitas TDPRI Member

    Jun 17, 2015
    I'm pretty sure that I wired it correctly for a modern version. I just use my spare 0.1uf cap left from my strat build for this one. The pots are standard CTS 250k. Volume and tone work normally.

    The sound is not that muffled and middle position sound like a normal between pickups. It's just that compare to a strat it just sound a lot darker.

    I don't know if changing the cap value will help since I like to keep it on 10 anyway but will try if I have some time.
  16. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Aug 17, 2012
    The cap is still in the circuit, even when the tone control is all the way up. It's the electronic equivalent of having a 250K resistor between the cap and ground (as opposed to the cap being effectively removed from the circuit with the tone control on ten).
  17. Randypttt

    Randypttt Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 8, 2010
    Elyria Oh
    +1 on the Twisted. Bright but very nuanced. Not unlike the neck pup in a Squier CV 50 (blonde). I have both.
  18. aequitas

    aequitas TDPRI Member

    Jun 17, 2015
    I suppose I should post an update here.

    I try several things in the past week. Set up, rewire, change cap value and play around with pickups high (a lot!!).
    It's better but still can't get the tone that I want.

    So, I finally decided to replace the pickups and I got myself a Fender Twisted Tele set from ebay (I got it for $111).
    Based on review and suggestion around here but I decided to go with a full set and not tt/broadcaster combo.

    I have to say I'm extremely impressed! It sound really good. Full, balance, clear. I like the bridge pickup a lot too, not too bright and full and really balance. It does sound like a strat but I don't mind since I'm a big fan of strat anyway.

    It doesn't take long to set the high to the sweet spot. With the SD I take hours and hours and never happy with the result.

    Not to bash on Seymour Duncan or anything. It's nice and full and very vintage like but it's not the sound I want and it doesn't go well with my guitar. I'm sure it would be perfect for a bright guitar or if you want a vintage style set.

    I'm finally happy now and proud to say that it's the nicest sounding guitar I have ever own.

    Thanks a lot, guys!
    RadioFM74 and Asmith like this.
  19. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 22, 2009
    New York
    I've heard of past complaints with Duncans sounding 'muddy' apparently due to how they're wound, they develop quite a bit of capacitance, which darkens the tone.
  20. qblue

    qblue Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 12, 2009
    Clarks Summit, PA
    I think your capacitor of 0.100 uF is too high and will make the guitar sound as if there is no treble. Or as you say "dark". The normal value for a guitar is 0.022uF, 1/4 of what you have now. A capacitor of 0.047uF is usually placed in bass guitars, about 1/2 the value of what you have now. In some Gibsons they use a 0.02 uF, but I think it's the same as a 0.022uF, the value rounded off.

    Try the 0.047uF capacitor and see what happens. I have a Baja that uses a 0.05uF capacitor.
    drew1d likes this.
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