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Pre-CBS Telecaster Neck Pickups

Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by chomps, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. chomps

    chomps TDPRI Member

    61
    Sep 8, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA
    So I’ve got a 1954 Tele with a non-original neck pup. The guitar’s a refin, but the bridge pup is original (rewound). I’ve got a Jimmy Wallace neck pup in there now which sounds great. There is no need to replace it, but if I did come across a pre-CBS neck pup at the right price, I might try it. With that said, how do you tell the difference between say a 1953 and 1963 neck pup on the parts market? Is there anyway to tell with the cover on? If the cover was off, would you see different pole heights in different years, like you see on bridge pups? I’ve tried researching this issue but I’m not finding clues to tell them apart. Please advise if you know the answer.
     

  2. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Holic

    759
    Feb 10, 2010
    Low Lands
    Yes out of my head: slightly larger diameter magnets, chrome plated brass cover with "skirts" all the way to the bottom, rough cover edges with the wire side of the cover ground off, brown/green discoloration of the bare chrome bits, slightly protruding magnet slugs on the bottom, flush on top, very thin forbon "donuts" around the magnets (beveled end at the bottom), no wax-potting, weaker A-3 magnets (a bit more 'yellow' in color compared to A-5), purple/brown 43 enamel magnet wire, 6 - 7k resistance, screw holes in forbon bottom off center, often the forbon top plate manually cut smaller to fit the cover. There is more to check but I can see it in 2 seconds when examining the pickup (cover wear and corrosion, the dust on the coil, the yellowed lacquer on the forbon, the soldering, the lead wire aging etc etc etc)
     
    netgear69 and Twisted Kerle like this.

  3. Robert H.

    Robert H. Friend of Leo's

    Jul 28, 2005
    N. Cal.
    Yes to what Antoon has said - and the early Blackguard pickups were often very microphonic. Just tap them when plugged in and you'll hear that clicking.
     

  4. chomps

    chomps TDPRI Member

    61
    Sep 8, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Thanks for that info. I assume all of the above applies to a 1954 pup and some of these things would change in the following years. I’ll try to continue my education by studying more guitar pictures. Did they ever start staggering the poles under the cover or are all pre-cbs Tele neck pups flat pole?
     

  5. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Holic

    759
    Feb 10, 2010
    Low Lands
    no never staggered. the amount that the magnets stick out from the bottom plate is another giveaway but i forgot how it was exactly. now that i think of it i recall that also at the bottom plate the magnets are almost flush on the 50s pickups. on the 60s pickups they stick out more. you should google some pics.
     

  6. chomps

    chomps TDPRI Member

    61
    Sep 8, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA
    So here are some pics of a neck pup supposedly added to an Esquire in '54 or '55. Does this look right to you for 1954? Are those circles around the magnets the donuts you refer to? Would those broken cover tabs be a sign of a rewind. What do you think? Is this what I would be looking for to add to a '54 Tele?
    DSC01355.jpg DSC01356.jpg DSC01357.jpg
     

  7. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Holic

    759
    Feb 10, 2010
    Low Lands
    Yes that is a 50s neck pickup (with the almost flush magnets and the donuts/circles). Do you see the off-centre screw holes, the amber lacquer and the sloppy looking forbon around the magnets? I can not say anything about whether it is rewound or whether the cover is original without extra pics. The tabs may have been broken off more recently because of the lack of discoloration on the fracture planes but that could be the picture. Are the pickup screws slotted or phillips?
    Something I can notice from the pics is the lack of wear and imprint that the cover tabs normally make on the pickup bottom plate. That is strange and it would suggest that the this pickup never had tabs at this side of the cover.
    Usually, when rewound, the pickup gets wax-potted and this one does not have wax on it. Could you take a pic of the coil wire from the other side?
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018

  8. chomps

    chomps TDPRI Member

    61
    Sep 8, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Thanks for the info. Now I’m starting to see and understand the things you are pointing out. I don’t have any more pics. Those were back from 2014 when that guitar was being offered for sale. I happened to save them on my computer for future reference as I sometimes do when a seller puts up nice detailed pics of old Fenders. Thanks again for your wisdom!
     
    BopT likes this.

  9. BopT

    BopT Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 6, 2011
    Chicago

  10. GreatGaudy

    GreatGaudy Tele-Meister

    134
    Jul 13, 2016
    noVa
    " If the cover was off, would you see different pole heights in different years, like you see on bridge pups? "

    If you mean by " staggered " lengths - ... looks like the stock Telecaster " neck " never had them (as far as any immernet research I can find on it)
     

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