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teles w/ neck humbuckers - questions

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by appar111, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. appar111

    appar111 Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    43
    Mar 8, 2006
    Ohio
    I'm looking at putting a single coil sized humbucker in the neck of one of my teles (currently has an Antiquity tele in the bridge), and had a couple questions for those who use teles with a neck humbucker and a vintage output tele single coil bridge pickup.

    1. Do you have the pickups fairly balanced, volume-wise, or do you have a fair amount of mismatch? (i.e. the neck 'bucker is alot louder?)
    2. If it's the latter, how do you deal with or utilize the mismatch?
    3. How does that middle position with both pickups sound? :)
     
  2. Agitator

    Agitator Friend of Leo's

    Nov 22, 2010
    In transit
    I have an 80s MIJ Tele Custom with a stock neck humbucker.

    1) The volumes are very evenly matched, as far as I can tell. If anything, the bridge pickup is louder, but it may just seem that way because it's brighter.

    2) My guitar a separate volume knob for each pickup, like a Gibson.

    3) I love it. Really the best of both worlds, I think... the bridge pickup is the brilliant, sparkly icing on top of the warm, gooey humbucker. It's like a wonderful Cinnabon of tone. I especially like the blended sound for muted picking.

    That said, a lot of my enjoyment of my Tele's pickups has to do with the fact that I can blend the pickups on the fly with the two volume knobs. So my experience may not be too relevant if you're adding a humbucker to a guitar that isn't wired that way.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Vermont
    I seriously believe that the s/h Tele is not supposed to be balanced. The beauty of those Teles, especially the ones with a WRHB in the neck position, is the sound you get with both pickups on.

    Because the bridge pickup is weaker than the neck, it makes a different, unique contribution to the sound that you won't get from any other guitar. In my opinion there are two useable sounds from a S/H Tele. Neck position, and middle position. The bridge position is sacrificed for the awesome sound of that middle setting.

    If the two pickups are balanced in output, they just don't sound the same or as good in my experience. It's sort of like playing an Esquire. It's only got one pickup but you know what you're getting into when you play it.

    This a very unpopular outlook but if you think about it for a few minutes, it starts to make sense. Good luck!
     
  4. Agitator

    Agitator Friend of Leo's

    Nov 22, 2010
    In transit
    It doesn't make sense to me. I'll edit my post in a few minutes if that changes.

    I was playing my bridge position last night and loving it. What difference does it make to the sound/usability of the bridge pickup if there is or isn't a humbucker at the neck?
     
  5. appar111

    appar111 Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    43
    Mar 8, 2006
    Ohio
    Telenator, you may be on to something about an HS setup on a tele sounding best because it's unbalanced. I don't think the bridge single by itself is really sacrificed though, maybe just not as preferred as the middle position (depending on what trips your trigger).

    As long as there are some really good tones to be had with that middle position if the neck humbucker and bridge single coil are unbalanced, then I can definitely deal with that.

    I rarely use a neck pickup-- only 1 of my 3 guitars currently has a neck pickup at all, so if I can add an awesome middle sound, and a fat humbucker neck tone to the "repertoire", then it might be worth it to go with a single-coil sized bucker that sounds like a humbucker (Dimarzio Pro Track), rather than one that sounds like a hum-cancelled single (Fast Track 1). It still wouldn't change my mind on the bridge single by itself still sounding great.
     
  6. appar111

    appar111 Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    43
    Mar 8, 2006
    Ohio
    That is a sweet sweet looking tele, Agitator! Neck looks nice and worn in, not all pale white..

    The fact you can not only blend the pickups, but adjust their volumes & tones independently probably does make that a slightly different beast from a neck-buckered tele with the traditional switching. Alot more variation possible by adjusting the volumes and tones separately.
     
  7. Agitator

    Agitator Friend of Leo's

    Nov 22, 2010
    In transit
    True, but it sounds fine with everything on "10", too. :D
     
  8. WrayGun

    WrayGun Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    57
    May 5, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    My newish Tele has a Burstbucker 1 in the neck and a plain old 3-way switch. By itself, the bucker is just a little louder than the bridge, but the middle position is gold. As described above, it's a unique sound, almost a Strat-like "quack," but much beefier. I love it!

    [​IMG]
     
  9. appar111

    appar111 Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    43
    Mar 8, 2006
    Ohio
    bad porcupine-
    What bridge pickup are you using?
     
  10. telex76

    telex76 Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    67
    Jun 24, 2006
    Fort Worth,Tx.
    I bought this nocaster used after someone put a humbucker in the neck. Took me awhile to get both pups sounding good, but now I love it.
     

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  11. Robert H.

    Robert H. Friend of Leo's

    Jul 28, 2005
    N. Cal.
    I have a Suhr Tele style guitar with John Suhr's own humbucker (SSV) in the neck slot---it is stronger than the single coil bridge p/u, but I can just bump up the volumn if need be. The middle position is Tele twang at its best...
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Vermont
    The difference is, when the bridge pickup is weaker than the neck pickup, I find it difficult to get a balanced sound when switching from one to the other. However, a weak bridge pickup with a strong neck pickup creates a very unique sound. For me, that makes the neck position usable and the middle position usable, but the bridge is just too weak by itself. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for that incredibly sweet middle poosition.

    A balanced bridge and neck pickup combination just doesn't sound as good.
     
  13. Bernie

    Bernie Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 17, 2003
    SF Bay Area
    I'll have to agree with you on this, given my latest experiment.

    I have an MIJ Tele Custom with a real 70s WRHB in the neck and an Antiquity II in the bridge. The WRHB specs out at 10.5k ohms and the bridge at 6.3k. The WRHB is way louder than the AII, but I wanted a balanced sound between pickups, so I could go from neck to bridge and have similar volume level (the "balanced" sound). To accomplish that, I ended up adjusting the neck pickup flush to the pickguard. The sound was OK across all of the pickup combinations, balanced and all that, but all of the glory that the WRHB possessed was gone. I kept it like that for months, until last week, when I decided to get this situation sounding more than just OK.

    I adjusted both pickups using the nickel/2 nickel method for both pickups as a starting point, and right away, the WRHB's glory is restored, but out of (volume) balance with the AII. The middle position is glorious, too. For the glory to happen, both pups volume and tone need to be on 10. Could be unconventional wiring in this guitar, though (1 meg pots for WRHB, 250k pots for AII), I'll deal with that later.

    Conclusion: The sound is overall much better in the solo neck and neck + bridge, but the bridge pup volume might need some help if I decide to use it solo. Maybe a slight boost with an SHO or something similar. The improvement in sound in the N and N+B positions is well worth the trouble of coming up with a solution that balances the bridge volume.
     
  14. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    The stock tele bridge pickup is a fairly powerful unit but its output is not as high as the stock tele neck pickup because the string excursion is greater there. Normally adjust the bridge pickup for the "best" sound and then juggle the neck pickup to match output, or best sound.

    Now a humbucker at the neck is always going to be higher output than the stock tele neck pickup, yet it can be balanced to the stock tele bridge pickup. Same technique as above. A "vintage" or "PAF" type stands a better chance of success. If it is dropped too low then it does sound a bit bland, so some compromise may be required. Both pickups need to sound good individually. A 4-way selector does work well too.

    A 250k vol pot will probably be best for the stock tele bridge single-coil pickup, and will also allow the neck humbucker to be raised a bit further than it would running a 500k, i.e. better balance whilst both sound good.

    Best judge is your ears: pickup heights; vol pot values. Also do try through different amps at different levels and setting.
     
  15. El Reclusa

    El Reclusa Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 27, 2008
    Kansas City
    I agree, based on my experience. My '76 came to me with an old Gibson HB in the neck slot (not a PAF, sadly), and as long as I keep rather low (but just right) it balances just fine with the stock bridge pickup. Sounds really, really good too...honestly not all that far off from a good Tele neck pickup, just a little rounder, if that makes sense. Haven't measured it, but I suspect as humbuckers go, it's probably not all that hot, output-wise.

    FWIW, I love the sound of both pickups in mine individually, but not together. YMMV, though- and I'm pretty sure mine's wired such that the middle position is out of phase. One of these days I should fix that!
     
  16. SoK66

    SoK66 Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 2, 2007
    Four Corners USA
    Putting a humbucker in the neck is an old mod that came about because the Tele single coil was percieved as weak and noisy. I must have routed out a dozen of them back in the 6s & early 70s and just put a Gibson humbucker in there. They usually don't balance worth beans with the bridge pickup, but it was usually a case where some guy wanted neck tone more than bridge. Years ago before 4-wire HBs were on the market I figured out a way to split the coils and would set them up as a single coil, with a switch on the plate that turned the second one on & off. I currently have a Warmoth bodied FrankcenCaster with two old '80s DiMarzio pickups, a "PAF" in the neck and a "PreBS Tele" single coil in the bridge. It's wired with two pull-pots to be single coils as default, neck humbucker with the volume pot pulled, pickups out of phase with the tone pot pulled.
     
  17. ZZB3

    ZZB3 Tele-Holic

    820
    Apr 17, 2009
    Salem, Oregon
    I run a Antiquity full size Neck humbucker with a Jerry Donahue Bridge pup and they balance beautifully. All three positions work well. My favorite guitar. Have fun, Wayne
     
  18. Jason R.

    Jason R. Tele-Holic

    528
    May 31, 2006
    Norfolk, VA
    I have a SD '59 HB in the neck of one of Teles and a SD Jerry Donahue in the bridge. I selected them because the output of the HB is average to low and the output of the bridge is a little hotter than normal. That has made balancing a little easier.

    That being said, I don't mind that the neck has more output. I find that typical Tele neck pickups disappear in the mix when I play live because they don't have the bite and treble of the bridge. Heaven forbid I actually use my volume knob during a song to boost a traditional Tele neck pickup! :rolleyes:

    One of the issues I worked out - with help from someone here at TDPRI - is how to find the best solution for the pots because HBs and SCs prefer different values. The diagram posted worked for me. The 270K resistor is key. They are less than a dollar at a Frye's or Radio Shack and tame the highs that result when hooking up a single coil to a 500 pot.

    Disregard the "Firebird" on the diagram. The schematic works fine for any HB/SC combo.

    Good luck.
     

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  19. Duncas

    Duncas Friend of Leo's

    Nov 11, 2010
    Wolverhampton UK
    try going abit original, leave it with the humbucker louder and get some strange pickup selecting noises. i used to use my lp with bridge on full an neck on half it sounded like a 'broken' killswitch
     
  20. WrayGun

    WrayGun Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    57
    May 5, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    That is a Gibson Burstbucker 1. Love it. :cool:
     
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