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Add Pickup Baseplate on Tex Mex bridge pickup... any effect?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by 3-Chord-Genius, Jan 23, 2019.

  1. metale

    metale Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    I had a baseplate installed on a (MIM) Classic 50s bridge pickup. As far as I remember the tech enlarged the holes on the baseplate to fit the pickup bottom. It originally had those 2 screws.
     
  2. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    The baseplate thing is essentially a myth. It's just people mistaking correlation for causation. Even MIA Telecaster bridge pickups didnt have any base plate for a number of years. The Internet has caused players to become hyper aware of vintage correctness, and so they're back, along with fiber flatwork and cloth hookup wire.

    While it's true that a steel base plate increases the inductance and eddy current losses, it is by a very, very small amount:

    [​IMG]

    As for the idea that it focuses the field, it's simply too far from the strings to matter, and the low permeability of the AlNiCo pole pieces greatly reduces the degree to which they are able to magnetically interact with the base plate. If the pole pieces where steel, you'd be more likely to observe a difference, and I know this because it's similar in concept to clipping short the pole screws beneath a PAF, where due to the permeability of the screws, it does make a real difference.

    Leo Fender most likely put the base plate there in order to help the AlNiCo retain its charge. It was considered good practice to abut ALNiCo with a "keeper", even PAF pickups have one, but sometimes they didn't bother, such as with the neck pickup, or Strat pickups, etc. It might have also been there to provide shielding, even though it's still open on sides. In any event, Leo was not thinking it added "power" or that it "focused the field".
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2019
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  3. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    This is what I was looking for. Thanks! The reason I asked was because I'd seen lots of comments from people asserting that the baseplate makes a significant difference on a telecaster, and I was getting ready to purchase one. But, I purchased a similar item for my stratocaster bridge pickup (from Callaham, I believe), and it made no difference whatsoever - although for a few days I convinced myself that it did... but it really didn't.

    I was wondering if the telecaster baseplate was any different. Based on your data, the answer would be "nope".
     
  4. 63 vibroverb

    63 vibroverb Tele-Afflicted

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    Those bent steel strat saddles aren’t gonna contribute much twang if that’s what you’re trying to get. You need the ash tray bridge with the brass saddles.

    The reason the base plate didn’t do much to your strat pickup is because it’s suspended in the plastic pick guard of the guitar. The tele bridge setup is a different environment: you’ve got the big metal bridge plate screwed to the body of the wood with the pickup in the middle of it. The whole setup becomes one big pickup. It’s the same concept as people adding booster magnets to their speakers for more punch.

    Doesn’t make any difference to me what you decide to do, but you’re the one who asked to get more twang.
     
  5. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    I added one to my 69 Thinline. I think it made a difference. Not night and day but it does seem more compressed. I didn't have to drill anything. I filed the plastic screw bosses flat put silastic on it and scewed the standard mount screws straight into it.

    I understood it was more for grounding with the ashtray cover as well as shielding in concert with the neck cover.

    Both of them do have an earth.
     
  6. robt57

    robt57 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    The two screws are a gift. Hold it on tight! I'd still use a layer of two side tape though. Or at least a piece of gorilla tape to abate any looseness. That would be a screech fest if loose.

    DIY_baseplate-TexMex.JPG
     
  7. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    This whole thing about the Tele sounding uniquely twangy, I'm not sure it's even real. Strats can sound twangy



    If I had to guess, I think whey they have in common is a very bright single coil, set at a slant, that accentuates the bright harmonics near the bridge. If someone really believes a Tele "twangs" more than a Strat, it might be because the Tele is hard tail while the Strat often as a floating trem that, due to its lower rigidity, decays more quickly. Deck a Strat and give it another try.

    Or here's a video of a Les Paul getting twangy



    , in this case all it has in common with a Tele is a bright pickup, split to the coil nearest to the bridge, and a hard tail.
     
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  8. 63 vibroverb

    63 vibroverb Tele-Afflicted

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    The strat and split coil LP get close, but no cigar. They sound thin and twangy, yes. But not like a tele. There's a beefiness and muscular authority to a good tele bridge pickup with baseplate screwed to a traditional bridge. Nothing else sounds like it.

    The guy playing a strat is going thru a compressor and a digital modeling amp (at home volumes) - both of those things are designed to mask the natural tone of a guitar.

    A split coil humbucker is an adequate compromise for getting a thinner tone, but again, not like a tele. Not even like a strat, really.
     
  9. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Tele bridge pickups are hotter, with an inductance of >3H, Strats are ~2.5H and a split PAF <2.0H. I guess twang is subjective, but if you're saying the difference is just that the Tele twang is a little fatter sounding, I don't think that's the magical difference. If the inductance is too high, like a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound for Tele, or a standard humbucker fitted in the bridge spot, the "twang" becomes very minimal. The Cabronitas are pretty "twangy" too, with their bright Filter'tron clones.

    I think the base plate has some sort of psychological significance maybe, because from a physics standpoint, there's no "there" there. I've even done the exact same test with "power plates" on the bottom of Strat pickups, two came stock on a DiMarzio Red Velvet and Bare Knuckle Irish Tours, and the other I bought from Fralin, always the same result; a very slightly diminished Q, a very slightly increased inductance.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
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  10. mistermikev

    mistermikev Tele-Afflicted

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    have a dimarzio red velvet (w brass plate) in a strat that is easily my fav strat bridge pickup of all time. "Don't mean a thing if it ain't got that twang"!
    just toss in additional options: over at ace hardware they sell thin brass strips - it's inexpensive - like $6 for a 2' 1/2" length. Could just snag a strip of that and slap it on there. I've been thinking of trying that on a few guitars to see if they might sound a bit more like that dimarzio in the bridge.
    another option: bootstrap sells individual pickups for $20. They seem to have a good rep and are apparently hand wound in usa.
    cheers
     
  11. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yep. Like I mentioned earlier, I slapped a steel plate on a strat pickup once and could swear it made a difference, for a few minutes... then it became, "I think it sounds different"... all the while I knew that it sounded no different at all - I just wanted it to sound different.

    I thought that there might be something different going on with the telecaster baseplate because the Tex Mex bridge pickup doesn't have one, nor does it "twang" like other pickups I've heard that do have the plate.... now it appears that the Tex Mex pickups are just wound for a different tone.
     
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  12. 63 vibroverb

    63 vibroverb Tele-Afflicted

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    I mentioned this above:

    Compare a tele bridge pickup (with a baseplate) to a strat pickup wound to the exact same DCR, let’s say 8.0K for example. If you truly think they sound and behave the same way, then we’ll have to agree to disagree. There’s a reason a lot of experienced players choose certain guitars over others for their uses. And it’s not because of cosmetics. Or imaginary magic, as you seem to claim.

    Charts are nice and show some form of scientific observation is happening, but it’s not fool-proof or without its flaws. Surely, there’s more to sound/tone than just frequency and volume. I’m sure if you used that same method to measure the difference between different rectifiers on an amp, you would probably get the same thing. Or the difference between different overdrive pedals. Or humbuckers with/without their covers.

    Bottom line is: OP, you can’t take one result from one environment (strat) and expect the same thing to happen in a different environment (tele). If you love teles, you owe it to yourself to try the traditional bridge setup with a proper bridge pickup. If you can’t hear/feel a difference after that, then you can grin at me all you want.
     
  13. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Psycoacoustics and internet hype.
     
  14. 63 vibroverb

    63 vibroverb Tele-Afflicted

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    The flaw in your logic is that this was all realized by players long before the internet.

    It’s not even logic, really. At this point you’re just being dismissive and stubborn.

    Even my grandma can hear a difference between a strat and tele pickup - and she doesn’t even play (and she’s old)...
     
  15. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    If that's true, then why did Fender make Tele bridge pickups without base plates (the plastic bobbin types) for several decades? Obviously they didn't think it was crucial to the tone, nor did countless customers.

    Even that aside, your dismissiveness of the data is what really defies logic. On what basis do you feel that the data is insufficient? What factor(s) is not accounted for?

    The idea that a Tele and Strat pickup can't be told apart is nothing I said, in fact if you read above I mentioned that the Tele bridge pickup has a higher inductance, on average, so I'm not even confident that you've read these posts that you're dismissive of.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
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  16. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'm leaning towards this. I just went through a similar observation a few days ago - my Strat clearly has more decay. I've also got a Tele that's toploading only, and seems to have decay that's about halfway between the Strat and my string-thru-body Teles.

    ...The toploading Tele has a Van Zandt bridge pickup, so it's kind of an "all else equal" representation, WRT inductance, bottom plate, etc.

    And, I've got another Tele w/the ashtray bridge, 3 brass saddles, string-thru-body, and an Area T bridge pickup, which has no baseplate. It sounds as twangy and "all Tele" as my others do.
     
  17. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    What about that write up that Bill Lawrence did on how metals effect pickups including base plates?
     
  18. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Plated or unplated steel, especially copper or zinc plated, is the defacto vintage correct base plate. Aluminum, copper or brass base plates are non standard and would have to be specially sourced. I just looked on ebay and I couldn't find any right away. Some of the cheap knock offs from China appear to be brass, but that has nothing to do with tonal presence, they're just using garbage metal. If the base plate isn't made out of steel (or iron), then it wouldn't serve the purpose of reducing the magnetic reluctance, which is the strongest case for having a base plate at all, as it would just purely cause eddy current losses, Even though Bill Lawrence could make a case for doing that out of sonic preference, it's not something that most pickup makers have done, at least not Fender. Retarding a pickup's resonance with eddy currents is functionally the same as retarding it with a tone control, or a parallel resistor, there's no real good reason to have them, except to provide some minor shielding.
     
  19. 63 vibroverb

    63 vibroverb Tele-Afflicted

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    If you're talking about the period from the CBS buyout to the 2000's, I think it's pretty obvious Fender was cutting corners on a lot of things. Tone wasn't their priority business model, costs and money was. They've improved recently, but even now, the low-level to bare bones models are missing things - something's gotta give, right? At least all the higher-end Mexican and American models have a baseplate on their bridge pickup, no?

    With all the custom tele builders and pickup winders around these days, I can't think of one who will use or make a bridge pickup without a baseplate. Do you think every single one of them is drinking some pseudo-acoustic koolaid? What gives your opinion more weight than theirs? Sure, companies like DiMarzio will make a tele bridge pickup without a baseplate, but that's because they're intending it to sound different, not because it's unnecessary.

    Actually, I really went through your posts and charts thoroughly, hoping I can find things to agree with. However, I think you're omitting some of my points or you're at least choosing to not acknowledge them. Regardless, I don't really care. I'm just pointing it out.

    My problem with your charts is that they only show frequency and decibels. Sound and tone is much more complex than that. And the way the human ear perceives it is important. There's sustain, attack, decay, harmonics and fundamental, etc. What method was used to record the data for these charts? What amp was used (if one was used) - if it's some solid state digital thing like in the video you provided, that's not reproducing the tones of the guitar and pickups accurately. Even worse so if it was a direct input. Was the microphone a high grade unit that picks up sound honestly? Is it designed to perceive sound like the human ear? All microphones have their own EQ as well.

    Have you ever successfully chosen a pickup or a speaker based on a chart alone without hearing it?

    There are so many variables and controls to a "scientific test", you can't just whip out random charts and expect to be taken seriously. Give me a guitar thru a tube amp with good speakers, and THAT's how you can tell it will sound.

    No, I've read everything you've said - I assure you. But you did show a video of a strat trying to persuade how it's as twangy as a tele, no? You said the tele pickup is fatter and louder because it is wound hotter and has more inductance, not because it's a tele pickup. To argue that point, I also suggested that you compare a tele and strat pickup with identical windings (8k for example) and tell me they still sound the same - but you obviously ignored that.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
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  20. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Nobody noticed the baseplate was missing from those MIA Teles. Nobody. It would be impossible for them to notice.

    Base plates are common now because the internet fostered a demand for them, along with countless other unnecessary, vintage correct details.

    We're only talking about the pickup, it's an electrical component. The complexity you're describing is extraneous. The base plate doesn't effect the ADSR envelope, or the guitar amp, or the speakers, etc. The pickup can be understood with simple data because that is the domain the pickup operates within.

    Twang is subjective, there's nothing to prove one way or another on that point. The point is that a question "what makes a Tele so twangy" bags the question, assuming it's especially twangy to begin with, which is not a certainty.
     
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