And the top 3 Tele neck pickups are...

El Tele Lobo

Poster Extraordinaire
Silver Supporter
Joined
Oct 21, 2014
Posts
7,314
Location
Florida
Lots of great suggestions, guys... thank you.

Right now, I have an Area-T neck in one of my Teles (and I agree... the Area-T is a fantastic sounding pickup - and noiseless!). And in another I have a Cavalier Lioness in the neck position - again, wonderful pickup! I've also got several Strats and a Tele with Strat pickups, so that base is very well covered. Another Tele has an Antiquity II Mini Humbucker at the neck. Yet another Tele has a Dimarzio PAF-Master humbucker at the neck. These all sound great.

What I haven't tried yet, and I'm interested in, are the Twang King, Keystones, Twisted Tele, Lion King (much like Lioness but slightly softened?), and TV Jones.

So many great choices out there! We are blessed.

I am a big fan of Dimarzio pickups, and the Twang Kings get so many great reviews, perhaps that's a good place to go for my next Tele neck pickup choice. Keystones have been recommended so many times as well, but they always seem to be behind in production. Not that I'm in a big hurry. I think I've narrowed it down to either Twang King or Keystone. Need to think on this some more.

From what I understand, both the Twang King and Keystone (for sure the Keystone, b/c I owned one) are stratty sounding tele neck pickups...I believe that's true of the Twisted Tele also...its claim to fame if I recall...

If you're wanting a new flava, I would give the Lion King or Fat Lion King a look. I own both and really like them. The Lion King is a traditional style tele neck pickup, but...well, BETTER. Not sure how to explain it. Rob seems to have fixed issues of muddiness, lack of clarity, insufficient warmth and just plain dullness all in one fell swoop. Easily one of the best traditional-style tele neck pickups I've played to date. The Fat Lion King adds more warmth and midrange...without sacrificing clarity...to get you into a...IDK...to me, it sounds like a mini humbucker kind of vibe. Bigger...without being overly bloomy or bassy. Great for blues and jazz. Don't let the words "warmth and midrange" scare you off from it...it has plenty of clarity and brightness at the top of the dial, even with standard 250k pots. And even down near the bottom of the dial it doesn't die a fuzzy, muddy death like so many neck pickups do when you turn the tone down more than 50%.

The Sunday 23T is a little different than the Lion King...hard to say exactly how...just a different character...but is also very, very nice. It's lively. I think the Lion King, Fat Lion King and 23T are my all-time favorites to date.

No affiliation as I said.

I have demos of both Cavaliers and the 23T on my YouTube channel...and there are better players than me out there who have demoed them also. Give them an honest look before you decide.

If you DO want another stratty-sounding neck pickup, by all means try the Keystone (it's excellent) or the Twang King or Twisted Tele (heard great things about them). OR, take a step further and try Rob's Fat Lioness. A demo recently went up of it by Visual Guy on YouTube that's VERY tempting.

Good luck. The quest (and the con-quest) of/for pickups is a wonderful thing. But don't get overly obsessed with it. If you're decent with a soldering iron, they come out as easily as they go in...and (especially if you buy stuff used or on sale) often sell for close to what you pay for them. And at the end of the day, it's all about the music you feel inspired to make. I personally try to always buy something new that I haven't tried before. There's a few I'd buy again...but short of having to replace something, I like going into new territory. Hope whatever you settle on leaves a smile on your face!
 

DHart

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Oct 12, 2012
Posts
5,940
Location
Scottsdale, AZ USA
I'd still like to hear from the OP if he is using his tone knob...
or if his Tele has the old vintage "dull dark thud" wiring ...
because I have not experienced any plain old Telecaster neck pickups, with modern tone circuits, that cannot get nice trebles.

What would that dull dark thud wiring scheme look like?

I use very common wiring schemes in my Teles, but would be interested in finding out what that old dark one looks like.
 

DHart

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Oct 12, 2012
Posts
5,940
Location
Scottsdale, AZ USA
Are you saying your neck pickup is too muffled and dull after adjusting the tone pot?

I guess I don't get it. Unless you have the vintage wiring that has that dull tone wired in??

Another thing I don't get is putting Strat pickups in a Tele. Yes, the neck pickup on a Strat is a great sound ~ one I use a lot on my Strat, but a regular Tele neck pickup is a thing of beauty.
I use Fender '62 RI and Fender Blackguards by the way, and love them. But even the pickups that came in my Japanese Squier are great ~ no mud unless I twist that tone pot.

I don't have any muddy ("dark") sounding pickups in my guitars, including my hum buckers. And I do my best to avoid "dark" pickups! I do see to it that each of my guitars sound different from all the rest.

One of the nice things about having a number of Teles and a number of Strats is being able to diversify the types and models of pickups across all of them.. avoiding duplication of tones among them. I do what I can with pickup selection and electronics choices to get a wide variety of tones across all of my different guitars.

Regarding your tone pot question. Generally speaking, I prefer the tone from neck and middle pickups to be unbounded by the tone pot... thus if they are wired through the tone pots, I typically keep the pots at "10". Lately I've taken to wiring some of my neck and middle pickups to BYPASS the tone circuit altogether. I LIKE the resulting tone. With the bridge pickups, I often will roll off the highs very slightly.
 

Sollipsist

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Aug 25, 2016
Posts
1,166
Location
89108
From what I understand, both the Twang King and Keystone (for sure the Keystone, b/c I owned one) are stratty sounding tele neck pickups...I believe that's true of the Twisted Tele also...its claim to fame if I recall...

If you DO want another stratty-sounding neck pickup, by all means try the Keystone (it's excellent) or the Twang King or Twisted Tele (heard great things about them).

That's weird, I didn't think mine sounded at all stratty. When I think of the typical strat neck pickup I tend to think SRV, Hendrix, etc... and my Keystone doesn't even come close to that. Mine reminds me more of a Frisell neck sound than anything else.
 

65 Champ Amp

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
May 28, 2011
Posts
1,399
Location
Illinois-Wisconsin line
I don't have any muddy ("dark") sounding pickups in my guitars, including my hum buckers. And I do my best to avoid "dark" pickups! I do see to it that each of my guitars sound different from all the rest.

One of the nice things about having a number of Teles and a number of Strats is being able to diversify the types and models of pickups across all of them.. avoiding duplication of tones among them. I do what I can with pickup selection and electronics choices to get a wide variety of tones across all of my different guitars.

Regarding your tone pot question. Generally speaking, I prefer the tone from neck and middle pickups to be unbounded by the tone pot... thus if they are wired through the tone pots, I typically keep the pots at "10". Lately I've taken to wiring some of my neck and middle pickups to BYPASS the tone circuit altogether. I LIKE the resulting tone. With the bridge pickups, I often will roll off the highs very slightly.

Thanks for the clarification. It certainly sounds like you know what you’re doing with regards to wiring to suit your preferences. Kudos for that.
The only other wiring question I can think of is if you have a treble bleed circuit to retain the highs when you roll back the volume pot?

Sorry to harp on it, but smarter guys than me on tdpri taught me to look to wiring, use of the vol and tone pot, and pickup height adjustment before swapping pickups. And it sounds like you’re on top of that stuff, so...
Back to pickups. I am a fan of the Fender ‘62 RI pickups. Plenty of top end that I think you’re describing, enough that I ~ usually ~ set the tone pot at 70-90% on the neck and middle positions. Generally, it sounds like you are looking more for the ‘60s Bakersfield sound than the ‘50s Broadcaster, “vintage” sound. Good luck!

Regarding the original Telecaster wiring that was used up to the early ‘60s, I don’t have my book in front of me, but the forward neck switch position used a capacitor to fix the tone of the neck pickup in a very dark setting to simulate a bass guitar. Even now, I think the ‘52 RI comes with that vintage correct wiring, but Fender includes the parts and instructions to wire it with the modern wiring scheme.
 

kookaburra

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Nov 11, 2012
Posts
2,193
Location
Phoenix, AZ, States
I like the Twang King. I also would recommend Zhangbucker's Tele neck model the Belltone.

A friend uses the Twang King, I use the Belltone in my two Teles.
 

DHart

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Oct 12, 2012
Posts
5,940
Location
Scottsdale, AZ USA
Thanks for the clarification. It certainly sounds like you know what you’re doing with regards to wiring to suit your preferences. Kudos for that.
The only other wiring question I can think of is if you have a treble bleed circuit to retain the highs when you roll back the volume pot?

Sorry to harp on it, but smarter guys than me on tdpri taught me to look to wiring, use of the vol and tone pot, and pickup height adjustment before swapping pickups. And it sounds like you’re on top of that stuff, so...
Back to pickups. I am a fan of the Fender ‘62 RI pickups. Plenty of top end that I think you’re describing, enough that I ~ usually ~ set the tone pot at 70-90% on the neck and middle positions. Generally, it sounds like you are looking more for the ‘60s Bakersfield sound than the ‘50s Broadcaster, “vintage” sound. Good luck!

Regarding the original Telecaster wiring that was used up to the early ‘60s, I don’t have my book in front of me, but the forward neck switch position used a capacitor to fix the tone of the neck pickup in a very dark setting to simulate a bass guitar. Even now, I think the ‘52 RI comes with that vintage correct wiring, but Fender includes the parts and instructions to wire it with the modern wiring scheme.

65 Champ... yes, I have explored a few different wiring schemes... not that dark one though, which I wouldn't even want to try. I like the simplest wiring schemes the best - in fact, I prefer to wire with the neck pickup (and middle, on 3-pickup designs) straight from the volume pot to output. The only time I use a tone pot is to roll off the bridge pickup a little, at times.

As for pickups... I don't have a lot of experience with Tele neck pickups. The only actual Tele neck pickups that I have are Dimarzio Area-T (which I love) and Cavalier Lioness (love this one also).

I haven't tried Twang King, Fender's '62 reissue (as you mention), Twisted Tele, Bill Lawrence Keystone T, or Cavaliers other than the Lioness that I have.
 

saladin

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Posts
141
What potentiometer values do you use? Cheers

250k for both volume and tone. The Hot Area T has plenty of treble, so I didn't need to change the pots.
I use an Area 58/67/61 on my Strat but with that I used a 500K Volume pot to brighten things up a bit.
 

moosie

Doctor of Teleocity
Silver Supporter
Joined
Jul 18, 2010
Posts
19,768
Age
65
Location
Western Connecticut
I mostly play neck, and rarely with any overdrive. Bright, clean, sparkly is what it's about for me.

Fender AV64 for clean bell tones, with the liveliness that A5 magnets bring.

Stuart Blackguard for vintage low output. A3 magnets. Clean and bright.

Pickups I just can't tolerate:
Twisted Tele
Keystones

Pickups I'd like to try:

TV Jones Starwood - I love the T-Armonds in my 6120, so I imagine these will be great, too.

Don Mare Bakersfield A3
Don Mare Hayride A5

I love-love my Fralin Vintage Hots on my Strat, so I'd like to try some of his Tele pickups.


There are a lot of great pickups to try, but thing is, the AV64 set is so good... why bother?
 

DHart

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Oct 12, 2012
Posts
5,940
Location
Scottsdale, AZ USA
I mostly play neck, and rarely with any overdrive. Bright, clean, sparkly is what it's about for me.

Fender AV64 for clean bell tones, with the liveliness that A5 magnets bring.

Stuart Blackguard for vintage low output. A3 magnets. Clean and bright.

Pickups I just can't tolerate:
Twisted Tele
Keystones

Pickups I'd like to try:

TV Jones Starwood - I love the T-Armonds in my 6120, so I imagine these will be great, too.

Don Mare Bakersfield A3
Don Mare Hayride A5

I love-love my Fralin Vintage Hots on my Strat, so I'd like to try some of his Tele pickups.


There are a lot of great pickups to try, but thing is, the AV64 set is so good... why bother?

moosie... you and I like the same tones: clean, clear, full and sparkly bright, with little to no overdrive. I have also found the A5 magnets to sparkle things up nicely in humbuckers (when I substituted an A5 magnet in a Gibson Classic '57, which usually has an A2 magnet in it.)

I'm surprised at your comment about Keystones... but only because so many people rave about them - I've never tried them. Sort of the same about Twisted Tele pickups.

I need to add the AV64 set to my explorations!
 

moosie

Doctor of Teleocity
Silver Supporter
Joined
Jul 18, 2010
Posts
19,768
Age
65
Location
Western Connecticut
moosie... you and I like the same tones: clean, clear, full and sparkly bright, with little to no overdrive. I have also found the A5 magnets to sparkle things up nicely in humbuckers (when I substituted an A5 magnet in a Gibson Classic '57, which usually has an A2 magnet in it.)

I'm surprised at your comment about Keystones... but only because so many people rave about them - I've never tried them. Sort of the same about Twisted Tele pickups.

I need to add the AV64 set to my explorations!
I'm not a PAF connoisseur, but I tend to prefer A2, so far. Gibson 57 Classics are my standby, and for a Les Paul, I also like Throbak SLE-101s, also with A2s. Throatier, but not compressed.

I fully expected to like Keystones and the Twisted neck, based on people's comments. But even with that predisposed-to-like bias... the Twisted just sounded 'blah'. And the Keystones... at first I thought I'd done something wrong. They sounded so weak, just horrible. I triple checked everything, install, phasing, heights, etc etc. I just do not like them at all.

For Strats (I know you have a few), I like scooped Mayer tones. The Fralins get that, as well as the Fender Big Dippers that came in Mayer's Strat. Think SRV's Lenny.

Some of my favorite pickups overall are the TV Jones T-Armonds in my 6120. He must have used dried unicorn belly-sweat or something. Like a clean, cold, high mountain spring. That's why I'm so interested in his Starwoods.

I look forward to your review of the Keystones :)
 

heffus

Tele-Holic
Joined
Apr 20, 2014
Posts
926
Location
cHICAGO
A little on the expensive side, but an OC Duff Slabster will do all that. He's got a 20% off sale going right now.
 

BillNeaves

Tele-Meister
Joined
Jan 8, 2012
Posts
242
Location
Missoula, MT
I use the Twang King neck pu... very clear, and full-bodied... full, rich, with clean/clear treble.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

littlebadboy

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Jun 25, 2016
Posts
1,899
Location
Midwest, USA
I'm happy with my coil sized rail humbuckers on my bridge, overwound vintage repro on neck, with 4-way switch to split the humbucker.
 

DHart

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Oct 12, 2012
Posts
5,940
Location
Scottsdale, AZ USA
As the OP, I feel it's time for me to chime in here, once again.

Today I installed a Cavalier Bakersfield (custom low-wind - 8,100 turns rather than 8,500 turns). 42AWG wire around A5 magnets, about 6.6k DCR. Volume pot is 520k, Tone pot is 480k.

Yes, it's a BRIDGE pickup.... installed it in the NECK position. :lol:

Funny thing, I'll say for right now, it's most definitely in the running as my favorite sounding Tele pickup in the neck position. (Among 12 other Teles with more "typical" neck position Tele pickups.)

Clean, clear, rich, full-bright, articulate, and sparkly - all at once. My kind of Tele neck pickup!

There really is something great about the concept of running a Tele BRIDGE pickup in the NECK position! (And the middle position, too!) Why don't more people try this?

Neck: Cavalier Bakersfield 6.6k
Middle: Cavalier 50/51 7.2k
Bridge: Fender CS Nocaster. 6.8k

48361479011_07659b7263_o.jpg
 
Last edited:




New Posts

Top