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Baja vs Highway One Tele pickups: Tell me more.

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Snufkinoob, May 23, 2011.

  1. Snufkinoob

    Snufkinoob Tele-Meister

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    So I've got a Baja tele, used, at a good price, but really just don't like the blonde paintjob. So I was thinking about taking off the neck, pups and electrics and putting them on a sunburst body of some kind.

    However, I've come across a HWY1 body, fully loaded, sans neck, and was considering just sticking my Baja neck on there and be done with it.

    I'm not a recording musician, I'm not super-picky about my tone and don't really play a particular style, although Anna Calvi's tone did get me into telecaster's, no idea which model she uses. I've tried linking a good youtube clip but every way I try it won't work, but it's this one here.


    But what's the real difference between the tones of these two tele's pickups? Baring in mind I don't really use the "S1" modes, and I do like the standard parallel position for both pups.

    Anyway, I've asked this on another forum and just end up getting generic, knee-jerk, possibly uninformed; "Baja pickups are better" type answers so I figured this would be the best place to post for a more objective, or at least useful response.

    Also, oddly enough this HWY1 body seems to have the same S1 switching as the baja, which I didn't know existed. So what's the deal with that? Any more useful than than the Baja version?

    Thanks.
     
  2. BradL

    BradL Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    The Baja pickup set is the same as in many a custom shop Tele and they're pretty decent combination. I especially like the Twisted Neck pup which gives a really good account of itself.

    Since I've not played a HW1 Tele in a while I'll leave the comments on those to others.
     
  3. ADK Teleman

    ADK Teleman Tele-Afflicted

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    I have a HWY 1 Tele and love the pups. They are very hot and can really cut through the mix. Some folks don't care for them but I love them. The Twisted neck pup on the Baja is very sweet. I prefer the bridge on my HWY 1 to that of the Baja. Just my preference and for my style too. Hope that this helps some.
     
  4. Guitar Rat

    Guitar Rat Tele-Meister

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    I also find the S1 switch pretty much worthless, but I'd take the Baja pickups over the stock Highway 1s any day of the week. They are much more '50s-leaning pickups in terms of the tone you get, and provide a much better foundation to build on, whether you're going clean, overdriven, or edge-of-breakup. They've just got that great mix of twang, bite and mellow I want from a Tele.

    The Highway 1 pickups are kinda meh.....they get the job done, but they sounded kind of compressed to me, not really worthwhile unless you're going to be playing mostly overdriven tones, where the "rounded off" sound gets you British rock crunch without the icepick some people complain about wrestling with. The result of that to me, though, seemed that there was a loss of the treble attack of a typical Tele in other tones.
     
  5. Snufkinoob

    Snufkinoob Tele-Meister

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    Excellent responses, thanks. Keep them coming. I thought the alnico III's in the HWY1 would be quite trebly in comparison. Part of me wants to like that more, but I do like the clean tones of the Baja, and don't really use overdrive. It's either clean (with reverb and/or tremolo) or nasty Shin Ei fuzz. :D

    Also, a local guitar tech who I was asking about the cost of doing a switch like this, said that the S1 switching version of the HWY1 can get p90 style tones? Does anyone have this model? I'm only asking as I always thought the S1 was just a feature of the Baja, and I kind of like the idea of getting P90 sounds as an 'extra' if I went the HWY1 route.

    Actually, come to think of it, how much do you think a set up HWY1 pickups and electrics (or Baja) would sell for?
     
  6. mikelamusic

    mikelamusic TDPRI Member

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    The previous owner of my Baja did the same thing. I have a Baja with a custom Warmoth body. I've played a handful of H1's and the newer American Special and to my ears the Baja pups smoke the H1. Obviously it's all subjective but the H1 just sounded kinda dull, a little muddy when played clean. They work well for an overdriven sound but still seemed too noisy for me. I tweaked the EQ on my 212 Deville a bit and you can make them sound good enough I suppose. But the Baja on the other hand just sounds beautiful IMO. There is such a sparkle and chime with these. Lows, mids, and highs are all very articulate and they have a presence to them. The neck is warm but still pronounced, the bridge isn't overly bitey. I don't really use the S1 either but even just having a 4 way switch is nice also. I love both the 2nd and 3rd position. I play about 3 gigs a week and I can't tell you how many compliments I get on the sound of that guitar. Here's my best attempt at a visual to compare the 2... It's like the difference in watching regular old channels vs HD channels.
     
  7. mellecaster

    mellecaster Former Member

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    I didn't watch all of the 10 minute clip, but about the first 3 mins....and Honestly, that "Tone" could Pretty much be any Guitar on the Planet, plugged into any Amp ?....unless you're hearing something I'm not ?
     
  8. Snufkinoob

    Snufkinoob Tele-Meister

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    :lol: fair enough. I'm no expert but if I had to guess the sound, I'd say a tele or a Strat with some punchy but clean sounding pickups. Single coil sound. :confused:

    I guess tele->vox with a touch of overdrive is fairly common combination, but I love the sound she's getting. Especially on "Riders to the Sea", the opening track to her album
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
  9. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Baja vs Highway

    I've had both guitars and sets of pickups.
    The Baja neck pickup sounds good, IMHO it is more Strat like than your typical Tele neck pickup.
    I wasn't that impressed with the Baja bridge pickup, I think it's supposed to be like a Broadcaster but it just sounded OK to me.
    The so called Twisted Tele pickup in the MIM Baja is NOT the same pickup that Fender uses in the Custom Shop models.

    I've also had the Highway One Tele and used the Highway One pickups in other guitars.
    Some folks don't like the Highway One pickups,but I really liked the Highway One neck pickup and the bridge pickup sounded good to me also.
    I'm not a traditional country picker, so maybe I prefer the fatter tones, but the Highway One pickups sounded good to me both clean and with gain.

    Choosing pickups is so much a personal thing, what one person recommends may or may not work in YOUR guitar, unfortunately you just about have to try some pickups out yourself to see what will work for you.
     
  10. Rolling Estonian

    Rolling Estonian Friend of Leo's

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    HW1 pups are uber hot, great for od. The HW1 was advertised as being more of a hard rock type tele with the 'easy to bend' frets and the hot pups.

    I haven't seen any need to swap out the pups, greasebucket tone pot helps too.

    I love my HW1.

    M
     
  11. yangounet

    yangounet Friend of Leo's

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    I didnt like so much the bridge sound of my highway one, and this gave me the occasion to mod it a litlle (put lollars specialTs that have little more range, and are still quite hot). But I could have gone with these pups. I sold them to a guy who is really happy with them;
     
  12. oxfordian

    oxfordian Tele-Meister

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    Having had both, I agree with all of the above. My Highway One was very rock-sounding, much as my Highway One Strat is - pretty compressed and quite middley. Great for high gain rock stuff, less so in terms of more traditional tone. My Baja, on the other hand, with a 0.01 tone cap just to take some of the dog-frighteners off, is one of the best-sounding guitars I've ever had - and there have been a few. In your position I'd consider using the Highway One body - love the nitro for its feel - and retaining the electronics from the Baja. I do have my old Highway One Tele bridge plate on my Baja just because it's a bit heavier. Does it affect the tone? Who knows.
     
  13. yangounet

    yangounet Friend of Leo's

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    I forgot to mention I love the Highway one's neck. Quite perfect. The touch coating is great, frets are easy to play. It's my axe N°1 coz of that. but that's just my taste.
     
  14. Frank Entele

    Frank Entele TDPRI Member

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    To revive and old thread - FWIW - my Hwy One bridge pup sounds pretty good to me. Through a deluxe rev, super rev or jtm45/4x12. BUT, the neck was mud, mud, mud. Zero articulation. So I grabed a custom low impedance over an A5 magnet and it kicks. Whether both pups are on or jsut the neck, you can hear string articulation that just wasn't there w/the stocker.

    Oh yeah - the grease bucket had to go in favor of a traditional wired set up (flipped around a la Bill Kirchen).
     
  15. chabby

    chabby Friend of Leo's

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    That's exactly how I'd define my CV50 outta the box and it's stock pick ups. Though I changed the bridge to a Fralin 5% overwound, it hardly made any difference and was a waste of money in a way. But I saved the CV50 Bridge pickup just in case I get another Tele with a marginal Bridge pickup.
     
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