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Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by don, Nov 28, 2020.
Mr. Horton is no fun. We want new pickups and strings and capacitors and stuff.
I know I know I get it....I do too, I’ve just come to understand that I dont do “projects” well. My favorite guitars will always be the ones I have to fuss with the least. My 2012 reissue Tele’, I’ve done exactly two mods to it, steel saddles and big frets.
DOUBLE BINGO! This is exactly what I do (with Palo Duro's which do it for me). The .022 cap gives you a much broader range to fine tune just how much high end you want. I'm usually between 50% and 80% on the tone knob. It's an easier to tame pickup than the broadcaster I have in my other tele.
In a way I think the hobby modding movement has hurt skills development.
It never ceases to amaze me how the entire world of Tele lovers have totally turned away from the traditional Tele bridge pickup with A5 magnets and 6k worth of 42awg winding.
That’s what all or at least most of those classic recordings used if it was a period Tele, they had very clear bright low wind bridge pickups.
Now we see all this talk of ice pick tone, clipping the bright cap, hemp cone speakers, EQ pedals, Tele bridge pickups wound up in the 8-9-10k range and even Fender bridge HBs.
Lotta ways to tame that and classic Tele cuts were not all the same solution set.
I go with volume up and pick attack very light, muting a little when picking the high E, picking further from the bridge when wanting a less bright more fat tone, using the guitar volume stock with no treble bleed for softer darker passages, choosing amp tubes and speakers carefully but not for treble cutting.
But after developing the ability to get warm tone from a bright Esquire with my hands, I also kept at the guitar setup tweaking with the goal of both a simpler guitar and a broader tonal range.
I actually find two pickups more limiting because I can’t set the amp right on for the bridge pickup, instead having to compromise with a setting that works for both or all three.
It’s a mystery that may never be solved: why some players love the sound of an electric with the tone knob rolled back and others can’t stand shunting the top end of the pickups output to ground.
.022 is a start but .10 is even better and you might like .001 or .0022uf.
Those smallest values take just a little off the top with the tone knob rolled all the way off.
I usually suggest that if a player doesn’t have a use for the tone pot rolled back to zero, the cap is too big.
Keep trying smaller value caps until the whole range of the pot is useful to you.
Or to whoever it is.
I still prefer a bunch of other solutions but for players that like guitar passive tone controls it’s worth trying those smaller values.
I use a Brown Box and dial my treble pot back about 2/3rds. Done.
My choices for that type of bridge pickup sound are Bootstrap Palo Duro and Fender Nocaster ‘52. But that’s me. You do you.
Wilde L-290 will do it. Amazingly versatile pickup. Or an L48.
I have this problem sometimes, and also the one where if there are control options on the guitar—or too many in the signal path—I waste time jacking around with settings. When I have only one pickup and a volume knob, the limited options make me work harder, and better. I figure out how to make my hands perform (or not, sometimes) instead.
The sequence of small tweaks I mentioned earlier that I did to my guitar kind of took it out of the “that’s obviously a really bright bridge pickup sound” realm, but the more ambiguous sound seems to suit my tastes and my ear and using it like that for a couple of years, I have not tired of it.
Remember that the reason for slanting any pickup is way overdue. Originally it was that Leo had problems with amps and speaker cabs that didn't produce high enough treble. Within the 50s it was solved, but then they carried on with it anyhow.
Also the slant eludes me (any slant really), because the pickups have always had the same width, like on a strat. But the strings spacing is the widest at the bridge.... and then one should all of a sudden have slanted pickups?! They should be straight at the bridge side, and THEN be slanted with the middle pickup and neck pickup to follow the strings narrowing spacing towards the nut, so all pole pieces would reside under the strings directly. I think Paul Gilberts Ibanezes is the only ones I've seen who done this.
There are problems with "ice-picky" or nasty highs with strats too, and even such people as anal retentive tone hound Eric Johnson has solved this in a peculiar way, with his latest (yet another) signature stratocaster "Virginia"....and he addresses the high e-string ice pick, albeit on a strat, where even the slant isn't as severe as on a Telecaster, to tame the tone. From 7:25 onwards:
Maybe fender Vintage 64’s?
I've always felt that the "classic" Fender bridge pickup slant toward the bridge, on Teles and Strats, put too much emphasis on treble and that straight across positioning would be better. Perhaps even a slight reverse slant would be ideal, for the bridge pickup, because there is just so much inherent brightness that close to the bridge.
I'm not a fan of high-wind hotter pickups, because you lose clarity and overall high-fidelity, pushing to a very mid-range tone, which I don't appreciate.
Softer metal for saddles (brass) can help tame ice pick. Picking farther away from the bridge helps very much. And I like a .015uF cap, so rolling off with the tone pot impacts a smaller portion of the high-end tonal spectrum.
Running this Fender Fat '50s Strat pickup straight across (no slant) at the bridge position, on this Tele of mine, makes a nice difference in taming shrill in the bridge position and giving a touch more fullness to the tone of the bridge pickup. (The neck pickup here is a Gretsch Hilo'tron, a low-wind, single coil design.). Nice tones from this instrument.
This being a Fender Player HH (using an American Special Rosewood neck) gives a good bit of versatility to what pickups you can run in it, with the Strat hardtail bridge. Body cut on the back of the guitar is a nice feature, as well. I'm a fan of the HH bodies, as they offer so much potential versatility for having something a bit different than the "traditional" Tele.
A bit of a problem with turning a typical Tele bridge pickup straight is the spacing of the pole pieces won't match the string spacing - but reverse slant with such a pickup would align well.
Here's another Fender HH Tele that I'm running with T-Armond (Dynasonic-type, single-coil) pickups. No slant. Fantastic tones from these pickups! Bridge position tones not at all ice-picky, just clear and bright.
Since it seems an Esquire project guitar, with one pickup only, I would actually go for the reverse slant, with ANY pickup of your choice. It seems that you're not too keen to have any kind of P90 or Filtertron or humbucker in the bridge position. The reverse slant it a more natural thing than all "after-EQs" done with tone control, different caps, amp settings yada yada. The only thing other that may turn out a little more natural is the use of different alloys on the bridge saddles. Some made of brass, and the others like stainless steel and so on. Rutters has saddle for this.
Doing things with post EQ or caps will affect all tones, notes on the guitar, not just the high ice-pick of the high e-string. Reverse slant will affect the high e-string the most, and tame it, but will leave the rest of the strings more or less intact. As some has said earlier that it can end up "too warm" on the high e-string, you can go overboard with it that way too, i e too much compensation, like if you should both:
1. Buy a 5-2 Seyomour Duncan tele bridge pickup..and..
2. do the reverse slant... and...
3. buy Brass saddle for the high e ...
Then you MAY risk going overboard at the other end too. One of these should be enough, methinks, but when all is said and done, I think if I had to chose between these three, it would be the reverse slant because I think it works with any pickup out there too, any saddle alloy, any strings, any picking style. The high e-string is thin, and spanky anyways on any guitar, and is oscillating the least, and needs to be picked up where it has slightly louder vibration along the strings length.
My problems have always been that I think the high e-string are more faint and weaker in balance, compared to the rest of the strings, and I have tried to change gagues, stagger pole pieces, to no avail, but it exists on acoustics too. Even using fanned frets guitar this hasn't been remedied. It's almost like the high e-string shouldn't belong there, at all, so Keith Richards may have been onto something here with his 5 strung guitars. Although he removes the low E but detunes the high E down to D. Open G tuning.
Agree. But the thing is, that with the high e-string, as you play above 12th fret it is most noticed, because there you start to hearing the benefits, or idiosyncrasies of either slant. Strumming cowboy chords down at the 4-5 frets doesn't reveal it, and the difference may be so subtle that it is neglible. The main trick is to keep the overall sparkle, and clarity over the rest of the guitar, but tame and buck that "ice-pick", which is pronounced gradually as you go up on the high e-string. Strats and teles alike. I have never heard of "ice-pick" mentioned with any humbucker equppied guitar or P-90s even.
I do think the main culprit is that most guitars, it's the uncanny split between wound strings and plain strings all of a sudden. The whole EQ spectrum changes all of a sudden, tension too, and overall timbre. On a - say - bass guitar where all strings are spun, there's not ever any talk of "ice-pick" treble, not even on Rickenbackers.
Here's a pickup response chart, where you can remove the "node" spot of the pickup and see the harmonics and frequency response.
I'ts active and you can drag with the mouse, and choose total scale and so on. Then you can see where the graph ends up.
The thing with above is that you shouldn't type in the scale as 25.5. You should measure and type in what happens with the high e-string above 12th fret. 12.75 scale, because that is what happens when you press down at 12th fret. Also the frequency should be 329 x 2 = 658. Only then you can start to move the pickup around to see what happens to each frequency node, where it is cancelled, or pronounced. It is - thus - of importance to see where the nodes for the "ice pick shrill" range occurs and when it is dampened along the strings length.
Don's Working On An Esquire
Don's working on an Esquire
and he's in quite a quandary
And so he thought to inquire
(in between cooking and doing laundry)
What would be the best pickup?
One with punch and quack and fizzle
He's only now doing the build-up
and Don wants this guitar to sizzle
And so you might have predicted
that each of us from our own dominion
and knowing that we're tone-addicted
we all have a very strong opinion
The Seymour Duncan is highly rated
though this JB Model™ is just great
Don's guitar will only have the one
so it had better be first-rate
The Pearly Gates is the way to go
even though he needs a single single-coil
So the Dimebucker would make a good combo
when paired with the Filtertron foil
The discussion became quite heated
as a variety of choices were debated
Not a single poster retreated
from their position, though agitated
So in the end Don just shrugged
as he readied his planer, tools, and glue-stick
"This instrument will be better off un-plugged,"
And he made the guitar an acoustic
Okay, I'm gonna shut up now.
As you can see:
Where the pole piece of the high e-string is definitely around 2 inch from the bridge saddle, the frequency harmonics ends up like this:
Where the "dip node" is below 5 Khz and is in the vincinity of the "ice pick range". Now lets see what happens if the pole piece of the pickup is close to the bridge, for the high e-string on a regular slanted pickup as on any stock Telecaster:
You have to take into account, the intonation of the bridge saddles, so let's say you have now 1 inch distance between the high e-string saddle, and the pole piece of the pickup, then it all ends up with:
Where the range where the "ice-pick" occurs around 3-4 Khz is exacerbated and pronounced. Mind you, this is only for the high e-string PLAYED at 12th fret and above.
So it seems my options lie in the vast space between altering my technique or taking a chisel to my Tele I think a lot of interesting ideas have emerged. Trying different cap values is cheap and easy. Micro tuning the pickup height is cheap and easy. String gauge is cheap and easy. Ultimately these types of experiments or a combination of them will go a long way toward altering tone but I still believe there is nothing wrong with trying different pickups to find a tone you like better. It’s all subjective and I’ve gone to bed thinking I had achieved the perfect tone only to wake the next morning and plug in and say dang that’s horrible!
My 31 year old parts caster has an equally old set of SD “Antiquity” pick ups. They have proven (to me) to give what I consider a “typical” Tele sound. I typically roll off the treble a little, set the amp controls and virtually never have the “ice pick” issue. My tone pot is a 500k with a .022 cap. Seems to have a little more (I stress little more) tone range. The one thing I have gotten out of playing offset Fenders is that Leo expected a player to use the controls. It’s why he put them where they are. Just my 2 cents.
my gretsch has the best tele sound i have ever heard