Change bridge PU without removing strings?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by homerkp, Nov 9, 2019.

  1. homerkp

    homerkp TDPRI Member

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    I got Twisted Tele pickups for my Tele. For the neck, because the stock pickup was a little too dark for the music I'm playing. So I had the guitar serviced and the tech guy put the new pickups in.

    I'm not feeling the bridge pickup. It's much louder but somehow devoid of character. Whereas a typical Tele bridge pickup gets its bite from a somewhat harsh treble, this one has none of that, and sort of makes up for it with volume.

    Anyway, the strings are new. Is it possible to change the bridge pickup without removing the strings? If not, I'll just wait a few weeks until these strings need to be changed. Can someone point me to a good how-to video? I've never changed pickups myself.
     
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  2. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    Have you changed the height of the pickup?
     
  3. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Have you adjusted the pickup? The amp? You don't just plop a new pickup in and expect it to sound like you want right off the bat. It sounds to me like it needs to be lower.

    In answer to your question, you could change the bridge pickup without pulling the strings if you routed through to the pickup cavity from the back of the guitar.
     
  4. homerkp

    homerkp TDPRI Member

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    I haven't adjusted it. It's weird. At first listen you can hear a big volume difference, and in fact the DC resistance is neck: 5.9K, bridge: 10.0K. But when playing with my band I only heard a slight volume boost when switching the bridge for a solo. I chalk that up to it not having the same frequencies as the normal Tele pickup. In fact it has less "bite".

    If I was to lower it I guess it would even out the volume but it won't add character. Ordinarily you cut through when switching the bridge because of the frequency change; this one does that with volume instead. The TT neck pickup is already more trebly than the stock neck so I don't think I could add treble from the amp. I mean it might help the bridge, but not the neck.
     
  5. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    "Character" isn't a defined single thing that you can add or subtract. It isn't really a word that stands alone, having a meaning in and of itself. Any pickup can be described as having a certain "character." It's better to speak in more specific technical terms, since the nebulous "character" could mean whatever anyone decides it means.

    Lowering a pickup reduces its output so that it hits the amp less hard, reducing its muddiness and radically altering the tone it creates. Since your complaints are that the pickup is too loud and lacks cut, lowering it is indeed what you would want to do with it. And what you describe is to be expected from an overwound pickup: more output, less cut, more low end, lower dominant frequency.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
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  6. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    Suggest lower the pickup.. all of it, or just the bass side.

    What styles are you playing?
     
  7. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Capo on the first fret & remove the neck.

    How much are strings in Greece?
     
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  8. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    It's common for a Tele neck pickup to have higher DC resistance, because it's wound typically from finer wire. DCr has not that much to do with output. Gretsch Filtertrons are 3.9-4.0 kohm but have magnets twice as thick as PAFs and no shortage of output. The TT neck pickup has extended poles under the cover compared to a traditional plus the nickel cover is less shielding than chromed steel.

    Around 6.0 kohm is fairly typical bridge - in fact you can't really measure it that accurate with the average DMM. Adjusting the pickup up or down and front to back is worth experimenting.

    With your strings fretted at the last fret a good ballpark way is to check all your string's clearance on the polepieces. 1-2 dimes thickness on the closest gap with slightly more on the bass side is a good place to start.

    Your bridge pickup typically should be slightly closer to the strings than your neck pup, because they don't move in such a big arc being closer to the bridge compared to the neck pickup position.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
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  9. tarheelbob

    tarheelbob Tele-Meister

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    That's a pretty high resistance bridge pickup, especially when compared next to a more "normal" range 5.9k neck. As others said, lower the bridge pickup and get a feel for how it changes. You may like what you hear.

    If it doesn't work for you, then put the old brige back in. Tons of tutorial on YouTube for replacing pickups. Since you will be using a hot soldering iron around the intimate bits of your guitar, I like everyting removed, and out of the way when I work. I would recommend either taking strings off and replacing when you're done, or do the capo and neck removal (if you are comfortable with that) before soldering in new a new pickup.

    - Bob
     
  10. Fuelish

    Fuelish Tele-Meister

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    I'd remove strings before I'd remove the neck, but that's just me. Ernie Balls are pretty darned affordable, I mean, come on … I could spend more on a fast food meal than a pack of Slinkys, here.
     
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  11. Tenderfoot

    Tenderfoot Tele-Holic

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    That's how I do it. I am currently using Sono Tone strings which are expensive and when trying a different pickup, I like to be using the same set of (already broken in) strings for the comparison. I reduce string tension first then put the capo on at the 1st fret before removing the neck mounting screws. Once you remove the bridge (remember to disconnect the pickup at the control plate wiring harness) you can slide the bridge away from the guitar body and remove the pickup and install the new one. Just be careful and have something on the guitar body to protect the finish incase the bridge or strings should come in contact with it.

    When resetting the neck to the body be sure to check alignment before completely tightening the mounting screws then remove the capro and tune the guitar back to the tuning you were using before replacing the pickup.

    Good Luck!
     
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  12. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Afflicted

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    That 10K resistance on the bridge pickup is what's killing the high end. Wait until you need to change the strings and then get a pickup closere to 7K resistance. Adjust pickup height according to taste.
     
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  13. homerkp

    homerkp TDPRI Member

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    I lowered it but it doesn't seem to affect the tone. I'm think I'm gonna swap it for the old pickup. Does anyone know which wire is which in a standard Mexican tele from 2000? One is black and one is yellow.
     
  14. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    10k is hot but not out of line with some historical tele pickups I am told. Just get a screwdriver and lower it way down until the volume evens out with the neck pickup, then screw around from there. Costs nothing, kinda interesting, no tech skill needed.
     
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  15. homerkp

    homerkp TDPRI Member

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    So I went ahead and put in the old pickup. First time doing this, was pretty straightforward. I wanna thank you guys for your input.

    I wish I could've done a prettier job soldering but my gun is really crappy. At least they're soldered on tight.

    When I was talking about the TT bridge PU not having the same character as the stock PU I was referring to that treble bite that Teles are known for. The TT bridge seems to be completely devoid of that.

    Two possible issues, which might be in my mind; if not perhaps someone can help:

    The volume pot seems to cut out the volume a lot more suddenly than I remember. At half-way it's almost silent. I don't remember it being so sudden.

    The second thing I'm more sure about. There's a sound when switching pickups that simply wasn't there before. Like an electric clicking sound. A friend of mine said to "check the ground connection". That would be the black wire I attached to the volume pot. Neither that connection nor the yellow to the PU switch was pretty but the connections were pretty good.
     
  16. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    You lowered it from what height to what height?
     
  17. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Meister

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    I've done that once. Not practical at all, but here is how I did it:
    - loosen the strings with a capo at 1st fret (so they won't jump off the tuning pegs)
    - unscrew the pickup (it will fall into the cavity)
    - unscrew the bridge and make it slide along the strings towards the neck;
    - take the old pickup out (unsolder everything before of course);
    - then the most tricky part: screw the new pickup to the bridge (it's very difficult because you don't have much clearance to hold the pickup and the screws in the right position)
    - screw the bridge back on, etc.

    I did that because I received my custom built pickup earlier than I thought, and I had just put new strings on the day before. Guess I could not wait :rolleyes:
    It worked but the strings were not fresh any longer since you damage them a bit doing such a thing. I ended up changing them less than a week later, so I guess it was not really worth the effort.
    When you're a bit stubborn, you do silly things sometimes :oops:
     
  18. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Meister

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    NB: with a top-loader it would have been so much easier though!
     
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