Different pickups vs. different speaker

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by DLReed, Dec 29, 2019.

  1. DLReed

    DLReed Tele-Meister

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    I have a question that probably has a million different answers but I am curious what others experiences have been... Would I experience a greater tonal difference by swapping out pickups or swapping out a speaker?
    In my specific case I am playing a 2018 Player Telecaster with the original pickups and using a stock Blues Junior III which has the Eminence Lightning bolt 12" speaker.
    What I am experiencing in sound is quite good right now and I mainly play at low volume. However, I would like to tame the harshness of the louder picked notes. When I am strumming softly it is a great smooth sound but digging in creates a harsher tone that is not exactly unpleasant but I feel it could be a little creamier maybe? I typically run the master on full but like to experiment turning the preamp up for a little distortion. The latter is particularly "ice-picky".
    Thanks for any feedback on a very subjective matter!
     
  2. gwjensen

    gwjensen Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    for what you’re trying to do, I would go with a speaker swap. Before you do that, though, try lowering the pickups.
     
  3. Dukex

    Dukex Tele-Holic

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    I agree with gw.
     
  4. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    I agree with lowering the pickups first, but unless they upgraded the pickups the Player Series (formerly MIM Standard) has never been known for having great sounding pickups - 'tis the weakest point in an otherwise perfectly made workhorse guitar. I'd go for a pickup swap before messing with the Blues Jr. speaker. Get something classicly wound with Alnico II magnets. I've got a close friend with a Blues Jr. and it's always seemed to be a nice, all-around speaker. He messes with everything on all his equipment, but he left the stock speaker alone. I take that as a sign that it's a pretty good speaker.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2019
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  5. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Friend of Leo's

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    Are you sure you aren’t at the edge of your amp’s headroom? I set mine up so that playing softly it’s clean, and when digging in it starts to distort.
     
  6. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Speaker IME.
    I find pickups will make subtle changes (other than some extreme ones maybe) but they will not change the basic character of a guitar. For instance, I have put various fender single coils etc in LP type guitars before. Surprisingly, it didn't change the basic LP to sound anything like a Strat.

    The Eminence V128 is a smooth speaker. It will definitely take the ice pick out. Not sure if you are wanting to go that far, but I like this speaker.

    Some say the Cannabis Rex does a similar thing.
     
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  7. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

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    tone knob on guitar & vol manipulation to suit..run that tone knob back it will cream up a bit & fill out

    get them chords on 5ish..crunch 7 dime for leads using tone for flavor

    even the in between pickup use is great for strumming..the combination of what you can do tone wise just off the guitar is great

    your experiencing dynamics which is a plus..now ya can manipulate
     
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  8. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    Try rolling off the guitars tone control, and maybe backing off the bass and treble, increase the mid on the amp. Otherwise, I agree with the developing consensus that a speaker swap is likely to help. But then, which speaker for what you want?
     
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  9. gwjensen

    gwjensen Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    The CR is VERY smooth and one of my personal faves.
     
  10. slauson slim

    slauson slim Friend of Leo's

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    Less invasive solutions best.

    Experiment with guitar and amp vol and tone knobs. New strings and pick up adjustment will also help.

    Try an eq pedal or an overdrive pedal.
     
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  11. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Tele-Afflicted

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    I typically find that a Tele that gets harsh when you dig in can benefit from lowering the pickups. Another potentially easy fix would be a different pre-amp tube, either just a different brand or perhaps a different tube. I find 5751s, at 80 percent of the gain of a 12AX7 with a different tonal profile and usually a bit less noise, sometimes tame strident highs quite nicely. 12AT7s/6021s, while often a tad mellower-sounding, draw too much heater current to be a real swap (although people do it all the time), and 12AY7s and 12AU7s can end up sounding exactly the same as a 12AX7, but at a different position on the dial.
     
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  12. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Tele-Afflicted

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    I definitely would not rush to replace the speaker. See if you can play the amp through a cabinet or the speaker in another amp before you even consider it.
     
  13. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    I vote for a humble EQ pedal.
     
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  14. twangking

    twangking Tele-Afflicted

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    Replace the speaker. Fender uses the cheapest possible speaker in their low end amps.
     
  15. VladimirG

    VladimirG TDPRI Member

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    Both are pricey replacements. I would recommend re-balancing the pickup height. What strings are you using? String gauge and materials (nickel strings will give you a less treble, balanced tone). Volume pot values will affect tone to (to a small degree). One of the most overlooked items is the cable used. We did tests in the studio with different cables in the 30$ - 300$ range. You would be amazed how much effect (due to different impedance) cables have.
    Failing all that, a speaker will have a much bigger effect on tone. How, will depend on the amp.
     
  16. Martocaster

    Martocaster TDPRI Member

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    If you’re playing at lower volume levels I don’t think you’ll hear a huge amount of difference with a different speaker. You’d hear a bigger difference by rolling off the volume a touch on the guitar and tweaking the tone control, it’s free too!
     
  17. jimbo735

    jimbo735 Tele-Afflicted

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    Speaker!
    If I remember correctly there was a lot of talk on here about that amp and speakers that were better suited for it.
    Try the search.:)
     
  18. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yes, change speakers and change pickups to change sounds.
    Adjust pickup height too as mentioned.

    Do not be upset that hard picking gives a different sound from soft picking!
    You want that but also may find that you can make bad sounds with a good set of parts and adjustments.
    If you set up a rig that cannot make a bad sound no matter what you do with the guitar, you limit your range needlessly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2019
  19. Lowerleftcoast

    Lowerleftcoast Tele-Afflicted

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    You are right... a million different answers!

    The speaker would/could give you the greatest tonal difference compared to a p/u swap.

    You say your sound is quite good but you have some ice pick, harshness, and would like it to be creamier.

    The lightning bolt speaker reportedly reduces ice pick. I think it can stay.

    The player series pickups are somewhat over wound alnico 5. Being over wound helps push your junior into distortion, but also reduces high frequencies. Fully charged alnico v magnets can get harsh though. First, I would try lowering the pickup height. At the same time I would try different tubes in the junior. Specifically I would use a Electro Harmonix 12ax7 in the first socket of the junior. I find them to smooth the sound. 12ay7 and 5751 tubes reduce gain but the EH just seems to sound sweeter/creamier IMO YMMV. A word of caution. A new EH 12ax7 can go microphonic quickly or be microphonic right out of the box.

    If those changes are not enough, check the resistance of the tele volume pot. Standard value of a tele pot is 250k. Reducing the value will take away high frequencies. Use jumper wires and try a 1.8meg resistor from terminal 1 to terminal 3. This will reduce the pot value about 50k. If this helps reduce the ice pick solder the resistor in.

    Other things you can do. IF your pickups have plastic bobbins you can change the magnets to alnico 2. If the bobbins are fiber DO NOT do this. If the pickups are noiseless DO NOT do this. Simply push the new magnets into the bobbin pushing out the alnico 5. Use a compass to determine the north pole of the magnets in the bobbin as well as the replacements and keep the orientation the same. You tube has video. You will need to determine the diameter and length of the magnets.
    Or you can demagnetize the alnico 5 while they are in the guitar. This is known as ageing. You tube again. Of course you could get some hand wound pickups.
    A winning tube complement for smoothing the junior EH 12ax7, Tung Sol 12ax7, JJ 12at7, Ruby el84 power tubes. Must check bias when replacing power tubes.

    I am new to the forum. I have lurked for quite awhile. I like TDPRI and it's time to give back. I am not here to sell my services but I think others can benefit from my experience. I wind pickups, build pedals, repair, mod, and build tube amps.

    Best of luck on your tone quest.

    Don
     
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  20. Stu Cazz

    Stu Cazz TDPRI Member

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    I would also try different pre amp tubes first.

    I experienced a drastic change in my amp after spending some time experimenting with different tube combinations. It's a fender vaporizer with two jensen C10Q speakers.

    I ended up with a JJ 12Au7 in the first position followed by a JJ 5751.
    It lowered the overall volume of the amp wich is a good thing for home use, and softened the gain structure. I have to turn the volume knob well past 12 o'clock until it starts to get dirty with single coils. The maximum dirt I get out of it pushing it at max volume is more or less in CCR territory. Exactly what I needed, for heavier stuff I use my Orange.
     
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