Fender Player HH Tele - humbuckers muddy / lack treble

SavBalac

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Hi,

I bought a Fender Player HH Tele for some humbucker tones (I have a SS Tele btw).

For versatility, it has coil splits, which sound really good.

But, I have to turn the treble right up on my amp when using humbuckers and there still isn't much clarity.

I know the pickups are on the cheap side, and that Fender used a 500k volume pot and 250k tone pot.

=> Would you get better pickups (I like Alnico II, so maybe Bare Knuckle Old Guards), a 500k tone pot, or both?

(I don't know if a 500k tone pot would ruin the split tone)
 

hemingway

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I'm not familiar with the pickups on that model, but I had a similar situation some years back. It ended up being a bit of a journey.

So . . . I bought a G&L tribute Asat Deluxe HH, and found the humbuckers too muddy.

I swapped in some Toneriders that had the opposite problem - they were so bright they barely sounded like buckers at all. So back in went the G&L pickups.

So fast forward a few years, during which time I loved the G&L as a player but didn't love the pickups. The guitar was useful, but it wasn't a favourite.

Then a couple of years ago I got a D'Angelico with Duncan 59s in a clearance sale for an absolute steal.

These were the humbuckers I wanted.

The G&L gathered dust until I eventually put some P90s in it, and now I love it again.

So yes, better humbuckers will give you a better guitar. But good humbuckers don't come cheap.
 

Cyberi4n

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I put a split tone pot in mine to deal with the Mini-humbucker I run in the neck - the single coil gets 250k tone and the humbucker gets 500k tone - the volume remains at 250k. It's made a huge difference imho, really opened up the guitar. Personally I'd start by making sure you're running 500k tone pot. You could also change the cap value as well, which might make a difference. I think I'm running at 0.022 in mine, but honestly I cant really remember.
 

bgmacaw

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I know the pickups are on the cheap side,

Not really. They're pretty decent Alnico II pickups. They may not have the tone you're looking for though. I don't recommend swapping in a different set of Alnico IIs.

A common problem is switching between humbuckers and single coils on the same effects and amp setup. You may find that some EQ adjustments are needed to get the optimal tones.

A trick I use on some guitars, especially ones with single/humbucker combos or coil splitting, is a no load tone pot.
 

Leonardocoate

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Here is Seymour Duncan's solution. I have not done it, but it sounds like an easy thing to try. They suggest adding a .475 cap to the output of the pup. (between the hot output and the switch)

 

ChicknPickn

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Something else I can throw in here. IF, like me, you have played primarily on single-coil pickups for many years, it suggests you are partial to the ringing, jingling sound of those pickups (or however you prefer to describe SC sound). Almost any bucker will sound dull, muddy, etc. after that long exposure to the single-coil sound spectrum.

I encountered this recently upon buying a 335 knockoff. At first, I was trying to overcome the natural balance of the buckers at the amp, with compression, etc. I notice that as I get used to the alnico II's, I'm less inclined to turn them into single-coils and am getting into the sound of the buckers as they were meant to be. And they're really quite nice.
 

Vocalion

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Dylan's recommendations if you don't also replace the pickups:
• Switch out the 250K pots for 500K
• Switch out the 0.050uF capacitor for 0.047uF
 

2HBStrat

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I had ordered a Blacktop Tele from a local shop when they first came out. It was a good guitar, but too heavy, and the pickups were hot and bassey. I decided to trade it rather than change the pickups and still have to deal with the weight.

I think maybe Seymour Duncan '59 pickups would do the trick.
 

Hodgo88

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It's such a balancing act configuring a guitar to do all of the work from the guitar's controls while sounding good in every position through any given rig. To this end, I think guitar players put TOO much emphasis on their pickups, and then to compile the problem we want as streamlined of controls as possible...

At the end of the day you probably have some "all of the above" in terms of contributing factors - perception, pickup height, overall resistance, amp settings, pickups, heck even technique. Chasing this dragon can be an expensive and possibly fruitless endeavor.

Then again, you could always put an EQ pedal in front with a treble boost for when you're on humbuckers.
 

Trenchant63

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I went to 2 x HB in my Warmoth Strat (namely SD Alnico II Pros). At a certain level, HBs alone will force you to say goodbye to some of the airy/sparkly highs that come from single coils. But - it should not be so drastic a change that your guitar becomes a dull pencil. In my case I eliminated the tone control for just volumes and that seemed to help a little on the high end. I’ve never used guitar tone controls anyway so it was a no brainer.
 

LowCaster

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It is true that humbuckers are different from single coils, that’s why you (OP) bought that guitar in the first place.

There is a tone knob on the amp for a reason.

On the guitar too. If you want the HB to compete with the SC, you have to open the tone and use the bridge more often.

Raise the pickups, closer to the strings, it should be louder and brighter and raise the treble side more.

If all that is not enough, then do not hesitate to swap the tone pot and cap for a 500kohm pot and a smaller value cap (0.022uF should do it, if not 0.01uF). That’s a few bucks if you can make two solders.

Swap the pickups if you want, but it will not spare you all the aforementioned setup operations.
 

LowCaster

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Good question about the split tone. What happens with a new tone pot and cap is that the split/single coil tone will be brighter too, when the tone is open (on 10). Then use the tone pot again! Turn down the tone and you should be ok.
 

G Stone496

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Hi,

I bought a Fender Player HH Tele for some humbucker tones (I have a SS Tele btw).

For versatility, it has coil splits, which sound really good.

But, I have to turn the treble right up on my amp when using humbuckers and there still isn't much clarity.

I know the pickups are on the cheap side, and that Fender used a 500k volume pot and 250k tone pot.

=> Would you get better pickups (I like Alnico II, so maybe Bare Knuckle Old Guards), a 500k tone pot, or both?

(I don't know if a 500k tone pot would ruin the split tone)
I got a 2020 Player HH Tele, so not sure if the stock pickups are the same as your’s or not. Interesting that you are thinking about the Alnico II. I changed out the stock pickups in mine to a Seymour Duncan Alnico II Trembucker (for the wider Fender spacing) in the bridge, and a SD Jazz (regular spacing) in the neck. Also changed the the pots and caps to CTS and Orange Drop. Don’t remember if the caps were 250k or 500k. But anyways it sounds great now.

23E5DB9B-8251-40E5-B908-0CCBC46C28EA.jpeg
 

nickmsmith

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if your amp is set up for single coils, your humbucker guitar is going to be dark and muddy sounding.

That’s a potential issue with coil split guitars. Either the HB sound will be muddy, or you EQ it for the HB, and the single coil sound will be thin.

I try to split the difference in my Tele that has coil splitting. So the humbucker setting is a little dark, and the single coil setting is a little thinner than I prefer. But it works.
 

schmee

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Hi,

I bought a Fender Player HH Tele for some humbucker tones (I have a SS Tele btw).

For versatility, it has coil splits, which sound really good.

But, I have to turn the treble right up on my amp when using humbuckers and there still isn't much clarity.

I know the pickups are on the cheap side, and that Fender used a 500k volume pot and 250k tone pot.

=> Would you get better pickups (I like Alnico II, so maybe Bare Knuckle Old Guards), a 500k tone pot, or both?

(I don't know if a 500k tone pot would ruin the split tone)
It surprises me that they are "not enough clarity". I assume you dont mean 'muddy on the lows' but mean 'not clear/bright enough on the highs' ?
-Muddy on the lows is inherant in any HB's pretty much I'm thinkin. ... in many situations anyway.

-If you have the tone pot dimed, then I don't see changing pots doing much. Your Volume pot is already 500k. You could try a 1 meg volume pot.
-Wiring the guitar so there is no tone pot on the neck pickup could help a little. (yes, even dimed the tone pot can effect the sound)

-Do you know how hot the neck pickup is?
 




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