First T-type guitar... doesn’t sound very “tele”

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by Woodisgood, Apr 7, 2020.

  1. Woodisgood

    Woodisgood TDPRI Member

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    Hi all. Brand new to the forum, and to T-type guitars. I’ve been drooling over a telecaster ever since high school. Now that I’m stuck at home for the foreseeable future, I broke down and picked up a reasonably priced, mint condition Peavey Reactor that came up on Craigslist. I’m really, very happy with the neck and the general build quality, but it just doesn’t sound quite right. I don’t have any point of reference, but it just doesn’t sound quite as... telecaster-y as I want it to. It sounds kinda muffled, like it’s missing some treble or presence or something. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s just not all the way there. There’s not a whole lot of life.

    So I’m thinking I’ll start with a pickup swap. A few years back, I put a set of Wilde Microcoils in a free Squire strat, and my god, that thing sings now. So I’m a huge believer in Bill Lawrence. I figured a set of Keystones might be right for me, since people seem to describe them as “classic tele.” That sounds like a good starting place. But I’d like to hear your opinions. I was also thinking about a set of custom shop Texas Specials, as I like the slightly hot, kinda dirty, bluesy tele tones, but I don’t know if they are gonna retain enough treble. I play through a Peavey delta blues, which is very warm and bass heavy, to begin with.

    All I really know at this point is that I’m looking for “more tele character.” With the understanding that there is no one standardized telecaster sound, Do you think I’m heading in the right direction with the keystones? Also, how much of a role does the bridge itself play in the tele tone, and should I be thinking about other upgrades? Maybe replace the cheapo plastic nut? Thanks for any and all advice.
     
  2. Djentleman Dan

    Djentleman Dan Tele-Holic

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    The bridge can make an unbelievable difference. It's also cheap ($30ish) and easy to swap.
     
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  3. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Tele-Holic

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    If you want more of a Tele sound then why not simply get a Tele?....Fender makes them. Like the old saying you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
     
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  4. iamjethro

    iamjethro TDPRI Member

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    I always thought Reactor did a good telish job. Have you tried adjusting pickup height. Might make a difference that you notice.
     
  5. SuprHtr

    SuprHtr Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Before I invested in pick-ups, I would try different tone capacitors and possibly different potentiometers. And before that, I'd mess around with pick-up height!
     
  6. drf64

    drf64 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Don't forget that amp settings are important.
     
  7. Djentleman Dan

    Djentleman Dan Tele-Holic

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    A buddy got me this bridge and it makes a massive difference in bright, chimey twang. When unplugged, you can also hear how much more sound resonates. It's like 50% as loud as an acoustic.

    It's also much less hassle and cheaper than trying to mess with pickups or pots or other stuff. Just make sure it has the same screwholes in the same spots as your git.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004MNEN7C/?tag=tdpri-20
     
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  8. Paulie_Boy

    Paulie_Boy Tele-Holic

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    That's one way to relic. (But not very hygienic.) Seriously, DON'T make any mods just yet. If you can't make it sound like a tele then YOU are probably the problem. Every standard t-type guitar in reasonable playing condition can approximate the same sound. Were the pups swapped-out by the previous owner? Please describe what you expect it to sound like.
     
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  9. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Also agree you should play with pickup height. Bill Lawrence would raise it until it was 2 stacked nickels below the unfitted string, then gradually lower by half turns (eventually quarter turns as you get close) until the mythical sweet spot is attained. Since you're looking for a tele-is sound, I would start with the bridge, then once you get that in the sweet spot, set the neck to more or less match the volume level of the bridge.

    If you do go for new pickups, you're going to have to do this anyway. And if you do go new, Keystones are very good pickups. They can be a little "hi-fi" sounding (some would say brilliant). Also worth a look in or below that price point: Bootstrap, Cavalier and Sunday Handwound. All excellent winders and all highly regarded here. Good luck. Let us know how it goes.
     
  10. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I love these Keystones that Bill developed.

    But my opinion was and is, that Bill's intention was to create a transparent pickup, that could be made to sound whichever way you tended to sound.

    Some guys wanted their guitars to sound "Like Barbecue Tastes". I'd talk to Bill on the phone, and he was more receptive to my way of looking at this. If the player wanted Barbecue, he'd have to use a pedal, a choice of tubes or speakers, or technique. Or choice of guitar construction. Any good or bad sounds, coming from everything else, simply passes through the transducer and what you hear is what you get. Keystones are not "flavored" pickups.

    So I think your Squier was a diamond in the rough, just needing clear Keystones to let the Strat already in there, out.

    I'm in the South. I've driven by Meridian on I-59/20 with the Peavey plant off to my left, far too many times to count for decades and decades. I've got two Classic 50 USA combos I use often. But I don't have much to say about the Reactors.

    I'd just substitute a more valid example of a Telecaster or T type - the pickups you have, at least for me, are a top choice in such an instrument.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
  11. Paulie_Boy

    Paulie_Boy Tele-Holic

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    There's no flies on a Peavey. I have one in my collection.
     
  12. joe_cpwe

    joe_cpwe Tele-Holic

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    A cheap and ez thing to try would be a 500k volume pot if you have one laying around. That may brighten up.
     
  13. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    1. pickup heights
    2. pots 'n caps
    3. pickup swaps (and start at the top again)

    Could be your picking style, watch how it's done to get all the tones ..



    .
     
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  14. bumnote

    bumnote Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    Saddles, what are they made of? Brass is your "traditional" Tele material, but steel is a close second. I've taken a real liking to titanium, bright but not harsh. Soft metal will rob you of tone.

    Pots? Who made them, if they're a crappy low-end make, damaged or worn out that'll give you problems.

    Pickup height...this is the first go to. Play around with pickup height. I'm not familiar with Peavey guitars, so I don't know what their pickups are like...are they stock? Lack of a steel or brass baseplate on the bridge pickup will rob you of some of that "Tele" sound.


    There's no magic in a Fender vs. (insert brand name here) body, neck, etc. to get a Tele sound. IMO, it's all down to the pickups and bridge. The pickup design and build along with a Tele bridge paired with good saddles will make damn near any guitar sound like a Tele.
     
  15. naveed211

    naveed211 Tele-Holic

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    I really like Reactors. Does it happen to have the split coils? That might be part of your problem, I don’t think those are going to be as much of your “classic” Tele tone as regular single coils.

    Texas Specials are a good route to go, otherwise for cheaper some Squier Classic Vibe pickups with the alnico 3 mags would get you there, too.
     
  16. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    Where are you picking? Picking close to the bridge always bring twang on any guitar. Pots, caps, pickup height, bridge type and amp settings also play a part, but a simple change in picking area can do a lot.
     
  17. Woodisgood

    Woodisgood TDPRI Member

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    Wow, thanks for all the support. Everything is stock. Two single coils. I’m assuming these saddles are steel. Definitely not brass. Right now the sound seems a little weak, and the bridge pup looks low, so I’ll try raising it. In a perfect world, I’d love to get into Albert Collins territory. I know there’s a lot of variables, like amp, cable, and skill, that make his sound so unique. I also love Roy Buchanan’s sound, and I could even see myself getting into some chicken pickin. I really admire Danny carton, and his guitar sounds killer. But I’d love to get a more searing, seething driven blues lead out of my bridge, and right now it doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of attitude, and it’s surprisingly lacking in treble. Assuming that these stock pups are more or less standard output tele-style single coils, is there a normal range pickup height range where I ought to start? With the Bill Lawrence coin technique, those heights are measured with the strings fretted on the 22nd fret, correct? It’s been a while since I set up my strat, so I don’t really remember the details of that technique. I also noticed that the angle of the bridge pickup seems off, or not parallel to the strings. How will changing the angle that it is facing the strings change the tone?

    The neck pickup sounds muffled, like the tone knob is rolled back, in that way I’ve heard so many people describe tele necks. It actually sounds pretty sweet, like if I could only remove that blanket that’s muffling everything, my neck pickup would be great. I know some people remove the cover. Is that something I should consider, and is there something I’d need to do to protect the coils?

    I have not checked the pots yet, but I’m assuming they are 250k. That’s standard for t-type guitars, correct? How would 500k pots change things? I don’t have any replacement pots on hand, but I’ll order some to play around with. Any other values I should try? They don’t filter out as much treble, right? I’m gonna start tinkering now, and I’ll report back with my results.
     

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  18. Woodisgood

    Woodisgood TDPRI Member

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    I adjusted the pickup height, and it made a big difference. I’m gonna live with it for a bit before I start making pickup swaps. I lowered the neck pickup way down, and that helped, but it still sounds very muffled. The bridge pickup is more in the ballpark now.
     
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  19. tubegeek

    tubegeek Tele-Holic

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    Tilting the neck pup so it's closer to the treble strings may be more what you're looking for.
     
  20. dreamingtele

    dreamingtele Friend of Leo's

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    I agree with pick up heights.

    ive never switched out pickups. I always just play with the heights to make it sound good. Easy, and free. Unless you need to buy a screwdriver.

    you need to spend time on it. I think on my tele’s, I’ve spent around months and months, tweaking and tweaking until i found that tone I like from them. Ive never touched it for a long time now.
     
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