Full open sounding neck pickup - not too much treble - any suggestions?

Geo

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I'm always looking for a neck pickup thats full and open sounding not dull and
compressed and not treble focused.

I like similar. Favorites are Cavalier Lion and the neck one in the Q pickups A2 Broadcaster
set. These are more medium over wound. No capacitor need here as neither are on the tone
control. The neck is set using the amp tone controls leaving the Tele tone control for the
bridge and N+B.
 
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spellcaster

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I agree with a couple of other posters who recommended Fralin pickups.....The Blues Special neck pickup specifically. I used a set of Lindy Fralin Blues Special Tele pickups 5% overwound as the neck and middle pickups on one of my Strat builds. That neck pickup blew the doors off any Strat neck pickup I've ever tried.
 

don

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Lots of good ideas here - I have 250k pots in all my teles (7) and having tried 500k pots before and did not like the type of high end I got so I'm reluctant to try that or replacing the .0333 cap because the bridge pup sounds great. Maybe I'll make it an esquire!
 

cousinpaul

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The 50's RoadWorn has the Fender Tex Mex set; A5 magnets and a bit hotter wind. I like them but prefer the Fender Original Vintage set. They don't have a ton of personality but sound good in all switch positions and work well for a lot of different genres. Think alnico 3 magnets and 7.2k DCR for the neck. I'm also using 250k pots and a .022uf tone cap along with "50's" wiring.
 
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don

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One thing I have noticed today while fiddling with this guitar is that the neck pickup is lower output than the bridge so I decided to turn the amp up a little louder than I normally play at home and it really did open up that pickup in a pleasant way. I also adjusted the pickup closer to the strings on the treble side than Fender recommends - just a little bit - and that helped too
 

Boreas

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One thing I have noticed today while fiddling with this guitar is that the neck pickup is lower output than the bridge so I decided to turn the amp up a little louder than I normally play at home and it really did open up that pickup in a pleasant way. I also adjusted the pickup closer to the strings on the treble side than Fender recommends - just a little bit - and that helped too

Don't be afraid to lower the bridge pup to get the balance you like - especially if you use over-wound pickups. But once you have an output balance you like, make sure you like the middle position tone. I usually settle on the neck being a tad louder because of the way it warms the middle position. But every pickup/electronics combination will be different - as well as every set of ears and the stuff between them.

String gauge, age, and alloy, playing style, where you strum/pick on the strings - even pick gauge and material all have an effect on the tone of any guitar. If I can't get the tone I am shooting for by tweaking ALL of the above including pot and cap values, I either look at replacing the pickups, or getting a different guitar.

At least once in our lives, it is a good idea to take a guitar with a perceived "issue" (Teles are easiest!) and run through the myriad combinations of pup heights, string alloy/gauge, and pot/cap values - TAKING NOTES AS YOU GO. What do you like? What do you dislike? What happens when you do this or that? Record on paper (spreadsheet?) and short recordings/videos. Try to cover all the bases, even though you may have noted a point that you really like. Just RECORD that combination and keep exploring. Once you complete this journey, you will know more than 98% of guitarists out there about how electric guitars really work. More importantly, you will gain an understanding of your own preferences. Once you have completed this journeyman training, then jump into the more expensive rabbit hole of 10,000 pickup options and combinations.

IMO, there is no substitute for the basic understanding of the setup and associated electronics in an electric guitar. Yes, you could replace your pups once and be totally satisfied, but you will not gain an understanding of the underlying nuts and bolts that can be the icing on the cake.
 

Wobbles

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I write and record mostly roots and Americana style music and I'm always looking for a neck pickup thats full and open sounding not dull and compressed and not treble focused. I usually prefer over wound bridge pickups to avoid that typical country pickin' treble and I picked up a 2018 Classic Vibe 50's tele that feels great - the bridge pickup has a cool vibe but the neck pickup is lower output and unremarkable - any suggestions? BTW - I usually like the middle position more than most people!
Jim Weider big t neck pickup, made by Lindy Fralin, sold at analogman. designed to fix just the problem you're talking about.
 

fender4life

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Dimarzio twang king is like that. Not high output or over compressed, not too much treble...good balance. Great pickup. Another cheaper option thats likely as good is get a bootstrap custom wind and ask for 42AWG and A5 like the dimarzio and have it wound to somewhere between a twang king (6.5k) and maybe 6k on the low end. I wanna try a 6k one which would be in between thier pretzel and the dimarzio. The pretzel is wonderful but a bit balanced towards the highs compared to the TK. (it's about 5.6k) I bet a 6k wind with 42/A5 would be great. You can also have him send it with the cover not installed and if you want less top install it yourself and it will cut a bit even tho it's nickel silver.
 

Wobbles

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+1 on Cavalier pickups. I have a 51/52 bridge pickup in an Esquire, the best pickup I've ever heard. I don't have any Cavalier neck pickups yet, but that's gonna change soon.
 
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Yonatan

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That describes exactly my GFS Mean 90 with tone control all the way up (or almost), though that is in a humbucker footprint, so not sure that it helps you.
 
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zippofan

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Zhangbucker wound me a beauty, 7K/A3, no cover, it sounds sweet and clear. That's probably my favorite of all my Tele neck pickups though the Cavalier Lioness is another that is so clear and rich without being overly bassy. I'm another who likes the Twang King too, it's a great neck pickup, as is their True Velvet.
 

Happy Enchilada

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Cavalier pickups. I have the Fat Lion/ Fat Lion King combo in my '62 Custom, and they are pretty great.

That said, before swapping out the pickups, you might try swapping out the electronics. The import stuff (on most brands) really deadens any life the pickups may have. Getting a solid set of pots/switches/capacitors/output jack really makes a difference. Plus, you can upgrade to a four-position switch at the same time for a series pickup configuration.

I like MojoTone, but there are plenty out there that are a step up from what came from the factory.


^^^^ What he said. You might try Bootstrap, they are handmade in Ohio and reasonably priced.
I believe they will also sell you a neck pickup ala carte.
If you're routed for a P90, that might be a good idea. Bootstrap has 'em and they get great reviews.
Also, swap around some different caps and see if that doesn't help as well - inexpensive fix.
 

don

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More info - I have a tele with the bootstrap pretzel set and a tele with the bootstrap palo duro set - nice pups for sure but the bridge pickup is superior to the neck in those sets IMHO - thats probably true for most sets as it seems the neck pickup is more problematic on teles than strats. I also have a tele with P-90's and a tele with Fidel'trons and I like the neck pickup a lot in those guitars.
 

KW1977

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I have a Q Pickups A3 that is my absolute favorite T neck pickup. Full, open, uncompressed, darker like a typical Blackguard but not muffled or dull. The output isn’t exactly over the top, I would say medium output. Inexpensive to boot. For reference it nails the tone in the intro lick of Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams’ “You’re Running Wild.”
 

jvin248

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...I adjusted the pickup closer to the strings on the treble side than Fender recommends - just a little bit - and that helped too

Yes, use your ears not 'the specs!' when setting pickup heights and bass/treble tip. The specs are for factory consistency, not the best tone for all players.

If you are still fighting mud on the neck pickup while you really like the bridge pickup, then use a series cap on the neck pickup hot lead (0.047uF is a popular starting point). This will cut the effective capacitance in the pickup windings and cover so you'll get better tone out of it.

.
 
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Z2000000

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I write and record mostly roots and Americana style music and I'm always looking for a neck pickup thats full and open sounding not dull and compressed and not treble focused. I usually prefer over wound bridge pickups to avoid that typical country pickin' treble and I picked up a 2018 Classic Vibe 50's tele that feels great - the bridge pickup has a cool vibe but the neck pickup is lower output and unremarkable - any suggestions? BTW - I usually like the middle position more than most people!
I can’t say enough great things about Budz pickups. They sound really fantastic, are super articulate, very responsive. Not too much treble, but still crisp. The sound of these pickups (I have the 42 and tall set) just makes everything I play sound more musical. Budz are hand wound (from his website) and he made the pickups for Danocaster guitars (grab one if you can). I’ll be receiving a new tele with 4th Gen noiseless pups and unless they blow my mind, I’ll put Budz in that machine too. Budzguitars is his website. Just so good.
 
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KW1977

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The 50's RoadWorn has the Fender Tex Mex set; A5 magnets and a bit hotter wind. I like them but prefer the Fender Original Vintage set. They don't have a ton of personality but sound good in all switch positions and work well for a lot of different genres. Think alnico 3 magnets and 7.2k DCR for the neck. I'm also using 250k pots and a .022uf tone cap along with "50's" wiring.

I have a ‘99 AVRI 52 with the Original Vintage A3 set. First time I’ve ever been floored by stock pickups. There’s something special about A3’s that just nails it for me.
 




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