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How close are Baja tele pickups to Nocaster, Ron Ellis etc...

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Gtrmaestro, Apr 1, 2020.

  1. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'd never heard of Julian Lage or Ron Ellis pickups. Both are obviously talented

    Julian Lage sounds like he'd enjoy a nice Gibby jazzer. He's either sitting on the neck pickup (in which case the twisted Tele is a question mark) or he's picking a long way from the bridge. It's almost an anti-Tele sound and maybe Ellis is intrinsic - to that very atypical sound. I'm not familiar with that world so maybe that's the tone?

    Give Julian a decently setup Baja he"d sound like himself within a smidgen.

    The idea of boutique Tele pickups feels a bit odd given its origin and who made them.

    No doubt the workmanship and attention to detail is top notch. But alnico single coils ain't rocket science. It's been well documented what makes a good Tele pickup. Would any alnico rod, forbon, Formvar wire pickup be worth three times a Fender OV? I don't hear anything except his style in that tone that almost any vintage type instrument wouldn't do.

    I doubt a Blues Junior will provide that tone except at low volume - it sounds like a very clean amp with no real gain on board and everything pretty flat. .
     
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  2. koolimy

    koolimy TDPRI Member

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    Here is a thread from 2019 asking about Ron Ellis pickup alternatives.

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/ron-ellis-julian-lage-pickup-alternatives.966638/

    From the above, the Fender PV 64 set seems to get the closest. Many people seem to agree that the PV 64 set is one of Fender's best offerings. If the PV set is any close, your Twisted Tele set may not get the sound you want, because it's a different type of pickup. How far from your desired tone, I do not know. As @DHart said, the differences between pickups might not be significant.

    I would contact Cavalier pickups and/or Bootstrap pickups and see if they could custom wind a pickup similar to the above stated specs. You could probably buy multiple sets from each winder using different recipes (different magnets, different wind counts, etc.) and still save money!
     
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  3. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Afflicted

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    Oh I do remember that the RE pickups I got (all of 'm tele neck pickups) had a very specific coil shape (narrow at the top and wide at the bottom) and I heard that he used a large amount of scatter and only light wax potting.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2020
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  4. naveed211

    naveed211 Tele-Afflicted

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    God, this is painfully true.
     
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  5. takauya

    takauya TDPRI Member

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    Just bought another Baja and can't wait to replace the pups and ditch the S-1 switch (Does this stand for "stupid one" switch, right?). Anyway, this time I'm considering the Nocaster set, but I'm curious to add a humbucker on neck too.
     
  6. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    It continues to blow my mind: that so many listen to a MASTER MUSICIAN, look at his entire instrument and signal chain, then look at the alnico slugs wrapped with copper wire and think they will sound like the master if they get alnico slugs wrapped with copper wire by the guy that wrapped the copper wire around the alnico slugs in the master musicians guitar.

    If anything, I would suggest that assuming the seeker already has a master teacher and has been practicing 6-8 hours a day for at least a decade; they should find a master amp tech and a master guitar tech that fully understands the science behind those tools and how it pertains to getting a players sound ideas into reality.

    One will find with experience, that suggesting to a master musician that their great sound can be traced to a part of their signal chain, and that you could have the masters great sound if you bought that part; you will both insult the master and make them laugh.
     
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  7. Ebidis

    Ebidis Tele-Afflicted

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    I've heard a story where someone told Chet Atkins that his guitar sounded great. Chet set the guitar down on a chair and asked "how does it sound now"?
     
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  8. Dirty Dave

    Dirty Dave Tele-Meister

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    This is the best advice on tone I've seen in a long time.
    It should be printed on pedal boxes, like those warnings on cigarette packets.
     
  9. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I only use pedals to make my sound more sick, never to make it more better!
     
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  10. televillian

    televillian Tele-Afflicted

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    it`s not advertised too much but practice is the secret. a whole lot of practice
     
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  11. DHart

    DHart Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    After a great breakfast, guest tells the host - "that was so delicious! What kind of oven and pan do you use?"

    Or

    People admiring an awesome photograph and asking "what a cool photograph - what camera do you use?"

    Or

    "Awesome boob job, doc! What brand of scalpel do you use?"

    Clearly, it's not the tools; it's whose hands the tools are in that counts.

    Julian Lage would sound just as great playing a well set-up, off-the-rack Fender Tele Player - and we all know it. ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2020
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  12. nocastermike

    nocastermike Tele-Meister

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    Im fortunate to have a real 56 Tele. I also have some custom shop ones and have in fact owned Ron Ellis and Don Mare As well as Lindy Fralin pickups. They are all real good. For me,the Don Mare ones really stand out big time. The ron Ellis ones were nice but not for me. I found them to be to clean..almost hi-fi. The Fralin,s are real sweet and sound good with mild overdrive. No long waits with lindy either. Don't rule out fender nocaster pickups. Available everywhere and cheap....real nice. My real 56 sounds differnt than all of the above. Im sure there are many factors such as caps,pots etc. What always makes me sound my best though is practice! If i was to go back in the rabbit hole, i would say Don has the magic dust on his stuff. Price just went up though....but still worth it.
     
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  13. SPUDCASTER

    SPUDCASTER Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    ^^Well said and based in reality.^^

    Thank you!
     
  14. RifleSlinger

    RifleSlinger Tele-Meister

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    Yes. Sometimes we are chasing the last 1% from the 49th percentile. It’s fun though.
     
  15. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Well yeah, my chase for that last 1% started with the first partscatser I made a body for in 1980 and gave a swimming pool rout that I went on to fill with every pickup I could get my hands on at the time.
    Then it was the guitar companies plus Dimarzio and Duncan.
    Over the years I've continued to buy & try many hundreds of pickups from all the usual suspects including the big aftermarket makers and small boutique winders.
    Right now a quick count shows I have 80 pickups but there are places I didn't look, and there's another one in the mail coming from Louisiana.

    I certainly agree that it's possible to wind the same number of turns of the same wire on the same bobbin and magnets two times and get two slightly different sounds, despite the same measurable specs.
    So I'm not aligned with the camp that considers them all to be pretty much the same.

    But my point is that chasing that 1% of TONE up the MONEY tree is not aligned with reality.
    The bottom of the barrel pickups often fail to deliver the best possible sound making potential, I agree with that.

    But the idea that Virgil Arlo and Ron Ellis now know something that no other winders had learned since the 1940s is what I just shake my head at.

    Or put another way, chasing that last 1% by spending comparatively huge money and waiting a year or two is not chasing that last 1% of guitar sound. It might appear to be tone chasing but it's more like psychology chasing.

    Back to my suggestion that assuming the player in pursuit of the last 1% already has a master teacher and has been practicing 6-8 hours a day, IMO before buying super expensive pickups from legendary names, they need to first get a master guitar tech and a master amp tech to dial in their top quality guitars and amps.
    Hard to say what top quality is in guitars and amps, but in terms of the amount of a masters great sound can be traced to the gear, as in they don't sound like the masters they are when using lesser gear, my experience suggests that pickups from Fender, Duncan, and any of the realistically priced small builders are not the weak link in the path to the last 1%!

    Once a player achieves a level of mastery and acquires pro-dialed-in top quality pro gear, then maybe some finer points of their pickups will be the weak link. I still doubt the massive upcharge will actually net a return of truly better performing pickups that avail us to otherwise unobtainable better sound; but at least the first steps to the limits of great sound should be managed first, if great sound is really the goal.

    Otherwise it's just a gear chase, not a sound chase.
     
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  16. Modman68

    Modman68 Tele-Holic

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    There is a quick step up from cheapies to professionally made pickups in terms of quality and sound. Once there, you may find that when trading up further the law of diminishing returns comes into play.

    You mention that you are close. That the difference is a small quality in the treble and that you keep your tone rolled back halfway.

    Keep the current pickups and your money...

    You should experiment with slightly different cap values on the tone controls which can shift the pickups resonance when rolled back. Very cheap and easy. Plenty of sources to teach you how.

    Experiment with high quality tone and volume pots for the same reason. Because of variances in value, even two 250k pots can sound different. Very cheap and easy. Plenty of sources to teach you how.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2020
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  17. DHart

    DHart Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    Yes!

    I've changed volume and tone pots as many as 3 times on a guitar to fine tune the tone. Using pots with measured values, of course, to eliminate guesswork.

    You can't assume that a given Tele pickup will sound best (to you) with 210k or 250k or 350k or 500k (measured) pots until that pickup is in a specific guitar.

    Move that same pickup to a different guitar, and different spec pots may well be needed to achieve a similar desired tone. The instrument itself typically determines the tones you'll hear from a given pickup, more than the pickup itself does.
     
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  18. schnadz

    schnadz Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Sorry to be the guy to resurrect a thread, but just can't help chiming in - especially since I'm ponying up for another set of Ron's pickups. Everyone is going to have their preferences in pickups, but this is my experience. YMMV.

    I have a nice t-style that has an Ellis set that is my number 1. It is an amazing instrument in so many ways. I have been chasing something for a backup/change of pace for a long time. I've been through plenty of guitars that feel great, and that sound pretty good, but just can't quite get there. I've tried most of the similar offerings from both production and boutique builders. The closest to me were the stock pickups on a '64 AVRI (that I wish I had kept, now!!). That was a good lesson that high dollar and boutique doesn't always mean "best." It's not so much that they have the same "tone," but a similar "feel" in how the instrument responded.

    In any case, there is a "hi-fi" quality to the Ellis pickups that translate quite a lot of information from your playing - picking, nuanced articulation in both hands, dynamics, etc. - while not feeling at all sterile or clinical. I cannot find another pickup currently in production that does that for me. It is perfectly suited to my way of playing, and I've finally decided to just wait out another set to drop into a guitar that I quite like aside from the pickups.

    But, that is what works for me. If the Ellis thing is what you want and if you've tried them, I can say that there is nothing else quite like them... but that is true of most of the really good pickups these days. The higher end stuff is more about specific characteristics. The production stuff from most manufacturers are a bit more homogenized, with the really unique characteristics being smoothed out - in my experience.
     
  19. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    funny I just played 6 of my telecasters, one after the other straight into a dimed original '65 fender champ last night, I have lollar pickup, mare pickups, fender pickup (baja set), q's pickup, gemini pickup, 50's Gibson pickup... they all sound a little different than each other.. four of the six are esquires (I don't pay much attention to the neck pickups) the tele with Early Gibson lap steel pickup is the cleanest, the q's tapped 5/2 is the dirty bird of the bunch, I think the fender baja/broadcaster is the twangiest, The mare hot bakelite might be the most complex it has certain hard to describe airiness and sparkle compared to the others sort of like the difference between an adi-red spruce and sitka on a dread. it's a little less focused sounding, the Gemini Suprotone is probably the smoothest, the Lollar is the one in the guitar I use the most (it's a classic tele I think A5 around 7.0) it straddles the ground in between the baja and the the q's nicely, and is plenty twangy. I would have to say though, that for the most part all of these tele's are more like each other than different than each other.

    I've compared my lollar esquire in particular with quite a few CS teles, us teles, squires, mim teles, nash teles etc at the guitar shop where I was taking lessons... It's crazy how much difference guitar and volume knobs make. again they all sound more like each other than different than...

    One thing is for sure, that tone and or tone/volume bypass on the esquires make quite a difference, and the different preset bassy tones and cocked wah mods, are all wildly different too.

    I'm not a big believer in better/worse. I just consider it a blessing to have many different sounds to take inspiration from.

    I also think that most of the subtle differences I hear are nullified by the presence of the rest of a band.

    I also have noticed both with my '65 champ and a 5f1 clone that I have that it's easy to have pickups that are a bit too hot.

    I think instead of worrying about "the jump" from the baja to the Ellis or... which I deny exists, the only real jump there is the money you are spending, one might better concentrate on practicing and getting used to how a given guitar reacts to one's amp, or how to adapt to whatever guitar/amp one is playing in a given scenario, and being comfortable.

    I can only imagine how sterile and pristine the soundstage must be for you to hear the "3d'ness of the ellis pickups" vs anything else .... Are you playing solo telecaster guitar in a church or...? Once my amp (even a little guy like a champ) starts grinding it's just not that subtle.

    /me wonders if he's commenting to justin doh ... Julian lage... ( I honestly don't really listen to him much)...my bad
     
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