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I am looking for the perfect Telecaster pickups

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by petros_drri, Feb 18, 2018.

  1. petros_drri

    petros_drri TDPRI Member

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    I recently bought a used MIJ late 90's '52 reissue Tele. While it looks wonderful and feels like a perfect fit on my hand, the p/u's are not exactly fulfilling my tonal desires. Since the guitar was made 20 years ago in Japan, the reissue is not exactly an exact "copy" of the original blackguard. I think it has the stock Texas Specials (staggered pole) which were common back then in the Japanese Fenders.

    I'm looking for a sweet, kind of compressed strat-like neck sound, not too bright, not too muddy. In the bridge I'm looking for a rich tone, once again not too bright but without losing the classic Tele "twang". I mainly play clean tones with sometimes a bit of gain but rarely overdrive. More like natural gain. I currently have a '65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue, although I might swap it for a Custom Princeton '68.

    I understand the subjective nature of this thread and obviously I will try to test different pickups myself, however I don't think I will be able to get my hand on any models that are not stock but seem to be liked by quite a lot of people. Main example are the Lollars, which Tim Lerch seems to love.

    Also, on a side-note, can someone explain to me the differences between staggered and flat poles? Many people seem to speak highly of the flat ones, however since the majority of the modern T-shaped guitars have the staggered ones I figured there must be some upside in choosing them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
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  2. petros_drri

    petros_drri TDPRI Member

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    Oh I forgot to mention, I play mostly blues and jazz, maybe some funk. The only genre where I might need a bit of overdrive is for "rockier" blues such as SRV, but I'm not that concerned about it.
     
  3. Fred Rogers

    Fred Rogers Tele-Afflicted

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    Twisted Tele in the neck

    Nocaster in the bridge
     
  4. Piggy Stu

    Piggy Stu Friend of Leo's

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    Isn't this the 50s Baja?

    Question to me is the exact music you like. The music you like would tell people the pickup used
     
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  5. Tapatio

    Tapatio Tele-Meister

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    I replaced the stock pickups on my reissue MIJ Tele w/Bigsby with a DiMarzio Chopper-T at the bridge and their Twang King for the neck. I wired them with a push-pull switch on the tone knob which lets you choose series vs parallel for the bridge pickup. I vastly prefer the neck pickup, especially for cleans. The stock one was unremarkable and did not play well with the wild bridge stock pu. As for the bridge, I now have the ability to go from tame and toneful to hotter that the original, all with less noise. The Tele’s sound characteristics have not been affected, indeed they’ve been expanded.
    I believe Fender uses these in their Richie Kotzen signature model, maybe a different bridge-pu.
     
  6. SPUDCASTER

    SPUDCASTER Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    O.C. Duff Plankster/Big Boy combo. Sounds great in the series configuration too. His ad claims that Redd Volkaert plays this combo in his "main Tele's". Not entirely true. Maybe at the time the site was created. He uses quite a few different sets.

    Nevertheless, a great set. I've heard a few clips of Redd with these pickups, stellar.

    "Perfect" will have a wide range of interpretation. Your going to get quite a few suggestions.


    2nd post. Jazz, blues and some funk. Plus a little SRV.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
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  7. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I really like Rio Grande Muy Grandes.
     
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  8. FirTrader

    FirTrader Tele-Meister

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    Talk to Ted Vig at Vig Guitars in Minneapolis. He'll just make you what you want.

    Staggered poles date from a time when there was more imbalance in the strings - a wound g string was normal, for example. At this time, with flatter radius boards and balanced string sets, staggered poles are probably not helpful. I always found that the g string on a strat is too loud, a little more "bang" than other strings, for example.

    Anyway as regards the pickups, I had Ted wind a set where I wanted the bridge to snarl just a little, like on the hot side of vintage, and I wanted the neck to ring like a bell. He nailed both, and my partscaster is a beautifully voiced guitar because of it.
     
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  9. Chicago Matt

    Chicago Matt Friend of Leo's

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    Perfect Telecaster pickups? Be prepared to go down a long, subjective rabbit hole. For example, you play blues, jazz and funk. A telecaster neck pickup isn't going to sound like a Strat pickup for your SRV stuff, but will probably sound better for jazz than any Strat pickup. I really don't think you can have this both ways, but I'll be interested to read the responses. This is one of many reasons why any Fender lover needs a Tele AND a Strat.

    But I would say go to the Cavalier Pickups site and read Rob's descriptions of his various Tele pickup offerings. I think you would find them to be quite accurate.
     
  10. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Blackguard era by Stuart, Mare, etc
     
  11. Mr.Ike

    Mr.Ike Tele-Meister

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    Asking that question here is like asking who makes the best cookies at a weight watchers meeting. Totally personal and subjective. I fell into this hole and came out with fender custom shop nocasters & lollar vintage’s. To each there own I gues.
     
  12. rich815

    rich815 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
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  13. musicalmartin

    musicalmartin Poster Extraordinaire

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    Van Zandt .I play jazz and blues onstage sometimes and I am sure it will do funk if asked nicely .The neck pickup doesnt have a cover and plays a sort of hollowish jazz tone well while the bridge does blues very well .Funk is Strat territory really .That inbetween sound .
     
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  14. Tommyd55

    Tommyd55 Tele-Holic

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    "In the bridge I'm looking for a rich tone, once again not too bright but without losing the classic Tele "twang".

    Look at a SD Jerry Donahue bridge p/u . I have been using one for several years and I would describe it just as you stated above. A well balanced pickup that still has the Tele sound..
     
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  15. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    And you may want to consider a tapped pickup. Cavalier makes them. Literally, two-pickups for the price of 1. You can either use a 4 way switch or a push-pull pot to turn on or off the second winding (so you could have a 6k and a 9.5k in one pickup). I have one made my Porter and the first winding is 42 gauge wire and the second is 43. so lots of options.

    http://www.cavalierpickups.com/#tele
     
  16. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Can't recommend any particular bridge pickup as I don't use the bridge all that much..I do have the Chopper in one of my Teles that is pretty hot..
    But if you want the Strat sound in the neck pickup, the way to go is the Rose Bourbon..It's wound to sound Strat but sized to drop right in with zero modification..
    I have it one of my Teles with no cover..Love it..
     
  17. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

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    There's perfect, and then there's perfect for YOU.
     
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  18. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

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    Best way to get a balanced set is to get a neck pickup that *does* have highs and to balance the amp for the guitar. Ever look at Bill Lawrence’s Keystones?

    For your other question, staggers are never needed for the neck position, and the radius of the strings gets pretty flat compared to at the nut with a proper setup, so you’d never need anything like a vintage stagger there either. *Very* minor stagger on the low strings may help in the bridge, but flat is preferable to the vintage staggers.
     
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  19. BradL

    BradL Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    You could also look at a few UK pickup winders such as Irongear, Dragon, Entwistle and Ironstone. None will break the bank but don't let that put you off.
     
  20. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Warman Guitars UK have some interesting pickups.... give Josi a call tell him what you're after and he might have something in his range that might suit you..... not expensive either....
     
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