Inexpensive pickup upgrade potential options for Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom, HH version

mojo filters

TDPRI Member
Joined
May 24, 2009
Posts
3
Location
Newcastle
Hi folks, first time poster, long time reader here. I'm a huge Telecaster fan, I've read loads of helpful and interesting material on this forum, thus it seems like the best place to ask for some quite specific advice.

For years now my career has forced me to downsize my musical equipment inventory. It's been impractical to have nice instruments I'd worry about, hence I've restricted myself to carrying an old beater acoustic (for general noodling etc) plus this really rather good Squier with dual humbuckers.

I found the Squier by chance in a guitar shop I've used and trusted since my late teens, when visiting for another purpose. I'd not owned an electric for years, and had no intention of changing that.

I've always been a fan of 1970s era Telecasters and others with wide range, regular and single coil sized humbuckers, so an attractive black on black Deluxe style body with a maple neck and regular / "proper" tele headstock for around £150 was intriguing.

I hadn't played a Squier for years, but I certainly didn't remember them feeling so nice as this one. The small shop only had a couple of Fender Telecasters, all with the traditional pickup configuration. I tried the least expensive maple board Fender, which was neither better nor worse, just different.

I nearly let headstock brand name snobbery get the better of me, as at first I assumed I'd immediately want to pay around the same again to upgrade the Squier's pickups - thus reducing the price difference, compared with the Fender.

However I got to take my time, play the Squier into a variety of amps and through lots of the shop's stock of pedals, both being mostly used items including some very nice vintage gear.

Once I'd got used to the sound of the stock humbuckers, I was quite happy with them. I was also reminded of how and why I'd got started on this unplanned guitar buying excursion - the undeniably attractive 1970s vibe that initially drew my eye to the Squier!

Over the years that guitar has done the job expected of it: I've travelled around with it, not having to worry about putting a more valuable instrument through the stresses of dramatic temperature changes, rough handling etc. Every time I've checked the action, intonation, fretboard and so forth, it's been pretty rock solid, hardly needing any maintenance at all.

Now I'm a much more settled, and after having all my musical gear in storage for some time, I'm reminded why I was attracted to this instrument all those years ago.

However I'm not sure whether a pickup upgrade might now be worthwhile? I can't pinpoint any specific problems with them, but I'd be happy to pay a reasonable amount for something that would provide a noticeable sonic upgrade.

I've looked around at used pickups for sale on Reverb, eBay and local Facebook groups, but I'm not finding much. Even Reverb seems to mostly have new items. Occasionally I see a second hand humbucker from a big brand like Seymour Duncan, but the prices being asked seem far too close to the cost of a brand new equivalent.

I've seen very inexpensive regular sized new humbuckers (ie parts that should fit my Squier Tele Custom) from companies like Artec, but they're so cheap I'm suspicious as to whether they offer a genuine upgrade over what's fitted as stock?

Having searched around various forums, this place seemed to have lots of posts about the guitar in question, as well as the second version which simply seemed to swap out the humbuckers for a pair of Duncan Designed P90s. Hence I thought I'd start by asking folks here for any experiences or recommendations around a potential pickup upgrade for my Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom.

I really don't want to spend a lot of money, though I probably could be convinced by some specific experiences from other owners. I've been so impressed with this Squier that I'm considering buying another, possibly a Custom Vibe Thinline or the Jaguar with humbuckers and a hardtail bridge, or maybe even a Fender Vintera or Japanese '72 Thinline (though I'm fully aware of the "issues" with these modern, non-CuNiFe versions of the Wide Range pickups!)

I'm not very familiar with smaller and/or UK based aftermarket pickup winders, aside from popular places like The Creamery. The latter is well outside of my price range (in this particular instance) as are all of the brand new options I've found, except for the suspiciously cheap Artec types.

I've been looking for something priced somewhere in the middle ground between those two extremes, either new or second hand. Am I simply being unrealistic, ie are there actually any options there?

Apologies for the long post, I just thought a bit of background might help folks in providing any advice.

Please feel free to ask any questions about my guitar, signal chain etc - I've left out information about amps and so forth, as I'm also considering adding something new in that department too...however that's obviously a whole 'nother topic!
 

Si G X

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Dec 8, 2019
Posts
2,895
Location
England
Have you had a look at Iron Gear? .. designed in the UK and manufactured in Asia (to a very good quality) to keep the prices down.

they are about £30 - £35 each depending on the pickup and I would say at least the equivelent of anything from Seymour Duncan in sound .... it's not really a secret that some of their pickups very closely resemble some more 'famous' pickups, like the classic alnico II


Defo not cheap rubbish, I've had a few sets and they've all been good.
 

mojo filters

TDPRI Member
Joined
May 24, 2009
Posts
3
Location
Newcastle
Have you had a look at Iron Gear? .. designed in the UK and manufactured in Asia (to a very good quality) to keep the prices down.

they are about £30 - £35 each depending on the pickup and I would say at least the equivelent of anything from Seymour Duncan in sound .... it's not really a secret that some of their pickups very closely resemble some more 'famous' pickups, like the classic alnico II


Defo not cheap rubbish, I've had a few sets and they've all been good.

Thank you very much - that's exactly the kind of resource I was looking for!

I'd be interested to know if they're any similarly priced competitors, whether offering a range of aftermarket pickups, or just one option in that sweet spot of a price range?

I'm also particularly keen to hear from folks who've owned the same kind of guitar, and to hear how they addressed the potential conundrum I'm faced with, ie whether a pickup upgrade was worthwhile or otherwise?

Thanks in advance folks ;)

Edit to add: I should probably explain that since I bought my first electric guitar, getting very lucky at age 11, I've realised how much better the second hand market is for buying and selling gear.

When money was tight in my teenage years, my ability to wield and competently operate a soldering iron ended up allowing me to make a small profit on guitars, pedals and PA gear, progressing my musical ambitions. Hence I've always tended towards buying and selling in that sector of the market, wherever possible.
 
Last edited:

playforfun

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Feb 25, 2013
Posts
1,460
Location
Luna Louisiana
Ok probably not gonna be much help but here goes. I have a double humbucker Strat that everyone loves to play and sounds great. The pick up are called dragon something, maybe dragon fire. Not expensive but you wouldn’t know it to hear them. Good luck
 

dogmeat

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Oct 12, 2017
Posts
3,720
Age
71
Location
Alaska
Bootstrap pickup are fantastic. I put these in 2 guitars, one Tele, on Strat type...


about 80 pounds if I did the math right. worth the wait
 

ricardo1912

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Jul 26, 2011
Posts
2,153
Location
Kent, UK
I just put a Vanson '59 pickup in the neck of my Bullet tele and I'm pretty impressed. Similar prices and products to Artec. It's ceramic but has a decent sound and good note separation. It's also four wire so it could be split.
 

stepvan

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Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Posts
1,542
Location
out there somewhere
Hi folks, first time poster, long time reader here. I'm a huge Telecaster fan, I've read loads of helpful and interesting material on this forum, thus it seems like the best place to ask for some quite specific advice.

For years now my career has forced me to downsize my musical equipment inventory. It's been impractical to have nice instruments I'd worry about, hence I've restricted myself to carrying an old beater acoustic (for general noodling etc) plus this really rather good Squier with dual humbuckers.

I found the Squier by chance in a guitar shop I've used and trusted since my late teens, when visiting for another purpose. I'd not owned an electric for years, and had no intention of changing that.

I've always been a fan of 1970s era Telecasters and others with wide range, regular and single coil sized humbuckers, so an attractive black on black Deluxe style body with a maple neck and regular / "proper" tele headstock for around £150 was intriguing.

I hadn't played a Squier for years, but I certainly didn't remember them feeling so nice as this one. The small shop only had a couple of Fender Telecasters, all with the traditional pickup configuration. I tried the least expensive maple board Fender, which was neither better nor worse, just different.

I nearly let headstock brand name snobbery get the better of me, as at first I assumed I'd immediately want to pay around the same again to upgrade the Squier's pickups - thus reducing the price difference, compared with the Fender.

However I got to take my time, play the Squier into a variety of amps and through lots of the shop's stock of pedals, both being mostly used items including some very nice vintage gear.

Once I'd got used to the sound of the stock humbuckers, I was quite happy with them. I was also reminded of how and why I'd got started on this unplanned guitar buying excursion - the undeniably attractive 1970s vibe that initially drew my eye to the Squier!

Over the years that guitar has done the job expected of it: I've travelled around with it, not having to worry about putting a more valuable instrument through the stresses of dramatic temperature changes, rough handling etc. Every time I've checked the action, intonation, fretboard and so forth, it's been pretty rock solid, hardly needing any maintenance at all.

Now I'm a much more settled, and after having all my musical gear in storage for some time, I'm reminded why I was attracted to this instrument all those years ago.

However I'm not sure whether a pickup upgrade might now be worthwhile? I can't pinpoint any specific problems with them, but I'd be happy to pay a reasonable amount for something that would provide a noticeable sonic upgrade.

I've looked around at used pickups for sale on Reverb, eBay and local Facebook groups, but I'm not finding much. Even Reverb seems to mostly have new items. Occasionally I see a second hand humbucker from a big brand like Seymour Duncan, but the prices being asked seem far too close to the cost of a brand new equivalent.

I've seen very inexpensive regular sized new humbuckers (ie parts that should fit my Squier Tele Custom) from companies like Artec, but they're so cheap I'm suspicious as to whether they offer a genuine upgrade over what's fitted as stock?

Having searched around various forums, this place seemed to have lots of posts about the guitar in question, as well as the second version which simply seemed to swap out the humbuckers for a pair of Duncan Designed P90s. Hence I thought I'd start by asking folks here for any experiences or recommendations around a potential pickup upgrade for my Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom.

I really don't want to spend a lot of money, though I probably could be convinced by some specific experiences from other owners. I've been so impressed with this Squier that I'm considering buying another, possibly a Custom Vibe Thinline or the Jaguar with humbuckers and a hardtail bridge, or maybe even a Fender Vintera or Japanese '72 Thinline (though I'm fully aware of the "issues" with these modern, non-CuNiFe versions of the Wide Range pickups!)

I'm not very familiar with smaller and/or UK based aftermarket pickup winders, aside from popular places like The Creamery. The latter is well outside of my price range (in this particular instance) as are all of the brand new options I've found, except for the suspiciously cheap Artec types.

I've been looking for something priced somewhere in the middle ground between those two extremes, either new or second hand. Am I simply being unrealistic, ie are there actually any options there?

Apologies for the long post, I just thought a bit of background might help folks in providing any advice.

Please feel free to ask any questions about my guitar, signal chain etc - I've left out information about amps and so forth, as I'm also considering adding something new in that department too...however that's obviously a whole 'nother topic!
Check out Guitar madness on eBay I have purchased several sets of pickups from their online store and have been happy with all of them. They do sell some of the Artec stuff too they are not bad pickups. I have a Artec geiovanni humbucker that I had in a Les paul CM and it honestly was a very good sounding pickup
 

Guitarteach

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Aug 6, 2014
Posts
11,835
Location
The unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm
Tonerider.. top notch pickups, great prices. I am a convert from the BareKnuckle and Seymour Duncan money pits.

You’d need to say what sounds/styles you are after to advise models. I wanted more clarity and funkiness in an old fat sounding Les Paul and use Tonerider Alnico IV classics.. a bright, airy low wind. If playing a mix of clean and classic rock, the Alnico ii or iv would be good.

If you want more modern rock and gain.. they have higher output pickups.

 
Last edited:

Lies&Distortion

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
May 27, 2014
Posts
1,651
Location
SE Michigan
Based on your username, try Mojotone?
:)

Actually I did just get some of their Mojotron pickups. I like them, but have never tried other brands of that style.
 

JohnnyCrash

Doctor of Teleocity
Gold Supporter
Joined
Mar 12, 2005
Posts
11,620
Location
Fullerton, CA
Hi folks, first time poster, long time reader here. I'm a huge Telecaster fan, I've read loads of helpful and interesting material on this forum, thus it seems like the best place to ask for some quite specific advice.

For years now my career has forced me to downsize my musical equipment inventory. It's been impractical to have nice instruments I'd worry about, hence I've restricted myself to carrying an old beater acoustic (for general noodling etc) plus this really rather good Squier with dual humbuckers.

I found the Squier by chance in a guitar shop I've used and trusted since my late teens, when visiting for another purpose. I'd not owned an electric for years, and had no intention of changing that.

I've always been a fan of 1970s era Telecasters and others with wide range, regular and single coil sized humbuckers, so an attractive black on black Deluxe style body with a maple neck and regular / "proper" tele headstock for around £150 was intriguing.

I hadn't played a Squier for years, but I certainly didn't remember them feeling so nice as this one. The small shop only had a couple of Fender Telecasters, all with the traditional pickup configuration. I tried the least expensive maple board Fender, which was neither better nor worse, just different.

I nearly let headstock brand name snobbery get the better of me, as at first I assumed I'd immediately want to pay around the same again to upgrade the Squier's pickups - thus reducing the price difference, compared with the Fender.

However I got to take my time, play the Squier into a variety of amps and through lots of the shop's stock of pedals, both being mostly used items including some very nice vintage gear.

Once I'd got used to the sound of the stock humbuckers, I was quite happy with them. I was also reminded of how and why I'd got started on this unplanned guitar buying excursion - the undeniably attractive 1970s vibe that initially drew my eye to the Squier!

Over the years that guitar has done the job expected of it: I've travelled around with it, not having to worry about putting a more valuable instrument through the stresses of dramatic temperature changes, rough handling etc. Every time I've checked the action, intonation, fretboard and so forth, it's been pretty rock solid, hardly needing any maintenance at all.

Now I'm a much more settled, and after having all my musical gear in storage for some time, I'm reminded why I was attracted to this instrument all those years ago.

However I'm not sure whether a pickup upgrade might now be worthwhile? I can't pinpoint any specific problems with them, but I'd be happy to pay a reasonable amount for something that would provide a noticeable sonic upgrade.

I've looked around at used pickups for sale on Reverb, eBay and local Facebook groups, but I'm not finding much. Even Reverb seems to mostly have new items. Occasionally I see a second hand humbucker from a big brand like Seymour Duncan, but the prices being asked seem far too close to the cost of a brand new equivalent.

I've seen very inexpensive regular sized new humbuckers (ie parts that should fit my Squier Tele Custom) from companies like Artec, but they're so cheap I'm suspicious as to whether they offer a genuine upgrade over what's fitted as stock?

Having searched around various forums, this place seemed to have lots of posts about the guitar in question, as well as the second version which simply seemed to swap out the humbuckers for a pair of Duncan Designed P90s. Hence I thought I'd start by asking folks here for any experiences or recommendations around a potential pickup upgrade for my Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom.

I really don't want to spend a lot of money, though I probably could be convinced by some specific experiences from other owners. I've been so impressed with this Squier that I'm considering buying another, possibly a Custom Vibe Thinline or the Jaguar with humbuckers and a hardtail bridge, or maybe even a Fender Vintera or Japanese '72 Thinline (though I'm fully aware of the "issues" with these modern, non-CuNiFe versions of the Wide Range pickups!)

I'm not very familiar with smaller and/or UK based aftermarket pickup winders, aside from popular places like The Creamery. The latter is well outside of my price range (in this particular instance) as are all of the brand new options I've found, except for the suspiciously cheap Artec types.

I've been looking for something priced somewhere in the middle ground between those two extremes, either new or second hand. Am I simply being unrealistic, ie are there actually any options there?

Apologies for the long post, I just thought a bit of background might help folks in providing any advice.

Please feel free to ask any questions about my guitar, signal chain etc - I've left out information about amps and so forth, as I'm also considering adding something new in that department too...however that's obviously a whole 'nother topic!


What kind of music do you play?

This could help us offer suggestions that are more in line with the style of music you play.
 

Ed Storer

Tele-Afflicted
Silver Supporter
Joined
May 27, 2010
Posts
1,314
Location
Seattle WA
See if you can find a set of pulls from an early Telecaster FMT HH. They are S-D and say so on the front - later models used no-name pups. These were the SH-i '59 RWRP neck and the (exclusive to Fender) Pearly Gates Plus - really just an overwound SH-1. The S-D Pearly Gates has Alnico V magnets where the SH-1 has Alnico II. The combination sounds really good to my ear and the coil taps are the best I've heard from a humbucker.

IMO, only a fool would pull these, but some people just have to mess with things.
 

Happy Enchilada

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Gold Supporter
Joined
Mar 25, 2021
Posts
3,533
Location
God's Country
I'm a compulsive guitar upgrader. Bootstrap pickups are my go-to for anything Fender-ish.
I have one of their Pretzel Tele bridge pickups and a "Hot" P90 in Linda Lou, my favorite partscaster.
The Pretzel delivers the goods for that nasty in-your-face Tele lead sound, and the P90 does its thing equally swell.
Got the pair for $60. And Bootstrap makes several flavors of Tele pickups and will let you mix and match.
1661041655989.jpeg

Try different tone caps too - I like a .033 in a Tele.
 

tfarny

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Joined
Sep 4, 2008
Posts
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Location
Hudson Valley, NY
i’m surprised it hasn’t been mentioned yet - don’t upgrade until you at least can identify what you’re trying to improve! Pickups are not “bettter” or “worse” they are just different and some work better than others for some people or some applications. Nobody can tell you that you’ll prefer Artec (or Lollar) over the stock pickups. You actually sound really happy with the guitar, so why change it?

I say this having done a ton of pickup swaps and some careful and critical A/B testing over the years.
 

fenderchamp

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omaha
Hi folks, first time poster, long time reader here. I'm a huge Telecaster fan, I've read loads of helpful and interesting material on this forum, thus it seems like the best place to ask for some quite specific advice.

For years now my career has forced me to downsize my musical equipment inventory. It's been impractical to have nice instruments I'd worry about, hence I've restricted myself to carrying an old beater acoustic (for general noodling etc) plus this really rather good Squier with dual humbuckers.

I found the Squier by chance in a guitar shop I've used and trusted since my late teens, when visiting for another purpose. I'd not owned an electric for years, and had no intention of changing that.

I've always been a fan of 1970s era Telecasters and others with wide range, regular and single coil sized humbuckers, so an attractive black on black Deluxe style body with a maple neck and regular / "proper" tele headstock for around £150 was intriguing.

I hadn't played a Squier for years, but I certainly didn't remember them feeling so nice as this one. The small shop only had a couple of Fender Telecasters, all with the traditional pickup configuration. I tried the least expensive maple board Fender, which was neither better nor worse, just different.

I nearly let headstock brand name snobbery get the better of me, as at first I assumed I'd immediately want to pay around the same again to upgrade the Squier's pickups - thus reducing the price difference, compared with the Fender.

However I got to take my time, play the Squier into a variety of amps and through lots of the shop's stock of pedals, both being mostly used items including some very nice vintage gear.

Once I'd got used to the sound of the stock humbuckers, I was quite happy with them. I was also reminded of how and why I'd got started on this unplanned guitar buying excursion - the undeniably attractive 1970s vibe that initially drew my eye to the Squier!

Over the years that guitar has done the job expected of it: I've travelled around with it, not having to worry about putting a more valuable instrument through the stresses of dramatic temperature changes, rough handling etc. Every time I've checked the action, intonation, fretboard and so forth, it's been pretty rock solid, hardly needing any maintenance at all.

Now I'm a much more settled, and after having all my musical gear in storage for some time, I'm reminded why I was attracted to this instrument all those years ago.

However I'm not sure whether a pickup upgrade might now be worthwhile? I can't pinpoint any specific problems with them, but I'd be happy to pay a reasonable amount for something that would provide a noticeable sonic upgrade.

I've looked around at used pickups for sale on Reverb, eBay and local Facebook groups, but I'm not finding much. Even Reverb seems to mostly have new items. Occasionally I see a second hand humbucker from a big brand like Seymour Duncan, but the prices being asked seem far too close to the cost of a brand new equivalent.

I've seen very inexpensive regular sized new humbuckers (ie parts that should fit my Squier Tele Custom) from companies like Artec, but they're so cheap I'm suspicious as to whether they offer a genuine upgrade over what's fitted as stock?

Having searched around various forums, this place seemed to have lots of posts about the guitar in question, as well as the second version which simply seemed to swap out the humbuckers for a pair of Duncan Designed P90s. Hence I thought I'd start by asking folks here for any experiences or recommendations around a potential pickup upgrade for my Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom.

I really don't want to spend a lot of money, though I probably could be convinced by some specific experiences from other owners. I've been so impressed with this Squier that I'm considering buying another, possibly a Custom Vibe Thinline or the Jaguar with humbuckers and a hardtail bridge, or maybe even a Fender Vintera or Japanese '72 Thinline (though I'm fully aware of the "issues" with these modern, non-CuNiFe versions of the Wide Range pickups!)

I'm not very familiar with smaller and/or UK based aftermarket pickup winders, aside from popular places like The Creamery. The latter is well outside of my price range (in this particular instance) as are all of the brand new options I've found, except for the suspiciously cheap Artec types.

I've been looking for something priced somewhere in the middle ground between those two extremes, either new or second hand. Am I simply being unrealistic, ie are there actually any options there?

Apologies for the long post, I just thought a bit of background might help folks in providing any advice.

Please feel free to ask any questions about my guitar, signal chain etc - I've left out information about amps and so forth, as I'm also considering adding something new in that department too...however that's obviously a whole 'nother topic!
if you are unsatisfied with your tone, consider upgrading your amp first. pickups are subtle, amps not subtle
 

Matthias

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Joined
Jun 30, 2003
Posts
4,093
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Third rock from the Sun
+1 on Toneriders. The alnico 4s are great for a classic PAF tone. They don’t quite have the WRHB sound but a lot more articulation, I found, than low priced alnico 2s or 5s I’ve had.

If you can pick up a used Gibson 490r/490t set at a good price you’ll do even better. They come standard in the studio/special level models and often get upgraded but they are great in their own right.
 

Boreas

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Adirondack Coast, NY
"...though I'm fully aware of the "issues" with these modern, non-CuNiFe versions of the Wide Range pickups!"
I am not sure what issues these are, but I love mine in my Squier Thinline! They aren't CuNiFe - which I have on a vintage Thinline - but they are still nice pickups. I don't know what is in yours (pix would be nice!!), but if you can find a used set of these, they ain't bad. My inclination is that they would be a good place to start.

20220131_153124.jpg
 
Last edited:

telemnemonics

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Maine
Have a look on ebay for Fender branded HBs which are commonly Dimarzio and just fine US made pickups that sell cheap used because everybody seems to need to upgrade perfectly goid guitars.
For that matter the $3000 LPs had a mass expulsion of 57 Classics and Burstbuckers but that trend passsd and those are not selling for $60 each any more..
 




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