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Middle position on tele— the key to the soul/funk sound?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by appar111, Apr 18, 2020.

  1. Mart the Hat

    Mart the Hat Tele-Holic

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    I'd say it's not just a tele thing - Neck + Bridge on a 335 or archtop is behind some classic soul/funk clean rhythm sounds too.
     
  2. buddyboy

    buddyboy Tele-Meister

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    I think Cropper set his selector in the middle position most of his career. When he played his pre-67 Tele's, it activated the neck pickup alone. He also bought a few later Tele's (Transition logo ones and an all rosewood model, at the least) with the more common "modern wiring". On his later Booker T. albums (Melting Pot, for instance) you hear the true "middle position" sound. You rarely hear that middle position tone in his mid-60's work as he was playing his earlier Telecasters.
     
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  3. eddiewagner

    eddiewagner Poster Extraordinaire

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    Leave that poor esquire alone please. And get a cheap used tele.
     
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  4. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    Everything I've seen says Cropper was using the middle position almost all that time.

    If your middle position doesn't sound great the pickups aren't adjusted right and/or the wiring/pots/caps aren't right.

    0.047uF tone cap, standard pots, Alnico pickups, bridge a little hotter than neck/bridge raised a little higher than neck pickup, adjust volume & tone knobs and you should be there.

    Without confirmation I wouldn't assume the pre-67 Teles weren't wired to engage both pickups. Everything I've seen/read claimed it was very common for Teles even in the 50s to rewire Teles to the modern bridge/neck+bridge/neck setup as right from the beginning Leo Fender was practically the only person who liked the original wiring. Use your ears, most of those records sound like both pickups.
     
  5. misterdontmove

    misterdontmove Tele-Meister

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    Something about the phase cancellation in the combined pickup positions on Strats and Telecasters create a rhythmic, percussive feel and tone that's ideal for funk and soul. Telecasters, in particular, are unbelievably versatile guitars. Can of worms warning.....Maybe the most versatile.
     
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  6. regularslinky

    regularslinky Tele-Afflicted

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    To be a bit contrarian, I think the biggest key to a great soul/funk sound is good compression, not any specific pickup or pickup combination.

    That said, I bought my first Tele specifically to get that middle position sound when I was playing with a dance/show/funk band in the 90s. Tele middle position + compressor = Prince's glorious clean funk sound. In time I developed an addiction to Teles, then Esquires.

    So maybe you need a compressor? And/or a cheap Tele? I can promise that if you convert your Esquire, you will eventually miss it. Teles and Esquires are very different animals.
     
  7. Ian T

    Ian T Tele-Afflicted

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    You have an Esquire but are missing the middle PU sound, so just go for it. A pickguard, 3 way switch, and a neck pickup and you are in business. If you don't like it just revert it.

    I agree with the posters above that playing funk is not about your pickup position. It's all about playing tasty parts that compliment the rest of the groove, adding groove not clutter. It can be done and has been done on any guitar tone from clean teles, to p90s to high gain humbuckers. It is so much about playing the right stuff that the tone really doesn't matter. People who think it's middle pickup and playing something busy and syncopated are the players that add clutter and kill grooves.
     
  8. Diytelecaster

    Diytelecaster Tele-Meister

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    Tele middle position wins it for me.
     
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  9. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think the key to soul/funk sound is practice.
     
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  10. WilburBufferson

    WilburBufferson Friend of Leo's

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    This is a great idea, especially for fine tuning that middle sound. I do it all the time with my 72 Tele Deluxe: middle position, bridge pickup volume at 100%, neck pickup volume rolled off to taste = the yellow brick road to great sounds, many of them funky.

    I think your bigger/ist challenge will be to get a neck pickup that will pair up well with your bridge pickup. So don't be discouraged if you don't hear what you want the first (or first five) tries! And don't neglect cap/pot values etc. when experimenting.
     
  11. 39martind18

    39martind18 Friend of Leo's

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    Dropped a mini hum in the neck position, instant big, fat bottom with mini hum focus with the bridge pu providing as much or as little chime and zing as wanted. This guitar runs the gamut from quasi jazz to nice crispy, twangy chickn-pickn, all clean. I've run it through the stable of amps: 1968 Twin Reverb- BIG sound, lots of full bottom and nice mid and high punch; 1970 Deluxe Reverb w. 2X10 JBL D110Fs and 6L6 powered- bright, punchy, tight and focused lows; Super Champ XD JBL D110F and 6L6 equipped- much like the DR, only less so. All send me to earvana!
     
  12. Lawdawg

    Lawdawg Tele-Afflicted

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    Tele middle position is great for funk, although just the bridge (like your esquire) can sound good for funk as well. For those that have a Baja tele, I love using the N+B in series (using a 4 way switch) but switched out of phase. Although the Baja has these features built in, adding a 4 way switch and phase switch are fairly common pickup wiring mods.
     
  13. schnadz

    schnadz Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    An in between setting (middle on a Tele, or even better 2 & 4 on a Strat) are essential for that spanky funk sound.

    Not sure I'd do the mod, though. The Esquire's beauty is its simplicity. But, that's me. If you decide to, let us know how it goes!!
     
  14. Hari Seldon

    Hari Seldon Tele-Meister

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    Some like to look at guitars, some like to play them for the sound they make...

    ;-)
     
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  15. schnadz

    schnadz Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Agreed!! If I had an Esquire, I wouldn't want the neck pickup mangling the strings. Has nothing to do with how it looks. An Esquire really has a different tone from a tele. I find the same difference between a special and a junior. If I had a jr., I also wouldn't mod it - for tonal reasons. But then, horses for courses...
     
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  16. Mr. St. Paul

    Mr. St. Paul Tele-Meister

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    I say if you want to mod your Esquire to get that tone, go for it. It's your guitar. And it's easily reversible...it's not like you're routing for humbuckers and a Floyd.

    To me, it's the middle position period...on a Tele, LP, or 2nd position on a Strat. But more important than the tone is what a bass player told me years ago: for r&b/funk, what you DON'T play is just as important as what you do play. Leave lots of space.
     
  17. appar111

    appar111 Friend of Leo's

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    Silence is a note too, right?
     
  18. bluzkat

    bluzkat Tele-Holic

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    Both of my Am.Pro Teles have been modded with separate volume controls for each pickup and a master tone control.

    Love my three knob Teles... :D
     
  19. 39martind18

    39martind18 Friend of Leo's

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    Update on my three knob, pics of mini hum in neck position. DSCN0286.JPG DSCN0287.JPG
     
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