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pickup placement

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by travis182, Nov 24, 2020.

  1. travis182

    travis182 TDPRI Member

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    I know this is going to be very subjective and everybody will have an opinion but I wanted to ask anyway. My next build is going to be a strat style with two humbuckers that tries to sounds as close to a Les Paul as possible, if it's even possible. Here is the catch, it's going to be a 25.5" scale so I am not sure where to locate the pickups so it will sound as close to a Les Paul as possible. Should I measure from the nut on my Les Paul to each pickup and then determin the percentage down the scale and then use that percentage to place them on the fender scale? Or do I put them where fender places the neck and bridge pickup? Am I overthinking this??? This build is more of an experiment just to see what it sounds like nothing more.

    I know I am going to get a lot of comments that it will still sound like a strat and maybe it will. Here is my plan, I am going to use a rosewood fretbard, mahognay neck, mahogany body with maple cap, tonepros bridge and ABR tailpiece with humbuckers. I do not hold onto the thought that the wood makes all that much difference in electric guitars (cardboard strat). I makes some difference but I am not convinced it is the driving force in the tone but that's just me and what the hell do I know
     
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  2. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    My take on it is post 4 and 5 of Marty's link.

    Bottom line, when I build a LP I try to maximize the distance between the pups - the neck is as close to the end of the neck as I can get it (allowing for binding on the neck and the ring), the bridge is as close as I can reasonably put it to the bridge. And to make it sound like a lester use lester sounding pickups......

    Speaking of bridges, you can make a tune-o-matic bridge work on a fender style guitar but it will have different geometry. Just be aware of the differences and adjust things accordingly.
     
  4. travis182

    travis182 TDPRI Member

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    Thanks Freeman, that is exactly what I was looking for.
     
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  5. travis182

    travis182 TDPRI Member

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    when you say the tune-o-matic work it's just different geometry, you are refering to the neck body angle on a les paul vs a strat. The tune-o-matic will not sit as high or will I neet to put a angle on the neck pocket?
     
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  6. Gardo

    Gardo Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I think you need to consider the fretboard radius as well,TOM bridge will be 12” and Strat likely 9.5”
     
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  7. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I would make a conversion neck, 25" scale and 12" radius. Kill a lot of birds with one stone. Then a set of Pearly Gates pickups. The worse you would get is PRS tone. Still, not bad :D

    Dave
     
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  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Tune-o-matics sit higher off the top than most fender bridges. Typically the fret plane on a fender guitar is about 1/2 inch at the bridge while the ToM is 5/8, but they vary so have yours in hand. Tune-o-matics are almost always 12 inch radius, most fenders are much smaller than that (7, 9, 10).

    A lot of the neck angle on a LP is for the arched top and the fact that LP's don't have overstand while fenders do. They are just different. It might be good for you to review my geometry article

    While I'm thinking about locating pickups, remember that a humbucker has a much wider sensing aperture than a single coil so they shouldn't be nearly as sensitive to a particular "sweet spot", if in fact there is one. The reason the bridge pup on a fender is angled is to make the treble strings even brighter.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2020
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  9. travis182

    travis182 TDPRI Member

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    thank you all for your input, this is such an awesome forum!
     
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  10. somebodyelseuk

    somebodyelseuk Tele-Meister

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    Look up the FMT HH Tele and see what they did.
    FWIW my main guitar is a HSS Stratalike with a SD 59 Trembucker in the bridge. It sounds more like an old Les Paul than my ex band mates 03 Les Paul. Construction wise, it's all traditional Strat.
    Thing is, old, by which I mean 57-60, Les Pauls sound a lot closer to Teles than they do to post 74 production Les Pauls. If you're going for 'Golden Era' Les Paul, you want buckers under 9k, perhaps with A2 magnets.
    Superstrats never sound like Les Pauls because they're usually loaded with 12+k pickups and tone sucking locking trems.
    As far as placement, neck screw coil where the Strat pickup would be, bridge screw coil about 10mm from edge of pickguard to edge of pickup hole (approx 35mm G/D saddles to pole screws).
     
  11. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Here are the things:

    Neck pickup close to the end of the neck heel. (many PRS buyers go for 'the two free frets!' of 24 vs 22 which pushes the neck pickup back to an SG position and then they wonder why their PRS doesn't sound like a LP).

    Bridge the same distance from the saddles, %-wise as a Les Paul. I have an Epiphone Junior where I rotated the bridge humbucker 180deg so the screw poles are on the 'inside' rather than next to the bridge and it gives a much more P90 type of tone, like Thoroughgood's Bad To The Bone, and gets played a lot more than the Gibsons in the fleet because of it. You can try rotating the pickup any time, that doesn't impact routing.

    Gibson pickups AND Gibson pots 'n caps. They are a system. If you put Gibson pickups or 'every Gibson owner's favorite auto-swap pickup brand' with Strat pots 'n caps the guitar won't sound right. Gibson pots tend to be around 300kohms (low end muddy problems though), standard LP styles get 500k most often. Pots have a 20% tolerance range so measure and choose by ear if you want brighter or darker. Lower uF tone caps let more sparkle through 'even when dimed'. Set pickup heights and screw pole heights by ear to get the tone you want, often lower pickups give more dynamic range and sound better -- just turn the amp knob up a bit for the volume boost people like with too-high pickups.

    Use Strat saddles where you can hide the grub screws to allow comfortable palm muting. That's the trick with an LP, the ergonomics of the TOM tend to get players palm muting and then naturally picking over top of the bridge pickup or toward the neck side of the bridge pickup. Then compare that to Strats where people pick forward of that volume knob between neck and middle pickups. Or Tele players rest their palm behind the bridge plate to again avoid grub screws and end up picking between the saddles and bridge pickup for Twang! You can Twang! on a LP or a Strat if you pick there too but ergonomics puts people, on average, further toward the neck.

    Strap pins and thigh cutout ergonomics of the bodies impact where people naturally pick and strum -- which changes the tones a lot. As long as you realize this you can play where the sounds need to come from. If you have access to each guitar type, try both sitting down and standing up with guitars in this order: Strat, Tele, LP, SG. You'll feel how the guitar models move from your far right to the far left. Especially sitting down, that SG nut is really far to reach if you play cowboy chords but fine if you are up higher the frets, which is interesting how Gibson put out the SG to compete against Strats and completely missed the ergonomics.

    Move the Strat volume knob back to the first tone knob location to give you full picking room. You can still do volume swells from there. Watch Hendrix videos and see how often he'd hit that knob if it were there -- can't argue with the tone versatility he gets. How often do people really do volume swells anyway, really? Look how far the Tele volume knob is and players do swells there too.

    Use shielded cable to the jack (you use shielded cable to the amp, right?), properly shield the cavities and the pickguard to give yourself a great Faraday cage. Also consider one or both of your humbucking pickups are covered so you can protect against further noise. I have a pair of 'identical' LPs fully cavity shielded and cable shielded and I can't record with the uncovered-pickup one because of the computer/monitor/etc environmental noise is captured while sitting next to it. Making a temporary grounded 'tinfoil hat' for the uncovered pickup I tested and proved turning on/off the noise.

    Last is the most contentious: Wood makes no difference. Yes, it's held dear like religious beliefs for most, but it's all marketing to get you paying more for exotic lumber.
    Choose the wood for the looks you like. Perhaps save a rain forest by going with local woods or reclaimed lumber.

    Pickups + pots 'n caps, pickup location, and picking/grinning/strumming locations make all the difference in tone.

    .
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
  12. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Poster Extraordinaire

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    Here's my SX Strat-oid from a few years ago that has a TOM bridge. Neck radius is 13.7". It's been a great guitar, especially considering the $139 price tag. On the pickups, I didn't realize it but, yes, the spacing is different making replacing the stock ceramic single coils problematic due to the "sweet spot" you mentioned. Since this photo, I installed a set of Artec single coil rail pickups that dealt with this. While the body is routed HSH, the pickguard is slightly non-standard so I'd have to cut a custom one to fit.

    20150321_091835.jpg
     
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  13. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Afflicted

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    Good Luck with your project.

    Although I played a Strat for the first 25 or 30 years, I switched over to Les Paul about 20 or 25 years ago. I just like the way a Les Paul sounds; it does a better job of matching the tone in my head than a Strat does :).

    Here's a Tele I built that does a great job of matching that humbucker tone in my head -



    [​IMG]




    It's swamp ash bodied with a one-piece roasted maple neck of my own construction. The neck is compound radius with a 25" scale, and the humbuckers are the SH-55 models, a joint effort from Seth Lover and Seymore Duncan and they sound excellent.

    Yes, you can build a Tele or a Strat that sounds like a Les Paul. Although the neck pickup's pole pieces are centered on what would be the 24th fret, I went for a maximum practical spread between the pickups.
     
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  14. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    This may help; it shows pickup centerline locations relative to the scale length of the guitar.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
  15. somebodyelseuk

    somebodyelseuk Tele-Meister

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    Here's one Fender did earlier.
    FMT HH Tele
    [​IMG]
     
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  16. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    That is a nice image. Just to add to all that...all those waveforms will change position when you press a fret because the scale shortens.... So put the pickups anywhere you want if you press strings on frets. Keep the pickups as far as possible from each other for the most contrast.
     
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  17. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Afflicted

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    Travis - while I was researching some info on Bigsby vibratos, I came across a nicely detailed drawing for installing the neck humbucker in a Tele :).

    Check out the drawing in the link below. It's mostly about installing a B5 type Bigsby on a Tele, but if you scroll down the page towards the bottom you'll see the detail drawing that shows the neck pickup placement and how to layout the humbucker cut-out on your pick guard.

    TeleBigsbyConversion.indd (xs4all.nl)

    .
     
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  18. wadeeinkauf

    wadeeinkauf Tele-Holic

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    This has been a really great thread! Thanks for starting it. Without boring all by going into how I got there, I did some testing of the below pickups. I had to buy 12 Seymour Duncan pickups in order to qualify for their small builder discount (OEM sales). My goal was to find a set of pickups when in parallel mode or single coil mode the neck pickup would sound as close as possible to the tele. The neck pickup in the tele was most important to me..R&B sounds of Steve Cropper. I wanted to be able to go into that fat PAF type sound when in full humbucker mode. As I was planning on building more guitars I wanted to settle on a single set or combination of a set and stick to that. I bought the following pickups. I chose them based on a general frequency range (except outlier Full Shred…which turned out to be useless for my use) Whole Lotta HB, Full Shred, Alnico Pro II, Pearly Gates, Benedetto A-6. TB-4 JB Trembucker TB-59 ’59. When I tested the guitar with the ’59 trembucker I looked around the room and thought Duane Allman had come in the building….well….you know what I mean….. The point is a SD ’59 in a tele/strat like guitar sounds GREAT and you can switch a set into parallel mode or single coil mode to get a more tele like sound. Duane Allman’s guitar on the Allman Brothers band first album was a gold top with Seth Lover (if it was stock) PAFs it is said. The '59 is one of the Seth Lover reproductions. So I think this would be the single most important thing you can do to get close to sound you want. If you want the switching diagram I use I can post it here. All that said now I am probably going to destroy any semblance of credibility I might have by posting this band from Italy playing the 60’s anthem “Mustang Sally” on a Gold Top. I don’t care I love this guy…I can’t help myself. Wait for the solo. Note: for my purposes the neck pickup I chose was the Pearly Gates and the bridge pickup was the ’59. The bridge Pearly Gates was a very close 2nd.



     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
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