Planning for a Tele build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Rmccamey, Jul 31, 2021.

  1. Rmccamey

    Rmccamey TDPRI Member

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    New to the forum, been playing for many years - southern rock, blues rock, light rock. My current rig is a '62 Gretsch Tennessean into a Winfield Elizabeth amp (Blackface Deluxe Reverb clone) with Boss Blues Driver and Tremelo. (I have an old 5A3 that sounds pretty good, too). I like to keep things simple, play a lot of cleans, and flavor my tone with the amp settings and pedals.

    I'm in the early planning stage for a Tele build (probably a Warmoth ash body and Maple neck). I know that every answer is "it depends" or "what sounds best to you" but I'm hoping a few of you have been down this path before and can give me advice based on your own experience. I want to build a single pickup Tele clone/partscaster and my specific questions at the moment are:

    1. Is there a better/best/optimum location for a single pickup that would deliver sound/tone that would be the best compromise between the neck and bridge pickups in a two-pickup system? I rarely play the bridge pickup alone and 90% of my playing with the 2 pickup system in the Gretsch is with the switch in the middle and volumes around 60-40, neck-bridge. All things being equal (scale length), my head tells me that the optimum position would be the same distance as the nut to sound hole center on an acoustic guitar, but that may be faulty thinking.
    2. Of the gazillion pickups on the market, any recommendations for one that might really shine in a single pickup guitar? I'd like something with a normal or average output (not a hot pickup) and, again, one that has a more even output across the spectrum so I can flavor the tone with the amp and pedals. I'm open to any brand and any type (single coil, P90, HB, TV Jones, HiLo's, alnico, etc. Etc.)

    Thanks in advance.

    20210630_175240_001.jpg
     
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  2. ctmullins

    ctmullins Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    I’m going to build one soon. I plan to move the pickup from the normal bridge position about an inch towards the neck.

    For pickups I recommend anything from Wilde, Bill Lawrence’s final company, still run by his wife and daughter. Healthy output while still remaining relatively neutral with lots of clarity.
     
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  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    There have been many discussion about the effects of pickup locations and several people have built experimental guitars with movable pickups. You can calculate the location of various nodes and antinodes on each string vibration but those move as you fret notes. I have some software that lets me look at the frequency makeup of each note, that is interesting to experiment with.

    You know that moving the pickup (or your picking hand) closer to the bridge makes the note brighter, it has more of the high frequency partials. Moving towards the neck has more fundamental partials - it sounds warmer or darker or more complex (insert your terms). Locating at the 24th fret location is kind of a interesting spot being a nodal position, but the minute you fret it you've moved that node. Remember also that the reason the bridge pickup is angled on a tele is to gain even more brightness on the treble strings.

    If you really want to understand this I recommend Mark French's book Technology of the Guitar. But something else to keep in mind is that it is moot point if you are going to buy your body from someone like Warmoth. The will do different pickup routes but I don't believe they will move things from their standard cnc models.

    As far as pickups I can't really give you any advice. I have built four electric guitars for my own use and used different families of pickups in each one - one guitar has PAF style humbuckers, one has jazz style humbuckers, one tele style single coils and the last has P90's. I like all of them but they are all different. My suggestion is to play a lot of guitars thru an amp like yours and let your ears decide. Oh, and of course you need to narrow it down to that size and foot print when you buy your body.
     
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  4. tomasz

    tomasz Tele-Meister

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    To chime in on this, One pickup will sound different than the bridge + neck combination (think Strat middle pickup for example). With two pickups you kinda have a very widely spaced humbucker on board where one coil delivers brighter sound and one a darker. You won't be able to achieve this effect with just one pickup on board.

    Nevertheless, a lot of 1 pickup guitars are build with the pickup placed in the bridge and the idea is, that you would dial the tone in anyways to tame the high end if you don't need it, yet still have the bite and mids for cutting through. Have a look at P90s, as in Gibson Juniors, that is common choice, the other is usually a humbucker (like in EVHs Frankenstrat) - which you could also split if desired.

    Leo Fender, had a breadboard test guitar, where he experimented with pickup placements, that is something, you may want to try out, if you like to go the extra mile :):
    https://glguitars.com/clf-research-leo-fenders-breadboard-pickup-test-instruments/


    To support what was suggested allready, companies making bodies will highly unlikely modify a routing position to your exact spec, but you may contact them to ask. Another custom element that you will be needing in such a case is a pickquard made to specs.
     
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  5. Rmccamey

    Rmccamey TDPRI Member

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    Thanks Freeman. I thought I might be delving into minutiae but I wanted to ask. I'm leaning toward using a P90. With the new Noventa model in the lineup, however, I'm wondering if there is much value in building it myself as it is close to what I'm looking for.

     
  6. Rmccamey

    Rmccamey TDPRI Member

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    Thanks Tomasz. The consensus for single pickup guitars seems to be neck pickups in hollow bodies and bridge pickups in solid bodies. Based on your reference and other info I have found, and the cost of a custom route body, I'm not sure moving the pickup an inch one way or the other is going to make much difference in practical terms.
     
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  7. tomasz

    tomasz Tele-Meister

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    Very valid point! I think it is perhaps more the planned application that makes a difference (like jazz vs other genres). On moving the pickup by an inch - you would be amazed how split votes are on PRS 22 vs 24 and the difference of neck pickup placement that the 2 frets make :)
     
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  8. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    IF.. this is your first build.. STOP!! you are about to make the number one mistake most, new to the hobby make... that is, trying to make you first the perfect "dream guitar".. That is the totally wrong approach.. and it's analogous to your taking a toddler and by passing those first steps and making him rum the Boston Marathon first..

    What will happen as you progress up that figurative learning curve so your ideas of what comprise the Dream Guitar will begin to erode, and fade into a more realistic approach to your goals...

    Make your first something basic.. a good 'ol Blackguard it perfect... because it actually isn't as simple to get right as it appears, but it will lay the foundation for making a superior guitar far faster than stumbling around trying to correct the faux pas made as you try to create guitar nirvana with a beginner's experience..

    here's some "stuff I wrote a few years back. I hope it helps .. help yourself.. it;s free..

    https://www.ronkirn.com/books-1

    and to nail it home.. this is very important...


    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/tele-technical/201556-fret-leveling-yer-tele-101-a.html



    r
     
  9. ctmullins

    ctmullins Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    Moving a neck pickup an inch won’t make too much difference.

    Moving a bridge pickup an inch will be dramatically different.
     
  10. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Esquire, baby! Mine has P90 & Eldred mod because common & typical bore me. She screams like a wild banshee in heat.
     
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  11. Wheelhouse

    Wheelhouse TDPRI Member

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    Ron, is the Tele book the same as the strat book with the difference just in the wiring photos/diagrams at the end? I just want to make sure I didn't miss anything. ;)
     
  12. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    yep, they're intended to address the unique features of the respective guitar..

    r
     
  13. cousinpaul

    cousinpaul Friend of Leo's

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    If you were to get a cheap body with a swimming pool route, that could give you a test bed for moving the pickup around and experimenting with different pickup types.
     
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  14. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I don't want to get sucked into the big debate about where to put the pups, but I will tell you what I do. Once I've decided on how many frets I want on a neck I put the neck pickup as close to the end of the neck as possible with all the mounting consideration. That often puts a set of poles pretty close to the 24 fret line. That does match what a number of different guitars have. I put the bridge pickup as close to the bridge as reasonable, in other words maximum separation. I play mostly on the neck but with a two volume circuit (like a les paul) I often blend in a little bridge - that gives me both the lush complex sounds of the neck pickup and a bit more brightness. With two tone pots I can control the blend.

    My jazz playing friends play almost entirely on the neck, my shred heads play on the bridge. Obviously if I was building a guitar for one of those people I would take that into consideration.

    But I have to ask why build a single pickup guitar? Adding a second pup only adds a hundred bucks or so to the build and gives you so many playing options that you loose with one. I just finished a tele clone with two P90's (which I recommend by the way) - I never would have considered just on.

    Last thought, Warmoth will make you a single pickup body but I doubt that they will move it from their standard location. The type of bridge you use will influence the pup choice - standard tele bridges have an angled single coil built in - to change that means a different bridge (which I used on the dual P90 guitar). And last but far from least, you can change the sound dramatically as you move your plucking hand around the guitar.

    Just some random thoughts.
     
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