Player series Tele vs. Mexican Strat bridge pickup tone

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Luis Mendo, Feb 26, 2019.

  1. Luis Mendo

    Luis Mendo TDPRI Member

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    Hello all!

    I recently bouhght a Player Series Telecaster, single coil pickups, maple neck, alnico V pickups, block saddles. I'm very happy with it. However, I expected the bridge pickup to sound a little brighter than it sounds. Specifically, I also have a Mexican Stratocaster, maple neck, different pickups, and both guitars sounds very similar in the bridge pick up. (In the neck pickup they do sound different).

    Some people seem to agree that the Tele and the Strat sound very similar on the bridge pickup. See for example this video or this one. It's hard for me to tell any difference between both guitars on the bridge pickup. Both sound great. But isn't the Tele supposed to be brighter or more trebly than the Strat? I find it surprising that the sparkling, right sound of the the Tele bridge pickup is so similar to the one I already had on my Strat.

    I know you can make the sound brighter by amp equalization, by changing the pick, or by picking closer to the bridge. But if you do that to both guitars they will still sound similar on the bridge pickup.

    So, my question: is there anything that can be done to the Tele to make the bridge pickup sound brighter? For example, does pickup height have an influence on the brightness of the tone? Or are both guitars really so similar when played on the bridge pickup?
     
  2. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    Strat bridge pickups are usually thinner and brighter than Tele bridge pickups, which are larger and have more windings, and so usually have a beefier tone. But, there are so many variations in both Strat and Tele pickups that it's hard to make general comments without knowing the specs of each pickup that you're comparing. If your Strat is a Mexican Standard and not a newer Player series, the Mexican Standards have hotter overwound ceramic pickups which are beefier sounding than more vintage style alnico pickups like the Player Series have, so that would explain why they sound more similar than you expect. The amp can also affect how much difference you're hearing between the two. With some amps you can hear a more pronounced difference than with some other amps.
     
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  3. Red Bread

    Red Bread Tele-Meister

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    Yes pick up height makes a difference
    The closer the pick up(microphone) is to the vibrating string the more it picks up
    But,,,,you have to find the happy medium
    Depending on your set as in amp,effects even picking style
    Best thing to do is get a proper fitting screwdriver,plug the guitars in and adjust to the sound you want
    Being careful not to get the metal strings to close to the magnetic pick ups
    If your to close the magnet effects string vibrations not only effecting sounds but the action and proper set up
    YouTube is your friend,,,,there’s thousands of videos on this subject
    Each guitar and pick up will be different as well as a guitarists personal taste
    And all those variables change thru time as well
     
  4. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    Adjusting the pickup higher will make it brighter, lower will make it warmer.
     
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  5. Luis Mendo

    Luis Mendo TDPRI Member

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    Thanks. I'll try raising the bridge pickup to see if I can get more treble.

    How high would you say is too high? Fender's specs don't specifically mention Alnico V pickups. Is there any drawback to setting the pickup high? Or can I rise it as long as it doesn't cause warbling or get in the way when picking?
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
  6. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    Setting it too high (too close to the strings) can also affect sustain...I can’t relate why scientifically, but it has to do with the magnets making the strings stop vibrating or eddy currents or something.
     
  7. cousinpaul

    cousinpaul Friend of Leo's

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    If adjusting the height doesn't brighten the pickup enough, you might try soldering a small capacitor between the pickup's hot lead and the switch. The cap will cut lows resulting in a bit thinner tone. You'll have to experiment with different values but .022uf might be a good place to start. Increase the value (.033, .047uf... ) for less low-cut or decrease (.01uf...) for more. SRV is said to have used this trick.

    If you work the guitar's volume control, a treble bleed network would also help.
     
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  8. RoCkstAr256

    RoCkstAr256 Friend of Leo's

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    How about pics first :D ?
     
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  9. Luis Mendo

    Luis Mendo TDPRI Member

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    The only pic I have right now is so low quality that I refrained from posting it. I'll try to get a proper shot :)
     
  10. sonny wolf

    sonny wolf Friend of Leo's

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    Traditionally a Strat bridge pickup is weaker and more transparent than a Tele one which is denser and hotter because of the extra windings.If you want a very bright and twangy Tele bridge pickup you'd have find an underwound one.
     
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  11. Luis Mendo

    Luis Mendo TDPRI Member

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    I took a decent picture this morning:

    IMG_1192.JPG
     
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  12. jim777

    jim777 Tele-Meister

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    Confirmed, that's a Tele alright :)
     
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  13. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    The angle of the bridge pickup has an effect... the Tele pickup is angled more than the Strat one if you are talking about the default/standard SS Tele vs SSS Strat. That angle is going to make the Treble more bright on the Tele and the Bass more powerful/thick/fat/whatever.

    The bridge plate on the Tele also has an effect, as does the distance from the string termination to the pickup... not sure if that is the same, my gut feeling is actually that the Strat's bridge pickup is closer to the bridge?

    For the neck I am assuming the Stratocaster has the neck positioned a different distance from the bridge end of the string? I have played a Strat a fair amount but I have to admit I am unaware of whether the Strat's neck pickup is immune to the Tele's issue where certain harmonics do not sound due to the pickup being positioned right over that harmonic's "node" on the string. If they moved the neck pickup on the Strat to fix that issue that will also be part of the difference in the sound of the neck pickup.

    Obviously there are variants of both guitars that throw all this out of the window, like an HSS Strat has the bridge pickup straight across, same thing with SH or HH Teles. (Do those have the harmonic issue that SS Teles have?)

    I'd be curious if the extra pickup on the Strat also has some weird effects.. such as increased magnetic pull on the strings and/or some kind of different magnetic effects going on since you have pickups closer to each other... (do the magnets affect each other's field even if that middle pickup is not in use?)
     
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  14. Luis Mendo

    Luis Mendo TDPRI Member

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    Here is a picture of both side by side. The neck pickup is more or less in the same position. The SSS Strat also has very weak natural harmonics on the neck pickup. The Strat bridge pickup seems to be a little farther from bridge for treble strings, and clearly closer for bass strings, as you said


    8A338EB9-DD41-448B-962F-0A8A434C0D38.jpeg
     
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  15. RoCkstAr256

    RoCkstAr256 Friend of Leo's

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    I love tele mroe but like strat colour much more :p . I have had BSB PLayer tele howeve ri have sold it. Waiting for my tiedpool tele
     
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  16. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Height adjustment changes to the tone are easily confused with changes to the volume.

    If you raise the pickup closer to the high E you will hear louder treble.

    But the overall tone is actually fatter with the pickups closer to the strings, and thinner/ brighter with the pickup further from the strings.

    Similarly the volume balance between the high E and the low E may make the tone appear to be brighter when you raise the pickup under the high E, delivering more treble volume compared to the bass volume, but the overall tone will generally be brighter and thinner if you lower both pickups and turn up the amp.

    If you're listening for brighter chords, lowering the pickup under the low E will reduce the bass strings volume, so the overall balance will have louder plain strings than wound strings.

    But the fattest plain strings tone is with the pickup raised close to the high E, and the thinnest plain strings tone comes with a lower pickup height.

    If you only lower the pickup under the high E, then the low E will have more volume, so the low strings will be louder which may appear to mean the guitar has more bass and less treble.
     
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  17. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Because of the Strat volume knob position and the horn changing the center point of the guitar hanging on the strap -- players tend to pick in different locations and that will change the tone a lot. Teles get picked on or behind the bridge pickup closer to the saddles while Strats get picked over the middle pickup or between the neck and middle pickup. If you pick the Tele forward like that it will be a lot less brighter.


    As for pickup height adjustments, start with 'the specs' but go fine with your ear, see how Joe shows it.




    .
     
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  18. Luis Mendo

    Luis Mendo TDPRI Member

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    I see what you mean about the color :)
     
  19. Luis Mendo

    Luis Mendo TDPRI Member

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    I’ve been experimenting with bridge pickup height and I didn’t notice any difference in tone. I guess my ears/brain are not sensitive enough :) I did notice the changes in global volume, and in relative volume of low and high strings. So I’ve left both pickups in a middle height, trying to have similar volume in both, and slightly closer to the treble strings
     
  20. Luis Mendo

    Luis Mendo TDPRI Member

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    I've recently raised the pickups quite a bit. The neck pickup is now close to Fender's spec (1.6 mm). The bridge pickup is slightly lower. They seem to sound brighter now; I like it
     
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