Player Tele Pickups - not hot?

johnnybregar

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Oct 12, 2021
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Hi -

I bought a Fender Player Tele in August. I love the clean tone - through my Deluxe Reverb, my Princeton - it’s just awesome. Plays great too.

But I have noticed that it doesn’t break up with my amps. Where I normally get nice breakup at around 3 or 4 on the volume knob, it just stays pretty clean. Sounds great with pedals, and I have a fair number of electrics, so this one could stay clean - but what am I missing here?

I have adjusted the pickup height to Fender specs.

Should I consider a swap to some hotter pups? I want the most true Tele tone I can get - I’m ok if that is cleaner. But if I’m missing some gain, I’d probably go for a new set of pickups. Or maybe there’s a another mod I am not aware of?

People generally really like the stock pickups(this was a Sweetwater buy, 2021 model). Do you find that they are lower output than your other guitars? How about compared to your other Teles?

Thanks for any advise.

Johnny
 

Blues Twanger

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Dec 4, 2007
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SoVT
I found the pickups in the Player series to be less hot than what used to come in the MIM Standards, but those were slightly hotter than usual and the Player series seems to be more in line with traditional telecaster pickup outputs.

You may want something in the vintage hot range based on your desires mentioned above.
 

johnnybregar

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I found the pickups in the Player series to be less hot than what used to come in the MIM Standards, but those were slightly hotter than usual and the Player series seems to be more in line with traditional telecaster pickup outputs.

You may want something in the vintage hot range based on your desires mentioned above.
If I were to go that route, what would I look for in your opinion? Fralin vintage hots? Bootstrap extra crispy? Are these in the range of what you're recommending?
 

jvin248

Doctor of Teleocity
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Lions & Tigers oh Mi !
...I have adjusted the pickup height to Fender specs...

That's the main problem. Adjust pickup heights by ear, not 'specs'.

MIM Standards had ceramic magnets, which are hotter than MIA alnico magnets. Players/buyers complained all the time how they had to swap out the 'cheap ceramic' pickups for 'proper alnico' pickups so often that Fender (correctly) decided to up their product line with the Player Series using alnico. There are very few threads about hating MIM pickups these days ... because they are basically what is in all the MIA Teles.

However, these are the changes you'll want to try:
-Raise the pickup(s) closer to the strings. Use your ears.
-Angle the bass side closer than the treble side of the pickup to the strings. Bass has more signal to push amps. Back off if too muddy.
-Find a scrap of steel (test with a magnet) that is 1/8th inch or thicker and stick that to the back of the bridge pickup. This will reflect the magnetic flux that normally goes out the back of the guitar at the strings.

I've hand cut house electrical octagon box covers ($2) to shape. I've used scrap from the junk drawer (thickness is important). You can buy plates, but make sure they are magnetic -- most were designed to be copper/brass for noise shielding not as much magnetic improvements.

Of course, you can always shop around for ceramic magnet pickups, there are a lot of players furiously stripping their Squiers and older MIM Standards to get 'a good' pickup. The magnets just provide output strength and setting both at 'Fender Specs' (that were created for alnico by 'some guy' to ship guitars) will make one vs the other sound different. Is that different better or worse, depends on your ears.

.
 

johnnybregar

TDPRI Member
Joined
Oct 12, 2021
Posts
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Age
55
Location
Bainbridge Island, WA
That's the main problem. Adjust pickup heights by ear, not 'specs'.

MIM Standards had ceramic magnets, which are hotter than MIA alnico magnets. Players/buyers complained all the time how they had to swap out the 'cheap ceramic' pickups for 'proper alnico' pickups so often that Fender (correctly) decided to up their product line with the Player Series using alnico. There are very few threads about hating MIM pickups these days ... because they are basically what is in all the MIA Teles.

However, these are the changes you'll want to try:
-Raise the pickup(s) closer to the strings. Use your ears.
-Angle the bass side closer than the treble side of the pickup to the strings. Bass has more signal to push amps. Back off if too muddy.
-Find a scrap of steel (test with a magnet) that is 1/8th inch or thicker and stick that to the back of the bridge pickup. This will reflect the magnetic flux that normally goes out the back of the guitar at the strings.

I've hand cut house electrical octagon box covers ($2) to shape. I've used scrap from the junk drawer (thickness is important). You can buy plates, but make sure they are magnetic -- most were designed to be copper/brass for noise shielding not as much magnetic improvements.

Of course, you can always shop around for ceramic magnet pickups, there are a lot of players furiously stripping their Squiers and older MIM Standards to get 'a good' pickup. The magnets just provide output strength and setting both at 'Fender Specs' (that were created for alnico by 'some guy' to ship guitars) will make one vs the other sound different. Is that different better or worse, depends on your ears.

.
OK - cool - thank you, I was definitely wondering if setting to Fender specs was perhaps not the best option. I'll dink with the pickup height.

Not quite sure I understand the metal piece in the back of the pickup - do I do that by removing the pickup from the body and sticking it on the bottom side? Or by "back" do you mean the side closest to the bridge? Never heard of this before. Sounds Back To The Future-ish.
 

TokyoPortrait

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Dec 10, 2017
Posts
4,316
Location
Tokyo, Japan
Hi.

I’m in the ‘play with pickup height first’ camp. You can’t really break anything and it’s easy. It’s often been mentioned that Fender’s specs are just really a starting point, but I feel they’re even less than that, just something to tell people because they need somewhere consistent to start themselves and they need to say something to customers - a general ‘happy medium / probably won’t suck / won’t interfere with the strings’ point.

Two things I’ve found, which are kinda at odds in some ways.

First is that really really small adjustments can sometimes make a fairly big difference. Especially with tone.

Second, go to the extremes, both ways. Just to see. Cos, you never know until you try. You will sometimes see photos of quite famous people with very low pickups or very high pickups (or, with pickups angled to extremes). That tells me (neck angle and saddle height caveats aside) that the whole range is useful, depending on the player’s needs. And that pickups come in a wide range of types and specs.

Too close to the strings though, and the magnetic pull will interfere and have a negative impact.

Me personally, I’d aim at adjusting pickup heights to get the tone I like and not worry so much about output. But, that’s me.

Bootstrap extra crispy?

I have this set, and think they’re more than great. I’m super impressed with them. But, they suit me and they sit right where I wanted on the Telecaster tonal spectrum. If you swap pickups for something hotter, make sure they’re what you want tone-wise. Ryan at Bootstrap will help you out. But, I notice his lead times are long at the moment.

Good luck.

Pax/
Dean
 

Gary in Boston

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Apr 17, 2003
Posts
3,439
Location
WALTHAM MA
I think "less hot" pickups have more subtle tones available and if you want to drive an amp over the edge to breakup then use a pedal OR an amp with a Gain control etc?

Best of luck
 




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