Recently developed more appreciation for bridge pickups

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by DHart, Feb 16, 2019.

  1. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,870
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2012
    Location:
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    For decades, I've been mostly a fan of the neck pickup, and neck-middle pickups in my Strats and Teles. I didn't often play the bridge pickups on their own, as they just seemed too bright for me.

    Funny how tastes can change, though. Recently I've been playing the bridge pickups more as I've developed a liking for the brighter tones. This came about as I found that when playing with chorus and more overdrive, the brightness of the bridge pickups improved the tone.

    And now, just playing clean (as I usually do) I'm enjoying the detailed, articulate clarity and sparkle of the bright tones from bridge pickups more than I ever have in the past.

    TO that end, I've recently been conducting sound tests, carefully comparing a variety of Tele bridge pickups that I have:

    Cavalier 51/52
    Cavalier Fat Lion
    Cavalier Huge Lion
    Dimarzio True Velvet
    Dimarzio Area-T
    Fender VIntage Tele (MIM)
    Fender Hot Standard (MIM)

    to the Strat bridge pickups that I have:

    Fender CS Fat '50s
    Fender CS Custom '69
    DAllen Voodoo '69

    Among these samples, I find the Strat pickups, the Fender CS Fat '50s, DAllen Voodoo '69s, and Fender CS Custom '69s, to have significantly more harmonic richness and detailed clarity than the Tele bridge pickups exhibit.

    Not that the Tele bridge pickups aren't clear and bright, because they certainly are, generally. It's just that I hear more richness, more complex harmonic detail, from the Strat bridge pickups - especially with the (brace yourselves...) maple neck and ash body combination of my American Standard Strat.

    This was a bit of a surprise to me, because I've never done such a close, comparative listening experiment between bridge pickups before. And the results were very interesting to me.

    As a result, I have a Tele that I'm planning to install a Strat Fat '50s bridge pickup into. I think the resulting combination with a Cavalier Lioness at the neck position should yield some really cool tones - especially in the middle position with both pickups on.

    I would imagine that I'm not alone in discovering the pleasures of the bridge pickups after many years of not using them very much? Is this familiar to some of you folks?
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
    El Tele Lobo likes this.
  2. MitchJ89

    MitchJ89 Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    120
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2017
    Location:
    Kalispell, MT.
    I’m hoping to get there... I still favor the neck. It’s difficult for me to utilize the bridge as I rarely find myself needing to cut through very hard, and I don’t use a lot of gain. I play country influenced stuff, but I still can’t get away from the way the neck pickup likes to mesh with the mix without saying “look at me!!”.
     
    DHart likes this.
  3. Larmo63

    Larmo63 Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,924
    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2018
    Location:
    Timbuktu, Earth
    My new Tele has a better sounding bridge pick-up when switched by itself....

    You may be on to something here...
     
    DHart likes this.
  4. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    52
    Posts:
    9,879
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    Georgetown, TX
    The more high frequency hearing loss I acquire, the more I like the bridge pickup. :D
     
    JL_LI, Greggorios, richiek65 and 4 others like this.
  5. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,231
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2017
    Location:
    York PA
    i couldn't imagine not using all my pups, the switch..vol & tone knobs..numerous times..even within 1 song..
     
    Greggorios, El Tele Lobo and DHart like this.
  6. Keefsdad

    Keefsdad Tele-Holic

    Age:
    62
    Posts:
    623
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2018
    Location:
    Toronto Canada
    Me too. i used to use the middle pickup on my Strat a lot. Got a Tele recently, I love the bridge pickup and now i'm using it more on the Strat too.
     
    Greggorios, El Tele Lobo and DHart like this.
  7. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,870
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2012
    Location:
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    Funny... but I think the loss of higher frequencies in old age does probably have a little to do with this.

    That said, once you get a bit attuned to all the sparkle and pizzaz of a Strat bridge pick up - and a Tele bridge pickup as well... it's kind of addicting. :lol:

    The big surprise to me is finding that the Strat bridge pickups seemed to have a lot more richness and tonal complexity than the Tele bridge pickups... I wonder if that's due to the Tele pickups having more winds? Or the plate under the Tele bridge pickups toning down some harmonic richness? :confused: Something about the design of the Strat bridge pickup seems to foster more harmonic/tonal richness.

    Of course, I still love the tones from my Teles and the neck pickups (when they are sparkly and rich), and the middle position with both neck and bridge together. They're all awesome options! I'm just really enjoying bridge pickups now, more than I ever have over all these years.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
    El Tele Lobo likes this.
  8. nosuch

    nosuch Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,648
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cologne
    Not wanting to argue or question your findings, but to me the tele bridge pickup has a lot more richness to it than the strat. If you mean more brightness in the strat's bridge position i could agree, though. For me the reason to have the second tone control wired to the bridge – to me it's too bright if left alone. Mine is a classic player strat with the "vintage" pickups – maybe I should try one of the pickups you mentioned.
     
    AlbertaGriff likes this.
  9. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,870
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2012
    Location:
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    As for Strat pickups, I can't recommend the Custom Shop Fat '50s enough - they're just such great sounding pickups. But the CS Custom '69s are close, just ever so slightly quieter (slightly lower wind). The DAllen Voodoo '69s that I have are also outstanding sounding - very rich and detailed. Mine are from his production of about 4 years ago - not sure about his current production.

    Guitars, pickups, pots, amps, the style of our playing... all of it has an influence and different folks have different perceptions. These are just my perceptions... with the guitars and pickups that I mentioned.

    Your setups and experiences certainly can and will vary. I agree in wanting bridge pickups (Strat and Tele) to be connected to a tone pot (a No-Load tone pot, preferably) for those times when you just want to take a slight edge off the top end. I like a .015 cap, as well, so when I roll off slightly, it only affects the highest frequencies. I have wired all of my Strats so that the bridge pickup runs through a tone pot.

    Most of the time, though, I don't like to turn my tone pots down from the no-load position, as the subtractive influence of doing so just sounds a little 'numbing' to the tone for me - except perhaps on occasion when using the bridge pickup alone while playing in the upper registers.

    Which reminds me of a little tip I picked up from Steve Morse, some time ago, which is to use the bridge pickup more when playing in the lower part of the neck, and use the neck pickup more when playing high on the neck. That gives a more pleasing use of the different pickups - to my ears, anyway. I especially love the chimey tones of chords with open strings, while running the bridge pickup.

    For me, all of this applies to pretty much any guitar, Teles, Strats, etc.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
    El Tele Lobo and nosuch like this.
  10. RoCkstAr256

    RoCkstAr256 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    29
    Posts:
    1,560
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2017
    Location:
    Poland
    Fender Texas Special bridge is best bridge i have heard . I love both pickups but bridge is magical and hot like nice blonde chick
     
  11. nosuch

    nosuch Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,648
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cologne
    Good advice here. Yeah, maybe I should try a fatter wound bridge pickup in the strat. With the stock pickups, the bridge is notably quieter (due to position I think they are all wound the same) so that I set it fairly high – which should again add brightness. OTOH the wiry tone of that lowly wound strat pickup is something special too. It just seems like I can't get much use out of it.
    Normally I take only one guitar to a gig and 90 % that would be a tele, 10 % my 335. Maybe a fatter bridge pickup would convince me to take the strat out – honestly it's the most comfortable of all my guitars. I live on the neck Pickup 70 %, middle position 20 % and only like 10 % is bridge pickup anyway (I use it kind of exclusively to approximate a John Scofield inspired tone – rather clean but with a little edge – which my teles do perfectly and the 335 too).
     
  12. Bigpernz

    Bigpernz Tele-Meister

    Age:
    40
    Posts:
    274
    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2016
    Location:
    Idaho
    The bridge pickup on a tele really shines for me when playing with a band. Otherwise I'm usually a neck or middle guy. Not the same with my strat, I never use that bridge.
     
    El Tele Lobo and Don Mac like this.
  13. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,238
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2014
    Location:
    Florida
    If you do a video or sound sample recording some of these tests and comparisons, it would be of great benefit to many here. Please post it if you do. I'm particularly interested in the 51/52 and the Area T. Your build with the strat pickup and the Lioness sounds cool too. Please post a sound demo when you get it together. And let us know if you have any fitment issues putting the strat pickup in a tele bridge.
     
  14. Singles Forever

    Singles Forever TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    70
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2019
    Location:
    Montreal
    The bridge pickup is a very blunt sound. Not just in the treble , but also with the very forward mids. I found myself recently appreciating single coil Bridge for the first time as well. I noticed that when I put the tone knob down to five you can get some very pleasurable sounds. I was playing a 52 reissue when it happened... Now I officially like tele Bridge pups. But you need to have good pickups.
     
    DHart likes this.
  15. Greggorios

    Greggorios Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,853
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2016
    Location:
    Patterson, NY
    :) Me too...and we're in good company....

     
    LocoTex, DHart and JL_LI like this.
  16. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,231
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2017
    Location:
    York PA
    that is enjoyable...i appreciate that..your band is tight !! great playing, dynamics and what a nice take on a classic !! Love the build up to the taking it home at the end !! thanks
     
    Greggorios likes this.
  17. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,654
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2003
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, California
    That’s actually GE Smith, band leader for Saturday Night Live back in the 80s, who has played and toured with everyone. He uses vintage Teles and Tweed Deluxe amps, and has a signature Tele model, too.
     
    Greggorios likes this.
  18. Greggorios

    Greggorios Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,853
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2016
    Location:
    Patterson, NY
    If only it was me/my band! You flatter me. As Chris M. points out that's GE Smith a true Master of the Telecaster. He's also played with Dylan, Roger Waters and a who's who of top notch musicians. From time to time he tours with other "Masters of the Telecaster" including the great Jim Weider who's in this video to the right; another all time great who we see here in TDPRI telecaster land regularly. Luther Dickinson is in the middle who's the 3rd Master playing on this particular night.

    Now I gotta go practice...:mad:
     
    bftfender likes this.
  19. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,273
    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    Location:
    Texas
    That's probably a big part of it right there. But, also, I think as players learn to adjust their amp, they learn to use the sounds of the different pickups ... the neck guys learn how to set the amp for the bridge position, and the bridge guys eventually learn to set the amp for the neck pickup sound. At that point, there are amp tone settings that support using both pickups effectively.
     
  20. fender4life

    fender4life Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,249
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Location:
    los angeles
    I like em both but for different things. I tend to use the bridge for an average classic rock degree of gain or a bit less on up to high gain and the neck for clean to edge of breakup and for higher gain single notes high up the neck. I think the people who play one of the other probably stick with a certain gain structure most of the time so the use the pickup that works for that. Myself, i am constantly riding my volume knob for clean to scream and as i do that i also tend to change to whatever pickup is called for with the gain changes i make with the volume knob. I find it a lot more satisfying to be able to get most any sound i want instantly rather then use the same sound most of the time. Make it a lot more fun and interesting to play like that. I could never own a guitar with one pickup.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.