So... MIM ceramics sound great to me

digitalMagnetics

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I have an old tele that I wanted to sell, but something happened to the stock bridge pickup and it wasn't working. I don't know if a wire got severed while it was in and out of my parts toolbox, but whatever happened, it generated no sound and was dead to my multimeter. So I bought a cheap set of used MIM ceramics off Reverb just so I could sell the guitar as a working instrument.

Well, I put those suckers in the guitar and DAMN! They sound outstanding! I play a lot of alt rock and harder classic-inspired rock, and these pickups are perfect for that! I wonder if a lot of the hate they get comes from the more traditional Tele crowd who want the lower output alnico pickups for country.

For me, the MIM ceramic Tele bridge pickup is what I always wanted a bridge humbucker to sound like. The driven tones are basically perfect.

Anyone concur? I'm starting to think that maybe Fender, Gibson, etc. already know what pickups sound best in their guitars. I've changed pickups in a bunch of my guitars and gone back to the originals almost every time.
 

Telenator

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I have found the ceramic bar magnet pickups do work better than rod magnets when you're using a lot of gain.
And I also found that the lowly Squier Strat pickup tones are really sweet at low volume. Played in the living room, at "inside voice" levels, they sound terrific.
Crank it up to stage volume though, and all bets are off.
 

Controller

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I listened to the anti-ceramic pickup chatter, then I listened with my ears. I left the ceramic pickups in my Squier Tele Bullet. I think my taste in pickups seems to be out of the mainstream but there are countless choices out there. Ceramic pickups have worked well for me along with some very nice AlNiCos. I try to judge each guitar on its own sound and not the type of magnet.
 

Southpaw Tele

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I have to be honest, the bridge pickup in my ‘07 MIM Tele was amazing. I stupidly sold off the guitar as parts. I picked up a ‘20 Player Series and while I loved the stock neck pickup, the bridge just didn’t sound as good as that ‘07. I do play mostly rock/alternative/P&W, so that may be a reason I liked it better. I put a Chopper T in the Player and it gets me in the ballpark.
 

JL_LI

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Hey @digitalMagnetics , there are more than two choices. And that’s one of the things that make Telecasters such wonderful instruments. A lot of folks want low output Alnico pickups for twang. Others like you want high output pickups to drive an amp. Ceramic and high wind Alnico sound different so I’m glad you found what’s great for you. I have N4 noiseless pickups in my Telecaster. They’re a little warmer that low wind twangers and are more harmonically complex, at least in my hearing range, and they don’t hum. They’re perfect for my finger style and great with a pick for backing vocals. It’s not just black and white. The Telecaster world is pretty colorful. I’m glad you found your color.
 

schmee

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They are not bad. Playing a full night with them I like them less, but definitely usable. Especially, like you say, ceramics are a good sound for the bridge , taking away some of that sterile bright sound.

Ditto for ceramic HB's actually in the bridge also.
 

11 Gauge

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I think I don't have too much of an aversion to any given type of magnet. My main personal issue is that I don't seem to care for steel poles with many Strat or Tele pickups, regardless of whatever type of bar magnet sits underneath of them.

I did have an old ('84 or '85) Ibanez Roadstar II that was SSS with steel poles and ceramic bar magnets that I really liked. I actually still have the pickups, although the guitar itself is long gone.
 

Ricky D.

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You are living the dream, my friend. So many folks here spend $200-$300 to get pickups.

I have an Esquire partocaster with a ceramic from a friend’s parts bin, no idea about what it is. Sounds great.

The right strength magnet, the right amount of winding, you are at least 95% of the way there.
 

Lawdawg

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If it sounds good it is good.

I played with a set of gold lace sensors (which are ceramic) in my strat for 20+ years and thought they sounded great. I did eventually replace them with a fancy set of Lollars and while I do prefer the Lollars, it's not a night and day difference.
 

Si G X

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For me, the MIM ceramic Tele bridge pickup is what I always wanted a bridge humbucker to sound like. The driven tones are basically perfect.

Anyone concur? I'm starting to think that maybe Fender, Gibson, etc. already know what pickups sound best in their guitars. I've changed pickups in a bunch of my guitars and gone back to the originals almost every time.

Yeah they are good pickups ... it's such a big part of the first impressions when you try a guitar out for the first time, it doesn't make any sense to do otherwise to me.

Likewise I think Gibson humbuckers sound great too.
 

That Cal Webway

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I responded to ad on Craigslist for a guy to jam and it went really good.
He had a Mexican strat with ceramics and I had my Tele.
We swapped gtrs for over an hour.

His guitar had so much depth.
Grrreat!

- Listen to your ears not your wallet! -
.
 

Blackmore Fan

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I'm an advocate of Alnico pickups. But that's because I know what sound I'm looking for. I play Strats. I prefer pickups that sound amazingly good with "cleans". I find Alnicos deliver that in spades.

I'm not declaring that ceramics can't do that...I'm just pointing out that most of the "affordable" varieties of ceramics do NOT deliver that clean sound as well as their Alnico counterparts do. I've played several MIM Strats from the past that included ceramic pickups as their stock offering. They sounded "ok". But they didn't deliver cleans at higher volumes like good Alnicos do.

The Alnicos I can vouch for include American Standard (circa 2008-2012), Fender Tex Mex, Fender 57/62, and the Seymour Duncan SSL-1s. They can deliver cleans well, but also "heat" with the right pedals and amp.
 

eclecticsynergy

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Never played ceramic Tele pickups (that I know of); certainly never have owned any.
But I do like the older MIM ceramic Strat pickups.

I agree though: some pickups sound fine at low levels but don't perform as well in a band context. Battle volume brings out subtleties of tone and feel - aspects that aren't apparent in a quick tryout or even when playing for longer periods at home.

I never truly know how a guitar/pickup pairing performs under pressure until I've gigged it.
 

1 21 gigawatts

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I think that ceramic pickups get a bad rap because so many are overwound to produce maximum distortion. My Squier SE strat has very low Ohm ceramic pups that sound great! Just comes down to the design.
 
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