Tele Neck Pickup: Why the Bad Rep?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by EnzoDooder, Oct 15, 2018.

  1. EnzoDooder

    EnzoDooder TDPRI Member

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    I'm new to the forum so I apologize in advance if there's another thread that addresses this better.

    Why does the Telecaster neck pickup seem to have a bad reputation? Is it simply because the tele bridge pickup is so popular that it can't live up to it? It comes off as though getting the neck pickup in a tele to sound like a strat neck pickup is a desirable thing, but I've always had a love and preference for Telecaster neck pickups over Strat neck pickups. In fact I've had a love and preference for Telecaster neck pickups over any other guitar pickup type/selection, but I know I'm in the minority on this.

    A forum dedicated to Telecasters seems equally the worst place and the best place to ask this question..
     
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  2. Andy Summers

    Andy Summers Friend of Leo's

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    I don’t have anything groundbreaking to offer you...only that I personally love the Tele neck pickup.
     
  3. rich815

    rich815 Friend of Leo's

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    Me too. I think it’s just that the bridge and it’s twang and personality is so prevalent and famous over the years that the neck, while not exactly disliked, is sort of the red-headed, bastard step child.
     
  4. Seasicksailor

    Seasicksailor Friend of Leo's

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    I've often wondered that myself. I'm really happy with my tele neck pickups, even beyond my Baja (supposedly more strat-like). And let's not forget, without the neck pickup, we wouldn't have the wonderful middle position.
     
  5. Shidoin

    Shidoin Tele-Holic

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    I think the neck PU on my Tele sounds great. It’s just a stock one, nothing fancy. Don’t understand the dislike. Check out Ted Greene and Ed Bickert (pre HB PU) for awesome neck PU tone.
     
  6. brogh

    brogh Assistant Admin Staff Member

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    Hi & Welcome ! who said that ? if you want the stratty tone ....get a strat ! :lol:, although there are various pickups around that will get people there, why ? ...

    The Telecaster has his voice, personally i love the neck pickup, it's great both alone and with the "weapon", if you get a good balanced set and setup properly it sounds just great, can do a lot of stuff on that pickup alone ..
     
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  7. nicod98

    nicod98 Tele-Afflicted

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    What does it matter what other people like?

    I like the neck pickup, and NEVER play the bridge pickup alone. The combination of both: yes, but never the bridge pickup alone.

    There is no good or bad here... it's preference. MY preference, don't care about who's preference it is NOT, that's THEIR preference.
     
  8. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    If not set up right, and/or using the wrong cover material, the neck pickup can be dark/muddy. So the prescription is to work at setting the neck pickup right. Easiest to lower the neck as much as possible along with the bridge, raise the neck slightly to where it sounds best, then raise the bridge switching back and forth to the neck until volumes are balanced. Then turn up the amp a hair when you play. Same trick I use for setting up Strats.

    A Tele also does well with putting in a 4-way switch so you can get humbucker LP tones out of it. I call it my stealth les paul. It's a great addition for the $11 that the switch can be found for.

    There are a lot of classic noises in that ol' Tele ...


    .
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018
  9. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

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    The Tele neck pickup is my favorite position on the Tele. The reason it likely has a bad reputation is based on several things:

    (1) When people think of Teles, they think of Tele twang, like the bridge pickup. The neck pickup is not that at all, so by extension it becomes "bad."
    (2) The neck pickups were originally designed for a baritone sound.
    (3) Traditionally, they have brass covers that muffle the sound.
    (4) They can tend to be boomy in the bass. I think they work better with smaller-value capacitors than the traditional .047mF Tele tone cap.
    (5) When Teles neck pickups were designed, folks were using a lot of Jensen-type speakers that were very clear and trebly. Perhaps this mitigated the bassiness of the Tele neck pickup a bit. Today, folks use all kinds of speakers that may not compliment the Tele neck pickup.
    (6) probably more I'm not thinking of.
     
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  10. EnzoDooder

    EnzoDooder TDPRI Member

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    I definitely can't stand muddy neck pickups, equally as much as shrill bridge pickups, so I get that. I've fortunately only ever owned Telecasters with clear sounding neck pickups so perhaps that's why I don't understand the flack (or lack of acclaim more so) they get. I've always found them to be infinitely useful.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018
  11. El Marin

    El Marin Tele-Holic

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    My Tele's neck pickup is superb...


















    Is a humbucker :rolleyes:
     
  12. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    I upgraded pickups in my Telecaster to N4 noiseless. One important consideration in the upgrade was that the N4 neck pickupwould sound as good to my ears as the stock pickup. I don’t understand the complaints either. The Telecaster neck pickup is great for country, jazz, finger style and so much more.
     
  13. ricardo1912

    ricardo1912 Tele-Afflicted

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    I play more on the neck pup and use it blues, rock and indie stuff. That said I like all three options.
     
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  14. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

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    jvin.....do you ever get tired of urging folks to LOWER their pickups to improve their sound?.....well, don't stop. I was happy with the sound of my Bootstrap Pickups' tone....both the neck and bridge....but recently in changing out the bridge itself, I reinstalled the bridge pickup a little lower than it was before. It's made considerable difference, and has gone from "good" to "GREAT!". So keep on "proselytizing".....
    And to answer the OP....I rarely play bridge pickup by itself. Usually I'm in the middle, and sometimes on neck alone. I've also had a middle pickup, which is currently not there....BUT, I've bought a pickup from Bootstrap that may go in the middle, when I get time. ;)
     
  15. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

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    I totally agree! Lower your pickups!
     
  16. Lefty Addams

    Lefty Addams Tele-Afflicted

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    For me, it was always the weakest link on a Tele. Every standard neck pup on every tele i've tried has been inferior to the bridge.
     
  17. nosuch

    nosuch Friend of Leo's

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    My tele's neck pickups sounds great – it's my favourite tone. I wonder if the bad rep comes from the early tele's wiring with the muffled first position – people just didn't get that it was not the neck pickup but a processed tone?
     
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  18. acrylicsuperman

    acrylicsuperman Tele-Afflicted

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    I am personally not a fan of the tele neck pickup and often either remove them or replace them with a strat pickup. Having said that, plenty of people have made great use of them, I just happen to be someone who can't seem to get them to work for me.
     
  19. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    As you see, it doesn't have a bad rep, at all. The voices here are mostly and overwhelmingly positive regarding the tele neck pickup
     
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  20. Amby

    Amby Tele-Holic

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    I love the neck pickup (nickel cover) and its distinctive sound. It's great on its own - quite jazzy at times - but when combined with the bridge pickup, sheer magic. It helps to define what a Tele is imho.
     
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