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Tele tones question -

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by graybeard65, Nov 21, 2017.

  1. graybeard65

    graybeard65 Tele-Meister

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    confession time - I’m a 35 year Les Paul player with a love for Telecaster spank and twang.

    I’ve got an excellent tele, and in the same vein, an excellent strat. Both have wonderful feel and playability. The tele is a recent American Professional, and the strat is an EJ model.

    Both sparkle and shine played clean - but as soon as I start adding a little gain, I start hearing the dreaded single coil hum - not 60 cycle, just gray noise between the notes.

    Now...the Lester? I ratchet the gain up pretty high, but it’s nearly silent between the notes. The single coil axes hum even with the volume all the way off.

    For the love of Pete, I want to love these guitars, but the noise is kicking my tail.

    Is there a secret to adding some grit and snarl without bringing all the noise to the party too? I’d welcome any and all advice -

    Thanks - I’m here to learn and share :)
     
  2. SonsOfMoog

    SonsOfMoog Tele-Meister

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    Stand at a 45 or 90 degree angle to the amp.

    With the noise up, rotate the guitar to the left and right until you find the quiet sweet spot.

    I like the charm of hum and white noise in rock. Depends on the song and setting, really.

    I usually roll my tele's volume silent as soon as I'm done playing when conducting lessons or between songs.
     
  3. The Ballzz

    The Ballzz Tele-Afflicted

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    ^^^^ What he said! ^^^^ Additionally, it should be noted that if anywhere near a computer, things can be even worse! Proper shielding of the routed cavities, pick guard, and a piece of shielded wire to replace the two separate wires to the jack can help, at least a little bit, in most cases. Besides 60/120 cycle hum, single coil pickups, along with their associated wiring, switching, etc, tend to be an antenna for many kinds of electrical noise & interference!
    Just Sayin'
    Gene
     
  4. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    '
    I think I have some answers to your single coil "grit" question... but first...

    Fluorescent lights and dimmer switches can wreak havoc as well.

    I also agree that properly shielded control cavity, pickup cavities and pickguard definitely helps.

    I would like to add that I did notice a small rolloff of the higher frequencies after shielding one of my Teles (supposedly due to capacitance), but it's not necessarily a negative thing and was well worth the tradeoff in my case.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~v

    As far as the higher gain "grit" is concerned, single coils and humbuckers are definitely two different animals; What works for one may not work for the other - and I find the "type" of overdrive or distortion makes a huge difference...

    For instance; I love how my 1991 Gibson Les Paul Studio's 498T bridge pickup sounds when cranking the gain on the "HI" channels of my Mesa Boogie TA-30 TransAtlantic amp, but my 2003 Fender AVRI 52 Tele sounds much better going through a dimed low wattage amp with a Tubescreamer in front of it (this works exceptionally well with my 5watt Epiphone Valve Jr plugged into an 8ohm 12" external speaker cab for instance).

    * Note: I also use a Tech21 "Blonde" pedal in front of the Tubescreamer in my setup, which not only pushes the amp even further but also helps to dial in the sound since the VJ has no tone controls *

    On the other hand, the LP sounded too fat and bloated going into the same VJ setup.

    So, in your case, perhaps you need a cleaner tube amp that you can crank to "10"... like a 12watt Fender Princeton Reverb or 22watt Deluxe Reverb, with an appropriate overdrive pedal to push it "just right" while adding the least amount of noise.

    Believe me, even a little 5 watter can melt your face if you're not careful!!! (although you definitely need a high efficiency 12" speaker to really pull it off).

    Anyway, the very same overdrive/distortion that sounds silky smooth with a humbucker may sound brittle or harsh with a single coil...

    As far as the noise goes, it's just the price you have to pay sometimes to enjoy the truly awesome single coil experience.

    Good Luck!

    '
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017
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  5. MahoganyStratDZ

    MahoganyStratDZ Tele-Holic

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    Take them apart and shield them and recheck all the wiring-joints excessive leads, wire strands on the joints etc.

    I just think theres 60 cycle hum and as mentioned above it adds to the raw blues rock imho. BUT there is excessive noise due to various mods, so-so electronic application and just bare sloppiness.

    I hear what you saying I play all three of the same guitars-Tele Strat and LP. But the difference is so slight that the value of the tone I enjoy exceeds the minor tinkering.

    In a way the single coil electronics can be frustrating at times as with any electrical issue. We all go through this I cant begin to tell you how many times I looked at a circuit that simply wasnt working....then the lights go on. Same pattern usually.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017
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  6. Randypttt

    Randypttt Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    All of the above. But there's also something to be said for putting some distance between the guitar and amp.
    "Live" you're probably covered but playing at home it helps to stand away. Imho
     
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  7. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    Depending on the pickup/wiring setup and whether or not you have a treble bleed installed you can sometimes get great results rolling off the volume a little on the guitar and then increasing the gain/volume on the amp in turn. When you turn the volume down on the guitar you lower the volume of the noise too. It doesn't always work but sometimes it does. Of course in a lot of cases this is not necessarily conducive to playing gainy sounds either though.

    The quality of your wiring job as others mentioned makes a big difference!
     
  8. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    I switched from Gibsons to Fenders a few years ago. I don't experience any single coil hum from any of my guitars unless I'm standing within maybe a foot of my amp - like right on top of it. I'd guess that there's something about your practice space that's causing it. Either that or your guitar isn't shielded properly.
     
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  9. Thin69

    Thin69 Friend of Leo's

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    There are quality noiseless pups available today. I had noiseless SCN's on both a Tele and a Strat that were really good. There are many noiseless choices today that many players have been happy with.

    On the other hand I think Fenders sound better with less distortion/gain than you would use on a Les Paul. I just use an overdrive pedal so most of the original single coil sound comes through and the noise problem is minimal.
     
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  10. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I really don't know what you are talking about.Are you sure your house is properly grounded?I mean single coil hum never bothered Hendrix,Clapton and Gilmour so you must be doing something wrong or there is something wrong with the grounding of your house (I find it an impossible coincidence that both your strat and Tele have problematic factory wiring)

    Either that or you are using too much gain (I mean heavy metal type gain) if this is the case only noiseless pickups can help you.

    I only use single coils and never had the problems you are describing and I am sure the same thing applies to most people here.
     
  11. Knowcaster

    Knowcaster Tele-Holic

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    I think some people are more tolerant of a bit of noise than others. I have played guitars with traditional single coil pickups and there is definitely some amount of noise there once you start ramping up the gain, no matter what you do (guitar angle, distance from the amp, power conditioner, etc.). I don't play metal or other high gain styles of music, so generally the noise is not so bad that I can hear it once I start playing, especially with a band. The noise is mostly noticeable between songs, which can be minimized by turning down the guitar's volume knob between songs. Kind of a pain but it works. I have heard of others who have had success with noise gate or hum suppressor pedals, but that is another piece of gear to buy and deal with.

    That being said, in both my Strat and Tele style guitars (both are parts casters), I ripped out the traditional pickups and installed noiseless vintage output pickups. I tried Dimarzio Area pickups, which were pretty good, before setting on Bill Lawrence Wilde Noisefree pickups. To my ear, they capture 95 percent of the single coil sound with 5 percent of the noise, a worthwhile tradeoff in my book. I'm sure there are some people with better ears than mine who can tell a difference, but once the band launches into Mustang Sally in a noisy bar I can't see anyone complaining. Since they are lower output and have a narrower magnetic field than a humbucker, they still handle gain differently than my SG with Gibson '57 Classics, so if I am switching between guitars I need to adjust my dirt pedal or amp settings to compensate if I want to get a similar gained up tone (generally turn up the "gain" or "overdrive" knob, and add some mids).
     
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  12. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    '
    Sometimes there's no apparent rhyme or reason for it...

    My first Tele was a MIM 1996 Fender Standard and it had a horrible buzzing sound, especially when you take your fingers off the strings.

    I've since shielded it, which helped, but my 2003 Fender AVRI 52 Tele has no such shielding and it's dead quiet on the most part (?)

    I removed the pickups from the Standard Tele a while back and recently put the neck pickup in another guitar... same obnoxious buzzing! So I'm going to shield that one as well.

    I don't see any major differences in the pickup designs or circuits being used, so what is causing the problem remains a mystery...

    '
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017
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