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Telecaster: middle position vs bridge PU with tone rolled off

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by EsquireBoy, Feb 28, 2021.

  1. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Friend of Leo's

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    After being unfaithful to my Esquire for about 6 months after receiving my Gretsch 6120, I’m coming back!

    I’m used to alternate between bridge PU straight to the volume and bridge PU with the tone rolled off about halfway. But I’m wondering how much I’m missing not having a middle two-pickup position.

    That makes me consider converting my Esquire to a Tele. The routing is here but I would need a new pickguard (not so easy since aftermarket ones can be a mismatch).
    Most of all my bridge PU is custom wound and I have no way to be sure it would be in phase with the neck pickup I would buy.

    I’m a huge Jim Campilongo fan, and he always alternates between bridge and middle positions. I’m really wondering how much I would gain from having that middle position tone vs my bridge PU with tone rolled off?
     
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  2. arlum

    arlum Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

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    If you own an Esquire I'd keep it an Esquire. Although I love Telecasters I must say that the world has enough Telecasters to the point they're falling out of arses, being used as doorstops and sporting an ownership clan that needs a 12 step program. I love my Telecasters but, if I owned an Esquire I would keep it an Esquire. Those meetings can get rough and they're always embarrassing. "Hi. My names Rick. I have a problem."
     
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  3. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

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    Maybe consider one of those "stealth" neck pickups? I think Brad Paisley has a video or two on Youtube about his. Supposedly, gives you the second p/up option, but retains the looks of an Esquire.
     
  4. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Tele-Meister

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    phase will not be an issue. Any pickup will work. If it’s out of phase, all you have to do is wire the hot/ground wires the opposite where you have them.

    if it’s noise canceling or not Is the only possible issue, if you happen to care about that. Polarity of the pickups are the concern there.


    I think the stealth neck pickup is a good idea. Just find a hotter neck pickup, and body mount it to the body under the pickguard.
     
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  5. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    A Telecaster bridge pickup with the tone rolled down takes you into Stratocaster middle pickup territory but doesn’t get you through the gate. I still need my Strats, both of them. My Strats are wired for bridge and neck. That gets me into Telecaster bridge and neck territory, through the gate, and with the tone rolled down a little in the house.
     
  6. blue metalflake

    blue metalflake Doctor of Teleocity

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    To me the Tele mid position gives a totally different sound to the bridge with tone rolled off to the sweet spot - don’t ask me find words to describe the sounds.
    If you feel you need it, the stealth option sounds the way to go.
     
  7. AAT65

    AAT65 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I agree 100%, it’s not the same at all. Tele middle position is less trebly than the bridge, but not just with the top taken off — it has a sweet chime to it, a little hollow sounding. If you know what I mean!
     
  8. blues

    blues Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Just get a cheap Tele pickguard and a neck pickup and give it a try for a while. You can always it switch back.

    Then you will know which you prefer. I have had both. I like both for different reasons. Just try it and find out for yourself.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
  9. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Basically you are missing the most beautiful clean rhythm guitar tone in the world.
     
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  10. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Friend of Leo's

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    Thank you guys for your advice!

    I actually considered the stealth option, but wasn't sure about liking the idea of hiding the pickup. I guess I like things to be what they are, not to look like what they're not really.

    In addition I'm not 100% sure it would sound like a normal pickup: I'll go check this out!

    My bridge PU has the connexion between the ground wire and the baseplate, and I think most neck PUs have a connexion between the ground wire and the cover. But that's not the hardest thing to do to break this connexion and solder a third wire to replace it.
     
  11. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    i don't think anything is a replacement for the phase stuff (acoustically, not talking about wiring) that goes on with two pickups in different locations. hence why a strat middle pickup doesn't sound like the hollowed out middle position on most guitars. it's a sound that can only come from two pickups placed near different nodes of the string.

    as for how much you gain...i know that campilongo says he doesn't hear much of a difference between bridge and middle on his. but that could just be due to his pickup heights/strength of each pickup, which would control the blend. where i have mine set, it sounds pretty different from the neck or bridge.

    since you don't necessarily care about the neck, you can use it just it to influence the tone of the middle position. You could do the opposite of broadcaster wiring. my favorite blend on mine is with more neck than bridge. but i have to compromise on it because otherwise the bridge will sound too weak like that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
  12. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    If you're unhappy with your Esquire, change it.

    If you think you might be happier if you were more like Campilongo, well, I'd leave that alone!
    If it was me I'd sell the 6120 and buy or assemble another Esquire...
     
  13. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Friend of Leo's

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    I've watched a video recently where Jim talks about that, but it's between neck and middle that he does not find there's a huge difference. He says he is always on bridge or middle positions and almost never uses the neck alone.

    haha, but I love my 6120, a very different universe than my esquire, not counting it was my 40th birthday gift from all my friends and family ;)
    But I get your point though!
     
  14. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    Ah okay, sorry, I was confused then.
     
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  15. Telecaster88

    Telecaster88 Tele-Afflicted

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    To me, the Tele middle position sound is one of the sweetest in the world. Mellower and more rounded than the bridge alone, and tighter and smoother than the neck alone.
     
  16. Fenderdad1950

    Fenderdad1950 Tele-Afflicted

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    I agree, you get to keep it an Esquire and get a middle position.
     
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  17. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Friend of Leo's

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    Apparently Brad Paisley uses a pickup developed by Seymour Duncan especially for that matter named « Secret agent ». And it’s not cheap :eek:

    From what I’ve read so far it’s nonetheless still a bit unbalanced volume wise with a classic bridge PU, giving the middle position more of the quack from a strat than the traditional tele middle:

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/seymour-duncan-secret-agent-“review”.1050680/

    The stealth option seems a bit a trial and error path, so I might be better off with the traditional conversion :(
     
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  18. Wallaby

    Wallaby Friend of Leo's

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    I think using both pickups in parallel interacts differently with the preamp than just one pickup with the tone control adjusted, even if the mix of bass, mids and treble are the same. In my mind it's not equivalent to cutting treble on just one pickup.

    My rudimentary electronics knowledge have me thinking that the overall resistance with two pickups will be lower than just one pickup - not that resistance is the only factor, but I think it cleans up a bit without reducing treble like rolling down the volume does.

    Anyone more knowledgeable please correct this if it's wrong!
     
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  19. Phrygian77

    Phrygian77 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    To me, the bridge alone and tweaking the tone works great for a lot of stuff, but it doesn't cover everything perfectly. I've gigged with just an Esquire in my classic country band for years, and I still could. Being able to nail those other tones when it's really needed is nice though.
     
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  20. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

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    Personally, if it were me, I'd call and talk to Ryan at Bootstrap Pickups or Rob at Cavalier and see what they could do.......both of them can do custom work for less than a Seymour Duncan product......and I'd wager just as good. ;)
     
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