Tex Mex Strat Pickups... What Am I Missing?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by PumpJockey, May 24, 2016.

  1. PumpJockey

    PumpJockey Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    I recently installed a loaded pick guard with a set of Tex Mex pups in one of my favorite Strat builds. I took out a guard with a set of Lace Emeralds (that I really liked). Can't say that I was all that impressed. They sounded thin to me and my ability to tinker with the pickup height was interfered with by the high staggered pole pieces.

    When I switch pups I always try to get a nice clean sound (through my Princeton-style amp), figuring that the overdrive sound will be OK after that. The pups sounded OK through both a boost pedal and a Bad Monkey overdrive but I could not get a decent clean tone. Not sure how hot these are wound, but I usually find that hotter winds sound better pushed than clean. Jimmie Vaughan uses them, I think, but his brother may have used something with a lower output and then pushed it with the TS.

    I'll mess around for a while longer, but they may be coming back out.
     
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  2. PumpJockey

    PumpJockey Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    No ideas? About this: what's the difference between the Tex-Mex and the Texas Special?
     
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  3. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    well, TX Specials in a strat to me lack clarity, whereas Tex Mex in a strat give you a little bit of heat but you keep some of the sparkle, to my ear.

    I like Tex Mex in a strat, a lot, but don't care at all for TX Specials. YMMV
     
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  4. PumpJockey

    PumpJockey Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Gracias! But I think they are going back on the block... :(
     
  5. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    From what I understand, they're basically the pre- Fat '50s USA standard pickup design, built in Mexico with a few more winds on the bridge pickup. I have a set in my '96 Tex-Mex Strat (the pre-Jimmie Vaughan model), I set 'em low (bridge pickup raised slightly) and they sound like a vintage Strat to me.

    Strangely enough, I briefly had a '97 Jimmie Vaughan with the same model pickups (built a year later) and that guitar sounded like crap.
     
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  6. italo

    italo Tele-Meister

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    give them one more chance! I suggest modding your wiring to get a tone control on your bridge pickup in order to tame the highs ( very simple mod: just move one wire ala jimmy vaughn ). These pickups sound at best when they are very low in the pickguard. They do have more bite than a standard strat pickup. Best Regards.
     
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  7. coloradojeff

    coloradojeff Tele-Holic

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    I've got two Strats with Texas Specials. One is a SRV Strat, the other a made to order CS model with hand wound Texas Specials. Compared to my other CS Strat (Mary Kaye), the sound is a lot more "meaty", i.e. fuller, more complex with plenty of bite.
     
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  8. tap4154

    tap4154 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I struggled to like the TM pups in my Jimmie Vaughan for years. Thin, brittle, and as you said, the stagger made it impossible to get a good sound. So I recently destaggered them and now they sound great, to my ears, plus I don't catch my fingers on the poles when finger-picking. Also run them very low.




    JV Before Poles.jpg JV Flush Poles2.jpg
     
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  9. Jarick

    Jarick TDPRI Member

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    They came stock in my California Strat. I really grew to hate them. Very harsh sounding in the mids/upper mids. Total ice pick. I put the guitar away for several years, pulled it out and same thing. So I ripped them out and have tried a couple others in there, all with better results. Rose Mariposa are lower wind that have a nice sparkle and clarity without harshness. Fender Hot Noiseless are more balanced sounding and a bit darker.
     
  10. Tuxedo Poly

    Tuxedo Poly Tele-Afflicted

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    I took them out of my Jimmie Vaughan and stuck a set of 57/62s in. It looks 57-ish and now sounds right. Far more civilised.
    Never thought of de-staggering them. Might give it a try seeing as they're plastic bobbins and there's no chance of wrecking the coils. The Tex Mex bridge is a bit hot though, hotter than the Texas Special bridge.
     
  11. savofenno

    savofenno Tele-Afflicted

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    I have a MiM Standard FSR Special (70`s style headstock, maple neck) with Tex Mex pickups and i think they sound full, almost fat. I like them, they are in class with Classic 50`s and 60`s Strats pickups, and fattest in tone of those 3. Good cleans too.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2016
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  12. savofenno

    savofenno Tele-Afflicted

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    Tex-Mex and the Texas Special are different pickups, Special are lower wound ones.
     
  13. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I can't say for certain, but I think you may have that backwards. To my ear TX Specials sound "hotter" than Tex Mex, in a strat. FWIW-I've heard that the tele pickups are a whole different thing
     
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  14. Tuxedo Poly

    Tuxedo Poly Tele-Afflicted

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    Tex Mex DC Resistance
    Neck: 6.4k ohms
    Middle: 6.4k ohms
    Bridge: 7.4k ohms

    Texas Special DC Resistance
    Neck: 6.2k ohms
    Middle: 6.5k ohms
    Bridge: 6.7k ohms
     
  15. savofenno

    savofenno Tele-Afflicted

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    OK, i have experience only from my Strat with Tex Mex. Those are full and hot enough sounding for me.
     
  16. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Agreed. To me, Tex Mex are the way to go in a strat.
     
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  17. PumpJockey

    PumpJockey Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    So, we have a unanimous... maybe!

    My Strat always had the lower tone controlling the bridge and middle pups, so that didn't help. In fact, it's a TBX so plenty of options. It started out life as a 1995 American Standard. All that's left are the neck/tuners, the guard, the tone controls and the jack.

    No dice. I tried setting them low and while there was improvement, still no dice.

    I have them up on Reverb. I replaced them with a set of Lace Sensor Emeralds (the ones that are supposed to be "Texas" tone) and a big improvement plus no hum. I replaced the stock volume pot with a CTS with the secret hidden "Rene Martinez" (alleged) mod on it. I call it the sparkle mod, whatever it is, and that pushed the Sensors into SRV territory.. Last night I ran it clean through my MuchXS Princeton Reverb into an external 15" speaker, smeared on the reverb and pushed the signal with a Bad Monkey. Probably as close as I will get to "that tone", pus they sound good in other combinations as well.

    My "Fifty Faux" home-brew black guard Tele is feeling jealous!
     
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  18. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    This right here is IMO the real world side of how the wood influences the amplified sound of an electric guitar.
     
  19. wmsimpson

    wmsimpson Tele-Holic

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    This. ^ ^^ I struggled with mine too until I found out you could just slide the poles down and make them all level. Easy fix, and they sound really good low in the guard.
     
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  20. jonzer

    jonzer Friend of Leo's

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    I just installed Tex-Mex in my Highway One strat. I got this guitar in 02 or 03 and put a Seymour Duncan Alnico II in right after. I hated it immediately and meant to restore the original eventually. As the years went by, the original pup and pickguard vanished. So a couple weeks ago I got a set of Tex-Mex and had them installed today.
    I've only played them through my Vox Valvetronix in my bedroom, but so far I like them. There are new strings on the guitar and I can hear those coming through the amp, so I'm looking forward to the strings breaking in a bit. I'm not in love with the bridge, but other four positions are great. My fave so far is the middle.

    But ya know, a pickup hasn't been invented that everyone loves, so it's hard to recommend one.
     
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