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Upgrading Fender Player Tele pickups

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by RandolphCarter, Apr 14, 2021.

  1. RandolphCarter

    RandolphCarter TDPRI Member

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    I bought a Fender Player Tele a few months ago. I couldn't justify the American-made, and honestly liked how it played. But I do want to upgrade the pickups. I wanted to see if people had thoughts/preferences. I play in a country band, so want to keep the "classic" Tele sound. Currently deciding between Lollar, Fralin and Seymour Duncan. And I know this comes down to preference, but want to know what you decided and why.

    I'm also happy to hear arguments for not upgrading the pickups.

    UPDATE: Just in case this comes up, I play through a Fender Hot Rod Deville and a Katana 50mk1 (the latter when my kids are asleep).

    For EQ, I like to mimic Pete Anderson, boosting the mids and cutting the bass. I.e. rather than the old-fashioned Don Rich tone of boosted trebles. I guess I could try to boost the treble and see if that helps.

    Effects-wise I used a Keeley Compress Plus, MXR Carbon Copy, and Boss Blues Driver (when I need a little dirt).
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2021
  2. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I see at as two main factors in play (pun not intended) - how much treble is required for the music you create, and what is the "tonality" of that treble (meaning, there is a distinction between real 50s country music and what is called country music these dayze).

    Balance the above with regards to your current pickups, how they're set up, what they feed, and then maybe changing out for new pickups is something not required.
     
  3. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Holic

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    A better question to ask is "what is it I don't like about these pickups, and what quality in a pickup would fix that issue?"

    Before swapping out any pickup, have you tried adjusting the heights on these pickups, or altered your customary volume or tone settings? Those are all easier and cheaper than swapping hardware.
     
  4. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Friend of Leo's

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    Your guitar. So make it yours, the way you like it. This is often overlooked but the wood doesn't care what country the CNC routers are installed in. Don't beat that dead horse. If it plays good it is good.

    I am partial to Fralins. Lollars are equally great. But Fralin won me for life when I asked a stupid question about a project and Lindy directly called me first thing in the morning and walked me through every detail. I'm just some dude to him, that's amazing customer focus. Some people just get it. I have 3 instruments today with Fralins and 1 with Lollars. Nothing wrong with Duncans or dozens of other brands, I just like the boutique guys because I think they have a direct connection with their users. Plus, Fralin does not do any endorsements at all. So if your guitar hero has Fralins they bought them.

    One thing I learned that I like on a Tele is the hybrid pole stagger. Lindy Fralin will make stock Tele sets or any number of options but he extends the D string pole a very small amount. You can see it if you look very closely. This balances the string output more precisely so all 6 strings spit an even level.

    On my last partscaster project I used Fralin stock Tele with hybrid stagger and I wired a 4-way switch with a treble bleed and I could not be happier.
     
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  5. Daddy Hojo

    Daddy Hojo Friend of Leo's

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    I recently got a player Tele and love the pickups! I can't think of a reason I'd change them. It's my first "real" Telecaster and I can't say enough good things about it.
     
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  6. RandolphCarter

    RandolphCarter TDPRI Member

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    thanks. Yeah, I've raised the pickups and played with tone. I love the sound of the middle setting and the neck pickup. But the bridge pickup, which I spend a lot of my time on, is just very thin and shrill (even for a Tele). Especially when I record it. So I was hoping for a better tone from a higher quality pickup.
     
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  7. RandolphCarter

    RandolphCarter TDPRI Member

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    don't get me wrong, I love it too. I just like to tinker. My issue as I replied to someone else is the bridge pickup. It just comes off as very shrill and thin, especially when recording. I do want the twangy sound, but wonder if a higher quality pickup could give better quality tone.
     
  8. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

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    I agree that experimenting with what you've got will probably solve your issue.....don't just raise your bridge, but try lowering it too.
    That said, I never really liked a Telecaster bridge on its own until I tried the Bootstrap Pickups' Pretzel bridge. Maybe I got lucky and got the "position" perfect when I first installed it, but it's the first Tele bridge I have ever played "solo".....and I love the sound.
     
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  9. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Everything musical is fraught with subjectivity. "Tone" will always be in the ears of the beholder. Opinions of others are at the very best just pointers in directions that you need to personally explore and figure out what's best for you, not them.

    Work first with what you already have, and if yer a lead player start with the money maker, the Tele bridge pickup. Fret all the strings at the last fret and jack up the bridge pickup until it's a whisker away from the strings. This is a good starting point. Don't be in a hurry to drop the pup down, spend some quality playing time with that setting and it's best if you record it, specially if you can cajole yer band mates into playing along with you as that will render a gig-worthy audition of yer testing. Then drop the pup down a full turn of the mounting screws and repeat the test w/recording. Enjoy the process. It may tell you that what you have is already pretty good enuf. If not, begin yer tone quest journey and good luck!
     
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  10. PARCO

    PARCO Tele-Meister

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    Regardless of whatever pickup is in there now, if you give Rob at Cavalier pickups a call there is a really good chance he will be able to provide you with something better. Rob makes really great pickups.
     
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