What is it with the Esquire? Isn't it just a Tele with one pickup missing?

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by tonyguitargoat, Apr 19, 2020.

  1. PeterUK

    PeterUK Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Mar 4, 2003
    Nottingham, UK
    I've recently turned to the dark and gone Esquire after I saw this YouTube clip:

    Greg Koch summarises what the single pick up guitar is all about. :)

    Attached Files:

  2. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

    Aug 30, 2011
    Well, since you asked, yes, you are wrong. "Limiting" is the wrong word. You are assuming that every player out there wants exactly the same thing from a Tele-shaped guitar. Playing an Esquire or playing a Telecaster is simply selecting different options on the same platform.

    Esquire players are choosing to get three switchable tones from a single pickup, instead of three switchable tones from two pickups. Each guitar gets three switchable tones; they are just different tones. When I want what an Esquire provides, then it's the Tele that's "limiting" me. When I want what a Tele provides, it's the Esquire that's "limiting" me. There is no "limiting" across the board – just limiting as it relates to achieving one's criteria for the task at hand.

    Like with all guitars, and all things, it's a compromise. You give some of one thing in order to take some of something else. Would you rather get your front position tone from a neck pickup? Play a Tele. Would you rather get your front position tone from a treble-attenuated bridge pickup? Play an Esquire. Do you want to be able to flip you pre-set tone control on and off when playing? Play an Esquire (or wire your Teles this way, like I do).

    Remember that a Tele's "vintage" wiring only allowed the bridge pickup without a tone control. Pretty "limiting." A lot of people disliked it, so they ended up "trying different wiring ideas to compensate for the limitations." Then, Fender finally incorporated these common aftermarket mods into their own wiring 15 or 16 years later. The Esquire, OTOH always had a tone control on the bridge pickup, so what people had been doing with their mods was actually to make the Tele more Esquire-like.

    And keep in mind that the most common wiring mod for an Esquire is a Fender company invention (Eldred wiring), and it changes the stock wiring far less than Fender changed the Tele's in '67 (to "modern" wiring). So it seems that it's the Tele that orginally had the most "limiting" tonal options, and that it took a bunch of folks "trying different wiring ideas to compensate for the limitations" in order to make it into the guitar that we have today.

    And I trust you know that the Esquire, for all intents and purposes, has been around just about as long as the Tele (longer if you count prototypes and early production). They were designed to exist alongside each other, pretty much from the start.

    FWIW, I play both, and even have an equal number of both. Different tools for different personal criteria. No tool is flatly "limiting," across the board – only limiting once certain criteria have been established.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2020
    EsquireBoy likes this.
  3. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2010
    I kind of agree but that’s an unpopular opinion so I try to hold back.
    OK I don’t try all that hard to hold back!
    I just try not to be too rude about it.

    We have multiple communities that may appear to be just one.

    Pro gigging guitar players more often than not need to be able to cover the sound of other guitars and other players.

    Many of us here are into buying modding and playing for our own enjoyment, so our needs are often a bit different.

    It seems like most are attracted to the Esquire more for the cool factor and are also into modding or customizing their guitars.
    Since all the options seems more deluxe, why not add a bunch?

    The few who love and thrive with a single bridge pickup will never convince the gizmo loving general guitar buying public that they are missing out on something.

    Might be like the married person telling the one night stand fanatic that there is value in making a commitment to one individual.

    Those who assume you need to switch to have variety will keep switching!
  4. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Oct 14, 2015
    IL, USA
    Limiting seems like an expected, but very inaccurate way to describe it. Instead of having two useless pickup positions that rarely use, I have four options (all unique) that feature the pickup I do use.

    I have a four way in mine:
    Straight to jack
    Volume only
    Cocked wah

    Depends on the amp/cab, but I use two or all four of them.

    Then first three are all different, even without manipulating the knobs, because wiring through a pot stuffs high frequencies to ground by default. The real utility comes in when you set the knobs and work the switch to grab different sounds.

    Anyway, for the way I play a guitar, it’s far less limiting. Obviously wouldn’t work for everyone.
    PeterUK likes this.
  5. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 17, 2003
    The Far-Flung Isles of Langerhans
    "Tele or Esquire" is a false dichotomy. It's "Tele and Esquire".
  6. holndav

    holndav Friend of Leo's

    Mar 24, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    I have the Esquire twin of that Peegoo.

    And for the OP, I have an Esquire that was modded to be a Tele with a neck pickup before I got it.

    I love them both equally, primarily because they provide a similar feel and play great but provide somewhat different tones.

    Similar pickups in both.

    Pics below:



    Macrogats likes this.
  7. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

    Oct 11, 2019
    Oh that is a sweetie!!!
  8. Skub

    Skub Poster Extraordinaire

    Jul 28, 2010
    I came to Telecasters pretty late in my playing life (SG) and at first,man that bridge pickup scared me! I spent most of my time on middle position and neck.

    Two things helped with this fear of bridge (henceforth known as FOB)

    1. I learned to use volume and tone controls in a more subtle fashion.

    2. The discovery of Rob's Fat Lion pickup. I even have one in my strat,another guitar I previously avoided the bridge position. Full fat baby!

    Folk with more smarts than me (not difficult) have posted reasons why Esquire. Me? I like the jangle and bite and the glorious simplicity of a thing which works so well.

    So,from FOB I now own two bridge only guitars,a baritone and a regular Esquire. I think my FOB may be cured. :D


    middy and thankyouguitar like this.
  9. Cysquatch

    Cysquatch Tele-Holic

    May 2, 2019
    Grovetown, GA
    On his Whitfills, there's actually a neck pickup hidden under the end of the neck. The "tone" knob is just a volume knob for that pickup, so it is connected. As far as I know, he doesn't really use the second pickup live and he hardly used a Whitfill when I saw him last fall. Pretty much played the entire show on a Bolin like the one in that picture. I think he just disconnects the neck pickups in the rare Gibson he plays anymore.
  10. stefanhotrod

    stefanhotrod Tele-Holic

    Aug 27, 2016
    The Esquire is perfect minimalizm. Even more responsive than the Telecaster, fast and dynamic pure tone. I love them.

  11. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

    Oct 12, 2012
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    That's a beauty.

    This thread is making me think I might want to try "Esquiring" one of my many Teles. I have enough to sacrifice one of them to the effort.

    I'll just need to figure out how to wire it up to achieve these amazing tones people are raving about here.
  12. guitarist232345

    guitarist232345 Tele-Meister

    Nov 21, 2019
    I'm glad you've converted.

    They're a really unique instrument and do not feel like playing any of the other mass produced models aside from an LP Jr (which has a similar cult following in Gibson circles)

    Aside from the really snarly pickup (giving the true snappy tone), they make you use your brain differently when playing and it is noticeable.

    Weirdly, I've started disliking neck pickups on all my other guitars since.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020
  13. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

    Oct 12, 2012
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    QUESTION - am I likely to notice much tonal difference between these two options:

    Running a Tele bridge pickup, with a No-Load tone pot in NO-LOAD position, in a regular Tele.


    Removing the neck pickup in that guitar, thereby creating an Esquire with the same bridge pickup, and removing the tone circuit?
  14. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    May 21, 2006
    All other things being equal, a no-load pot turned all the way up sounds just like the tone pot being removed, because electronically, that's exactly what a no-load pot does. You're removing it as a factor.

    I can't speak to what additional effect removing the neck pickup would have, just because I've only ever had the one Tele and the one Esquire and they're different enough that I can't really compare.

    But I do have a no-load in my Esquire, because it lets me have a volume + no tone option without having to dedicate a switch position to that.
    Jackadder and DHart like this.
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