Why Didn't Leo Use a Bridge-Type Pickup For Both Neck and Bridge?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by fretWalkr, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    when Leo first built the T type line he used the pick up out of a lap steel which after experimentation became the bridge pickup , and because the tele body was in escence a plank he could assembaly line these puppies out the door, targetibg schools and sell them for cheap (in todays dollars)
     
  2. peteb

    peteb Friend of Leo's

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    Many players of high-output pickups come to find them fairly one-dimensional after the thrill of the scorching lead tones wears off a little. That is, they did the job when asked to rock out, but for anything else they often sounded muddy, flat and lacking in dynamics. Kind of a “brick wall” sonic tool, in other words: all or nothing.

    [​IMG]
    Stevie Ray Vaughan got his legendary tone out of low-output pickups
    Meanwhile, many of these same players did their homework and discovered what plenty of great guitarists had remembered all along: you don’t need hot pickups for hot playing, and lower-wind (aka vintage-wind) pickups will often give you silkier highs, more piano-like lows, sweeter vocal-like harmonic depths and greater touch sensitivity overall.

    Many players attribute such qualities, and not incorrectly, to vintage guitars and the way they interact with old-style tube amps. But a major part of this interaction comes down to the pickups. Think of the classic tones logged by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, Ritchie Blackmore or Stevie Ray Vaughan, all of whom mainly played Fender Stratocasters with fairly “weak” single-coil pickups — units generally reading just 5.8k to 6.2k ohms or so on average (see my previous blog entry A Pickup Primer Part IV for more depth on the relevance of these resistance readings and other relevant specs).
     
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  3. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Right, but to clarify, St. Leo had befriended many pro players. And they told him what they wanted and didn't want. Then it fell to him to try to create something that would make them smile, then buy his products.

    But it could be the great distinction between the N and B positions on a Telecaster was an over-shot. And so when the guys at FEIC developed the Stratocaster, they made each of the three pickups function more alike.

    Leonidas wanted not what his ears told him was good, but what his customers told him was good and this is IMO a big difference as compared to modern custom guitar gurus. This is not the same thing as being a non-musician, by the way. De-emphasizing your own connection to playing music can be a very wise business tactic.
     
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  4. Burn Yesterday

    Burn Yesterday Tele-Meister

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    Try this:

    The bridge pickup is a big scary-looking electric thing because that's what electric things looked like in those days, and Mr. Fender had no conventions to adhere to as we do now.

    The neck pickup is a lesser creature because the Esquire was the finished product and the neck pickup was just a pimple on it. But Mr. Fender was aware of ergonomics, and he knew that people were going to be swinging a pick around about there, and they'd probably appreciate a pickup that was kind of small and out of the way.
     
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  5. davenumber2

    davenumber2 Friend of Leo's

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    From the book The Birth of Loud:

    “As Leo experimented with his own neck pickup, Bryant encouraged him to try to match the sound of Gibson’s grandest “hollow-body, the Super 400. Creating that airiness and warmth with the Esquire was impossible, but Leo imitated it by designing a chrome-plated metal cover for the neck pickup that cut the high signals it captured. The mellower sound from this second pickup added a whole new character to the Fender guitar, and in recording sessions and live dates that year, Bryant made good use of it.”

    Bryant is a Jimmy Bryant.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  6. Sleph

    Sleph Friend of Leo's

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    The original Bridge pickup was uncovered because it was concealed under the 'ashtray' bridge cover. The later added neck pickup appears to have been designed to match the aesthetics of the bridge with the cover on (rounded and chrome) and is smaller due to the narrower string spacing at the neck, and to be discrete.
     
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  7. magic smoke

    magic smoke Tele-Meister

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    Previous poster with knowledge of wizard Vaughn.... Are you the true author of tomesoftone? Have you revealed your true identity? Sara Konner is not home
     
  8. 66 Esquire

    66 Esquire TDPRI Member

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    This is my understanding also!
     
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  9. Hiflyer

    Hiflyer Tele-Afflicted

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  10. bblumentritt

    bblumentritt Tele-Afflicted

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    The answer to the OP can be found in:
    • The design of the Stratocaster, which had three pickups and a 3-way selector switch. Why? For instant tone changes.
    • The design of the Broadcaster and the Esquire, both of which had 3-way switching for instant tone changes.
    Recall the original Broadcaster wiring - it didn't switch between pickups, but the tone control blended the lead and rhythm pickups.

    Leo's patent has the answer to the pickup question.

    Patent 2,784,631
    TONE CONTROL FOR STRINGED INSTRUMENTS
    Clarence L. Fender, Fullerton, Calif.
    Application July 31, 1953

    "In general, the present arrangement involves two coils, one of which is considered to be more responsive to the fundamental frequency of a vibrating string or strings and the other one of which is considered to be more responsive to the harmonic content of the same string or strings. These two coils are interconnected in a novel manner in the input circuit of a vacuum tube amplifier" [which explicitly did not have a volume or tone control.]

    "For purposes of definition, the aforementioned coil which is more responsive to the fundamental frequency is termed the rhythm coil, whereas the other coil referred to as being more responsive to the harmonic content, is termed the lead coil."

    Different functions - different coils.
     
  11. davecaster

    davecaster TDPRI Member

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    I don't think Leo has to answer to anyone, Telecasters are perfect Telecasters!
     
  12. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    I am in the middle of reading Birth of Loud and literally read that chapter this morning.

    Leo's first prototype was an esquire. It did have a volume & tone control. Jimmy Bryant was the first person to play it in public and he told Leo the very first night that it was great for lead guitar but needed the 2nd pickup for rhythm sounds.

    That and there were plenty of other hollow body guitars floating around with 2 pickups already, so it wasn't rocket science. The dark circuit and tone preset jazz was not a thing till the 2nd pickup was added.

    I LOLed reading the passage about how rough the early guitars were.. neck joint gaps, rotten wood due to a termite infestation, necks bowing to the point they became useless. All the complaints about less than perfect guitars around here would have fallen on deaf ears back in the old days. Quality was not great at the beginning at all. The whole thing about the vintage guitars being better sounds like a myth from historical perspective.
     
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  13. Marty B

    Marty B TDPRI Member

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    The traditional Tele bridge pickup is designed to get the optimal twang out of the bridge position, slightly larger than a strat pup, no cover, exposed ribbon seated in the cutout of the metal bridge plate for added twang. So it wouldn’t occur to many to place one on the neck. But the traditional Tele neck pickup choice is the odd thing to me. Smaller than a Strat pup. My question would be why Fender didn’t just put a Strat size neck pup in the Tele? Both bridge and neck pups in the traditional Tele are pretty unique designs.
     
  14. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

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    From most authoritative accounts that I've read, Leo wanted the neck pickup in the early Tele to be able to do duty for bass. The electric bass had not yet been developed and acoustic basses were not loud enough to match up with electric guitars.

    And, for rhythm guitar/jazz... a darker, more muffled tone was thought desirable - thus, the original warm/dark-toned Tele neck pickup was created.

    The entire concept of an electric guitar was extremely primitive at the time. Very few players using them, and there had not yet been any evolution of the designs, based on the experiences and input/desires of millions of players.

    Today, it's an entirely different situation. Many Tele players consider the Tele Bridge pickup to be "the jewel in the crown", but are not as thrilled with the tones of the small, warm/muted Tele neck pickup.

    Thus, numerous changes to the Tele neck pickup (nickel/silver cover, no cover), and alternative neck pickups (Strat pickups, humbuckers,etc.) for the Tele have come into play. In addition to the use of higher-resistance pots, no-load tone pots, etc.

    Many of today's Tele players enjoy brighter rhythm and lead tones from the neck position pickup in a Tele.

    In the last month, I set out to discover how a Tele (and a Strat) would sound using Tele bridge pickups in both the neck AND middle positions. Turns out, they sound great!

    The Tele Bridge pickup is a very versatile and great sounding pickup. In the neck position, I think a low-wind/low-output Tele bridge pickup sounds outstanding. Tone samples in the following threads:

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/ngd-with-a-twist.963534/

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/a-tele-lovers-strat-a-strat-lovers-tele.969478/

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/bootstrap-palo-duro-goodness.970030/

    Leo gave us a fantastic platform to work with, but it wasn't exactly everyone's "cup o' tea" as originally designed. Today, we can "have our Telecaster and eat it too!" (Any which way we like it.) :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  15. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    The Strat neck pickup wasn't designed till years later. The Tele neck pickup came first.

    The book is really educational here. Leo Fender didn't come up with any of this stuff out of Thin Air.

    Les Paul and Paul Bigsby were years ahead of him and he knew both of them really really well. He had been hanging out with Les Paul in Les' garage recording studio playing with Les' prototypes "The Log" and he had borrowed Paul Bigsby's guitars and studied them in depth.

    The addition of the neck pickup was from feedback from players, not something he added on a whim.

    There were a whole bunch of players who had Esquire style guitars before the Esquire/Broadcaster/Telecaster were ever for sale. Don Randall wanted to take one to NAMM and Leo wouldn't even give him one because he was allocating all the prototypes to actual players.

    The addition of the Truss rod was also from feedback from the field during that prototype era.

    They had a delicate balance in terms of rushing the first guitar out vs getting it right and using revenue from Steel guitar/lap guitars to keep the company afloat until the spanish style guitar was ready.

    The book makes it sound like players who tried the early ones were thrilled with the bridge pickup.. it was the first guitar any of them had tried they could turn up as loud as they wanted for solos/lead without feedback and it could cut through a band like no guitar before... a big deal.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
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  16. thesjkexperienc

    thesjkexperienc Tele-Holic

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    I think I read in Forrest Whites book that Leo hammered out the neck pickup with Jimmy Briant (sp?) and he wanted P90 tone. Which it kinda has but Leo didn’t like distortion so that may be why it is low output.
     
  17. vintageampz

    vintageampz TDPRI Member

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    The answer is quite simple:
    1) Leo knows/knew a lot more than you do.
    2) He had lots of musician friends that he canvased for what they wanted.
    3) The Fender Telecaster at #1 and the Fender Stratocast at #2 are the most popular guitars in sales volume ever made (according to reserach done by Guitar Center). Ya think Leo did it the right way - his way?????




    I worked for Fender Fullerton/Corona 1972 - 1999.
     
  18. Jwalker99

    Jwalker99 TDPRI Member

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    According to In the new book “ The Birth of Loud” it was to because the musicians that Leo regularly sought user feedback from said they wanted to have a versitile instrument that could sound like a a jazz guitar, which was still highly popular in late 40s and very early 50s.

    Blackguard neck pickips tend to be too dark, but of course middle positiion is a great spanky mix

    Book info here: Excellent book w many cool stories i never heard about Leo and Les.


    https://www.amazon.com/dp/1501141651/?tag=tdpri-20


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  19. DHart

    DHart Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, in the early '50s they wanted different things from the Tele, a dark jazz tone and the ability to cover the bass guitar role with the Tele.

    Today, of course, we players can configure the Tele to give us a much broader and wonderful variety of different tones/sounds. The Tele has dramatically evolved over the decades.

    Leo gave birth to the great platform, but today, not 1951, is the "Golden Age" of the Tele! :D
     
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  20. zeedoctour

    zeedoctour Tele-Meister

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    When the neck pickup first appeared in the Telecaster design, the Stratocaster hadn't been invented yet.
     
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