'54 Telecaster Pickup Cover

Discussion in '"Vintage" Instruments' started by bluejaybill, Aug 4, 2018.


  1. bluejaybill

    bluejaybill Member

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    I have a '54 telecaster. The rhythm pickup was DOA when I got it, so years ago I had Lindy Fralin rewind it.

    It sounds very good, and original, but like most of that era, quite dark and dull. When I had it out, I noticed that it weighed like three pounds- the durn cover must be solid brass with nickel plating.

    I have had later telecasters, including a '61 Custom Telecaster, and the rhythm pickup was much lighter, and in fact sounded quite a bit clearer. I had a replica (Fralin vintage style) rhythm pickup in there while Lindy did the rewind, and it too sounded clearer.

    So this got me wondering about whether switching to a lighter pickup cover would make for a clearer sound, a bit more usable like a strat (or later telecaster) rhythm pickup. My question is, has anyone ever had the cover of one of the early telecasters and heard how it sounded either with a lighter cover or no cover at all?

    PLEASE, I don't want to debate whether this is a good idea from an originality standpoint etc, the cover comes right off and would remain in the case with the guitar. Just wondering if this change might expand the usability of the pickup.
     
  2. Bob Pollock

    Bob Pollock Supporting Member

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    Ask Lindy Fralin. He would know better than most.
     
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  3. Kurzman

    Kurzman Supporting Member

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    Take the cover off. I'm pretty sure Lindy Fralin recommended that to me once. Can't hurt anything.
     
  4. RhytmEarl

    RhytmEarl Member

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    Sorry I have to ask what might be perceived as a dumb question.

    Do you have the original wiring scheme on that guitar? When the switch is in the neck position there's a 'dull cap' on the neck pickup that rolls all the treble off.
     
  5. sikoniko

    sikoniko Member

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    My Tele (60 custom) is wired like a les Paul... neck pickup sounds very Strat like. How is yours wired?
     
  6. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Member

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    I thought that until the moment the high e string slid under the pickup because there was no cover and Lindy was rewinding it again.
     
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  7. hogy

    hogy Member

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    If you want a neck pickup that sounds like a Strat's, the easiest way to get there is to play a Strat.

    A Tele neck pickup is different, and super cool. Check out that latest Norm's Guitars video on Billy Gibbon's Broadcaster that everybody is reposting. Thank god that thing doesn't sound like a Strat.

    The actual weight difference between different generations of Telecaster neck pickup covers is minuscule. Certainly not enough to easily feel in an assembled pickup. They are all nickel plated brass. Not sure what's going on with the pickup that feels noticeably heavier. Maybe it's not original?
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2018
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  8. BrianM

    BrianM Member

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    Wow, that '50 Broadcaster sounded ungodly good!
     
  9. bluejaybill

    bluejaybill Member

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    Yes, I know. It has contemporary wiring, and that dark cap has been removed.
     
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  10. bluejaybill

    bluejaybill Member

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    Yes, modern wiring. My '61 custom was clearer sounding than this one. That's what made me wonder if it was the cover.

    Don't get me wrong, the pickup sounds very good, nice and fat, just lacking a bit of top end.
     
  11. bluejaybill

    bluejaybill Member

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    Well, I have and have had nice vintage strats too. And several old telecasters. Not looking for a strat tone, just a bit cleaner sound if possible.

    Lindy Fralin confirmed that both pickups were original. So it's not that.

    I'll check out that video. BTW the pickup sounds very good, and it is fun to play jazz on. I guess I was just wondering because the cover seems so heavy. It seemed to me that my other telecaster rhythm pickups were not as hefty.
     
  12. big mike

    big mike Fixed Bias Moderator Staff Member

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    Believe the earlier ones were heavier and different metal, perhaps someone smarter than me like @hogy has the answer?
    I look to him for all things vintage. :D
     
  13. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Member

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    How is it wired like a Les Paul?
     
  14. sikoniko

    sikoniko Member

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    Forward position is the front pickup, middle position is both pickups and back position is the bridge.
     
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  15. bluejaybill

    bluejaybill Member

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    To update, I contemplated taking the cover off, but noticed that the pickup was low. I seem to remember lowering it to balance with the lead pickup, which is now closer too.

    When I brought it up close to the strings, it came to life. Still fat, but with enough bite when you dig in.

    I think the pickup needs to be pretty close to compensate for the heavy cover. Maybe that’s true of all telecasters, not sure.

    Sounds great now, and thanks to all!

    Ps great thing about telecasters, the6 are so simple that it’s relatively easy to solve problems!
     
  16. Rossi163

    Rossi163 Supporting Member

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    A nickel silver tele neck PU cover will be more transparent and let more high end come through than a chrome plated brass cover.
     
  17. bluejaybill

    bluejaybill Member

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    That's was kind of my thinking when I started the thread. For now it is much improved by being closer to the strings.
     

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