Don't like telecaster neck P/U?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by rod horncastle, Sep 5, 2005.

  1. rod horncastle

    rod horncastle Member

    May 24, 2005
    abbotsford, B.C.
    Got a question for some Tele experts. Just got a American 52' Tele RI that sounds amazing on the Bridge P/U but...

    Is it possible to get a neck P/U that will have the same bite & distortion level as the bridge P/U. I've got a lot to learn about why tele's are tele's so I was wondering...can you use a bridge P/U in the neck position? why does no one do this? Everyone seems to want the neck P/U to be totally different. I want both my P/U to be very similar. Just fatter - like a Les Paul neck & bridge scenario.
    My big problem right now is that when I use my neck P/U my distortion level is so drastically different (drops to half) I have to change my overdrive pedal. I've played over 20 tele's in stores & they all come with this problem. I guess people see this as a tool rather than an inconvenience like I do.

    Any info for me about this? thanks.
  2. monstermike

    monstermike Member

    May 31, 2005
    Does your Tele RI have the vintage wiring? I think they come that way stock. Old Teles were set up with the 3-way switch giving you:

    3. Bridge pickup
    2. Neck pickup
    1. Neck pickup through a capacitor or resistor and cap

    The "neck" position on the switch on those guitars gives a muffled, quieter sound that was originally designed to cover bass duties in the days before the Precision. You'll be able to tell if the middle position on your switch sounds like a normal neck pickup...if it's rewired to modern wiring, then you might just not like the neck pickup...

  3. fjs1962

    fjs1962 Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    A hot Strat pickup in the neck sounds great on a Tele and balances better with the bridge. I heard a Tele recently that had a Texas Special Strat neck pickup in it and it sounded a lot like what you're looking for.
  4. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 2004
    Once you convert to a Strat p/u there are so many, many options you may never find the perfect pu.......warning!
  5. GuitArtMan

    GuitArtMan Guest

  6. EL 34 X2

    EL 34 X2 Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 23, 2004
    Southern Indiana
    I put one of the Duncan 5/2 Telecaster neck pickups in my '51 Broadcaster-style partsocaster. It sounds beefy and is well matched to the Broadcaster bridge unit. It's, by far, the best sounding Tele neck pickup I've found that maintains the stock Tele look. It's got one of the 4 position pickup selector switches installed also. Great sound.

    I have another Telecaster that has a 1963 Firebird pickup in the neck position. That, combined with a Duncan Tele Hot Stack in the bridge slot, gives an even fatter and warmer tone and boosted output, while staying pretty close to classic Tele territory.

    I get a lot of use out of both guitars.

  7. jetlag

    jetlag Member

    Aug 24, 2004
    Once you decide you are willing to lose the cover over the front pickup (generally just a cosmetic thing), it's pretty easy to get a pickup in front to compete with the back one. You can try removing the cover and see if that is enough (once you've verified that you don't have the early 50's wiring). Just pulling the cover off will gain you bite and output. Plus you can raise it up a bit higher for even more output. Or just buy an aftermarket pu w/o the cover that's wound up a little hotter. I would go the coverless route before hacking the guitar up. Like guys said, there are a lot of front pickups out there that are great that can keep up with the back pu - bardens, HD's, fralin blues specials, dimarzio twang bangers, SD pickups front model etc.
  8. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Silver Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2002
    Northern VA
    While I've chosen to go with a Harmonic Design Vintage + in the neck slot of my '52 RI (and wire it to a 4-way switch to add both PUPs in series which believe me has cured my need for a beefy humbuckerish tone forever), the best solution is probably routing the guitar for a minihumbucker.

    I've known several people who have done this to their Teles, e.g., Phil Jacoby and Tom Gross. No one has regretted it.
  9. SLG

    SLG Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Central Florida
    Mike is correct. The '52 Reissues come wired with the old vintage circuit. If your guitar has not been altered the middle position on your pickup switch is the actual sound of your neck pickup. The stock neck pickups are usually very good sounding. Before you do any pickup swaps, rewire the guitar to the modern Tele circuit. If the neck pickup still does not meet your needs, consider trying the Fralin Blues Special neck pickup.
  10. Swarty

    Swarty Member

    Dec 16, 2003
    I've found the saddles to play a huge part in the sound differences between the pickups. Brass will give a fat, rich, midrangey sound to the bridge pickup while leaving the neck pickup dull and woofy. Steel saddles on the other hand lend a gorgeous, clear, bell-like tone to the neck pickup, but leave the bridge pickup thin and bright sounding. I finally just gave up on the neck pickup and go for that fat & sassy bridge sound, which to me is what a Tele is about anyways.
  11. sanhozay

    sanhozay klon free since 2009 Silver Supporting Member

    May 4, 2003
    If you rewire the neck pup to modern specs and use a clean boost {fat boost / rc booster / ect} you should be happy with the projection. It'll never have the clarity or throaty chime of a strat pickup but will get very close if you lose the chrome cover.

    I think the HD mini-strat works as promoted as does the Fralin blues special. If you change pickups just make sure the polarity matches with your bridge pickup, otherwise you'll get a weak sound when both pups are on.

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