Hotter pickups for Nocaster?

RJLII

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Messages
10,299
I have a '51 Custom Shop Nocaster with the standard Nocaster pickups. They sound fantastic, but are really low output compared to my other guitars (Les Pauls and an ES-335). Switching between guitars requires a whole bunch of knob tweaking. They are pretty thin sounding by comparison too.

I'm thinking about picking up another set of pickups that are higher output. I want to retain much of the Tele sound, but am willing to sacrifice some for higher output and fatter mids.

One thought was a Firebird pickup in the neck and a Zhangbucker Paul Bunyan or Lollar Special T in the bridge. Another would be a matched set of Lollar Charlie Christian/BS Tele pickups. The Tim Lerch demos of those sound great.

Any suggestions from those who have wandered the same path?
 

LanEvo

Member
Messages
697
I'm sure someone makes a clean boost pedal that would take care of the vol difference on stage. Seems less risky than tearing into the electronics on a guitar whose sound you already like.
 

Mpcoluv

Member
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3,411
I like the Don Mare El Black Krowe and the Harmonic Design Vintage Plus for loud Tele bridge pups. Of course the Joe Bardens are loud also.
 

g-mane

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931
The Paul Bunyan sounds like exactly what you want. I put one in my Tele years ago and I've never been tempted to change it.
 

vanguard

Member
Messages
2,515
on a guitar that perfectly executed, i'd explore pickup height (jack 'em up) and a good fat boost or EQ pedal set for the nocaster.

if that doesn't do it, sounds like you're a perfect candidate for a lapsteel-era bridge pickup. Don Mare makes the 0038, or you may even like the heat of the tweed monster. pair that up with one of his archtop or stretch neck pups and you'll have a tele that sounds like a tele, but has tons of heat and output.
 

Sean French

Member
Messages
14,177
Adjust the pickups to their, for you, sweet spot.
Then use a clean boost that has eq to match the volume of the humbucker guitars.
That is what I do.
I use a Fulltone Fat Boost 3. Match the vol of the humbuckers, add a bit of bass and slightly cut some highs.
Works great.
 

Kmaz

Silver Supporting Member
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8,850
Yes, try adjusting them a little more. Nocasters have great pickups!
 

Corinthian

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1,894
I'm sure someone makes a clean boost pedal that would take care of the vol difference on stage. Seems less risky than tearing into the electronics on a guitar whose sound you already like.
I'd definitely explore this route.

For a very clean increase in volume check out the Custom Audio MC-401 Line Booster.

Or to add some fatness, the Xotic EP Booster is pretty hard to beat.
 

Kriskov

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
580
I put a set of Super Paul Bunyans from Zhangbucker in my tele and I've never even considered changing them. I love every position on that guitar. David Plummer is a font of knowledge, just tell him what you're looking for and then listen to his advice. I also think he's still having a sale on his pickups so they are an even better deal!
 

Ogre

Member
Messages
4,650
On a Tele, hotter pickups equals less tone. Appreciate the Tele for what it is, and don't try to make it "fat" like your other guitars.
 

Mpcoluv

Member
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3,411
On a Tele, hotter pickups equals less tone. Appreciate the Tele for what it is, and don't try to make it "fat" like your other guitars.
While I don't agree 100% with the above statement, it is true that if you get beyond a certain point in "Hotness" you start to lose the magic of a tele. You can certainly go from a 6K bridge to a 7 or 8K and still keep the magic.
The Don Mare 10K (43 awg wire IIRC) El Black Krowe is about as hot as you can go with a traditional design and still keep the tele magic. Isn't you Nocaster pup in the 10K range already?
The Bardens and the Harmonic design are not the "Vintage" design or construction, but sound great.
 

RJLII

Member
Messages
10,299
Lots of input. Thanks!

I have the pickups dialed in as far as height goes. Nothing more to gain there.

I use a clean boost already. I have an Xotic RC booster that I use to switch between clean and just a bit of tooth on all my Gibsons. I'd need to get another one and dedicate it to the Tele.

I've spent the morning listening to the Lollar demo vids that Tim Lerch does, and I'm leaning towards the matched set of Charlie Christians. Kind of spendy, but nice round tone without being dark and the fundamental Tele sound still comes through. I don't play twangin' country so the minor loss in slice doesn't bother me. The neck pickup with a little dirt in the last vid just knocks me out. That's the neck tone I'm always shooting for.





 

Aran

Member
Messages
3,194
If you already like the tone just turn up your amp on guitar swaps. Note my two main guitars in sig.
 

RJLII

Member
Messages
10,299
Turn up(down) amp. reset all stomp boxes, twang, tweak, twang, tweak, groan.....:facepalm

I pulled the trigger on a matched set of Lollar Charlie Christian pickups and a new pickguard. I'll be installing some quick connectors so I can swap things back and forth easily.

More to follow......................
 

Aran

Member
Messages
3,194
Good pups too. It's also about feel and if it works for you great. That's what really counts.
 

RJLII

Member
Messages
10,299
I got my new set of Lollar Charlie Christian Pickups installed in my Nocaster tonight. The stock Fender pickups sounded pretty darn good, but were very low output compared to my P90 and Humbucker equipped guitars. My goal was to jack up the output and add a little more thickness to the tone without losing the iconic Tele sound.

After 20 minutes of twanging around...............Drum Roll...................

These pickups deliver in spades. The output is about the same as the P90s in my R6. The neck position is clearly Telecaster, but warm and full without being dark. Middle and Bridge sounds are similar to stock, but bigger and a little warmer. Center is supposed to be hum cancelling but my toy room is pretty quiet so nothing hums anyway. No shortage of twang and you can still tell what strings are wound and which are plain. The bottom end is huge now, like piano huge. Easily as much bass response as my Humbucker guitars, but in a decidedly single coil sound. My 1X12 Victoria Ivy League (Fender 5F10 Harvard clone) has never sounded bigger.

The installation requires two new routes. A bigger one for the neck and a deepening of the bridge route. Lollar has drawings on their website or you can but a router template from them. I used their pickguard but made my own router template for the body. The neck pickup comes two ways, body mount and pickguard mount. I chose body mount because I'm anal about screws showing. Pickguard mount would have been a lower stress proposition. Getting everything lined up perfect with body mount was a little tougher. Being an anal retentive engineer type guy, the pickup must be perfectly centered in the pickguard hole. It took a bit of planning. Worked out OK though. Crappy flash photo below. I'll post a better one this weekend when I have some good light.

 




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