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Is It Possible to Make a "stealth" Esquire that Sounds Great?

dhdfoster

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
13,132
I know John English made 100 or so of these with the "stealth" neck pickup, but I've never heerd one.

I'm not looking to do this, but I wonder if one of the really good pickup gurus like Lollar, Fralin, DonM, Stephens Design, or Novak could design a Tele neck pickup that sits under the guard, but still sounds great and matches well with the bridge pup.

I'm just sort of curious, as I bet it would be somewhat popular. Esquires look fantastic, but I really like the Tele neck pup sound.
 

VaughnC

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
18,407
Probably not possible because the magnetic field of any stealth neck pickup would still come in contact with the strings...and it's mainly the magnetic interference from the neck pickup that tonally differentiates a Tele from an Esquire.
 

DrBob

Member
Messages
426
Didn't Bill Nash do something similar ?
His solution was to put the neck into the body at an angle (Gibson style) as opposed to the usual parallel Fender way.
By doing that the strings pass close enough to the body at the neck pickup position to allow the pickup to be hidden under the plate whist the Bridge/Bridge P/U sit at the normal height.
Is that the same as the John English model ?
 

dhdfoster

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
13,132
Probably not possible because the magnetic field of any stealth neck pickup would still come in contact with the strings...and it's the magnetic interference from the neck pickup that tonally differentiates a Tele from an Esquire.
Absolutely. I meant more to get the clean look of an Esquire, not the identical tone.

If you wanted the pickup to "hear" the strings without pulling on them at all, the pup would probably have to be so microphonic, it'd be unusable, I think.
 

Mike9

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,971
I'm considering a Duncan Quarter Pound neck pickup - they are quite powerful.
 

Pete Galati

Member
Messages
1,680
Paint your neck pickup flat black so it'll blend in with your pickguard!

IMO, a good bright humbucker pickup would be far better suited for hiding under a pickguard.
 

illinimax

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
1,594
Harmonic Design sells tele pickups to match your pickguard for that esquire look. To top it off they're the best sounding tele neck pickups I have in my guitars.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,571
I'm considering a Duncan Quarter Pound neck pickup - they are quite powerful.
exactly. since it's going to be so far away from the strings, powerful magnets and high output are in order. even a monster like the dimarzio x2n humbucker can balance ok with a tele bridge pickup.
 

59GIBSON

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
211
I know John English made 100 or so of these with the "stealth" neck pickup, but I've never heerd one.

I'm not looking to do this, but I wonder if one of the really good pickup gurus like Lollar, Fralin, DonM, Stephens Design, or Novak could design a Tele neck pickup that sits under the guard, but still sounds great and matches well with the bridge pup.

I'm just sort of curious, as I bet it would be somewhat popular. Esquires look fantastic, but I really like the Tele neck pup sound.
I bought one of these English "stealth" esquire as IMHO it was as close to owning a real 52/53 esquire as I'll ever get. As a esquire it's a GREAT sounding guitar but I found the "stealth pups" weak and very generic sounding. The guitar left the factory with the bridge pup too far away from the strings in order to calibrate it with the stealth pups. Once I raised up the bridge pup the guitar became alive. However now the bridge pup was too over-bearing to use with the stealth pups. I wound up taking out the stealth pups and replacing the harness with a vintage replica harness from Callaham. The guitar "IMHO" now sounds as good as any 50s esquire I've played. If I EVER sell it, I can simply re-store it to the way it left the factory.
 

dhdfoster

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
13,132
I bought one of these English "stealth" esquire as IMHO it was as close to owning a real 52/53 esquire as I'll ever get. As a esquire it's a GREAT sounding guitar but I found the "stealth pups" weak and very generic sounding. The guitar left the factory with the bridge pup too far away from the strings in order to calibrate it with the stealth pups. Once I raised up the bridge pup the guitar became alive. However now the bridge pup was too over-bearing to use with the stealth pups. I wound up taking out the stealth pups and replacing the harness with a vintage replica harness from Callaham. The guitar "IMHO" now sounds as good as any 50s esquire I've played. If I EVER sell it, I can simply re-store it to the way it left the factory.
Yes, that's what I suspected. I guess I'm just wondering if a great pickup maker were to put their mind to designing an under the guard neck pup, if it would even be possible to get great results.
 

John Phillips

Member
Messages
13,038
I did one many years ago with an early Japanese Esquire reissue and a Seymour Duncan Hot Strat pickup. The pickup fits in the cavity - just - without routing when screwed down directly onto the floor of it, although I had to remove the wires from passing through the baseplate, and very slightly scrape the underside of the guard to get it to sit flat over the polepieces.

It sounded very good - with the pickup that far from the strings it didn't have the 'overwound' sound that model normally has in a Strat, and it might not even have pulled as much on the strings. It did actually sound fairly close to a Tele neck pickup.
 

JimH

Member
Messages
1,571
I bought one of these English "stealth" esquire as IMHO it was as close to owning a real 52/53 esquire as I'll ever get. As a esquire it's a GREAT sounding guitar but I found the "stealth pups" weak and very generic sounding. The guitar left the factory with the bridge pup too far away from the strings in order to calibrate it with the stealth pups. Once I raised up the bridge pup the guitar became alive. However now the bridge pup was too over-bearing to use with the stealth pups. I wound up taking out the stealth pups and replacing the harness with a vintage replica harness from Callaham. The guitar "IMHO" now sounds as good as any 50s esquire I've played. If I EVER sell it, I can simply re-store it to the way it left the factory.
Played one and this was pretty much my experience. The esquire elements were fine - not my cuppa tea neck-wise but that's a different issue. I hate to say this but the other pup selections just sounded like a weak/generic fender guitar. Not even particularly tele. Like a squire strat even, that indistinct. I can't decide whether I like the whole business or not - I mean why pretend you've not got pickups you have got? It seems like you're buying into the whole - simple is better, 50s is better, I only need the basics type vibe and then it being fake - then on other days I think it's cool - but that's just a matter of taste and not what this discussion's about. For me the sonic result wasn't good enough.

Whether it's possible or not is difficult to say. There's the artificial barrier of having the pickups a minimum (and large) distance away from the strings - not a constraint that anyone's had to get round before. What's the solution? super hot pups? Would they have great tone? hard to say.
 




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