Nagging Tele Problem-Good Sounding But Weak Pickups

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Echo Are, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. Echo Are

    Echo Are Member

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    I have a 5-year-old Highway One Tele with the stock pickups, which sound good, but are low in output. I have to use some kind of booster box, a dirt pedal or eq pedal, to get performance volume from a small amp with them. So my question is, what Tele aftermarket pickups out there have as much output as, say, Gibson's 490R and 498T humbuckers, and preserve the tone of whatever guitar they're installed in? Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    I don't know if there is such an animal but if anyone can do it, it's Don Mare.

    Give him a call and tell him what you're looking for. Two of my Tele's have his pups and both of them are filled with otherwise unattainable voodoo mojo.
     
  3. Echo Are

    Echo Are Member

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    Thanx, gkoelling. In my case, I'm looking not so much for mojo, but just more electricity--more 'k', more output. Nicer tone would be cool too, as long said pickups don't dramatically alter the guitar's tone, the way a Tube Screamer slathers on midrange.
     
  4. lamenlovinit

    lamenlovinit Member

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    Geez... Tough one. I'd just take the guitar with me to a store with lots of pedals and try out all the clean boosts. It'll probably be cheaper than boutique pickups, and if you truly like the sound of the guitar, don't mess with it. It could be you lucked into an "accident" and they are underwound in a fortunate way that gives them a unique tone but low output. Accidents used to happen alot in the old days, not so much anymore with modern production techniques, but they do happen. You know like the pickups in Blackie, or Billy Gibbons pearly gates. You know how those guys say "this one is special... It just sounds different..." If you dig the tone, get a clean boost, and keep it in the compartment of the case and bring it everywhere you bring the guitar... Kinda like Brian May using treble boosts as the basis of his sound. It's not just his guitar, it's his guitar AND the pedal. If you want your own sound, you're well on your way. Besides with this recession we done got on, why look for reasons to spend alot of money?
     
  5. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    Yeah, call him. I think he's doing some higher output pups now and if it comes from his shop the tone will turn heads.
     
  6. MrMunky

    MrMunky Silver Supporting Member

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    There are some excellent sounding hotter pickups for teles. One popular choice that I was surprised to find impressive is the Custom Shop Nocaster set. The bridge, at least, offers a lot of power while retaining that Tele charm. Another excellent hot option is a set of Lollar Special tele pickups.

    That said, I have discovered that there is really no substitute for good low-output tele pickups. There is a very distinctive character that you hear from a good tele with low-output pickups crafted to resemble the pickups you'd find in an original '50s tele. I really do not think that you can find that tone with higher-output pickups. You can get other excellent tones, but they really are not the same.

    So what is the solution to the output problem? A properly configured compressor. I recommend one of the following three, depending on your budget and whether you want to use it for anything else: 1) A (now discontiuned but not too hard to find) Boss CS-2. This unit has been a staple of Nashville players as a solution to the very problem you describe for a long time. Set it up so that you barely notice the compression, then turn the level to where you need it. 2) A Maxon CP9+ Pro. A top-quality analog studio comp in a box. Less noisy than the CS-2 and more transparent. It will also do a pure uncompressed clean boost up to something insane like 30 DB. I like this one because it's also a great pedal comp for humbuckers, and few others are. 3) An Analogman BiComp. This one adds some color to a tele bridge, but the color is quite beautiful. If you seriously like the tone exactly as it is, you might want to look elsewhere. If a bit more gooeyness is something you could appreciate, go for it.

    I realize that if you've never used a compressor before you probably think that I'm nuts suggesting one when you've asked for pickup recommendations, but you might be surprised. I felt the same way for a long time. Now there's no tone that I like better than a good tele with low output pickups.

    http://www.inrerocknroll.com/tunes/SlowTune.mp3
    http://www.inrerocknroll.com/tunes/DL20.mp3

    Hotter ones can be fun sometimes too, but they don't sound the same:

    http://www.inrerocknroll.com/tunes/TennStud.mp3
    http://www.inrerocknroll.com/tunes/RocknRollToday.mp3
     
  7. Echo Are

    Echo Are Member

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    Thanx for the info, guys. I'll have to think about which way I'd like to go. Said Tele doesn't have a super-duper golden tone, or anything, but I like it, I'm used to it.
     
  8. Echo Are

    Echo Are Member

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    MrMunky, no, I don't think you're crazy for suggesting a compressor pedal. That's a cool idea, I might try that. I'd never thought of using a compressor for boost. And I had read about the Nashville Tele-slingers using them, but I'd always figured they had used them for sustain and pop, and not for clean-boosting. Interesting.
     
  9. Bluewail

    Bluewail Tone curmudgeon Silver Supporting Member

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    Hey Ryan, Vince here. Since I know both your tele & LP sound I thought I'd chime in.

    You can certainly get some new pups to goose the output a LITTLE, but to get them as hot as your LP ceramic pups, and still sound like a tele, you'll need some kind of boost. I'd recommend the Lollar Specials, Fralin Blues Specials or Fender Nocaster pups as a good start. You could get a super hot Duncan like a tele-sized JB bridge pup and that could get you the omph you're looking for, but then there's no turning back. The "tele-ness" is gone. Get an RC Booster and one of those tele pup's I mentioned and you'll have your tele tone with a a bit more output and some real grind going with a boost.
     
  10. Echo Are

    Echo Are Member

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    Hey, Vince, how goes it? Yeah, regarding using super-hot pickups in a Tele, that's what I was thinking: if you go super-hot, than a Tele will just sound like a Tele-shaped Les Paul,lol. And I do want that "Tele-ness" preserved. For now, in the short term, I might try a clean boost box. In the future: better-quality pickups like the ones you mentioned.
     
  11. turtlesoup

    turtlesoup Member

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    I put a SD Little 59 in my tele as a solution to the same problem. It still sounds like a tele to my ears, and it's now capable of beastier tones as well.
     
  12. CDaughtry

    CDaughtry Member

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    Man....."Slow Tune" was absolutely gorgeous!:phones
     
  13. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    I agree - very nice stuff Mr Munky!

    Dana O.
     
  14. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    The Dimarzio Virtual Vintage Hot T is every bit as loud as a PAF-type humbucker, yet it is clear and crisp. It does not sound overwound, but has SERIOUS output.

    You need more benefits? It costs about $70, and also is dead quiet!

    Highly recommended, and what I put in my custom built Suhr (Vinetto also uses them). I swap between this guitar and a Les Paul during gigs and make no adjustments on my amp or pedals.
     
  15. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

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    Sounds to me like the amp is the problem.
     
  16. DonM

    DonM Member

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    Yea - I thought the amp too..

    always a chance the pups magnets were de-magnetized too..
    My Nephew has zapped his 3 times to almost zero ~

    The pups will need raised way up too.. just close of messing up the intonation - meaning too much string pull...etc
     
  17. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    Absolutely!

    Thanks for posting that, Mr Munky.
     
  18. pjwill

    pjwill Silver Supporting Member

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    Could not have said it better myself...especially with the excellent tones (clips). I am a huge fan of lower output Tele pups used with a good compressor.
     
  19. mbetter

    mbetter Member

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    Classic Broadcaster-style bridge pickups are actually pretty dang hot.
     
  20. K-Line

    K-Line Gold Supporting Member

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    Lollar Special T's or the staggered bridge pup. Maybe not the likes of a hum but very powerful and full of tone!
     

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