1. The Rules have been updated regarding posting as a business on TGP. Thread with details here: Thread Here
    Dismiss Notice

Why don't you ever see mid-position buckers in teles?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Kometude, Jul 17, 2006.

  1. Kometude

    Kometude Member

    Messages:
    7
    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    Lately I've been lusting for a versatile, all-purpose tele. It would have to have that wonderful biting tele bridge pickup, of course. And I play a lot of leads in the neck position on my strat, so I figure I'd enjoy a similar tone with a single coil in the neck of the tele. But why not also throw a humbucker in the middle position for some fatter rock tones? To me this seems ideal, but because I never see teles like this I wonder if there's some practical reason against it? Is it because you'd have to do a swimming-pool route? Is there some way to get a humbucker tone with a clever wiring scheme? I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who's tried a tele with a mid humbucker or who has a good reason for recommending against it.
     
  2. Junior

    Junior Member

    Messages:
    151
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2003
    Location:
    Salem
    Good question. I don't have an answer.

    I can tell you though, if you have a Tele with RWRP pickups, you'll get a humbucking sound in the mid position. And, if you replace the toggle switch with a balance pot, you can swing a bit off center and still keep the humbucking effect while getting a sharper bridge sound or a mellower neck sound.

    If you don't want to mess with the toggle, another approach is two stacked concentric pots - then you get two volumes and two tone controls. In the mid position, do the balance thing by turning one volume pot down a bit. It will also give you a chance to use different tone capacitors for each pickup.
     
  3. TeleTubby

    TeleTubby Supporting Member

    Messages:
    202
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    Location:
    Lynden, WA
    Did that many years ago on my '73 Tele (oh, the horror of it now- what was I thinking?) but it became immediately apparent that matching volumes/output of the 3 pickups was very difficult, at the time at least. The humbucker just totally overwhelmed the other two regardless of height/pole adjustments. You will also have the pot value issues, 250k (in general, better for single coils) vs. 500k (needed to get a bit more treble out of the humbucker). Now you'd have a much greater chance of finding a pickup that would work, you can even have one specially wound, but it would still take a bit of research to get a match that does exactly what you want it to. Good luck and let us know how it works out!
     
  4. deluxemeat

    deluxemeat Member

    Messages:
    1,485
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Location:
    Body in the Bronx / head in Stockholm
    cos no one can rock a middle hum like townshend!
     
  5. Clorenzo

    Clorenzo Member

    Messages:
    1,940
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Location:
    Munich / Madrid
    Other than the thing looking a bit weird, I don't see why not. There will be some ouput level mis-match but you probably want some extra oomph when you switch to that position anyway. As for 250k vs. 500k, not a problem either: you may actually like the tone with 250k pots on the HB which will compensate for the generally brighter Tele woods (compared to traditional all mahogany HB guitars), so I'd try that first, and if it's too dark, use 500k pots and add extra loading to the neck and bridge pu's with some resistors from hot to ground. For example, with 500k vol. and tone pots, a 240k or 270k resistor from hot to ground of each of the neck and bridge pu's will load them as if you were using 250k pots.
     
  6. Kometude

    Kometude Member

    Messages:
    7
    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    Hey, thanks for your replies. I have a strat with a humbucker in the bridge, and I've never had problems matching output, so I don't see why I'd have trouble in the tele. On the other hand, if doing something like what Junior suggests could give me a convincing humbucker tone then that might be the way to go. My question is would it really sound the same as having a kick-ass humbucker (and I'd probably put a P.A.F. lid over it) stuck in the middle? I've played, for example, PRS guitars that are supposed to have single-coil sounds, and they're just not convincing to me at all. Of course, this is the reverse scenario: combining two single coils, rather than splitting a double coil. So is it right to say, Junior, that the middle position of most teles is actually a double-coil or humbucking tone?
     
  7. stucker

    stucker Member

    Messages:
    1,135
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Junior,
    Do you have a wiring diagram of the "balance pot" scheme you described?

    I have considered trying to convert my Tele "tone pot" to a "blend pot" to accomplish the same function you described but I would like to have a proven schematic before I start changing the wiring. Thanks.

    Scott
     
  8. Clorenzo

    Clorenzo Member

    Messages:
    1,940
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Location:
    Munich / Madrid
    Just to clarify, what Junior was referring to is the hum-cancellation you can get with RWRP pickups, but that doesn't mean that the tone resembles a humbucker pickup even remotely. It's not just a matter of two coils and it has nothing to do with hum being cancelled or not (the tone is the same in both cases): They have to be close together and be connected in series. You can get the series thing with the well known 4-way switch mod in a Tele, and yes the tone is louder and warmer, but it's still two coils as far apart as they can be as opposed to next to each other. The distance between the coils is what gives the middle Tele position and the 2 and 4 Strat positions their characteristic "quack" or "hollow" sound or whatever you want to call it, and that will be there no matter how you connect the coils and regardless of whether they cancel hum or not. Then there's also the difference in construction, i.e. individual magnets in a SC pu as opposed to a bar magnet in a HB (BTW this is one of the main reasons why split HB's don't sound like SC's, as mentioned above). IOW, if you want the tone of a humbucker, you need to use a humbucker.
     
  9. Kometude

    Kometude Member

    Messages:
    7
    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    Alright, guys. This has been real helpful to me, who knows nothing about pickup wiring but knows when I hear a tone I like. I have one more question: would it be possible, given a single-hum-single configuration in a tele to use a five way swith to get, 1) bridge only 2)bridge/neck series 3) humbucker only 4) bridge/neck parallel 5) neck only? Just an idea.

    Oh, woops, I lied. I have one more question: can anyone clarify the difference in sound between wiring in series and parallel?
     
  10. Clorenzo

    Clorenzo Member

    Messages:
    1,940
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Location:
    Munich / Madrid
    Sure, there's almost nothing a Superswitch can't do ;). If you go for it drop me a PM and I'll give you a hand with the wiring.
    Series is louder, since the voltage from both pu's adds up (like when you connect two batteries in series) and also fatter / warmer / less trebly, due to what happens to the electrical parameters of the circuit and how that affects the frequency response (compared to parallel, resistance and inductance are fourfold, capacitance is distributed differently).

    Just to complete the picture, parallel is actually a bit quieter than either pu on its own, due to the mutual loading between them.
     
  11. Junior

    Junior Member

    Messages:
    151
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2003
    Location:
    Salem
    Actually, the tone I get in the middle does resemble a humbucker, but to be fair, I'm using the "Tele most likely to be mistaken for a Gibson" - a G&L ASAT Junior. It's all mahogany, with overwound Big MFDs that don't sound like Leo wound them, and a tune-o-matic bridge. So, there's a lot more to the 'humbucking' impression than just the pickups. I suspect Clorenzo is right about a regular T-type guitar that goes "twang!".

    I'm using the balance control from AllParts (and others) which is two pots on a single shaft, without a switch, so the pups are in parallel and both are always on, even though at full crank in either direction, one of them is on the wrong side of a 250K resistor. Yes, you can hear the difference between this and either pickup alone so you might want to keep the switch to preserve that classic Tele bridge tone.

    The wiring schematic looks like a Les Paul "fifties" diagram with a single tone control connected to the output of the switch (or in my case, connected to the wipers of the balance pots which are tied together).

    To expand on what Clorenzo mentioned, RWRP means "reverse wound, reverse polarity". That is, one pickup is wound in the opposite direction, and its magnet(s) are reversed. This is the way the bobbins on a humbucker are wound, and one bobbin sits over the north edge of the magnet, the other over the south. The humbucking effect depends on equal noise signals in each coil, so moving the coils apart and/or different windings reduces the effect. The typical humbucker sound is also the result of cancellation, and as Clorenzo said, the wide spacing on a Tele prevents the pickps from sounding the same, hence there's much less cancellation than in a standard humbucker.

    More significantly, though, the resonant peak of a Gibson pickup is generally about half an octave lower than a Fender. That's where you get the "fatter rock tones", and that's why P-90's don't sound "like Leo wound them".

    Hope this helps someone. ;)
     
  12. Kometude

    Kometude Member

    Messages:
    7
    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    Gentlemen, your posts were most helpful. I believe I will pursue this S-H-S tele thang. Thanks!
     
  13. Junior

    Junior Member

    Messages:
    151
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2003
    Location:
    Salem
    Cool. One thing to consider before you start cutting is, often when three humbucker guitars are mentioned, some people complain the middle one gets in their way. Must be some wild strummers out there.... ;)
     

Share This Page