Treat your Tele to the best bridge pickup possible
Although Telecaster bridge pickups are best known for their famous “Twang,” more and more, guitarists are looking to coax an increased array of sounds out of their instrument. If you need to extend what your Telecaster can do, you’ll need to consider upgrading your bridge and neck pickups. Even if you simply want to improve the quality of your existing sound, an upgrade is usually the best bet. Below are links for the best Telecaster Bridge pickups on the market. Which one is right for you depends mostly on your needs as well as taste.
Noiseless / Hum-Canceling
Fralin Tele Split Blade
Lindy Fralin has long been known as the go-to guy when it comes to passive / vintage replacement pickups. His reputation for craftsmanship is second to none. There was a time when he actually answered his own phone and took your order! I’m not sure if this is still the case, and if not, you can’t blame him; the guy is busy making some of the most popular replacement pickups out there!
Finally, Lindy has gone noiseless. These split blades are 100% noise-free, but come packed with all of the jaw-dropping tone that has become standard for all of his products.
FENDER N3 NOISELESS™ TELE PICKUPS
Fender’s American Deluxe Telecasters have been stocked with these pickups since 2010. These are not at all aggressive. They do a nice job of replicating vintage-style telecaster pickups and are fully noise-canceling.
Dimarzio Fast Track T™ DP381
Designed to maintain the traditional Tele bridge sound, but provide a bigger sound with more volume and, of course, zero hum.
Seymour Duncan Little ‘59™ for Tele ST59-1b
Duncan set out to provide a Telecaster bridge pickup that cold duplicate the warmth and tone of the original 1959 PAF Gibson humbucker. They pretty much nail it here. This is not a super high-output screamer; you’ve got an even-tempered pickup that is warm and, of course, noise canceling. The two rows of flat-head screw pole-pieces allow you to really tweak the output vs string-put balance just right. It does come with a four-conductor lead, so with a mini toggle-switch, you can also get a more snappy sound out of it. For this we recommend a DPDT (double pole / double throw).
Seymour Duncan Hot Lead Stack STK-T2b
A hum-canceling Tele bridge pickup on steroids; not a drastically different tone, just seriously higher output than a vintage Tele bridge pickup. The blade design helps a lot with drop-outs. It’s not as modern-sounding as it may look. It will give you a pretty-much strait-ahead Telecaster bridge tone, but higher output and no hum.
Seymour Duncan Vintage Stack® Tele (lead) STK-T3b
A vintage-voiced, hum-canceling Tele bridge pickup. Classic vintage Telecaster bridge pickup tone, but no 60-cycle hum or buzz. This thing really sounds great. There is plenty of bite, but the high-end is not at all shrill or tinny. It’s pure classic Tele bridge territory, but calmer on the high-end and no hum, no buzz, no b.s.
Vintage Style (non hum-canceling)
Lindy Fralin Stock Tele® Replacement Style Bridge
These pickups come in three different configurations. The Broadcaster has flat poles, the Hybrid model’s poles are flat with a raised D magnet, or you can choose stock stagger. There is also a Steele-pole version. The output is in the neighborhood of 6.6k (8,800 turns), using 42 gauge Plain Enamel wire. You can also choose to have your pickup slightly overwound with 2% over-stock (approx 6.8k output) or 5% over-stock (approx 7.2k output).
Lindy Fralin Blues Special Tele Replacement Style Bridge Pickup
These pickups come in three different configurations. The Broadcaster has flat poles, the Hybrid model’s poles are flat with a raised D magnet, or you can choose stock stagger. There is also a Steele-pole version. The output is in the neighborhood of 7.3k , which is 5% hotter than stock and has a slightly darker sound; wound with 42 gauge Polynylon wire.
Lindy Fralin Tele Replacement High Output Style Bridge Pickup
Wound using 43 gauge wire, these Tele bridge pickups come in three different configurations. The Broadcaster has flat poles, the Hybrid model’s poles are flat with a raised D magnet, or you can choose stock stagger. There is also a Steele-pole version. The output is in the neighborhood of 9.5k , which is 10% hotter than stock and has a darker sound; 15% over-stock is available as well.
Lindy Fralin Steel Poled Tele® Style Bridge (42) Pickup
These are pretty special pickups. The physical construction is more like a P-90 in that a row of screws straddle two magnets. It’s great to be able to adjust the pole-pieces of a Telecaster pickup. While non-hum-canceling, these are reasonably quiet in most situations. They are wound to 4.5k for a 20% hotter sound, or can be wound to 10k for a 25% hotter sound.
Dimarzio Pre B-1™ DP112
A traditional Telecaster bridge pickup, but designed to flatten out the high end, and pump up the mids and lows. They didn’t go too over-the-top on this model. It’s still a general Vintage vibe, but just a lot more fatness to the sound. They did a nice job on this pickup; good stuff.
Dimarzio True Velvet™ T DP178
Vintage sound, but a bigger, more dynamic output that combines the best of the Broadcaster and Telecaster bridge pickups. Also double wax potted to keep squeals to a minimum. This one is for you if you insist on a true Vintage setup, but minimum hum, and a hotter output. I have also done a BestCovery review of the neck model.
Dimarzio Twang King™ DP173
Vintage Telecaster bridge pickup sound with more attack. There is a base plate installed and it is wax potted. The base plate gives you a heck of a lot more kick, without making it a super hot pickup. This one is surely a Vintage Tele bridge pickup, but a pretty hot tamale.
Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound® for Tele (lead) STL-3
This pickup offers a bizarrely high output for a vintage Telecaster bridge model. There is a surprising amount of punch and attack. It does have an oddly consistent low hum at almost all times, but the ones I’ve used were older, so maybe they have upgraded it a bit. This is a really great Telecaster bridge pickup, and has almost humbucker-level output, but at the same time, does not lose it’s Tele charm. It’s an odd, but a pretty good one. I recommend it, as long as you don’t use too much gain.
Seymour Duncan Vintage Broadcaster® Lead STL-1b
Faithful recreation of the original with a slightly higher output and edge.
Seymour Duncan Vintage ‘54 Lead STL-1
Vintage voiced, with emphasis on the high end. The pole pieces under the D and G strings are raised