Should I Upgrade My Telecaster Bridge Pickup?

Telecaster Bridge Pickup
Should I upgrade my bridge pickup?

Thinking about upgrading your Telecaster bridge pickup? Here are a few things to consider

Telecasters are great, probably my favorite guitar of all. But when your Tele is stock, chances are that it came loaded with vintage style pickups. Depending on your rig and your style of playing, this may translate to noise (i.e. the dreaded 60-cycle hum), or in the case of the bridge pickup: a somewhat brittle tone, and few options. Here is a list of areas to think-through before you make your final decision on which Telecaster bridge pickup to choose.

Should I install a noiseless bridge pickup?

This may be the most important decision you make. The reason is that true vintage-style pickups tend to do one thing and do it really well. Noiseless pickups give you more options, but some  guitarists (and I mean serious tone snobs) feel that you lose a bit of that “vintage” charm. I think this is mostly a lot of baloney. I can tell the difference, but I’ve been playing for over 30 years, ad I can’t always tell the difference. It’s just not that big of a deal. If noise is a consideration, get a noiseless pickup. If noise is not a problem, and you really want to stay faithful to that vintage Fender Telecaster sound, then get a vintage-style model. End of conversation. Once you have spent more than 20 minutes thinking about this, you have over-thought it.

What are the best Telecaster Bridge Pickups?

Now we are of-course getting into the really subjective stuff. No one can really say which ones are the best of the best of the best, because to a large extent, it’s a matter of taste. For starters, you can check out  an earlier post about the Best Telecaster Bridge Pickups. You can also browse this site by tag or category for “pickups”, there are plenty of helpful articles. All that said, here is a general lay of the land:

The main companies out there for Telecaster pickups are Seymour Duncan, Dimarzio, Fender, and Lindy Fralin. There are a few smaller companies out there, but I’d say these are the ones to consider by default. If you are thinking right now: “…hey, what about Lollar or Joe Barden, or EMG” etc… then you clearly do not need any advice. Go out an buy whatever you want. If you are not as experienced with buying Telecaster pickups, then I’d recommend that you at least start out with the companies I suggested. They are all a bit different. Here is the high-level:

Seymour Duncan – Probably the most varied product line and appeal to players of all types. Most of their pickups are very warm, and not overly hot.

Dimarzio – They tend to be more popular with harder-edged styles like Rock. Plenty of their products are just great for lighter styles such as Blues or pop, but they tend to make slightly more aggressive models.

Fender – They have probably the most minimal product line as they are not solely a pickup maker (they are busy making of the most amazing guitars and amplifiers of all time, so you can’t blame them), but what they do they do real well: vintage.

Lindy Fralin – A real boutique shop. Lindy is super cool and makes amazing pickups. His stuff is a bit more pricey than the bigger names, but if you really know what you are looking for, he has a product line that delivers

How do I decide which Telecaster Bridge pickup is right for me?

Again, this is really a matter of opinion. But as a rule of thumb, first consider your playing style; are you a Rock player? A Jazz player? Blues? Country? The answer to this question will help you narrow it down fastest. If you play Metal or heavy Rock, you may want to consider a noiseless model, and maybe even a blade / rails type of design. If you lean towards really heavy styles like Metal, then active pickups become very appealing. But few Tele players are Metal players, although I suppose they are out there. If you play more moderate styles such as Rock, Rock & Roll, Blues, Funk, etc.. them it’s a toss-up between vintage and noiseless. Noiseless is better if you have to cover a borader range of sounds and are likely to use a lot of gain / overdrive. Vintage is better if you do not play to play extremely loud or use a lot of gain, yet want a really old-school sound. This is particularly true of Funk, where that old-school / low-fi Telecaster bridge sound is really critical (and this is one thing that high-output Tele bridge pickups do not do as well as vintage ones).

Ok, but what about installation; are replacing Telecaster bridge pickups hard?

Nah. Not at all. This is one of the really great things about the Telecaster; the bridge pickup is a very standard shape. From old-school vintage to over-the-top high-gain models, they all have that same three-screw mounting scheme and drop into place with ease. Twist, twist twist, and you are done.

What are the down-sides to vintage Telecaster bridge pickups?

Noise. That is the big issue. Once you start to play at high volumes and / or use a lot of gain, you are gonna start pulling your hair out because there will be a lot of noise that is nearly impossible to get rid of. This cab be particularly problematic in the studio. Other than that, vintage-style tele bridge pickups tend to be one-trick ponies; you get pretty much one sound.

What are the down-sides to noiseless Telecaster bridge pickups?

There are fewer down-sides here. Tone-snobs will complain about the loss of highs or in-general, how they don’t quite do the “vintage” thing as well. For the most part, you can ignore that. You’ll know when you know enough to know the difference (nice sentence huh? : – ) The only other downside is that if you want to takte advantage of the flexibility of a noiseless pickup (as some come with a four-conductor cabe for multiple wiring options), you’ll have to be prepared to cut-up your pick guard, and you have to be fairly handy with a soldering iron (or pay someone who is). This is all worth it though; you can usually get two great sounds out of one pickup. And then you have twice as many bridge-neck sounds as well.

 Summary

There are a few things to consider when upgrading your Telecaster bridge pickup. Whether to go noiseless, which company to go with and which model to choose are just a few of the high-level decisions you’ll have to make. But just be sure to ask yourself as many questions as you can; “What is my playing style?”, “Do I tend to play loud or use a lot of gain?”, Do I need to get more than one sound out of my Telecaster bridge pickup?” and so on. The better the questions you ask yourself, the better the answers will be from web pages, repair professionals or guitar players whom you ask.

What Are The Best Telecaster Bridge Pickups?

What Are The Best Telecaster Bridge Pickups?

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 Tele Split Blade – product page

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 is 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 fulling noise-cancelling.


Dimarzio Area Hot T™ Bridge DP421

This pickup offers a great blend of PAF humbucker warmth and traditional Tele Twang. This is a fairly high-output pickup, so consider this with regards to balance with your neck pickup.


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 what 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. Thy 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.

Search eBay for Dimarzio DP112


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.

Search eBay for Dimarzio DP178


Dimarzio Twang King™ DP173

Vintage Telecaster bridge pickup sound with more attack. There is a base plate installed and it it wax potted. The base plate give 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 bizzarely high output for a vintage Telecaster bridge model. There is a surprising amount of punch and attack. It does have an odd 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 loose it’s Tele charm. It’s an odd one, 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

Where Can I Find The Best Telecaster Guitar Parts?

Where Can I Find The Best Telecaster Guitar Parts?
Fender Telecaster

Telecaster Bodies, Telecaster Necks, Telecaster Hardware… Everything “Tele” links here

If you are embarking on a project that involves upgrading or building a Telecaster, these links might help you to find some of the parts you need. All of these companies offer some pretty good stuff at fairly reasonable prices. For bodies and necks, Warmoth is probably best and offers the most options. Of course, they are the most expensive.  In each case, be sure to explore all the options that each company offers and don’t be afraid to call them if you have any questions before you place your order.

With regards to the body, pay extra attention to the wood that you choose, there will be some variations in sound between different types. For example, Maple has a brighter tone where as Mahogany is a bit mellower. If you do choose Maple, consider paying the extra cost for “Quarter Sawn” Maple, it is most often a much better cut of wood. Some companies such as Warmoth also offer options for binding. While this is purely aesthetic and will have no affect either way on your tone, it can contribute to a very classy look, depending on your taste.

Another option worth considering is a Chambered body. When a body is “Chambered”, there are several cavities that are created in the body. This offers a kind of “Best of both worlds” scenario as you get the interesting qualities of a hollow body guitar, but without the headaches of feedback as the majority of the body is solid. Some Telecaster players may dream of a Tele with a vibrato arm; no problem. Warmoth offers you the option to have the Telecaster body routed for a standard Stratocaster bridge. In this case there will be the standard thru body tremolo construction complete with trem claw and springs.  There are certainly many options and you can go pretty crazy. Whatever your dream Telecaster may be, the links below should point you in the right direction.

Finished Telecaster Bodies

Warmoth

USA Custom Guitars (un-finished)

WD Music Supplies

All Parts

Stewart MacDonald

Telecaster Pickups

Here are a few links to articles I did recently for BestCovery.com, which include pretty much the best Tele Pickups out there at the moment:

Vintage Tele Bridge Pickups

Vintage Tele Neck Pickups

Noiseless Tele Bridge Pickups

Noiseless Tele Neck Pickups

Telecaster Hardware

Here are links for great places to get your hardware online:

Acme Guitar Works

Warmoth Hardware

Warmoth Telecaster Hardware

Guitar pickups that changed my life

Pickups that transformed both my playing and tone

This is a celebration of my favorite pickups. The title may seem a bit much, but it is true; these pickups absolutely changed my playing style as well as my tone. I am a bit of a pickup nut. At one point I owned over 100 different pickups, but had only about a dozen or so in a guitar. This is a pretty clear indication of obsessive compulsive disorder. But, at the same time, it’s much better than spending your money on beer : – ). In all seriousness, I have spent the last 30 years in search of the holy grail. Granted, different pickups are often suited to specific styles of music; you would not use a vintage strat single coil for heavy metal, but with that in mind, quite often within that style, there are usually many different pickups that can improve your tone.
Why do I say that some pickups “Transformed my playing:? I say so because in some cases, the sheer physics of a particular pickup inspired me so much that my playing really improved. Because I was able to elicit certain kinds of sounds from my guitar that I had previously not been able to create, my playing would drift into new territories.
This is highly subjective stuff. But, in many cases I only discovered a pickup because of an article I read or when I saw another guitarist live. So, sometimes, you discover new and exciting things based on the previous adventures of another guitarist. I hope that some or even a little of this lens inspires you in the sane way. Enjoy!
Pickups can make a big difference
Pickups can make a big difference

This is a celebration of my favorite pickups. The title may seem a bit much, but it is true; these pickups absolutely changed my playing style as well as my tone. I am a bit of a pickup nut. At one point I owned over 100 different pickups, but had only about a dozen or so in a guitar. This is a pretty clear indication of obsessive compulsive disorder. But, at the same time, it’s much better than spending your money on beer : – ). In all seriousness, I have spent the last 30 years in search of the holy grail. Granted, different pickups are often suited to specific styles of music; you would not use a vintage strat single coil for heavy metal, but with that in mind, quite often within that style, there are usually many different pickups that can improve your tone.

Why do I say that some pickups “Transformed my playing”? I say so because in some cases, the sheer physics of a particular pickup inspired me so much that my playing really improved. Because I was able to elicit certain kinds of sounds from my guitar that I had previously not been able to create, my playing would drift into new territories.

This is highly subjective stuff. But, in many cases I only discovered a pickup because of an article I read or when I saw another guitarist live. So, sometimes, you discover new and exciting things based on the previous adventures of another guitarist. I hope that some or even a little of this lens inspires you in the sane way.


Fralin Steele Pole Strat Pickups

What would happen if a single coil and a P-90 had a baby?

Fralin Steele-Pole
Fralin Steele-Pole

These Strat pickups are quite a departure from the norm. Instead of six pole magnets wrapped with wire, it is six screws that straddle two magnets. This is the basic design of a P-90. What is particularly cool about these is that because they use screws instead of flat poles, you can adjust each pole piece so that the height to the string is just as you want.

The bottom of a Fralin Steele Poled
The bottom of a Fralin Steele Poled

Tone – These pickups have all the “Bell Like” chime that you would want in a single coil, but also have the bite of a P-90. They are not hum-canceling, but they can be reasonably quiet with a moderate amount of drive. They shine particularly in the bridge and middle positions. They do sound great in the neck position, but it is in the bridge and middle position that you often need more thickness. In each case, they have a warmth and body that you will not find in normal vintage-style single coils.

Summary – Lindy Fralin’s shop is a pretty special place. They are religious about pickups. If you go to their website, http://www.fralinpickups.com/ you can get plenty of details about their custom winding options. If you play a Strat, these pickups are seriously worth checking out.


Mini Humbuckers

Truly the best of both worlds

Gibson Mini Humbuckers

Probably the pickup that has the biggest impact on my playing is the Mini Humbucker. I was first drawn to these because of my fascination with the tone of the guitarists from Lynyrd Skynyrd. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure that these guitarists did not use Mini Humbuckers as much as I thought. But in many photos, I would see Gary Rossington using a Gibson Firebird. Since this guitar had Mini Humbuckers, I became very obsessed with using these pickups.

Custom Pick Guard
Custom Pick Guard

The biggest challenge to using Mini Humbuckers is that unless you are using a Firebird or Les Paul Deluxe, they cannot be simply dropped into place. The easiest way to start experimenting with these pickups is to use a Strat with a “Swimming Pool” route and a custom cut pick guard. You do have to make a bit of a commitment here as routing your strat in such a way cannot be un-done, but that decision is up to you. I am obsessed by pickup experimentation so these kinds of decisions usually take me about 9 seconds to work through in my brain. For the custom cut pick guard, just go to http://www.warmoth.com, they have a page that allows you to order customized pick Guards.

There are for the most part, two different flavors of Mini Humbucker that I recommend: Les Paul Deluxe and Firebird.

 

Gibson Firebird Pickup
Gibson Firebird Pickup

Firebird – These are my favorite. They have a very “Waxy” or “Squeaky” sound to them. They Seymour Duncan “Antiquity” series is quite good, but the best ones to use are older ones pulled directly out of a Firebird. You can find

Gibson Mini Humbucker
Gibson Mini Humbucker

these on eBay.

Les Paul Deluxe – These are great. They sound more like a normal humbucker than the Firebirds, but they have a much more open feel.

Summary – Mini Humbuckers offer you the best of both worlds; they are humbucking (i.e. no 60-cycle hum), they

are capable of great chime and clarity when you play clean, and when you use a lot of drive, they sound fantiastic. They will never sound quite the same as a full-sized humbucker, but they have a fullness and grit all their own. You really have to experiment and find the ones that are best for you, but it is worth the effort.


Gibson T-Tops

One of the best humbuckers that Gibson every made

Gibson "T-Top"
Gibson “T-Top”

From the late 60’s to the late 70’s, Gibson produced humbuckers that have come to be known at “T-Tops”. The name comes from the odd “T” that protrudes from the top of one of the bobbins. This is a result of the mechanism used to hold the bobbin when it is formed, and then when released, the “T” remained.

Tone – These pickups have all the girth and macho that you come to expect from a humbucker. But they have a certain kind of bite and open sound that you don’t often find in double-coils. Much of the classic rock that you know and love from the 70’s contains great T-Top tones. If you like humbuckers, but also like to get

What Are The Best Telecaster Modifications?

What Are The Best Telecaster Modifications?
What Are The Best Telecaster Modifications?

So you have a stock Telecaster, now what? There are several modifications you can make that will transform your Tele.

Judging by the number of articles related to the Fender Telecaster in this site, anyone can guess that I am a big fan of this guitar. In some ways, the Telecaster is for me, the perfect guitar; it looks right, it feels right and it sounds right. But out of the box, the Telecaster might not be equipped for exactly what you had in mind and you may want to consider a few Telecaster modifications. Some want more muscle in the bridge pickup, some want more beef in the neck pickup, some want a speedier neck, some want…. well, you get the picture. Fortunately, most Telecaster modifications are fairly painless. You can take the modifications to various levels and in some cases, you might want to enlist the help of a qualified guitar technician. Use your best judgment.

Change the neck

This is low hanging fruit. Swapping out the neck on a Telecaster or Stratocaster is easy. I’ve always found the headstock of a Telecaster a bit odd; it feels un-finished. I prefer to use Stratocaster necks on my Telecasters. Of course the neck pocket and heel of a Telecaster are square while the heel and neck pocket of  a Stratocaster are rounded. But, it’s really no big deal. You can slap a Stratocaster neck on a Tele without too much drama. You can also just upgrade to a better Telecaster neck for an easy Telecaster modification. Either way, the neck is important, more important than most realize. The neck is where your fingers meet the notes. If your neck does not feel absolutely perfect, get a better one. Skimp on your paint job if you have to, but don’t skimp on your neck.

Change the pickups

This is more low hanging fruit. Swapping out pickups is easy and offers you an opportunity to really improve the tone of your instrument. The most common modification is to install noiseless / humbucking pickups. This means that the annoying buzz is no more. As far as which pickups to use, see these earlier articles for suggestions on great pickups for the optimum Telecaster Modification:

Install a four-way pickup selector switch

This upgrade adds a fourth and very cool sound to your Telecaster; the bridge and neck pickup in Series. Series wiring is what makes humbuckers nuck the hum.  By default, when you select two pickups at the same time on any guitar, those two pickups are wired in parallel. With a four-way pickups selector switch, you have the option of having the bridge and neck pickups in series. This Telecaster Modification not only makes these essentially one big noiseless pickups, its also a pretty wicked sound. AcmeGuitarWorks offers a pre-wired Telecaster control assembly with the option for a four-way switch. It’s the best and easiest to install such upgrade that I know of.

Acme Guitar Works – Pre-Wired Telecaster Assemblies

Install an Electrosocket Output Jack

The standard Telecaster output jack kind of sucks. It doesn’t take much effort to step on your cable, twist around, and Wham!, your output jack has been put out. What to do? Install an Electrosocket Output Jack. It’s basically a much sturdier output jack. Cheap and easy to install, you can get them from Warmoth.com. This is a wise investment and a smart Telecaster Modification.

Warmoth Electrosocket with Switchcraft Jack, Chrome

Summary

These Telecaster Modifications are just a few suggestions. Anything more that I mention at this point would involve some surgery and you’d have to decide if you want to start chopping up your precious little axe. Personally, I love chopping up my guitars in the name of new and interesting sounds, but not everyone is as obsessed as I am with this kind of stuff. I can say for sure that the more you experiment, the more likely you are to find new sounds and get your Telecaster working just the way you want.  Here is a link to an article that contains more great links for the best Telecaster parts for your Telecaster Modification:

Where Can I Find The Best Telecaster Guitar Parts?

How To Replace Pickups On A Telecaster – By Seymour Duncan

4 way Telecaster Mod Switch Demo/Review

What Are The Best Telecaster Neck Pickups?

Telecaster Neck Pickup
What are the best Telecaster Neck pickups?

Nowadays, between digital modeling and overall great engineering, you can make virtually any guitar sound like just about any other guitar. Except, you cannot make any guitar really sound like a Telecaster. You can try, but it will never really quite smell right. If you are looking to upgrade your Telecaster neck pickup, you are in good luck. Many great sounding models are out there that offer not only a high-quality tone but they do so at a pretty reasonable price.

Noiseless / Hum-Canceling


Dimarzio Area T™ Neck DP417

Designed to retain warmth and clarity even when using high levels of distortion or overdrive. Chrome cover is included but does not interfere with the sound.


Seymour Duncan Hot Rails™ for Tele STHR-1n

Very high output, very strong mids, best for more aggressive styles.

Seymour Duncan Hot Rails STHR-1n Product Page

Vintage Style (non hum-canceling)


Lindy Fralin Stock Tele® Replacement Style Neck

Plain Enamel wire is used to wind these for a 7k output, with an option for an additional 2% more output.

Lindy Fralin Stock Tele Neck Product Page


Lindy Fralin High Output Tele® Style Neck

8k output, staggered magnets.

Lindy Fralin High Output Neck Product Page


Lindy Fralin Steel Poled Tele® Style Neck

Adjustable pole pieces and the option for 10% more output (7k) or 15% more output (9k).

Lindy Fralin Steel Poled Tele Neck Product Page


Dimarzio True Velvet™ T DP177

Designed to provide more clarity in the low wound strings and smooth out the highs. Double wax-potted to minimize squealing.

Dimarzio True Velvet Product Page


Dimarzio Twang King™ T DP172

Designed to provide more clarity in the low wound strings and smooth out the highs. Double wax-potted to minimize squealing.

Dimarzio Twang King DP172 Product Page


Seymour Duncan Vintage Rhythm STR-1

A faithful reproduction of 1950s Telecaster neck pickup.

Seymour Duncan Vintage Rhythm STR-1 Product Page

What Style Of Music Is a Telecaster Best For?

What Style Of Music Is a Telecaster Best For?
The Telecaster is great for many styles of music


The Fender Telecaster is probably viewed by most as being a somewhat specialized guitar, but it is also surprisingly versatile.

Best known for it’s “Twang”, this guitar has been used most often for country as it lends itself well to chicken pickin’ and other similar sounds. Some players have a stratocaster pickup installed in the middle position for more tonal options. This is called the “Nashville” setup. Although most associated with Country, the Telecaster also does a bunch of other things quite well. What makes this guitar so much fun to experiment with is the fact that no matter what you do, that “Twangy” character mostly remains. In the end you get a great hybrid tone that you simply cannot produce with any other guitar. Don’t think that you’ll need to get your scalpel out though; the Fender Telecaster does a bunch of stuff very well with no modifications, but you can also upgrade some of the parts to create your own sounds.

Funk

With no modifications, a Fender Telecaster is perfect for funk. The bridge pickup is excellent for creating that urgent tone often used by great funk guitarists. If you need an example, listen to just about anything from James Brown. The repetitive single-note lines you hear in most funk tunes can be created by simply using the bridge pickup with a little bit of grit.

R&B/ Soul

The middle and neck position sounds lend themselves well to R&B and Soul music. For example, Steve Cropper laid down many of this classic guitar tracks for Stax Atlantic using a Fender Telecaster. The inherent thin properties of the guitar work well as they stay our of the way of the bass and keyboards. Once again, no modifications needed here; a stock Telecaster works perfectly for R&B or Soul.

Blues

The Fender Telecaster is one of the most popular Blues guitars of all time. Players such as Albert Collins and Roy Buchanan trusted their Tele with their lives. Both of these Telecaster-Masters used stock guitars, but some may prefer a beefier neck pickup.

Jazz

One would not think of a Fender Telecaster when they think of Jazz; I certainly don’t. But Mike Stern is a perfect example of a guitarists who used the Telecaster in a way that it may not have been intended, and made it work. It is likely that if you wanted to use a Telecaster for Jazz, you may want to swap out the neck pickup for one that has a bit more beef, such as a mini humbucker or full humbucker. But then again, this is purely subjective and whatever works best is best.

Rock

If you plan to use a Telecaster for Rock, you probably will want to change the pickups. Stock Telecaster pickups are not hum-canceling, so they are likely to be problematic when using a lot of gain or playing at high volumes. There are plenty of noise-canceling pickups out there made especially for a Fender Telecaster. Also, the inherent thin nature of the Telecaster does not always sound best with Rock. With this in mind, there are plenty of rock guitarists who have used a stock Fender Telecaster. It is all up to you as to what you feel sounds best. The great thing about using a Telecaster for Rock is that combination of an aggressive tone, and the inherent twangy nature of the instrument makes for a really great combination. You wind up with a nice hybrid sound that is both macho and twangy at the same time.