Telecaster Bridge Pickups – Which Ones Are Best?

What Are The Best Telecaster Bridge Pickups?

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, should 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.

If you play a Fender Telecaster and feel that your sound is getting a little stale, or maybe you would just like to change up your sound a bit, then this might be the perfect time to try out some new pickups. Most of the pickups on this list are “Noiseless”, which means that they are humbucker pickups that are the size of single coil pickups. This is usually achieved by stacking the coils, or using two coils side by side. The tone from these pickups is quite good, and they have the added benefit of being hum bucking. The ones on this list are tuned to sound perfect in the bridge position of the Telecaster.

Noiseless / Hum-Canceling Telecaster Bridge Pickups

Fralin Split Blade Telecaster Bridge Pickups

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.

The Fralin Split Blade Telecaster Bridge Pickups feature a revolutionary noiseless design. It is a single coil sized humbucker pickup that places the two coils in a side by side design for a truer and more balanced single-coil tone.
This pickup features Lily Fralin’s unique 4 Split Blade design for achieving both single coil and humbucker tones, the unique design also gives the pickup a modern look. The blades are available in three different heights to match your fingerboard radius, and the bridge pickup is wound a little hotter to match the neck pickup in output level.

The Fralin Split Blade is a bright sounding pickup carefully designed to provide plenty of the sparkle and twang that caused us to seek out the Tele in the first place. It uses American-made ceramic magnets for maximum quality, tonal balance, and output. This is a hand wound pickup that uses Lilly Fralins signature Sectioning Technique.

This pickup comes in four styles, and each style has a different output level.

Vintage Output

The Vintage Output version offers a thicker and darker tone than the other options. This version gets the closest to the vintage sound and still offers a plenty of twang and bite.

Blues Output

The Blues Output version of this pickup has 5% more winding than the Vintage Output version. This extra winding will give you more bass and more midrange but less high-end. This tone balance is a great choice for blues, and sounds good clean or overdriven.

High Output

The High Output version of this pickup has 10% more winding on the coils than the Vintage Output version. This style also uses a bigger magnet for a brighter sound to balance the tone from the extra windings around the coil.

Super High Output

The Super High Output version of this pickup is 15% stronger than the Vintage Output version and it also uses the larger magnet. This version is a little warmer than the High Output version, and it is designed to be used with other humbucker pickups. The Super High Output is a great choice for Rock and Metal style distortion.

Fender N3 Noiseless; Telecaster Bridge Pickups

The Fender Single N3 Noiseless Tele Bridge Pickup is a single coil sized humbucker (Noiseless) pickup invented by the company that invented the Telecaster. This pickup is designed for silent operation while still preserving a single coil tone, by utilizing modern technologies key like extra-long pole pieces and printed circuit boards.

The coils are wound with a Formvar insulated magnetic wire, for a traditional style coil and a brighter tone. The N3 features Alnico 5 magnets for more punch and response. It also features staggered, non beveled pole pieces, for a more balanced tone going across all of your strings. The Bobbin that the coil is wound on utilizes a solder free printed circuit board.

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 – Telecaster Bridge Pickups

Designed to maintain the traditional Tele bridge sound, but provide a bigger sound with more volume and, of course, zero hum.

The Dimarzio Fast Track T DP381 is a high output silent single coil pickup from DiMarzio. This pick up Features Dimarzio’s patented Dual Resonance Coil. Dual Resonance Coils have a lower DC resistance and allow the pickup to achieve brighter tones than would be possible with standard coils.

The Fast Track features twin pole magnetic blades. These blades produce a more even string to string response and the magnetic field that they create has less strength full than traditional bar magnets. This can help increase sustain while reducing tone coloration and string pull.

Changing the values of your tone pots that control this pickup can have a pronounced effect on it. The 250k pot will have a warm tone, while the 500k pot will have a brighter tone. The One Mega Ohm pot will be even brighter than that.

Seymour Duncan Little ‘59 Telecaster Bridge Pickups – 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 Telecaster Bridge Pickups – 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.

The Seymour Duncan Hot Lead Stack STK-T2b is a high-output noiseless coil from Seymour Duncan. It features over wound coils for higher gain output, and Alnico 5 magnets for a punchier sound that is more responsive to your playing.

It also features a new style of bar magnet called a Blade Magnet which replaces the poles and is designed to reduce dropouts during string bends, and to create a more even magnetic field.

The Hot Lead Stack feature a stacked coil design, and both coils are wound around the Blade Magnet. The coils are wax potted to reduce microphonics and has four conductor leads for plenty of wiring options.

Seymour Duncan Vintage Stack Telecaster Bridge Pickups – 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.

The Seymour Duncan Vintage STK-T3b is a noiseless pickup designed with Tele twang in mind. This is a bridge position pickup designed to fit right into a Telecaster guitar. It features Alnico 5 pickups for a more responsive pickup and uses a stacked coil design. The stacked coils most closely resemble single coil coils and have a similar response to the strings.

This pickup also features four conductor leads wires for plenty of wiring options.

The output is nearly identical to vintage Tele pickups, making this a great choice for players that need to eliminate the hum without sacrificing true Tele lead tone.

Vintage Style (non hum-canceling) Telecaster Bridge Pickups

Lindy Fralin Stock Telecaster Bridge Pickups

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).

The Lindy Fralin Stock Telecaster Bridge Pickups are the only pickups on this list that are not humbucking pickups, and that’s because no list of Tele pickups can be complete without them.

The Stock Telecaster Bridge Pickups are hand wound, using Lindy Fralins special Sectioning technique, to be as close to the ‘50s style Tele pickups as possible. They feature 42 gauge Plain Enamel Wire, which itself is becoming harder and harder to get, but it keeps the pickup authentic and guarantees tones as close to the original as possible.

The bobbins are also hand made and feature Alnico 5 magnetic posts, and locally made fiberboard and each pickup is wax potted to prevent microphonics.

These pickups are made for those that want the most authentic recreation of vintage telecaster pickups possible.

Lindy Fralin Blues Special Telecaster Bridge Pickups

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 High Output Telecaster Bridge Pickups

Wound using 43 gauge wire, these Telecaster 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 Telecaster Bridge Pickups

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 Telecaster Bridge Pickups – DP112

One of the traditional Telecaster bridge pickups, 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 Telecaster Bridge Pickups – 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 Telecaster Bridge Pickups – 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  one of the Vintage Telecaster bridge pickups, and a pretty hot tamale.

Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound for Tele (lead) STL-3 Telecaster Bridge Pickups

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 really one of the great Telecaster bridge pickups and has almost humbucker-level output, but at the same time, does not lose it’s Tele charm. It’s an odd, but pretty good choice, and I recommend it, as long as you don’t use too much gain.

Seymour Duncan Vintage Broadcaster® Lead STL-1b Telecaster Bridge Pickups

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.

Ed Malaker Our resident electronics wizard came by his skills honestly — first as an apprentice in his father’s repair shop, later as a working musician and (most recently) as a sound designer for film. His passion for guitar led him to Humbucker Soup, where he continues to decode the wonders of wiring and the vicissitudes of voltage. Ed has never taken his guitar to a shop — he already knows how to fix it.