Great replacement bridge pickups that have been designed for playing Rock with a Fender Telecaster.
The Fender Telecaster is actually a great guitar for Rock. The twangy sound fattens up nicely when run through some overdrive or a fuzz pedal. Even though many people consider the Telecaster to be a country guitar many great Rock players, including Jeff Beck, Mike Campbell, John 5, Richie Kotzen, Alex Lifeson, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, and Bruce Springsteen often use a Tele. One way that you might be able to help your Telecaster deliver a more Rock tone is to change the pickups, and that is what we’re going to talk about right now.
Here are some really high-quality pickups that were designed for Rock and for the great gain that they produce. So that means that we’ll be looking at humbucker pickups which will allow us to run through overdrive or fuzz while keeping inherent noise to a minimum. We’ll be looking at pickups that fit into the bridge position of a Tele without having to modify the guitar, taking into account the slanted nature of the Tele bridge pickup. If you’re looking to get a heavier rock sound out of your Tele, this list should help you narrow down the choices.
DiMarzio DP318 Super Distortion T Tele
The DiMarzio DP318 Super Distortion T Tele is designed to offer the same performance as the famous Super Distortion in a humbucking Tele bridge direct replacement pickup. The Super Distortion T is a mini-humbucker designed to fit into the Telecaster’s single coil bridge position, its coils creating a silent pickup with thicker and warmer lows. It uses a ceramic magnet for a brighter tone and a higher output that’s helpful in driving amplifiers harder for a better overdrive. The DiMarzio DP318 Super Distortion T is designed to take into account the slanted nature of the Tele pickup.
It’s connected with four-conductor wiring for parallel humbucking and split-coil modes, via a pull switch on the guitar’s volume knob. The Super Distortion T is designed to put out the same high gain as the regular Super Distortion, and the coils are powerful enough to allow splitting into a single coil without sounding brittle, thin, or weak. This pickup has been around since 2005, and it’s still one of the most popular when a player is looking for one that’s very hot and good for playing heavily over-driven music. It comes in several different colors, including camouflage.
Seymour Duncan The Hot Lead Stack Tele Bridge
The Seymour Duncan Hot Lead Stack Tele Bridge is a stacked humbucking pickup designed with Heavy Rock in mind. There are two over-wound coils stacked on top of each other around a bar magnet, creating a humbucker pickup that is the same size as a single coil. This leads to silent operation, which is essential in Modern Rock’s extremely high gain amplifiers. The bar magnet used in this pickup is ceramic, which was chosen for its higher output and brighter tone qualities. This pickup uses four-conductor wiring for parallel humbucking, and split single coil for more tonal options.
The Seymour Duncan Hot Lead Stack Tele Bridge is designed to have brighter sound with more emphasis on the mid-range and sustain, which should help your leads cut through the mix the way your stock Tele would, while still allowing the rhythm guitars to be thick and heavy. It’s designed to take into account the slanted bridge position of the Telecaster, and its coil has been tweaked accordingly. The Hot Lead Stack, which is only available in black, will drop right into place without any modifications to the guitar .
DiMarzio The Chopper T Bridge DP384
The DiMarzio Chopper T Bridge DP384 is a very high-output pickup designed especially for the bridge position of the Fender Telecaster. It has a lot less twang than the stock Tele pickup, but a good deal more mids and lows, and considerably more volume. If you stick with the stock Tele 250K controls for the Volume and Tone, the pickup creates a warm sound without too much of a high-end boost. If you change the Volume and Tone pots to 500k you will get a lot more high-end, and a brighter overall sound. The Chopper T is designed to have side-by-side coils instead of stacked, and it has a twin-blade construction, making it much quieter than the stock single coil.
Also, there are no string alignment or magnetic pull problems with this pickup design. The Chopper T uses a ceramic magnet for its higher output capabilities and brighter tones, and it connects to the guitar with four lead wires plus a shield. This is a black covered pickup that fits perfectly into the bridge position of a Tele with no modifications to the guitar. Players who use this pickup include Billy Sheehan and Richie Kotzen.
Seymour Duncan ST59-1 Little 59
The Seymour Duncan ST59-1 Little 59 is another mini-humbucker designed to deliver more of a Rock tone from your Tele. It features two coils side by side and uses a ceramic magnet for high output and a brighter high end. Designed with Gibson’s first humbucker in mind, the Little 59 is meant to have that PAF (Patent Applied For) sound, while still retaining some of the Tele twang. It’s is a medium-output pickup that has a nice even bass and treble with a slight midrange scoop that should lead to a nice sounding distortion when playing Rock or Heavy Metal. It’s connected to the guitar with four-conductor wire for parallel wiring or a single coil humbucker split. The 12 individual poles are adjustable for perfecting the balance across all of the strings, and to fine tune the magnetic field.
The Little 59 is designed as a direct replacement for the stock Tele pickup. They’re handmade in Santa Barbara, CA, where they’re wax potted to reduce microphonic feedback and other interference. There are many great players who use the Seymour Duncan ST59-1 Little 59, including James Lynch, Jerry Cantrell, Ler Lalonde, Zack Blair, Jake Kelly, Lyle Workman, and Gilby Clarke.
Seymour Duncan Zephyr Silver Tele lead
The Seymour Duncan Zephyr Silver Tele Lead is designed as a direct replacement for the bridge pickup on the Tele. It was created in response to a challenge put to Vice President of Engineering Kevin Beller, that he make the best pickup in his power, regardless of cost or material. As the name suggests, the wire coil that is usually made of copper, is made of fine silver wire, and as you might expect, the lower resistance of silver changes the way the pickups sound, and the way they react to your strings. The silver wire is softer and more manageable than copper, and results in a better, more evenly wound coil. It’s designed to have a richer tone, and to put out slightly more gain than stock pickups.
The Zephyr uses ALNICO 5 magnets, and the Nickel and Stainless Steel Bi-Metallic Pole Pieces are staggered for even tone across all six strings. Seymour Duncan uses a Glass Fiberfill Nylon Bobbin, chosen for its stability, slight advantages in sonic detail and definition, and resistance to microphonic feedback. Each Seymour Duncan Zephyr Silver Tele Lead Bridge Pickup also receives a Cryogenic Treatment for improvements in clarity.