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Tele pick-ups and balance

4/12/2005 10:03 PM
Ptron Tele pick-ups and balance
I have a crapco pickup in the neck position of my otherwise 52 re-issue Tele. I always thought this was the reason it had a lot less output than the bridge pickup. Now a friend tells me his is the same way. Is this just the way (standard) Tele pickups are?
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4/13/2005 8:55 AM
Steve A.

    The tele pickups aren't identical so there will be differences between the two. But with a vintage set (like NoCasters or the ones from Lindy Fralin) the bridge is around 7.3k so it isn't a whole bunch louder than the neck. Add in the Fender 4 way switch and you will get boosted output in the series position , while the other 3 positions should be roughly the same in volume.  
    Crapco... I think I have some of their pickups on my other guitars.  
Steve Ahola
4/13/2005 9:10 AM

Check out pickup specs in "The Fender Telecaster" by A.R. Duchossoir.....  
Neck pickup for 1950's to early 1960's is 7.7 K DC resistance  
Bridge pickup for same period is 7.5 K DC resistance  
ie 2.15 Henries and 3.21 Henries respectively  
1.75 Q and 2.69 Q respectively  
That means that the neck pickup is hotter than the bridge. Your's have been wound so that the bridge is hotter. Well that's OK so long as there's a good balance. Try adjusting pickup heights to get a balance.  
Personally, I tend to make my Tele pickup sets for Standard set ups with the neck at 7.5 K and the bridge at 8.5 K. This works well.....never had a complaint.  
Hope this helps. The thing to do really is get shot of the Crapco.  
Shed Pickups
4/13/2005 6:38 PM
Steve A.

    Does that book tell you what gauge wire is used in the neck and bridge pickups? I have a hunch that the neck uses a lighter gauge than the bridge because it is so small.  
    My own feelings about the tele neck pickup is that it is usually a very boring pickup by itself, but blends well with the bridge pickup. "Heresy!" say some people, but I think that the majority of tele neck pickups out there are a bit bland and boring... not as woody and full as strat neck pickup, and certainly not as exciting as a tele bridge pickup, which is one of the best sounds on earth. So the tele neck has kinda been the little brother whose achievements do not measure up to his older brother...  
    At least that is what I felt about tele neck pickups in the past. However, I was very pleased with the neck pickup in a set of Lindy Fralin Blues Specials that I picked up a few years ago... it is almost as nice as the Fralin strat neck pickup. Since then I've been very impressed with the NoCaster set in my '51 Butterscotch Blonde RI, which uses Alnico 3 instead of A2 or A5. I got the newer NoCaster which runs about 7.5k dc resistance (the earlier ones had been around 10k). Although I like the vintage vibe of the 7.5k winding, I was wondering if I ought to special order an overwound Lindy Fralin A3 tele bridge pickup, running at 9.5k or 10k... decisions, decisions!  
Steve Ahola
4/14/2005 6:50 AM

Steve the neck pickups were wound with 43AWG. But the earliest Broadcaster bridge pickups were also wound with 43AWG to about 10 K or more. Apparently Leo Fender didn't much like the darker sounding broadcaster bridge units and so started using 42 guage. He was happy with the neck pickup by all accounts and it would be mega hard to get much 42 guage on one of those.  
I can see what you mean when you say you find the neck pickup very bland, however, at the risk of ranting from other pickup makers, here's a quote from the May 2005 edition of 'Guitar ' Magazine. BTW it relates to a special set of pickups I made for a Custom built Tele called a Taff Delta. It's made in Wales (uk) by Dave Dearnaley.... and I must make it clear that I'm not advertising here just using someone elses words to describe pickup tones....  
" worries about those overwound pickups were quickly dispelled.....turned up full the bridge sounds extremely fat, solid and raunchy, combining that pinched vintage Fender quack with the slightly throaty mid range and power you might associate with a humbucker or a P90. There is incredible harmonic complexity with bite and clarity, and if you back off the volume a smidge, the sound reverts to the trademark twang that most of us associate with a Telecaster.  
The volume of the neck pickup matches the bridge, but sonically it's very different. It sounds massive but clean, with a bell-like mid range, clear lows and sparkling highs. With the tone full up it's a killer blues machine, back off the highs and the sound morphs into a mellow and almost semi accoustic jazz tone.  
With such contrasting pickups the in-between setting is a complete suprise. It's extremely phasey, with a scooped midrange and plenty of maple board bite. Crank up the amp and this thing takes you straight to Chicago...back off the tone, slip on a thumbpick and you're down home in Tennessee."  
Huw Price, Guitar reviewer.  
Both those pickups were wound with 43 AWG on AlNiCo II magnets with forbon flats. The bridge spec'ed out at 13.3K and the neck at 7.2 K.  
So in essence, I think what I'm getting at is that you can get a good sounding neck pickup and I think you can 'tune' a pickup to the guitar when designing them.
4/14/2005 8:33 PM
Steve A.

    I was referring to my earlier opinion when I said that the tele neck pickup is bland... I've been very happy with the hand-made tele neck pickups from Lindy Fralin and the Fender Custom Shop, not to mention the Antiquity I neck from Seymour Duncan.  
    I'm glad to hear that your pickups are getting good reviews, too.  
Steve Ahola
4/15/2005 7:32 AM
Andrew C

The tele neck is truly a strange beast. Some like it hot and stratty, other really smooth and cool jazzy. You have to a good idea of what you want to use it for.  
My guess is Spence's neck pup falls into the smoother catagory. Not my cup of tea personally, but I am totally brainwash by strats, and I want the "throat"!!  
Essentially if you are looking for a replacement you have to decide to go for  
a) alnico V pickup - strattier  
b) alnico II/III pickup - smoother  
Both of these can be wound "more vintage" , higher scatter with less mids, and softer bass, and less spank, or more modern, with less scatter, more punch and projection.  
90% of makers just use one of the above formulas.  
The tele bridge though is where makers go wild. Spence's specs are very original and sound like a great solution for someone who wants a dose of juice with their tele!  
Andrew C.

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