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Old 05-31-2012, 08:16 PM   #1
iancmtaylor
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'Tele pickup vs. 'Strat pickup?

I really like the sound of a telecaster, what is the difference between a tele's pickups and my strat's pickups? I'm asking because I saw an ad for 'tele style pickups' and I would be pretty excited if I can just swap my pickups to get that sound.

Also, what woods is a tele likely to be made out of?

Thanks.
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Old 05-31-2012, 08:22 PM   #2
Uncle Manwich
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Well I know for a fact that a Tele's neck pickup is a lot thinner and most of the twang comes from the bridge and the way the pickup is positionned but I'm not much a Tele nut.

Tele's are usually made out of alder and ash.
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Old 05-31-2012, 08:57 PM   #3
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Edit: whoops, didn't mean to write so much. Well, you can't say I left anything out...

Telecaster neck pickups are smaller than Strat pickups and are traditionally the lowest in power, but also the warmest-sounding. They usually have a metal cover. Their smooth tone balances out the bright 'twang' of the bridge pickup when both pickups are used together, but by itself many people find a traditional Tele neck pickup to sound a bit muddy.

Telecaster bridge pickups are larger than Strat pickups, are usually installed at a more drastic angle than Stratocaster bridge pickups and traditionally they are mounted on a metal (usually brass) plate. They are usually wound with more turns of wire too. The extra windings and wider coil give a much more powerful tone while the more slanted position and the brass plate emphasise the highs. Compared to a typical Strat bridge pickup, the Tele's bridge pickup will be both more powerful and clearer; it will have both more treble and more bass response.

A common Stratocaster single coil pickup is in-between the Tele neck and bridge designs. It's in the middle in terms of size and its tone is also between the two, being both smoother than a normal Tele bridge pickup but clearer than a normal Tele neck pickup.

It's easy to get the sound of a Telecaster's neck pickup in a Strat single coil. All you have to do really is roll off a little of the treble - this can be done with the guitar's tone control.
The bridge of a Telecaster is harder to replicate. You don't have the metal base, nor the wider coil. You can, however, buy Stratocaster pickups that are made with metal plates and with a hotter wind, which together should get you close to the Telecaster tone. The angle of the Strat bridge pickup is also different to the Tele's bridge pickup, but not enough to really worry about.
The other problem is getting the sound of the Telecaster's middle pickup selection, i.e. the neck and bridge pickups on at the same time. Most Stratocasters are not wired to do this, since the middle pickup takes the middle selection and the only combined pickup options are the bridge + middle and neck + middle. You can easily install extra switches to give you the option of neck + bridge (check out the Seymour Duncan site for lots of wiring diagrams, even for pickups that aren't Seymour Duncan brand). You could also simply swap the middle and neck pickups around on the 5-way switch, so the pickup selector gives you bridge, bridge + neck, neck, neck + middle and then the middle pickup. This mixed up order can take a while to get used to though and it means giving up the middle + bridge option.

Many Telecaster fanatics will tell you a Strat can never sound like a Telecaster because the bridges are so different. In my experience, owning several Teles and Strats with all manner of different wood, electronic and hardware combinations, I have yet to notice any particular difference that I can attribute solely to the bridge. The vibratos of Strats certainly do seem to sap a little sustain and add an odd inherent reverb-like effect, but in terms of the basic tone the two sound the same more often than not. Teles typically use brass saddles while Strats more commonly have steel saddles, but of all the things to worry about I'd put this way down at the bottom of the list. Particularly with the bridge pickup, getting the hotter wind and metal plate are the biggest factors in making a Strat sound like a Tele.


As for wood, Telecasters have been made out of nearly everything. The earliest Telecasters were made from pine; Fender quickly switched to ash (both hard ash and swamp ash have been used). Later, alder started being used for Telecasters (usually for Teles with solid-colour finishes). Fender have also made Telecasters out of mahogany, korina, maple, koa, basswood, walnut and even solid rosewood. Ash is usually considered the most 'classic' Telecaster wood, though. Of course, Fender have also made Telecasters with chambered, semi-hollow and fully-hollow bodies; solid is, of course, the most common construction method.
Telecaster necks are almost always all-maple, though maple with a rosewood fretboard is a very common combination too. Since Telecasters are bolt-on instruments the neck and fretboard woods are very important and can seem to dictate the overall tone of the guitar more than the body wood does. Just as with the bodies, Fender have used many other kinds of wood for Telecaster necks and fretboards and have produced a few set neck Telecasters and even a few neck-through Telecasters. Do check out what differently-constructed Teles sound like. Since the Tele is such a basic instrument even the smallest change can effect the tone in a big way.
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Old 05-31-2012, 09:01 PM   #4
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the neck pickup is a bit wider and shorter then a stock strat pickup.

the big difference between the two is the traditional tele bridge pickup.

That is usually installed on a heavy base plate.

the strat pickup plate is much thinner.
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Old 05-31-2012, 09:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFlibble
Shtuff :P



Wow, thanks man, this is exactly what I was looking for!

I can get an 'almost twang' by putting the tone knobs down to one and playing the bridge pickup with my index fingernail like a pick. I'm a big fan of playing Ghost Riders in the Sky like that with some crunchy distortion.

I've only recently gotten to really delve into guitar tones and narrowing down what I'm looking for. So I went to guitar center a couple of weeks ago and just sat there for a few hours playing through a wide range of guitars. I now know that EMG's do nothing for me, les pauls with two humbuckers are pretty boring sounding to me, I like hollowbodies and the last guitar I played there was some version of a tele which totally blew me away. I played all these different guitars on a vox's 'british 80's metal' distort and only the hollowbodies and tele caught my ear. Which is really frikin weird because I listen to bands that play on EMG equipped guitars and I LOVE LP bodies. So I went in and played them first, but didn't like them at all.


Can you recommend a brand for hot-wired neck pickups? I'm not really looking to buy a new guitar at the moment, so if I can just slap on a new pickup to get that sound I'd be ecstatic :3
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Old 05-31-2012, 10:04 PM   #6
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The way you worded "vox's 'british 80's metal' distort" makes me think you were playing through a modelling amp. Those really are not good things to try gear on. They shape the tone in weird ways to try and make everything sound one specific way. When demoing guitars you should always try them out on an amp running completely clean with noeffects and all EQ controls set to the middle positions. That way you get to hear the guitar's purist tone and can really tell the difference.

Don't forget too that there are thousands of different pickups available and thousands of different guitars to put them in. EMGs in a Strat don't sound the same as EMGs in a Les Paul; one Dimarzio pickup may sound good in one Telecaster but might sound bad in another. And again, your amp has a lot to do with your tone.

So, it's quite hard to recommend gear, especially pickups, without knowing what guitar it will be going in to and what amp that guitar will be plugged in to. As a general rule of thumb if you want to make a Strat sound like a Tele then Seymour Duncan is a good brand to look at. They more or less specialise in Telecaster pickups (Seymour Duncan himself usually plays Telecasters, so go figure) and they're experts at fitting wildly different tones in unusual pickup sizes. They make a Strat pickup that is designed to sound like a Tele's bridge pickup and they make several warmer neck pickups for Strats too that do a good job of sounding close to a Tele. But like I said, it's hard to recommend any specific models without knowing exactly what kind of gear you have and exactly the kind of tone you want.
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Old 05-31-2012, 10:13 PM   #7
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Well most of the post in this thread are long as shit...The answer is no, a strat pickup in a tele won't sound the same and vice versa...Both come in varieties of wood, even from Fender themselves...the main difference is the bridges...put a strat bridge on a tele with tele standard pickups and it will won't sound like a tele...Don't beleive me go to guitar center and try different models.
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