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Thread: Need pickup advice

  1. #1
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    Need pickup advice

    If you have an opinion regarding pickups for my Telecaster Thinline build I'd be interested in hearing.

    I'm not interested in a particular sound per se but I have a very nice Gibson SG and I want the Telecaster to have a sound distinct from it. My goal is to expand my tone range with the two guitars.

    If possible, please suggest pickups that Adam carries as I'd like to give him the business. But I'm also curious to know more about other makes and models available. At this point I really don't know a thing.

  2. #2
    Overlord of Music Sonic Mountain's Avatar
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    Hard to go wrong with the Toneriders. I have the Hot Classic tele bridge in my Sonicaster build teamed with a Pitbull kit neck humbucker. It's one of my favourite sounding guitars with both of them selected, easily in my top 3 when playing through a decent amp.

    On it's own it is just classic Telecaster jangle. I'd say that would fulfil the different sound requirement. I actually built a TL-1 using just the kit pickup as well and it was great fun, perhaps not quite as punchy as the Toneriders, but still very respectable.

    Build 1 - Shoegazer MK1 JMA-1
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    Build 3 - The Black Cherry SG AG-1
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    "What I lack in talent I make up for with enthusiasm"

  3. #3
    Overlord of Music Dedman's Avatar
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    I have to agree on the Tonerider Hot Classic in the bridge. I used a GFS Retrotron in the neck on my thinline and I love the way they sound together. I have a solid Tele with Tone Rider Vintage Classics set in it, the Hot has just that extra bit of twang and and bite.
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  4. #4
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    Thanks, guys. Do you have any experience with the TONERIDER TRT1SET VINTAGE PLUS SET?

  5. #5
    Mentor Andyxlh's Avatar
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    I have both the hot classics in one TL and the vintage plus in the other. I like them both, and I'm a hard rock fan, but I keep picking up the guitar with the vintage plus set in, not sure if it's all the pickups or the instrument, but I do prefer the vintage through my blackstar. You really can't go wrong with either.

  6. #6
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    I got the bright idea to contact Tone Rider and ask them the same question. Here's their response:

    Hi Tom,

    Well I don’t think you’ll get one of our tele sets to sound like the very good, but very humbuckerish T-Tops at all. You’ll be in a whole new territory.

    Our TRT2SET with Alnico III Magnets will give you an early 50s broadcaster sound - pure vintage tele, and about as far from the T-top as we can get!

    Andrew Cunningham
    General Manager
    Tonerider Ltd
    Reg Office: 26 St Stephens Road, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7HU
    Warehouse/Deliveries: Rear Workshop, 21 Roper Road, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7EG


    I'm a bit surprised to learn that the Hot Classics have a more vintage sound than the Vintage Plus!
    I think Andyxlh is right when he says that I can't go wrong with either. Factor in that the Vintage Plus is out of stock and the Hot Classics are on sale and it's an easy decision.

    Thanks again

  7. #7
    Try the Drangonfire vintage tele sound they are great, and try a 4 way switch on the tele too, I like that a lot.

  8. #8
    Overlord of Music Simon Barden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TZK321 View Post
    I'm a bit surprised to learn that the Hot Classics have a more vintage sound than the Vintage Plus!
    It's mainly about the magnets used. Alnico 3 (used in the Hot Classics) is the weakest of the Alnico grades. Supposedly Alnico 3 was used in the pre '55 pickups, though in reality it was often Alnico 2 or 5 or a generic Alnico mix that was close to 3, without being 3. Sometimes the rods were mixed in the same pickup. But as magnets lose power over time, Alnico 3 is generally now used if you want a new pickup to sound like it's a 60-70 year-old vintage one.

    Post '55, Alnico 5 was used, and has been since for standard Tele pickups. So Alnico V can still give you a classic pre-CBS Tele sound, but just not quite the same as the original Esquire/Broadcaster/Nocaster era pickups.

    The other sound variables are the coil wire, the winding method, the bridge baseplate material and for the neck pup, the cover material.

    The original pups started with 43-gauge plain enamel wire, then the bridge pickup moved over to 42-gauge within a few years.

    The neck pickup stayed with 43-gauge (it's a very small pickup so needs thin wire to get the turns on the bobbin), but briefly moved to thicker 42-gauge wire for around 6 months in '52 then went back to 43-gauge. Getting enough turns of the thicker wire on the small bobbin must have proved too hard to keep using the thicker wire, but it sounds like typical Leo trying to penny-pinch by not stocking two gauges of wire.

    The original bridge and neck pickups were heavily wound, you may say even 'overwound', compared to the lower winds applied after '55. All handwired, so the exact number of turns and tension varied from pickup to pickup. But that's why some of those early Tele pickups can match P90s, and even some humbuckers in output. Winding methods then stayed pretty constant until CBS took over in '65 and installed winding machines based on 7500 turns - which then gave Tele bridge pups that very bright and cutting treble sound.

    The original Tele bridge baseplates were zinc-plated steel. Towards '55, this generally changes to a thinner copper-plated steel baseplate.

    Pre-'55, the bridge magnets were flat-topped, set level with the bobbin, but staggered height magnets came in around '55.

    For the neck pickup, the traditional covers were made from deep-drawn brass, which rolls-off a lot of treble. A nickel-silver or nickel plated nickel-silver cover rolls off far less treble, so that's what a lot of less traditional Tele neck pickup covers are made of.

    So back to the Toneriders. The Hot Classics have Alnico 3 magnets for that pre '55/aged sound, but the bridge has staggered poles and a copper-plated steel baseplate, so is otherwise more like a post '55 pickup in construction. No details of wire gauge used are given. The neck pup has a nickel-steel cover, so is going to sound brighter than a vintage neck pickup would - which is a good thing IMO, as I've just removed an SD Tele vintage neck pickup and replaced it with an Iron Gear one, as the original was just to dull and 'meh' sounding on its own.

    The Vintage Plus use a very similar construction method - staggered poles and copper-plated baseplate on the bridge - but use Alnico V magnets. So you are going to get more of that post '55 sound. The neck pickup uses 42-gauge wire, and the reduced inductance on this pickup compared to the Hot Classics would lead me to thing the Hot Classics use 43-gauge wire.

    The Tonerider winding machines try and simulate hand winding, but won't do it quite the same as a fallible human would, and you aren't going to get variations in the number of turns.

    (It's a good thing the latest copy of Guitarist popped through my door yesterday with a huge number of articles on the Telcaster as it's now 70 years old).

  9. Liked by: macke_magnusson

  10. #9
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    That certainly explains things. Thanks, Simon.

  11. #10
    Member ILRGuitars's Avatar
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    Another option is also your wiring choice. If you set it up with a 4 way switch and coil splitting the humbucker, you will get plenty more tone options.

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