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  1. #1

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    I have some questions about using a humbucker as the neck pickup on a Telecaster:

    1) If you were putting a humbucker (for jazz) in the neck position of a Tele, would you choose a full-size humbucker or a mini humbucker.

    2) Which humbucker would you choose?

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  3. #2

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    they both sound great. I'd used a '70s LP Deluxe pickup in a tele before. The dimarzio version is a little brighter than that gibson and doesn't work as well in a tele IMO.

    Try a dimarzio 36th anniversary paf, a classic 57 or if you want to go boutique a manilius pickup.

  4. #3

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    Thanks jzucker.

    I have a friend who is a lutheir and he would route my Hiway 1 Tele body for $20.00 (I remove the neck and hardware first...to save him time) .
    This is tempting me. He has suggested a mini-humbucker route, but I have never had a guitar with a mini-humbucker. Hence my questions.

    Cheers

    Dave
    Last edited by Greco; 05-30-2011 at 08:05 PM.

  5. #4

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    it's tough to find a decent mini IMO. The dimarzio ones are very hot and very bright. They are used by Ibanez in the GB10 and I've had them in my soloway guitars. In both cases they are very bright IMO. The lollar one is decent but doesn't really sound warm like the '70s LP version. I have not tried a Gibson LP mini reissue but that may be a good alternative.

  6. #5

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    I routed my ASAT Classic for a humbucker. After hours thinking about which pickup to install I finally opted for a Seymour Duncan Jazz as it was the most affordable of the ones I was looking at and it sounds great. All in all, you'll likely be happy with just about any quality pickup.

  7. #6

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    I've seen it recommended in other threads here that a full-size hum is the way to go, and I agree, though I have a mini in my Squire Vintage Modified. You have so many more choices with a full size. Popular neck pickups for jazz include a Seth Lover, Gibson '57, or even a single coil CC. There are fewer choices with the mini, and most people will say a mini is a bit brighter and may distort more than a good full size humbucker.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by woyvel
    I've seen it recommended in other threads here that a full-size hum is the way to go, and I agree, though I have a mini in my Squire Vintage Modified. You have so many more choices with a full size. Popular neck pickups for jazz include a Seth Lover, Gibson '57, or even a single coil CC. There are fewer choices with the mini, and most people will say a mini is a bit brighter and may distort more than a good full size humbucker.
    Thanks...I was leaning towards the full-size route and I do have Seth Lover in my parts box. I certainly like the fact that there are many choices to consider/try.

    Cheers

    Dave

  9. #8

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    a mini does not distort more than a full size humbucker. The mini has less output and is typically brighter. The mini sounds in between a single and a full size humbucker and some folks feel that it sounds more like a P90 which is very desirable IMO

  10. #9

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    those CC pickups sound great but hum like crazy

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker
    a mini does not distort more than a full size humbucker. The mini has less output and is typically brighter. The mini sounds in between a single and a full size humbucker and some folks feel that it sounds more like a P90 which is very desirable IMO
    Ummm...

    Then why not simply pass on by the HB and stick in a P90? I prefer the sound of a P90 anyway.

  12. #11

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    My Tele has a Seth Lover in the neck position and she gives me a nice jazzy tone. The pickup is voiced to bring focus to mids, smooth out and warm up highs while keeping a balanced sound

  13. #12

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    I'd consider the best of both worlds...a Fralin P-92. It's quiet like a humbucker, has the drive of a humbucker should you want it, but it has the detail, especially in the lower strings, of a single coil. I like it so much I put it in my Heritage Sweet 16 instead of a 'bucker.

    One of the details you don't mention is the body and fretboard wood on your Tele.

    I'd call Lindy Fralin, who is very accessible, and ask for a suggestion, since he sells all types.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greco
    Thanks...I was leaning towards the full-size route and I do have Seth Lover in my parts box. I certainly like the fact that there are many choices to consider/try.

    Cheers

    Dave
    Dave,

    If you already have a Seth Lover then use that pickup. It's great and no additional expense needed. Your quest should be done for now.


    Cheers,
    Steve

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker
    Ummm...

    A little something called hum...
    Where is it written that every P90 hums? The Fralins are an example of a P90 design that does not hum.
    Last edited by bborzell; 05-31-2011 at 11:09 AM.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by bborzell
    Where is it written that every P90 hums?
    All single coil pickups hum

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker
    those CC pickups sound great but hum like crazy
    Easy to fix that with volume and tone controls for the CC and the bridge pickup. Set the selector switch in the middle and turn the bridge pickup volume almost all the way down and you've got a CC bucking hum. I do it all the time with P-90's and Vintage Vibe HCC's. Works like a charm.

  18. #17

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    Some P90 designs are set up to eliminate hum.

  19. #18

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    A hum canceling P90 is not really a P90. Frankly, I have not heard a hum canceling pickup of any type nail a true single coil tone. The best I have heard is the dimarzio area pickups and next to a true single coil, there's a big diff. The demos I've heard of the fralins don't sound like "real" P90s to me. You'd be better off with a mini IMO.

  20. #19

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    get the full hb route and decide later

    i like the 72 gibson in mine but i also like the lollar special T tele pickup in there too (both for jazz although the HB is good for other things as well, more so than the tele neck)

    As for which one YOU prefer you maybe you can go to a local music store and try something with a full sized HB and see what you think. If you want something a little brighter and not as hot try a mini.

  21. #20

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    Thanks again for all of the thoughts and suggestions.

    I also have a Seymour Duncan Phat Cat that I could try.

    Cheers

    Dave
    Last edited by Greco; 05-31-2011 at 02:06 PM.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles
    Then why does anyone still use a single coil pickup?
    People put up with the singles because of the tone. However, if you're playing out and recording you will quickly find out that the hum is undesirable.

    Bowing out now.

  23. #22

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    I've always wanted a single coil and a humbucker next to each other, both "in" the neck position, but I've never seen anyone else do this.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker
    All single coil pickups hum
    I just ordered a Fender Noiseless Tele pickup, used off EBay to replace the SD Tele pickup in the neck position on my Faux Klein. I THINK it may be perfect for that spot. I played a Noiseless Tele and was disappointed that it didn't sound as much like a Tele as the Noiseless Strats sound like Strats. This will be a bit darker than a Tele pup in the neck. Anyway, it shipped today and with any luck, I'll have it before the weekend. My primary motivation was no hum in a heavy RFI area. Plus, no routing. Drop it in, solder, and done.

    Bob
    Last edited by uburoibob; 05-31-2011 at 07:11 PM.

  25. #24

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    The stock Tele neck pickup sounds fine.

  26. #25

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    This whole thread makes me wonder... If you don't like a Telecaster, why not get a guitar that you do like. If a humbucker is what you want, there are countless solid bodies, semi-hollows, and hollows of every size, all of which come with humbuckers to start with.

    If you already have a Tele and don't like the pickups, why not swap the whole guitar. It's easier.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greco
    Thanks again for all of the thoughts and suggestions.

    I also have a Seymour Duncan Phat Cat that I could try.

    Cheers

    Dave
    I put a Phat Cat in my Peavey ash tele copy after I routed out the neck cavity and wired it as a single pickup guitar. It was dead quiet due to extra care, good pots and shielding, but it lacked almost any redeeming tone. Next same neck Phat Cat went into a nice Dot. Better, but not great. Now it and its bridge brother are in an Epi Joe Pass and that's where they belong. Mini hums are probably great suggestions. Even the factory Epi NY Mini in my Alleykat was an excellent pickup and I've heard that some Alleykat owners were very pleased with the Duncan mini with alnico mags and a mild, vintage, wind.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenbennett
    The stock Tele neck pickup sounds fine.
    ..to you... But some folks love Tele pups that builders wind, like LSL, or Lollars or (fill in the blank) cuz stock ones aren't fine for them.

    For me...
    ...as many posts in this thread have said, it ain't the sound, it's the hum...

    Bob
    Last edited by uburoibob; 05-31-2011 at 07:21 PM.

  29. #28

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    I did the same thing- routed my tele and installed a humbucker for jazz in the neck position. I used a Seymour Duncan 59 (a full sized humbucker)
    The sound is perfect and I'm really pleased I made this change. I highly recommend this pickup.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Timo
    I did the same thing- routed my tele and installed a humbucker for jazz in the neck position. I used a Seymour Duncan 59 (a full sized humbucker)
    The sound is perfect and I'm really pleased I made this change. I highly recommend this pickup.

    Nice. I should have said I love the SD Seth Lover on my tele as much as the 59 on the strat. They are not comparable as they sound very different. I am pleased with both so my hunt is over. Just a mood thing, two is enough and I might as well recommend TRYING either one. Everyone is different, so just my two cents.

    I have never tried the humbucker 59, I wonder how similar it is to the lil59er seeing that the construction is different.

    and now....to work on my playing skills.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by uburoibob
    Ken,

    I see you make a lovely Tele with two Humbuckers in it.

    Nice looking.

    Bob
    Thanks Bob. That's a good guitar, but it has a lot of un-tele qualities about it. It was my first design. I had always played Gibson up to that point, so I preferred humbuckers or p90 stlye pickups. The goal was to incorporate my favorite qualities from Gibson, Fender, and even Jackson-stlye guitars.

    I used the tele shape, streamlined it, and deepened the cutaway.

    Back to the original poster's question:

    Greco,

    Phat Cat is a great pickup. It is a single coil pickup, though. So if hum is your problem, the Phat Cat won't necessarily fix it.

    If the high-pitch feedback, screaming, is your problem, that's different from the hum problem. The scream is caused by unwanted resonance of some part of the pickup, like a loose winding. Wax potting is the fix.

    I like to do things the easy way. I would try one of the direct replacement humbuckers for tele. DiMarzio, Seymour-Duncan and others make them. Joe Barden makes some really fat sounding ones too.

    If hum is not the problem. I mean if you're looking for better tone, then there are even more single-coil choices for direct replacements.

    Good luck and good sound,
    Ken

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by musicalbodger
    Sorry MGI, but that looks horrible. Whoever put that bucker in there has a very limited appreciation of line, form and aesthetics. Perhaps it might look better with a black surround to match the bridge pickup, but to me it looks like the visual ruin of a neat guitar. Proportions are wrong too for the size and shape of the guitar and the other hardware on there.
    Sorry, it may sound good but it don't look good.
    Well... This guitar was the most praised design in the NAMM Show booth, and especially this mini-bucker with cream ring, that perfectly compliment the amber color of the top. Praised not only by musicians, but also by renowned luthiers. So, I'm sorry, but I trust their tastes more than yours. And, yes, it sound just great for jazz, Alnico2 magnets, #42 wire, scatterwound, all the best. Original Tele neck pickup has too tiny sound, probably, it's good for the rhythm, but definitely not for jazz.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky
    Do you think it is placed where it is placed because that is where it SOUNDS good? It is a musical instrument, after all, not a wall-hanging.

    I am not a gifted sculptor but I think that it looks good. Where else can it be mounted?
    Hey Jabberwocky, sorry to take so long to reply, been way too busy.

    My point was not where the neck pickup is mounted. Obviously it's going to be placed where it is being a "neck" pickup, and I'm fully conscious of the fact that it is the SOUND that matters beyond anything else — apart from playability. My point was that it could look so much better if it were bigger, or if it were in a colour that complemented or reflected the rest of the beautiful looking guitar.

    I'm glad you think it looks good, but it could look so much better.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by MGI
    Well... This guitar was the most praised design in the NAMM Show booth, and especially this mini-bucker with cream ring, that perfectly compliment the amber color of the top. Praised not only by musicians, but also by renowned luthiers. So, I'm sorry, but I trust their tastes more than yours. And, yes, it sound just great for jazz, Alnico2 magnets, #42 wire, scatterwound, all the best. Original Tele neck pickup has too tiny sound, probably, it's good for the rhythm, but definitely not for jazz.
    MGI, as I said in the post to Jabberwocky above, apologies for not replying to your post sooner but I've been way too busy.

    Great that the guitar got so much attention and praise. Although I'm a bit confused over your assertion that renowned luthiers and musicians all have a great appreciation and knowledge of the visual arts and design. I guess, working on that principle, you probably get your hair cut by an electrician, take your car to an accountant to be serviced and get your tax advice from the garbage man.

    To my eye there are many great luthiers who make great sounding instruments but whose sense of form and design are somewhat lacking. This example, to my eye, is spoilt by a lack of cohesion in the design. The neck pup looks like an add on to what is, otherwise, a beautiful looking instrument.

    I'm sure, as you say, it sounds great, but that wasn't my point.

  35. #34

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    i love me some 60 cycle hum.

    so worth it for the tone.

    never played a gig where the hum was more noticeable than the drunk guy in the front. when recording its always been easy enough for me to find the "sweet spot" where it goes away. magnetic north or whatever that is. depends on the wiring where you are too. some places are just a lost cause. one of my old student's house hums like crazy WITH my humbuckers. and NO sweet spot ANYWHERE. drives me nuts. i spent half the lesson freaking out about it. strangely he quit.

    that EH hum canceling pedal does work surprisingly well though. i notice a very subtle change in tone, but almost in a good way at least for jazz stuff. for rock...embrace the hum.

    if i had 3 teles, i would have one stock, one with a lollar imperial humbucker, and one with a CC. all 3 have their place. but since i have only 1, gotta go with stock. it does 70% as well as what the other 2 do, and still rocks out. ooo aaah.
    Last edited by mattymel; 06-15-2011 at 11:31 PM.

  36. #35

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    I got a partcaster "Tele" last year that with a GFS mini-humbucker installed at the neck. I was planning to re-sell it, and had never played a mini-hum before. Eight months later, I play this thing all the time, because it gets a great jazz tone. From what I read, this is a pickup that GFS worked to create that would have a "fat" sound--moreso that other minis.

    Just my experience.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoopskidoodle
    That looks fine... but, IMHO, that guitar (aesthetically speaking) is screaming for a cream soapbar p90 in the neck position... and I'd do away with the black screws.
    Easy to replace - mounting ring is the size of P-90. Pickup cavity too.

  38. #37

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    How fortunate that you guys are discussing this!
    I'm just experimenting with this scenario.
    The stock pickup were fine for me except on the high E and B.
    Then it sounds a little to "Tele" (read "country"......or thin "splat")
    With a set of 12 Chromes the 4 lower strings actually are exactly to my liking.

    They "bounce" just like a fender should (and that's why people choose Tele"s for Jazz and change the pickups.......Tele's have a distinct body sound especially when picked near the front p'up)

    So luckily for me I have a Luthier who will allow me to try some different p'ups.
    The hum doesn't worry me that much but I'm thinking that a humbucker might be the way to go as far as tone is concerned.
    At the moment I have put the Fender "noiseless" Tele p'ups in.
    They are NOT noiseless. They are a little more quiet but still have a decent hum.
    More importantly they sound ok but the volume of the high E string is very low and the B is loud. Probably designed for a different fret board radius than mine (9 1/2' I think mine is)
    So I think we will push that E pole piece up and the B down and see if it works.
    Actually I'm really tempted to buy a cheap Mexican Tele and start chopping into it to try different pickups.
    Before I butcher my main Tele.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by MGI
    Easy to replace - mounting ring is the size of P-90. Pickup cavity too.
    That was the impetus for my having said it.

    ...that and my love of the un-muddled tones of single coil pickups.
    Last edited by Hoopskidoodle; 08-26-2011 at 03:31 AM.

  40. #39

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    Have you checked out Harmonic Design?

    I have the Super Chrome - It's a single coil sized P90 and works well for jazz with the tone knob turned at half. Well, it's generally a warm sounding pickup anyhow.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wei-Ming
    Have you checked out Harmonic Design?

    I have the Super Chrome - It's a single coil sized P90 and works well for jazz with the tone knob turned at half. Well, it's generally a warm sounding pickup anyhow.
    I have a Super-90 in the bridge position of one of my Teles.

  42. #41

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    I realize I'm starting up a thread that has been dead for a while, but I wanted to chime in on this subject. I am a telecaster lover and this issue has bothered me for years. Specifically, the issue of single coil buzz. I play lots of duet gigs with a trumpet player and the dynamic changes within our music exposes the buzz on a regular basis. I ultimately switched back to a semi-hollow to avoid this. However, I think I have finally found my solution. I ordered a custom built telecaster from Ron Kirn with Lollar 72's in the neck and bridge position. I will update this once I have the guitar in hand. If you haven't checked him out yet, I strongly recommend it.
    Ron Kirn Signature

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philco
    How fortunate that you guys are discussing this!
    I'm just experimenting with this scenario.
    The stock pickup were fine for me except on the high E and B.
    Then it sounds a little to "Tele" (read "country"......or thin "splat")
    With a set of 12 Chromes the 4 lower strings actually are exactly to my liking.

    They "bounce" just like a fender should (and that's why people choose Tele"s for Jazz and change the pickups.......Tele's have a distinct body sound especially when picked near the front p'up)

    So luckily for me I have a Luthier who will allow me to try some different p'ups.
    The hum doesn't worry me that much but I'm thinking that a humbucker might be the way to go as far as tone is concerned.
    At the moment I have put the Fender "noiseless" Tele p'ups in.
    They are NOT noiseless. They are a little more quiet but still have a decent hum.
    More importantly they sound ok but the volume of the high E string is very low and the B is loud. Probably designed for a different fret board radius than mine (9 1/2' I think mine is)
    So I think we will push that E pole piece up and the B down and see if it works.
    Actually I'm really tempted to buy a cheap Mexican Tele and start chopping into it to try different pickups.
    Before I butcher my main Tele.
    Some years ago I bought a well used Peavey Reactor AX, a heavy ash bodied Tele clone for just that purpose. Nice rosewood fretboard with 12" radius which I like. I Dremeled out the neck cavity to accomodate a humbucker and made a switchplate and bridge pickup cover from black aluminum sheet for a neck pickup, only, instrument. I sanded the poly paint off the top of the guitar and headstock and used a reddish cedar stain that brought the grain out nicely. I had several pickups in it including an Alnico V humber, several P-90's, another generic humber but ended up with a Vintage Vibe HCC single coil that provided the best clean tones of any I tried in any guitar.

  44. #43

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    I play mostly country stuff on my Tele and Jazz on my ES-165 but I'd like to have both worlds on my Tele without compromising its twangy character and structure. So, please help me with this experiment. My setup is the follwing:


    • American Special Telecaster
    • Fender Texas Special pickup (neck)
    • Seymour Duncan STL-1 "vintage '54" pickup (bridge)
    • Princeton Reverb amp

    The STL-1 is one of the brightest twangies pickup around, limited output but plenty of sparkle and presence.

    The Texas Special have more ouput and is definitely darker sounding. They work for Jazz tones if you roll off the tone knob a little bit, but I'm not 100% satisfied. The best way I found to make mine work best is using an RC Booster pedal to increase gain and get a fatter clean sound. A little boost of bass (on the pedal or the amp) is also required. Like I said, it work but I can find something better.
    I should say that I'd like to keep a decent voume balance between the two pickups, if possible.



    Do you know some single coil pickups that work for the tones I'm looking for?
    Like I said on the title, NO ROUTING, I want to keep my guitar as it is.

    I've seen some "humbuckers in single coil format" like the Saymour Duncan Hot Rails or regular single coils like the Don Mare Big Box Archtop which seems to work for that application.

    I'm not looking necessarely for expensive boutique stuff, anything that works is good!

    Suggestions?
    Last edited by emicad; 09-15-2016 at 03:59 AM.

  45. #44

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    I can't say enough good things about the Porter 9-T. Its an overwound single coil which mimics a P-90. I absolutely love the sound of it. It's a noticeable, but rather subtle change from the stock neck pickup. It's a little darker, a little smoother, and a fair bit higher output. (There's a noticeable difference in volume between it and the stock bridge pickup). It's not terribly expensive for a boutique pup, and dropping it in took me all of 15 minutes.

    (Also, you might want to edit that post. Looks like you pasted in some text several times.)

  46. #45

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    Thanks, interesting pickup. Do you think it would pair well with my bridge pickup? Like I said, I'd like to keep volumes balanced.
    I know this is a strange request since I use that Tele mainly for country snappy twangy super-bright tones, but I hope I can find a couple that works well. I'd use mostly one or another depending on the genre, but the middle position with the right pickups can be tricky, or funny... or both.

  47. #46

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    I really like the Seymour Duncan 5/2 pickups and have stuck with them for a long time. They're not necessarily fat, in the overwound sense, but they're very smooth and take varying degrees of drive well. I have more options now, but back when I only had one electric guitar and played country gigs on the weekend and practiced jazz at home during the week, the 5/2 were the pickups in that guitar. Also, a 5/2 neck would probably sound great with your current bridge pup.

  48. #47

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    I recommend the Rumpelstiltskin White Rope neck pickup. I get an incredible jazz tone with it on my Tele. It is a single-coil.

    I have never had a pickup that balances better with a Tele bridge pickup than this one, either.

    Neck Pickup for Fender Telecaster-rumpelstiltskin-white-ropes-jpgNeck Pickup for Fender Telecaster-rumpelstiltskin-white-ropes-under-jpg

  49. #48

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    Someone somewhere suggested Klein pickups for single coil Jazz tones. I can't remember the pickup name, though...

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by emicad
    Thanks, interesting pickup. Do you think it would pair well with my bridge pickup? Like I said, I'd like to keep volumes balanced.
    I know this is a strange request since I use that Tele mainly for country snappy twangy super-bright tones, but I hope I can find a couple that works well. I'd use mostly one or another depending on the genre, but the middle position with the right pickups can be tricky, or funny... or both.
    I don't use my bridge pickup much. There's definitely a volume drop between the two. For me, it's nothing a little twist of the volume knob can't handle, but I'm not switching back and forth much, if at all. The middle position is quieter, but not by a whole lot.

    I've heard good things about the Lollars. You might want to check those out. They'd be more "traditional" Tele sounding, but might have the tone you're looking for with a better balance for the bridge pup.

  51. #50

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    I've gotten negative comments when I TELL folk I have a Duncan quarter pound in the neck position of my tele, but no one has ever said anything when they have HEARD it. It still sounds like a tele. The ad copy say that it's like a humbucker, But I think that comment comes from it's higher out put. May be a little fatter too, but still 100% tele. I think it's a great pickup and I can get a great jazz sound out of it with my vibrochamp at home. I don't want to say it's underrated, but I never hear any comments about it's great tone that I think is totally usable for jazz and might work for you in your situation.