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  1. #1

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    I love the sound Bill Frisell gets in the video below. The pickup is by TK Smith. TK calls it a C.A.R. pickup. (Thanks for the fix, Sam!)

    I'm building a Tele with a humbucker neck. (My big dream. Sonic blue. Mahogany neck. Never did this before. We shall see.)

    Thing is, this pup costs $320! (And I guess it isn't a humbucker, I don't really know, could be a single coil or something else beyond my ken.)

    I was thinking maybe a Lollar Imperial or a Duncan Seth Lover or Antiquity. Or a Fender Wide Range. Something like maybe half that price.

    Even the Lollar seems pricey. (Super great but pricey, and likely well worth it.)

    But this CAR sounds special and sweet to my ears.

    Have any of you guys ever dropped this into a Tele? How did it work out?

    I'm trying to do this myself...is there any special about hassle installing this versus a standard humbucker? Wiring, pots...

    Should I just skip this and get a more affordable humbucker, like a Duncan or Lollar?

    Thanks in advance for any tips or thoughts.

    Putting a TK Smith CAR pickup in a Telecaster?-tk-smith-car-frisell-jpg

    Last edited by Flat; 07-02-2020 at 12:37 AM.

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  3. #2

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    Hi Flat,

    I love that video of Bill. I bought a Gibson GA-50T amp shortly after it went up, largely off the back of it!

    Those "Bigsby" style pickups are single-coil.

    Here in the UK, Mojo Pickups has just started offering his own version of the same design, at £140-£160 ($174-$199).

    P.A.B – Mojo Pickups

    I see that TK Smith's website recommends 500K pots for this style pickup.

    Good luck if you decide to go through it with. I've thought about it too and will be watching with interest!

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flat
    I love the sound Bill Frisell gets in the video below. The pickup is by TK Smith. . . C.A.B. pickup. Thing is, this pup costs $325!
    Actually it's C.A.R. for "Cast Aluminum Replica." It looks like a faithful take on the old Paul Bigsby pickup.



    Flat, with real respect: What you're hearing on that clip is not the sound of the CAR pickup. What you're hearing, after Mr. Bill Frisell, is some weird portion of a pickup, through an amp, through a speaker, through a mic, compressed to smithereens to get on the internet, played through your computer speakers. That pickup sounds vaguely sorta like what that vid sounds like.

    The CAR pickup is a large-bobbin single-coil with ferrule screws. It sounds a whole lot like other large-bobbin single-coil ferrule-screw pickups. I will bet you lunch that a decent P-90 and thoughtful choices of amp and speaker can get you right to where the CAR goes.


    But heck, if the CAR inspires you, three hundred bucks is nothing compared to musical inspiration -- have at it!

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sherry
    What you're hearing on that clip is not the sound of the CAR pickup. What you're hearing, after Mr. Bill Frisell, is some weird portion of a pickup, through an amp, through a speaker, through a mic, compressed to smithereens to get on the internet, played through your computer speakers. That pickup sounds vaguely sorta like what that vid sounds like.
    I definitely agree, and that's the thing, isn't it? Just what portion of that sound is due to that pickup. I know what I'm really after are Bill's brain and fingers...but I want him to hang on to those! I'd probably come as close plugging my regular Tele into a GA-50, but that's probably none too cheap either.

    Thanks for the thoughts, Sam and David.

  6. #5

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    I recommend you do it!
    I had one in my tele's neck position. It sounded really good. (The pickup was sold unfortunately). I would definately get it again.
    The thing about these pickups that makes them special is how clear they are.
    Wiring isn't really the issue. But you do need to make a BIG rout for it to sit in.

  7. #6

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    I saw TK play live a couple times in San Diego many years ago. He was playing a Tele with the early version of these pickups when he was just building them for himself. He was great and the sound was absolutely stunning. It didn't sound like any pickup I had ever heard before. I spoke with him after the show and I think it's the only time I've ever asked a guitar player what pickups he was using.

  8. #7

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    I have a guitar with very accurate P.A. Bigsby pickups in it, and they have their own thing going. Very hi-fi...crystal clear, but fat. They are low output, so matching with other pickups may be an issue. That said.....nothing else sounds like them.

    Putting a TK Smith CAR pickup in a Telecaster?-img_2073-jpg

  9. #8

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    gettin your grady martin on!

    super

    (are those fred stuart pups?)

    cheers

    ps- tk smith is one of the best guitar (& beyond) craftsmen out there these days...impeccable quality in whatever he does...highly recommended
    Last edited by neatomic; 07-01-2020 at 06:32 PM.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by David B

    Here in the UK, Mojo Pickups has just started offering his own version of the same design, at £140-£160 ($174-$199).

    P.A.B – Mojo Pickups
    wow! mojo uk is really doing it up...bigbsy, guyatones, hersheys, and alnico v staple in p90..super cool

    the mojo bigsbys are vintage correct low resistance..they use thick wire around bobbins..closer to a charlie christian pup

    good stuff!


    cheers

  11. #10

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    I’ve got this pair waiting for something....I think they’ll pair well.
    Attached Images Attached Images Putting a TK Smith CAR pickup in a Telecaster?-81bd89b2-c878-4330-8e9f-580788af0105-jpeg 

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    gettin your grady martin on!

    super

    (are those fred stuart pups?)

    cheers

    ps- tk smith is one of the best guitar (& beyond) craftsmen out there these days...impeccable quality in whatever he does...highly recommended
    these are from Guy Valic, who restored the Butterball Bigsby. I don’t think anyone else on the planet has dug into more Bigsby guitars and pickups than Guy. When I ordered them, TK wasn’t doing an exact reproduction, and Fred’s pickups were twice the price, and not quite as accurate, although still awesome pickups in their own right.

  13. #12

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    Thanks for all of the insights and suggestions, everybody! This forum is special on an average day. During this horrific pandemic, it means even more to me.

    One more question: TK offers two versions of the base: a raised 7/16 inch base, or a flat 1/8 inch base.

    What would work in a Tele in the neck position? I can't tell which one Bill has in his Tele.

    And thanks, Littlemark, for that tip about the routed cavity size. I hadn't thought of that. The body I have is already routed for a conventional humbucker. I'll have to figure out how to enlarge it a bit using the modest hand tools I have (if that's even possible...more research).

    This page has information about the pickup, some illustrations and details.

    TK Smith | TK Smith
    Last edited by Flat; 07-02-2020 at 12:34 AM.

  14. #13

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    You want the 1/8th base. It is for the neck position.
    If it's already enlarged for a humbucker you might not need to make it much bigger. Probably a little deeper in the middle to fit the pole pieces in.