6 Fantastic Sounding Telecaster Pickup Sets
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The Telecaster is one of the most beloved guitar models of all time. Afterall, it is basically the first ever solid body electric guitar; How could you not love it? To this day the T-Style guitar is right up there with the Strat and LP shapes as being the most recognizable. But even more influential than the Tele’s shape is its tone. And the main factor (in terms of parts) that affects this tone is the pickups.
With the 2-single coil configuration of a Tele being so standardized and commonplace, there are literally hundreds of replacement pickup sets available. Sifting through the brands and manufacturers that offer these pickups can be quite the overwhelming task. With that in mind, below is a list that contains 6 of the best sounding among the hundreds of options available.
Fender Yosemite – $80.99
It’s kind of funny how some people will want to stray away from Fender pickups just because they are upgrading a Fender guitar. The truth is that this company makes some great, affordable pickup sets that work well for upgrading their MIM models. And that is specifically the situation I would recommend these pickups for. If you find yourself ready to take your MIM Tele to the next level, these pickups are an awesome budget option. This specific set actually comes standard in Fender’s American made Performer series of Telecasters, which are some great sounding instruments.
Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound – $129.00
It can be hard to find a good set of hot single coils that retain dynamics, lucky for us we have Seymour Duncan’s design team. The Quarter Pound set is great for pushing your rig nice and hard without sacrificing bite or definition. This set’s bridge pickup is great for getting lots of punch while the neck pickup is smoother but still complementary. If you are a lead player or just someone who likes to stick out, this set should aid you in your endeavors. While not for everyone, these high-output pups are perfect for those wanting some real output that keeps your Tele sounding like it should.
Fender Custom Shop ’51 Nocaster – $159.99
Among Tele fans the concept of the Nocaster sound is in the upper echelon of guitar tone. Furthermore, these Telecasters from that short window in the ‘50s have a reputation for being some of the best sounding electric guitars ever made. As you would expect these are some of the most coveted and expensive Fender models, meaning most people will never own one. And even modern custom shop recreations will still cost you a hefty sum. This Fender pickup set is one of the best ways to get yourself closer to that legendary tone. With the combination of Alnico III magnets, flat pole pieces and cloth covered wiring, these pickups are a very good representation of the originals. And most importantly, this set sounds great regardless whether or not you know or care about Nocaster tone.
MojoTone Broadcaster Quiet Coil – $169.95
If you are one of those looking for the slightly warmer properties of a broadcaster pickup, this set from MojoTone is a great option. The Broadcaster Quiet Coils do a great job at giving you that signature tele spank without the sometimes-harsh top end. And as you could guess from the title, these are some pretty quiet single coils. Others and I tend to avoid the claims of noiseless single coils, because you often will lose some of the tone with sets that are marketed like this. However, the Quiet Coil line does an awesome job at just reducing the noise while maintaining that single coil sound.
Bareknuckle Blackguard Flat ‘52 – $200.00
In my mind, once you cross that $200 dollar mark on a pickup set, you have entered into the realm of boutique. And Bareknuckle is one brand that (IMO) pretty much always justifies the price tag. In this case we are looking at their Blackguard Flat ’52 set. The whole Blackguard series is great – Where Bareknuckle has pups for years ‘50, ‘52, ‘55 and ‘68. Specifically, with the ‘52s you get a really fat yet clear tone that is such a versatile sound. Blues players will appreciate the warmth and tamed highs while rock players will love the bitey bridge pickup. These are also some of the best sounding Tele pickups when it comes to working with different kinds of gain.
Lollar Special T – $220.00
Lollar is another higher end pickup maker who truly earns the extra money you put into them. Their Special T pickup set is right up there with some of the best off the shelf pups you can buy. Lollar has done a great job with the frequencies here, making sure to give you plenty of mid-range that gets defined by a tight low end. The highs, like the Bareknuckle ‘52s, are tamed in a way that yields a very lush and well-defined punch. This set is also a little higher output than one might expect, giving it a really good sounding push when playing though the right amp. This set is one that appeals to so many people, you are almost guaranteed to like them yourself.