Building a Tele....need PUP suggestions

rauchman

Senior member
Messages
795
Greetings,

I'm looking forward to going home today.  UPS is supposed to be delivering my Warmoth Tele neck (roasted maple) and body (swamp ash).  I'm building the Tele, because I've never had one, barely played them and I've become Tele curious.  I'm normally a Les Paul first and Strat second, player.  I've gotten sucked into the idea of the Tele having some magical quality, where if I play it right, I will conjure the muse and we'll make beautiful music together.  Not really, but it sounds good.  I have bought into the idea of the simplicity of the Tele, and hope it's as expressive and inspiring as I've read though.

I really don't have much knowledge of Tele's.  And what I do have of a reference of them is mostly trebly and bitey and in the context of country,....not really a fan of this sound.  As a Led Zep fan, yup I'm aware that LZ I was done a Tele, but in all, I'm not as familiar with what a Tele does and can sound like.  So, I need some help on choosing pickups.

Some info on what I think I want....
I'd prefer noiseless.  I have Lace Sensors in a Strat and love that they are basically hum free and I like the sound.  While I love the Lace pups in the Strat, I'd want something different for the Tele.  I like to write and play in the harder rock spectrum, with dalliances into folk, metal, psychedelic, 80's esque new wave, etc.., not really a fan of country
Not sure if this matters, but I like using effects sometimes.  Really use the electric guitar as an electric guitar and create sounds that are more than tube amp distortion or clean.  Think Hendrix using effects, but in a modern context
Touch sensitivity is valued.  Something that can capture expression of what the hands are doing.
Volume sensitivity is also valued, where tube amp distortion can be dialed to clean using the volume knob.

From what I've read of current popular pup choices....

Bill Lawrence Noiseless
Bill Lawrence MicroCoils
  …….by chance, does anyone know how these differ in sound?
Dimarzio Area T (comes in 3 different flavors
Dimarzio Chopper T
  …….by chance, does anyone know how these differ in sound?
Dimarzio Twang King (are these noiseless?)
Seymour Duncan Vintage Stack
Seymour Duncan Cool/Vintage/Hot Rails
Fender Gen 4 Noiseless
Fender...other?
Other choices?

Mucho appreciated....
 

rgand

Senior member
Messages
5,934
Of the choices you listed, I'd say go with the BL pickups. Either set. I'm putting one together right now with Bill Lawrence pickups: an L-290TL in the bridge and an L-500C in the neck.

If you want to try something a little different, try Wiggins Brand pickups. I put a pair of them in a guitar and they're great quality. Call and talk to Bill and describe the sound you want and he'll send the right ones.
 

drewfx

Senior member
Messages
1,204
I can't help you with specific PU's as I don't have good experience with noiseless Tele options, but I can say this:

Don't worry about the twang - on a Tele using the tone control is a must IMO. So you don't need to get an overwound bridge PU (ugh), instead you roll off the tone to get the Tele magic that doesn't involve twang. You have to just regard it as normal not to have the tone all the way up on a Tele.
 

Cagey

Senior member
Messages
24,425
I'm a big fan of the Bill Lawrence Microcoils. Sounds like a Tele, but richer and noiseless and no "icepick in the ear" bite like hillbilly Teles often have.
 
S

swarfrat

Guest
I wish I could offer guidance on the GFS Neovin pickup sitting in my drawer but it still sits there.  :doh:
 

rauchman

Senior member
Messages
795
Cagey said:
I'm a big fan of the Bill Lawrence Microcoils. Sounds like a Tele, but richer and noiseless and no "icepick in the ear" bite like hillbilly Teles often have.

Excellent info.  Would you happen to know how the MicroCoils differ from their Noiseless pups, or even their Twin Blades in regards to sound?
 
S

swarfrat

Guest
As for the icepick - I think that's as much the Fender amps and their speakers which often accompany Teles as the pickups, but I still had my bridge pickup cut left handed to attempt to tame this (I figured it wouldn't hurt  to build it correctly in the first place.)
 

spe111

Senior member
Messages
360
When I'm putting single coils in anything I almost always use Fender custom shop and the type would depend on what I'm going for with that particular guitar. Any time I try something else, I eventually end up taking them out and putting Fenders in. 
 

Cagey

Senior member
Messages
24,425
rauchman said:
Cagey said:
I'm a big fan of the Bill Lawrence Microcoils. Sounds like a Tele, but richer and noiseless and no "icepick in the ear" bite like hillbilly Teles often have.

Excellent info.  Would you happen to know how the MicroCoils differ from their Noiseless pups, or even their Twin Blades in regards to sound?

Most (not all) "noiseless" pickups rely on a phenomena known as CMNR (Common Mode Noise Rejection). This is the scheme used by "humbucking" pickups ever since Seth Lover supposedly "invented" them. This involves having dual conductors wired out of phase, but with opposing magnetic fields set up so induced noise is rejected through cancellation, while the generated signal is left untouched. This works pretty well, but unfortunately, the phycal realities of spacing and added capacitance/inductance from using dual coils and opposing magnetic fields ends up changing the character of the signal a bit, which is why "humbuckers" and/or most "noiseless" pickups get close, but no cigar when it comes to winning the fidelity war.

The Microcoil units don't use this scheme - they're actually single coil pickups (which is why they have that characteristic sound). But, and here is where I'm sorta speculating, the wire used to make the coil is finer than usual, so you end up with a smaller coil, and the magnetic fields are stronger than usual. I think what ends up happening is the strings are magnetized to a greater extent so they induce more signal, but the smaller coils are less efficient so they just don't pickup weaker signals (spurious external noise sources such as building wiring, etcl). So, you end up with a wider ratio of signal to noise. The end result is a pickup that's not necessarily "noiseless" as much as it just doesn't see the noise and pass it along as well as typical single coils do. This is sorta born out by the reality of the things - they're not really completely "noisless", they just not as good as passing it along. GFS' "Neovin" pickups are similar in this regard. They also use a single coil with a neodymium magnet, which induces a much larger field for the strings to interrupt so the S/N ration is better. Crank those babies up, you can still hear the typical noise, but it's greatly reduced so at normal operating levels they're actually quiet enough that you aren't tempted to do anything heroic to eliminate noise (which typically affects tonal characteristics). Hence, the "vintage" tone.

But, Bill's no longer around to explain it any better, so I'm just guessing. All I know for sure is they sound remarkably good and authentic while being usably quiet, so I'm not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth  :laughing7:
 

rauchman

Senior member
Messages
795
Cagey said:
rauchman said:
Cagey said:
I'm a big fan of the Bill Lawrence Microcoils. Sounds like a Tele, but richer and noiseless and no "icepick in the ear" bite like hillbilly Teles often have.

Excellent info.  Would you happen to know how the MicroCoils differ from their Noiseless pups, or even their Twin Blades in regards to sound?

Most (not all) "noiseless" pickups rely on a phenomena known as CMNR (Common Mode Noise Rejection). This is the scheme used by "humbucking" pickups ever since Seth Lover supposedly "invented" them. This involves having dual conductors wired out of phase, but with opposing magnetic fields set up so induced noise is rejected through cancellation, while the generated signal is left untouched. This works pretty well, but unfortunately, the phycal realities of spacing and added capacitance/inductance from using dual coils and opposing magnetic fields ends up changing the character of the signal a bit, which is why "humbuckers" and/or most "noiseless" pickups get close, but no cigar when it comes to winning the fidelity war.

The Microcoil units don't use this scheme - they're actually single coil pickups (which is why they have that characteristic sound). But, and here is where I'm sorta speculating, the wire used to make the coil is finer than usual, so you end up with a smaller coil, and the magnetic fields are stronger than usual. I think what ends up happening is the strings are magnetized to a greater extent so they induce more signal, but the smaller coils are less efficient so they just don't pickup weaker signals (spurious external noise sources such as building wiring, etcl). So, you end up with a wider ratio of signal to noise. The end result is a pickup that's not necessarily "noiseless" as much as it just doesn't see the noise and pass it along as well as typical single coils do. This is sorta born out by the reality of the things - they're not really completely "noisless", they just not as good as passing it along. GFS' "Neovin" pickups are similar in this regard. They also use a single coil with a neodymium magnet, which induces a much larger field for the strings to interrupt so the S/N ration is better. Crank those babies up, you can still hear the typical noise, but it's greatly reduced so at normal operating levels they're actually quiet enough that you aren't tempted to do anything heroic to eliminate noise (which typically affects tonal characteristics). Hence, the "vintage" tone.

But, Bill's no longer around to explain it any better, so I'm just guessing. All I know for sure is they sound remarkably good and authentic while being usably quiet, so I'm not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth  :laughing7:

Awesome....greatly appreciated!
 

BigSteve22

Senior member
Messages
2,798
Cagey said:
Most (not all) "noiseless" pickups rely on a phenomena known as CMNR (Common Mode Noise Rejection). This is the scheme used by "humbucking" pickups ever since Seth Lover supposedly "invented" them. This involves having dual conductors wired out of phase......
So, what's the noise cancelling mechanism in "Wilde Bill NF Singles"?
b25c419737efb763cf49fb0b8d015f41.jpg

They appear to be stacked coils, (they call them "AirGap" singles), but without the opposing magnetic fields. Does it work like a dummy coil? I can't tell if the lugs pass through the lower coil or not.

Anyway, I love the set in my Tele, very quiet, with clean, sparkling highs, and rich lows. Another vote for Bill's pups!

 

Cagey

Senior member
Messages
24,425
Those use CMNR as well, with the "air gap" (and who knows what else) changing the performance for tonal character reasons.

Any time you see dual coils, whether each is actually generating signal, you're using CMNR. Sometimes both coils are contributors, sometimes one is a "dummy", sometimes there's a winding imbalance, sometimes the imbalance is caused by different gauges of wire, other times it's number of winds, the magnets may change in size, shape, material, layout, the field size/shape may change for various reasons - there are a lotta tricks makers use to modify performance, which is why there are 80 bajillion pickups on the market.
 

Street Avenger

Senior member
Messages
2,257
If you want traditional Tele tone, go with the Dimarzio Area T.
If you want to rock harder, go with the Dimarzio Super Distortion T.
 

Toulouse_Tuhles

Senior member
Messages
236
So much depends on what folks are looking for.... so here's my experience
The bone-fide '52 reissue pickups, from Fender, which are only available now as "pulls" (Stratosphere), are damned nice pickups.  The neck is to die for, and the bridge is full.  To die for on the neck means... a little treble roll off with the tone control and you're playing jazz tones... its just amazing.
Fralin pickups - but they run kind of bright, so you most likely want a 10percent or 15percent overwind.  Very balanced sounding (when you get an "overwound").  They are best played clean, or with just a touch of breakup, imho.  A 15percent overwind bridge goes nice with a Gibson mini-hum at the neck, btw.

Duncan Antiquities - forget the Seymour bs lines about all the hype, they're just nice, medium output, balanced pickups.
What don't like:
Fender Texas Special Tele - which are a one trick pony, and you gotta do the "if you don't buy this magazine, we'll shoot the dog" with the pony in order to get that trick to turn out ok.  A little hotter than most, but brittle with the high charge Alnico 5 magnets.  Ok for certain fairly well distorted tones, but not a good all round pickup.
And.... have also used Duncan Phat-Cat, which is HB sized, but gives ok tones... but not as nice as the Gibson P-94 which kicks you're mama's butt down the block with distorted tone (but is a bit growly and untamed clean).
 

Rick

Senior member
Messages
4,539
I’ve been very happy with bl noiseless pups.  They sound like a tele.  Second, probably dimarzio area t combined with dimarzio mini hum bucker  in the neck.  It’s not exactly tele sounding but it sounds sweet.
 

zebra

Senior member
Messages
498
I have a pair of Bill Lawrence noiseless pickups in my tele.  I'm no tele aficionado, but they sound like a tele to me, and besides that, they sound great.  I usually play straight into an amp (4-watt lunchbox tube thingey), and that's fine, but I recently added a clean boost to my signal path, and that's been a real game changer. 

 

JohnL

New member
Messages
18
I built a Tele last year and was in the same situation - so many pups to choose from.

I finally decided on the Fralin Blues Special and I am really happy with the set. Very well balanced. Bridge is not a vintage Tele twangy sound, which is one of the reasons I chose them. Pricy, yes, but I felt the cost was justified once I got them in.
 

rauchman

Senior member
Messages
795
Just ordered Bill Lawrence MicroFoils.  Looking forward to seeing how they sound.

Thanks for everyone's input.
 

OV7

Active member
Messages
62
I just finished up a Jazzcaster and put a Dimarzio Area T in the neck.  I absolutely love it.  I had no real idea what I was looking for in a pickup but decided to give it a shot based on reviews and the fact that I like humbuckers better than single coils 99 times out of 100.  It just sounds great.  I put a Dimarzio Super Distortion T in the bridge.  I knew I wanted a high output pickup for the bridge and it was exactly what I was looking for.  Try them....you might like them:)
 
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