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Thread: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

  1. #1
    Lewguitar
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    Default Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    After playing that '59 Tele at NAMM outfitted with Barden pickups and the heavier than stock bridge plate, I had to have a set of Bardens. They are very expensive and mine cost me close to $500 for the pair.

    The Bardens were designed for Danny Gatton...he and Albert Collins and Roy Bucahana are my very favorite Tele players. And having spent years trying to approximate Danny's tone with everything from the original '54 pickups that came in my '54 Tele guitar to Duncan Antiquitys to Duncan Custom Shop Tele pickups like the CS Jerry Donahue and A2 Tapped Tele Hots and custom wound pickups from Lindy Fralin I now see that the secret to that Danny Gatton tone is the Joe Barden pickups.

    Installed everything yesterday morning: Barden bridge with compensated brass saddles and Barden neck and Tele pickups. I replaced the Fralin Blues Specials that have been in my '54 Tele for several years now.

    The Barden bridge is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and a little heavier steel than a regular Tele bridge plate. And the compensated brass saddles Joe makes are the nicest I've ever used...much tighter fit.

    All I can say is the Bardens are worth every penny. They sound just as spectacular in my Tele as they sounded to me in Bill Kirchen's Tele that Curly and I had a chance to check out at NAMM.

    The Bardens have been described (by me no less! ) as having a hi-fi tone but nothing could be further from the truth. They are ballsy as all get out for soloing but back off on the guitar's volume and they clean up beautifully.

    The highs are strong but smooth and not ice picky at all. And the sustain is just unbelieveable.

    Simply put, the Barden neck pickup is the finest sounding Tele neck pickup I have ever used and so is the bridge pickup.

    Output is stronger than the Fralins that were in this guitar but the tone is more focused and both clearer and ballsier at the same time.

    Through my Deluxe Reverb the bridge pickup sustains like a paf humbucker...and pinch harmonics sail off effortlessly. I've never found it easier to do pinch harmonics than with the Bardens. I can even do pinch harmonics with the neck pickup!

    I spent something like four hours just playing my "new" Tele yesterday...until my ears were ringing.

    With the Bardens, I can get close to the tones of all of my favorite Tele players: Albert Collins, Danny Gatton and Roy Buchanan included...and they bring out my own tone and style and the sounds I'v ebeen hearing in my head for thirty years but been unable to find on my Tele until now.

    Now here's my suggestion to the Seymour Duncan Company: since Joe no longer makes the Barden pickups PLEASE talk to Joe and see if you can license the design and manufacture these spectacular pickups from Joe Barden the way you do the Bartolinis.

    IMO, there are no finer Tele pickups on earth than the the Barden Tele pickups...and at $500 a pair they are worth every penny if you're a dedicated and truly serious Tele player.
    Last edited by Lewguitar; 02-21-2006 at 04:27 PM.

  2. #2
    Moe's Bluesman Curly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    cool, I'm glad you got what you wanted, Lew

    I agree the bridge is well made, but I'd be concerned about availability. I think it may sound a bit better than the Callaham bridge, although I haven't had quite enough time for a really good comparison. Offhand though, my first impression is the Barden sounds a little fuller, whether it's the mass of the saddles or something else I don't know.
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  3. #3
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    Quote Originally Posted by Curly
    cool, I'm glad you got what you wanted, Lew

    I agree the bridge is well made, but I'd be concerned about availability. I think it may sound a bit better than the Callaham bridge, although I haven't had quite enough time for a really good comparison. Offhand though, my first impression is the Barden sounds a little fuller, whether it's the mass of the saddles or something else I don't know.
    Let me know if you'd like one Curly...Allparts sells the Barden bridge and I'd be willing to get you a screaming good deal on one. I'm going to start stocking them.

  4. #4
    CheapGuitarologist ArtieToo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    This is a great review Lew. I've always wondered about some of these other Barden reviews I read just because of the placebo affect that must kick in once you've dropped a half-grand, or more, on a set of pups. But I believe, if you thought they sounded like dog poop, you'ld say they sound like dog-poop.

    Thanks.
    Artie

  5. #5
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    Quote Originally Posted by ArtieToo
    This is a great review Lew. I've always wondered about some of these other Barden reviews I read just because of the placebo affect that must kick in once you've dropped a half-grand, or more, on a set of pups. But I believe, if you thought they sounded like dog poop, you'ld say they sound like dog-poop.

    Thanks.
    Artie
    Thanks Artie! I've heard the Bardens before but never got a chance to really give them a work out and crank them up a little until I played Bill's Tele through a Talos amp at NAMM.

    I was always under the impression that they were steely sounding or hi-fi sounding...I've even read comments from guys saying they are sterile sounding. I think all of those comments are from people who never really tried them, or maybe they're from guys like me who had never had the chance to try them in a great guitar at any kind of real volume before.

    I was totally knocked out by the Bardens in Bill Kirchen's guitar through that cranked up Talos amp.

    Curly remembers...we spent that whole day together and after playing that old Tele I knew they were what I'd been missing in my Tele tone.

    My Tele has now regained it's position as my number 1 electric guitar...I can't wait to get it onstage again!

  6. #6
    Heel Whacker tone4days's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    lad to read that you are so happy with them lew ... i'd love to hear you play and take in all that tele-liscious toneful goodness

    can you explain what the bardens provide different for you from the other 'ultimate tele pickup thread' shootout winners of last year? i'm curious about how they compare on areas such as "twang", highs/mids/lows, output and all around tele-ness ...

    how are you adjusting to noiselessness

    thanks
    t4d
    Last edited by tone4days; 02-21-2006 at 01:17 PM.
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    Toneologist zionstrat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewguitar

    Now here's my suggestion to the Seymour Duncan Company: since Joe no longer makes the Barden pickups PLEASE talk to Joe and see if you can license the design and manufacture these spectacular pickups from Joe Barden the way you do the Bartolinis.

    IMO, there are no finer Tele pickups on earth than the the Barden Tele pickups...and at $500 a pair they are worth every penny if you're a dedicated and truly serious Tele player.
    Agreed 100% although I want the strat (delux) version!
    I'd been tempted to swithc out my neck for the tele as they are apparently differnt resistance- BTW what read did you get on the ohm meter?

    Great review!
    M
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  8. #8
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    Quote Originally Posted by tone4days
    lad to read that you are so happy with them lew ... i'd love to hear you play and take in all that tele-liscious toneful goodness

    can you explain what the bardens provide different for you from the other 'ultimate tele pickup thread' shootout winners of last year? i'm curious about how they compare on areas such as "twang", highs/mids/lows, output and all around tele-ness ...

    how are you adjusting to noiselessness

    thanks
    t4d
    I am digging the noiselessness to the max!

    I have learned so much in the last week or two about tone, what with working on that Tom Anderson with the Duncan Stack Plus pickups paired with a JB with 250K pots! That's the only way I'll use a JB from now on and that's just the way Seymour uses his too.

    Really, if you'd like to hear what the Bardens sound like listen to Danny Gatton. That is exactly what they sound like.

    They have all the twang of a classic Tele pickup but the highs are not so steely and ice pick sharp...they're just a little smoother but still with plenty of bite and snap.

    They do not sound like Duncan Hot Rails. The Bardens are more transparant and not as dark.

    The neck pickup is great for rytyhm and for soloing...everything from Jazz to Rock. Best Tele neck pickup I've ever had...even better than the Fralin Blues Special.

    The bridge pickup will start to overdrive my Deluxe Reverb or Matchless Chieftan at about volume 4 or 5 on the amp and it sustains beautifully.

    Also, because the magnet is under the coils, there is very little string pull with the Bardens...no Stratitis when I fret the low E up above the 12 th fret.

    I think the only downside is the price. $500 for a pair of pickups is a lot of money. But they're worth it...my Tele has never sounded this good, but it still sounds like a Tele.
    Last edited by Lewguitar; 02-21-2006 at 02:20 PM.

  9. #9
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    A little more comment on the Barden bridge and compenstated brass saddles: I like this heavy duty bridge so much that I've decided to start stocking them and ordered six for inventory. Even played acoustically, my Tele sustains better and has a deeper sound than it did with the stamped bridge. Also, notice the two extra screw holes in the left and right forward corners...you can screw this bridge down tight to the face of your guitar. And I love the way the Barden is cutaway on the treble side so I can get my right hand in there and mute the strings more easily. I highly recommend the Barden bridge for you Tele Spankers out there: it'll improve your Tele's tone and intonation and looks great!
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  10. #10
    Irish Flagologist PUCKBOY99's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    HOLY CRAP!!!

    SO....I received the money from UPS via Jeff B & instead of buying a Plexi or other amp, I completely GASsed out & grabbed a Tele with Bardens in it.

    All I can say is "A BIG +1 to what Lew said !!!"

    Normally, a Tele thru the Fuchs ODS is an amazing thing to behold.....but the Bardens just sound so huge & full. No noise is what I noticed first & then the clarity. You can hear every note whether you're rolled off clean or digging in full bore.

    Man, I wish I could play!!!
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  11. #11
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    Way Cool Terry! So you have the whole set up now: Barden pickups and Barden Bridge...and of course a nice Tele! Well...you know what I think of them...


    Now I'd love to see Seymour licence the design from Joe Barden and start making Joe's pickups!

    Is anyone at SD pickups listening? There's some money to be made here if you can put the deal together with Joe...

    Lew

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    Irish Flagologist PUCKBOY99's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    I just grabbed it today after work....kinda landed in my lap....but you're right Lew.

    If these pickups were licensed & recreated perfectly, every Tele player out there would own them....NO QUESTION !!!
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    Fuzzy. Guitars the guy who invented fire's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    MJ is getting ready to release the Duncan Barden Tele pickups...no Strat pickups just yet but Scott Miller and MJ both say that the Duncan built Bardens sound just like the real deal Bardens!

    Im gonna have to grab one of those Bridges from you Lew...to use with my Barden as soon as I get going on a guitar to put it in!
    Proudly Klon free!

  14. #14
    theodie
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    Ahhh... hold the phone Christain is getting some Bardens???? Duncan is making Bardens also??????? Production or CS?

  15. #15
    Fuzzy. Guitars the guy who invented fire's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    Quote Originally Posted by theodie
    Ahhh... hold the phone Christain is getting some Bardens???? Duncan is making Bardens also??????? Production or CS?

    MJ is making some Barden clones from the Custom Shop but they are not out yet and so far they are only the Tele pickups. As for me, I got a pretty good deal on a NOS Barden Tele bridge pickup and was tossing around the idea of a getting the neck as well (but I do have a few other iodeas that might be very cool)...I would love to have a set of Bardens for a Strat but as well all know the Bardens are costly.

    Now...where the hell have you been?!?!?!?
    I haven't taflked to you in a long tme now...
    I have tried to call you several times!
    Proudly Klon free!

  16. #16
    theodie
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    I left you a voice message a few days ago! I thought you would have called back by now! The question is, where have you been???

    LOL!

  17. #17
    Tone Member BlueGuitar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    Lew:

    Great review! Now we are all waiting for MJ to custom wind some Barden copies for us...

    A few months ago I had read a thread SOMEWHERE that mentioned that the Bardens pickups worked great with a rotary splitter: as you turned the pot down the pickup sounded great at all of the settings. The person making the post said that of all the pickups he tried this was true only for Bardens pickups.

    I don't think that there is room on a tele control panel for a rotary splitter so it must have been a strat that they were talking about...

    Just wondering if someone else read that report about the Bardens...

    Thanks!

    (I had gotten a few sets of compensated brass barrels from Stew-Mac... can you order just the plate for the Bardens bridge?)
    Last edited by BlueGuitar; 04-08-2006 at 08:45 PM.
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  18. #18
    Guitaris Maximus Stratman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review: Joe Barden Pickups and bridge in my Tele

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewguitar
    A little more comment on the Barden bridge and compenstated brass saddles: I like this heavy duty bridge so much that I've decided to start stocking them and ordered six for inventory. Even played acoustically, my Tele sustains better and has a deeper sound than it did with the stamped bridge. Also, notice the two extra screw holes in the left and right forward corners...you can screw this bridge down tight to the face of your guitar. And I love the way the Barden is cutaway on the treble side so I can get my right hand in there and mute the strings more easily. I highly recommend the Barden bridge for you Tele Spankers out there: it'll improve your Tele's tone and intonation and looks great!
    My good fellow SD Forum members:

    There are items that Lew and Curly have mentioned and is a small reason that the Barden bridge cost more...

    First, notice that the control side of the bridge plate is tapered down - No more cut fingers...

    Second but not mentioned, this bridge is CNC machined completely from a block of steel - Not a stamped steel plate.

    Regards,

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