How to Get Paisley-Approved Vintage Tele Tones

The rules of guitar heroism are different for Tele players. These 6-string virtuosos have come to create their own paradigm of what it means to be a true master of their instrument. While rarely moving out of their twang-based genres, these players are incredibly potent forces in the pantheon of guitarists.

Today, no one embodies this more than Brad Paisley. From exploding onto the airwaves with Who Needs Pictures, to becoming today’s definitive purveyor of classic country, this Tele-Master has kept his Telecasters front and center. Reaching the highest levels of success has also allowed him to amass a collection of T-style guitars that will make any player drool. It’s a collection that includes ‘Old Pink,’ his trademark ’68 pink paisley Telecaster.

While many of his most famous guitars have since been built by famed luthier Bill Crook, Paisley has always kept his eye out for another ’68 Tele. In 2018, he found it. While shopping at Chicago Music Exchange, he came across a ’68 Telecaster that someone had poorly finished over in a thick, black coating. Nevertheless, Paisley connected with the instrument, purchased it, and sent it off to Crook to receive his signature paisley pattern. That’s where the story gets really good.

As Crook began stripping the horrendous black paint, an all-original, factory finish, complete with pink paisley paper, began revealing itself. Not only had Brad found a great ’68 Tele, but he had unknowingly scored the perfect pair for ‘Old Pink.’ He had bought an exceedingly rare and genuine 1968 Fender Pink Paisley Telecaster. Crook went to work restoring the original worn finish, and Paisley dubbed his new unicorn, La Brea.

While the guitar is definitely the type of find that all guitarists dream about, the guitar did need a couple tweaks to bring it to Brad’s specifications. And one of the first things to address were the pickups. Brad – being familiar with Seymour’s vintage-correct pickup lines – called him looking for a custom set of single-coils that were dead-on re-creations of a great set of ’68s.
These pickups are unique in that they had to meet two particular goals. One was to be a perfect re-creation of the pickups Fender was winding in 1968. This goes down to the magnet, wire, and bobbin material; the way the pickups are wound; and, most importantly, how they sound.

The second non-negotiable is that they had to please Paisley’s notoriously refined ear. They had to deliver the exact response, presence, muscle, and twang he’s after. The two refused to compromise and worked closely to deliver on all fronts. We think they nailed it. And so does Brad.

 

Introducing the Seymour Duncan Le Brea Brad Paisley Telecaster Single-coil Set.

 

We can already hear you asking, “Don’t you already have a bunch of vintage-correct Tele pickups? What makes the Le Brea Set so special?”

First, let’s start with what makes a telecaster pickup “vintage correct.” At Seymour Duncan, ‘vintage’ honors the tradition of hand-made quality. Not only are the pickups made by hand with pride, but depending on the model, they are made on the original machine used to wind the historical designs that guitarists clamor for. Since 1978, we’ve been building all of our vintage Fender style single-coil pickups with the right color and thickness of Forbon flatwork, along with the period correct magnet stagger. Each pickup comes complete with waxed and tinned cloth pushback hook-up wires and a traditional keyed bottom plate. We hand file the flatwork, assemble, and lacquer the bobbin just as it was done during Fender’s Golden Age.

The other important thing to remember is that Tele pickups from the ’50s sound wildly different than from the ’60s, and so on. Heck, pickups can sound drastically different from year to year! And with their Le Brea’s ’68 pedigree, we’ve added another iconic voicing to our lineup.

We’ll illustrate this with a rundown of some of our most popular vintage-correct Tele models.

 

Antiquity Tele 55 Pickups

In 1954, Fender began to manufacturing their Tele pickups with raised D and G poles to provide an evener string response and output, complementing the guitars’ 7.25″ radius fretboard. You get the same bright, twangy tone as our flat-pole Antiquity Tele Lead but with a little more edge. Each of our Antiquity Tele 55 pickups follows the same design and are hand-fabricated and scatter-wound in our Custom Shop to ensure accurate performance.

 

Antiquity I & II

The Antiquity Tele Rhythm is a faithful reproduction of an early ’50s Tele neck pickup. The bass response is full and adds richness to your chords, while the specially calibrated hand-ground Alnico 5 rod magnets and custom coil winding give the treble a smoother, more musical attack. It’s excellent for big, bold rhythm playing, and percussive enough for classic country-style chicken pickin’. It is also built reverse wound/reverse polarity for hum-canceling when used in combination with the Antiquity Tele Lead pickup.

 

Vintage Broadcaster Pickup Set

A faithful tribute to the originals, our Vintage Broadcaster set is the perfect choice for discerning players who demand something more from their Tele pickups. The lead pickups’ larger-diameter magnets and higher output coax biting treble and snarly mids. The rhythm pickup is designed for a smooth, open tone with warm lower mids and airy highs. With its hand-ground alnico 5 rod magnets, it delivers full-sounding chords that are warm enough for rhythm and percussive enough for chicken pickin’.

 

Vintage 54 Tele Pickup

For Telecaster players seeking a straightforward approach to the bridge tone that helped define rock, blues, and country, we offer the Vintage 54 Tele Lead. Its hand-ground alnico 5 rod magnets, coupled with a lower output wind, yield a bright, well-defined treble response that is perfectly suited to plucky lead work and fast-moving chords. Pair with our Vintage Tele Rhythm for a great, vintage-sounding setup.

 

As you can see, there’s a lot more to capturing the magic of those legendary pickups than lowering the output. And it’s pretty safe to say that no one knows more about it than Seymour. No matter what Tele tone you’re looking for, all of our ‘vintage-correct,’ pickups are made with the right materials, techniques, honor the past. That’s why, whether you go after the Paisley-approved Le Brea Set or one of our other vintage-correct Telecaster single-coil pickup sets, you’re sure to experience old-school tone at its finest.

If you need more help wading through our diverse lineup of vintage, Tele single-coil pickups, don’t hesitate to call (805) 716-6764 or email. And don’t forget to dig further into the Seymour Duncan blog! There’s a ton of in-depth information on all of our different designs, how-tos, tone demonstrations, and a whole lot more.

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