Nashville Telecaster Pickups: What You Need to Know

The Telecaster has almost been synonymous with Nashville, Tennessee for decades. And there’s a reason a Tele can still found in every A-list session guitarist’s arsenal. But many of the town’s pros need a guitar with a broader range of voices. They need the tone of their Teles with the flexibility of a Strat. So, to attain those tones, players—like Brent Mason—would drop Stratocaster pickups into their Telecasters’ middle positions. And, just like that, the configuration of Nashville Telecaster pickups were born.

Though Teles in every other way, it’s the configuration of the Nashville Telecaster pickups that define these guitars. This Tele/Strat hybrid approach was an instant hit. And Nashville Teles are still hot commodities. Players are even diving into modern pickup technology and taking their Nashville Teles further than ever.

But finding the right combination of Nashville Telecaster pickups is a bit of a process.

  • Do you want the standard Tele/Strat/Tele setup?
  • Are you looking for a setup that features hum-canceling or noiseless pickups?
  • Do you want something even more versatile?

We’re going to answer those questions while breaking down three Nashville Telecaster pickup setups. We’ll discuss the benefits of each and who they are for. And, we’ll also tell you what to keep in mind when choosing your Nashville Telecaster pickups.

 

3 Nashville Telecaster Pickup Combos

  • The Secret Agent Setup
  • Vintage Voiced
  • Super Tele

 

Tech Tips

Many Telecaster neck pickups—such as the Alnico II Pro, Five-Two, La Brea, Antiquity, and Antiquity II—feature a reverse winding/reverse polarity (RWRP) construction. This makes them hum-canceling when combined with the bridge pickup.

But adding a middle Strat pickup changes things. A standard-wind Strat pickup will be hum-canceling when combined with the Tele neck. But it will not be when combined with the bridge. And it’s the other way around with an RWRP Strat pickup. ​

Tele pickups—like the Hot Tele and Quarter Pound Tele—do not present this issue. For these, you want an RWRP Strat pickup for the middle position.

 

Secret Agent Setup

Five-Two Tele Set with Brad Paisley Signature Secret Agent

Seymour Duncan five two tele pickupSeymour Duncan brad paisley signature secret agent telecaster pickup

The Secret Agent Setup combines Five-Two Tele single-coils with the Brad Paisley Signature Secret Agent pickup. It is a perfect tonal blend of traditional and modern.

We designed the Five-Two Tele pickups for Nashville session players. Utilizing a blend of Alnico 5 and 2 magnets, they sing with a finely sculpted voice for all occasions. You can expect excellent articulation without the ice picking highs of some vintage-voiced options.

The Secret Agent adds to the Five-Twos’ character with old-school magic of its own. But it does it while hiding underneath your pickguard. From your audience’s perspective, you’re playing a regular Telecaster. But three new spanky tones await with the flick of your 5-way switch.

The Secret Agent is RWRP.

 

Vintage Voiced

Antiquity Tele Set with SSL-2 Vintage Flat Strat

Seymour Duncan Antiquity telecaster pickupSeymour Duncan SSL-2 vintage flat stratocaster pickup

These Nashville Telecaster pickups maintain everything you love about vintage T-style tone. We based them around pair of our Antiquity Tele pickups. From their materials to construction methods, Antiquities nail the vintage “thing.” And our aging process even gives them the look.

Our SSL-2 Vintage Flat Strat pickup adds ’60s Strat tone to your palette. It shares materials and construction with our period-correct Vintage Strat pickups. But thanks to the non-radiused pole pieces, there is less to inhibit your picking. It also gives the pickup a bit of a smoother top end.

Put the Antiquities and the Flat Strat together, and you have an old-school tone with a ton of options.

Antiquity Tele neck pickup is RWRP.

The SSL-2 Vintage Flat Strat is available in standard and RWRP. That way, you can choose whether you prefer the pickups to hum-cancel in position 2 or 4.

 

Super Tele Setup

Little 59/Vintage Stack Tele Set with STK-S4m Classic Stack Plus for Strat

Seymour Duncan Vintage stack telecaster pickuphumbucker sized single coil for telecaster

The Nashville Telecaster is famous for sonic flexibility. It’s also a perfect platform for pushing the limits. That’s what you get with the Super Tele Setup.

The Super Tele combines noiseless Vintage Stack Tele and Classic Stack Plus Strat pickups in the neck and middle positions, respectively. Then it throws a humbucker in the bridge to add a little LP tone to the mix. Use a 5-way pickup selector, and that alone will get you through any gig.

And, the Little 59 humbucker is also available with 4-conductor wiring. That means you can wire up your Nashville Telecaster pickups for some advanced switching options. Want single-coil Strat quack in positions 2 and 4? It’s easy to do. Want a push-pull pot to swap between series and parallel humbucker tone? Piece of cake. There’s not a lot the Super Tele Setup can’t do.

 

Let’s talk tone!

If you have any other questions about Nashville Telecaster pickups, check out our Knowledge Base here. You can also email us here. And don’t forget to dig deeper into the Seymour Duncan blog! There’s a ton of in-depth info, how-tos, tone demonstrations, and a lot more.

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