Our Ultimate Guide to Guitar Pickup Installation: The Secret Agent

The Seymour Duncan Brad Paisley Secret Agent Tele neck pickup is a revolution in twang. It gives Esquires the Telecaster’s flexibility while retaining the unique tone and punch of Esquire pickups. It can also give your Telecaster the sleek and minimalist style of an Esquire while still delivering the Tele’s wide breadth of tone. Best of all, guitar pickup installation is a breeze. And no-one even has to know it’s there.

But how can a pickup meant for Esquires be a great-sounding Telecaster neck pickup? Is there even such thing as an Esquire neck pickup? And won’t this require complicated and irreversible mods to my guitar?

Yes, it can. There is now. And chances are, you’re guitar’s already ready to go. So let’s get to work.

secret agent pickup uninstalled and sitting on guitar

As you can imagine, the Secret Agent guitar pickup installation is different from mounting a traditional Telecaster neck pickup. Since there are no holes in your pickguard, there’s no way to hang the Secret Agent. Since there are no mounting screw holes in the pickup, you can’t mount it to the body the way you usually would. Then how do you do it?


All it takes are five easy steps.

  1. Prepare guitar
  2. Install Mounting Foam
  3. Pickup Installation
  4. Electrical Connections
  5. Reinstall Pickguard and Strings

Tech Tips: This Secret agent pickup installation guide assumes you don’t already have a pickup in your neck position route. If you do, you’ll find step-by-step instructions on pickup removal here.


Tools you’ll need

  • Seymour Duncan Brad Paisley Secret Agent Tele Neck Pickup
  • Foam mounting pad (included with pickup)
  • Soldering iron and proper solder
  • Screwdriver
  • Esquire pickguard with no neck pickup route


1. Prepare Guitar

Step one is to remove your guitar strings and unscrew and remove your pickguard. If you have an Esquire-style guitar, you may be surprised to find a Tele neck pickup route already hiding under your pickguard. Most T-style electric guitars have this route from the factory.

Tech Tips:

It’s not 100% necessary to remove your strings for the installation. But we recommend it as it makes the procedure much easier.


2. Install Mounting Foam

back of secret agent tele pickup with foam next to it

There are no mounting screws, springs, or rubber tubing included with your Secret Agent single-coil pickup. There’s no need for them. Instead, you’ll find a foam pad sporting gripping adhesive for connecting it to the pickup. This foam sits between your pickup and the guitar body, providing optimal height and stability.

To attach it to the bottom of the pickup, simply expose the adhesive strip, ensure correct alignment, then press the Secret Agent down onto the adhesive with equal pressure across the pickup and the foam.


3. Pickup Installation and Electrical Connections

Other than the mounting foam, the Secret Agent installs much like other Telecaster neck pickups. But first, you have to make some tonal decisions. The Secret Agent gives you vast wiring options for different T-style tones. It does the Tele thing incredibly well. But there are a million more ways to wire the Secret Agent, including out-of-phase, tone control bypassed, even hum-canceling operation. You can find wiring diagrams for a lot of them right here. So don’t be afraid to experiment.

Once you know how you’ll be wiring your Tele, feed the pickup’s lead wires through the body cavities per your chosen wiring diagram (more on this in the next step). Make your correct electrical connections. And place the pickup, foam down, in the neck pickup cavity.


4. Reinstall Pickguard and Strings

secret agent tele pickup installed

Time to put your guitar back together. When you reinstall your pickguard (we recommend the sleek good looks of an Esquire pickguard), you’ll find your Secret Agent sticks out above the top of your guitar. Don’t worry, that’s how we designed it. When properly installed, the Secret Agent should touch the bottom of your pickguard, securing the pickup into place. It also keeps the pickup’s magnets as close to the strings as possible. So go right ahead and screw your pickguard back into place, pressing the Secret Agent down into the body route.

Now restring your guitar, and you’re ready to go!

pick guard being installed over secret agent tele pickuptele guitar body with secret agent installed

“Wow! Sounds like and easy guitar pickups installation is easy, and the pickup is a cool idea. But can a pickup sound good when buried under a pickguard?”

We’re glad you asked. The Secret Agent marks a collaboration between two of the most respected names in electric guitar tone: Brad Paisley and Seymour Duncan. And neither put their name on anything unless it lives up to their meticulous expectations. So when Brad sticks the Seymour Duncan Secret Agent in his personal Esquires, we think that says enough.


Brad Paisley Secret Agent Tele

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Let’s talk tone!

If you have any other questions about any Seymour Duncan pickups or installation, 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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