The Fender Telecaster is country music guitar tone. And country music guitar tone is the Telecaster, plain and simple.
Yes, you’ll find every style of guitar used to great effect throughout the genre. But no guitar has put its sonic stamp on it quite like Fender’s first. Whether it’s James Burton’s genre-defining bends or the modern explosion of Brad Paisley devotees, the guitar and the genre are forever linked.
That’s why we built our list of the best guitar pickups for country music around T-style single-coils. We’ve included modern designs, old-school re-creations, and even a Paisley signature set. So, we have you covered no matter what kind of twang you live for.
The best pickups for country music guitar
Hum-canceling single-coils pickups get a bad reputation. But we’re changing that with our Vintage Stack Tele Set.
We designed them around the best vintage T-style tones. They do boast a stack design that gives you humbucker-like silence. But they also offer vintage output levels, spanking bite, tight low end, and all the twang you can handle. They’re even made with vintage-correct Alnico 5 magnets. Add that to modern touches like a 4-conductor lead wire and you have the best of yesterday and today.
There are a lot of “noiseless” Tele pickups on the market. And there are even more vintage-sounding Tele pickups. But if you gig regularly, you need the benefits of both. You need the Vintage Stack Tele Set.
No one knows Tele tone quite like country music superstar Brad Paisley. So, the fact that we voiced these signature pickups for one of his famous ‘68s Fender paisley Telecasters, tells you just how good they really are. And Brad was involved in their creation from day one.
Though not exact vintage-pickup recreations, the La Brea Tele Set does borrow from the best of yesteryear. This includes vintage-correct cloth push-back wire, period-correct grey Forbon flatwork, and a vintage output of 7.44k (bridge) and 7.55k (neck).
But unlike many vintage Tele pickups, Paisley selected Alnico IV magnets for the bridge pickup and Alnico II magnets for this neck. This unique twist gives the La Breas familiar, bell-like top-end and punchy lows. But it also introduces the focused midrange that’s at the core of Paisley’s tone. Put it all together and you have two pickups that Paisley dubs, “the perfect set.”
If the Vintage Stacks and La Breas sound great, but you swear by a vintage tone and look, you have to try the Antiquity II Telecaster Set.
Seymour W. Duncan wanted to nail the perfect tone of his own mid-’60s Telecaster. And the only way to do that is to build pickups like they used to. Both the neck and bridge pickups feature Alnico 5 rod magnets with a period-correct stagger on the bridge; aged, gray bottom flatwork; a brass-plated steel bottom plate; and push-back cloth wire. He even lacquered and wax potted the Antiquity IIs like the ‘60s originals.
The Antiquity II Telecaster Set captures the magic of those old slab bodies. There is plenty of twang, a slightly softer treble, and the low-string bounce Tele players live for. So if you prefer your Teles more classic than modern, these may be your pick for the best guitar pickups for country music.
Let’s talk tone!
If you have any other questions about the best guitar pickups for country music, 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.