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  1. #1
    Lewguitar
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    Default Ultimate Tele tone!

    I'm curious what some of you seasoned Tele-spankers think of when you picture the ultimate Tele tone...

    For me it would be Roy Buchanan...tho I also loved Danny Gatton's playing too. I liked Roy's tone better tho: stock flat pole '53 Tele lead pickup...under 7K according to Joe Barden who had a chance to inspect and measure Nancy, Roy's '53 Tele.

    Both Roy and Danny got thier best tones, IMO, through blackface Fender Vibrolux Reverb amps. The Vibrolux Reverb is, to me, THE Telecaster amp...especially an old blackface with Jensen C10N speakers.

    I loved Jame's Burton's tone when he was with Ricky Nelson, but that tone is a little to thin and twangy for me and for blues: later 50's Tele lead pickup with raised poles of a smaller diameter than the flat poled Broadcaster style pickup Roy used.

    Interestingly, Jimmy Page used a similar Tele to the one James used for the first Led Zep album and got a much fatter tone...almost like a Les Paul. Recording technique and that Supro Thunderbolt amp with a 15" speaker I guess.

    Steve Cropper also comes to mind and he used a similar Tele to Jimmy Page's: rosewood fingerboard and probably the thinner diameter staggered poles. Again, a great tone but I like the fatter tone of flat poled pickups from '51 to early '54.

    In the 60's, I hated every new Tele I picked up! Just sounded like ice picks to me. I didn't learn to love Tele's until I scored my first really old one: a '51 NoCaster after seeing Roy Buchanan playing his '53.

    But the current NoCaster pickups from Fender do not have the tone I prefer: despite being flat poled and built in the Broadcaster style, they're just to bright for my tastes...tho I know there are guys who seem to prefer that thin bright twang.

    The original stock pickups that came with my old '54 do not sound like that...they sound more like Roy Buchanan's '53. I measured the bridge pickup from my '54 just now (it's out of the guitar) and it's only 6.2K! That's a little to weak, IMO, for a snarling good lead tone but it does combine beautifully with the neck pickup for a great chimey rythym tone.

    It sounds nothing like the NoCaster Reissue pickup tho: the old '54 has a warmer, fatter tone...even tho it's only a 6.2K pickup.

    I put Fralin Blues Specials in my '54. They are alot warmer and fatter than the NoCaster Reissues and the Blues lead pickup sounds similar to the stock pickup that came with my '54 but has more output and pushes my amp harder. They actually sound more like the tone Roy Buchanan got...but not quite as much snap and crackle.

    I love the tone Seymour gets on the Duncan Demo CD. I think that's a Duncan Tele Hot.

    Curly asked MJ to wind him one of those, I think, on his recent visit to the Duncan Factory...I'd like to hear Curly's views on that pickup if he's reading this.

    I'd have to say that my two favorites when it comes to modern pickups are the Duncan Antiquitys and the Fralin Blues Specials. Two differant, but great sounding pickup sets.

    When my Custom Shop '53 RI Tele shows up, I might install a set of the Antiquitys in it and compare the tones of my three Teles for you guys.

    I have not heard the newer Duncan Broadcaster pickups, but I do have an old one that I used for quite a few years. I'm going to hang onto it: it's 8.2K!

    That is the hottest Tele bridge pickup I own. I like it alot but it's so strong it compresses and loses a little of the Tele snap and I can see why the newer version is wound a little lighter.
    Last edited by Lewguitar; 08-18-2005 at 04:20 PM.

  2. #2
    Tone Member Stratsky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    I've always loved a tele. I bought my first one back in 66, bought a thinline in 71, and bought an American Std in 2000. I don't have the first two anymore, but love the newest one. It's a 3 tone sunburst, maple fret board, and with a SD JD in the bridge. The JD is an excellent pickup. It's mellower than most tele pickups I've heard and is suited for a variety of music.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    I"m into blues-based music for the most part, and I like the Nocasters, but they can be bright. As I said in another post you started, they sound noticeably different in 2 different ash Teles I have -- one has real nice bite and the other has a fatter midrange. Although bright, neither is ice-picky harsh. I just got my third Tele back from the luthier with an SD Jerry Donahue in the bridge. This pup has the fattest low end and strong midrange. It seems pretty bright to me as well, but it isn't harsh; on the other hand, it doesn't seem to have a lot of bite either. All of these guitars have swamp ash bodies, modern C-necks, and modern American Series Tele hardware and wiring. The only rosewood fingerboard is the one with the JD in the bridge.

    I've heard other people characterize the Fralins as bright, so there must be other factors like amp type and settings, personal touch, picks and strings, etc., that color the tone as well. I think pickup swapping is largely a crap shoot as far as really predicting how a given set will sound in a particular guitar for a particular player and rig. I must say that I have been pleased with the improvement in tone that each pickup upgrade has rendered, but the stock pickups in each case were not topnotch to begin with -- I'm sure there is a point of diminishing returns. Clearly, YMMV.

    BTW, I should add that I love Roy Buchanan, too, but I like Albert Collins just as much, so perhaps my tastes run a little towards the bright end of the dark side. Still, I can't stand ice-pick harshness in any case.
    Last edited by Kelsey; 04-21-2004 at 10:11 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    Thanks Lew! I was wondering what Page used, I knew he used a Tele quite a bit, but was alwyas curious as to the amps back then ...I heard he played thru an old supra fuzz (Vox maybe)...off topic, but any ideas on that?
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  5. #5
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kent S.
    Thanks Lew! I was wondering what Page used, I knew he used a Tele quite a bit, but was alwyas curious as to the amps back then ...I heard he played thru an old supra fuzz (Vox maybe)...off topic, but any ideas on that?
    I don't know about the fuzz. But I do know the amp he used for that first Led Zep album was a Supro Thunderbolt with a 15" speaker. I had one just like it when I was kid only mine was the two 12" speaker version...a bass amp.

    I had a Supro Pocket Bass too...

    Those were excellant amps at the time for those of us who couldn't afford a Fender. And the speakers were usually excellant Jensens. Mine had a pair of C12N's in it.

    When I could finally afford a Twin Reverb I used to sit it on top of m 2x12 Supro and plug the Twin into the speakers of the Supro for a 4 x 12 sound.

    Lew

  6. #6
    Moe's Bluesman Curly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    Lew,
    for a vintage style tone, I really liked the tone of the Lentz tele I played Sunday. It has all the warmth and crunch, but perfectly smooth, without any trace of edgy bite (and it looked just like your new Nocaster!)

    I'd love to get the custom shop to wind some to those specs
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  7. #7
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Curly
    Lew,
    for a vintage style tone, I really liked the tone of the Lentz tele I played Sunday. It has all the warmth and crunch, but perfectly smooth, without any trace of edgy bite (and it looked just like your new Nocaster!)

    I'd love to get the custom shop to wind some to those specs
    Sounds good...what was in it?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewguitar
    I don't know about the fuzz. But I do know the amp he used for that first Led Zep album was a Supro Thunderbolt with a 15" speaker. I had one just like it when I was kid only mine was the two 12" speaker version...a bass amp.

    I had a Supro Pocket Bass too...

    Those were excellant amps at the time for those of us who couldn't afford a Fender. And the speakers were usually excellant Jensens. Mine had a pair of C12N's in it.

    When I could finally afford a Twin Reverb I used to sit it on top of m 2x12 Supro and plug the Twin into the speakers of the Supro for a 4 x 12 sound.

    Lew
    Picturing it in my head right know ... Lew ... you just a bad mamma jamma, ain't cha?
    Get it Lew! ... Hey guy, where those amps made at all for overdrive, or was it just a byproduct of the times ... I guess I'm kinda asking if they had a preamp/master volume setup ... or at least how gainy they were?
    ::::To sound reinforcement engineer::::
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    Another thing also, What do you guys think of the old DiMarzio Pre B-1 pup for the tele bridge ... it's an older pup, but pretty well known ... but you just don't here much about it. Any of you guys ever had the run in with one?
    Evaluation please.
    ::::To sound reinforcement engineer::::
    ... What? ... ::::snicker:::: ...Yes, ... Right, ...
    Could we please have everything louder than everything else ? ...

  10. #10
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kent S.
    Picturing it in my head right know ... Lew ... you just a bad mamma jamma, ain't cha?
    Get it Lew! ... Hey guy, where those amps made at all for overdrive, or was it just a byproduct of the times ... I guess I'm kinda asking if they had a preamp/master volume setup ... or at least how gainy they were?
    Thanks! (I think!) No...master volume amps that allowed for overdrive and intentional distortion didn't come along until Randall Smith tweaked some blackface and silverface Fenders and then invented the Boogie MK1 in the early 70's. Lew

  11. #11
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelsey
    I"m into blues-based music for the most part, and I like the Nocasters, but they can be bright. As I said in another post you started, they sound noticeably different in 2 different ash Teles I have -- one has real nice bite and the other has a fatter midrange. Although bright, neither is ice-picky harsh. I just got my third Tele back from the luthier with an SD Jerry Donahue in the bridge. This pup has the fattest low end and strong midrange. It seems pretty bright to me as well, but it isn't harsh; on the other hand, it doesn't seem to have a lot of bite either. All of these guitars have swamp ash bodies, modern C-necks, and modern American Series Tele hardware and wiring. The only rosewood fingerboard is the one with the JD in the bridge.

    I've heard other people characterize the Fralins as bright, so there must be other factors like amp type and settings, personal touch, picks and strings, etc., that color the tone as well. I think pickup swapping is largely a crap shoot as far as really predicting how a given set will sound in a particular guitar for a particular player and rig. I must say that I have been pleased with the improvement in tone that each pickup upgrade has rendered, but the stock pickups in each case were not topnotch to begin with -- I'm sure there is a point of diminishing returns. Clearly, YMMV.

    BTW, I should add that I love Roy Buchanan, too, but I like Albert Collins just as much, so perhaps my tastes run a little towards the bright end of the dark side. Still, I can't stand ice-pick harshness in any case.
    When I was writing that post I wanted to mention Albert Collins but ran out of space! The Fralin Blues Specials I use are not ice pick bright...but the Fralin Tele Stocks with staggered polepieces sure are. I can't handle them at all. So Lindy makes the Tele Stocks and the Blues Specials with flat poles for me...I can't handle the brighter staggered pole version.

    Just personal taste I guess...to bright hurts my ears and reminds me of the 60's Teles I grew up around and couldn't stand the tone of.

    Lew

  12. #12
    Ultimate Tone Slacker mrfjones's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    when i get my new pickups and my new tele i will give you a review of the lead pickups I plan on installing. I have been wanting to try a voodoo and i am not sure about the other guitar yet.

    I talked to Alan Hamel about his tele sets and he recommended the alnico 3 set that he makes. It is supposed to be a bit darker than the fender nocaster reissue. I am not set on the Alan Hamel pickups yet but i am still trying to figure out what will get that perfect tele tone.

    I have antiquities in one and it is a sound all its own, i can get so many different sounds with those pickups but they can not quite do a Jimmy Page kind of tone, at least not for me through my soldano. The antiquities seem to be a little too smooth for some things. I am hoping the Voodoo's can acheive that Jimmy Page tele tone but maybe a little fatter because of the flat poles. I think they will be a little compressed but very useful.

    I will tell you all about the voodoos and whatever other set i try, there may be many.

  13. #13
    Tonus Maximus Pacificas Stevo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    Albert Lee is the first person that comes to mind.
    Jim Messina - full sail album = awesome tele tone and chops.
    Steve Cropper - the old stuff
    Roy Buchannon - ice pick tone and all.. I like it

  14. #14
    Slutbucker Pimpologist ArtieToo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    This thread is like a Telecaster mini-reference manual.

    I wonder if we could stuff this in the "vault"?

  15. #15
    Ultimate Tone Slacker Marinblues's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    I'd recommend seeing Robben Ford playing his Tele in live show.

  16. #16
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Marinblues
    I'd recommend seeing Robben Ford playing his Tele in live show.
    Me too! I like Robben's tone with a Tele better than his sound with humbuckers...especially his rythym tones. Good call! Lew

  17. #17
    Mojo's Minions Bludave's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Marinblues
    I'd recommend seeing Robben Ford playing his Tele in live show.
    I have seen Robben Ford Live on several occasions. He is am amazing player, but he is not the Tele player that comes to mind. I would say
    Albert Collins
    Roy Buchannen
    Danny Gatton.

    My 3 favorite Telecaster Players. Roy had a tendency to play really brite. At times way to brite. Albert Collins.... He Da Man (IMO)
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  18. #18
    Ultimate Tone Member rhmcfarland's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    The Antiquity bridge is a great pickup. It doesn't have all the twang of a country-type tone, but some technique can bring it out nonetheless. Its amazing that one of my best sounding guitars is this MIM Tele. Great tone with the Bogner. Very tight, with a distinctive growl when you smack the strings hard. Also, it works very, very well with Fulltone fx (Soulbender and '70). The output on this one is 6.56, and I think that's about where it needs to be. I don't usually like really pushy pickups (with the possible exception of using something like a Duncan Custom for slide guitar).

    Thanks for the thread, some great discussion!

    Randy
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  19. #19
    Lewguitar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    Thanks Randy! And I agree about the Antiquity and that 6.5K is the minimum needed to push the amp and get a little growl. That's why I don't use the 6.2K lead pickup that came with my '54, even tho that pickup is original and worth a small fortune! It's also why I don't care for the NoCaster lead pickup: it doesn't push my amp into overdrive the way the Blues Special does. That's what I really noticed about it: when I plug my Tele into my tweed Fenders and turn the volume up about 1/2 way, the hotter Blues Special gets that fat, midrange bark that starts to overdrive the amp a little...the NoCaster doesn't.

    I'm also looking at the specs for the Duncan models:
    7.6K Broadcaster;
    7.2K Vintage '54 lead;
    15.6K (7.4K tapped) Hot Lead...Seymour's pickup choice I believe.
    6.4K Antiquity
    6.1K Antiquity '55...weak, just like my '54, but that's what the old ones measure.


    Personally, like you (and Seymour too apparantly), I like a hotter Tele bridge pickup: 6.5K minimum and hotter still for more modern sounding sustain and slight overdrive.

    Lew

  20. #20
    Super Toneologist Dave's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ultimate Tele tone!

    Great thread-

    I'm surprised that there's no mention of the APTL-3JD, which is supposed to be a replication of his '52. I don't know how that model compares with the original Fender pickups in the '52 that are mentioned. It, along with the A2Pros are the only A2 Tele pickups that SD makes, and it's a touch hotter, mine was around 7.74-spec sheet says -7.8. I'm not sure about the others mentioned here. I'd love to try a 10K Nocaster at some point.

    I'd really love it if Lew, Stevo, or Curly could try one out and give a review of it vs. the Vintage leads mentioned here. I just don't have the resources (cash and ears) on hand to do it. Thanks in advance if that happens.

    I really love mine and last night while playing with my friends was super and it is great with the Fralin Blues Special neck.

    I have a lot of respect for Roy Buchanan and Steve Cropper myself-definitely roadbuilders with the Telecaster.
    Rambler + Tele + Stylish Chords = Heaven!

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