Top 7 Fender Telecaster Pickups Upgrades For Better Tone

Fender Telecaster guitars, known for their distinctive twang and versatile tone, are a staple in the world of electric guitars. Whether you own an American or Mexican Telecaster, upgrading your pickups can significantly enhance your instrument’s sound and performance and specifically give you more of that signature Telecaster twang you are looking for. In this article, we’ll explore seven fantastic Telecaster pickup upgrade options, detailing the unique qualities of each and providing insights into why they might be the perfect choice for your Tele. Let’s dive into the world of Fender Telecaster pickups!

top-7-fender-telecaster-pickups-upgrades

Joe Barden Fender Telecaster Pickups

Joe Barden Danny Gatton T-Style pickups are famous for their noiseless design and exceptional tonal quality. These pickups deliver a balanced response across all strings, with a warm, full-bodied sound that retains the classic Telecaster twang. The Danny Gatton T-Style pickups use dual blade rails, which contribute to their noiseless performance and enhanced harmonic content. They also feature a unique patented design that helps preserve the natural resonance and sustain of the guitar.

Pros of Fender Telecaster Pickups

  • Noiseless operation
  • Balanced response
  • Retains classic Telecaster twang

Cons of Fender Telecaster Pickups

  • May not suit players seeking a more aggressive tone
  • Higher price point compared to some alternatives

Famous Artists Who Used Joe Barden Pickups

Danny Gatton, Keith Urban

You can pair these pickups with the Joe Barden vintage Telecaster bridge as well, I go over it here.

Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Fender Telecaster Pickups

The Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Tele pickups are known for their powerful output and fat, punchy tone. These pickups feature large-diameter Alnico 5 magnets, which contribute to their aggressive, high-output sound. The Quarter Pound Tele pickups have a DC resistance of 17.4k ohms, which is higher than many traditional Telecaster pickups. This increased output makes them ideal for driving tube amplifiers or achieving a more saturated sound from a solid-state amp. They also have a custom overwound coil for added warmth and thickness.

Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Tele Pickups

Pros of Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Pickups

  • High output
  • Fat, punchy tone
  • Versatile for various musical styles

Cons of Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Pickups

  • May not suit players seeking a more vintage or traditional Telecaster sound
  • Can potentially overpower the natural character of some guitars

Famous Artists Who Used Quarter Pound Pickups

Debbie Davies, Mike Landau

Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Telecaster Pickups

Designed to deliver a vintage tone with a modern edge, the Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Tele pickups feature overwound enamel-coated magnet wire and Alnico 5 magnets. These pickups offer increased output, midrange emphasis, and a rich, warm sound that’s perfect for blues, rock, and country. The Texas Special Tele pickups have a DC resistance of 9.5k ohms for the bridge pickup and 8.2k ohms for the neck pickup, providing a hotter signal compared to standard Telecaster pickups.

Pros of Fender Texas Special Telecaster Pickups

  • Vintage tone with a modern edge
  • Increased output and midrange emphasis
  • Great for blues, rock, and country

Cons of Fender Texas Special Telecaster Pickups

  • May not suit players seeking a more traditional Telecaster sound
  • Could be too aggressive for some musical styles

Famous Artists Who Used Texas Special Pickups

Jimmie Vaughan, Brad Paisley

Lindy Fralin Telecaster Pickups – Blues Special

The Lindy Fralin Blues Special Tele pickups are hand-wound, offering a balanced, vintage-inspired tone with a touch of extra output. These pickups use Alnico 5 magnets and a custom staggered pole piece design, resulting in a clear, articulate sound. These pickups are wound with 42-gauge plain enamel wire and have a DC resistance of 7.3k ohms for the bridge pickup and 7.0k ohms for the neck pickup. The Blues Special Tele pickups offer a smooth, balanced tone with increased presence, making them well-suited for a variety of genres.

Lindy Fralin Telecaster Pickups

Pros of Lindy Fralin Telecaster Pickups

  • Balanced, vintage-inspired tone
  • Extra output for versatility
  • Hand-wound for quality and consistency

Cons of Lindy Fralin Telecaster Pickups

  • May not be aggressive enough for some players
  • Higher price point due to being hand-wound

Famous Artists Who Used Lindy Fralin Pickups

Susan Tedeschi, Ryan Adams

Twang King DiMarzio Telecaster Pickups

DiMarzio Twang King Fender Telecaster pickups are designed to capture the classic Telecaster twang while offering a dynamic, responsive playing experience. These pickups feature controlled-tension coil winding, special wire, and hand-calibrated magnets, resulting in a rich, balanced tone that responds to your playing dynamics. The bridge pickup has a DC resistance of 8.0k ohms, while the neck pickup has a DC resistance of 5.2k ohms.

Pros of DiMarzio Telecaster Pickups

  • Classic Telecaster twang
  • Dynamic, responsive playing experience
  • Balanced tone

Cons of DiMarzio Telecaster Pickups

  • May not provide enough output for players seeking a more aggressive sound
  • Some players may prefer a more vintage-inspired design

Famous Artists Who Used DiMarzio Tele Pickups

Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance), Brent Mason

Bare Knuckle Flat ’50s Telecaster Pickups

The Bare Knuckle Flat ’50s Tele pickups are inspired by the earliest Telecaster pickups from the 1950s. They use flat Alnico III magnets and vintage-correct 42 AWG plain enamel wire, delivering a bright, articulate tone with a tight low-end and smooth treble response. These pickups have a DC resistance of 6.8k ohms for the bridge pickup and 7.3k ohms for the neck pickup. The hand-wound construction ensures a consistent, high-quality product with attention to detail.

Bare Knuckle Flat '50s Tele Pickups

Pros of Bare Knuckle Telecaster Pickups

  • Authentic vintage Telecaster sound
  • Bright, articulate tone
  • Hand-wound for quality and consistency

Cons of Bare Knuckle Telecaster Pickups

  • May not suit players seeking a more modern or aggressive sound
  • Higher price point due to being hand-wound

Famous Artists Who Used the Bare Knuckle Pickups

Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Josh Smith

Lollar Vintage T Series Telecaster Pickups

Lollar Vintage T Series Tele pickups offer a warm, full tone with a well-defined midrange and a tight low end. Hand-wound with scatter-wound 42-gauge coil wire, these pickups use Alnico 3 magnets and a custom vintage stagger for a balanced, detailed sound. The bridge pickup has a DC resistance of 7.6k ohms, while the neck pickup has a DC resistance of 7.0k ohms. The combination of materials and construction techniques results in a classic Telecaster sound with a touch of modern sophistication. Check out my full writeup on the Loller guitar pickups here.

Pros of Lollar Telecaster Pickups

  • Warm, full tone
  • Well-defined midrange and tight low end
  • Hand-wound for quality and consistency

Cons of Lollar Telecaster Pickups

  • May not suit players seeking a more aggressive or high-output sound
  • Higher price point due to being hand-wound

Famous Artists who Used Lollar Pickups

Bill Frisell, Blake Mills

Replacing Your Telecaster Pickups

Replacing Your Telecaster Pickups

We understand that replacing the pickups on your Telecaster can seem like a daunting task, especially if it’s your first time. To make the process easier for you, we’ve included a video from YouTube that clearly demonstrates how to replace the pickups on a Telecaster. The step-by-step guide in this video will help you confidently perform the replacement, ensuring your guitar sounds its best with your chosen pickups. So, sit back, watch, and learn as you upgrade your Telecaster with your new pickups.

The Verdict on Fender Telecaster Pickup Upgrades

Upgrading the pickups on your American or Mexican Telecaster can breathe new life into your instrument, providing enhanced tonal quality and versatility. With options like the Joe Barden Telecaster pickups, Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Tele pickups, Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Tele pickups, Lindy Fralin Blues Special Tele pickups, DiMarzio Twang King Tele pickups, Bare Knuckle Flat ’50s Tele pickups, and Lollar Vintage T Series Tele pickups, there’s a perfect match for every player’s unique preferences and style. By considering factors such as tonal characteristics, output, and the sounds favored by famous musicians, you can find the ideal pickup upgrade to elevate your Telecaster’s performance to new heights.

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