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Noisy Telecasters

Started by Dante, April 25, 2023, 01:01:28 PM

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Hello All,

Telecasters, per the title, are notoriously noisy. They are also notoriously twangy and cool, so you gotta have at least one. I do, and it's noisy (shocker!)

I'm looking at some of these: Fender Ultra Noiseless Vintage Passive Telecaster 2-piece Pickup Set - Black/Silver. @Harley - I'm waiting for you to chime in here, because I know YOU know your Fender single coils.

Anybody have a better idea or an opinion on this set?

Harley Hexxe

Hahahaha Dante,

    You know I'm addicted to my Fenders.  :lol:

    Truthfully, I'm not really a fan of the Fender noiseless pickups, as they really seem thin and wimpy sounding, at least the early ones are like that. What I would do I'd look a little deeper into this set and see which Fender guitar come with this set right off the rack, then see if one of these guitar is available in a local music store, and go try it out. That would give me  a pretty fair estimate on how it would sound in one of my guitars.

    It also surprised me to learn that not all Tele's are created equal. It seems the plain-jane simple, no-frills Telecaster had gone through a lot of changes in it's early years. When it first came out, it seems it had a 4-way switch that gave you all the normal pickup selections you'd expect, plus a really thick jazz tone in the 4th position. I think it had some extra circuitry built into it to do that, and the  neck pickup was a bit different. That only lasted a year or two since it seemed the country players were getting into the Telecaster more, and Leo changed the pickups and wiring around to simplify it, and get a more twangy kind of sound from every position, so there was a lot of experimentation with pickup windings and magnets, etc. There have been a lot of variations of Telecaster sounds since the50s, 60s, & 70s.
   What's the point of me throwing all this out there? It depends on the Telecaster tone you're looking for. What you can get from Fender these days depends on who is in charge of marketing, and what their taste in guitar music might be. What I hear from most of the current Telecasters is that they sound very similar to a two pickup Strat. or maybe you'd call that  Duo-Sonic, or a Jaguar, or a Mustang.
Sadly, there's a lot of hype in Fender's current line up, but the reality is they are just re-branding the old stuff that isn't selling. They really don't want to change anything from the way they've been making things for the past 40 years. (Look how long it took them to add a 22nd fret onto their guitar necks). It all comes down to money.
  There aren't many pickups in the Fender line that strike me as being that different from each other. For example: Texas Specials vs. Standard Stratocaster pickups. They sound almost identical, one just buzzes a little louder than the other. The only actual difference in tone I can pick up with my ears is the bridge pickup seems to have a bit more midrange power than the stock bridge pickup. Other than that, the other two sound exactly the same, but the Texas buzzes louder. So that's the take on overwound pickups. As for the noiseless, I'm not sure. but if they go in the other direction, then the pickups might end up being too weak to drive your amp the way you'd want it to. (Based on the ones I already tried).
   I know, you're kind of surprised to hear me say something like that about Fender, but I'm being honest about it.

I only have two brain cells left, ...and I'm saving them for the weekend!


It's a 50s era tele, and I like the stock PU sound, but they are wimpy. Not loud at all, but very twangy

I looked at some 'hot tele' pickups but they don't really have the same twang. They are louder, so maybe I'll be forced into a tradeoff  :dunno:

My bass player's daughter has a duo sonic and his major complaint about that guitar is the quiet pickups. I think they are lace sensors, but I didn't confirm that.

Guitar Fetish may be the ticket to a louder Tele pickup with the proper twang, I'll look there next


Hey Dante, well my 2cents worth...  The thing I like about Tele's is they fight you a bit (which is great for attacking blues/rock style playing). Mine is a Profile Silhouette, so some Australian guy sent a bunch of fenders to Japan and said make exact copies. So mine is a "fat/thick" neck tele (coz that's what he sent).  It's been through a bunch of iterations, but first up I put a SD hot tele PU in it (1987 vintage).  It's still in it, and has lots of twang but is usable for rock (adjust amp input gain accordingly).  Later, I bought a SD Hot neck for it in Hong Cong (passing through), which I liked, but it died from getting the top E under the bobbin one too many times  :facepalm: . So then it got a neck SD hot rails, quite versatile.  Then, much later, SC found me a Ultasonic ref 3 in Germany which is now in the neck poss. (both Hot rails and Ultrasonic I ran/run with series/parallel switch).  But they don't sound tele at all, then that's not what I was after. 

I also routed it out and put a Gotoh trem (with lock nut) on it. Then one of the Gotoh's fine tuner screws broke, (by now I had the Anderson (floating FR...)), so I copied the Anderson sunken FR routing and installed a Schaller FR and put in bigger frets. (Basically I was trying to make a spare in case I busted a string on the Anderson onstage).  I subsequently shimmed the FR saddles to match the FB radius (8.5" or 9").  The early (1987ish) SD hot tele PUs were good IMHO.  They have proper twang, depends on your gain settings though.

Studio Rig: Stuff; Live Rig: More Stuff; Guitars: A few


Dang. You have fought that guitar, I don't have that patience. In the end, it is just a slab of wood with pickups and a neck we can play - so Teles are a great profile to build from, like an old Jeep ;)

I'll take another look at the SD pickups, but the sound bytes I heard sounded 'not-Tele-like' and that was turning me off. Maybe I'll revisit those. Yesterday I went down the rabbit hole with Lollar and GFS pickups. After that, I was leaning towards a set of GFS PUs - the 52 Overwound Professional Series Bridge Pickup (7.8K) and the matching neck PU because they're reverse wired to get noise cancellation in the middle position. They sound very Tele, and read at twice the ohms of the stock PU...

I went ahead and lined the control cavities with copper tape to try to alleviate some of the buzz. It was then that I found out the body is routed for a humbucker in the neck (yay!). I bought a pickguard for a HB and started experimenting with HBs and a P90. Nothing sounded better than the stock single coil in there, so it's back now. the P90 sounded good, but not Tele. I have a GFS 59er that sounded good in the neck too, but again...not tele (I may put that into a hollowbody I have - it has a super hot neck PU that's out of control)

Thanks for the input guys, I appreciate it

This is my 3rd Tele and the only one I have now. Solid slab of wood, no contours on the body, vintage style 3-saddle bridge, nothing fancy. I did install a killswitch and a tilted toggle switch control cover to keep from banging my volume knob all the time. The thing is, it has some aftermarket neck on it that plays like BUTTER. The seller told me 'it's got a Fender neck' I said 'Or, a Fender sticker on some other neck' he said 'No, it's a Fender'....I can tell you right now, it's not....I took it off and it's a XGP (which is made by GuitarFetish).

HOly crap, that neck plays nice on that body, I'm sold on those necks, and they're super affordable (1/3 the cost). So, I love the way it plays, but gotta resolve this buzz. I used my Strat for the entire gig because of the Tele's noise. BTW: that had to be the first time in my life I brought two Fenders to a gig, I play mostly Ibanez' and my Epi Vee. Fenders are toys for me ;) but that Strat saved my arse.

Harley Hexxe


    No, the pickups on the Duo-Sonic are not Lace Sensors, they are the same pickups that you get with the Mustang, stock single coils with no pole pieces showing through the cover. I don't understand why they would be quieter than any other single coil.

   Careful with the overwound pickups, they will buzz like a hornets nest with more gain on the amp. That's what the Texas Specials are, and I have those in the seafoam green Strat. They are louder than the standard Strat pickups, but they buzz louder too. There are some stacked humbuckers out there that sound pretty authentic to their single coil counterparts. The only ones I'm familiar with and have any experience with are Dimarzio pickups. The Area T pickups might be what you're looking for, but you would have to use your ears to know that.
I only have two brain cells left, ...and I'm saving them for the weekend!


Hey Dante, love the red button, is that your kill switch?  Looks like it came out of an ADA pedal LoL.  I replaced the PU selector with a LP style switch, I'm not a fan of the normal tele PU switch, and I also put in a mini switch for the series/parallel of the neck PU.  When I play that guitar I typically just use the neck PU as the SD hot tele in the bridge is really bright and down on volume compared to the Ultrasonic in the neck.  Then I'm not chasing a tele sound from it.  The SDs' I put in it are really old era, so I've no idea what the more recent SD tele PUs are like.  The SDs' sounded good with my '73 Marshall, but I ran it highly cranked (through a power soak, so you could be in the same room as it).  I gave it a run recently through my MP-2 rig, which is programmed for Ultrasonics (Anderson).  Surprise surprise the Ultrasonic in the neck sounds great but the SD in the bridge needs it's own program, nearly cut my head off  :facepalm: .  I'm not a fan of the original 3 saddle bridge as you can't get as accurate with the intonation.  I changed that out when I put the Gotoh trem on it, routed out the back for the springs and kept part of the bridge plate for the bridge PU mounting.  The Gotoh locking thingy went behind the nut and it all worked really well (until the fine tuner screw broke).  By then I had the Anderson and really liked the whole sunken FR thing, so did some more routing and installed the Schaller FR.  I have a HB sized Ultrasonic spare which I toy with the idea of installing in the bridge (more routing), but it's becoming less and less a tele, and not the direction you are going.  I'm pretty sure it's a swamp ash body, it weighs a tonne.  And one day I'll shave the neck down (allot), it's got the fattest neck of all my guitars, although it's really nice to play.  I've also toyed with the idea of re finishing it, but the finish has a nice age to it (albeit there's still some pencil lines from the various routing mods etc.).  I do remember that I particularly liked the SD neck PU I bought in Hong Kong ~1985 ish (so much cheaper back then than in Oz).  It really pissed me off when it broke down from having the top E getting caught under the bobbin one to many times (I play pretty hard LoL).  Again though, I was never comparing it to anything else, I just liked the tone of it.  Interestingly, I never had a buzz/noise issue with it, but then I always played with so much gain and volume that squeals were more my problem, like trying to keep a lid on a volcano (which I got pretty good at). I despair a little that the youguns these days don't learn the skill (and thrill) of controlling a raging cranked Marshall with no master vol. Then their ears are probably better off for it.
Studio Rig: Stuff; Live Rig: More Stuff; Guitars: A few


Yes, the big red arcade button is the kill switch. Turns out, an ADA pedal button works exactly the same, just wire it directly to your output jack, don't disconnect anything.

I saw your LP switch in there, and the little split/series/parallel switch. I have the same problem with my SD bridge PUs compared to my single coils. Huge volume, I gotta write a patch just for the low volume bridge PUs

My string gets caught under the bobbin cover all the time on my goldtop, I had no idea it would mess up the PU.


Hey Dante, after a while the string cuts through (or goes over the top of) the "protective" tape around the coil and then impacts the coil wire (then it's all over, rewind the PU or throw it).  So over time I managed to kill the SD tele neck PU (bummer, I liked that PU).  I replaced it with the SD hot rails (in the pic).  Then (you'd have thought I would have learned from the first time  :crazy: ) it took out one of the 2 hot rails coils (it has 2 obviously) which left me with half the PU working (doh  :facepalm: ).  The new(er) hot rails have a plastic covering (encased) which I bought and had in it for a while before I put in the Ultrasonic (which is also totally encased i.e. problem goes away).  I suggest you put something around the coil/bobbin where the string catches under the bobbin to protect it, maybe some gaph tape? or better maybe tape a small bit of plastic ?  as over time it will probably cut through the gaph. 

This is predominantly a neck PU issue (if the bobbins are exposed).  If the top E catches under the bobbin, over time it "will" kill the PU (or maybe half of it if it has 2 coils).  So the metal cover over tele neck PUs serves a few purposes.  It protects the coil and also acts as a (23rd?) fret  >:D , and these days I prefer the covered look anyway.
Studio Rig: Stuff; Live Rig: More Stuff; Guitars: A few


I get my high E under there all the time. Thank god it hasn't killed my Jazz PU in there. If I split the Sh-2 Jazz in the neck a run the Sh-4 JB in the bridge with the toggle in the middle, I get a surprising bit of a quack that sounds great for clean stuff.

I have a solid black plastic cover, I suppose I could put that on my beautiful reverse zebra bobbin pickup (that I custom ordered) and ruin the look. Nah - I'll just put some gaffer's tape on that pickup during the gig (saw a guy doing that once).

Guitar is pictured below (2006? Ibanez AR200 goldtop - had black open coil PUs, black knobs, black rings & black switch tip when it was stock)


Ran across this on YouTube this morning while researching the Area Hot T. I think this Anderson PU sounds a little less Tele than I want. So far, I'm leaning towards the GFS and the DiMarzio Area T (the Hot T is again, not as Tele sounding)

Harley Hexxe

No...Hot T is definitely not a Tele sound
I only have two brain cells left, ...and I'm saving them for the weekend!