Musical Instruments

7 Best Pickups for Telecaster 2021 – Guide to Understanding Telecaster Pickups

When Fender and his staff came up with the Telecaster, they created something that totally changed the music industry- the signature body, easy playability, affordability and the clear tone with a classic twang simply conquered every music style.

Editor's Pick
Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Telecaster Pickups
Good Choice
Seymour Duncan Little 59 ST59-1B Bridge Pickup for Tele
Don't Miss
Fender Vintage Noiseless Tele Pickups
Also Consider
DiMarzio DP172C Pick-up
Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Telecaster Pickups
Seymour Duncan Little 59 ST59-1B Bridge Pickup for Tele
Fender Vintage Noiseless Tele Pickups
DiMarzio DP172C Pick-up
Editor's Pick
Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Telecaster Pickups
Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Telecaster Pickups
Good Choice
Seymour Duncan Little 59 ST59-1B Bridge Pickup for Tele
Seymour Duncan Little 59 ST59-1B Bridge Pickup for Tele
Don't Miss
Fender Vintage Noiseless Tele Pickups
Fender Vintage Noiseless Tele Pickups
Also Consider
DiMarzio DP172C Pick-up
DiMarzio DP172C Pick-up

As popular as the Telecaster was, the pickup system is something that players like to change or upgrade.

If you have thought of this option, then choosing the right pickups is critical- expect to spend not less than 70$ on a good set.

Today, we’ll take a look at the seven best pickups for Telecaster with modern features that will turn your Tele into an ear-catching tone monster.

Best Pickups for Telecaster Reviews 2020

Best Pickups for Telecaster 2021 – Comparison Table

Product name

Out rating

Guitar position

Magnet metarial

Warranty

Noise

Fender Custom Shop Texas Special

#1(Editor choice)

Neck and bridge

Alnico 5

Return policy

Minimal

Seymour Ducan ST591 Little 59 Lead

#2

Bridge

Ceramic

Return policy

Minimal

Fender Vintage Noiseless Tele Pickups

#3

Neck and bridge

Alnico 2

1 year

Noiseless

DiMarzio DP172 Twan King

#4

Neck

Alnico 5

Return policy

Clear

Tonerider TRT2 Hot Classic

#5

Neck and bridge

Alnico 3

Return policy

Clear

 Top Picks for Best Pickups for Telecaster

1. Fender Custom Shop Texas Special

Fender Custom Shop Texas Special

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Texas Special Tele pickups come as a set of two- the neck and bridge. They are designed to deliver high output, consistent volume, noticeable presence, and midrange.

These pickups produce anything from the classic Tele twang to the bassy tone.

Features

  • They are overwound pickups that use alnico 5 magnets mounted on a fiber bobbin then wrapped in an enamel-coated magnet wire for increased output.
  • The neck pickup features a nickel/silver cover that gives a clear warm tone.
  • The bridge has a copper-plated steel bottom plate and height-staggered pole pieces which are responsible for the scorching balanced output, presence, and midrange.
Pros
  • Gives an impressive, powerful sound output and twang
  • The four-way switch offers distinct sounds, all pure Telecaster
  • Improves sound and retains the Tele twang
  • Includes both bridge and neck pickup positions
  • Superior picking ability of the highs and lows
Cons
  • Be aware that the bridge is not grounded and is prone to feedback during high gain applications if the volume is rolled past 50%. If you are looking for pickups with a higher output for metal or jazz, get an alternative.
  • Wiring instructions are not clear but do not be bothered by that. Look out for our installation guide after the reviews.

 

Verdict

These pickups are made by Fender, so they still have the powerful sound of a Tele crunch. For this reason and their superior picking ability, they top the list of our review.

Expect a loud, hot and powerful upgrade, making them the best telecaster pickups for country, blues, pop or classic rock.

2. Seymour Ducan ST591 Little 59 Lead Telecaster Pickup

Seymour Ducan ST591 Little 59 Lead Telecaster Pickup

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Although little, this is a beast that is that is likened to installing a full-sized PAF in the bridge position of your Telecaster.

It is a medium output telecaster that delivers a warm, smooth tone with a slight midrange that gives a full-bodied humbucker sound. Like all other Seymour Duncan, this Little 59 is also hand-built in Santa Barbara, California.

Features
  • Is a hybrid designed for the bridge position of the Telecas
  • Replaces a Fender American Standard Telecaster sized pickup route
  • Single-coiled sized humbucker
  • Has added versatility as it comes with a 4-conductor lead wire that gives you access to series, parallel and split wiring options
  • Uses a ceramic bar magnet that is wax potted for squeal-free operation
Pros
  • Controls the highs, mids, and lows and retains clarity
  • Easy to install and use
  • Has multiple wiring options
  • Price is pocket-friendly
Cons
  • Inseries mode, it loses the twang in a Tele bridge pickup, but you canbring it back with the parallel mode
  • The high end is not very bright
  • Comes in black color only

 

Verdict

Without digging so deep into your pockets, you get one of the best telecaster pickups by Seymour Duncan. The Little 59 ST591 is not only a simple and very easy to use product but also one with a traditional tone that is all its own.

They are exceptionally well-balanced and cover a lot tone-wise, making them an excellent choice for playing anything from country to rock.

For the price, clarity, and ability to retain the vintage charm of the Telecaster, these pickups come second in our review.

3. Fender Vintage Noiseless Tele Pickups

Fender Vintage Noiseless Tele Pickups

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ManyTele players admit that the excess hum and noise is not something that makes the music any better. So, getting pickups that eliminate the noise is something that many consider a godsend idea.

If you are one of the players that desire to cut back on unwanted noise without cutting back on the classic

Telecaster classic twang,then the Fender Vintage Noiseless Tele pickups are the best selection. They are well-balanced with a consistent tone across the range and have added quietness for versatile heavier styles.

Features

  • Made with special Alnico 2 magnets in a stacked configuration for a warm attack and balanced midrange
  • Has enamel-coated magnet for a warm vintage tone
  • Vinyl-coated output wire and plastic bobbin material
  • Comes with a 1-year warranty
  • Has both neck and bridge positions
  • The neck pickup has nickel-silver covering for additional clarity while the bridge pickup produces the traditional Tele tone
Pros
  • Delivers a clear tone with no hum
  • Retains the 60s classic Tele twang
  • Gives both an even and balanced sound
  • Is a set of both neck and bridge positions
Cons
  • A little difficult to install
  • Though it retains the twang, it is not as ultimate as the original Tele twang

 

Verdict

Fender Vintage Noiseless Tele Pickups are quite warm but still deliver a clear tone with an articulate output.

With the special alnico magnets, enamel coating, wiring and noiseless technology, they produce a unique vintage sound that is quiet enough for any style- from clean acoustic tones to heavy Metallica, and anything in between.

4. DiMarzio DP172 Twang King Telecaster Neck Pickup

DiMarzio DP172 Twang King Telecaster Neck Pickup

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The Twang King pickups stand out in several ways. First, they are created with controlled-tension windings, magnets are hand-calibrated, and the pots are double waxed for squeal-free performance.

The pickups are also ultra-responsive to pick attacks, are clean and clear with a wide range of sounds.

Features

  • Hand-calibrated magnets
  • Double wax potting
  • Chrome color
  • Alnico 5 magnet
  • Single-coil type
  • Designed for the neck position
Pros
  • Excellent response to pick attack
  • Can handle a wide dynamic range of sound
  • Squeal free
  • Easy to install
  • Pairs well with other bridge position pickups
Cons
  • Not noise canceling. You get a hum but no microphone squeal.
  • Not meant for a very high gain pickup

 

Verdict

Designed to deliver vintage Tele tones with clean lows, highs and unequaled response to pick attack.

When you play your Tele lightly, the pickup produces a soft, quiet tone, and if you pick it hard, you get a hard ,loud and more dynamic sound than your stock Tele pickups can give you.

For this reason, the Twang King was not made for a specific genre but was made to open up to hard attacks as well as soft picking. If you are looking for an authentic sound for Jazz and blues, you will never go wrong with the Twang King choice

5. Tonerider TRT2 Hot Classic Tele Pickup

Tonerider TRT2 Hot Classic Tele Pickup

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The fifth but not the least of the best pickups is the Tonerider Hot Classics. The brand name may not be as big as Fender or Seymor Duncan, but they have incredible tonal transparency.

The Tonerider Hot Classics are a must for any rocks or blues player who wants to hit better edges from the Tele because of their stronger midrange, fat bass, and impeccable upper register.

Features

  • Neck pickup features nickel-silver color for tone transparency and flat pole pieces
  • Wound on Alnico 3 magnets for note separation
  • Bridge pickup features staggered pole pieces
  • Inseries mode, it loses the twang in a Tele bridge pickup, but you canbring it back with the parallel mode
  • The high end is not very bright
  • Strong midrange, thick bass, and a raunchy treble

Pros
  • Has impressive tone separation- the tone rarely gets muddy
  • Both neck and bridge pickups are well-balanced
  • Great choice for heavy music styles
  • Well-designed
Cons
  • A bit difficult to install

Verdict

Justas the name implies, the Tonerider Hot Classic gives the classic hot tone. Its high output level with a punchy low end, a smooth and clear high end make it the best telecaster pickup for blues and rock.

For a reasonable price, you get a surprisingly good sound and a strong punch that goes toe to toe with the bigger brands.

What Should You Consider Before Buying a Telecaster Pickup ?

When purchasing your favorite Tele pickups, the leading factor should be to emulate your personal preference and style.

Your preferred style of music can guide you to choosing particular pickups.

If you play clean, with distortion or loud and aggressive, you can select pickups explicitly designed for that. However, many players use a specific type of pickups for so many different styles.

Other than that, also consider the following:

Neck, Middle or Bridge Pickups?

In most instances, Telecaster pickups are made to work in different positions based on the output, resonant frequency and general voicing.

The three main positions are the neck, middle and bridge. Where the pickup is placed determines the kind of sound produced. Sound near the bridge is always brighter than near the neck.

For a balance to be achieved, the pickups near the bridge are designed to give a higher output for them to be louder, since they receive less amplitude. Using the pickups in the right position therefore, yields the best results.

Magnet Metarial

The material used has a tremendous impact on the quality of output that you get. The ratio of the materials determines the magnet strength which has a corresponding effect on the Tele’s tone. Some of the most conventional magnet materials used include alnico (aluminum, nickel, and cobat) and ceramic.

Alnico 2 magnets give a soft, warm tone throughout the range, 3 provides more of a treble, while 4 produces a compressed equalized sound. Alnico 5 is the strongest version with a higher output and a bit of a treble.

The ceramic type is made from iron oxide and is molded with other solid compounds. This type is capable of producing a lot of magnetism for its size and tends to remain stronger throughout its lifetime.

The material used has a tremendous impact on the quality of output that you get. The ratio of the materials determines the magnet strength which has a corresponding effect on the Tele’s tone. Some of the most conventional magnet materials used include alnico (aluminum, nickel, and cobalt) and ceramic.

Alnico 2 magnets give a soft, warm tone throughout the range, 3 provides more of a treble, while 4 produces a compressed equalized sound. Alnico 5 is the strongest version with a higher output and a bit of a treble.

The ceramic type is made from iron oxide and is molded with other solid compounds. This type is capable of producing a lot of magnetism for its size and tends to remain stronger throughout its lifetime.

Noise or noiseless pickups?

Pickups for Telecaster

The Telecaster guitar is meant to use single-coil pickups which are compact and powerful but also come with their challenges. The magnetic field tends to produce a 60-cycle hum, which to some people is background noise. Some players ignore it, some are never bothered by it while others cannot stand it.

If noise is an issue to you and you still want to keep the vintage charm of the Telecaster sound, your best option is to invest in noiseless pickups. Noiseless pickups stack magnetic coils to keep the pickup system slim enough for the Tele single-coil designs.

Standard pickups or Telecaster pickups?

There are significant differences between a Telecaster pickup and any other standard single-coil pickups that you will find out there.

The difference in the design is responsible for the unique Telecaster tone. You may ask, how are Tele’s pickups unique?

Well, when compared to other pickups, the Tele’s bridge pickup is created to fit the standard Telecaster style bridge, and so, you cannot buy just any pickup to fit your Tele’s bridge.

In addition, the Tele neck pickup is taller but still smaller in size than the standard single coil pickup. In many cases, the Tele neck pickup is usually covered to reduce high-frequency output, uses a thinner gauge wire and features a smaller bobbin.

Below, we shall review the best pickups for telecaster that you can currently get in the market. We have included pickups from different price categories, for different Tele positions, various music genres and several magnet materials and multiple wiring options.

Whether you are a lead or back up singer in relaxing blues, hard rock, heavy metal or classic country, you will definitely find something to treat your Tele.

How to replace or install your new Telecaster pickup

Once you pick your favorite Tele pickups, the next thing will be installing them. Most of the models on our pickups for Telecaster reviews come with wiring instructions although some are not very clear.

That is why we have this part to show you how you swap without messing anything up. If you are a beginner or you are not so confident about opening your Tele, you can always learn something from your repairman.

Before opening your guitar, make sure that you know where the pickups are supposed to go. As we mentioned above, not just any type of pickup is meant for any guitar or any position- all the pickups in this review are made for any Telecaster, but they are meant for different positions.

So, do not screw up and buy a bridge pickup for the neck not unless you want to experiment with the output sounds.

What will you need?

First, you will need a determined mind and an anticipating heart- determination to complete the job successfully and anticipation for output like no other. You will also need:

  • A full set of screwdrivers
  • A garment to lay the guitar on- a towel or bedsheet will do
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • A new pack of strings
  • Desoldering bulb
  • Pliers and hemostats
  • Electrical tape
  • Dikes and digital multimeter
  • Caliper (preferably digital)
  • Small amp and chord for testing purposes
  • A printed diagram of the wiring

You may not need all the items since most of the products that we have reviewed come with all the mounting hardware. You may want to first countercheck what you have and what you don’t.

Getting started

Ensure that you are working in a place that is well lit. Lay your Tele on the towel to protect it from scratches, then arrange all the items listed above. First, carefully study the wiring diagram and your Telecaster.

There are tons of reviews on Youtube with directions on wiring and replacing parts of your guitar. Watch them as you study diagrams that come with your selected pickups several days or hours before the actual task.

Here is a sample video by Fender, on how to replace a bridge pickup

Once you are ready, you may get started by first removing the guitar strings but if you are comfortable with them on you may keep them.

To remove the strings, pull one string through the body at a time, to avoid introducing scratches. Watch out for the tips of the wires as they are sharp and can either scratch the guitar or dig into your flesh.

Then unscrew the backplate and remove the entire pickguard. Go slow, studying how you Tele goes together as you take it apart.

If possible, take photos just in case you forget where something should go back when assembling it back. Be sure to keep all the screws and springs separate as per where they came from.

Lay them in the configuration that they were in before you removed them. It will save you a great deal of time.

You will also need to desolder the wires coming from the pickup, especially if you are working with a single coil system.

Once you have the standard pickup off, you may go ahead to install the new pickup. Place the pickup in its right position (neck or bridge) then use a screwdriver to drive it into the holes of the system.

Use the new screws that come with your choice of pickups. Ensure that you tighten the screws evenly.

Once the pickup is in position, run the wires through the cavity (control panel for the bridge). Use the pliers to pull them through- it makes things easier.

The next step is switching and wiring, and you will need the soldering iron hot. To check if the soldering iron is hot enough, either splash a little water and watch if it sizzles or hold it to a piece of solder over a piece of wood and see if the solder melts.

Begin by studying where the wires of the old pickups are soldered, then pick one wire at a time and desolder by placing the tip of the soldering iron onto the point that the wire is soldered onto the jack, pot or switch.

If you have a desoldering bulb, use it to suck up excess solder. Next, take the same wire of now the new pickup then loop it or solder it to the point that the old one was. Do this for all the wires.

If you need to trim out some parts of the wire insulation, only do an inch or as per the product wiring diagram. Once everything is soldered securely, its time to test your new pickups.

Plug your guitar into your mini amp (turned up high) then take the new pickup ad touch the screws or magnets with a screwdriver.

If you get a popping sound each time you strike a screw or the magnets, then your task completion is worth a pat on the back.

You can then go ahead to screw the new pickup in place and enjoy your music style. It can take you as little as 10 minutes or as long as two hours.

It is entirely worth it since you never know how your Tele will sound until all the pieces are bolted together.

Final thoughts

It may be hard settling on the single best pickups, but one of our best pickups for telecaster will undoubtedly transform your guitar.

Align your personal needs and music style with the most considerable number of unique features for any particular pickup, and you stand better chances of achieving satisfactory results.

With that, you will get things right with the first set of pickups that you try.

The new set will help you to turn your Tele into a great one without buying a new one and will prove to be the missing link in your tone style.

Here are some other interesting models that you might like:

Sale
Fender Ultra Noiseless Vintage Telecaster Pickups
  • Polysol coated magnet wire
  • Flat non-beveled polepieces
  • Alnico 5 magnets for greater focus and enhanced dynamics
  • Installation hardware included
Fender Pure Vintage '64 Telecaster Pickup Set
  • Enamel-coated magnet wire delivers warm vintage-style tones
  • Alnico 5 magnets add more focus and enhanced dynamics
  • Staggered bridge pickup polepieces balance volume and output across every string
  • Copper shielding plate on the bridge pickup produces a more lively tone
  • Period-correct fiber bobbin construction
Fender Tex-Mex Telecaster Single-Coil Pickups - Set of 2
  • Set of two single-coil Telecaster pickups
  • Overwound for tight, clear bass, crisp highs and maximum output
  • Alnico 5 magnets
  • Installation hardware included
EMG T SYSTEM Prewired Telecaster Guitar Pickup Set Plus Control Plate System
  • Replacement pickup system for your existing Tele style Guitar
  • Includes original EMG T Set for a tone that is brilliant, responsive, and whisper quiet
  • Alnico magnets with custom engineered coils and windings
  • Control plate is prewired and mounted with switch, volume, and tone pots
  • Solderless install system
FLEOR Alnico 5 Guitar Pickups Tele Bridge Pickup w/Neck Pickup (Chrome) Fit Fender Telecaster...
  • Fit vintage Fender telecaster pickups replacement.
  • Magnet: Alnico 5; wax potted to eliminate unwanted feedback and noise. Black ABS plastic bobbin, 2 conductors.
  • Neck pickup: chrome cover, pole spacing is 50mm, resistance is 6-7K.
  • Bridge pickup: pole spacing is 55mm, resistance is 6-7K.
  • Pickups come with bridge and neck pickup set, 5pcs screws, 5pcs springs.
Sale
Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Tele Set Electric Guitar Electronics
  • The Quarter Pound for Tele Rhythm's custom overwound coil provides a powerful midrange that cuts through any mix without sounding bright or brash....
  • Power up your Telecaster with the upper midrange growl and drive of the Quarter Pound for Tele Set.
  • The Quarter Pound for Tele Set delivers humbucker level punch and saturation in a true single coil package.
Wilkinson M Series WOV Classical Vintage Style Alnico 5 Guitar Tele Single Coil Pickups Set for...
  • For Tele style electric guitar, neck/bridge position. It fits most regular Tele guitar, like Fender/Squier Telecaster
  • Genuine Wilkinson parts, M Series, made in China. This pickup is wax potted
  • This vintage style pickup will bring out the twang and tone if you prefer rock, blues and country. Alnico V magnents with the correct wire and wiring...
  • Magnet: Alnico V; D.C. Resistance: Neck 6.3-7.3K, Bridge 6.4-7.4K. Black wire is ground, white wire is hot.
  • Package included: 2 Pieces Pickups. Note: Our screws maybe will not fit your usage, please use your own if you can

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