I have some texas specials on a telecaster right now. The were fine when I was back in the army but now I'm playing a wider combination of music that needs solid rhythm (even acoustic sounding would be cool) and mellow leads. I really like the tele and would love to rotate it back into my normal gig cycle if I could get the right sound from it.

I also play a strat with basic single coils and play through a fender dsp 2x12.

3 Answers 3


This is a really subjective question, so you aren't going to get any straight answers--it will all be opinion. What you should do is Google "Telecaster Pickups" and find some sound clips to listen to. It's what I did when I needed some new pickups for my Telecaster. Some decent companies to consider:

Loller Guitars: My favorite--I have two sets of Telecaster pups from him.

Seymour Duncan: A crowd favorite.

Lindy Fralin: Another boutique manufacturer that has a great reputation.

Rio Grande: These guys produce the Crunchbox humbucker, which is installed on some of Matt Bellamy of Muse's Manson guitars. They also sell some killer Telecaster pairs.

There are an endless number pickup manufacturers out there, so there's no clear answer to this question.

  • Is there any reason not to buy the pickups used? Once I find the sound I dig? Two hundred bones for some of those almost what I paid for the axe!
    – Anonymous
    Jan 31, 2011 at 7:39
  • The only deal with buying used is you need to make sure that the leads are intact and long enough. Get pictures of the pickups themselves and ask how they were used. Make the seller measure the leads of each pickup and provide you with the numbers. There is some risk involved in that you may get some pups without the leads being long enough, but you should do all you can to mitigate that risk by asking lots of questions.
    – Jduv
    Jan 31, 2011 at 12:47
  • Dimarzios weren't mentioned so far, I hear they are great replacement pickups.I haven't heard anything about their Tele models though...
    – Anonymous
    Feb 9, 2011 at 1:11
  • Also, Bareknuckle pickups are quality. Dec 21, 2012 at 15:09

I would not change the pickups! Tele's, Strat's, and Pauls all have a distinctive sound and it has a great deal to do with the pickups. While you can find similar pickups one day you might regret it because you've lost that specific sound you had.

Instead why not buy another guitar that you can experiment on(if you can afford it) such as an ibanez or another strat. (why do you think most pro guitarists have so many guitars? ;)

I just hate changing out pickups bceause I'd rather be playing. You might end up finding some pickups you like but eventually you'll probably want that tele sound back(it's very unique) and forget where you put the pickups or found they got damaged or something. If you don't mind going through the trouble of changing them then go for it... If you want to have several distinct sounds have individual instruments on hand for it.

for example, you could have

Les Paul for Rock/Metal, Strat for Funk/Country Rhythm, Tele for Country Lead.

While the strat and tele have some overlap and it's not against the law to use a LP in country or a strat in metal, you'll probably feel a lot better when you can just grab the guitar you need instead of having to change pickups.

Obviously there are pickups that you can put in the tele to enhance it's sound but I wouldn't go as far as trying to changing the sound for a different style or whatever. I did that with my strat trying to make it more for rock and completely lost the clean strat sound(probably could get it back somewhat with EQ by why bother?).

  • I disagree. I have changed the pickups out of my Telecaster and I still have the exact same sound. I believe he wants to upgrade his stock, production pickups to something better. This is common practice in industry. Additionally, if he wants to change them back he can freely re-install the old pickups.
    – Jduv
    Jan 30, 2011 at 1:12
  • It's not a good idea to keep swaping pickups out. The connecting wires are usually cheap and thin and can break easily virtually ruining the pickup(you can fix it but it becomes real messy). You also seem not to have read that he wanted to change the sound of his tele... not keep it the same.
    – Anonymous
    Jan 30, 2011 at 6:50
  • 2
    No offense, but you don't really know what you're talking about here. Connection wires are standard 24 guage electrical wire. If you can break one of those, you are way stronger than I am. I have changed out a countless number of pickups (along with every other piece of guitar hardware out there) for myself, friends, and clients and I have never had any of the problems you are talking about. Additionally, swapping pickups for my Telecaster kept the traditional Tele "twang" but absolutely beefed it up. More turns of wire on the pickup resulted in more output, but the same traditional twang.
    – Jduv
    Jan 30, 2011 at 20:25
  • 2
    Additionally, a guitars sound is not clearly defined by it's pickups, it is an aggregate of all of it's physical parts. A Telecaster's twang comes from the placement of the coil. Have you ever installed a pickup designed for a telecaster into a Strat? It sure as hell won't make your Strat sound like a Tele. The relative distance between the pickups along with where they are positioned with respect to the strings are all major factors.
    – Jduv
    Jan 30, 2011 at 20:26
  • I am looking for a sound that better fits the bands I play in today (with the strat mostly) than when I played the tele more - ten years ago. That's why I thought it would be a good idea to ask around.
    – Anonymous
    Jan 31, 2011 at 7:37

Onamac Windery. You can find this guy (I think his name is Kerry) on eBay and online. He is a one-man operation. He winds the pickups himself. They are really really good and clear and rocking pickups for a Tele. The neck offers increased output without being muddy and balances perfectly with the bridge which is just the right amount of twangy without being overbearing or too bright.


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