The Telecaster sound.


Telecasters are normally supplied with two pickups as standard but originally available with just one (called the Esquire,) and also now with three. Also numerous variations with humbuckers may be ordered however, that distinctive sound belongs with the fat bridge pickup and some clever internal electronics.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
The standard pickup arrangement for a Tele is a large bridge pickup and a small neck one. The coil resistance of the bridge pickup is about twice that of the neck and this is reflected in the tone and output, in fact many players find the neck pickup to be somewhat ineffective. However, the distinctive "Snappy" Tele sound is achieved with just the bridge pickup and the bleed capacitor which is normally fitted internally.

A very small capacitor is fitted as standard to a Tele between the slider of the volume control and the output. In simple terms this means that as the vol. is turned down the treble still bleeds through whilst the lower tones are faded. An effective setting for the volume is about ¾ full as this gives a treble boost, which brings out the highs, this combined with the fat tone of the bridge pickup is the Tele "Sound."

A modification to the electronics of the Telecaster is to replace the volume and tone controls with two volumes. This arrangement allows the two pickups to be mixed for more variation in tones. Furthermore, if the neck pickup is rewired to be “Out of phase” with the bridge the range of mixed tones has to be heard to be believed. Remember that the original tones are still retained but a range from subtle jazz to piercing treble is now available. Also, no drilling or alteration to the look of the guitar is required and no batteries are needed.

If you don't own a Telecaster but like the sound the same electronics can be incorporated into any instrument to emulate that special guitar sound you want.