As a musician, the chances are that you’ve heard of a Telecaster, easily one of the most iconic guitar models in the history of time. While these guitars have been adored by musician and music fans alike for decades, even up to this very day, that doesn’t mean they suit everybody’s taste.
That’s not to say that the guitar itself is underperforming. In fact, far from it. However, the pickups that come on standard models just sometimes don’t produce the sound that you’re looking to make, and it can almost feel like you’re being let down holding such a coveted instrument.
Let’s be real. The sound can be twangy, the neck pickup can create a bland tone and it can sometimes it can even sound muffled, especially when you’re comparing them to other fantastic guitars that are available today. But this doesn’t mean that you need to invest in a new guitar.
Instead, simply changing the pickups in your guitar can make all the difference and can easily provide you with everything you need to create that sound that you’re looking for.
Whether you’re replacing your old ones because they no longer provide, or you’re making an upgrade to produce an even better sound, you’ll want to know what’s out there, so you can choose the best for you.
This is where we come in. We’ve scoured the market to see what’s out there, narrowing down the best to just four of the very best. These pickups are ones that will slot right into your Telecaster guitar without any modification, suit all kinds of budget and produce some truly amazing sounds that you’re going to love.
No matter what Telecaster model you own, what sound you’re trying to produce, what genre you play or what budget you have, these are the four best Telecaster models that are going to bring new life into your performances.
Fender Vintage Noiseless Tele Pickups
Of course, having a list of best Telecaster pickups wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the pickups from the creators themselves. However, you don’t just want any Fender pickups, because let’s be honest, they’re not all that great, these ones, however, are sure to be exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to sound and quality.
These high-quality pickups are built with enamel-coated magnet wire. This feature is perfect for producing a warm, vintage tone that sounds extremely similar to the original Telecaster sounds that were being produced over 40 years ago.
This is only complimented by the flush-mount pole pieces that help to level out the string response, making it much more even and balanced, perfect for generating the greatest frequency of sounds. Inside the pickups once more, you’ll also find a pair of Alnico magnets.
These are some of the most popular magnets used in premium pickups, which are used for their ability to create warm attack sounds and a much less aggressive mid-range that your conventional pickups. This is all encased with vinyl-covered output wire and plastic bobbin which comes together to create this stunning set.
However, what we really love about this Telecaster pickup set, which comes with two dedicated pickups for your bridge and neck, is the fact that it produces its sound without any of the interference or noise (hum) that single coils are infamous for.
This means there’s no need to investing the slightly more expensive humbucker pickups but can simply drop these right in and start enjoying them almost immediately!
- Produces no unwanted noise or hum that typical single-coiled pickups have
- Produces the classic Telecaster sound
- 2x Alnico magnets for superior response
- Comes with a 1-year warranty
- Need to solder during installation
- May need slight modification on some Telecaster models, such as mounting holes or screw length
DiMarzio Vintage Twang King Pre-Wired Pickups Set
If you’re looking for a premium-quality pickup set that may cost a little more than other pickups but doesn’t compromise on quality or sound clarity, these are the pickups you’ve been looking for. These awesome pickups come pre-wired and ready to rock simply by dropping them into your Telecaster, and you’re
good to go!
With this purchase, you’ll receive two pickups; one Twang King Bridge DP173 single-coiled pickup and a Twang King Neck DP172 single-coil pickup. You’ll also find everything you need to make the change, including a control plate, all the wring components and knobs, all so you can install without even having to solder anything!
However, if you’re looking for an exact Telecaster sound, you’ll be left disappointed. Instead, DiMarzio has taken the unique decision to combine the best components of the 40-year-old Telecaster pickups, and those of the Broadcaster models.
In turn, this creates a truly beautiful sound. When you’re lightly strumming, you’ll be able to enjoy a quiet, warm sound whereas hard picking will generate some truly dynamic sound which is much harder and louder than your conventional single-coiled pickups.
In short, these pickups are a true delight to play. To conclude, it’s worth mentioning that all the coiling winding is done using controlled tension processes and uses a special wire. With the addition of hand-calibrated magnets, some might say that these Telecaster pickups are perfect.
- Combination of best Telecaster and Broadcaster features
- Hand-calibrated magnets for precision response
- All parts and pieces you need for effortless, solderless installation
- Both neck and bridge pickups included
- Premium, professional price tag
- Instructions may be confusing to those changing their pickups for the first time
Vortex – Vintage Hot Tele Pickups
If you’re looking for a great sounding pickup set for your Telecaster, but you don’t want to break the bank or your budget allowance, this is the set you’ve been looking for. With these popular pickups, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of two A3 magnets that produce a well-rounded and balanced response time.
You’ll also find with each purchase a dedicated pickup for your neck (7.1K) and one for your bridge (8.9K), as well as original vintage lead wires to make the connection. This all comes together to create that Vintage and much-respected Telecaster sound that audiences have loved for years.
However, you’ll want to note that soldering is required during the installation process, a process that will take around 2 hours to complete, even if you’ve done it before. Easily one of the leading features of this set is the 3 Lead neck pickup construction.
This means that the set is capable of supporting both 3 and 4-way switch wiring, ensuring that it fits and works seamlessly with your Telecaster model and you can enjoy the maximum number of features possible, regardless of the model you’re playing.
Despite the incredibly affordable price tag, this remains one of the most popular and highest rated pickup sets on the market today, as well as being able to produce the exact classical sound that you’ve been looking, ensuring you won’t be left disappointed.
- Incredibly affordable single-coil set
- Supports 3 and 4-way switch wiring
- Produces the beautiful, classic Telecaster sound
- Dedicated pickups for bridge and neck
- Requires soldering during installation
- May require modification to fit some Telecaster models
EMG TX X Series Tele Active Pickup Set
To conclude this list, we’ve been waiting to share this outstanding pickup set with you that you’re instantly going to fall in love with. EMG has recently released these exclusive pickups that pride themselves on their effortless, solderless installation process. This means as soon as you receive them, you can simply drop them into your Telecaster and you’ll be ready to rock.
However, easily the best feature of these pickups is the total and complete control you’ll receive over the sounds that you’re producing. This is because you’ll have access to a split shaft volume and tone control, allowing you to make the slightest adjustments to perfect your tones and sounds.
As you would expect from a premium-quality pickup set, you’ll receive two pickups with every purchase; one for your bridge and one for your neck, both of which come with an output jack. You’ll even find all the screws and springs you need to install and a battery clip set. In short, that’s everything you need for the best experience.
In terms of the sound quality that these pickups produce, you’ll delight in the wonderful warm sounds from light picking, as well as louder and much more impactful sounds when you’re jamming away. You’ll also find two Alnico magnets inside each pickup for amazing response times and minimal interference.
- Two Alnico magnets for outstanding pickup
- Solderless installation process
- Both neck and bridge pickups included
- Superior split shaft volume/tone control included
If you’re looking for the best pickup set for your Telecaster model, it goes without saying that there’s a lot of great options out there for you to choose from.
All four of the pickup sets that we’ve listed above are ideal choices when it comes to finding what’s best for you, whether you’re shopping on a budget, for build quality or for overall sound and tone.