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10 T-Style Pickups

10 T-Style Pickups

Need to mix it up? Here are 10 options that can go from twang to growl to … gristle.

One of the most effective—and least invasive—ways to mod a guitar is to swap out the pickups. Wanna experiment with a ’bucker in the bridge? Leave the router at home. We’ve rounded up 10 options that range from affordable and effective to boutique and beyond.

DiMarzio Super Distortion T

This single-coil-sized version of the company’s legendary Super Distortion is aimed at T-style players who want the thick sound of a ’bucker in the bridge. It has a pronounced low-mid response with a roll-off on the high end.

$99 street

dimarzio.com

Seymour Duncan STL-3 Quarter Pound

Centered around a set of alnico 5 magnets, this high-output single-coil crosses into P-90 territory. You can also get a tapped neck variation that allows for both vintage- and high-output sounds within a single set.

$89 street

seymourduncan.com

TV Jones Starwood Tele Bridge

Introduced in 2016, this T-style pickup features the guts of the company’s T-Armond pickup, but with a little more juice. Like many of the pickups on this list, it’s a straight drop-in replacement for standard-sized pickups.

$120 street

tvjones.com

Mojo Tone ’52 Quiet Coil

With less than 10 components in a single pickup, Mojotone made these designs very simple. They use their “Quiet Coil” technology to get rid of the hum without batteries or stacked coils. The pickups are also scatterwound for more sensitivity and clarity.

$98 street

mojotone.com

Fender Ultra Noiseless Vintage Telecaster

These stacked-coil setups aim to capture the classic sound and sparkle of vintage Tele pickups. They use alnico 5 magnets, Polysol-coated wire, and flat, non-beveled pole pieces. The neck pickup measure about 11k resistance and the bridge comes in around 10k.

$199/set street

fender.com

Lollar Special T Bridge

Jason Lollar is a bona fide pickup genius, and his take on the classic ’50s Tele sound is represented here with a pronounced mid and bass response along with a smoother top end. Described as slightly hotter than a vintage Broadcaster pickup, the bridge comes in at 8.0k.

$125 street

lollarguitars.com

Fishman Greg Koch Gristle Tone

Wisconsin’s most gristly guitarist teamed up with Fishman to create an entire T-style setup based on their Fluence technology. Each set includes both pickups, a control plate, and an output-jack cup with a USB charging input. With the push of a button, you can easily go between “blackguard” and “whiteguard” tones.

$359/set street

fishman.com

Ron Ellis 52T Bridge

Ellis might be one of the most in-demand pickup designers around today—and the going rate for his offerings bear that out. This particular flavor goes after the “blackguard” tones of classic Tele pickers such as Vince Gill and Brent Mason.

$375 street

ronellispickups.com

Lindy Fralin Steel Pole 42

Described as a cross between a T-style pickup and a P-90, this design houses a ceramic magnet and adjustable steel pole pieces. Sonically, it has a mid-forward tone that offers a faster breakup when playing with distortion.

$115 street

fralinpickups.com

EMG RT

Hate the hum? These active pickups aim to balance the punch and clarity of vintage Tele pickups with the modern convenience of quiet. It uses alnico magnets and a custom winding to increase bandwith and fullness of tone.

$89 street

emgpickups.com

With a team of experts on hand, we look at six workhorse vintage amps you can still find for around $1,000 or less.

If you survey the gear that shows up on stages and studios for long enough, you’ll spot some patterns in the kinds of guitar amplification players are using. There’s the rotating cast of backline badasses that do the bulk of the work cranking it out every day and night—we’re all looking at you, ’65 Deluxe Reverb reissue.

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Amazon Prime Day is here (July 16-17). Whether you're a veteran player or just picking up your first guitar, these are some bargains you don't want to miss. Check out more deals here! https://amzn.to/3LskPRV

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A technicolor swirl of distortion, drive, boost, and ferocious fuzz.

Summons a wealth of engaging, and often unique, boost, drive, distortion, and fuzz tones that deviate from common templates. Interactive controls.

Finding just-right tones, while rewarding, might demand patience from less assured and experienced drive-pedal users. Tone control could be more nuanced.

$199

Danelectro Nichols 1966
danelectro.com

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The Danelectro Nichols 1966, in spite of its simplicity, feels and sounds like a stompbox people will use in about a million different ways. Its creator, Steve Ridinger, who built the first version as an industrious Angeleno teen in 1966, modestly calls the China-made Nichols 1966 a cross between a fuzz and a distortion. And, at many settings, it is most certainly that.

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The author standing next to a Richardson gunstock lathe purchased from Gibson’s Kalamazoo factory. It was used to make six necks at a time at Gibson in the 1950s and 1960s.

Keep your head down and put in the work if you want to succeed in the gear-building business.

The accelerated commodification of musical instruments during the late 20th century conjures up visions of massive factories churning out violins, pianos, and, of course, fretted instruments. Even the venerable builders of the so-called “golden age” were not exactly the boutique luthier shops of our imagination.

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