12 Best Telecaster Pickups in 2017

The first time you picked up a guitar and geared up to tear through some tunes it probably did not sound quite like you expected. There is a bit more to playing than simply learning chords or picking up tabs although we will not delve into the whole acoustic vs. electric for beginners debate. Regardless of your skill level or type of guitar, a pickup for electrics can make a world of difference and change your tone to something more in tune to your needs.

Wondering what an electric guitar pickup is exactly? Well, we will make it simple. It is basically a tiny transducer of sorts that takes vibrations from your strings and converts them to sound on the way to the amp. That is the gist of it, and different types of pickups can produce different tones or sounds. In this case, we are focusing on the classic Telecaster vibe, so you will not find any exotic humbuckers on our list of the best Telecaster pickups for guitars.

In our guide, we’ll provide you with all of the info you need to choose a great telecaster pickup as well as highlight our five favorite products in detail.

Top 12 Telecaster Pickups Ultimate Table

DesignNameSectionCoilRating (1-5)
  1. Fender Vintage Reissue ’62 Telecaster Neck Pickup Neck Single 5.0
  2. DiMarzio DP173 Twang King Telecaster Pickup Bridge Single 5.0
  3. Seymour Duncan STL-1 Vintage ’54 Telecaster Bridge Pickup Bridge Single 4.8
  4. DiMarzio DP172 Twang King Telecaster Neck Pickup Neck Single 4.7
  5. Seymour Duncan STHR-1b Hot Rails Tele Pickup Bridge Single 4.5
6. Fender Vintage Reissue ’62 Telecaster Bridge Pickup Bridge Single 4.4
7. Seymour Duncan STR-3 Quarter Pound Telecaster Guitar Pickup Rhythm Neck Single 4.4
8. Fender American Vintage ’62 Tele Custom Bridge Assembly with PickupBridge Single 4.1
  9. Greententljs Guitar Parts Single Coil Neck Pickup Humbucker Neck Single 4.1
  10. Seymour Duncan ST591 Little 59 Lead Telecaster Pickup Bridge Single 4.1
  11. Fender Pure Vintage Reissue Telecaster Pickups Bridge Single 4.1
  12. Musiclily Guitar Single Coil Tele Bridge Pickup Bridge Single 4.0

Buying Information

The tips will have you tuned in with the proper tone from your new Telecaster guitar pickup in no time.

Placement

Electric guitar pickups will go in the bridge or neck section, and this comes down to a personal preference depending on how you play and the type of tone you want to produce. Before you decide if you want a guitar pickup for the bridge or neck, you will want to decide on the type of sound you are looking to produce and take a look at how you play.

You can mix and match but could find yourself with an uneven tone if you are not careful with your selection. While electric guitar pickups easy to install, you do not want to have to swap out pickups on a daily basis. In other words, know what you want before deciding between a bridge, neck or full range setup. If in doubt you can always refer to the manufacturers recommended specifications for the Telecaster and guitar pickup as well.

Single Coil or Dual Coil

There are two types of electric guitar pickups that we will focus on in our list of the best Telecaster pickups. They are commonly known as Single Coil, and Dual Coil with the latter sometimes called a Humbucker. You can go either route, but the one you choose (along with its placement) will determine what kind of sound you get when you make the switch.

  • Single Coil – Single Coil guitar pickups were the originals from back in the day and were the only ones available for a while. These pickups use a single wire and magnet combo to convert vibrations into sound when you pluck or hammer those strings. On the flipside, they can also pick up stray signals from other appliances or gadgets which puts can give you a bit of a “hum” in your tone.
  • Dual Coil – Some people prefer the hum and choose the single coil for that reason alone. Alternatively, Dual Coil guitar pickups are noise-cancelling by nature. These are also frequently referred to as humbuckers because they can “buck” the hum right out of your guitar. In a nutshell, this dual magnet setup helps cut down on any interference and offers up a few additional advantages as well.

Magnets

There are two types of magnets used in guitar pickups today with Alnico and Ceramic. The former is a combination of Aluminum, Nickel, and Cobalt and are more resistant to losing its magical magnetic properties over time. In other words, they tend to last longer. They can produce a warmer tone but have a softer magnetic field than their ceramic counterparts. These types of guitar pickups come in different compositions from II to V which affects the tone as well.

Pickups that use ceramic magnets are not quite as popular these days, but still have a place in the hearts of many due to a hotter sound. They can offer up more treble response with a tight low-end and higher output due to their overall strength. If you do not have the opportunity to listen to the differences beforehand, you may want to go with Alnico as they tend to be the most popular choice.

Top 5 Best Telecaster Pickups Reviews

1. Fender Vintage Reissue ’62 Telecaster Pickup

When Leo Fender produced the first Telecaster, the music work changed forever. Things have advanced considerably over the years on the technological side, but Telecasters are essentially the same. Some sound better than others, however, and it can be tough to get that classic sound depending on your current setup. Well, not when you install the Fender Vintage Reissue ’62 Telecaster pickup.

This guitar pickup is built for the neck, and while it is not an “original” it is an original reissue. That means it is built to the specifications of the classic which means you will get a true twang and warm tones from your guitar. They use Alnico 3 magnets with an enamel-coated wire and a copper-plated steel base plate – the same specs on the 50s Telecasters.

If you want a true classic tone, you are going to be hard-pressed to pass up something from the company that started it all. Unless you can find an authentic Telecaster guitar pickup from 1962, this is your best bet to match that class sound on your current guitar.

2. DiMarzio DP173 Twang King Telecaster Pickup

They may not have the same name recognition of our first pick, but DiMarzio does know a thing or two about putting together a proper pickup with a classic tone. Their top pick for our list is the DiMarzio DP173 dubbed as the “Twank King” for Telecasters. This one sits on the bridge and lives up to its name same as it is a mean little setup that can scream but not squeal as it is double wax-potted.

This Telecaster is of the single-coil variety and features hand-calibrated magnets and controlled tension coil winding. It uses an Alnico 5 magnet with 2-conductor wiring and is one of the better passive pickups you can purchase for your guitar if you want a bit of twang. It is recommended for the “standard” bridge position and can handle a wide dynamic range without breaking a sweat. Although you may break a sweat from attacking those strings.

3. Seymour Duncan STL-1 Vintage ’54 Telecaster Pickup

Seymour Duncan is a name many electric guitar players will know and their classic series of guitar pickups are enjoyed by rookies and pros around the globe. As the name implies, this particular pickup is based on the 1954 Telecaster lead pickup and is said to be a “Vintage-correct” reproduction. In other words, it should sound like the real thing 60 years later.

That is due in part to the quality of construction and materials used by Seymour Duncan along with years of experience and fine craftsmanship. Their particular bridge pickup has raised pole pieces for the D and G strings and sticks with the standard 0.187” diameter Alnico 5 pole pieces. They even hand grind their magnets, use waxed cloth hookup wire and the steel bottom copper-plated plate to keep the squeals away. It is built to take years of use and abuse by your fingers and is a great choice for anything from Blues to Rock or Country.

4. DiMarzio DP172 Twang King Telecaster Pickup

We have already discussed the Twang King Telecaster pickup for the bridge of your guitar. Now we are going to take a quick look at the DiMarzio DP172 Twang King which is built for the neck and a great fit for the title of one of the best Telecaster pickups available. Obviously, it will sound amazing when paired with its brother up top, but this particular pickup is just as nice alone if you appreciate bite from your single coiled setup. We think you will be quite impressed.

This DiMarzio pickup is hand-tuned like the DP173 and will provide clean lows and highs while giving the ability to go in hard on the strings or softly pick through the sweet spots. It has the same construction as well with hand-calibrated magnets, controlled tension and is double wax-potted to boot. It cannot kill any incoming noise due to its single coil nature, but it is not going to squeal either.

5. Seymour Duncan STHR-1b Hot Rails Tele Pickup

Looking for a Telecaster guitar pickup that is a bit more modern and has a chunky midrange with newer components? Well, Seymour Duncan’s second entry onto our list will fit the bill. The STHR-1b Hot Rails Tele pickup brings some things to the table the others do not and it all starts with its overall construction.

This single coil bridge guitar pickup is passive with four conductors and a strong ceramic magnet built for high-output. The coils are overwound for increased sustain and to prove you with a heavy, distorted sound as well. Needless to say, this bladed pickup will not be for everyone but does offer up multiple wiring options, is wax-potted and built to last for years.