- Tele players have plenty of options when it comes to aftermarket pickups.
- But what are the right pickups for you?
- Check out our ultimate guide to the best replacement pickups for Telecasters!
The Fender Telecaster is one of the most popular, beloved, and versatile guitar models ever, and for good reason. That bright, spanky single-coil sound went on to define a plethora of genres across the eras. However, some guitarists may find that they want to switch out their stock pickups to better fit their sound.
In this article, we’ll explore 7 of the best Telecaster pickups for you to consider.
What Are The Best Pickups For Telecasters?
The Lindy Fralin Blues Special is our top choice as the best overall replacement pickup for a Tele. It offers you true Telecaster single-coil pickup sound but enhanced. If you are on a budget, the Seymour Duncan Jerry Donahue Lead is a great choice. For those that want the cream of the crop, it is hard to beat the JBE Pickups Danny Gatton T-Style. For those looking for versatility, the Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Tele Pickups are the way to go.
With that out of the way, here are our candidates for Best Pickups for Telecaster (Blues, Rock & Metal).
- Lindy Fralin Blues Special Tele Pickups
- Seymour Duncan Jerry Donahue Lead Tele Pickup
- Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Tele Pickups
- JBE Pickups Danny Gatton T-Style
- DiMarzio Twang King
- Tonerider TRT 2 Hot Classics
- Fender Pure Vintage Reissue Telecaster Pickups
1. Lindy Fralin Blues Special Tele Pickups
Fralin's Tele replacement pickups are a reproduction of the 50s style using black fiberboard bobbin parts and cloth leads.
- Provides a warm and thick tone
- Signature Fender sparkle
Lindy Fralin Blues Special pickups are wound with a 5 % overwind from their stock Telecaster pickups. This means that you get a punchier, warmer tone from your single-coil pickup. This is our best choice for a Telecaster pickup.
- Thick, full sound
- All USA-made parts
- 5% more coil
- Low-end growl and warm treble
- Telecaster tone with more thickness
The Lindy Fralin Blues Special Telecaster set is one of the best options for Telecaster pickups. They’re ideal for guitar players that love their Telecaster tone but wish for a fatter, thicker sound.
This set is Lindy Fralin’s second-best-selling single coil set. They are quite loud but still keep that traditional Telecaster tone. This is in part thanks to the 5% more coil which provides for a beefier sound. This makes it a great choice for balancing a bright-sounding guitar but without sounding dark.
The Blues Special offers a thick and rich sound when playing clean, especially in the lows and mids. They sound open and clean but not too compressed. With distortion, the tone can cut through with a great low end and medium attack. Single notes will sound thick and round. On the other hand, chords will have a full tone with an early breakup. This set of pickups also comes with a Nickel cover.
A truly powerful set, the Blues Special pickups are some of the best Telecaster pickups in the market.
2. Seymour Duncan Jerry Donahue Lead Tele Pickup
The Seymour Duncan APTL-3JD is a well-balanced true single-coil Telecaster pickup with boosted output.
- Warm, punchy tone
- Eceptionally balanced string-to-string response
This Seymour Duncan Telecaster pickup offers a vintage-hot Tele tone, made for legendary guitar player Jerry Donahue. The tone it produces is a balanced sweet, with a musical treble attack for that classic Telecaster bridge pickup sound. It is a fantastic choice for those that want a killer Tele bridge sound on a budget.
- Telecaster bridge pickup
- Alnico 2 rod magnets
- Even string response
- Designed for a ’52 Telecaster sound
- Great tone on a budget
Guitar hero Jerry Donahue of Hellecaster needed a classic Telecaster bridge pickup to make his touring guitars sound more like his beloved 52’ Telecaster.
Seymour Duncan delivered a warm lead pickup that uses Alnico 2 rod magnets and a special coil wind for more sustain and output. This Tele bridge pickup features raised D and G poles that mirror the fretboard radius for an even string response. It’s easily one of the best single coils in the market for those on a budget.
It produces a soft, sweet, and musical tone for single notes while the low notes have the right amount of Tele snap. The Seymour Duncan JD Telecaster Lead Pickup pairs really well with the Alnico II Pro Tele neck pickup, also from Seymour Duncan. This pickup offers an authentic look and sweet sound for your guitar, brought together by a waxed cloth hookup wire, standard .187″diameter hand-ground Alnico 2 rod magnets, and a copper-plated steel bottom plate.
This pickup is also potted in Seymour Duncan’s wax formulation for a squeal-free performance.
3. Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Tele Pickups
A fantastic choice from the legendary Fender Custom Shop. These Texas Special Tele Pickups deliver great Tele twang with versatility. If you want that classic Tele single-coil sound for blues, rock, pop, country, and even jazz, these pickups are for you.
- Alnico V magnets
- Fiber bobbin
- Enamel-coated wire
- Copper-plated steel bottom plate on the bridge pickup
- Used on many custom-made Teles
The Texas Special Tele pickups were built to produce increased output, presence, and midrange. They feature a nickel/silver cover on the neck pickup that produces a clear warm tone in a true Fender custom shop. These are overwound pickups that use Alnico V magnets and enamel magnet wire.
The bridge pickup features height staggered magnets and a copper base plate steel on the bottom that help get that Tex-Mex sound for your Telecaster. These Fender Custom Shop Texas Special pickups offer great Tele tone and are quite versatile, making them one of the best Telecaster pickups choices on the market.
They are sold only as a set of two and all the mounting hardware is included. Installation is easy and does not require extensive modification of your beloved Tele!
4. JBE Pickups Danny Gatton T-Style
These JBE Telecaster pickups offer vintage character with expanded fidelity. They were inspired by Danny Gatton, one of the best Tele players ever. Gatton asked for high-end replacement pickups or merely variations on established designs. These pickups are the premium option for the Telecaster guitar player who wants the absolute best.
- Dual blade T-Style pickup
- Vintage character
- Expanded fidelity
- Adjustable output
- Eliminated noise
These JBE pickups were originally designed for Danny Gatton and he tested them at every step of the process. They have become the first choice of professional Tele players around the globe. The lows, mids, and highs are all equal in strength, eliminating the thin sound that is often an issue with the Telecaster.
These pickups offer that vintage Tele twang but with higher fidelity and cover both positions: neck and bridge. The T-Neck can be adjusted so that its output is equal to the T-Bridge, eliminating the output differences between the bridge and neck pickups that bother so many players. Despite the fact that these pickups can be adjusted to greatly exceed the output level of stock pickups, the authentic Tele twang and snap is still present but without any kind of noise.
The T-Bridge features a unique staggered blade design that is a staple to all Joe Barden single-coil bridge pickups for Strats and Teles. This Tele set of pickups will fit any standard Tele body and require no modifications on the instrument. They use a 4-conductor shielded cable to allow for any possible wiring combination and are supplied with wiring diagrams and mounting hardware to help ease the installation process.
5. DiMarzio Twang King
The Twang King pickups have unequaled response to pick attack: light playing produces a soft, quiet tone and hard picking creates a harder, louder, and more dynamic sound than any comparable single-coil.
- Vintage Tele tone
- Extremely responsive neck pickup
DiMarzio set out to create a pickup set with vintage Telecaster sound but added something else in the process. The Twang King pickup set for Tele features unequaled response to pick attack. It is the pickup set of choice of Ritchie Kotzen, Tash Sultana, and Howard Hart. These are the best Telecaster pickups for blues players with an edge.
- Alnico V magnets
- Great response to pick attack
- Wax potted twice
- Big, clean lows and highs
- Solderless wiring
This Tele pickup set was designed to capture the best elements of DiMarzio’s builder’s favorite Broadcaster and Telecaster sound. These pickups offer an amazing response to the players picking. This pickup set has that vintage Tele sound but with more dynamics.
With these pickups, light playing produces a soft quiet tone and hard picking produces a harder, louder, and more dynamic sound than similar single coils.
This was achieved with a combination of controlled-tension coil-winding, special wire, and hand-calibrated magnets. The neck pickup comes with a chrome cover, while the bridge pickup has a ferrous base plate. Both pickups are wax-potted twice to ensure there is no squealing.
Interestingly, the builders did not model the DiMarzio Twang Kings set after a specific original. This was in part because they never found one they were completely happy with.
The DiMarzio Twang Kings feature big, clean lows and highs, and can handle a wide dynamic range.
6. Tonerider TRT2 Hot Classics
The Tonerider TRT2 set is a higher output version of a classic Tele pickup (like their TRT1).
- Crystal clear tones
This set of pickups is for Tele players that want more edge from their guitars. They are a great fit for rock and even metal players looking for that extra character on their tone, but still want that Telecaster single-coil feel and sound.
- Vintage braid hookup wire
- Alnico III magnets
- Vintage Tele tone with extra bite
- Strong midrange and thick bass response
- Maintains clarity even with distortion
The Tonerider TRT2 Hot Classics replacement pickups come with a higher wind on Alnico III magnets. This creates greater note separation, even for chord work using boost and overdrive pedals. The Hot Classics for neck and bridge position have a stronger midrange, thicker bass response, and a raunchy upper register.
Both the neck and bridge pickups offer a grounded full-size copper plated baseplate and black string wrap to add to the tone and be visually striking as well. The neck pickup features a Nickel-silver cover for great tonal transparency whilst the bridge pickup mimics some of the best hot Broadcaster pickups from the past.
This is a fantastic Telecaster pickup set and the best-selling model from Tonerider. If you love the sound of classic Telecaster pickups but want to add a bit of aggression to your sound, then you’ll probably love how the Hot Classics sound on your guitar.
7. Fender Pure Vintage Reissue Telecaster Pickups
Get that classic Telecaster twang with these Fender Pure Vintage Reissue pickups. Why not go straight to the source and get that beloved Tele tone that is renowned across the world? If you are a traditional player in love with true Tele sound, these are for you. You will find this is a great choice if you’re a blues and classic rock guitarist.
- Alnico V magnets
- Enamel coated magnet wire
- Flush-mount pole pieces for even string response
- Tin-plated copper base plate
- 1-year warranty
The Fender Pure Vintage Reissue Telecaster Pickups are wound to precise specifications for authentic and traditional Fender tone and performance. This is one of the best Telecaster pickup sets that will give your guitar an accurate early ’60’s single-coil Tele sound. These pickups offer a hotter and stronger Tele sound that is also very clear and versatile enough for many musical applications.
The enamel-coated wire delivers warm vintage-style tones, while the Alnico 5 magnets offer more focus and enhanced dynamics. Also, the staggered bridge pickup pole pieces make sure that the guitar produces a balanced volume and output across every string.
The Tele bridge pickup in this set features a copper shielding plate that produces a more lively tone with high output. This set is also wax-potted and comes with period-correct fiber bobbin construction for authentic vintage Tele tones.
That specific single-coil sound that Telecasters offer is one of the most sought-after guitar tones ever. Traditionally, the Telecaster has been used for many styles, particularly country, blues, classic rock, indie, and in some cases even metal. Its two single-coil pickups offer enough variety to be used in many styles while retaining that very special Telecaster tone at the same time.
Can You Put Strat Pickups On A Tele?
Do not try to put a Strat pickup on a Tele and vice versa. There is a reason most Telecaster pickups have the word Tele attached to their model names.
Even though both guitars use single-coil pickups, their mounting systems and sizes differ. After all, the essence of both guitars is very unique and provides wildly varying tones from their single-coil pickups.
There are more than enough options here for you to try out as it is! But if you also own a Strat and are looking at getting some new pickups, head on over to 6 Best Single-Coil Pickups For Your Stratocaster.