The normal neck pickup in a Telecaster is just not that great... Leo originally thought it would be used to play bass lines, so all Teles up till the late 60s had an odd switch set up : the forward position ran just the neck pickup with a preset BASSY sound. Almost everyone rewires the switch so you can use the neck pickup normally, with normal tone control. But the neck pickup does not match the wonderful bridge pickup for output or clarity. Many players (KEEF!) carved up their old Teles and mounted a humbucking pickup in the neck position, but that's no longer needed with the BIG-T.
Jim came up with this pickup so he could use it for rhythm and leads on his world tours with The Band, and with his solo projects and numerous recording gigs. We finally decided to make it available, so we talked to Lindy Fralin about producing them for us. Lindy made a bunch of prototypes based on Jim's custom pickup and we finally got one that may be even BETTER!
- Strong output, matches any stock or aftermarket Tele bridge pickup
- Higher output but WITHOUT the darker tone that comes from simply overwinding a pickup.
- Tone is very well balanced, warm and deep, but keeps high end and string separation intact.
- Comes with 3 wires, so you can match polarity and ground with any bridge pickup. Also allows
easy installation of a Tele four-way switch, so you can select both pickups in parallel or series.
- Looks like a normal Tele pickup from the top, great for your vintage Tele to keep it looking like it should!
- Personally hand-wound by Lindy Fralin, the master, himself.
I have been asked technical questions like
What is the resistance of the pickup?
The BIG T pickup was designed to work with any normal type bridge pickup, even a hotter one. The ohms don't mean that much - the wire type, number of turns, magnet type, and magnet strength all work together to make it sound like it does. It's not a just normal Tele pickup that's over-wound to make it stronger, winding too much will take away the chime. Only the black fiber bobbin and nickle plated cover are shared with a stock Fender pickup.
Bridge pickup now available!
In the summer of 2013 we came out with a matching bridge pickup, just like Jim's original '52.
Available as a set for a discounted price.
It's possible to have hum canceling even with true single coil pickups,
which are best for the true Telecaster sound. Using the middle position (both pickups)
with one of the pickups wound in phase but with reverse magnetism will cause the pair to
work like a humbucker and the hum is gone. So we wound our new Bridge pickup for hum canceling
operation when both are used. When just one pickup is used, there is no difference caused
by the magnetism. See the BIG-T bridge pickup item for more info.
Here is a video where you can hear and see Jim play it, at the 1:55 mark up to about 3:00
Jim Weider's Project Percolator Squirrels in Paris PULSE Video
Matt Rae playing Richeray's "Live from my living room" '52 Tele. Has the stock bridge pickup which he switches to for a quick comparison.
Jim Weider Big-T pickup in the neck. Matt's playing through a reissue Fender Deluxe Reverb amp. The backing track he turns on
is a new one of Matt's called "Mr. A" as it's Johnny A. inspired.
One black wire (the one that attaches to the middle of the pickup, to the pickup cover) is always ground. Attach that wire to the body of a pot on your guitar.
Normally the white wire is hot (to the switch) and the other black wire going to the pickup coil is connected to ground. But if the pickup is out of phase with the bridge (or if you want to MAKE it our of phase to kill hum), reverse those two (non ground) wires.
5-Way Super Switch option
you use both of our BIG-T pickups, you can use a 5-way SUPER SWITCH to
get the three normal Tele sounds (with hum-canceling middle position) plus two
new useful tones. The 2nd position (closest to bridge) is a thin
Strat-like tone. The 4th position is both pickups in series for a loud
humbucking sound. You can find wiring info here:
Here is a video we made at my shop with Jim Weider comparing the Big-T to a stock Telecaster custom shop pickup.
Here are some clips of Jim playing his '52 Tele, which he has been playing since the 1970s. It has a new BIG-T pickup in the neck. We compare it to one of the most common and best normal type Tele neck pickups (F type), then the Big T, with several types of clean and dirty rhythm and lead playing.
F clean rhythm slow
BIG T clean rhythm slow
F clean rhythm 2 faster
BIG T clean rhythm 2 faster
F clean blues 5
BIG T clean blues 5
F clean lead 6
BIG-T clean lead 6
F dirty lead 7
BIG-T dirty lead 7
BIG-T dirty lead 8
BIG-T cleanish lead on a track Jim recorded through an old Marshall amp.
Here is Jim playing his original BIG-T pickup with The Band back in '96, up to the 3:00 mark where he switches to the back pickup :
BLUES STAY AWAY FROM ME
Here is Jim playing his new BIG-T pickup at The Iridium in NYC in 2011 for the whole song.:
The BIG-T again at the Iridium for some blues, Mike Bloomfield tribute :
Youtube Iridium Blues
Here's Jim's 1952 Fender Telecaster getting wired up yet again when we were testing out the pickups :
Here is Eiji san from Analog Man Asia playing the Big-T in his '52 Telecaster reissue, into a Fender Bassman amp with some other
Analog Man effects. The first demo has a loop backing sound from a Roland XV-5050, plus delays from our ARDX20.
Here's a great clean demo from Mike Hermans:
and here is a live clip of Mike Hermans with his band
Pop Into The Chemist, he POPPED it into his other Tele and may need another pickup!
Here is a pedal demo but all the samples are with BOTH BIG-T Pickups on our parts Tele so you can hear whet they sound like together in humbucking mode in this video.
Shayne Allen Hill from Sawyer Brown got one of the first BIG T pickups and wrote :
I just put the Big T pickup in this week, and while I haven't had the chance to put it fully through it's paces, I am fairly well blown away at this point.
Quite honestly I wasn't expecting much... certainly not because I haven't loved pretty much everything you've ever sent me, but rather I have seldom
heard pickups that made me go wow. Normally it's a rather subtle affair in my experience, with differences only being appreciated after several hours
of gig time getting to know the nuance of each pickup. As I mentioned in my previous email, that makes it kind of daunting for me to go on pickup hunts.
Enter the Big T. SWEET MOTHER OF GOD!! I had actually decided I didn't even really like tele neck pickups, and usually replace them with something out of a Strat, but this thing slams.
Obviously hotter, but not in that compressed and choked "high output" way. Tons of open top and huge bottom.... not boomy... just big clear open punchy bottom,
and not shrill top... a really sweet top that suddenly makes going to the neck pickup not a disappointing experience. :)
This replacement, by the way, is in a John Suhr Tele, so it isn't as though we're starting with junk. I love John's guitars, no dis on him, but this is so much more what I want out of a tele neck pickup. Job brilliantly well done, and I have a whole new respect for Fralin! Thank you for making this new pickup thing easy. :)
Larry P posted on Analog Man Guitar Effects's Wall on Facebook:
Big T Jim Weider
pickup rocked this past weekend. I was using my Thinline with stock Tele single coil type pickups. Used the neck for smooth leads with delay, and bridge for some heavy overdriven rhythms.
I accidentally forgot to switch to the bridge pup for rhythm and left the Big T
on while I slammed some rhythmic OD tones with a distortion pedal. WOW. Very clear, almost
humbucker-neck like in fatness, but no high end loss. Very impressed! I never
felt like the neck could perform like that! And you were right, excellent
balance with most bridge pups. Currently using a Wolfe Macleod "Wolfetone Bitch
Thanks to Wolfe and I guess Analogman/Fralin for making my
Mark Selby, a very successful songwriter and guitarist in Nashville, wrote:
Got the Big T pickup installed and it is absolutely BRILLIANT!
Finally -- this pickup has stopped in its tracks my search for the elusive perfect Telecaster neck pickup (and I've tried everything).
The Big T provides the depth, clarity and richness of tone that I've been looking for all these years.
This is the Tele neck pickup we have all been waiting for -- over and out, done, period."
GE Smith, who really loves his vintage Teles that he has played for years since scouring the country for them with Cesar Diaz before the vintage guitar craze, got a Big-T neck in 2014. he wrote: