The 9 Best Humbuckers for a Telecaster Neck (2023 Edition)

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Since the Telecaster first strummed its way into the hearts of guitarists in the early ’50s, the quest for the ideal humbucker for a Telecaster neck has become a significant focus for musicians worldwide.

With its unmistakable twang and versatile sound, the Telecaster has left an indelible mark on the music scene.

The tele neck pickups, specifically the humbucker, is one critical aspect that shapes this iconic tone.

That’s why finding the best humbucker for a Telecaster neck is essential – and we’re here to help!

In this guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of humbuckers, exploring their impact on your Tele’s sound and sharing our top recommendations to elevate your playing experience.

So, grab your guitar, and let’s get started on the quest to find your Telecaster’s perfect humbucker match.

Humbucker for a Telecaster Neck: Understanding Humbuckers and Telecaster Necks

What is a humbucker?

A humbucker is a type of electric guitar pickup that uses two coils wound in opposite directions to “buck the hum” or cancel out the electrical interference and noise typically associated with single-coil pickups.

Invented by Seth Lover in the 1950s, humbuckers create a thicker, warmer tone compared to single coils.

This noise reduction is achieved through a process known as phase cancellation, where the two coils pick up the same electrical interference but with reversed polarity.

When combined, the noise effectively cancels out, leaving behind a clear, noise-free signal.

The humbucker’s design and ability to produce less noise have made it a go-to choice for many a guitarist seeking a cleaner sound.

Advantages over single-coil pickups

While single-coil pickups are known for their bright and cutting tone, they are also notorious for picking up electrical interference from nearby devices, leading to an annoying hum.

Humbuckers offer a few distinct advantages:

  • The hum-canceling design minimizes noise, which is particularly helpful in live or recording situations.
  • Humbuckers produce a fuller, more powerful tone, making them ideal for various music genres, including rock, blues, and jazz.
  • Humbuckers offer a more comprehensive range of tonal possibilities, allowing you to experiment with different sounds and styles.

The role of a neck pickup in a Telecaster

How it contributes to the overall sound

With its unique design and versatile tone, the Telecaster has been a favorite among guitarists since its inception in the early 1950s.

The neck pickup in a Telecaster plays a crucial role in shaping the guitar’s sound.

While the bridge pickup is known for its iconic twang, the neck pickup brings a warmer, more rounded tone.

The neck pickup’s position, closer to the guitar’s center, captures the string vibrations with a stronger bass response and greater emphasis on the lower-mid frequencies.

Combined with the Tele bridge pickup, the neck pickup contributes to the guitar’s signature versatility, allowing guitarists to explore a broad spectrum of tones, from warm jazz to biting blues.

The importance of a good neck pickup

A high-quality neck pickup is essential for getting the most out of your Telecaster.

The best humbucker for a Telecaster neck should enhance the guitar’s natural resonance and warmth while providing clarity and articulation.

It should also handle different playing styles and techniques, such as fingerpicking or heavy strumming.

The right humbucker can make a significant difference in your guitar’s sound, transforming a good Telecaster into a great one.

Ultimately, the best humbucker for a Telecaster neck will depend on your preferences and the sound you aim to achieve, but investing in a quality pickup is crucial for unlocking your guitar’s full potential.

Humbucker for a Telecaster Neck: Legendary Guitarists

Many of these iconic players have modified their Telecasters by adding a humbucker in the neck position to achieve a more versatile and unique sound.

Let’s take a look at some famous guitarists who have made this modification:

Keith Richards: Crafting Timeless Riffs with the Rolling Stones Born in 1943, Keith Richards has written countless classic riffs while wielding various Telecasters.

His primary guitar, a ’53 Tele named Micawber, features a 5-string open G tuning and a humbucker in the neck position.

Albert Collins: The Master of the Telecaster Albert Collins (1932-1993) developed his distinct blues sound using minor open tunings and a high capo on the neck.

Fender’s Albert Collins Signature Telecaster, based on his ’66 model, includes a humbucker in the neck position.

Brent Mason: Nashville’s Prolific Session Musician Born in 1959, Brent Mason has made a name for himself as an accomplished Nashville session musician.

Fender’s Brent Mason Signature guitar, modeled after his heavily customized 1968 Telecaster, features two “stacked” pickups (bridge and middle) and one mini humbucker in the neck position.

It also includes an additional volume control to “bleed in” the middle pickup.

Bruce Springsteen: The Boss and His Telecaster Since the early days of his career, Bruce Springsteen (born 1949) has played a 1952 Esquire upgraded with a Telecaster neck pickup.

This iconic guitar graces the cover of his 1975 album, Born to Run.

1. Humbucker for a Telecaster Neck: Gibson ’57 Classic

You can get a sense of this pickup in the demo video below!

Gibson 57 Classic Pickups Demo (No Commentary)

On your quest for the best humbucker for a Telecaster neck, it’s hard not to take note of the legendary Gibson ’57 Classic.

Sure, it may seem blasphemous to put a Gibson pickup into a Fender guitar.

However, Gibson’s classic PAF can do wonders for an average Telecaster.

For many years, this iconic pickup has been adored by guitarists due to its genuine vintage tone, which gracefully enhances a Telecaster’s inherent sound.

Features and Specifications

Sporting an Alnico II magnet, the Gibson ’57 Classic is wound with vintage-style enamel-coated wire, mirroring the original PAF (Patent Applied For) humbuckers crafted by Seth Lover in the late 1950s.

This pickup offers a versatile, sweet, warm tone with a balanced output.

Its retro construction and appearance make it an outstanding choice for those aiming to preserve the classic vibe of their Telecaster while upgrading the neck pickup.

Sound Characteristics

The Gibson ’57 Classic produces a warm, velvety tone that gains some bite when pushed harder.

It is celebrated for its abundant harmonic complexity and distinct lows, perfect for blues, jazz, and classic rock genres.

The Alnico II magnet imparts a slightly gentler and more organic sound than the Alnico V magnets found in other humbuckers, adding to the ’57 Classic’s vintage appeal.

Combined with a Telecaster neck, this pickup emphasizes the guitar’s natural resonance and warmth while maintaining clear articulation.

Pros and Cons


  • Genuine vintage tone: The Gibson ’57 Classic captures the spirit of the initial PAF humbuckers, providing a warm, lush sound that is highly sought after by guitarists.
  • Versatility: This pickup’s well-balanced tone is adaptable to a broad spectrum of music genres and playing techniques.
  • Aesthetic charm: The ’57 Classic’s old-school design imparts a hint of timeless allure to your Telecaster.


  • Price: The Gibson ’57 Classic has a premium price tag, which may only be feasible for certain budgets.
  • Compatibility: Although it can be installed in a Telecaster neck, some modifications to the pickup cavity might be necessary for a secure fit.

In particular, I love combining it with a slanted single-coil in the bridge.

This isn’t a conventional combination. However, it gets you some pretty unique tones.

The middle position gets somewhat nasally-sounding.

A great thing about the Gibson ’57 Classic pickup is that it has a very balanced output.

It’s not too hot and it’s not too mellow.

What’s more, it’s incredibly diverse.

You can get a slight dash of single-coil-like jangle in there as well.

However, on higher-gain settings, it sounds really creamy, even fuzzy.

You can get yours from Guitar Center:

Gibson 57 Classic Humbucker Pickup Nickel | Guitar Center

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2. Humbucker for a Telecaster Neck: Seymour Duncan SH-2 Jazz

Jazz Neck Demo (SH-2)

Features and Specifications

As a versatile and well-loved option, the Seymour Duncan SH-2 Jazz stands out as one of the best humbuckers for a Telecaster neck.

This pickup features an Alnico 5 magnet and a DC resistance of 7.72k, providing a balanced frequency response and moderate output.

Its vintage-inspired design, complete with a nickel or gold cover, adds a touch of classic style to your Telecaster while providing excellent tonal quality.

Sound Characteristics

Seymour Duncan’s SH-2 Jazz is not an uncommon choice for Telecasters.

This one comes with a slightly milder output.

However, it also comes with an improved dynamic response.

You can especially notice it with tube amps.

In particular, I love how this pickup works with British-style tube amps like those that have EL34 or similar valves.

Sure, it’s great with 6L6 tubes, but it breaks British-style amps really well if you ask me.

You can find this humbucker here:

3. Humbucker for a Telecaster Neck: Seymour Duncan SH-55 Seth Lover

Seth Lover SH-55 Guitar Pickup

Features and Specifications

To those who are not familiar, Seth Lover is the man who developed the classic humbucker as we know it today.

It’s Gibson’s classic P.A.F. that everyone copied.

That’s what Seymor Duncan’s SH-55 replicates.

It features Alnico 2 bar magnets, plain enamel wire, and a nickel silver bottom plate.

The SH-55 is available in both bridge and neck versions, and it boasts a vintage-style braided single-conductor cable for easy installation.

This one is a low-output humbucker.

Sound Characteristics

The SH-55 Seth Lover excels at capturing your guitar’s natural resonance while maintaining the Telecaster’s signature twang.

In a clean setting, you get that bluesy and slightly bright tone.

If you roll off the tone knob on your guitar, it gets very smooth.

By adding some dirt to it, the SH-55 humbucker shines.

The fundamental tone is very warm, yet it gets some sparkle on top.

What’s awesome is that the humbucker works well with a single-coil in the bridge.

Because it’s a low-output pickup, it will make a great combo with a telecaster single-coil pickup.

It can also handle some higher-gain settings nicely.

In my opinion, it works great with a fuzz pedal, especially when you roll off the tone knob. 

Pros and Cons


  • Authentic PAF tone: Designed by Seth Lover himself, the SH-55 captures the essence of the original PAF humbuckers, offering a warm, vintage sound.
  • Versatile sound: The SH-55 works well for various music styles, from blues and jazz to classic rock, making it an excellent choice for Telecaster neck pickups.
  • Easy installation: The vintage-style braided single-conductor cable simplifies the installation process and adds to the pickup’s overall aesthetic appeal.


  • Limited wiring options: Unlike other humbuckers, the SH-55 Seth Lover has a single-conductor cable, which restricts its wiring options.
  • Pricier option: As a premium pickup, the SH-55 Seth Lover might be on the higher end of the price spectrum for some guitarists.

If you’re interested with this humbucker, you can get yours from Guitar Center:

Seymour Duncan Seth Lover SH55 Humbucker Neck Pickup Nickel | Guitar Center

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4. Humbucker for a Telecaster Neck: Fender CuNiFe Wide Range Humbucker

Fender CuNiFe Wide Range Humbucker Shootout!

Features and Specifications

The Fender CuNiFe Wide Range Humbucker is a reissue of the classic pickup from the 1970s, known for its unique combination of copper, nickel, and iron (CuNiFe) magnets.

This humbucker features individual threaded CuNiFe magnet pole pieces, ensuring a flawless balance between strings.

The pickup comes with a chrome cover and vintage cloth-covered wiring, staying true to its roots while providing a modern, reliable performance.

Sound Characteristics

The Fender CuNiFe Wide Range Humbucker delivers a distinctive tone that sets it apart from other humbuckers, making it an incredible choice for the best humbucker for a Telecaster neck.

It offers a clear and articulate sound, with a warm low end and sparkling highs. Its wide frequency response makes it suitable for various music genres, from blues and jazz to rock and country.

The CuNiFe magnets provide a unique sonic signature that is both versatile and expressive.

Pros and Cons


  • An authentic reissue of the classic 1970s Wide Range Humbucker
  • Unique CuNiFe magnets provide a distinct tonal character
  • Versatile sound suitable for various music genres
  • Individual adjustable pole pieces ensure string balance


  • It may not fit all Telecaster models without modification
  • Slightly higher price point compared to other humbuckers

While humbuckers are more of a Gibson thing, Fender has some great stuff to offer as well.

For instance, there’s their Wide Range humbucker that finds its place in some Fender guitars.

And it can be a great addition to your Squier or Fender Telecaster.

Now, this may be a bit more of a pricy option.

However, it’s worth every single dime to me. It’s not like your regular humbucker.

It has a different twist to its tone.

This one’s on Guitar Center as well. Check it here:

Fender CuNiFe Wide Range Humbucker Pickup Chrome Neck | Guitar Center

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5. Humbucker for a Telecaster Neck: TV Jones TV Classic

TV Jones: TV Classic Pickups

Now, this is a different kind of humbucker.

Most of the models on the market today are PAF-inspired versions.

But there was an old humbucker variant developed by Ray Butts back in the 1950s.

We know this as the so-called Filter’Tron pickup.

Essentially, it’s a more compact humbucker variant.

Features and Specifications

The TV Jones TV Classic is a highly regarded humbucker among Telecaster enthusiasts and is designed to capture the essence of vintage Filter’Tron pickups.

With its Alnico 4 magnets and wax-potted construction, the TV Classic uniquely balances warmth, clarity, and dynamic response.

This humbucker has several mounting options, including a direct replacement for a Telecaster neck pickup.

It is versatile for those seeking the best humbucker for a Telecaster neck.

Sound Characteristics

The TV Jones TV Classic is known for its articulate and versatile sound that can adapt to various playing styles and genres.

This humbucker delivers a rich, warm tone with excellent clarity and note separation, making it perfect for both rhythm and lead playing.

The TV Classic’s balanced frequency response also allows it to handle a wide range of overdrive and distortion, ensuring that your Telecaster’s true voice is never lost in the mix.

These days, TV Jones makes the best version.

The pickup’s design makes it sound different compared to your average humbucker today.

While it cancels the hum, it still keeps some of the single-coil twang.

It’s probably the closest you’d get to a single-coil tone with a humbucker design.

Pros and Cons


  • Unique vintage Filter’Tron tone, bringing a distinctive sound to your Telecaster
  • Excellent clarity and note separation, suitable for various playing styles
  • Alnico 4 magnets provide a balanced frequency response for versatile tone shaping
  • Multiple mounting options for easy integration with your Telecaster


  • It may not be the best choice for players seeking a more aggressive, high-output sound
  • Price may be higher than some other humbuckers, making it less accessible for budget-conscious guitarists

6. Humbucker for a Telecaster Neck: Seymour Duncan SCR-1n Cool Rails

Seymour Duncan SCR-1n Cool Rails Pickup

Features and Specifications

The Seymour Duncan SCR-1n Cool Rails is an innovative humbucker designed specifically for the neck position of a Telecaster.

It features a unique rail design and boasts Alnico V magnets, which provide a perfect blend of warmth and clarity.

One of the annoying things about putting a humbucker in a Telecaster is that you have to do adjustments and modifications.

This can sometimes include body modifications. And it’s a pretty tedious process if you don’t hire a professional luthier.

If you want a humbucker tone and don’t want to bother with this, check out Seymour Duncan SCR-1n.

This one is a dual-coil pickup in a single-coil-sized design.

Sound Characteristics

Its rail design ensures a smooth and balanced output, making it ideal for clean playing and intricate fingerpicking.

When driven with some overdrive or distortion, the SCR-1n provides a rich, full-bodied sound with a touch of grit, perfect for rock and blues genres.

Despite its compact size, this humbucker can hold its own against full-sized pickups, offering impressive sustain and a broad tonal range.

From my experience, this one sounds like a standard humbucker.

Such a design may make some subtle differences.

But you’ll get the main characteristics of a humbucker.

This is yet another humbucker with a moderate to low output.

Again, this is a great option if you combine it with a single-coil in the bridge.

Additionally, the pickup gives great clarity to every note.

And it sounds great with crunchy overdriven settings on tube amps.

At the same time, you can get it into those smooth, jazzy territories.

Pros and Cons


  • Unique rail design for smooth, balanced output
  • Alnico V magnets provide warmth and clarity
  • Versatile, well-rounded tone suitable for various music styles
  • The compact size allows for easy installation without extensive modifications
  • Noise-canceling properties eliminate unwanted hum and interference


  • It may not be as powerful as some full-sized humbuckers
  • Some players may prefer a more traditional, vintage-style humbucker

I found the Seymour Duncan SCR-1n Cool Rails here:

Seymour Duncan SCR-1 Cool Rails Pickup White Neck | Guitar Center

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7. Humbucker for a Telecaster Neck: DiMarzio The Chopper

DiMarzio Chopper Demo

Features and Specifications

DiMarzio’s The Chopper is a unique Telecaster neck humbucker featuring a twin-blade design and ceramic magnets.

This combination ensures a powerful output while maintaining the classic Telecaster tone many players love.

The Chopper comes with 4-conductor wiring, allowing flexible wiring options like series, parallel, or split-coil configurations.

It is also compatible with standard Telecaster neck routes and pickguards, making installation a breeze.

It also has that rail design so you don’t have to worry about string spacing.

Sound Qualities

The Chopper’s audio profile strikes an ideal equilibrium between warmth, precision, and strength.

Retaining the characteristic Telecaster twang and shimmer, this humbucker also provides a robust, full-bodied sound that fits a wide array of musical styles.

The Chopper stands out in live performances or recording sessions thanks to its high output and concentrated midrange.

When combined with the best humbucker for a Telecaster neck, this versatile pickup allows you to explore a rich palette of tones, from silky, melodic leads to crisp, dynamic rhythms.

Pros and Cons


  • Versatile sound: The Chopper’s unique design offers a wide range of tones, making it suitable for various music genres and playing styles.
  • High-output: The ceramic magnets and twin-blade design ensure a powerful output that can cut through the mix.
  • Flexible wiring options: The 4-conductor wiring allows for multiple wiring configurations, enabling you to customize your guitar’s sound to your preferences.
  • Easy installation: The Chopper is compatible with standard Telecaster neck routes and pickguards, making the installation process straightforward.


  • May not suit traditionalists: Players seeking a more vintage, classic Telecaster sound might find The Chopper’s high output and powerful tone too modern for their taste.
  • Price: Although not the cheapest option, The Chopper is priced higher than some other Telecaster neck pickups.

8. Humbucker for a Telecaster Neck: EVH Wolfgang

EVH Guitars - Wolfgang Standard Demo/Playthrough

Features and Specifications

The EVH Wolfgang humbucker is another top contender in the quest for the best humbucker for a Telecaster neck.

Designed by Eddie Van Halen himself, this pickup boasts Alnico 2 magnets and a DC resistance of 14k ohms, resulting in a well-balanced output.

Eddie Van Halen’s brand EVH has made some incredible guitars and amps over the years. There are, of course, great pickups in their arsenal. I suggest that you check out their standard EVH Wolfgang. It’s kind of like a stock pickup for their guitars.

This pickup gets you a taste of Eddie’s tone. In fact, it can help you get that famous brown tone.

There’s just enough dirt in there.

From my experience, this pickup works the best with a tube amp and a Tube Screamer overdrive.

There’s enough tight bottom-end in there, and some sizzle on top.

Just bear in mind that it’s a hotter humbucker.

If you have a lower output pickup in the bridge position, it may overwhelm it in the middle position setting on your Telecaster.

It’s a great option if you want to have two high-output pickups on your instrument.

Just find an appropriate one to accompany this humbucker.

Sound Characteristics

The EVH Wolfgang humbucker offers a unique combination of warmth, clarity, and articulation that many Telecaster players will appreciate.

Its Alnico 2 magnets provide a smooth, responsive attack with a rich harmonic content that adds depth and complexity to your sound.

The pickup’s custom-wound design ensures an even frequency response across the entire tonal spectrum, making it an excellent choice for a variety of playing styles and genres.

Get yours from Guitar Center:

EVH Wolfgang Neck Humbucker Pickup | Guitar Center

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9. Humbucker for a Telecaster Neck: Xotic Raw Vintage PAF

Features and Specifications

This vintage-inspired pickup is built with Alnico 5 magnets, meticulously hand-wound to capture the essence of the classic PAF tone.

The braided shield wire and period-correct materials used in the construction of the Xotic Raw Vintage PAF make it a faithful reproduction of the original PAF humbuckers that graced iconic guitars in the late ’50s and early ’60s.

What’s also great is there’s also an F-spaced version. The string spacing is made especially for Fender or Squier guitars.

So you get a taste of Gibson with the maximum results on a Fender Telecaster.

Sound Characteristics

If you want that Gibson creamy-sounding neck humbucker twist, give this one a try.

Xotic has done a pretty convincing clone of the classic PAF.

It can get you some incredibly convincing vintage-oriented tones.

As the pickup’s name suggests, the tone is pretty raw.

This gets you some pretty saturated and harmonically rich tones.

And with its moderate output, it can work well with a single-coil in the bridge position.

Pros and Cons


  • Authentic vintage PAF tone
  • High-quality construction with period-correct materials
  • Versatile sound suitable for various genres
  • Excellent dynamic response


  • It may be pricier than other options
  • It might not be the best choice for players seeking a modern, high-output sound

Humbucker For A Telecaster Neck: Conclusion

In our search for the best humbucker for a Telecaster neck, we investigated a variety of high-quality choices, each with its own tonal characteristics and features.

Remember that your distinctive sound and style are important aspects to consider when looking for the perfect humbucker to improve the neck position of your Telecaster.

Take the time to investigate and listen to various humbuckers, and don’t be hesitant to try out several possibilities until you discover the one that genuinely resonates with you.

I hope this article has helped you think through some good pickup options for your guitar!

And if you want to read more about pickups on this blog, check out:

We’d love to hear about your experiences with different humbuckers and how they affected the sound of your Telecaster.

So, please leave a comment below and tell us which humbucker you think is best for a Telecaster neck.

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