The Battle... Stratocaster Vs. Telecaster
Probably one of the oldest rivalries and most talked about on the internet is... Stratocaster Vs. Telecaster. There are as you may know, very strong opinions about which is best. One question always comes up... "Why do they sound so different even though the pickups look almost the same?" More adventurous people may even ask, "How can I make my Stratocaster sound more like a Telecaster?"
Stratocaster Vs. Telecaster Pickups
At first glance the bridge pickups seem to be very similar, but there are two major differences that give each it's character. First is size.
The Strat Pickup is shorter in both height and Length than the Tele pickup. As we will discuss in later blog posts, coil shape is very important to tone. Even the small difference in shape between the Strat and the Tele pickups makes a significant tonal difference. We will discuss why in an upcoming post.
The other major difference is found on the bottom of the pickup. Most quality Telecaster replacement pickups have either a steel or copper plated steel baseplate. Many people think that this has an acoustic effect that gives it the "twang" that Teles are known for. The main effect though is on the magnetic field. Notice in the image seen here
that the plate changes the shape of the magnetic field and widens it. This makes a huge difference in the tone of the pickup. Now look at the Strat pickup with no base plate. The magnetic field stays much smaller and closer to the center of the pickup.
For people that want that Tele "twang" in their Strat, this means the easiest way to get pretty close, is by adding a steel plate to the bottom. There is no need to ground it because unlike a Tele, the Strat does not use the pickup as a string ground.
Even though the two most popular single coil pickups in the world seem very close to the same... They are very different. Now that you know, will you experiment?