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QUICK HIT: A simple roundup and collection of Telecaster electric guitars with a dual humbucker pickup configuration, also known as an "HH Telecaster."
Telecasters are highly sought after for their unique tone profile, which emphasizes the picking hand and the "plucking" of the strings. This often produces what many describe as a twangy effect and tone, popular in blues, country, and some rock sub-genres.
This sound is produced largely by the unique single coil Telecaster pickup configuration, that usually looks like the following:
However, some people like to balance the twangy tone of a Telecaster with the smoother and heavier tone of a dual humbucking pickup configuration. In this article, we're compiling a list of the nicest Telecasters that ship with two humbuckers installed at the bridge and neck positions.
They'll look something like this:
In the table below, we'll include all the Telecasters we can find without any single coils whatsoever.
Beneath the table, we'll provide some more detailed information and continued reading.
First, here are our top four picks (our favorites) from the full list:
4 Best Telecasters with Humbuckers
Telecasters with Humbuckers (Fender & Squier)
For this table I'm sticking with only Telecasters that have two humbuckers and no single coils. Most who are looking for that particular configuration will be wanting a Telecaster that sounds heavier and can play more modern styles of music, like heavy rock or even metal.
Keep in mind, this list isn't necessarily a ranking or rating, but just a roundup of good options that have this particular feature.
Since most sites don't let you sort by pickup configuration, we've done the sorting for you.
If you have additions to the list (something we missed perhaps) feel free to drop a suggestion in the comments section below.
Full Table of Telecasters with Dual Humbuckers
Click on guitar image to see larger version
Fender Player HH Telecaster
Stock Alnico 2
Fender Special Edition Custom HH Telecaster (Amber)
Seymour Duncan '59 & Pearly Gates
Squier Classic Vibe '70s Thinline Telecaster
Fender Wide Range
Fender Vintera '70s Telecaster
Fender Wide Range
Squier John 5 Signature Telecaster
Squier Jim Root Signature HH Telecaster
Stock Passive Pickup
Squier Classic Vibe '70s Telecaster
Fender Wide Range
Squier Contemporary HH Telecaster
Fender Vintera Thinline '70s Telecaster
Fender Wide Range
Fender American Professional Deluxe ShawBucker Telecaster
Fender Limited Edition Cabronita Telecaster
TV Jones Classic
Fender Jim Root Signature HH Telecaster
EMG Active Humbuckers
What do they sound like?
As I alluded to earlier, putting humbuckers in a Telecaster gives it a heavier and more aggressive sound. You lose some of the twang of the Telecaster single coils, but you get a thicker overall tone, which some prefer for rock and other modern styles.
Here's a cover I did using a Fender Thinline HH Telecaster with two Lindy Fralin P90 humbuckers:
While P90s are a little smaller than a traditional humbucker, they produce a sound here that's a good example of what you can expect from an HH Telecaster.
I'll cover some specific sound conventions for a few more styles.
In modern rock, HH Telecasters are often used as rhythm guitars for heavy power chords and high levels of distortion. You still get some of the growl and twang from the Tele body design - especially the semi-hollow Telecaster - but the humbuckers put a lot more bass and thickness into the EQ.
While country artists usually opt for the traditional Telecaster pickup configuration, some of the heavier songs are sometimes written and recorded with a dual humbucker Telecaster. The humbucker and single coil hybrid are also common in this context (more on that later).
The John 5 and Jim Root signature Telecasters are popular examples of an HH Telecaster in a metal style. Active pickups - which are smoother and sound good with high levels of distortion - are also used to get a thicker, saturated metal tone.
Difference Between Neck and Bridge
The stock humbuckers that come on most of these Telecasters are sets, where one is designed or "voiced" for the bridge and the other is voiced for the neck. While the difference between the physical design of the two is subtle (or they're identical) the sound will be thicker and heavier at the neck position, while the bridge position will be brighter with more treble.
Variance in tone between the two humbuckers can change depending on the Telecaster model and the type of pickups used, but the basic characteristics are fairly consistent.
Most Telecasters with humbuckers will also provide a three-way pickup selector, allowing you to choose the following signals
- Bridge only
- Neck only
- Dual bridge + neck
Read more: Best overall guitar pickups
Single Coil VS Humbuckers in a Telecaster
Would you be better off just sticking with the single coil arrangement in your Telecaster?
That honestly depends on your own preference and the style of music you want to play.
For a long time I played a Fender American Standard Telecaster, with single coil pickups. I found that it was versatile and capable of handling a wide range of tones and musical styles. The main problem was that the pickups were just noisy, which could have been due to other issues with my rig. However, I've also heard that this is a common problem with Telecasters and Stratocasters alike.
If you were to opt for single coil pickups in your Telecaster, I'd probably recommend getting a nicer set from Fender or Seymour Duncan, perhaps the Noiseless Fender sets.
But again, the main difference between single coils and humbuckers in a Telecaster is going to be the thickness of the tone and how much the low end will be pronounced.
Other Options (mixed)
You could also go a couple of different routes with your Telecaster pickup configuration. Other than all humbuckers or all single coils, there are two more options I'll mention:
Humbucker plus Single Coil (HS or HSS)
Another fairly common pickup configuration for Telecasters is to put a single coil at the bridge position and a humbucker at the neck position. In other words, single coil for the high tones and humbucker for the lower ones.
Some models will add a single coil pickup in the middle position as well, giving you humbucker - single coil - single coil or HSS.
In the video example above, you've already seen the dual P90 setup, which is sometimes used in the Thinline Telecaster models. They're similar to traditional humbuckers, but measure a bit smaller and produce a slightly brighter tone.
If you're looking for Telecasters with humbuckers setup at the bridge and neck, these are your best options, assuming you're trying to stay within the Fender and Squier brands. Other companies produce guitars that mimic the Telecaster shape, but Fender was the original designer.
For those that have decided on this type of guitar, we'd recommend staying within the Fender brand, or perhaps downgrading to a Squier if you don't want to spend that much money.
If you have questions about any of the guitars mentioned, feel free to give me a shout in the comments section below, and I'll do my best to help out.
Anything to Add?
Do you know of a Telecaster setup with dual humbuckers that deserves a spot on this list? If you have an example - even if it's from a non-Fender brand - feel free to drop it in the comments section below and I'll take a look. See you there.