Walking the line of chime and grime
Being a Telecaster player doesn’t leave one with many pickup swapping options without some sort of modification to the instrument. The slightly scooped midrange of traditional Tele pickups yields the percussive bite and twang guitar players love, but most Tele-handlers out there would like to fill out that midrange void with some throaty grunt. Porter Pickups has managed to fill this tall order with a set of custom wound, drop-in Tele-style pickups. The Porter 9T pickups retain the brassy sassy slice of the Tele, while filling out the frequency spectrum with the raunchy paunch of P90 punch. Adding this bark to the bite was achieved by cleverly implementing dual-bar magnets and individually adjustable screw poles for a hybrid of P90 and Tele tones. This magic combination enables plank spanking rhythm work and greasy vowel lead lines to come from the same guitar—almost as if some double tracking action was happening in real time with two different guitars.
Gristle and sizzle, spit and grit
While the tone of the bridge pickup isn’t compressed like a humbucker, the full-fat frequencies certainly reminded me of one, albeit endowed with the open jangle of a single coil pickup. All the cut of the traditional Tele bridge pickup is greased up with the smoky smut of a P90. Going from Mick Green-style stabbing rhythms, to Mike Ness-like mainline leads is as easy as rolling off the tone knob and digging in.
Moving to the middle position, I am hearing that scooped, chiming clean that only comes from a Tele with its two pickups translating in tandem the lowest and highest register string-speak. Again, the magic P90 sauce seasons the spit and sizzle beautifully for a more full-bodied Tele experience. Both these 9T pickups are wound hotter than normal and will coax the front end of a tube amp or overdrive pedal into giving up the goods much quicker than their softer tongued tonal ancestors. It must be mentioned that the individual screw poles can be raised or lowered to taste, depending on how much grit or picking dynamics is required. This set in review features an “Open Tele Neck Cover” for ease of adjustment and a non-fickle, raw nickel aesthetic appeal. The big-bottomed boing of the neck pickup is perfect with a splash of spring reverb for a surf-and-girth safari. Kicking on an overdrive and rolling back the tone knob gains access to the secret legato level of woodwind single-note floating.
What we like: The ability to retain the tonal identity of the Telecaster, while adding the lower-midrange smattering of a P90 is a triumphant tonal achievement. Those looking for a drop-in replacement set of pickups that will add some fortitude and attitude to a Tele have found their port of call with the Porter 9T pickups. Going from greasy oilcan crunch, to glassy clean sheens and booming brutish chops can be achieved using only the guitar and an amp set to edge-of-breakup. The individual adjustable pole pieces can be fine-tuned to taste and the limited edition “Open Tele Neck Cover” gives a Tele a custom, top-down shake appeal that is totally rock ‘n’ roll.
Concerns: Telecaster traditionalist might balk at the bark of a P90-esque Tele. But, those who love the distinctive feel of a Tele and want more tonal flexibility just found their ticket to ride.