Joe Barden Pickups

Joe Barden Danny Gatton Telecaster Pickups Review

Joe Barden Danny Gatton Telecaster Pickups Review

I’ve had a chance to use a lot of pickups over the years ranging from various single coil pickups to several noiseless pickups.  The Joe Barden Danny Gatton Telecaster pickups are simply amazing and they are never coming out of my guitar.


One thing that sets these pickups apart from Fender noiseless pickups, for example, is the tone.  These actually sound great.  They respond well to your pick attack and have no ice-pick frequencies on the high end.  They sound round and full on the lows and basically perform as well as any single coil pickup I have used.

Benefits of the Joe Barden Pickups:

  • Your Telecaster will still sound like a Telecaster.
  • Works great either totally clean, with low/medium gain, or flat out distortion.
  • No vintage “squeal” when loading them up with higher gain tones.

Downsides of the Joe Barden Pickups

One of the only things I can see people not digging initially is the rail style pickup design for hardcore Tele-fans.  For me, I love the design and they look great with the black pickguard. These pickups are not cheap either so you’ll be breaking out the credit card to get a set.

I’ve now had these pickups in and out of my Telecaster 3 times. I tried going back to single coils because I felt like I was maybe missing out on something. The only thing I was missing out on was the buzz.  I don’t miss the buzz and these pickups will be my guitar until the end of time.

Are Joe Barden Danny Gatton Pickups High Output?

No.  In fact, they are as low output as regular vintage spec pickups.  The last time I had the pickups out of my guitar I tested the neck pickup on the multimeter and it was right around 4.5k ohm.  This is considered a low output pickup.

I do have the “modern bridge” but even that is not super-high output.  A lot of boutique pickup winders state the Bardens are the best on the market because of this.

Originally designed for Danny (and with Danny testing every step of the way) they have become the first choice of professional Tele™ players worldwide. The tone of these pickups can be described as absolutely vintage in character, but with greatly expanded fidelity. The lows, mids, and highs are all equal in strength, eliminating the thin, or “tinny” sound that is often a problem with Tele-styled guitars. The T-Neck is remarkable in that it can be adjusted so that its output is actually equal to the T-Bridge, thus solving the age-old Tele player’s complaint: huge output differences between the bridge and neck pickups.

The Modern T-Style bridge pickup is a variant of the Gatton T-Bridge pickup for modern country and rock players who need a fatter tone in the bridge without sacrificing Tele vibe and performance. – JBE Website

What about Zexcoil noiseless pickups?

Zexcoil pickups are great. I feel the Zexcoil sound is more suited towards a Stratocaster than a Telecaster.  I also feel like the Joe Barden pickups aren’t the best choice for a Stratocaster.  So if you’re on the Fence about what to get here’s a 2-second guide:

  • If you own a Telecaster get the Joe Barden pickups.
  • Stratocaster players should go for the Zexcoil pickups.

Not all Zexcoil pickups are not 100% noiseless either. You need to make sure you’re getting the correct set as they do sell single coil pickups also.  All of the Joe Barden pickups are 100% noiseless so if the buzz is a problem, you’ve got the perfect pickups for the Telecaster.

The Telecaster pickup search has ended!

I am not looking for any pickups for my Fender ’52 reissue Telecaster anymore. There might be a better option out there but if there is, I haven’t found it.  The great thing about the Joe Barden Danny Gatton pickups is you can run them fine on 250k pots.  You can increase the top end by using 500k pots but I have never felt the need.  They are plenty bright with the 250k Emerson Pro Pots I use in my Telecaster so I’m sorted out.

Do you need a treble bleed filter for Joe Barden Pickups.

I don’t think you “need” one but its an option.  Tele’s stay plenty bright when you turn down but there’s nothing to stop you adding one in.  I actually tried the treble bleed mod as well but ended up taking it out because I didn’t like it as much.  For me turning down means everything comes down including the top end with the rest of the volume.  It never felt right for me in a Telecaster to have a treble bleed but I know some guitarists who can’t go without them.



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