Single The Duchess Tele – NZ$129 for NZ customers. If you’re overseas it’s GST free; $NZ112.17
Pair The Duchess Tele – NZ$249 for NZ customers. If you’re overseas they’re GST free; $NZ216.52
Alnico 5; Bridge 7.28KOhms, Neck 7.1KOhms
The Duchess Tele set is for the Telecaster player in need of that distinctive smooth Tele twang but with none of the ice pick cut. The neck pickup is warm and balanced with a full clarity and string separation. This a medium powered set that sits nicely in my range between the Silver Lady and Cruel Mistress.
The Duchess Tele set will do just about everything from ‘vintage’ Tele twang to a platform for pedals.
The Duchess’ beginnings
The idea for this pickup started in 2021. I had some work at Roundhead recording studios in Auckland looking after the guitars of an American recording artist. During the process, the producer and engineer (working from the US) decided to send over their favorite ‘magic’ telecaster because they wanted that sound on the record.
The guitar arrived and it was an original ’61 Fender Esquire Custom, sunburst, double bound and just beautiful.
Although it was an Esquire it had a neck pickup that they told me had been added later. After taking the pick guard off it looked more like the neck pickup had been fitted in the factory so maybe it was a custom order.
My job was to check over this guitar and set it up for the recording.
I plugged it in and loved the sound immediately, now I understood why they’d shipped it over from the US for this session. So, I got my test meters out to analyze every aspect of the pickup. It was rather unusual for a Fender pickup of that time so maybe it had been re-wound at some stage. That didn’t matter, it sounded great, so I set out to make a Telecaster set in that style but with my own spin.
I made quite a few prototypes and did all the usual testing but didn’t quite get around to releasing the pickup.
The Duchess Tele is finally born
Then in 2022 I had the idea for my Pandora 3-way pickup. I used the design for The Duchess bridge pickup as the middle position for the Pandora. I knew all along the Pandora was never going to be for everyone but was pleasantly surprised when the idea caught on.
An order for a Pandora came in from an old friend of mine in the UK. He’s called Darren Driver and he’s in a well-established Springsteen tribute band – The Boss and the Beeston Street Band
Darren had been a customer of mine when I had a guitar shop in Leeds in the late 90’s. He was a Telecaster player back then. It’s always good to re-connect with people.
A couple of months later Darren got in touch saying how the mid position of the Pandora was his ideal Telecaster sound. Well, that was all it took. I got into the workshop and made a matching neck pickup for the Duchess. That week’s band practice I tested the set next to the drummer and was still really happy with it. So, I sent a set off to Yorkshire.
Darren said he was happy to make a demo of the pickups once he had got them into him number one Telecaster. That’s him in the video above.
And so The Duchess Tele set was born.
The Duchess – Tele set is great with either 250KOhm or 500KOhm volume pots. It’s really up to you – 500K will give more high-end Tele twang while the 250K will sound warmer. It really is a great pickup set either way.
I have made a couple of short videos to explain my thinking behind these two pickups:
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updated 17 May 2023
The Duchess – Tele set