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Ice-House Tele Style Pickups by Dave Stephens, SD Pickups, Stephens Design

The Ice-House™ Tele® Series brings more versatility and power to you Tele slingers, whether you play country, blues, or rock. It's pretty much all covered in my line, which includes some unique neck pickups that are not available elsewhere.

Fender® had a real winner when they came out with the Broadcaster™ guitar, which later became the Telecaster®. After more than 60 years, it still rules a large part of the guitar world. I really enjoy working on Tele pickups. There are many voicings that can be designed around this classic axe, so I've had a tremendous amount of fun (and hard work) researching and designing for the big "T."

Most my Tele pickups have been road and stage tested by Steve Rhian who records and tours with the Daryl Dodd band in Texas. We went through a bunch of different winds, wire and magnet sizes to arrive at formulas that work out there in the gig world. I'm very proud of my Tele pickups and greatful to Steve for all his help in making these the best they can be, which I think you will agree when you play them.


The 1950 BG Broadcaster: A lot of pickup makers sell vintage style pickups and apparently don't have a clue how to make the real deal. They just don't do the research. They use the wrong magnets, the wrong wire, and have never really studied vintage pickups in person. Broadcasters are one such pickup, I have yet to see anyone make them correctly, because to be honest, they are bitch to make authentically.

The '50BG Broadcaster has been WELL researched by me. This is about as authentic as I can make it, including correctly done black string wrap, and I even have real NOS '50's sring that you can get on my upscale perfect relic replica. I have wound this one on the hotter side of recorded measurements, but I can wind them any way you want. The Broadcaster pickup was a surprise to me when I finally made one from my research efforts. These pickups were NOT real twangers like their slightly later brother pickups. They were on the dark side, very-touch responsive, and almost sound like humbuckers in a way. If you need a darker Tele bridge tone with sweet singing, treble solo voicing, this is the one for you. This is a really fun pickup to play as you can hear in my sound clips below. Jazz guys like this one, as will anyone who wants a less twangy voicing but chock full of character. If you have an Esquire copy, this should be in your guitar. Sound clips are through the Princeton, ten gauge strings, several different riffs for both clean and dirty:

1950 BG Broadcaster clean.
1950 BG Broadcaster dirty.

Here's a great Broadcaster workout tune, "Busted," done by Bryon Shepherd a teacher and great performer: Busted-50BG Broadcaster!


The BG 'Fifty One:
OK twang bangers, this is the ultimate brother to the Broadcaster and historically was the next step in Tele bridge history. It's also another that no one makes correctly. Immediately after the Broadcaster pickup was made, within a year in fact, Leo started changing things: he used different alnico and wire gauge but kept the fat magnets until '54 when it all changed again. My pickup is a dead accurate copy of one from my friend's '51 authentic Nocaster guitar. His pickup used some wire and materials that were supposedly only used starting in '54. Yet here it is, proof that Leo was mixing things up during those years and did almost nothing consistently during the early Broadcaster and Tele years. I've used a bit lower wind than was on his example; between '51 and '53 there was no consistency in number of winds (wasn't until CBS years that pickups were all made to the same specs) so some were quite hot and some weren't, this one is in the middle. You can have yours wound real low or up to around 7K as a few were.

So, what's the difference? This one TWANGS hard! It not only twangs and is bright, it isn't thin sounding and is loaded with treble harmonics, articulate bass voicing. It will certainly scream or do steel guitar imitations 'til the cows come home. Another very fun pickup to play and another great choice if you want an authentically researched and hand-built product for your special Tele, or to install into your Nocaster® reissue for the "real deal" tone. A great choice for a Tele thinline or a darker wood guitar that needs articulation, or any guitar you want "scream power." Sound clips through my Princeton®, 10 gauge strings, alder body, maple neck, clean playing and cranked, (I ain't a great Tele player so hopefully you can hear in these clips the potential for someone of great talent to make this thing do what it does best. The loooong cranked clip is because I had fun):

BG 'Fifty One clean
BG 'Fifty One cranked loud

  Ice-House Supercaster™ Lead: This pickup just has guts, wound just hot enough. The hotter wind gives this pickup a nice punch and cuts out the brittle highs, but keeps the Tele signature tone. There is no metal baseplate, as it's not needed in this hotter wind. The Ice-House Standard competes nicely with P90 bridge output, is a delight to play and is great for slide players. All alnico magnets. Hand-built, hand scatter-wound, vintage cloth-covered wire. White or black cotton twine wrapped coil, potted for quietness. Sweet and loud.

Sound clip of hot Supercaster lead, clean to dirty.

Ice-House Standard Lead: Based on the Fender Broadcaster, this pickup is overwound beyond typical Tele specs just enough to push it and smooth the highs out. It gives you a very punchy, loud pickup with lots of sweet highs, Tele quack, depth and complexity of harmonics, and focused midrange only found in vintage pickups wound with fine wire. Voiced to maintain Tele tone, but puts your leads authoritatively up front! Simply one of the best Tele bridge pickups you will probably ever play.

Sound clip of Ice-House Standard Lead dirty and clean amp settings

Ice-House Possumcaster™: This was actually the first Tele bridge pickup design I ever made. I took it out of the lineup as I thought it was too twangy. But thanks to Josh Colow, who owns one of these, and to his brilliant sound clips, I have put it back for sale for those of you who want classic twang with good output. The sound clips say it all, courtesy of Josh. My nickname at the jams is "Possum" so promised my wife I'd make a "Possumcaster" pickup some day so here it is!

Possumcaster sound clip one
Possumcaster sound clip two
Possumcaster sound clip three

The Ice-House Stock Rhythm pickup is wound with 43 gauge wire as orginally spec’d and will give you more complex range of frequency response and harmonics than your stock Korean Fender product. It is also wound hotter than stock and can sustain solos. Comes with or without cover, nickel silver cover is available for extra charge of $15.

The Ice-House Supercaster Rhythm is a tall coil, does not come covered because of its height, has more power while retaining brightness and is THE choice for a soloing neck pickup on a Tele. Here are two sound clips courtesy Andy at Rothstein Guitars:

Supercaster Rhythm played clean
Same pickup played dirty

The Ice-House Laminated Neck Blade is the newest of two new ideas for Tele players wanting something unique in the neck position. The laminated 3 piece steel pole is the more expensive of the two; the laminations give more clarity and definition to a blade style pickup (single blade pickups tend to verge on dark muddy tones if not done right), cutting through even the highest gain/distortion. Almost angelic bell like tones and chime, sometimes Strat-like, no dropouts from string bends, this unique pickup will turns heads when you play! Clean and clear but dig in and it gives you the guts you need to make a statement.

Sound clip of laminated blade, clean and dirty settings

The Ice-House Single Neck Blade is a less expensive neck blade style featuring a single 16 gauge steel pole. This model is darker, has more midrange honk, and its own unique tone and character. It still manages to cut through the mud and has more raw guts than the laminated blade, the lower price only reflects less construction time, not quality.
Sound clip of single blade, various amp settings

The BG Fifty One neck is the vintage correct companion to the Fifty One bridge pickup. Made correctly in all respects, this is not your typical weak, shrill, lifeless tone. This is a fatter, soulful tone that most of you have never played, they only made them like these for about two years. Listen to the clips:

Fifty One neck samples



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