When people come to me to record, I always have guitars and amps that I know sound great mic'ed up and ready to go. Guitars have to have great tone, playability, solid intonation and -if I can achieve it -noiseless operation. Telecasters are one of my favorite guitars, yet can be torturous when it comes to buzz and hum. If the song is loud, it's no big deal and can even offer a little "real life" vibe on the fade out, but if you're recording quieter songs, this buzz can render a guitar useless. This noise problem is as old as the electric guitar and needs no further explanation.
The problem with using humbucking pickups in Teles and Strats is that you just can't get that classic, bell-like single-coil sound with humbuckers. Close, maybe, but not quite there. Rooting around the web in search for new developments in this area, I came across Kinman pickups from Australia, a brand with recent patents on some new design for noiseless Tele and Strat replacement pickups (the inventor's explanation of the technology is intentionally cryptic). I decided to give these pickups a shot, and indeed they are noiseless and sound just like excellent, aged single coils. The first time I swapped out my Kinman-equipped Tele for a client's buzzing, humming guitar (that was forcing him to stand at a weird angle while tracking just to keep the noise controlled), I knew I had scored some real points. The Kinman tone was better, too!
I consider these pickups an essential recording tool and encourage anyone who keeps Teles and Strats on hand in their studio to consider investing in them, even though they aren't cheap. These pickups are available in various configurations and flavors, and prices vary accordingly. (www.kinman.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.